The Ministry of Truth (Minitrue)

Resplendent in Newspeak and Doublethink.

Tony Curtis 1925-2010

I guess there’s very little else to say, having read the plethora of passionate and heartfelt obits circulating this evening. Another one of my icons has gone. So, having trawled the expanse of opinions on the man and his career, I’m leaving it to the irrepressible Harry Knowles to enthusiastically detail just how and why Tony Curtis was the legendary movie star he was and will always be. I simply can’t muster words better than his tonight:

“Harry here – and Dr Death can just go straight to the corner for a long sit out, because it seems we’re losing someone every day and in multiples. It seemed to start with the great Gloria Stewart, Claude Rains’ babe in INVISIBLE MAN – but just now as I was getting set for bed, I got the news flash… TONY CURTIS DIES.

Fuck.

How cool was Tony Curtis? He married JANET LEIGH for one, and their kid is the mega-awesome Jamie Leigh Curtis. And that’s amongst the coolest couples and kid in the history of cool couples with cool kids. Now I know we all love these three… but there’s a reason that Tony Curtis was the coolest of their family unit… It’s because… He’s Tony Curtis.

About 6 years ago, Tony Curtis called me. I can’t remember what the initial purpose was, but we wound up chatting for about an hour straight about the world of Hollywood that he came from, and he was so kind being complete game to tell some kid in Texas that shouldn’t ever register on his radar, a bunch of stories that made me wish I was Tony Curtis – moreso than all the obvious reasons.

Let’s admit it guys, the girls were always right about Tony Curtis. And he looked a helluvalot better than Lemmon in a dress. Right? Remember his gigolo in the Film Noir classic, CRISS CROSS? Or his fantastic turn as that boxer in FLESH AND FURY? I assume more of us have enjoyed his fantastically hokey biopic HOUDINI – a film that magically created Jamie Leigh Curtis. He met Janet Leigh then. HOUDINI has always been a mild obsession of mine. For one, I watched this film on WGN in about 1977 – and discovered that ERIC from THE VIKINGS was playing a guy named HARRY – who was the greatest magician of all time – and at that point in my life I had a 8 weekend gig as a Magician’s Apprentice at a Rennaisance Faire – so I wanted to know all about this Harry Houdini fella… my perceived competition. So I have collected a bit of Houdini ephemera – not much, it is an expensive mild obsession. But I love Tony Curtis’ HOUDINI. I loved the way he dressed. I loved his beautiful assistant – and I was absolutely shocked by the death.

Quickly after that, my father showed me TRAPEZE thanks to a friend of his that had a 16mm print. A film that introduced me to Gina Lollabrigida – and Tony was the smooth devil that could bag a Gina Lollabrigida and even at an early stage in my life, I realized just how cool that is. I mean. Really. The athleticism of the role was amazing, I always had a feeling that actors were simply magic. Because just look at everything they seem to be able to do.

I mentioned earlier, that when I saw HOUDINI, I thought of Tony Curtis as ERIC from THE VIKINGS. Well – two years prior my parents had a friend of mine screen THE VIKINGS for us. For one, he had a 16mm Scope print. And watching that film on your backyard porch with a starlit sky above… God, I watched THE VIKINGS constantly throughout my life. When ever I am in a boat and it begins to set sail – I think of THE VIKINGS and my interior soundtrack booms that soaring score. But I’ll never forget Tony Curtis’ viking slave Eric, I’ll never ever forget him putting his hawk onto Kirk Douglas’ face to rip the side of his face and eye out. I also love how he goes from slave to hero – wish Lucas had paid a bit more attention to THE VIKINGS and Tony’s performance. It was classic. Of course everything was classic about that film. And really that’s a defining bit of terminology when talking about Tony Curtis. He was classic. In fact he was classic cool. Oh, and smooth.

Perhaps my favorite performance of Tony Curtis’ since I’ve been a grown up was discovering the brilliant SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. Tony’s SIDNEY FALCO is one of the best most awesome Press Agent performances I’ve ever seen. And I have seen alot of Press Agents in the last 14 years – and I’ve yet to find a SIDNEY FALCO – thank god. Just a grade A cool sleazy asshole. Tony made it awesome though. There was something purely magical about it all.

But then there’s his Joe/Joesephine performance in SOME LIKE IT HOT! Just. Fuck – who could do that now? And be that cool? That, just flat out cool. Then Tony was so cool that he was in two of the best movies ever made in back to back years. He did SOME LIKE IT HOT in 1959 for Billy Wilder, then turns right around and plays the amazing Antoninus in SPARTACUS for bleeding KUBRICK! And it’s SPARTACUS! A film that has literally become better and better throughout my life. Not just in my own estimation, but thanks to a successful restoration story – the film is actually BETTER THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN! Just for the record, SPARTACUS is just amongst the very bests.

Then you see that same guy years and years later being a sexaholic Pilot in the awesome that is BOEING BOEING. Had to have been one of the most fun movies ever made. All us AICN staffers saw that at one of Quentin Tarantino’s QT Fests – and again – he’s just classic cool. And that is in a fashion that I just don’t quite see around today. There’s just a pure sweetness, devil, angel, tough, romantic about Tony Curtis.

Of course – thanks to my DVD column – I got introduced to Tony Curtis’ brilliant role as THE BOSTON STRANGLER directed by Richard Fleischer and co-starring Henry Fonda and the awesome of George Kennedy. This is a whole other side of Tony. He’s just amazing.

Tony Curtis was rumored to have a part in a film currently shooting called MORELLA.

We don’t have a Tony Curtis anymore and we’ll never see his specific classy cool again. He will always be one of my favorite movie stars.”

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September 30, 2010 Posted by | Film | Leave a comment

A good reason why I have faith in people rather than religion.

What a sad and yet wonderful story of good people doing great things for one another. Amongst daily stories of war, murder, abuse and animal cruelty, events which degrade our existence on this earth; sometimes the goodness and decency of people can shine through. This is just such time.

(from geeoksystem.com)

‘Prepare for a roller coaster of emotion. Sad: A nine-year-old boy from Kingston, Ontario, Blake McGinness, planned to hold a yard sale to sell off his toys to raise funds in order to buy his dead father buried in an unmarked grave a headstone that his family couldn’t afford. Relieving: Local Kingston residents and the internet stepped in and took care of the issue. Heartwarming: Blake McGinness went through with the yard sale anyway and plans to donate the revenue to charity.

Blake’s father, Rick Lees, died of an unexpected stomach aneurysm in March 2009 and when the estates were settled, the family didn’t have enough money to cover the headstone, having to bury Lees in an unmarked grave. Blake regularly visits his dad’s plot, leaving his own toys and mementos at the grave.

The story first made rounds on Toronto talk radio station CFRB on Monday morning, reaching clothier Tom Mihalic and he generously offered to pay for the headstone even though he never met the family. The president of a Toronto-based monument company, Michael Levitt, called the radio station and got into contact with Mihalic and Blake’s mother, Linda, offering to build the monument.

As the story bounced around Canadian media outlets and the internet, nine companies offered to supply the headstone free of charge. As the story made its rounds, people were offering so many donations that Linda actually went to a bank and set up an education trust for her son that he can’t touch until he’s 18. Wife of Tom Cochrane, frontman for the Canadian rock bandRed Rider, as well as various sports stars who wished to remain anonymous, got in touch with the family wanting to donate memorabilia for Blake’s yard sale.

Stuffed animal collectors saw the picture of Blake holding the doll from Ice Age and offered to pay much more than the doll was worth in order to boost Blake’s yard sale funds. Even more endearing, Linda’s cellphone wouldn’t stop ringing with people calling to offer help and pledge donations, as the family doesn’t have a computer because, in display of struggling single parenthood, “Buying food and clothes comes before a computer.”

The internet being notorious for grief and trolling, it’s really great to see its denizens mobilize for a good cause.’

September 22, 2010 Posted by | Life | Leave a comment

Got this in the post today….

From Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Clacton (and trouble-making back bencher), I received this letter this morning in response to my email to him regarding my objections to the State visit of the Pope. It’s not much, and honestly I doubt he really did raise anything. At least he responded.

I voted Liberal Democrat.

September 22, 2010 Posted by | General Musings, Life | Leave a comment

Blasphemy?

September 22, 2010 Posted by | Film, Sci-Fi | Leave a comment

Horror campaign hits 1000!

A big congratulatory pat on back for ‘cyberschzoid‘ for achieving 1000 names on the ‘Bring Back Horror‘ petition. However, now he’s reached this target, he’d like some more names (the more the merrier!) for an even BIGGER impact! So let’s all band together, spread the word and get him another 1000! After all, wasn’t it great last weekend when ‘It’s Alive’ was on BBC2? Did the schedules feel somewhat empty when there was no horror movie on the Beeb last night? This is your chance to right that wrong!

Here’s his blog from this morning: http://bringclassichorrorbacktotelevision.blogspot.com/2010/09/dont-faint-weve-reached-over-1000.html

The petition link: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/bringclassichorrorfilmsbacktothebbc/

Get cracking!

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Film, TV | Leave a comment

‘Relief-O-Matic’, Bloomsbury Theatre

What a great show it was. The last night of the Proms for atheists. Three hours of excellent comedy and poignant speeches, and all for £15 (of which all proceeds were going to AIDS charities in Africa). Compered by Robin Ince and Nick Doody, it was stimulating mix of comedy relevant to the Pope’s upcoming visit to the UK, in juxtaposition with thoughtful, strong and incontrovertible evidence of the cataclysmic cover-up in the Catholic Church of child abuse cases, the indignant refusal to accept that the use of condoms prevents the spread of AIDS & HIV, the rampant homophobic and mysogonistic attitudes of the clergy, from Pope Benedict downwards and so on.

To be more specific, these are THE CHARGES:

  • Opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS
  • Promoting segregated education
  • Denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women
  • Opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people
  • Failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.
  • Rehabilitating the holocaust denier bishop Richard Williamson and the appeaser of Hitler, the war-time Pope, Pius XII.
  • As for the guests, we were in for a treat. Aside from Ince and Doody, the comedy came from Tim Minchin (the ‘surprise’ guest!), Ed Byrne, Natalie Haynes, Tony Hawkes, Horse & Louis, Richard Herring, Andy Zaltzman and the BHA Choir, who gave a rousing rendition of ‘Every Sperm Is Sacred’. Peppered between these acts were passionate, stirring and emotional speeches from Johan Hari, Ben Goldacre and Peter Tatchell, who is spearheading the ‘Protest The Pope‘ campaign and march on Saturday. Whilst it could be argued that last night was somewhat an attempt to preach to the choir, it was an opportunity for those of us against the Papal visit to get together and be in unison, even more so on Saturday where I believe there will be more people in London than those who have bought tickets to see the Ol’Ratzy the Nazi.

    Here are some important links:

    http://www.protest-the-pope.org.uk/

    http://www.humanism.org.uk/home


    September 14, 2010 Posted by | General Musings, Life | Leave a comment

    Rest In Peace, Kevin McCarthy 1914-2010

    ‘They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next, You’re next…!’

    It would no doubt surprise anybody that I write this with a heavy heart, for one of my favourite actors and star of one of my most cherished movies, Kevin McCarthy has passed away.

    Don Siegel’s ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’ is to this day a timeless classic Science Fiction movie, stocked with paranoia suited to it’s time and an (unintended) allegory on McCarthyism and the perceived ‘red threat’ that swept the United States during the 1950’s.

    McCarthy had a steady career, one which delivered an Academy Award nomination in 1951 for his performance in ‘Death Of A Salesman’. Along with the inimitable Dick Miller, he was also a firm favourite of Joe Dante, who cast him in ‘The Howling’, ‘Piranha’ and ‘Twilight Zone: The Movie’ (which saw the tragic death of Vic Morrow) and ‘InnerSpace’. A brief cameo in the (dreadful) ’78 remake of ‘Invasion Of The Body Snatchers’ kept him in the public consciousness, but always as the desperate and paranoid character of Dr. Miles Bennell which he will forever be associated.

    I’m watching ‘Body Snatchers’ as I type this, savouring every frame of a movie which I hold in such high regard. I may not see it in the same light if not for Kevin McCarthy.

    September 12, 2010 Posted by | Film, Sci-Fi | Leave a comment

    About that horror documentary…..

    More of an update really, as I’ve just read a tweet from ‘cyberschzoid‘ AKA the mastermind behind the campaign. Looks like the 3-part Horror documentary may (still unconfirmed at this time) be airing on BBC4 on the 11th, 18th & 25th of October, and will include a series of “supporting horror films” to accompany it.

    This is fantastic news. Currently BBC4’s site doesn’t disclose any schedule information for October but I’ll be keeping an eye out and will be publishing the schedule as and when it goes up.

    (Keep up the good work Richard)

    September 12, 2010 Posted by | Film | Leave a comment

    Had to sign the petition again…

    …with my first signature having been deleted (or at least, I couldn’t find it…). Still, I added this:

    “By not acting upon the requirements of your demographic, regretably you are not committing to providing a broad range of entertainment. By bringing back classic Horror movies, wether it be in the form of a season here or there, or a single movie on consecutive weekends you would bear withness to an immediate rise in viewing figures from a considerable portion of the public who are feeling dissapointed with your current schedule.

    I have been made aware that there is a 3-part Horror history program that may be aired on BBC4 (a channel with the most consistent, positive output, might I add) in the coming weeks? If so, is this the start of something bigger and more fruitful for those of us who appreciate the classic works of HAMMER, Amicus, Tigon etc?

    The BBC is constantly under scrutiny these days, sometimes justifiably, other times not. Please, in the midst of this constant pressure to deliver strong competion to ward off the likes of Murdoch, don’t ignore our requirements. The BBC is STILL an institution and I, for one, would like it to remain as such. By complicance to our request, you would be on the road to strengthening your position as THE major broadcaster in the UK.

    Thank you for your consideration.”

    September 11, 2010 Posted by | Film | Leave a comment

    Rejoyce! A (little) bit more good news for the Horror campaign!

    I’ve just got up and checked my Twitter feed. Lo and indeed, behold, there is a brief chat between Mark Gatiss (who I’ve met: charming fellow) and Robin Ince (who I’m seeing on stage on Monday as part of ‘Relief-O-Matic‘*, but I digress) in which Gatiss informs of a 3-part ‘History Of Horror’ documentary to be aired next month (which is….!) on BBC4, date TBC!

    Is this just a case of coincidence or are the wheels finally turning? Of course, the documentary would have been in development for some time, and with it’s almost inevitable airing in October (very likely around Halloween), this is indeed positive news.

    *’Relief-O-Matic‘ is a one-off comedy night at The Bloomsbury Theatre on Monday September 13th, is part of the ‘Protest The Pope’ campaign. All profits are going to AIDS prevention and relief projects. Last few tickets remaining!

    Tickets and more after the jump:

    September 11, 2010 Posted by | Film | Leave a comment