Valentine’s Day: A Girl’s Top 5 Movie Wishlist

Valentine’s Day; A Girl’s Top 5 Movie Wishlist  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner what is on your wishlist? Most girls are looking for romance on Valentine’s Day so this year I have compiled a list of a girl’s favorite movie wishlist. that ooze romance. These movie selections will fit the category of the best romantic chick flicks. If you have a favorite romantic movie and don’t see it on...

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Paul Robeson’s Proud Valley

As the shadows of World War II were beginning to cast long shadows over London, Ealing Studios were beginning an ambitious new film. It was shot partly in the coal mining region of South Wales, and adapted the story of a black miner from West Virginia who drifted to Wales by way of England, searching for work. It documented the hard realities of Welsh coal miners’ lives and at the same time created a role that its star, legendary...

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Agatha Christie’s Mysterious Disappearance

 Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance. In 1926 Agatha Christie seemed to have  perfect life. She was married to  handsome ex-wartime airman and had a lovely young daughter. The war that had kept her and her husband part was now in the past and they lived in a very pleasant home. What’s more, her dream was coming true – she was being paid to write her mystery novels. And yet on the evening of  3rd.December,...

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Helene Stanley

Who was Helene Stanley? There are many people who left  an important legacy to the world of Hollywood movies but I imagine that if most of us were asked to list them, the name of Helene Stanley wouldn’t feature. But she left a lasting legacy to the Golden Era of Hollywood and it will probably surprise you. She certainly made a handful of movies but her lasting legacy was to make two films that have never been seen by the public...

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Eva, Zsa Zsa and Magda Gabor

Three sisters, twenty marriages, nineteen husbands and one child. The Gabor sisters were all born during the First World War. They were born in Hungary, all three ended up in the States and between them they married twenty times. There were fifteen divorces, a couple of annulments yet only one child resulted from these many unions.   Zsa Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor was probably the most famous of the three sisters — and she was the...

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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Film Review

We were so lucky to be invited by Lord Hughes to the House of Commons to watch a pre- screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom because my husband was a ANC freedom fighter when he was a young man. It was a sombre event because Nelson Mandela had died only a couple of days before, but it was a fitting tribute to this great man. We watched Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom in the Grand Committee Room, which was the very room where Nelson...

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Who Was Buster Edwards?

Who was Buster Edwards? If you’re English and ‘of a certain age’ you’ll recognise the name. If you don’t then it might intrigue you know that he was  petty criminal who became something of a folk hero in Britain in the 1960s. For Buster was one of the men who took part in what was known as The Great Train Robbery in 1963. Although the robbers got away with a huge amount of money the general attitude of...

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Diana Dors

Who was Diana Dors? Diana Dors was an English actress and sexy movie star who was popular in the nineteen fifties and sixties. She was often compared to Marilyn Monroe. She was gorgeous, and rather a naughty girl but she typified the ‘tart with heart of gold’. She became a much loved British institution. When she was younger, and she became a well-known movie and television star when still in her teens – most...

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Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine

Sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. In the golden era of Hollywood, few theatregoers realised that these two top actresses were sisters. Olivia was the eldest of the two. They were both born in Japan, to British parents. Their father was a patent attorney who had moved to Japan to further his career. He taught there and also ran his own law firm. The mother of the two girls was an actress who had given up her stage career...

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Why was October 21st, 2015 known as Back to the Future Day?

Why was October 21st, 2015 known as Back to the Future Day? Because in 1989, a sequel was made to the blockbuster movie Back to the Future, somewhat predictably named Back to the Future II. In the first film. Marty McFly had travelled back in time to 1955 – in the sequel he went forward in time to – you guessed – October 21st, 2015. In 1989, I imagine that 2015 seemed to be in the distant future — yet here we...

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Gorgeous Rita Hayworth

When I was a kid, one of the most popular movie actresses was the glamorous Rita Hayworth. She was the epitome of the beautiful stars coming out of Hollywood  plus she had red hair. The first time I ever saw her was in a black and white movie, so I had no idea she was red-headed. But when I later saw a  movie called “Down to Earth” there she was with her gorgeous red-gold locks. I didn’t know they weren’t...

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Classic Movies: A Matter of Life and Death

A.K.A Stairway to Heaven starring David Niven. Made in 1946, this fabulous film takes place in England during the Second World War. It has become a true classic, mainly because it is very different to most other films made at that time and also those made about the war. It stars the wonderful David Niven and when the film begins we see that he is an air force pilot in a burning plane – somewhere over England. All his crew have...

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Rudolph Valentino

The Death of a Heartthrob. Rudolph Valentino was only thirty one when he died in 1926 and the world – well, the female theatre-going world – was distraught. He was one ofthe most popular silent movies stars of the day notably for the film The Sheik. This film told of a young woman- a British aristocrat – who was kidnapped in North Africa by the supposedly brutal, but undeniably sexy and smouldering,Valentino in the...

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Marni Nixon

Who was Marni Nixon? Is the name unfamiliar to you? The chances are that you don’t recognise the face either. But it’s very likely that you know her voice. Marni was responsible for some of the most famous singing voices heard on the silver screen.. Have you heard the soundtrack from My Fair Lady for example? Or seen the film? That’s not Audrey Hepburn that you’re listening to – it’s the voice of...

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Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. When I was  kid, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films often used to be shown on the television on Sunday afternoons. Despite the fact that they were about thirty years old by that time, they were truly entrancing. I loved the music, the dancing, the humour and most of all, Ginger Roger’s  frocks. But it was one of those wonderful dresses – the one you see above – that cause chaos when...

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Harry Pitch

Who was Harry Pitch? His name isn’t well known but it may well be that you know his music. Harry was born in 1925 in London. He was the son of a Polish immigrant and when Harry left school at the age of fourteen he knew exactly what he was going to buy with his first pay packet. He bought an instrument that was going to lead to his fame  – a harmonica. Almost twenty five years later, he was in the canteen of the recording...

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The Flight of the Phoenix: Classic Movie

The Flight of the Phoenix: Classic movie This 1965 film wasn’t a huge box office hit, although it was nominated for two Academy Awards. Since then though, it has become a cult classic. Maybe it was a little ahead of its time. It was based on a novel which is equally full of suspense and conflict (see below). As you can see from the image of the left, the film has a distinguished cast, including James Stewart and Richard...

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Back to the Future Quiz

 Back to the Future: Classic movies. If you watched Back to the Future in the cinema, then I’m about to make you feel old. The first in the series was released in 1985 – that’s thirty years ago. I know, it seems like just a few years, doesn’t it?  And now all three of the Back to the Future films have become classics, and deservedly so. They are easy to watch and a lot of fun. Time travel is always fascinating....

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Von Trapp Family Singers: The Truth

 What is the truth about the von Trapp Family? There can’t be many people who are unfamiliar with the story of the von Trapp Family Singers. They were immortalised in the film, The Sound of Music. How true is the story that we know so well? I have another question too – one that I’ve never heard anyone ask. We know from the film that Captain (or Baron) von Trapp was a widower who had several children. In the film, a...

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The Alamo with John Wayne

The Alamo with John Wayne. Yesterday, I woke with a song running through my head, which then led to thoughts of the movie from which it came, The Alamo, filmed in 1960, starring John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, and other stars of the day. Based on a true story, it is now considered not factually accurate of the Battle of the Alamo, which took place in an old mission in San Antonio, Texas. Nevertheless, the movie presented...

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How to Train Your Dragon 2 -The Movie

How to Train Your Dragon 2 the animated movie follow up to How to Train Your Dragon which was released in 2010. How to Train your Dragon 2 is an amazing animated movie for both adults and children. We saw this movie with our grandson Bobby who at the time was eight years old, and I enjoyed this movie as much as he did. This film is your classic good vs. evil, with some lessons along the way. The first lesson that came to my mind was...

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Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford: Loves and private life. Legendary Hollywood actress Joan Crawford was the subject of  vitriolic exposé book written by her adopted daughter. Whether these revelations are true is a matter of conjecture but Christina claimed that her mother had adopted her and other children to enhance her fame, rather than because of maternal feelings. The book reveals stories of abuse and tells of Joan’s affairs – with both...

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Star Wars Quiz

Welcome to your Star Wars Quiz In what episode did Padame Amidala wear white high-heeled boots?Who said: “Your focus determines your reality.”What were removed from Anakin Skywalker when he became Darth Vader?What color was Darth Vader’s Lightsaber? Who said “Somebody has to save our skins.” In what episode did Padmé Amidala wear a red jewel on her forehead? Who said “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”How many buttons did Han Solo have...

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Who Was Toby Halicki?

Toby Halicki: Movie tragedy Toby was a film producer who had a cult following because of his car-crash movies. He produced and appeared in the films he made, and also took part as a stunt driver. But in 1989, a stunt that he’d fought for went terribly wrong. He was filming a sequel, Gone in 60 Seconds II, a follow-up to a movie he had made in 1974. A highlight of the movie was a truck colliding with a water tower- see the video...

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Cars on Film – Charlie Croker’s Aston Martin DB4

Andy Royston follows the fate of one of England’s most famous cars. Garage Manager: You must have shot an awful lot of tigers, sir. Charlie Croker: Yes, I used a machine gun. Charlie had just done time in the slammer but wasn’t about to let the valet parking company know. He’d left his silver Aston Martin DB4 in the giant underground parking lot underneath Hyde Park in London. He didn’t go there directly....

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“The Blob” Introducing Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen and The Blob. Actor Steve McQueen seemed to come out of nowhere into fame as a movie actor. But he really did have a rather difficult beginning; his first leading role in a movie was in a “space invader” plot that he believed would never make any money. What’s more, he was 27 years old and cast in the role of a teenager. He was so convinced the film was doomed to failure he took his pay upfront with no...

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The Day Michael Caine Discovered a Family Secret

The day Michael Caine discovered a family secret. When actor Michael Caine and his younger brother, Stanley, were growing up in London, on every single Monday their mother used to go to visit their Aunt Lil. The two boys never thought anything about it – it was simply part of the family routine. But many years later, in 1991, the actor found out the truth.She had been going somewhere very different indeed. Michael Caine was in...

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Was Carmen Nigro King Kong?

Carmen Nigro: The man who thought he was King Kong In the early 1980s, Mrs Evelyn Nigro was thoroughly fed up of having a gorilla costume in her Chicago basement apartment. The thing was over fifty years old. It had mildew and it was getting smelly. She told her husband, Carmen – a seventy seven year old security guard, that it had to go. It was either the costume or her. It was playing havoc with her allergies. Reluctantly,...

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Favourite Movies – Woody Allen’s Radio Days

“Like Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder before him, Woody Allen is a writer-director with a distinctive voice and a satirical thrust. I appreciate his tone, which is bitter-sweet and self-conscious. At their best his films reflect on the process of cinematic storytelling” David Evanier : PBS Interview  Woody Allen emerged into moviemaking just after American Jews – who had pretty much build the American movie industry...

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Songs For London – Music Hall to Rock n Roll

Andy Royston puts on his titfer and whistle and wraps his britneys around some ding dongs. I should cocoa… Music hall songs are London’s folk songs. This is easy music, delivered in language as familiar to the elderly as to the child in the streets. Themes are interwoven with songs learned in the playground and the Sunday Schools, and delivered in the voices of the street barker and the barrow boy. They’ve borrowed...

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Judi Dench: Top Movies

I’m a huge fan of the British actress, Judi Dench. Or, I should say, Dame Judi Dench – she was honoured for her services to the performing arts by Her Majesty the Queen in 1980. She had a hugely successful career on the stage before she moved to television work but she is probably best known today for her fabulous films. Here are my favourites. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel This one gets the biggest image because I think...

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A Classic Must See: Phantom of the Opera

A Classic Story That Many Still Love. The Phantom of the Opera is a movie that must be seen! The stage performances of this classic has been seen world wide for years and years. I know that when it was playing in my city, it had a run of at least 5 years. In that 5 year time span I managed to go and see it 3 times and I would have gone 3 more times if anyone had asked me……. The Phantom of the Opera has been one of the most...

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Mae Westisms

Westisms are what I call the things said by a bawdy, beloved performer named Mae West. She was born Mary Jane West on  August 17, 1893 to parents John Patrick West and Matilda (Tillie) Doelger in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a prize fighter who became a “special policeman” and later had his own detective agency. Her mother modeled corsets and fashions. Mae was only five years old when she entertained a crowd at a...

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Life of Pi: A Magical Masterpiece

Life of Pi  lived with me for a very long time making me think very deeply about our very existence! I highly recommend it for anyone with a love of life and adventure. This is the kind of film that lifts you off your seat, transports you right into the screen, and swallows you up. Was what I had just seen for real or not? It is a poetic story about an Indian family who are forced to transport their entire zoo across the ocean. During...

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A Review of High Crimes, the Movie and the Book

A Review of High Crimes, the Movie and the Book If you could enjoy watching Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, James Caviezel all in the same movie, would you pass it up? I wouldn’t. When High Crimes came out in 2002, I was anxious to see it. First, there was Morgan Freeman. I’ve been a fan of his as long as I can remember, but since his role in Shawshank Redemption, he’s become a favorite. His voice alone makes his movies worthwhile,...

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A Review of the documentary ‘Aluna’ . The Kogi People Warn us About the End of the World

This evening I was invited to a screening of ‘Aluna’ (‘the mind inside nature’), which was followed by a Q&A session with its award winning British director and documentary filmmaker Alan Ereira. This is the second documentary film he has made with the indigenous Kogi people of Colombia. These people are desperately trying to warn us of the very real possibility of the end of the world unless we stop ruthlessly...

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“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…”

“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…” The scene is a bar room in French Martinique, a hot and noisy club setting where a piano player called Cricket (Hoagy Carmichael ) is playing for a gorgeous teenage singer, Slim. Slim was Lauren Bacall in her first movie role, and what a star turn she gave, singing one of Carmichael’s most memorable songs, How Little We Know. Her vocal training was coming along, but no-one...

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Art and Film : Midnight In Paris

Andy Royston reviews a movie that fulfills the ultimate artists’ fantasy – going back in time to hang out with the greats. “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway. “I have a tendency to romanticize Paris. When the lights come up and it’s almost midnight, everything...

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Ice Cube has a BAD Day in Ride Along

My Personal Review of Ride Along Starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. I love comedies featuring police officers. I’m not sure why I find these movies so entertaining, but I do. In fact, some of my favorite comedies of all time include 21 Jump Street, Blue Streak, Miami Vice, Bad Boys, and many others. So, when I saw the previews for Ride Along, I was pretty sure it would be a movie that I liked. I mean with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube...

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Miss Marple: Margaret Rutherford’s Family Murder

Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Margaret Rutherford was a much-loved British actress and probably her best known role was that of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. And yet because of a tragic murder in her own family, Miss Rutherford almost turned down the part of the famous elderly amateur detective. The public was almost denied from seeing her in  this most memorable role. MGM, the movie studio, was planning to make Murder...

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Best of British – Night Mail

Andy Royston celebrates Night Mail, one of the most influential documentary films of all time. “If you wanted to see what camera and sound could really do, you had to see some little film sponsored by the Post Office or the Gas, Light & Coke company.” J.B. Priestley For much of the time between the wars the General Post Office (GPO) was the largest employer in Britain. It was at the leading edge of business practice...

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The Shawshank Redemption The Best Movie from the 90’s

One of the Best Movies I’ve Seen There aren’t very many movies that stand the test of time as much as The Shawshank Redemption.  It remains  one of my top ten all time favorite movies. The surprising part is that I didn’t want to see it when I first heard of it. Who wants to see a movie about prison? That has never been a topic of particular interest. Was I ever wrong. It was such a wonderful movie I even recommended...

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The Wizard of Oz

The year was 1939 and Hollywood was still a small town that was just starting to grow. Film and movies were already a favorite pastime, and inroads were being made to make films even more interesting and stimulating. Produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, The Wizard of Oz was breaking all kinds of new frontiers in story telling, especially in the film market. A fantasy, based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank...

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Hollywood Redheads – Wilma Flintstone

Andy Royston pays tribute to one of the original Hollywood Wives. Wilma Flintstone. Television’s image of the American woman, 1964, is a stupid, unattractive, insecure little household drudge who spends her martyred, mindless, boring days dreaming of love – and plotting nasty revenge against her husband. Betty Freidan – Television and the Feminine Mystique.  I love thee Wilma, with hair like silk, Lips like cherries,...

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More of Hollywood’s Finest Redheads

Andy Royston continues his appreciation of Hollywood’s redheads. “It is observed that the red-haired of both sexes are more libidinous and mischievous than the rest, whom yet they much exceed in strength and activity” –  Jonathan Swift, Gullivers Travels “You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair, people who haven’t red hair don’t know what trouble is” – Anne of Green Gables In Part One...

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Hollywood’s Finest Redheads

An appreciation of big screen redheads by Andy Royston “I would always hesitate to recommend as a life’s companion a young lady with quite such a vivid shade of red hair. Red hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous.” P.G. Wodehouse – Very Good Jeeves “Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.”  ― Lucille Ball In 2014 something extraordinary happened. A rubescence of...

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The Ghost and Mrs Muir

The Ghost and Mrs Muir: Movie This is the most lovely film. It’s a love story, a weepie, a ghost story and a comedy all in one. Released in 1945, it has all the charm and drama of the Hollywood era. It’s set in the early 1900s and Lucy Moore has recently been widowed. Determined to start  new life away from her in-laws, she and her small daughter move to a remote rented house near the sea. She’s been warned that the...

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Songs about Cities : Chicago (Encore)

When it comes to Chicago music it all boils down to one thing. A cultural moment that overshadows all else. A watershed experience, not just for the city, but everyone else on the planet that witnessed the car crashes, the celebrity cameos, the flamethrower attacks, the shopping mall destructions, and the relentless car chase carnage that was The Blues Brothers. This is the second of two articles about music inspired by the great city...

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Re-inventing Key Largo

By the time that Maxwell Anderson wrote his prose play Key Largo, the drama’s island setting on the southern tip of Florida had almost erased the name. Anderson’s self-important drama was actually focused on the Spanish Civil war and was written in the form of a Shakesperean tragedy. The trip to Florida by the plays protagonist King McCloud (Key West is his destination) was one of atonement as he seeks out a fallen...

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Once: The Musical

Toronto has been host city to a number of world class musical productions and it just doesn’t stop! The musical “Once” was also filmed in Toronto and that is where I was introduced to it. The story is one of music and the meeting of talented people trying to forage out a living on the corners and streets of many cities the world over. Hoping of course, that enough people will drop some change into your bag while you play your...

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Saving Private Ryan – A Movie Review

Saving Private Ryan – A Movie Review Saving Private Ryan hit the big screen in 1998. Directed by the master Stephen Spielberg, and staring Tom Hanks. We saw this movie when it was released; the theater was full there wasn’t one empty seat to be had. The first 25 minutes of Saving Private Ryan was the assault on Omaha Beach, the invasion of Normandy known as D-Day June 6, 1944. I sat there in absolute AWE!! As I’m sure...

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Who were Charters and Caldicott

I don’t know about you, but when I’m watching a classic movie I’m always taken by the characters on the edge of the action. The more than curious bystander who gets caught up in the action almost accidentally. Take Alfred Hitchcock’s classic take on Agatha Christie’s novel The Lady Vanishes. Two inept and veddy British cricket fans  are amongst passengers on a train out of the European country of...

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De Havilland aircraft & the film Rebecca

What’s the connection between the de Havilland aircraft & the film Rebecca?   Movie trivia: Here’s  little piece of trivia with which to bore your friends. There is a strong connection between the aircraft company that made, amongst other things, the World War Two Mosquito bomber and the fabulous Alfred Hitchcock movie, Rebecca. Rebecca, one of the best films ever, starred Joan Fontaine in the leading female role....

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An Officer and a Gentleman – My Review

An Officer and a Gentleman – My Review An Officer and a Gentleman hit the big screen in July of 1982, a time when some of you weren’t even born. Just to let you know how long ago that was the price of a gallon of gas was $1.30. This movie grossed almost $130 million and came in third in the box office. E.T.-The Extra Terrestrial was number one and Tootsie was number two, and if you’re too young to remember those 2 movies,...

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Finding Nemo, A Review

Finding Nemo, a Movie You Can Watch Over and Over I couldn’t resist watching this again once I chose it to review. Just finished, so I am writing this with a smile on my face. With the holidays here now, movies will be needed for some relax time for kids and adults both. This is still my first choice! Finding Nemo is a new classic in my opinion, and a movie every family should have for their own. A great gift for kids and...

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The Last of the Blonde Bombshells

The Last of the Blonde Bombshells: Movie If like me you’re tired of some of the films we see today and are looking to watch a movie that’s truly hilarious, a great story and a little bit of a weepie then I highly recommend The Last of the Blonde Bombshells. As a bonus,or rather two, it has wonderful music and an impressive cast including the fabulous Dame Judi Dench. The film flips between modern day (well, 2000) and the...

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Movie Review: The Book Thief

Movie Review: The Book Thief Have I ever told you that neither I or my other half pay too much attention to movie ratings? I guess for many years we have and been so disappointed in what was considered 5 stars and enchanted with some that only rated 2 or 3…. The Book Thief is based on a novel written in French “La Voleuse de Livres” , and takes place in Germany before and during the Second World War. This movie though is unlike...

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Fingersmith: A Victorian saga

Fingersmith: Fascinating Victorian tale This film is astounding. It is everything you’d expect from an adaptation of a novel set in Victorian times but much, much more. The plot has twists and turns which are totally unexpected. It tells of a girl, Sue, who hails from the seamier side of London. Imagine a Fagin-like den of thieves and this will give you some idea of her background. She is persuaded – by the promise of a...

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Review: The Legend of 1900

Review: The Legend of 1900 This is a film I have watched over and over again – and it’s due for another airing very soon. It’s the most wonderful story; both heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. But if that sounds too maudlin, please don’t be put off. It’s immensely entertaining, hugely funny and has the most fabulous music. Our narrator throughout the film,and one of its leading...

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Freaks: The movie with so many questions

Freaks: The film that asks so many questions Freaks is a movie made in 1932.  Could such a film be made today? Probably not. When the film was first issued, it was banned in the UK for over thirty years.There are reports of cinemagoers fainting, screaming or running from the theatres. And this wasn’t because of any chilling special effects. Yet the version that was released had been extensively cut – with the worst parts...

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Big Screen Duos

Big Screen Duos The big screen has sure had its share of famous duos. Hollywood really knows how to pick them. To name a few of the famous duos that we love and adore; Clark Gable and Carroll Lombard, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, how about Lucy and Desi, and then there was Danny Glover and Mel Gibson who teamed up in Lethal Weapon. These actors teamed up to make many great classics, and there are so many more. Their characters...

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From Books to Movies

From Books to Movies Fantasy movies for children and adults have always been popular. When I was growing up there is the ever famous Wizard of Oz, and still going today. On the mythical Viking Island of Berk, the dragons tormented the Vikings, ruining crops and stealing their livestock. The Vikings were in constant battle with the dragons, until the Viking King’s son Hiccup changes all of this. The villagers and dragons now live in...

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