Remembrance of Things Past

Most of us reflect on past events in our lives, some by looking at old photographs, or rereading diaries, and others by relying on their memories. For filmgoers the showing of old films on television and the occasional revivals in cinemas must suffice. But when one thinks of these old screen musicals, how nostalgic it all is. My own personal memories are truly overcrowded as I think of those old Busby Berkeley Warner musicals of the mid 30’s with stars like Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, James Cagney and Joan Blondell. As thoughts take us through the years of the musicals the casts become interchangeable. The late 30’s and the start of the successful Jeanette McDonald-Nelson Eddy teaming … Fox’s technicolor trifles with such stars as Alice Faye, Betty Grable, Don Ameche, John Payne, Jack Oakie and always somewhere in her outrageous costumes and hats the dynamic Carmen Miranda … all those Crosby musicals at Paramount … the Astaire-Rogers ones at RKO … the many magical moments spent watching those MGM musicals with a roster of talent like Garland, Home, Rooney, Kelly, Keel etc …

One good way of reviving one’s memones of old films is by playing through the sound track records of these films. For a long time many of these were unavailable, but now with the current wave of nostalgia riding high, the record companies are releasing a wealth of material for the film record collector fans. RCA is digging ud early talkies tracks that even include a song by Joan Crawford, whilst Decca have already given us some fine vintage stuff by Deanna Durbin, Carmen Miranda and Judy Garland.

But the best of the batch so far as filmgoers are concerned comes from the Phonodisc group on the MGM label. They have already issued over a dozen in this series and this month a further 4 arrive which comprise some 7 films of the 1950’s. Many of these have long been unavailable since being deleted from the original MGM label back in the early 1960’s.

These reissues are all nicely sleeved with some interesting line notes and pictures and credits for the films. Remember too that they are mostly recorded direct from the sound-tracks, long before stereo was invented. The mono recordings have been enhanced for stereo and a pretty good job they’ve made of them. Of all film records available to fans at the moment, I think that these Phonodisc reissues, priced at £1.95 are indeed the best buy.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes / Till the Clouds Roll By – MGM 2353067

The best buy of the current batch for collectors is undoubtedly this double feature. 20th Century Fox came out with their newly developed Cinemascope in 1953, launching it with block busters such as THE ROBE and HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE. The first musical in this new process was GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES. This story by Anita Loos was previously produced on Broadway with Carol Channing in the lead, but when Fox transferred it to the screen they decided to use their Number One glamour girl Marilyn Monroe as Lorelei Lee, with Jane Russell co-starring as her friend Dorothy. The plot has the girls going to Paris to fulfill a nightclub engagement. Lorelei says goodbye to her rich fiancé before the boat sails and during the boat ride becomes involved with a rich elderly millionaire. The happenings on board ship and in Paris are fast and furious but like all good tales, ends happily with both girls getting hitched. Unfortunately in its translation to the screen a lot of the bright and bouncy Jules Styne songs were left on the cutting room floor, and only 3 survived the trip to the screen. Two new songs by Hoagy Carmichael added to the score were ‘Is There Anyone Here For Love’, featuring that brunette amazon Jane Russell cavorting round a gymnasium full of muscle men, and ‘When Love Goes Wrong’ featuring both female stars, and is not a particularly interesting tune. Of the old songs, ‘Bye Bye Baby’ is first sung as a slow seductive ballad by Monroe, and then bounced into a fast up-tempo song by Jane Russell. ‘Little Girl From Little Rock’, originally a solo for Lorelei becomes a bright opening song for both stars. There remains the famous ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’, sung by Marilyn Monroe. For those who saw the film ’nuff said, and for those who didn’t, if you use your imagination, you can visualise this lovely lady at her screen peak singing this song.

Till The Clouds Roll By

Jerome Kern, that much loved American composer, is said to have written over 1,000 popular songs. In 1946 MGM produced an all star technicolor musical titled TILL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY which was very loosely based on his life story. For many years this remained in my memory as one of the finest musicals of all time, yet when I saw it again recently, I was saddened to find how trite the story seemed by today’s standards. However, some two dozen of his songs used during the two hours running time have in the main remained as fresh as I recall them to be. What a pity that due to contract troubles MGM were only able to record a fraction of this film’s magnificent score.

Working in Hollywood at this time as musical director of most Metro musicals, was Lennie Hayton, and his scoring for this particular film is amongst his best work. Also worthy of praise for her work as vocal arranger in those days is Kay Thompson. Her close harmony arrangements are particularly noticeable in the songs ‘Leave It To Jane’ and Who’. I recall the latter number featuring a much pregnant Judy Garland portraying Marilyn Miller dancing up and down a moving escalator.

The film has a 20 minute sequence of Kern’s most beloved musical ‘Showboat’ early on, and this record features some of those songs: Caleb Peterson doing ‘Ol’ Man River’, the amusing ‘Life Upon The Wicked Stage’ sung by ‘Dead-pan’ comedienne Virginia O’Brien, the definitive version of ‘Can’t Help Loving Dat Man’ by Lena Horne, and ‘Who Cares If My Boat Goes Up Stream’ by Tony Martin, followed by some brief dialogue from Martin and Kathryn Grayson, leading into their duet of ‘Make Believe’. The film’s title song is sung by Ray McDonald and chorus, June Allyson does ‘Leave It To Jane’ and ‘Cleopatterer’ in her husky voice. Judy Garland sings ‘Look For The Silver Lining’ with great feeling and also the exciting version of that evergreen song ‘Who’. Altogether a bumper bundle.

Kiss Me Kate – MGM 2353062

Cole Porter’s score for KISS ME KATE is considered one of his finest, yet it is strange that none of the songs have become standards in spite of the fact that many of his songs are known as such. This MGM musical produced some four years after the show’s debut was made in the 3D process, which Hollywood attempted to make popular at the time. It can claim to be the only musical made in that process, but the company soon discarded their plans to give out free pairs of glasses for patrons to use when viewing the film. Here we have 14 songs which sound as fresh today both lyrically and musically as they first did back in the late 40’s. The teaming of Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson proved successful and they were particularly suitable for the roles of husband and wife continually battling offstage as well as on stage when portraying Shakespeare’s leading characters in ‘Taming Of The Shrew’. Ann Miller gives good support and 3 of Hollywood’s top leading dancers at the time. Tommy Rail, Bobby Van and Bob Fosse are also featured. Keel has several fine solos: ‘Were Thine That Special Face’ (surely one of Porter’s best love songs), ‘I’ve Come To Wife It Wealthily In Padua’ and the amusing ‘Where Is The Life That Late I Led’. Grayson solos on ‘I Hate Men’ and together they team well on ‘Wunderbar’, the title song and the show’s biggest hit ‘So In Love’. Ann Miller solos on ‘Too Darn Hot’, ‘Why Can’t You Behave’ and ‘Always True To You In My Fashion’ and brings her usual vivacity to every song. Cut from a 1950 stage show and added to this film score is the number ‘From This Moment On’ which Ann Miller sings along with the 3 featured dancers. There is also the amusing ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ performed by Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore. This record serves as a good reminder of Porter at his best ranging as it does from tender ballad to witty ‘point’ songs.

An American In Paris / Les Girls MGM 2353068

The pairing on one record of musical scores by both Gershwin and Porter sounds exciting. However this record features fewer artists than the others and unless you are a confirmed Gene Kelly fan, there isn’t much here to listen to other than a grand arrangement of George Gershwin’s AMERICAN IN PARIS suite. This film has probably had more bookings on the Classic circuit than any other Metro musical, with the exception of “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers” (which always seems to be showing somewhere in London.) Kelly plays an impoverished artist surviving on the Left Bank of Paris, who meets a little perfume seller and falls in love with her. Partnered with Leslie Caron, he performs some of his best screen dancing in this film. Apart from the orchestral suite itself, Kelly is featured singing ‘Love Is Here To Stay’, the last song written by Gershwin before his untimely death in 1936. He also sings ‘I Got Rhythm’ accompanied by a chorus of street urchins, and is paired with George Guetary on ‘S’Wonderful’ Perhaps I’m biased, but for me the high spot of the whole record is Guetary’s dynamic rendering of ‘I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise.’

I shall dispense with LES GIRLS as briefly as possible, as it really is one of the poorest Porter scores around. Indeed Porter is reported to have said that he was displeased with it. The title song, ‘Les Girls’ features Kelly with his three leading ladies, Mitzi Gaynor, Kay Kendall and Taina Elg, and the ladies are together on another track ‘Ladies In Waiting’ without Mr Kelly. The lovely Kay Kendall joins him on ‘You’re just Too, Too’ but none of these songs have the usual verve and wit associated with Porter. Taina Elg solos on ‘Ca C’est L’amour’ which is too much like ‘I Love Paris’ to sound original. Kelly ends the record with his one solo from this film ‘Why Am I So Gone About That Gal’, which is also unmemorable, though I recall, in the film it was an amusing parody on Brando’s ‘The Wild Ones’.

Brigadoon / Two Weeks With Love – MGM 2353065

Long before GIGI brought the names of Lerner and Loewe to the public’s eye, they created an effective musical titled BRIGADOON back in 1947. This tale of a magic Scottish village which comes to life for one day ever 100 years was fairly successful both here and on Broadway, though coming as it did in the wake of those two colossal hits, OKLAHOMA and ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, it rather got lost in the shuffle. The film version was delayed several times and finally saw the light of day in 1955. It’s hard to believe that Vincente Minnelli could create such a heavy-handed film version from such a lovely stage musical. The record, however, can serve as a fond reminder of the fine score, though here again one would have to be a confirmed Gene Kelly fan for full enjoyment. His tendency to sing sharp proves a little irritating on the three fine ballads, ‘Heather On The Hill’, ‘Almost Like Being In Love’ and ‘There But For You Go I’. Carol Richards who dubbed for Cyd Charisse in the film sings ‘Waiting For My Dearie’ nicely, and the fine voice of John Gustafson does justice to ‘Come To Me, Bend To Me’. Gustafson is joined by Van Johnson in the sprightly ‘I’ll Go Home With Bonnie Jean’, and the orchestra and chorus make up the other tracks.

I can’t recall much about TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE as a film, but listening to the record I was reminded again how much I enjoyed Jane Powell’s singing in all her films. She uses her lyrical voice to fine effect on ‘A Heart That’s True’, ‘My Hero’ and ‘By the Light of the Silvery Moon’. She seems equally at home with the jazzy ‘Oceana Roll’, ‘Row, Row, Row’ and ‘Aba Daba Honeymoon’ are the two remaining tracks, some with suitable buoyancy by Carlton Carpenter and Debbie Reynolds (NOT Jane Powell as wrongly listed on both disc and sleeve).

These then are the four current reissues. Offhand I can’t think of many more Metro musicals not rereleased, but I may be wrong. For full details of the previous issues in this series ask at your nearest record shop.

Penguins On The March

Penguin Education Specials:
THE PAINT HOUSE: Words from an East End Gang. The Collinwood Gang and Susie Daniel and Pete McGuire. 30p.

A Penguin Special:
THALIDOMIDE AND THE POWER OF THE DRUG COMPANIES. Henning Sjostrom and Robert Nilsson 40p.

Three books, each important, each original, each an attack on common assumptions, and all written well without propagandising.

The first two, A Last Resort and The Paint House, are about two different aspects of violence. And instead of laying the blame where it is usually put (on the children in schools or the toughs’ in the skinhead gangs), they place it squarely where it belongs; on the shoulders of the people who made them that way, and on the society which sanctions and uses violence as the quick and easy way of getting what it wants.

A Last Resort was compiled from material collected by the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment (STOPP), and is the first shot in their campaign to abolish corporal punishment in schools. They are doing this along with the National Council for Civil Liberties. The book demonstrates how educationally and socially destructive the threat and actual use of physical punishment in schools is, and how a school can work better, both for the teachers and the pupils, when it is removed. Unfortunately, abolishing it also means that the traditional teaching methods and attitudes have to be questioned and modified or scrapped, and the book includes examples of schools where this has been done

One example will show how destructive caning and the threat of it is. Caning is often used as a punishment for truancy. This makes the school an even more unpleasant place to be, so the child is more likely to play truant again, and less likely to want to go back – after all, the first thing he will face is a caning. Eventually he will lose interest in being at school and want to be away from it as soon as possible. It may take longer to talk to and understand a child, but isn’t that better for him and everyone else (since it avoids building violence into him as a means of getting his own way), than the easy way out with a cane?

The Paint House is about East End boys whose background (including their schools) leaves them no means of self-expression except violence, and no importance except in the eyes of one another — hence the gang, and the violence they can get away with as a gang, become the most important things for them.

Who can blame them for using violence for getting their own way? After all, police, parents, government, teachers, even doctors use violence in one form or another to get their way. Some of us have a recourse against this in our social status – they have no such comfortable bolster.

The words are the words of the gang members themselves, with a thread supplied by the two ‘outsiders’, and occasional comments (highlighting the misunderstanding and ignorance) from people in authority, whether in school, work, pub or whatever.

It is a committed book, about change and about class differences, but it restrains its preaching and puts a cogent case. That we are all people, but you wouldn’t think so from the way we treat one another. Most of us are subtle about it. Skinheads are not.

The third book I want to talk about is about one of the worst cases of disregarding people in order to profit — the thalidomide story. Thalidomide and the Power of the Drug Companies. Time after time, so calmly you almost don’t notice, the book details how Chemie Grunenthal ignored mounting evidence about the various permanent side effects of thalidomide, until the sudden incidence of ‘thalidomide babies’ gave them no option. Even years later, when on trial, the contended that there was no proof that thalidomide caused the damage. Profit, in other words, was a higher consideration than people. The amazing thing is that, with the exception of the USA, most countries have done little to tighten their regulations regarding the introduction of new drugs. And that the majority of the population in some countries where thalidomide was sold still do not know about what happened!

Three books then, that attack basic assumptions and structures in our world. If you don’t believe things need changing, read them and see.

Underground Classics

Candy by Terry Southern & Mason Hoffenberg — NEL, 40p
Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me by Richard Farina — NEL 40p
Junkie by William S. Buroughs — NEL, 30p
Opium by Jean Cocteau – NEL, 30p
Big Sur by Jack Kerouac – NEL, 40p
Jail Notes by Timothy Leary – NEL, 50p

The Underground Classics series produced recently by New English Library is a re-publication of some famous and difficult to obtain books, including some works by members of the ‘beat’ and ‘underground’ generations. It is good that many of these are available again, for they allow people who did not read them in the past, or were too young, to read some of the most important ‘new’ writers to emerge in the last twenty or so years.

Candy by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg, often described as one of the greatest sexual satires of our time, is one of the titles. When it was originally published here a few years ago, only an edited version was available. But times have changed and the text of this new edition is complete. The book is a combination of black, black humour and sexual athletics, resulting in a very funny novel, sending up the role-playing and hypocrisy of the heterosexual world.

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me is a novel written by the late Richard Farina, who died in a tragic motorcycle accident in California in 1966 — two days after the book’s publication. It is a sadly neglected work, being an important document describing the contemporary ‘hip’ scene in the States (which was later to cross over here) during the early sixties. The film that has been made of the book is hopefully to be released here soon.

Junkie was William S. Burrough’s first novel, and possibly, to many, his most accessible. Originally published under the pen name William Lee, the narrative tells of the author’s own history of escalating drug addiction, ending in his cure, apparently partly due to Burrough’s discovery of hallucinogens. A frightening but important book.

Opium by Jean Cocteau is another book concerned with drug addiction. This time it is the author’s account of his experiences whilst ‘hooked’ on opium, with details of his extraordinary life and thoughts, along with descriptions of the acute suffering he went through during the ‘weaning off’ treatment. It is a fascinating book, that still has much relevance today. The drawings that illustrate this edition are the same that appeared in the original version.

Jack Kerouac, the author of Big Sur, was the first and most important writer to emerge from the ‘beat generation’ of the fifties. The effect of his novel on a generation still cannot be measured. And the freedom he gave other writers because of his success, is something modern literature will always be in his debt for. After his death a short while ago, many of his works were re-issued, this being the latest. It is a lyrically told story of a searching for meaning in the complexes of America and a tale of spiritual yearning and final awareness. Big Sur was sadly underrated when it first appeared, despite the inclusion of one of Kerouac’s best poems at the end of the book, which also is included in this edition.

Jail Notes by (Dr) Timothy Leary is an account of the author’s prison experiences, after being sentenced to a possible ten-year term for possession of marihuana, and before his escape from jail in September, 1970. Leary is someone you either take seriously or you dismiss completely, there is no middle way. His views on homosexuality (in other works) leave a lot to be desired, but his explorations of the uncharted depths of the human mind have meant Leary has had to make many brave sacrifices.

Soon to be published is Quiet Days in Clichy by Henry Miller, which has recently been made into a feature film, although at present it is without a certificate to be shown in this country.

Mind Games

A PERSONAL ANTHOLOGY. Written and edited by Jorge Luis Borges. Published by Picador at 45p.

There is no writer who amazes, baffles and intrigues me more than Borges – Argentina’s leading man of letters.

This is the selection of work on which he’d like his reputation to rest. I don’t think it’s his best work. But at least most of it hasn’t been printed in this country before – Penguin’s ‘Labyrinths’ selection draws heavily from the ‘Ficciones’ anthology.

Borges is a writer whose pure logic takes him and your thoughts along straight lines over the edge of the world and back to where you started. If you have grown out of Cosmo’s novelettes and like to think now and again, Borges is your man. This is a good selection of his lunatic-mathematical stories. It’s a pity I can’t like his poetry.

Peter Holmes

Law Triumphs, Justice Doesn’t

The Magician by Sol Stein. Published by New English Library. Paperback, 40p.

One of the most upsetting and at the same time most outstanding novels I have read recently is ‘The Magician’ by Sol Stein. The point of the book is to show that the law doesn’t necessarily equal justice, in fact the two can quite often be used for different ends.

Briefly, the plot is about a vicious assault on a sixteen year old schoolboy and the legal consequences. Much of the story is concerned with the ensuing court case or else in studying the characters of those principally involved — the culprit responsible for the seemingly pointless attack, the parents of the victim and the aggressor, and Ed Japhet, the schoolboy. The novel also comments on the state of American society – not the seamy, junk-neon, spectacular country that is usually over-glamourised, but middle America with its institutions and on-the-surface respectability and tranquility, hiding its inner turmoil.

Sol Stein’s style is both convincing and literate, without ever becoming boring. And the final twist is startling, although not altogether unexpected. A feature film is soon to be made of ‘The Magician’ and if the script is sensibly handled, and without the essence of the story being lost, it should prove to be a major event in cinema.

‘The Magician’ is an important book that has something significant to say. At the same time it is a very captivating book.

Denis Lemon

A Bold Study of Abnormal Sex: World Famous Best Seller

They Live In The Shadows

‘Syphilis’ is no longer a shocking, or even an impolite word. Everywhere, people talk about venereal disease as unfortunate, but natural… and curable.

We’re more broad minded today but not about every thing. Two things – HOMOSEXUALITY AND PROSTITUTION – are still considered by the majority of the population as the lowermost depths of depravity, or subjects for bawdy humour.

As it happens, homosexuals and prostitutes are real people – with very real problems.

Here, for the first time, is a book about what they are like, and what their problems are.

From the blurb, you’d expect the book to be at least controversial. Find out for yourselves. It’s presently being remaindered at only lOp, at several book shops in London, anyway. And you’d hardly guess it was the dear old Wolfenden Report. Dressed in sheep’s clothing?

Bona Bargain Basement

Death In The Sun

THE ASSASSINATION OF TROTSKY, starring Richard Burton, Alain Delon, Romy Schneider; screenplay by Nicholas Moseley. Directed by JOSEPH LOSEY. Distributed by Anglo—EMI.

Joseph Losey makes films about the human condition and this time he has turned his attention to the personal dilemma of those who live the falsest lives of all, politicians, and more particularly Trotsky, who in 1941 was living in exile in Mexico, ageing, ill and living in terror of being assassinated. Not only is he in exile from Russia, but from the idealism he supposedly stood for. He is in every sense living in an ivory tower. His house is surrounded by a high wall which is patrolled by American guards, and inside an inverted Trotsky strides about talking like an academic book, recording his ‘left words’ for Time and Life magazines, periodically pausing for bourgeois little tea parties. A fine madness. While Trotsky is locked away from the proletariat he claims to represent, in the streets outside Mexico is expressing its dilemma. As quickly as the new bright Coca Cola signs go up, there is another red flag demonstration.

Trotsky’s assassin, coolly, mysteriously played by Alain Delon, in the beginning has a logical idealism. He knows why Trotsky must be destroyed; American capitalism will bring industrialism, prosperity. The slums will disappear, and as he looks at murals in a church, he relishes the good society where the artist can express himself freely.

But this is a film about the human condition, so of course the doubts and uncertainties set in. Through his girlfriend, Trotsky’s secretary, he meets him, talks to him. He goes to a bull fight, that symbol (in Mexico anyway) of the hardness and toughness of capitalist society; it makes him cry. He thinks; he suffers from the diabolic illusion that he loves his girlfriend, and she worships Trotsky, has no idea of Jacson’s (Delon) plan to kill him. The passionate scenes between them are hard and beautiful.

The final assassination attempt comes at last. No quick bang or thrust with a knife, but Jacson in complete and utter conflict, trembling, and then thrusting, but not hard enough to kill instantly. The blood pours from Trotsky’s head. Jacson stands paralysed; he can’t run away; he screams like the bull which has been speared by the matador. The Police: “Why did you do it. What is your name? What was your motive?” Silence … then softly – “I killed Trotsky.” “I killed Trotsky.”

This is a very heavy film. It’s not a gay night out, it’s a piece of beautifully detailed work that is a real effort to watch and to concentrate on, and worth it. Burton is surprisingly superb and how like Losey, as well as Trotsky,

Losey has made him look. The film is not particularly pro-American, but is certainly anti-Trotsky in atmosphere. Perhaps Losey has now purged himself of the communist views and involvement which led to his demise in the McCarthy purge of Hollywood. Perhaps he has purged himself of the madness of politics and its crazy academic thinking, and this is why he is making masterpieces about people. Recommended.

Below The Belt

I’ve spent a few years as a provincial paper movie critic and, as such, I’ve had sex education flix up to here (he indicated his rat-low brow.)

In fact I’ve seen so many sex education movies that the Pearl and Dean breaks became cinematic delights before I moved from country pleasures to the lemming-race of the Northern Line.

All this by way of introduction to what was for me an amazing little movie that opens at the Electric Cinema Club, Portobello Road, this weekend (November 5) for a week.

It’s amazing because it’s not crammed with:

a) as much nudity as possible using sex-ed as the excuse for a pale blue movie

b) well-meaning Scandinavians discussing orgasms over their coffee and cakes with schlagsahne, evidently psychiatrists of some sort.

Cobra-One – called that because it’s Cobra Films’ first effort – is a realistic piece of sex-education that, as one would expect, concentrates on a heterosexual couple. But it does not put down gays, just as it doesn’t suggest that such a position may be just right for a certain couple. But then it doesn’t advise gay sex.

Cobra-One, otherwise known as etcetcetc, does not set out to teach sex but relationships. As such it’s a success, except the home-movie-ishness about it made me feel that the entire cast and crew were stoned on something all the time.

Viewed as a stoned movie it’s great. But as sex education it’s no great shakes.

Is It The Real Thing?

INNOCENT BYSTANDERS; starring Donald Pleasance, Geraldine Chaplin, Stanley Baker, Sue Lloyd, Dana Andrews, Warren Mitchell. Written by James Mitchell. Directed by Peter Collinson. Distributed by Scotia Barber.

Innocent Bystanders is the architypal commercial film made with an eye to a quick sale to American TV, with the staple ingredients of motiveless violence, and a plot which takes you through 5 countries in 90 minutes, almost without leaving Pinewood Studios. This is all sort of glued together on a miniscule budget, with everyone acting their scenes as if they were in a hurry to go to the loo. Sadly this particular example of the genre is written by the creator of Callan. How could he sink so low?

The British Secret Service and the KGB are both after the same man etc etc, and the dialogue is cliche ridden, the characters characterless too, except for the English section leader who comes alive through Donald Pleasance’s usual brilliant performance.

During the first half of the film, all one sees is airports, punches and assorted pieces of violence. This becomes so boring that suddenly (and it’s pretty obvious the script was hurriedly changed), a ridiculous Turkish-Australian Alf Garnett type character played by Warren Mitchell is introduced. The silliness of the character plus Warren Mitchell’s dreadful acting coaxes the audience into loud laughter, and I suppose the film begins to work a little bit, but poor Peter Collinson; there are some good imaginatively angled shots and you use sound well, but after Up The Junction and Straight On Till Morning we just know you can do better.

Wasted Talent

THE CANDIDATE, starring Robert Redford, Peter Boyle, Don Porter. Written by Jeremy Lamer. Directed by Michael Ritchie. Released by Columbia—Warner. Cert ‘A’.

‘The Candidate’ is a factually drawn account of the choice and subsequent processing and marketing of a candidate for the American Senate, a young democrat, liberal lawyer, champion of the oppressed, striving for social reform, all within the structured system of course. Released during election year in the US, it uses mass appeal star Robert Redford to show the American people that Politics is really just another branch of show biz/big business. The film is a masterpiece of clarity, and also contains some beautiful subtle satire aimed at the TV industry and more particularly at Republicans and the Republican candidate running against Redford, gorgeously played by Don Porter.

Despite its brilliance, this is not an easily watchable film; it’s very very American and definitely over long (110 minutes). Michael Ritchie hasn’t employed his superb style of fast cutting to such an extent as in his other recent film “Prime Cut”. This is an original, completely new style of cinema, and with a great deal of luck it might persuade the American public to ignore the election altogether, or at least vote the Democrats back, which I think it’s supposed to do.

Gay TV In Canada

On Monday, September 11th at 6 p.m., Canada’s first regularly scheduled television programme produced by and for gay people was broadcast over Channel 10, Metro Cable’s Toronto outlet.

The series, entitled Coming Out, will run weekly for thirteen episodes. It is hosted by Paul Pearce and Sandra Dick, both staff members of the Community Homophile Association of Toronto, under whose aegis the programmes are being produced. The topics treated so far have been “Coming Out and the Family”, “Gay Liberation in Toronto”, “Myths”, “An Interview with Peter Maloney” and “Lesbianism”.

Paul, a 22 year old native of Stratford, Ontario, has stated: “This is a breakthrough in Canadian TV and will contribute a great deal to the education of the Toronto citizen on the topic of homosexuality.” Both he and Sandra – 25, originally of Winnipeg – lead their guests through an interesting and informative half hour of prime time television. Homosexuals discussing their life style in an atmosphere of pride and openness is an exhilerating sight – catch it on Channel 10, every Monday evening at 6 p.m.

ED. Reprinted from The Body Politic. Love and thanks.

Between The Grooves

SUNDOWN LADY – Lani Hall – A&M AMLS64359

One of the most pleasing records I have heard recently has been Sundown Lady by Lani Hall. It is this lady’s first solo outing, but you may find her voice familiar as she was lead singer with Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66 for a number of years. (At present she is a ‘close friend’ of Herb Alpert.)

Now that she is starting a solo career, she manages to exhibit far more tenderness and maturity than was evident in the past. The choice of songs for this initial venture (an important matter for a first effort and also difficult if the majority of material being used is from other writers) is superb. Her capabilities, which are by no means limited, are especially suited to what she has chosen to sing here.

The album opens with Lesley Duncan’s Love Song. A very good beginning. Then follows Tiny Dancer by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. If you are not converted by these first two tracks, then one of Cat Stevens’ better songs, How Can I Tell You is next. And how beautifully she performs it. Also included are Don McLean’s Vincent, and an unaccompanied version of Paul Simon’s very lovely Wherever I May Find Her. Particularly of note too is Sun Down from which the album gets its title. This is written by Willis Alan Ramsey, a little-known but superb songwriter and musician. The rest of the material is as strong as that already mentioned.

Lani has a gentle, smokey, expressive voice. Completely relaxing and undemanding of the listener. Perfect for the quiet hours.

I highly recommend Lani Hall to you. The moods created, the sensitive singing and the sympathetic arrangements all combine to form a great addition to quality, intelligent but popular, music and entertainment.


A must for Diana Ross addicts is her newly issued Greatest Hits compilation. It contains all of her hit singles, plus some of the best tracks from past albums. The twelve tracks selected make for very good value, and the inclusion of the full six minute version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough is an added bonus.

There isn’t much to say about Diana Ross that hasn’t been said before. The freedom of now being a solo artist has meant the range of her talents has been vastly extended.And always the fully orches trated backings and faultless production are in perfect harmony with the songs and Diana’s singing.

This is a great collection by a great artist. It’s handy to replace those worn out singles and Remember Me and I’m Still Waiting will stand out as two of the best pop songs in recent years.

GRASS ROOTS — Dillard and Clarke – The Flying Burrito Brothers — A&M AMLB 51038

Grass Roots is a very interesting collection of material by two of the finest country/rock bands that have been around in recent years. They are the Flying Burrito Brothers and Dillard and Clarke. Both groups have now sadly gone their separate ways, but this record comes as an excellent reminder of their strength and achievements. And at the low price of 99p it is remarkably good value.

Each band has taken one side of the record. The material included is a selection of some of the better tracks from their past albums. Of note are Dillard and Clarke’s Don’t Come Rollin and their version of the Everly Brothers hit, So Sad, whilst the Flying Burrito’s are at their best on Dark End Of The Street and Cody Cody. All told there are eleven tracks, all of them perfect examples of what happened when rock musicians returned to their country roots.

An important reissue, this, and an essential buy for those who have an interest in the development of rock and roll.

IN SEARCH OF AMELIA EARHART – Plainsong – Elektra K42120

Plainsong are very much a neo-folk band, who occasionally stray into country music. And the sound they end up with is a very agreeable mixture that is both easy listening and relaxingly rewarding. In Search of Amelia Earhart is their initial album release, and is, for a first outing, both entertaining and competent, if not a particularly exciting effort.

The title of the record comes from the famous woman aviator who was believed lost whilst attempting a flight around the world in 1937. Recent newspaper stories, which are repeated on a printed insert that comes with the record, offer other ‘possibilities/probabilities’ of what happened to Amelia Earhart and her navigator. Two tracks refer to this heroine of the air and her disappearance. Of the other songs, those written by Ian Matthews, are handled extremely well, whilst the rest are never less than pleasant

Plainsong will sell well to folk enthusiasts and are good enough to attract other ears.

LOOKIN’ THROUGH THE WINDOWS – The Jackson Five – Tamla Motown STML 11214

Coming fairly quickly after their recently released Greatest Hits collection, is a new Jackson Five album.

Apart from the tracks which have already been single hits, there is a very good cross-section of other songs.The inclusion of Jackson Browne’s Doctor My Eyes is a particularly good choice, and their performance of this beautiful song is excellent. Also a version of Roy (Professor Longhair) Byrd’s classic Little Bitty Pretty One is a great success.

With each album the Jackson’s release they become more proficient, which in turn means more enjoyable, quality pop entertainment for us. These kids are really going to be something by the time they all reach their twenties, if they are still working together.

THERE IT IS — James Brown — Polydor 2391033

One of the most powerful and successful black men in America has just unleashed another album to keep ‘frenetic soulsters’ and discotheque people up and moving on their feet. For the ‘king of soul’, James Brown, has a new release, full of his tight, uptown brand of funk. There’s no stopping this guy, he keeps on bringing out hit after hit and in quantities to make any record company executive leap with joy. In the States he’s never out of the charts, although in this country he doesn’t receive the same amount of attention, and certainly does not get the fanatical adoration his North American fans lay upon him. But his records sell consistently well here and each new cut released is a must for every club and disco.

The basic format of a Brown album is the latest batch of single smashes he’s had. For instance, There It Is and Greedy Man are both included. Then there’s a few new tracks to fill the record out. Of these Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing and I Need Help are the most outstanding and contain all the vibrating magic that Brown can instil into them. King Heroin and Public Enemy No 1 are both heavily anti-hard drugs and are the type of ‘message to society’ songs Brown is fond of experimenting with now and again. Hopefully they will reach the ears of those involved in that form of chemical self-destruction.

There It Is isn’t really meant to be analysed. It’s for dancing and grooving to, and on that level the album’s achievements are admirable.

ON STAGE – Richie Havens — Polydor 2659015 (2 record set)

Richie Havens has been around now for a number of years, and despite being a confirmed favourite at festivals and the like (also one of the ‘heroes’ of Woodstock) has never managed to catch the imagination of the majority of the record buying public. A slightly puzzling situation considering his talents, but one that also applies to many other excellent, original artists who find great difficulty in breaking through to a mass audience.

This new release, a double album, is made up of recordings from three ‘live’ concerts and contains many of the numbers Havens is well-known for. Plus there are a few new songs that haven’t appeared on his previous waxings. These include Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey and Bob Seeger’s immortal Where Have All The Flowers Gone? Amongst the old favourites are Freedom, Just Like A Woman, and Rocky Racoon.

On Stage captures the essence of Havens’ performances very well, but I’m afraid that its appeal will mostly be to the already converted, and stands little chance of reaching many new ears. But if you feel like taking the trouble to discover a most satisfying entertainer, this could well be a perfect introduction to a lot of rewarding musical experiences.

PLIGHT OF THE REDMAN – Xit – Rare Earth SREA 4002

Plight of the Redman is an explicitly biting album from a new Red Indian rock band called Xit. It is divided into two ‘phases’, each of which takes up one side of the record.

‘Phase 1’ describes Indian life before the coming of the white man, in what was then a vast, sprawling, unspoilt continent. ‘Phase 2’ is more intense and is concerned with the rape of the Indian people through countless atrocities, committed by the ‘invaders’. The last track is spoken condemnation of the ‘immigrants’ who destroyed the redman’s tribes, stole their lands, and humiliated them almost out of existence. The words are direct and simple and are filled with anger and frustration. At times they sound very pretentious, but, for me, the sincerity and truthfulness of the statements compensates adequately.

Musically the band are extremely proficient. Side two, which comprises exciting, extended pieces, and reaches two thrilling, rhythmic climaxes, is the most rewarding. The production and arrangements are also of a high standard.

Xit have produced a fine first album, and promise better things to cnme with subsequent releases. More experience should remove the limitations they saddle themselves with, in the form of repetitiveness and over stagey lyrics.

TWO WEEKS LAST SUMMER – Dave Cousins – A&M AMLS68118

Dave Cousins is lead singer and songwriter with the Strawbs, who with their last album, Grave New World, managed to achieve the success and popularity they had sought for some time. Two Weeks Last Summer is Cousins’ first venture solo, and to Stawbs fans it will come as a very welcome release.

Cousins has a soft, folky voice, and whilst never losing sight of his folk roots, is not afraid to experiment and to make use of all a modern 16-track studio has to offer. Thus we have an album that attempts to go further than The Strawbs have gone with their recordings, through the occasional use of electronic effects and the often bizarre songs. All the compositions incidentally, are written by Cousins. Also there are some very tasteful lead guitar breaks amidst the songs.

It all works very well, and as I said earlier, is sure to delight Strawbs devotees. Two Weeks Last Summer is also different and inspired enough to attract a lot more attention from people previously unreceptive to that group’s work.