Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Keyes Biography is Entertaining Look at 40s, 50s Hollywood

Evelyn Keyes writes eloquently about navigating the stormy seas of romance and matrimony in the 1940-50 period during quite paternalistic times.  Her poor choices in suitors included Charles Vidor, John Huston, Mike Todd and Artie Shaw, all sexists and in some cases racist.  There’s way too much in ‘Scarlett O’Hara’s Younger Sister” about John and Mike and not enough about her outstanding acting in “The Prowler,” a film noir released by United Artists  that is basic Movie 101 viewing. 
Apparently there is no ghost writer on this book which makes Ms. Keyes the author of one of the best written Hollywood biographies.
Those of us that watch the Sony movie channels are treated to many of her ‘40s movies including “Johnny O’Clock” and “The Jolson Story.”
Her recollections about Artie Shaw’s compulsive obsessive behavior confirms what I heard in 2005 from a cousin who was friends with the famed bandleader.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Own Private Idaho, Revisited

BOISE -- I had much needed respite from Minnesota in Idaho this past week starting with "Sweeney Todd" at outdoor amphitheater and the performance exceeded my expectations.
Took friends Duane (from Mrs. Cook's boarding house) and his wife Nancy to the Stampede, a real red neck Christian conservative hootenanny.
Stayed at most exotic Idaho Heritage Inn, former mansion of the Falks (department store) and Gov. Chase Clark with special display of books and photos featuring Sen. Frank Church, husband of Bethene Clark.
Big music award event this weekend at the Egyptian Theater, lovingly restored with private money.
We ate at most wonderful Boise Stage Stop on Highway 20-30 and who can forget the story I wrote for The Statesman on the 20-30 Trots and food poisoning.  Food at Stage Stop was excellent.
Trip to Camp David (see photo) was most exotic mountain adventure with blue waters of Cascade Reservoir and smell of the forest.  Dave Frazier wants to cut down trees but I told him to resist that urge.  Dave and I were fishing buddies and coworkers at The Idaho Statesman in the 60s.  What a time to be a reporter.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Comcast Compared to Gilded Age Monopoly

Here’s a good summer read:  “Captive Audience:  The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age,” by Harvard University professor Susan Crawford.
This is about Comcast which has such a commanding presence in high speed internet, cable TV and now movies and TV shows with the NBC Universal merger.  Is this something I should worry about given that I severed ties with Comcast three years ago?  Probably not.
What I did learn is that customers who need something approaching high speed internet are captives of Comcast and the rest of us are settling for considerably less.  According to Prof. Crawford, customers are leaving DSL in favor of Comcast internet and WIFI is not the answer.  So whatever the unfortunate telco is charging for DSL is too much.  We should be able to negotiate lower DSL fees given their anemic presence in the high speed internet world.
Instant Netflix with its recent Emmy nominations may be a threat to Comcast, we can all hope.  With Comcast, a commanding presence in cable TV, now running NBC TV I would imagine that NBC affiliates are nervous about the future of this legacy news and entertainment enterprise.  As a former NBC employee of the RCA era, I too am concerned but not enough to watch most of the NBC shows.  -- dz

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Singer Jack Jones Featured in Cheezy Horror Movie

Any illusions you had about romantic singer Jack Jones,  the Michael Buble of his day, are shattered in the inept 1978 British horror movie “The Comeback,” which features Jones in the lead role.
Incredibly ill-advised was this career ending move to make a low-budget thriller rip-off of “Psycho.”  It’s a slash-fest dripping with fake blood on plastic dummies.  The murderers seek revenge for Jones’ recordings that corrupted their teenage daughter years ago.  They must have been listening to some bootleg 8 tracks not readily available in the U.S.
The movie is made in the mansion of the director Peter Walker who may be some rich dilettante who fancies himself a movie director.  Poor Jack must have been at the end of his rope when he appeared in this mess shirtless with dyed light brown hair, a gold tooth and smoking. 
Jones does sing a couple of forgettable numbers that may be available on a RCA LP somewhere.
Masochists will want to visit Instant Netflix to muddle through “The Comeback” which should be called “The Setback.”

Friday, July 05, 2013

Lone Ranger May Be Summer's Box Office Turkey

Having grown up with the “Lone Ranger” on ABC and Mutual Radio and then early TV in Spokane, of course I was drawn to the new movie of the same name with Johnny Deppp as Tonto.  Since I own a DVD of three episodes of the 50s TV show, I was primed with all things LR before going to the movie Thursday.  So I was blown away that the movie uses the same bad guy characters, the Cavendish Gang, that appear in the old TV show.  What took 50 minutes in the 1950s now is 2.5 hours long.  Glenn Strange, the Frankenstein monster at Universal in the 40s, played Butch Cavendish in the 50s TV show
They could have shown this movie in the small Ritz Theater in Spokane for the handful of people who showed up yesterday.  Who remembers the LR and the William Tell Overture theme?  Army Hammer is well cast as the handsome hero as was Clayton Moore in the original.  Much overwhelming are the special effects action scenes involving trains and whatnot.  The surround sound will wake the dead.
Depp is heavily encased in weird makeup and some Halloween costume that would shock the bejezuz out of Jay Silverheels, the original Tonto.
Certainly the Disney Studios has become more generous with violence and suggested gore with the new Lone Ranger than I can remember in any of their offerings of yesteryear.  Also Miss Helena Carter Bonham plays a charming prostitute.
The saving grace for this mediocre movie is the characterization of the railroad capitalists as warmongers involved in evil schemes that result in wholesale carnage.