Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Growing up, I used to see the talented and wonderfully monickered Godfrey Cambridge on TV a lot, either doing standup routines on ED SULLIVAN or sketch comedy with RED SKELTON or acting on everything from THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW to NIGHT GALLERY. At a time when TV was still pretty whitebread, Godfrey offered a constant presence of color on TV. It was only later when I realized that he was also an impressive character actor in motion pictures, particularly THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST, COTTON COMES TO HARLEM and COME BACK, CHARLESTON BLUE. Hard to believe he's been gone 40 years this year. R.I.P.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Excepting cameos, documentaries, TV appearances, children's videos, concert footage and voiceovers, what you see here represents the entire big screen acting career of today's birthday boy Ringo Starr, hailed in 1964 as "The New Chaplin." While it would be tough to say he lived up to that promise as an actor, this is certainly not a film legacy to sneeze at. Peace and Love, Rich! Always!
Saturday, June 18, 2016
I'm not normally a big fan of Kim Novak but she brings far more characterization to this role than was likely in the script. She's funny, sad, vulnerable, sexy, and not afraid to be silly.
Dean plays himself or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Cliff Osmond and Ray Walston play two small town songwriters who conspire to get Dino to do one of their songs no matter WHAT it takes.
Walston is more than a tad over the top and when you know he's replaced heart attack-stricken Peter Sellers, you can't help but wonder how the latter would have handled the role.
Felica Farr is quietly sexy as the jealous, paranoid Walston's wife and Howard McNear, Mel Blanc, Alice Pearce, John Fiedler and other familiar faces dot the cast.
At the time of release, this became writer/director Billy Wilder's biggest flop. It was savaged by the critics and the Catholic Legion of Decency. Perhaps surprisingly, it's aged well. The beautiful black and white photography takes full advantage of the widescreen process, the soundtrack contains songs by George and Ira Gershwin, and some of the jokes are particularly funny. "That Sinatra kid go missing again?" says Dino when stopped by a police blockade. Surprisingly Frank let him live.
Walston's singing voice was weirdly dubbed by a wholly inappropriate voice that sounds somewhat like Tom Lehrer, in spite of the fact that the actor had been known for musicals before this!