Saturday, 1 October 2016

October 2016 - Liesl from The Sound of Music, Westerns, Doctor Strange, Storks, and Trolls

Hi Everyone,

Here's a playlist with trailers for the major movies being released in the UK in October 2016:

I don't want this blog to become “Obituary Corner” but (having marked the passing of Gene Wilder last month) I sadly must mention the untimely death of Charmian Carr. At the relatively early age of 73, Charmian – best known for playing Liesl in The Sound of Music (1965) – died on 17th September 2016 from what are being called complications related to a rare form of dementia.

Her performance as the eldest daughter of the von Trapp's in The Sound of Music was wonderful and spirited. Though she was playing a girl on the verge of becoming 17, the youthful-looking Charmian was in her early twenties when she won the role. Shooting the film was apparently mostly a happy time for her. However, she completed her gazebo “Sixteen going on Seventeen” dance scene – like a trouper – having sprained her ankle on set when the wardrobe department forgot to apply anti-skid rubber to the soles of her shoes. This heroic effort was met with a standing ovation from the film crew.

Charmian appeared in the ABC TV musical production Evening Primrose in 1966 but (unfortunately for us movie fans) decided to leave show business the following year when she married a dentist and subsequently raised a family. Fair enough! Nevertheless, in a very short time, Charmian certainly made her mark and will be fondly remembered. Not least by me – whose favourite film musical is indeed The Sound of Music. Rest in peace Charmain.

Speaking of “favourite films”, I thought I would celebrate the release of The Magnificent Seven remake - as well as the imminent start of the television series Westworld - by listing my favourite movie westerns. I have tweaked the list slightly so as not to overweight it with Clint Eastwood movies. I quite easily could have included The Outlaw Josey Wales, as well as all of “the man with no name” trilogy - plus the brilliant but disturbing High Plains Drifter (of which Pale Rider is but a mere “pale” reflection imho) – but I have “reined myself in” and have allowed only one Eastwood movie. :-(

Also there is a distinct lack of “B movie” westerns in my list. No Randolph Scott or Audie Murphy here. But that's simply because none of their movies have lodged in the memory or are among my favourites. It's not snobbery. But I have deliberately omitted out-and-out comedy westerns such as Way Out West, Support Your Local Sheriff, and Blazing Saddles – although all of these are excellent. I have also restricted my list to “straightforward” westerns; so there are no mash-ups like Jonah Hex, Westworld (1973), and Cowboys & Aliens (although I like all of these too). I have also left off “modern day” westerns such as The Electric Cowboy, The Last Stand (2013), and Lone Star. So, apologies to the great “modern day” western Bad Day at Black Rock and the brilliant animated comedy Rango.

As ever, with such things, this is a personal list – and you may not agree with all of my choices. Don't have a fit if your favourite western isn't on my list. lol. These things are always subjective.

Twelve of Mal's favourite westerns (in chronological order):-

  • Stagecoach (1939)

A classic western; a study of character under pressure. Stagecoach was directed by one of the masters of the genre; John Ford, and stars John Wayne - who went on to play the lead in many westerns. Claire Trevor co-starred and the film features brilliant performances from many character actors. My other favourite westerns starring John Wayne are: Rio Bravo (1959), El Dorado (1966), and True Grit (1969).

  • High Noon (1952)

With the apt song “Do not forsake me, O my darlin'” setting the backdrop, this apprehension-filled drama about a marshal turning his back on his own honeymoon - to face a shoot-out he is expected to lose - stars Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. The film won four Academy Awards – including Best Actor for Cooper. This is my favourite western.

  • The Naked Spur (1953)

After World War Two, James Stewart made lots of westerns – many of which were directed by Anthony Mann. I am a big fan of four of these. Winchester '73 (1950) and Bend of the River (1952) are two. But even better than these are: The Far Country (1954), and The Naked Spur (1953). If (reluctantly) forced to select just one of these for my list, I'd have to choose The Naked Spur. Co-starring Robert Ryan and Janet Leigh – the film is full of dramatic and emotional tension and the screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. It is a study of the human condition.

  • Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)

Now we come to one of those big westerns that are a feast of sheer entertainment! Despite criticism that it could have been more historically accurate, this epic western was a great success at the box office. Directed by John Sturges, it stars Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday as they tackle the troublesome Clanton Gang. The movie also co-stars (among others) Rhonda Fleming, Earl Holliman, Dennis Hopper, and (as Morgan Earp) Deforest Kelly - the original Dr. McCoy from TV's Star Trek.

  • The Big Country (1958)

Another epic western is The Big Country – directed by William Wyler. But, this time, the focus is less on action and more on relationships and romance. As well as having one of the greatest western theme tunes of all time, the movie has a superb cast including: Gregory Peck, Carroll Baker, Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, Chuck Connors, and Burl Ives. Ives won an Oscar for playing the head of the “looked down upon” Hannassey clan.

  • The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Speaking of ensemble westerns, one need look no further than The Magnificent Seven. Again, possessing one of the best ever theme tunes, this remake of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai stars Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, and Robert Vaughn. Kurosawa was so delighted with this homage that he reportedly presented director John Sturges with a ceremonial Japanese sword. Apart from The Wizard of Oz, this is the most played movie on US television. 

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

A masterpiece from “spaghetti western” director Sergio Leone, and the best of the so-called “man with no name” trilogy starring Clint Eastwood. (The first and second instalments of the trilogy A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More are excellent too, mind you.) In The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach play brilliant adversaries to Eastwood's bounty hunter, and the film's climatic gunfight in a cemetery is a real treat. Perhaps unexpectedly, the movie has an epic sweep and gravitas – and the striking score from Ennio Morricone has never been surpassed. By the way, my other favourite westerns starring Clint Eastwood are High Plains Drifter and The Outlaw Josey Wales (both of which he directed himself).

  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

One of the greatest of the Hollywood screenwriters is a man named William Goldman. As well as penning such films as The Princess Bride, Marathon Man, and All the President's Men – he also wrote the light-hearted and thoroughly entertaining “buddy western” Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, the film was the biggest box-office hit of the year it was released and subsequently won four Academy Awards - including Best Original Screenplay for Goldman. 

  • Little Big Man (1970)

Although Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had a huge slice of humour, the most comedic film in my list must be Little Big Man. This ironic look back at the life of a man from the old west opened with Dustin Hoffman amazingly made up to look 121 years old. In flashback, we learn of Jack Crabb's involvement in Custer's Last Stand. With it's civil rights and anti-war message, the film has been judged as culturally and historically important by the US Library of Congress. 

  • The Long Riders (1980)

This is great film telling the story of the gang of bank robbers led by Jesse James. It was directed by Walter Hill and featured music by Ry Cooder. The Long Riders has an authentic period feel (including the wearing of long coats) and unusually brothers in the film were played by real brothers (for example Frank and Jesse James were played by Stacy and James Keach). Recommended viewing!

  • Tombstone (1993)

Another movie where the principal actors look quite striking in their costumes is Tombstone. Once again, this is an account of the events that occurred on 26th October 1881 in Tombstone, Arizona – in other words, the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. This time the Earps are played by Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott, and Bill Paxton, with Val Kilmer playing the ailing Doc Holliday. Having been there, daily re-enactments (for tourists) of the gunfight in the real town of Tombstone seem to stylistically take their cue from this film. 

  • True Grit (2010)

Written by the Coen brothers, the 2010 version of True Grit is a real treat. While Jeff Bridges (playing Rooster Cogburn) and Matt Damon (as LaBoeuf) are among my favourite actors – I was blown away by the brilliant performance of newcomer Hailee Steinfeld (playing Mattie Ross in her first full-length film role). Though not a perfect movie, this tale of a plucky girl determined to track down her father's killer is one I find touching. I am equally a fan of the 1969 version of True Grit – for which John Wayne won an Oscar. Well, that's my list. I wonder what would be in yours?

I, of course, couldn't include everything in my list. Just missing the cut, for example, is a well known film by Sam Peckinpah – The Wild Bunch (1969). It is another of those brash fun ensemble westerns – this time with Peckinpah's characteristic “gore” very much in evidence (in fact the film is famous for it). I like a good western, and I have many other favourite westerns and shall name-check these in a moment.

Firstly, however, I would like to give a mention to some westerns that (though not necessarily among my favourites) are generally regarded as fine example of the genre. These are:- Unforgiven (1992), The Searchers (1956), The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Maverick (1994), Shane (1953), A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), Johnny Guitar (1954), Virginia City (1954), Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), Red River (1948), They Died with Their Boots On (1941), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), The Alamo (1960), McKenna's Gold (1969), The Man From Laramie (1955), The Quick and the Dead (1995), Ulzana's Raid (1972), Pale Rider (1985), How the West was Won (1962), The Revenant (2015), Friendly Persuasion (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), My Darling Clementine (1946), The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), Soldier Blue (1970), The Big Sky (1952), The Missouri Breaks (1976), Chisum (1970), Dead Man (1995), The Left Handed Gun (1958), El Topo (1971), Wild Bill (1995), Hombre (1967), Union Pacific (1939), Man of the West (1958), Rio Lobo (1970), Shalako (1968), The Gunfighter (1950), Cheyenne Autumn (1964), Vera Cruz (1954), The Shootist (1976), The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), 5 Card Stud (1968), Duel in the Sun (1946), The Avenging Angel (1995), Hondo (1953), Fort Apache (1948), Ride Lonesome (1959), One-Eyed Jacks (1961), Silverado (1985), The Outlaw (1943), Rio Grande (1950), Tom Horn (1980), Cold Mountain (2003), and River of No Return (1954).

And, as promised, now a little list of (in no particular order) some more of my favourite westerns:- Broken Arrow (1950), Dodge City (1939), Dances with Wolves (1990), The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972), Rancho Notorious (1952), Ride with the Devil (1999), Heaven's Gate (1980), Open Range (2003), 3.10 to Yuma (1957), Destry Rides Again (1939), The Last Hunt (1956), Young Guns (1988), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), Along the Great Divide (1951), The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), The Fastest Gun Alive (1956), The Westerner (1940), McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971), The Rare Breed (1966), Hang 'Em High (1968), Yellow Sky (1948), Will Penny (1967), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Culpepper Cattle Co. (1972), Pony Express (1953), Grey Owl (1999), Annie Oakley (1935), Journey to Shiloh (1968), Wyatt Earp (1994), The Kentuckian (1955), and Joe Kidd (1972).

If you like westerns and haven't seen some of these yet – check 'em out!

* * *
Marvel's Doctor Strange Film Frame © 2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Storks © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 Trolls  © 2016 20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.

Alas, there aren't that many really big films opening this month in the UK. In fact, it's only Doctor Strange! For family audiences there's also Storks and Trolls. Older audiences will probably gravitate towards Inferno and The Girl on the Train. Anyhow, here's a list of all the major movies opening in the UK in October 2016: American Honey, Blood Father, Doctor Strange, I Daniel Blake, Inferno, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Keeping Up with the Joneses, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Phantom Boy, Queen of Katwe, Storks, The Girl on the train, Trolls, and War on Everyone.

Limited releases (i.e. those films coming to “key cities” or only a few select venues) include: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies, Driving with Selvi, Ethel & Ernest, In Pursuit of Silence, Kate Plays Christine, Motley Crue: The End, NG83: When We Were B Boys, Sonita, The Greasy Strangler, The Guv'nor, and Train to Busan.

A number of other limited releases have been given their own spot in the magazine, as follows: After Love, Burn Burn Burn, Into the Inferno, Let's Be Evil, Lo and Behold, My Scientology Movie, Oasis: Supersonic, Starfish, and The Comedian's Guide to Survival.

Movies called Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise, Ozzy, Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang and The 13th are also being released. (See page 2 of the newsletter for details). And, in addition to the above mentioned films, the bfi are re-releasing Boyz N the Hood. Finally, though not mentioned in the magazine, there's a new Chinese animated fantasy movie (in Mandarin with English subtitles) called L.O.R.D. (Legend of Ravaging Dynasties) available in selected Odeon and Cineworld cinemas etc.

Also not included in the magazine are this month's “Event Cinema” special screenings and the like. This, however, is what's happening in October 2016:-

  • 7th October 2016 – King Lear – RSC Live 2016 (Picturehouse Entertainment)
  • 7th October 2016 – Tristan Und Isolde – Met Opera 2016 (By Experience)
  • 14th October 2016 – Cosi Fan Tutte – Royal Opera London 2016-7  
    (Royal Opera House)
  • 14th October 2016Golden Age – The Bolshoi Ballet 2016 
    (Picturehouse Entertainment)
  • 14th October 2016 – Miss Saigon: 25th Anniversary Performance  
    (Universal Pictures)
  • 21st October 2016 – Branagh Theatre Live: The Entertainer 2016  
    (Picturehouse Entertainment)
  • 21st October 2016 – Don Giovanni – Met Opera 2016 (By Experience)
  • 28th October 2016 – Anastasia – Royal Opera London 2016-7 (Royal Opera House)

Here is the link to my latest newsletter (which is a download of 24MB):-

Well, I've waffled on long enough. lol. Have a great “movie watching” October. Happy viewing!

Here are trailers for most of the above mentioned films:-

 Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

After Love (L'Economie du couple)

American Honey

Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise

Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies

Blood Father

Boyz N the Hood

Burn, Burn, Burn

Doctor Strange

Driving with Selvi

Ethel & Ernest

I, Daniel Blake


In Pursuit of Silence

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Kate Plays Christine

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Let's Be Evil

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

L.O.R.D. (Legend of Ravaging Dynasties)

Motley Crue: The End

My Scientology Movie

NG83: When We Were B Boys

Oasis: Supersonic

Ouija: Origin of Evil


Phantom Boy

Queen of Katwe

Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang




Train to Busan

The 13th

The Comedian's Guide to Survival

The Girl on the Train

The Guv'nor

The Greasy Strangler


War on Everyone