Friday, September 29, 2017


It is sad when great movie stars that were huge for a time are now largely forgotten now. Today marks the birthday of a beautiful an talented actress that is not remembered as she is. That actress is Greer Garson. A major star at MGM during the 1940s, Garson received seven Academy Award nominations, including a record five consecutive nominations, winning the Best Actress award for Mrs. Miniver (1942).

Greer Garson was born on 29 September 1904 in Manor Park, East Ham, then in Essex, now part of London, the only child of Nina (née Nancy Sophia Greer; died 1958) and George Garson (1865–1906), a commercial clerk in a London importing business. Her father was born in London, to Scottish parents, and her mother was from Drumalore (or Drumaloor), County Cavan. The name "Greer" is a contraction of "MacGregor", another family name.

Louis B. Mayer discovered Garson while he was in London looking for new talent. Garson was signed to a contract with MGM in late 1937, but did not begin work on her first film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, until late 1938. She received her first Oscar nomination for the role, but lost to Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind. She received critical acclaim the next year for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in the 1940 film, Pride and Prejudice.

Garson starred with Joan Crawford in When Ladies Meet in 1941, and that same year became a major box-office star with the sentimental Technicolor drama, Blossoms in the Dust, which brought her the first of five consecutive Best Actress Oscar nominations, tying Bette Davis' 1938–42 record, which still stands. Garson won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1942 for her role as a strong British wife and mother in the middle of World War II in Mrs. Miniver. (Guinness Book of World Records credits her with the longest Oscar acceptance speech, at five minutes and 30 seconds, after which the Academy Awards instituted a time limit.) Also nominated for Madame Curie (1943), Mrs. Parkington (1944), and The Valley of Decision (1945), she frequently costarred with Walter Pidgeon, ultimately making eight pictures with him: Blossoms in the Dust (1941), Mrs. Miniver (1942), Madame Curie, Mrs. Parkington, Julia Misbehaves (1948), That Forsyte Woman (1949), The Miniver Story (1950), and Scandal at Scourie (1953).

In 1951, she became a naturalised citizen of the United States. She made only a few films after her MGM contract expired in 1954. In 1958, she received a warm reception on Broadway in Auntie Mame, replacing Rosalind Russell, who had gone to Hollywood to make the film version.In 1960, Garson received her seventh and final Oscar nomination for Sunrise at Campobello, in which she played Eleanor Roosevelt, this time losing to Elizabeth Taylor for Butterfield 8. Her final role for television was in a 1982 episode of The Love Boat.

Greer Garson outlived many of her MGM friends and peers. She died from heart failure on April 6, 1996 at the age of 91...

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Anyone who knows me, knows I don't buy much new music. The last album I bought was a Count Basie CD featuring his hits from 1939.

However, I had the fortune to scrape some pennies together and treat myself to Don Ciccone Sings Brian Gari. A treat it definitely was. Every track, even the radio interviews and audio outtakes, was great to hear.

Don Ciccone was the lead singer and songwriter of The Critters.Ciccone wrote the group’s hit, “Mr. Dieingly Sad,” which reached the Billboard Top 25 in 1966. He later joined Frankie Valli’s Four Seasons from 1973 through 1981 before becoming the musical director and bassist for Tommy James and the Shondells. Don Ciccone had a fabulous voice that was sadly silenced on October 8, 2016 at the young age of 70.

The songs that Don sang were written by Brian Gari. Brian has been in the industry for fifty plus years has written almost 900 songs. He had his first song published at 15 and recorded at 17. He signed with Vanguard Records in 1975 recording for them through 1976. For the next few years he performed his songs in New York comedy and cabaret clubs such as the Ballroom, Reno Sweeney, Catch a Rising Star, the Improv, the Comic Strip and the Copa. All along he was writing what was to become his first Broadway musical, LATE NITE COMIC , which debuted in October of 1987 at the Ritz Theatre (now the Walter Kerr.) The album made Top 10 for film and show albums at Tower Records. His songs have been performed and/or recorded by such artists as Margaret Whiting, the Tokens, Jana Robbins , Kaye Ballard, Lesley Gore., Andrea Marcovicci, and now the late great Don Ciccone.

Don recorded the musical gems over a period of time from 1971 to 1990. Despite the twenty year period, what is great is that Don's voice aged so well. As for the songs, it makes me happy that someone like Brian Gari is continuing to write great compositions. My favorite recording is a surprisingly upbeat - "Where Did The Music Go", but there really isn't a bad song on the album. Other high points of the CD are songs like "Bicycle Ride", "Happy Thoughts", and "I Just Had To Say My Last Goodbye" - which is another favorite of mine. 

An added feature is a great radio interview that Don Ciccone had with a young Alan Colmes. Colmes sadly died last year as well. You can see the admiration that Brian Gari had for Ciccone as this CD is lovingly put together. You can also see the admiration that Don had for Brian as he really sang all of the songs here with love and respect. The world is seemingly in chaos now, but this CD shows that beauty and creativity is not dead. The late Don Ciccone would be proud...

MY RATING: 10 out of 10

If you would like to buy a copy of this CD, please order through this link for the $14.99 price:

Thursday, September 14, 2017


My daughter is currently four and addicted to super heroes. She has grown up movie tastes and one of her favorite movies is 2016's Suicide Squad. One of the character's in the film is Harley Quinn (played by actress Margot Robbie), the Joker's girlfriend. When they introduce her on the screen the song "You Don't Own Me" plays, and my daughter loves singing it and does a great job. It's scary! I wanted to look into some of the history of this song.

You Don't Own Me" was a popular song written by Philadelphia songwriters John Madara and David White and recorded by Lesley Gore in 1963, when Gore was 17 years old. The song was Gore's second most successful recording and her last top-ten single. On November 27, 2016, the Grammy Hall of Fame announced its induction, along with that of another 24 songs.

The song expresses a threatened emancipation, as the singer tells a lover that he does not own her, that he is not to tell her what to do or what to say, and that he is not to put her on display. The song's lyrics became an inspiration for younger women and are sometimes cited as a factor in the second wave feminist movement. Gore said, "My take on the song was: I'm 17, what a wonderful thing, to stand up on a stage and shake your finger at people and sing you don't own me." In Gore's obituary, The New York Times referred to "You Don't Own Me" as "indelibly defiant". The song was Gore's last top-ten single.

The song was covered by Australian singer and songwriter Grace and was released as her debut single. It features American rapper G-Eazy. Grace's version was produced by Quincy Jones, who also produced the original recording by Lesley Gore, and Parker Ighile. It was released on 17 March 2015 one month after Lesley Gore died, and peaked at number one on the ARIA Charts, later being certified 3× Platinum by the ARIA. The song was also a success in New Zealand, peaking at number five for two consecutive weeks, and in the United Kingdom, peaking at number four.

In an interview with House of Fraser, Grace said "[Quincy Jones] told me how the song came out during the feminist movement and how it was such a strong statement. I loved the song, started researching Lesley Gore and fell in love with her as an artist. [You Don't Own Me] really inspired me."

The song was featured in the third trailer for the 2016 film Suicide Squad and appeared on the film's soundtrack album as I wrote earlier. The song was a favorite song of my dad's and he had Leslie Gore's 45rpm of the song. However, it now brings tears to my eyes as I see my daughter sing it. To me the song represents the future of women like my daughter and a better life they will hopefully have... 

Monday, September 4, 2017


The death of US comedy legend Jerry Lewis has prompted renewed interest in his notorious "lost film", The Day the Clown Cried.

The unreleased movie follows a clown who is sent to a concentration camp and told to lead children to their deaths.

Lewis, who has died at the age of 91, gave his copy of the film to the US Library of Congress. In 2015, the library confirmed it would be shown to scholars and members of the public - but not before June 2024. Some, however, are not prepared to wait that long.

"RIP jerry lewis, release 'the day the clown cried' immediately," wrote one Twitter user.

"Is it horrible that my first thought upon hearing about Jerry Lewis's death is 'now they can release The Day The Clown Cried'?" asked Paul DeBruler.

Lewis directed the 1972 film and played the leading role - a clown who is arrested in Nazi Germany for drunkenly defaming Hitler. Lewis, who died on August 20, 2017, rarely discussed the film in interviews.

The character is then thrown into a concentration camp, where he is beaten and forced to lead children into gas chambers.

Lewis kept what is believed to be the only copy locked in a private vault before donating it to the Library of Congress.

US comedian Harry Shearer, one of only a handful of people known to have seen the film, said he was "stunned" by how bad it was.

In 1992, he said: "This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is."

The film's release was initially blocked by co-writer Joan O'Brien, according to the Lewis biography King of Comedy by Shawn Levy.

Later, Lewis himself didn't want the film to be shown, at least not in his lifetime, and rarely spoke about it.

On one of the few occasions he broke his silence, he said it was "bad, bad, bad" and would "never be seen".

"I was ashamed of the work and I was grateful I had the power to contain it all and never let anyone see it," he said in 2013.

Last year, images from the film featured in a BBC documentary titled The Story of The Day the Clown Cried, and clips have emerged on YouTube.

Various purported versions of the script have been circulated online, inspiring both live readings and video re-enactments.

Lewis was famous around the world for his partnership with Dean Martin, his fund-raising for muscular dystrophy and his numerous hit comedies.

For all his attempts to keep it under wraps, though, his infamous Holocaust drama remains a source of continued fascination and debate...