Wednesday, February 20, 2019

RECENTLY VIEWED: THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE

After years of avoiding it, I have entered the world of Netflix. A new world has opened to me, and now I never want to leave the house! I took recommendations from friends at work, and everyone told me that I had to watch the limited series The Haunting of Hill House. My wife refused to watch it with me, and even a 40 year old man like myself was scared at the end of some of the episodes. I have not been scared or spooked like this in years!

The Haunting of Hill House is an American supernatural horror web television series created and directed by Mike Flanagan for Netflix, produced by Amblin Television and Paramount Television. The series is a re-imagining of the 1959 novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson. The plot alternates between three timelines, following five adult siblings whose paranormal experiences at Hill House continue to haunt them in present day. The series also features flashbacks to 1992, depicting the events in Hill House leading up to the eventful night the family departed.


The ensemble cast features Michiel Huisman, Elizabeth Reaser, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, and Victoria Pedretti as the adult counterparts of the siblings. Carla Gugino and Henry Thomas portray Olivia and Hugh Crain, the parents, with Timothy Hutton appearing as an older version of Hugh. Promoted as a ten-episode limited series, The Haunting of Hill House was released on October 12, 2018, on Netflix.

The premise is that in the summer of 1992, Hugh and Olivia Crain and their children – Steven, Shirley, Theodora, Luke, and Nell – move into Hill House to renovate the mansion in order to sell it and build their own house, designed by Olivia. However, due to unexpected repairs, they have to stay longer, and they begin to experience increasing paranormal phenomena that results in a tragic loss and the family fleeing from the house. Twenty-six years later, the Crain siblings and their estranged father reunite after tragedy strikes again, and they are forced to confront how their time in Hill House had affected each of them.


The writing is superb. You would think the horror genre would be getting stale, but this limited series found new ways to scare viewers. The cast was excellent with Timothy Hutton and Carla Gugino stealing the scenes from everyone. The whole cast is outstanding though. Classic movie fans, look for Russ Tamblyn in a supporting role as a therapist as well. I haven't seen him in anything in awhile. If you have Netflix and like a great spooky show, then this is the show for you! You will be scared senseless but you won't be disappointed...

MY RATING: 10 out of 10


Sunday, February 17, 2019

PAST OBITS: FRANK WAPPAT

For this past obit we are going to spotlight a very different kind of entertainer in disc jockey Frank Wappat. In the 1990s, I had about a dozen friends from England that I traded music with. Unfortunately those years are gone, but my friends from across the pond introduced me to Frank Wappat's radio show. He died five years today. This was published in the Chronicle Live on February 17, 2014...

Veteran broadcaster Frank Wappat has died.

The radio presenter worked for the BBC for 40 years and died yesterday morning from heart failure at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Today was his 84th birthday.

The former BBC Newcastle presenter retired in October 2010 due to ill health after suffering from a stroke which left him with condition Aphasia.

He began his broadcasting career via the pirate station Radio 390 on the Thames Estuary and then moved to the Tyneside station in 1970.


He went on to become its longest-serving presenter drawing in thousands of followers along the way.

Radio listeners will know him best for his work producing and presenting two BBC Newcastle shows - Sunday morning’s Inspirational Show from 6am to 7.30am and the award-winning Frank Wappat Music show from 7pm to 10pm.

Before he turned to radio he was a Methodist lay preacher, but quickly fell foul of the church authorities whom, he claims, did not like his “religion can be enjoyable!” approach.

In the 1960s he formed his own alternative congregation and worshippers flocked first to his Mission in Byker, Newcastle, and then to the redundant C of E church he occupied in North Shields.

Meanwhile, his Thirties Club and Gospel Hour programmes attracted large audiences and he would often lead the annual Christmas sing-a-longs in Newcastle’s Eldon Square with crowds of shoppers.

Crooner Chick Henderson
He won two Sony Radio Academy Awards during his career, one for his Master Joe Peterson programme and in 2000 he won his second for investigative journalism for his work unearthing the truth about the death of 1940s singer Chick Henderson.

His Nostalgia show continued on BBC Radio Newcastle and BBC Radio York until August 2010...

He lived in Blyth with his wife Susan.In an interview with the Chronicle on his retirement he said he was never tempted to work outside the North East.

He said: “I see myself as a Geordie lad from Hebburn, I don’t think I’d fit in with big establishments.”



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

SOME LIKE IT HOT: A VALENTINE CLASSIC

Let's face it, Valentine’s Day, more than just about any other day with a title, is a mass marketing scheme playing lovers for suckers, a bonanza for Hallmark Cards and Whitman’s Samplers and one that probably creates as much heartbreak as romantic goodwill. I’m not the sentimental type, but I do have an enormous fondness for one movie in which Valentine’s Day plays a prominent role.

It’s not about mass marketing, but mass murder, and based in fact.

In the early scenes of Some Like it Hot, the 1959 Billy Wilder masterpiece that is consistently chosen by critics and film people as the best comedy ever made, a pair of itinerant Depression Era musicians witness the gangland execution of seven men in a Chicago garage and spend the rest of the movie on the run from the mob.


In real life, the massacre resulted from a territorial feud between the Italian mob led by Al Capone and the Irish gang of Bugs Moran. In the movie, the shooting is carried out by the gang of Spats Colombo (George Raft), who coincidentally encounters the two witnesses, now undercover and in drag in an all girls’ band at a beachside resort in California.

Some Like it Hot received six nominations, including two for Wilder’s script and direction and one for Jack Lemmon as the bass player who gets all too comfortable in high heels. Tony Curtis, equally hilarious as the band member smudging his lipstick on the saxophone, should have received one, as well.


In fact, If time could actually fly, it would go back to 1960 and right the wrongs done to both Curtis and Marilyn Monroe, who is wonderful as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, a singer hoping to marry well but falling instead for Curtis’ Cary Grant-impersonating phony billionaire.

Wilder did get nominations for both his direction and the screenplay, and the movie won for costume design. I’m guessing it was for the dresses worn by Monroe and not those on the men. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre may not be the best reason to watch Some Like It Hot on Valentine’s Day, but it’s got more romance and fun than any other movie associated with the holiday...

Friday, February 8, 2019

RIP: ALBERT FINNEY

Oscar-nominated British actor Albert Finney has died aged 82 after a short illness.

He was a five-time Oscar nominee who began his career at the Royal Shakespeare Company before making his mark in film.

His big film break came as "angry young man" Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. He went on to star in Tom Jones, as Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express, Erin Brockovich and Skyfall.

A statement from a family spokesman said: "Albert Finney, aged 82, passed away peacefully after a short illness with those closest to him by his side.

"The family request privacy at this sad time."

Finney's other memorable roles include Winston Churchill in The Gathering Storm, for which he won a Golden Globe and a Bafta.


He also played the title role in Scrooge, billionaire Daddy Warbucks in Annie, Ed Bloom Senior in Tim Burton's Big Fish and the mobster Leo O'Bannon in Miller's Crossing.

Finney was nominated four times for a best actor Oscar and once in the best supporting actor category.

He got back-to-back nominations in 1984 and 1985 for The Dresser and Under the Volcano but never attended the ceremony itself, calling it "a waste of time".


He was the recipient of two Bafta Awards from 13 nominations and received a British Academy Fellowship in 2001.

The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) graduate continued working on the stage despite his film success, earning Tony nominations on Broadway for Luther and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

He won an Olivier Award for Orphans and was part of the original three-man cast of Art.

His last film role came in 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, in which he played the irascible gamekeeper Kincaid.

A life-long fan of Manchester United, he declined a CBE in 1980 and a knighthood in 2000.

"I think the Sir thing slightly perpetuates one of our diseases in England, which is snobbery," he said at the time.He was also reluctant to discuss his craft. "My job is acting, and that is why I hate interviews or lectures, explaining myself to an audience," he once said.

Finney was married three times and had one child with his first wife, the actress Jane Wenham. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2007, after which he largely disappeared from public view...


Thursday, February 7, 2019

MEMORABILIA CORNER: JUDY GARLAND

Here is a wonderful wedding gown worn by Judy Garland in the much-loved 1946 MGM musical classic The Harvey Girls. The gown is a creme-colored (Hollywood white) silk wedding gown with ornate puffy shoulders, lace sleeves and lace trim on the front. A handwritten cloth label sewn into the zipper lining reads “1348-9123 Judy Garland”



Garland played Susan Bradley in this film classic that tells the story of a mail order bride who makes her way out west under a mistaken offer of marriage and instead joins a group of young women who are opening a Harvey House in the wild west.


Friday, February 1, 2019

BORN ON THIS DAY: CLARK GABLE

I have to admit even though I am a big classic movie fan, I have only seen a handful of Clark Gable movies. I do not like Gone With The Wind (1939), but I did enjoy Gable in 1936's San Francisco. Maybe this year will be finally the year for me to expand my horizon when it comes to Clark Gable's films. Today would have been Gable's 118th birthday! William Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, Ohio on February 1st, 1901, to William Henry "Will" Gable (1870–1948), an oil-well driller, and his wife, Adeline (née Hershelman). Gable was named William after his father, but even in childhood, he was almost always called Clark or sometimes Billy.

His mother died when he was ten months old, possibly from a brain tumor, although the official cause of death was given as an epileptic fit. William Gable refused to raise his son Catholic, which provoked criticism from the Hershelman family. The dispute was resolved when Will Gable agreed to allow his son to spend time with his maternal uncle, Charles Hershelman, and his wife on their farm in Vernon Township, Pennsylvania.


At 13, Gable was the only boy in the men's town band, playing the piano. He was very mechanically inclined and loved to strip down and repair cars with his father. Although his father insisted on Gable doing "manly" things, like hunting and hard physical work, Gable loved language. Among trusted company, he would recite Shakespeare, particularly the sonnets.

At 17, Clark Gable was inspired to be an actor after seeing the play The Bird of Paradise, but he was not able to make a real start until he turned 21 and inherited some money. By then,  his father moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to go back to the oil business. Gable toured in stock companies, as well as working the oil fields and as a horse manager. He found work with several second-class theater companies, thus making his way across the Midwest to Seaside, Oregon, working as a logger, and to Portland, Oregon, where he worked as a necktie salesman in the Meier & Frank department store. In Portland, he met Laura Hope Crews, a stage and film actress, who encouraged him to return to the stage with another theater company. Twenty years later, Crews played Aunt Pittypat alongside Gable's Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind (1939).


Gable's acting coach, Josephine Dillon — a theater manager in Portland – was 17 years older than him. She paid to have his teeth repaired and his hair styled. She guided him in building up his chronically undernourished body, and taught him better body control and posture. She spent considerable time training his naturally high-pitched voice, which he slowly managed to lower, to gain better resonance and tone. As his speech habits improved, his facial expressions became more natural and convincing. After a long period of training, Dillon considered him ready to attempt a film career. In 1924, with Dillon's financing, they went to Hollywood, where she became Gable's manager and first wife. His first movies were silent movies where he played an extra often. It wasn't until the advent of sound that Gable's career really took off, and the rest is history...


Thursday, January 31, 2019

A TRIBUTE TO MY FATHER - 28 YEARS LATER

My father has been gone a lifetime, and there is so much I wish I could say to him. Here is a tribute video to his memory...