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Paul Johnson (Benfleet, Essex. U.K.)

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The Murder Bag (Unabridged)
The Murder Bag (Unabridged)
Offered by Audible Ltd
Price: 18.28

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A little too calculated, 29 May 2014
No one would argue that Tony Parsons is an accomplished writer. His best-selling novel "Man and Boy" is a delightful read. "The Murder Bag" is his first foray into crime fiction, an attempt to create a character that will result in a best-selling franchise. Unfortunately, the whole thing seems a little too calculated. Apart from a truly riveting opening, this effort never quite catches fire. Mr. Parsons reveals himself to be a talented dilettante rather than a natural crime writer.


The Sea Dogs
The Sea Dogs
by Ken Barnes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.25

4.0 out of 5 stars A rattling good read. not to be missed, 28 May 2014
This review is from: The Sea Dogs (Paperback)
As a period adventure,"The Sea Dogs" by Ken Barnes has all the sweep and swash of a Hollywood action picture. But where it improves over the standard Tinseltown product is firstly in its characters ( who come across as credible and well-rounded) and secondly in its historical accuracy. I got as big a kick out of the author's vision of 17th century London as I did from Robert Harris's impressions of Ancient Rome ( in "Cicero").

Barnes has a nice way of getting inside the minds of his characters and letting us share their aspirations and fears. Even the main villain, who is pretty ruthless, has a sensitive side. One does not expect this in an action story and it is most appealing. The whole multi-layered story is very fast-moving, packed with action and incident. In short, it's a rattling good read. If you're looking for a solid historical adventure, this is not to be missed.


Dracula (Blu-ray + DVD) [1958]
Dracula (Blu-ray + DVD) [1958]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive Dracula as you've never seen it before., 21 Oct 2013
Unavailable for many years in any video format, this 1958 version has long been considered the finest screen version of Bram Stoker's classic novel. While it is not totally faithful to the original novel, it is an intelligently-conceived script that captures the essence and all the horror of Stoker's creation. It also proved a star-making role for Christopher Lee whose performance more than surpasses the overrated 1931 Bela Lugosi incarnation.

Now, for the first time on Blu-ray, we have an absolutely dazzling, fully-restored version of this classic film which,unlike the previous DVD release, contains rare Japanese footage that was never seen in the original theatrical release. Being an elaborate three-disc release loaded with extras, the viewer can revel in seeing just how much hard work and loving dedication has gone into matching the previously-unseen footage with the quality of the original release. It's an amazing achievement that has to be seen to be believed. The results, particularly in Blu-ray, are not only satisfying but quite astonishing. Even the new DVD version also included in this set is a pleasure to behold. Make no mistake,this is the definitive Dracula as you've never seen it before. Highly recommended.


Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings
Sinatra/Jobim: The Complete Reprise Recordings
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 14.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It deserves a place in any interesting collection., 21 Oct 2013
Frank Sinatra's first collaboration with the gifted Brazilian composer/performer,Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967) was one his best albums of that period. Not as impressive vocally as "Sinatra and Strings," "the September of my Years" or "The Concert Sinatra" but stylistically very satisfying to those of us who wanted to hear the great man in a different setting. Jobim's sinuous melodies and Latin rhythms beautifully orchestrated by Claus Ogerman proved perfect fare for the great singer. The song selection also includes bossa nova-styled renditions of such standards as Irving Berlin's "Change Partners" and Cole Porter's "I Concentrate On You" making the album a triumph both critically and commercially.

This success called for a second outing with Jobim. This time the arranger was the equally-gifted Eumir Deodato. But, for various reasons, Sinatra was less than enchanted with the results and he cancelled the release. As it happened, he did agree to release seven of the tracks in a compilation album. But it was not until producer, Charles Pignone decided to re-constitute the entire Sinatra-Jobim output as a single CD that we were able to hear the full results of these sessions. Was it worth it? Yes. Is it a worthwhile investment? Again, the answer is yes. But be warned- not everything in the second set is top-notch Sinatra. Why he chose to sing the dreadful English lyric of "Desafinado" when there was a much better set of lyrics ( already recorded by Perry Come for instance) is something we'll never know. But,despite the few shortcomings of the second setq, this new CD is well purchasing. It deserves a place in any interesting collection.
Ken B.


The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings
The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings
Price: 12.62

4.0 out of 5 stars A collection to cherish, 21 Oct 2013
There is no question that Frank Sinatra and Count Basie enjoyed working together. This collection, which conveniently. comprises their two studio albums (1962 & '64 respectively), is a welcome release. The real riches, however, are in the first set arranged by Neal Hefti and featuring some dazzling section and solo work from the Basie personnel. The second set - originally released as "It Might as Well Be Swing" is slightly less satisfying. The musical direction this time is in the hands of Quincy Jones who, in electing to add strings to the Basie sound, has altered the band's identity. The arrangements are strictly by-the-numbers transforming the band into a sort of makeshift Nelson Riddle - but without Riddle's skill and warmth. Sinatra's vocals are OK but they lack the commitment that he shows in the earlier tracks.

By and large,though, this is a collection to cherish simply because it presents the complete studio output of these two musical giants.
Ken B.


''The Singing 'M''' Mark Murphy. The Complete Decca Recordings with Ralph Burns and His Orchestra
''The Singing 'M''' Mark Murphy. The Complete Decca Recordings with Ralph Burns and His Orchestra
Price: 12.93

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fine collection, 21 Oct 2013
Mark Murphy is a superb song stylist and this is a fine collection of his early work. The song choice is generally good and mostly timeless. The only caveat is that his. brand of hipness has worn a little thin with the passing years , though his musicianship is as dazzling as ever. But if you're an admirer of Murphy's work, this coupling of his first two albums - circa 1957- '58 - is a collection not to be missed. The arrangements by Ralph Burns add to the enjoyment.
Ken B.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars The spirit of the Duke., 21 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a well- made and beautifully-designed garment for those of us who won't see sixty again. John Wayne's image and the slogan say it all.
Ken B.


The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take (Bill Slider Mysteries)
The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take (Bill Slider Mysteries)
by Eric Edson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 15.31

5.0 out of 5 stars An essential tool for the serious screenwriter., 21 Oct 2013
Anyone who regards himself as a screenwriter. - or who is about to embark on creating a feature film script - would be well-advised to invest in this book by Eric Edson. It won't tell you how to dream up a sure-fire story, but It will help you to overcome and eliminate any unseen problems as well as the more common mistakes that are part and parcel of the difficult task of screenwriting.

As an essential tool for the serious screenwriter, I can't recommend it too highly.

Ken B.


Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Humphrey Bogart
Offered by RAREWAVES USA
Price: 36.77

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ULTIMATE EDITION of the ULTIMATE CULT FILM, 27 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Few people would argue that " CASABLANCA" is the ultimate cult film. I can't think of another that has more memorable moments or more lines of dialogue that have passed into Hollywood folkore. Since the onset of the home video market in the early 1980s, it has been issued and re-issued several times in various formats - VHS, Laserdisc,DVD even Blu-ray - and there can be no real film buff who does not possess a copy of it in some form. So why pay out a significant sum of money to own this new 3-disc super-deluxe 70th Anniversary Edition ? Well, it depends on how much affection you have for this exceptional film. If you want to see it in a glorious new 4K scan that surpasses even the much-heralded Blu-ray of just two years ago, then this is the version for you. Truthfully, the film has never looked more ravishingly pristine. Apart from the excellent NEW Blu-ray, the set also contains a state-of-the-art DVD copy as well as all the "extras" that were included in previous special editions - which means you can safely replace any previous versions. In addition to which there are a number of enticing new extras. A long-overdue documentary on "Michael Curtiz - The Greatest Director You've Never
Heard Of." This is supported by other documentaries on "The Brothers Warner," "Jack Warner - The Last Mogul" and the four-hour documentary series "You Must Remember This- The Warner Brothers Story" narrated by Clint Eastwood PLUS a whole variety of trailers and shorts. As if that weren't enough, you get an elaborate 64-page hardback book containing never-before published photos and memos on the background of the making of "Casablanca" PLUS a French poster
( suitable for framing) and a very stylish pack of four table coasters relating to the different cafes and establishments featured in the film.

What it all boils down to is that THIS is absolutely the ULTIMATE EDITION OF THE ULTIMATE CULT FILM and, as such, deserves a place in any interesting collection. I should add that this is a Limited Edition of only 80,000 copies. So if you want it, better hurry - because when it's gone, it's gone.


Hornblower  - The Complete Collection [DVD]
Hornblower - The Complete Collection [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ioan Gruffudd
Price: 10.21

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST TV ADVENTURE SERIES EVER !, 22 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
"Hornblower - The Complete Collection" is a welcome rarity among TV series in that each of its twelve episodes is good enough to be shown on the big screen as a full-length feature film. The production values are incredibly high offering spectacular vistas, sea battles and action sequences as good as anything seen in the cinema. The scripts not only do full justice to the beloved novels of C.S. Forester, they also capture the solid spirit of shipboard life in the British navy during the Napoleonic era. The characters - from the smallest part to the leading roles - are portrayed with unerring accuracy and conviction. Ioan Gruffid is perfect as the young Hornblower and seeing him mature and toughen with each episode allows us to experience the journey of a fully-rounded character. Equally impressive is Robert Lindsay as his superior and mentor, Captain Pellew.

Offering some 13 hours of utterly compelling viewing tracing Horatio Hornblower's progress from Midshipman to Captain, one can't help wishing that this series - now some ten years old - could be continued so that we can see the rest of the Hornblower saga ending with his being appointed Admiral. But, alas, the production costs involved in making these wonderful films proved to be too expensive for the TV market. As an excellent appendage to this series,I can wholeheartedly recommend the 1950 film "Captain Horatio Hornblower.RN" starring Gregory Peck, which picks up where the TV series leaves off. Perhaps some enterprising producer should consider mounting the Hornblower story as a major feature film with Mr. Gruffid in the title role. In the meantime, there is plenty to savour and enjoy in this reasonably-priced box set which is unquestionably the best TV adventure series ever. I can't recommend it too highly.


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