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C. J. Marton (Scarborough)
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Waterloo Sunset
Waterloo Sunset
by Ray Davies
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars little men in a box, 5 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Waterloo Sunset (Hardcover)
The above title was a supposed working project back in the 60's for Ray and Barry Fantoni - but it could apply to a lot of the central characters in Daviesland. Ray's best songs - apart from the early rockers - are bittersweet vignettes about the vast mass of humanity living lives of quiet deseration and this is carried over into the short story form. Many rock musicians would sell their soul for the slum kid/working class credentials the Davies brothers have - but Ray turns it on his head by writing about the aspirational and genteel. For all the outward whimsy and comedy, there is something dark and frustrated lurking not far beneath the surface. A harrased suburban commuter fantasises about being a serial killer, a ballerina commits suicide, an elderly lady fondly reminisces about an erstwhile dance partner whose tragic secret she has only recently uncovered, a girl works out the turmoil of her abusive relationshp with her rock muso boyfriend by posing naked for an ex-convict artist, a fading rock star comes to terms with the harsh business reality of this profession in LA. Ray is something of a chameleon in that he adapts his writing style to the mentality of the narrator. Highly recommended.


The Face At The Window (DVD) (1939) (All Regions) (NTSC) (US Import)
The Face At The Window (DVD) (1939) (All Regions) (NTSC) (US Import)
Offered by Newtownvideo_EU
Price: £10.98

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Move over boris - here's King Tod!, 4 Nov. 2007
Forget Karloff & Lugosi. Forget Cushing & Lee, even Price and the Chaneys. Tod is king of horror for one very important reason - he quite evidently enjoys his work. This was the first Tod film I saw and - having heard so much about him prior to this - I feared disappointment. No worries. Despite the cardboard settings and woeful support cast, from the moment he strides masterfully in, we are in the capable hands of a classic film villain. The opening murder with the eerie wolf howl on the soundtracks sets the scene perfectly and then we are treated to an acting masterclass from the great man himself. Whether innocently acting the concerned friend, lecherously trying to sneak a kiss from the heroine, threatening his low-life confederates with a grisly end if they cross him or, worst of all, holding somewhat one-sided conversations with his demented foster brother, Tod holds the film together. The Chevalier is underplayed by Tod compared to Sweeney Todd - but seldom has one man wiggled his eyebrows to more sinister effect. It's a great pity that Universal studios didn't try to to entice him over for their classic horror cycle - Tod would've made a far more spirited Dracula than John Carradine in the later sequels and can't you just see him going toe to toe with Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes. Shame nobody thought of putting him up against Arthur Wontner's in the UK. The double-exposure effects for the appearance of the "face" are well done for their time and the whole film compares favourably with the Universal classics of the period.

The production values are far higher than is normal for a British quota quickie of the period. The contrast between the spacious elegant rooms of the moneyed classes and the clutter of the Blind Rat - with a wealth of extras and charming Parisian detail such as the dancers - more than foreshadows the class-consciousness Hammer brought to its gothics a few decades later. So does the violent action with Lucien using an oil lamp to devastating effect - his disguise as "Renard" could have been a bit more convincing - and Tod making a sudden getaway by leaping from the window of the scientist's house and swimming the Seine to safety. John Warwick and Marjorie Taylor make an appealing couple - although Warwick is no match for Eric Portman in the earlier melodramas - and George King is improving as a director with a tightly edited montage of tense faces as the "corpse" slowly stirs into action to write its incriminating message. Tod is less of a central figure with whom we are expected to side with - even through his setbacks - as Stephen Hawke and Sir Percival Glyde were, but is still a marvellously blackhearted villain, as seen in his unsporting behaviour at the duel with pistols with Lucien. This is his finest film.


Crimes At The Dark House [DVD]
Crimes At The Dark House [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tod Slaughter
Offered by somethinginmyeye
Price: £10.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ge to grips with Tod, 4 Nov. 2007
It seems surprising - not knowing the copyright situation with Wilkie Collins original - that a quota quickie producer like George King should be able to get his hands on a respected literary source like THE WOMAN IN WHITE. However, the script rewrites the story so it is entirely told from the viewpoint of the false Sir Percival Glyde. Other adaptations might tell the tale from the viewpoint of the heroines as they struggle to unravel the mystery - but we are aware of the deception from the start as Tod creeps into a sleeping gold prospectors tent and dispatches him in a manner that suggests he's read Hamlet.

The disadvantage of this approach is that the fascinating, complex characters of Collins' text are flattened to one-dimensional cyphers. Laura is as much of a shrinking violet as she is in the novel but the fascinating figure of Marion (sapphic hints well suppressed here) is sidelined for much of the time. The annoyingly-hypochondriac Mr Fairlie seems more robust and more of a stock-comic figure. But the reduction of the fascinating figure of Count Fosco to Glyde's stooge is the most grievous oversight. Fosco - a roly-poly lovable eccentric who liked dogs and sunlight - was all the more chilling for being above suspicion unlike the obviously-villainous Glyde. For all that Hay Petrie brings to the part, it's just a shadow of what it could be. Still, Petrie and Slaughter make a fine pair of rogues - a cut-rate British version of Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre.

What do we get in compensation for this? Two words - Tod Slaughter. His films are unique in that we get to view the story from the villain's perspective - imagine James Bond from Blofeld's viewpoint. He rises to the occasion here and is at his most lecherous - fixing his beady eyes on a comely maid whom he assigns "special duties", then strangles when she becomes inconveniently pregnant, gleefully snogging Laura upon first meeting her, and finally trying his evil way on her sister at the climax saying "I used to break precipitous horses in the Australian gold fields, and I'll enjoy breaking you!" Seldom has any villain cackled so evilly as Tod does here. Tod may start the film in an understated fashion as "Sir Percival" comes home but he's soon giving us the full melodramatic range - shifty up-to-no-good expression, comic exasperation as the bills pile up, and unashamed lechery as - convincingly sloshed on his wedding night - he ominously mounts the stairs as his squeamish bride waits fearfully in her bed. Incredibly, he is allowed to have his "wicked way" with her. Further examples of unbridled villainy include opening the window in the bedroom of the pneumonia-ridden Woman in White - having announced he expects a "change in her condition" - and luring one victim to her death saying she will, shortly, "be going on a long journey". Freddy Krueger could do with Tod's gag writers.

Something just occurred to me. We never discover the true identity of Tod's character. But examine the facts. A boozy, lecherous, overweight rogue from Australia who abuses a position of social authority and whose very repellent physical presence doesn't dampen his sex-drive for the ladies - was he Sir Les Patterson?


Maria Marten: Murder at the Red Barn [DVD]
Maria Marten: Murder at the Red Barn [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tod Slaughter
Offered by ludovico_institute
Price: £9.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh, por Maria!, 4 Nov. 2007
Many of Tod's melodramas like Maria Marten and The Face at the Window had been filmed numerous times since the dawn of British cinema. But in partnership with quota quickie producer George King, Tod stepped in front of film cameras for the first time to capture his signature role of Squire William Corder on celluloid. A typical 2-week residency at a provincial fleapit by Tod's company would consist of Maria Marten the first week and Sweeney the second.

Milton Rossmer handled directorial chores on this one instead of King and the difference shows. The camera is relatively mobile and seeks a number of interesting angles - especially as it prowls around the red Barn as Tod prepares to shoot the luckless Maria. Production values and period design are relatively high for what is in essence one of the much-derided quota-quickies. Tod is the central figure and a sympathetic, multi-faceted role for all his evil. At the opening barn dance, he is the life-and-soul of the party and ensures that all his guests are enjoying themselves as he cuts a merry caper on the dance floor. The flighty Maria is much taken with him - and who can blame her when the only alternative is the sullen Carlos the Gypsy. Far from being the callow young suitor who normally opposed Tod's leering baddies, Carlos is impulsive and a bit too handy with a knife for comfort. His pursuit of the uninterested Maria verges on stalking and Eric Portman plays him with an authority that matches Tod. The confrontation in the drawing room between the 2 men after Corder has received his dowry is an interesting conflict of two differing acting styles and I had to admire the way Corder was able to signal for help despite been at the mercy of Carlos. Tod Slaughter also demonstrates what a skilled comedy actor he was with some amusing interludes as he loses heavily at dice to a suavely-sleazy Dennis Hoey His facial contortions are a joy, as is his swindling of idiot Tim Winterbottom and his scarcely-concealed repulsion from his intended - the big-nosed Psalmist. By the end of the 30's, Tod's acting style was, even then, regarded as pass? and a bit of a joke. He was often reduced to performing shortened dramatic acts on stage on the ABC cinema circuit. Nonetheless, he kept active throughout his life (American soldiers stationed in Belfast during the war seeing him on stage didn't know what to make of him).


Sweeney Todd - Demon Barber Of Fleet Street [1936] [DVD]
Sweeney Todd - Demon Barber Of Fleet Street [1936] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tod Slaughter
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £7.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ham sliced thick, 4 Nov. 2007
Karloff as the Monster, Lee and Lugosi as the Count, Lon Chaney jr as the Wolfman, Cushing as the Baron and Tod as Fleet Street's most notorious barber! Certain horror stars are destined to be associated with certain roles and Mr slaughter would forever be identified with Sweeney Todd. Provincial theatregoers and the outlying suburbs of London could be guaranteed a welter of blood - or beetroot juice - whenever Tod came to town for a 2-week residency. By the 30's, he was established as a star turn, having British B films built around him - his old-school melodramas being mostly rewritten from their stage versions to prominently feature him - see Jeffrey Richards excellent article on Slaughter in the book THE UNKNOWN 30'S.

Despite the distancing device of a prologue and epilogue in a modern barbers, the film holds up extremely well. The sailor's battle with the natives at Trader Patterson's shows the grasp of the film's budget exceeding its reach. But all the staples of Victorian melodrama are present - the villain, the hero and heroine, the older man (usually a disapproving Father of the heroine) and a comic couple. Modern day audiences may feel decidedly queasy about the film's maltreatment of Tobias Wragg. Threatened and intimidated by Todd, cheerfully guzzling down god-knows-what in Mrs Lovatt's pies and forced to wear the heroine's clothes - he must have grown into an adult certifiable for treatment. The ending is contrived with Johanna rushing - unconvincingly disguised as a boy - to Sweeney's barbershop and being left to perish in the flames as the villain covers his tracks. Even more unlikely is the way Sweeney stays to watch his emporium go up in flames instead of fleeing with his riches, then rushing in for an ill-advised fight with Jack Ingestre (who adopts a convincing Yorkshire accent for his farmer disguise). The tipping chair was adopted to prevent us actually seeing any throat slitting but it results in a suitably ironic finale as the unconscious Todd is despatched to the inferno below. There is now an official Tod Slaughter website so log on and lend your support to the greatest villain British acting ever produced


Owning Up: The Trilogy
Owning Up: The Trilogy
by George Melly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swinging and singing, 18 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Owning Up: The Trilogy (Paperback)
Owning Up remains the true highpoint for me with its loving evocation of a world that was already vanishing when George wrote it back in the early 60's. To anyone who still thinks the 50's were stuffy and conformist in Britain, such as Daily Mail readers for example, this book will provide the necessary corrective. The only difference with that decade and the 60's was that suddenly everyone was aware of the hedonism going on underneath the surface. Even if you're not a jazz fan, the book will rivet you with its graphic descriptions of Melly and partner in crime Mick Mulligan cutting a swathe through late night drinking clubs, provincial dance halls in such glamorous locations as Grimsby and Boston, (Birmingham's reputation never recovered from the battering George gave it in this volume) and scrubbers - always scrubbers! Is there something in the female psyche that pre-programs them to offer themselves sexually to otherwise physically-unappetising musicians? Whatever, generations of spotty adolescents in rock bands who wish to discover if the best form of willy-warmer is a supermodel's mouth are eternally grateful! Rum, Bum and Concertina shocked me when I first read it back in the 70's but remains an intriguing picture of George - a round peg in a square hole if ever there was one - somehow finding time to fit in National Service in the navy whilst attending art galleries, anarchists meetings, and homosexual orgies. There's even a guest appearance by the great Louis Armstrong - the man who ignited George's mania for jazz in the first place. Buy it. When they made George they threw away the mould - and clean forgot how to sculpt another one.


A Share of the World
A Share of the World
by Andrea Newman
Edition: Paperback

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The more things change...., 6 Sept. 2007
This review is from: A Share of the World (Paperback)
Penned in the 60's, it's amazing how this highlights the old saying "the morethings change, the more they stay the same." Demure literary grad student going willie-happy away from home was true for me in the 80's as it was for Miss Newman in the 60's. Lois differs from most in that she gets dumped by her boyfriend and after a stagnant period, throws caution - and her knickers - to the wind! Most from my time at a Northern polytechnic in the 80's were keeping their steady boyfriends (out of site at home) whilst playing the field between homework. I speak from experience - having overheard one classmate confiding to her friends how boring she found being alone in bed while her boyfriend was away, I found it difficult to keep a straight face as she had spent most of that academic year riding me (and various other males) like Lester Piggott on speed!
The book is more documentary like with an intriguing set of double standards in that Lois is sympathetic towards her possibly-gay brother yet hostile to a female classmate she suspects of harbouring latent sapphic tendencies. Lois is given a bog-standard set of friends - the stalwart,level-hearded best friend, the self-destructive, flamboyant flirt and the aforementioned neurotic. I can't believe this isn't as well known as her other work.


Vampire over London: Bela Lugosi in Britain
Vampire over London: Bela Lugosi in Britain
by Frank J. Dello Stritto
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dracula lives again!, 4 Mar. 2007
A truly engrossing read that complements David Skal's equally excellent HOLLYWOOD GOTHIC in bookending Bela Lugosi's career. It looks into his early life and career in greater detail than most and explores at length the "wilderness years" following his fall from grace at universal in the late 40's. The 1951 tour fo Britain is the centrepiece with its tale of a great actor, if troubled and flawed human being, making one last desperate attempt at a comeback on stage. The backstage life in a provincial theatrical tour of the time is effortlessly evoked with one or two amusing sidebars - Bela at an agricultural show in the North east!!! How his career might have fared if DRACULA had made the West End must be a source of endless speculation but it would have ensured his final days had more dignity and grace than they did. The 2-month stint at Las vegas remains another intriguing story - by all accounts it was a success - but this is a worthwile read not only for Lugosi and horror fans but keen student of the cinema and theatre in general.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2012 12:30 PM BST


Joe Meek Freakbeat: You're Holding Me Down
Joe Meek Freakbeat: You're Holding Me Down
Offered by johnny8640
Price: £24.99

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rotten pigs! I'll show 'em freakbeat!!!, 3 Mar. 2007
My favourite Joe compilation. Hard to imagine that none of these tracks ever charted but they open to ridicule the notion that Joe did not adapt to changing times or that he produced nothing of worth after 1964. The man who produced Telstar was always the John the Baptist of the forthcoming musical explosion in Britain. His problem was spreading his recources too thinly and on unworthy acts. Also, unlike George Martin - who was content to complement the Beatles but never dominate them - Joe was the ultimate control freak. The lack of a composer in tune with the times like Pete Townsend or Ray Davis was a major drawback. But unlike other compilations, there are plenty of tracks on this CD that can be enjoyed for more than their rarity. You're Holding Me Down gets things off to a dynamic start with a rave-up the Yardbirds would be proud of. Like Diggin' For Gold, one can imagine the lyrics reflected Joe's frustrated mental state of the time - and the discordant music echoed his deepening psychosis. Crawdaddy Simone remains a timeless neglected masterpiece and it is incredible to believe Joe threw it away as a B-side. Golden boy Heinz gets in on the act with the annoyingly catchy Big Fat Spider but it is the Cryin' Shames who remain the major discovery. Tracks like Let Me In hint at their potential and one can only hope that a trawl through the notorious tea-chest tapes uncovers the material they laid down for a promised album that can now be released. Rest in peace, Joe.


Vampires, Cowboys, Spacemen & Spooks
Vampires, Cowboys, Spacemen & Spooks

24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The sound of Joe, 1 Mar. 2007
Yet another filler for us obsessive nerds concerning the "British Phil Spector". You will be better advised spending your money on the Tornado's compilation CD's which were the peak of Joe's work in this area. There are one or 2 intriguing rarities - notably "phantom Hussar" which could almost be summoned from the ether at one of Joe and Geoff Goddard's ouija sessions and Dave Rowlands' Besame Mucho which is a catchy, almost punk-like arrangment that should have been rerecorded with vocals instead of the virtually drowned-out pianist. Otherwise, you've heard all the best stuff before and you could happily survive without hearing the rest. Joe's quality control button often went amiss during his career. The notorious tea-chest tapes may contain even worse dross.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 27, 2009 7:35 PM GMT


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