Archive 3 - 2011

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Considered to be the best film of the George Lucas Star Wars films, Kershner's "The Empire Strikes Back" stands out from the other films for its darker themes and psychology. Kershner also directed the last Sean Connery "James Bond" film: Never Say Never Again, in 1983. Altogether Kershner had 15 film directorial credits, his first being Stakeout on Dope Street, in 1958. Irvin Kershner April 29, 1923 – November 27, 2010, from lung cancer.


Actor LESLIE NIELSEN was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. The son of a Canadian Mountie, he pursued being a radio disc jockey, but when offered a scholarship to a New York City actors theatre, he reluctantly left Canada. He worked regularly in television in the early 1950s, and eventually got a long-term contract with M-G-M after the success of the science fiction classic Forbidden Planet. It was his role in the 1980 film Airplane! which catapulted him to his greatest fame as a comedian, and many films (and the TV series Police Squad!) followed, particularly the three-film series of Naked Gun films. Leslie Nielsen February 11, 1926 - November 28, 2010, from pneumonia.

Dark Of the Sun, 1968

Rod Taylor in a gritty film about the Congo wars of the 1960s and a mercenarie's (Rod Taylor as Curry) descent into violence, mayhem, and temporary madness.

More about Dark of the Sun

Scarlet Pimpernel coming back to the big screen

Empire Online has a news story that the Scarlet Pimpernel is coming back to the screen again (they say "it's the Sherlock Holmes effect" referring to the success of the 2009 film starring Robert Downey, Jr.). Probably the most popular version of the literary character onscreen was the Leslie Howard version from 1934, available in innumerable public domain copies, and shown on television via Turner Classic movies frequently.


I've not seen a copy of the book yet, but simply put, the Vieira Hollywood picture-books are the best albums on Hollywood, bar none, for well over a decade now. No one puts as much attention to the production aspects, design, picture choices, and then ladles the whole affair with affection and admiration in the text. Classic Hollywood has not had a modern explainer and admirer like Vieira for decades now, and the taste and skill brought to bear on his books make them both readable-fun and collectible (some of his past books are out of print and instead of dropping down to the remainder pricing so many used Hollywood books seem to end up at, his instead get harder to find and buy).

Book is by Darrell Rooney and Mark Vieira, 240 pages, Angel City Press. Available from

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert

New Book

Broken Silence: Conversations with 23 Silent Film Stars

Broken Silence: Conversations with 23 Silent Film Stars

This is a collection of 23 original interviews with stars of the silent screen, with biographical information and a filmography included for each.

Interviewed are Lew Ayres, William Bakewell, Lina Basquette, Madge Bellamy, Eleanor Boardman, Ethlyne Clair, Junior Coghlan, Joyce Compton, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Dorothy Gulliver, Maxine Elliott Hicks, Dorothy Janis, George Lewis, Marion Mack, Patsy Ruth Miller, Lois Moran, Baby Marie Osborne, Muriel Ostriche, Eddie Quillan, Esther Ralston, Dorothy Revier, David Rollins and Gladys Walton.

About the Author
Michael G. Ankerich is a writer whose work focuses on the silent film era of Hollywood. A former newspaper reporter, he has written extensively for Classic Images, Films of the Golden Age, and Hollywood Studio Magazine, which featured his interview with Butterfly McQueen (Prissy) on the 50th anniversary of the release of Gone With The Wind.

Book is 319 pages, McFarland. Available from

New Busby Berkeley book

Busby Berkeley

Maybe the most revered of musical directors was the extreme-stylist of the golden era of Hollywood movies, Busby Berkeley, a man who changed what a stage-production meant on film by taking the camera and making it move like a winged-eye that could see the motion of actors from every angle. Whether they were underwater, behind glass, or below a skyward lense, Berkeley made synchronized motion more than a filmed reproduction of a Broadway play.

Book is by Jeffrey Spivak, 408 pages, University Press of Kentucky. Available from

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