Friday, May 30, 2014


Jack Benny is by far one of my favorite comedians. He is also one of the most decent men that was in show business. He lived 80 years, but it just was not enough. Through the years Jack befriended and appeared with a lot of the greats of show business. Here are some pictures of Jack with other stars and various famous people...







Tuesday, May 27, 2014


A new book is reporting that Marilyn Monroe’s death on August 4, 1962 was not a suicide but a murder orchestrated by Bobby Kennedy to silence her as she was about to reveal all the dirty Kennedy family secrets she kept logged in a little red diary. 

And Bobby did not act alone. He had co-conspirators in her murder - his brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford, and Marilyn’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson who gave the star a fatal injection of pentobarbital to the heart. 

Those are the explosive allegations detailed in a blockbuster new book by writers Jay Margolis, a long-time investigative reporter and Monroe expert, and Richard Buskin, a New York Times bestselling author of 30 non- fiction books. 

The volume - The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed - claims to blow the lid off the world’s most notorious and talked-about celebrity death through eyewitness testimony and interviews,  MailOnline can exclusively reveal.

‘Bobby Kennedy was determined to shut her up, regardless of the consequences’, Peter Lawford later revealed, according to the authors, feeling wracked with guilt over the star’s murder. ‘It was the craziest thing he ever did – and I was crazy enough to let it happen’.

It was a murder allegedly witnessed by ambulance attendant James C. Hall, who arrived at the film star's home and saw Monroe’s psychiatrist Dr. Greenson inject Marilyn directly into her heart with undiluted pentobarbital, brutally breaking a rib with the needle. 

He was set up by Bobby to ‘take care’ of Marilyn.  

Bobby Kennedy got involved in a messy sexual affair with Marilyn in the summer of 1962 when he was sent out to Los Angeles by his brother Jack to convince the screen goddess to stop calling the President at the White House. The President was not going to divorce Jackie and marry her. But Bobby fell under her spell and slipped into the bedroom with Marilyn.

‘It wasn’t Bobby’s intention, but that evening they became lovers and spent the night in our guest bedroom’, Peter Lawford later revealed.

Bobby made his final visit to Monroe’s Brentwood house on the afternoon of August 4, 1962 with Lawford who went outside to have a glass of champagne poolside while Bobby talked with her.

Marilyn’s neighbors saw Bobby leave and re-enter later that evening with one of his two long-time personal bodyguards from the LAPD’s notorious Gangster Squad who performed illegal activities for the LAPD off the books.

One of the bodyguards shot Marilyn in the armpit with intramuscular pentobarbital (Nembutal) to calm her down – after she was thrown to the floor by Bobby, who made this statement to the doctor in what the authors claim was a deposition confirming he and Lawford were at the house. 

While she was stunned, Bobby and Lawford rummaged through the house in search of the little red diary.
The Nembutal injection wasn’t strong enough to calm her down for long ‘so the two LAPD Gangster Squad partners held her down, stripped her clothes off, and gave her an enema filled with broken-down pills containing anywhere from thirteen to nineteen Nembutals and seventeen chloral hydrates’. 

This did the trick. Back to the search for the red diary.

Kennedy, Lawford, and the two bodyguards left the scene at 10.30pm and the incessant barking of Marilyn’s white maltese terrier, Maf, aroused suspicion of her housekeeper Eunice Murray and Murray’s son, Norman Jefferies who came over to find out what was going on. 

They discovered Monroe lying across the bed with her head hanging over the edge in the guest cottage and called an ambulance. Mrs. Murray suspected it was an overdose.

Peter Lawford had apparently returned to the scene, along with LA Police Sargeant Marvin Iannone, who had been stationed at Monroe’s house on orders from Bobby and always worked the detail on Lawford’s beach house when the Attorney General was in town.

Private detective Fred Otash, who had bugged Marilyn's house on a request from Lawford who liked to listen to kinky tapes, heard Iannone and Lawford talking on tape at 11.55pm that night, he later revealed.

Life Magazine photojournalist Leigh Wiener bribed the county morgue staff with a bottle of whiskey to get inside and photograph Monroe hours after her death. Her body showed cyanosis, blue or purple coloration of the skin which is consistent with needle injection. 'You'll see little streaks of blue running through the body..That's how Monroe looked to me when I saw her', he said. 

Mystery: This police photo, exclusively obtained by the authors, reveals a possible blood smudge on the wall of Marilyn's  bedroom. This smudge was subsequently airbrushed out of the photo released to the public

Chief William Parker, the police chief in LA, liked Bobby Kennedy and his stance on organized crime as well as his embrace of the same Catholic faith. So he refused to assign a full-time detective team to the Monroe case, initiating a shocking cover-up.

Syndicated Hollywood columnist May Mann, who interviewed and wrote about stars for several decades, was reporting on what she considered an inept probe into Monroe’s untimely death when she received a call from the Chief Parker. 

'He said it would be bad for my health if I kept writing stories like that’, she stated. 

The case turned cold.

Detective Mike Rothmiller wrote ‘it was this unit [the OCID] which had undertaken the clandestine probe of Monroe’s death. They had the power to ruin lives and reputations – or to safeguard. This is precisely what they did with the Monroe investigation …they protected the name of the Kennedy dynasty’.

Lady May Lawford, Peter’s mother, confirmed years later that Bobby had been in town the night of Marilyn's death. His helicopter had been parked at the beach in front of Peter’s house despite his denial.

PI Fred Otash confirmed that the FBI and the CIA had bugged Marilyn’s home and it was an FBI agent who reported to J. Edgar Hoover that Bobby had been inside the house along with the two Bobby knew that Hoover knew.

Hoover’s teenage neighbor Anthony Calomaris came forward years later and stated that Hoover had told him Monroe was murdered but he didn’t want to arrest Bobby. He used knowledge of the murder to blackmail the Attorney General to secure his own position as head of the FBI.

Marilyn Monroe's death was ultimately ruled a suicide by the authorities.

Closing the book: Respected authors Jay Margolis and Richard Buskin put to rest more than 50 years of speculation over how the beloved actress met her death

  • The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed by Jay Margolis and Richard Buskin and published by Skyhorse Publishing is available at Amazon as of June 3...

Sunday, May 25, 2014


This blog post is part of the Fabulous Films of the 1950s Blogathon,,hosted by the Classic Movie Blog Association (CMBA)...

I have written and reviewed the 1952 comedy/drama Limelight numerous times. It stars one of all-time favorite actors, Charlie Chaplin, and it is just a wonderful film. It is the most autobiographical of any Chaplin film, and I had to pick it for a 1950s blogathon. The film was not a success in 1952, and it got lost in the 1950s movies of Cinemascope, lavish musicals, and Hitchcock masterpieces. However, Limelight is a wonderful modest film that tells a story simplistically with no Chariot races or 3D gimmicks.

Chaplin's final American film tells the story of a fading music hall comedian's effort to help a despondent ballet dancer learn both to walk and feel confident about life again. The highlight of the film is the classic duet with Chaplin's only real artistic film comedy rival, Buster Keaton. It was a great pairing seeing Chaplin and Keaton on the screen together.

Haunting and unforgettable piece from Charles Chaplin that was nearly lost in the American cinema all together. It played in very few cities within the U.S. in 1952 and was never shown in Los Angeles due to the suspicion that the House of Un-American Acts Committee had concerning Chaplin (making no sense to me as Chaplin, who was British, was the polar opposite of a Communist from all indications). The film disappeared from U.S. soil and did not re-surface until some 20 years later in 1972 and Chaplin actually won an Oscar, with fellow scorers Raymond Rasch and Larry Russell, for this movie's original dramatic score (this was the only competitive Oscar Chaplin ever won).

Chaplin stars as a washed-up vaudeville performer. He is now an elderly man (in his 60s when the film was made) and the spotlight is gone forever, even though he still secretly yearns for it. Chaplin discovers a very young ballet dancer (Claire Bloom) who has attempted suicide because she cannot handle being a performer. Naturally Chaplin cannot believe that this young, beautiful and talented woman would rather take her life than be a ballet performer (the fact that Chaplin yearns for her youth and the ability to be an entertainer again makes him bound and determined to get her back on her feet). He tries with all his might to get her performance-ready again, all the while he is also trying to resurrect the career that he lost long ago. Chaplin has a dream of a stunning performance he has on the stage, but when his act ends there is no one there to acknowledge him (one of, if not the saddest sequences I have ever seen on film). Soon it becomes obvious that Chaplin's time is running out and his desperation to have that one last piece of action engulfs his mind, body, heart and soul.

Although the film is set in London, it was entirely filmed in Hollywood, mostly at the Chaplin Studios. The street where Calvero lives was a redressed set at Paramount Studios, the music hall scenes were filmed at RKO, and some exterior scenes use back-projected footage of London. Chaplin prominently featured members of his family in the film, including five of his children and his half-brother Wheeler Dryden. Chaplin chose stage actress Claire Bloom for the role of Terry, her first major role in films.

Chaplin told his older sons he expected Limelight to be his last film. By all accounts he was very happy and energized during production, a fact often attributed to the joy of recreating his early career in the Music Hall. Most people who have studied the life of Chaplin would assume that his character in the film was based on his father Charles Chaplin Sr who had also lost his audience and had turned to alcohol which led to his death in 1901. In both his 1964 autobiography, and his 1974 book My Life in Pictures, however, Chaplin insists that Calvero is based on the life of stage actor Frank Tierney. Then, in contrast, Limelight was made during a time where Chaplin himself was starting to lose his audience. In many ways, the movie remains highly autobiographical.

Whether or not the movie I about Chaplin is really beside the point. If you want to lose yourself in another time and really feel the emotions of a film's characters then please view Limelight. This film marked an end of an era for Chaplin. It marked a time of sadness being kicked out of the United States, a country he had called home for almost fifty years, but it also marked a change in Chaplin. He no longer longed to make a perfect movie, he learned to enjoy his family and the finer things in life. When you thing of movies of the 1950s, you do not really think of a Charlie Chaplin movie, but I think of Limelight...

Friday, May 23, 2014


The shelf life of child stars are not too long once they turn into adults. Most of them can not make the transition to adult star. While listening to an old Eddie Cantor radio show, I heard Bobby Breen singing and I wondered what ever happened to him. Like so many child stars, Breen did not have an easy transition into adulthood.

Bobby Breen was born November 4, 1927 in Toronto, Canada and was the most popular male child singer in the 1930's. He came from a talented musical family and had a singing career on the stage and screen, as well as on radio. His manager and voice coach was his older sister, Sally. To the delight of audiences everywhere, Bobby sang in English, French, Italian, and Spanish. He played in vaudeville and his sister paid for his musical education. Breen went to Hollywood in 1935. His first major appearance was on Eddie Cantor's weekly radio show in 1936, and he soon became the leading child star at RKO Radio Pictures. He is best remembered today for his films, and for the fact that he was a boy soprano. His first film was Let's Sing Again (1936), followed by eight more, including Rainbow on the River (1936), Make a Wish (1937), Hawaii Calls (1938), Way Down South (1939), and his last film, Johnny Doughboy (1942).

By the time Bobby Breen arrived at Motown, he was in his late thirties and already seen as washed-up. He made his final movie at the age of 14 before becoming a full-time singer, doing some club work and cutting a few schlocky pseudo-standards in the Fifties before drifting into obscurity. By the time Motown picked him up, he was positively prehistoric; it was already ten long, lean years since he’d appeared on The Comeback Story to talk about the challenges he’d faced moving to a new career and how hard he was finding it to get work. Still, the lure of signing a white MOR star was too great for Berry Gordy to resist, regardless of whether said star was on the downswing of his career, and so it came to pass that in mid-December of 1963, Bobby Breen arrived at the studio to try and revive his flagging fortunes. Unfortunately he only made a couple of singles for the studio.

Around this time (1964), Breen also started a nightclub act. It was moderately successful and got him several TV guest shots into the late 1960s. He then hosted a local TV show in New York City After marrying three times, Breen is currently living in Tamarac, Florida. He is the owner and operator of Bobby Breen Enterprises, a local talent agency. The agency has let the talented former child star create a nice income and livelihood for himself in the Florida area. It looks like however that the talent agency is no longer open.

During a local interview in 2006, Breen had this to say about growing up... "They expect me to come onstage still wearing short pants. It takes a lot of work out there to make them believe I'm grown up. They resent it somehow. It's something I have to fight every single performance."


Tuesday, May 20, 2014


The teaming of actor Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton is an odd pairing in my opinion. The team either makes movie magic like in Edward Scissorhands or Sweeney Todd, or they make movie duds like Alice In Wonderland or Dark Shadows. For the most part they are both geniuses in my opinion, and one of their masterpieces is 1999's Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 American-German horror film directed by Tim Burton. It is a film adaptation loosely inspired by the 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving and stars Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci, with Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, and Jeffrey Jones in supporting roles. The plot follows police constable Ichabod Crane (Depp) sent from New York City to investigate a series of murders in the village of Sleepy Hollow by a mysterious Headless Horseman.

While Johnny Depp was Burton's first choice for the role of Ichabod Crane, Paramount required him to consider Brad Pitt, Liam Neeson and Daniel Day-Lewis. Depp was cast in July 1998 for his third collaboration with Burton. The actor wanted Ichabod to parallel Irving's description of the character in the short story. This included a long prosthetic snipe nose, huge ears, and elongated fingers. Paramount turned down his suggestions, and after Depp read Tom Stoppard's rewrite of the script, he was inspired to take the character even further. "I always thought of Ichabod as a very delicate, fragile person who was maybe a little too in touch with his feminine side, like a frightened little girl," Depp explained.

Depp modeled Ichabod's detective personality from Basil Rathbone in the 1939 Sherlock Holmes film series. He also studied Roddy McDowall's acting for additional influence. Burton added that "the idea was to try and find an elegance in action of the kind that Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing or Vincent Price had." Christina Ricci, who worked with producer Scott Rudin on The Addams Family, was cast as Katrina Van Tassel. Sleepy Hollow also reunited Burton with Jeffrey Jones (from Beetlejuice and Ed Wood) as Reverent Steenwyck, Christopher Walken (Max Schreck in Batman Returns) as the Hessian Horseman, Martin Landau (Ed Wood) in a cameo role, and Hammer veteran Michael Gough (Alfred in Burton's Batman films), whom Burton tempted out of retirement. The Hammer influence was further confirmed by the casting of Christopher Lee in a small cameo.

The cast was excellent, and Johnny Depp, despite his good looks, is more than believable as the mousy Ichabod Crane. The movie is a must for viewing during Halloween, the fall, or any gloomy Saturday night when you want to see a good movie. Some of Tim Burton's movies go over the top, but Sleepy Hollow is nearly perfect. While Depp is definitely the star of the film, watch out for the great Christopher Walken who nearly steals the movie away without ever uttering a word. I've said too much already, I wouldn't want you to take off my head!


Sunday, May 18, 2014


One of the great vocalists of the 1950s has left us.  Jerry Vale, the beloved crooner known for his high-tenor voice and romantic songs in the 1950s and early 1960s, has died. He was 83.

Vale, who had been in declining health, died Sunday at his Palm Desert home surrounded by family and friends, family attorney Harold J. Levy said in a statement.
Born Genaro Louis Vitaliano, Vale started performing in New York supper clubs as a teenager and went on to record more than 50 albums. His rendition of "Volare," ''Innamorata" and "Al Di La" became classic Italian-American songs. His biggest hit was "You Don't Know Me."

In high school, to earn money, Vale took a job shining shoes in a barbershop in New York City. He sang while he shined shoes, and his boss liked the sound so well that he paid for music lessons for the boy. Enjoying the lessons, Vale started singing in high school musicals and at a local nightclub. This led to additional club dates, including one that lasted for three years at a club in the suburb of Yonkers, New York, just north of the city. When Paul Insetta, (who was a road manager for Guy Mitchell and a hit songwriter) heard him there, he signed him to a management contract, changed his name, and further coached him. He then arranged for Vale to record some records of songs he'd written, and brought the demos to Columbia Records. Vale then signed a recording contract with Columbia, and Insetta managed him for many years.

His version of "The Star-Spangled Banner", recorded in the late 1960s, was a fixture at many sporting events for years.

Vale and Rita, his wife of over 54 years, resided in Palm Desert, California. His biography A Singer's Life, by Richard Grudens, was published in 2000 by Celebrity Profiles, Stonybrook, New York. He sang the Late Night with David Letterman anthem "It's a Late Night Word" on the program's eighth anniversary special in 1990. He made cameo appearances as himself in the 1990 film Goodfellas and the 1995 film Casino, both directed by Martin Scorsese. While his albums failed to make the charts in the early 1970s, Vale remained a popular club act.

Jerry pretty much retired after sticken by a stroke in 2002. Vale is survived by Rita, his wife of 55 years; a son, Robert; and a daughter, Pamela...

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Dean Martin was the Buddha of cool. Maybe Frank Sinatra used his voice more as an instrument, and maybe Bing Crosby was the more prolific of a singer, but Dean Martin was the coolest crooner out there. Through his career Dino said some funny quotesand even insightful at times. Here's a few of them...

"If people want to think I get drunk and stay out all night, let 'em. That's how I got here, you know."

"I've got seven kids. The three words you hear most around my house are 'hello,' 'goodbye,' and 'I'm pregnant."

To those who felt he joked his way through songs during concert and nightclub appearences: "You wanna hear it straight, buy the album."

Upon filing for divorce from his second wife: "I know it's the gentlemanly thing to let the wife file. But, then, everybody knows I'm no gentleman."

On Joey Bishop: "Most people think of Joey Bishop as just a replacement for Johnny Carson. That's NOT true. We in show business know better: we don't think of him at ALL."

On Phyllis Diller: Phyllis is the women of about whom Picasso once said, "Somebody throw a drop cloth over that."

On Frank Sinatra: "In high school, Frank never participated in extra-curricular activities, like nature study, paintings or ceramics. Frank's hobby was a most interesting one: he was an amateur gynecologist."

On James Stewart: "There's a statue of Jimmy Stewart in the Hollywood Wax Museum, and the statue talks better than he does."

On Bob Hope: "As a young boy, Bob didn't have much to say. He couldn't afford writers then."

On Johnny Carson: "Johnny Carson is a comedian who is seen every night in millions of bedrooms all over America...and that's why his last wife left him."

"I'd hate to be a teetotaler. Imagine getting up in the morning and knowing that's as good as you're going to feel all day."

"I can't stand an actor or actress who tells me acting is hard work. It's easy work. Anyone who says it isn't never had to stand on his feet all day dealing blackjack."

On Shirley MacLaine: "Shirley, I love her, but her oars aren't touching the water these days."

[in 1964, upon introducing The Rolling Stones on ABC TVs' "Hollywood Palace"] "I've been rolled when I was stoned."

On Jerry Lewis: "At some point, he said to himself, "I'm extraordinary, like Charles Chaplin". From then on, nobody could tell him anything. He knew it all."

Monday, May 12, 2014


When Jimmy Dorsey and 17 sidemen strode into New York's Capitol Records studio on Nov. 11, 1956, they had no illusions of bringing back the glory days of the big bands. Theirs was at best a twilight rear guard action, perhaps an act of faith, perhaps an act of defiance, perhaps nothing more than a handful of people who loved the music of their youth saying that music would not surrender simply because today's youth culture had moved on to rock 'n' roll. Certainly Dorsey had no illusions, for by November of 1956 he was not sure he would outlive even the last remnants of big band music.

At 54, he had lung cancer. Still, he wasn't giving up. Just three years earlier he had reunited with his brother Tommy, from whom he had been estranged for 18 years, and that reunion had provided a modest rejuvenation for both their careers at a time when big band players everywhere were struggling. Now Jimmy was getting a shot at something else he hadn't had for a while: a record deal. Harry Carlson, a songwriter, one-time bandleader and now owner of a photography studio in Cincinnati, had started a label of his own, Fraternity Records. After he had a hit with Cathy Carr's "Ivory Tower," he approached Dorsey, whose swing tunes Carlson had loved for years. There is some evidence Carlson was wildly optimistic about this project, that he felt just a few modernizing adaptations would enable the big band sound to compete with Elvis Presley and Little Richard.

He wasn't thinking small. He and Dorsey rounded up four trumpets, four trombones, two alto saxes, two tenor saxes and one baritone, plus piano, guitar, drums and bass - in addition, of course, to Dorsey's own alto. They also brought in the Arthur Malvin Singers, a group intended to conjure the old mellow sound of the Modernaires with a snappier, hipper touch. The session would include four songs: "Sophisticated Swing," a Mitchell Parish/Will Hudson tune; "Mambo en Sax," a Latin-flavored number by one of the hottest lights of the moment, bandleader Perez Prado; "It's the Dreamer in Me," which Dorsey wrote years earlier with Jimmy Van Heusen, and "So Rare," a Jerry Hersey/Jack Sharp song that had been a top-five hit for Guy Lombardo and Gus Arnheim in 1937. Dorsey had played "So Rare" on stage over the years. But for the Fraternity session, perhaps because of his health or because he hadn't been in a studio for a while, he played it a little differently - with more of what musicians called a growl, apparently influenced by the then-popular style of rhythm and blues saxman Earl Bostic.

The band did two takes of "So Rare" and decided to issue the second one. It wasn't the most memorable Jimmy Dorsey song, but it was pleasant enough, and it clearly evoked the musical spirit of yesteryear. In fact, it evoked yesteryear so well that Carlson couldn't find any major pop radio station that would play it. Finally he went back home to Cincinnati, called in some favors, and got enough spins so it drew a little notice - which wasn't all that surprising, as radio still had many deejays with a strong fondness for the big band era. But by the time "So Rare" started to appear on the charts, Jimmy Dorsey's life had further crumbled.

On November 26, 1956  just 15 days after the "So Rare" session, Tommy Dorsey choked to death in his sleep at his home in Greenwich, Conn. - a bad blow for Jimmy, despite the fact he and Tommy had not always gotten along. In the early days, when they'd played in bands together, they were known to settle things with their fists, and their breakup in 1935 was big band legend. Tommy was counting off the tempo to "I'll Never Say 'Never Again' Again" on stage at the Glen Island Casino and Jimmy, working on a hangover, suggested it was too fast. Tommy said, fine, do it your way, picked up his trombone and walked off. For the next 18 years they each fronted enormously successful bands of their own and barely spoke. Still, they were brothers and partners, and it was fine with Jimmy that Tommy led the reunited band, since Tommy liked being the main man and Jimmy didn't.

A few weeks later after Tommy's death, Jimmy entered the hospital for what the newspapers were told was the removal of a "common nonmalignant wart" from his lung. Actually, the doctors had taken out the whole lung, in a desperate and futile attempt to stop the cancer. He returned to playing, but then he collapsed on a bandstand in Wichita and was flown back to Doctors Hospital in New York, where the newspapers were told he had neuritis. When he had to return to the hospital later, the newspapers were told he was visiting his ill mother. In reality, he was looking at the end. Doctors who had ordered him to stop drinking several years earlier told him to go ahead, it didn't matter anymore.

On June 10, 1957, trumpet man Lee Castle visited Jimmy at Doctors Hospital and presented him with a gold record, the fifth of his career. "So Rare" had sold a million copies. Jimmy died two days later. A few days after that, Carlson had Castle reassemble the rest of the band from the Nov. 11 sessions and record eight more sides so he would have enough material to release an album. It yielded only one modest hit, "June Nights. It was the end of the Dorsey brother era as we knew it...


Saturday, May 10, 2014


On this day in movie history we lost one of the greatest film actresses the cinema has ever known. The great Joan Crawford died on this day - May 10, 1977 at the age of 71. Her reputation has been tarnished in recent years, but her talent on film has remained the same...

Friday, May 9, 2014


I do not know what went through my head last month. Maybe it was getting all of the movie channels free from my new cable provider, but I got caught up on some of the recent movie comedies that have come out. I do like some modern movies, but not too many. It seems like modern comedies I can relate to more than any present day genre. However, the group of movies I viewed over the last month were not too great. There was no Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles in this bunch, but I still wanted to go over these slight movies briefly...

Of all the comedies I saw, this one was the best. You have to know and get the comedy of Seth Rogen to get this film. Basically, all of these comedy stars play "themselves" at a party when the end of the world happens. I especially like Jonah Hill in this film. He is becoming a favorite of mine, and he has been nominated for an Oscar. The group looked like they had fun making the film, and although the story was far fetched, I laughed a lot.
my rating: 7 out of 10

THE WATCH (2012)
I wanted to laugh at this movie the most, but it wasn't as funny as I thought it would be. I love Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller together, and there are some great moments, but no laugh out loud spots. The story, another far fetched one, is about a neighborhood watch group that uncovers aliens trying to take over the world. Again, Jonah Hill steals the movies away, but this sci-fi comedy could have been better.
my rating: 6 out of 10

TED (2012)
This comedy I wanted to watch for almost a year, but I kept putting it aside. I shouldn't have wasted my time. I am a fan of Mark Wahlberg, and he is good at comedy (Check out The Other Guys). However, I expected too much of this movie about a man and his talking teddy bear (Seth MacFarlane). The movie was a big disappointment for me.
my rating: 5 out of 10

GROWN UPS 2 (2013)
I don't like Adam Sandler, but I always watch his movies. It is like I'm a battered woman who keeps on going back to an abusive husband. This movie is about grown up friends who deal with their aging as well as their kids getting big. It is a sequel to a somewhat better original comedy. However, the film proves to me there are no good comedy sequels.
my rating: 4 out of 10

THAT'S MY BOY (2012)
Another Adam Sandler movie...why do I do this to myself! In the film he plays an aging bum who has a kid when he was a student with his teacher. The less said about this flop the better. What is the real crime about this film is that James Caan and Susan Sarandon appear in it - what a waste of talent!
my rating: 2 out of 10

This is a 2nd sequel in a trilogy of comedies. The first one was pretty good, but the second two not so much so. There was exactly one laugh I had watching the whole film, and it was in the beginning. This movie should never have been made. This comedy almost made me cry, because after watching it - it would be 90 minutes of my life I would never get back!
my rating: 2 out of 10

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Charlie Chaplin is one of my favorite film makers of all time. He was a cinamatic pioneer in the 1910s, and he was a film making genius in the 1920s and 1930s. After he was forced to leave the United States in the 1952, his films changed too. They were darker and more bitter. His final movie, A Countess From Hong Kong (1967) was a box office and critical disappointment. However, it was not supposed to be his last movie. He planned a movie to be made called The Freak.

In 1969, Charlie Chaplin appeared in a special effects department of European film studio, and he was proposing to launch the film career of his youngest daughter 18 year old Victoria Chaplin. He was writing a script based upon the discovery of a young girl in a remote region of the Andes mountains who had been freakishly born with wings. The department at Shepperton had been chosen to create the huge range of effects the film would rely upon.

In 1969 Charlie was already into his 80’s but nevertheless hugely enthusiastic about directing his final film project and launching his youngest daughter’s film career. Unfortunately that enthusiasm was not shared by his wife Oona. She had begun to realise that all the technical matters and other complexities associated with the film would be far too taxing for the eighty year old who, in any event, was no longer in robust good health. On that basis it seems she insisted the project was terminated.

Not much else is known about the proposed film, but this what we do know: The Freak was an unfinished dramatic comedy from Charles Chaplin. The story revolved around a young South American girl who unexpectedly sprouts a pair of wings. She is kidnapped and taken to London, where her captors cash in by passing her off as an angel. Later she escapes, only to be arrested because of her appearance. She is further dehumanized by standing trial to determine if she is human at all.

Chaplin began work in and around 1969 with his daughter Victoria in mind for the lead role. However, Victoria's abrupt marriage and his advanced age proved roadblocks and the film was never made. Chaplin's memoir, My Life in Pictures (1974), describes The Freak as a work still in progress. He also mentioned his intent to make it in an interview on his 85th birthday in 1974. "I mean to make it someday", Chaplin writes in a caption alongside a photograph of Victoria in winged costume published in My Life in Pictures. No footage from the film is known to exist, though brief color footage of Victoria in wings can be seen in Charlie Chaplin - Les années suisses (2003).

The script is currently locked away in Switzerland, and Chaplin estate has instructions that it will never be read. It is such a shame. It could have been one last masterpiece from the great Charlie Chaplin...

Monday, May 5, 2014


I have seen this actor's face all over the place. Unfortunately, I never knew his name until now. Philip Baker Hall has had numerous great roles, but my personal favorite is as the "library cop" on an episode of Seinfeld.

Hall was born in Toledo, Ohio on September 10, 1931, the son of a factory worker father who was from Montgomery, Alabama. He attended the University of Toledo. As a young man, Hall served in the military, started a family, and became a high school English teacher. In 1961, he decided to become an actor. He moved to New York, enjoying success in Off Broadway and Broadway productions. In 1975, Hall moved to Los Angeles to make a career in television.

Since then, he has had over 200 guest roles on television shows. He starred in many films, including Robert Altman's Secret Honor in which he played the film's only role, Richard Nixon. Hall got his first high-profile film role when Paul Thomas Anderson wrote a role in his film Hard Eight, specifically for Hall. Hall went on to have roles in two of Anderson's subsequent films, Boogie Nights and Magnolia. He also had a minor role as Captain Diel in the Rush Hour trilogy (though his scenes were cut from the theatrical release of Rush Hour 2 and he was uncredited for his scenes in Rush Hour 3).

Additionally, Hall has had roles in Midnight Run, Say Anything..., The Rock, The Truman Show, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Bruce Almighty, You Kill Me, In Good Company, Dogville, The Amityville Horror, The Matador, The Sum of All Fears, The Zodiac and Zodiac. More recently, he had a starring role in the 2006–07 Fox sitcom The Loop and had a guest starring role in The West Wing. Hall also appeared as a guest star in the HBO animated series The Life & Times of Tim. He appeared in the 2010 film, All Good Things.

Hall acted in Seinfeld as Lt. Joe Bookman, the 'library cop' who tracks down Jerry for a long-overdue library book in "The Library". He reprised the role in the May 1998 finale where his character is one of many to testify against Jerry. More recently he has appeared as the crotchety Dr. Morrison, Larry David's physician, on Curb Your Enthusiasm and an equally crotchety neighbor of the Dunphy family on Modern Family. In 2012, he appeared in an episode of Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom. Hall also appears in a series of humorous Holiday Inn commercials. He is currently starring in I Never Sang for My Father at The New American Theatre in Hollywood. Philip Baker Hall is another character actor that certainly adds character to every role he has...

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Today people mostly remember Bing Crosby as the laid back singer who made the song "White Christmas" a major hit. Some younger people do not even recognize him for that. Bing Crosby though was more than just a Christmas singer. He was a singer who pioneered early popular music in the 1930s, and he was one of the most widely head voices of the 1940s. On this day, May 3rd in 1903 this legend was born.

Crosby was born in Tacoma, Washington, on May 3, 1903 in a house his father built at 1112 North J Street. In 1906, Crosby's family moved to Spokane, Washington. In 1913, Crosby's father built a house at 508 E. Sharp Ave. The house now sits on the campus of Bing's alma mater Gonzaga University and formerly housed the Alumni Association.

He was the fourth of seven children: brothers Larry (1895–1975), Everett (1896–1966), Ted (1900–1973), and Bob (1913–1993); and two sisters, Catherine (1904–1974) and Mary Rose (1906–1990). His parents were Harry Lincoln Crosby (1870–1950), a bookkeeper, and Catherine Helen (known as Kate) (née Harrigan; 1873–1964). Crosby's mother was a second generation Irish-American. His father was of English descent; some of his ancestors had emigrated to what would become the U.S. in the 17th century, and included Patience Brewster, the daughter of the Pilgrim leader and Mayflower passenger William Brewster (c. 1567 – April 10, 1644).

In 1910, six-year-old Harry Crosby was forever renamed. The Sunday edition of the Spokesman-Review published a feature called "The Bingville Bugle". Written by humorist Newton Newkirk, The Bingville Bugle was a parody of a hillbilly newsletter filled with gossipy tidbits, minstrel quips, creative spelling, and mock ads. A neighbor, 15-year-old Valentine Hobart, shared Crosby's enthusiasm for "The Bugle" and noting Crosby's laugh, took a liking to him and called him "Bingo from Bingville". Eventually the last vowel was dropped and the nickname stuck.

In 1917, Crosby took a summer job as property boy at Spokane's "Auditorium," where he witnessed some of the finest acts of the day, including Al Jolson, who held Crosby spellbound with his ad libbing and spoofs of Hawaiian songs. Crosby later described Jolson's delivery as "electric".

In 1923, Bing Crosby was invited to join a new band composed of high school students much younger than himself. Al Rinker, Miles Rinker, James Heaton, Claire Pritchard and Robert Pritchard, along with drummer Bing Crosby, formed the Musicaladers, who performed at dances both for high school students and club-goers. However, the group disbanded after two years.

By 1925, Crosby had formed a vocal duo with partner Al Rinker, brother of singer Mildred Bailey. Mildred introduced Al and Bing to Paul Whiteman, who was at that time America's most famous bandleader. Hired for $150 a week, they made their debut on December 6, 1926 at the Tivoli Theatre (Chicago). Their first recording was "I've Got The Girl," with Don Clark's Orchestra, but the Columbia-issued record did them no vocal favors, as it was inadvertently recorded at a speed slower than it should have been, which increased the singers' pitch when played at 78 rpm. Throughout his career, Bing Crosby often credited Mildred Bailey for getting him his first important job in the entertainment business.

Even as the Crosby and Rinker duo was increasing in popularity, Whiteman added a third member to the group. The threesome, now including pianist and aspiring songwriter Harry Barris, were dubbed "The Rhythm Boys". They joined the Whiteman touring act, performing and recording with musicians Bix Beiderbecke, Jack Teagarden, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, and Eddie Lang and Hoagy Carmichael, and appeared together in a Whiteman movie.

Crosby soon became the star attraction of the Rhythm Boys, and in 1928 had his first number one hit with the Whiteman orchestra, a jazz-influenced rendition of "Ol' Man River". However, Crosby's reported taste for alcohol and his growing dissatisfaction with Whiteman led to the Rhythm Boys quitting to join the Gus Arnheim Orchestra. And the rest as they say is history...