Miracles on tap

Whatever happened to miracles? As soon as the last page in the Bible was written, they dried up.

CharltonHestonIt wasn’t till the advent of Hollywood that they made a re-appearance. But Hollywood’s miracles were only a rehash of the Bible’s miracles, with a difference – the originals were for free, this time round you paid to see them in the cinema. Probably the most spectacular one was the parting of the Red Sea, orchestrated with such aplomb by Charlton Heston.

Hollywood was planning to update the miracle by having Chuck (his nickname) standing on the cliffs of Dover, give a glance up into the sky to get the OK, then with a wave of his hand, order the English channel to part. When informed the miracle would disrupt shipping in the busiest sea-lane in the world, M-G-M offered, in compensation, free tickets for the film’s premiere, to captains and crews of all the ships affected by the hold up, followed by a slap up chicken dinner at Nando’s. Publicity was already stating

“Why bother with technology when a snap of the finger can do the job”
“It will be a 1,000 times better than watching card tricks on the telly”
“Day-trippers can take a leisurely stroll over to Calais, and stock up on cheap plonk”

Alas, Chuck is no longer with us to take on the role he was made for. Despite looking immortal, he’s now in that country “from whose bourn no traveller returns”. So who can step into his shoes, or should that be sandals? Word has it that Bruce Willis was approached. He showed interest, but only if he could wear the blood spattered t-shirt he’s worn in all the Die Hard movies. M-G-M told him “Bruce, you’re supposed to be an emissary of God, show some respect”. When they told him he’d be getting $20m for the role, he decided to show some respect. However when having a false beard glued to his face, and donning a cloak which trailed on the floor like a wedding gown, plus being 5ft 4 in height, he looked like the grandfather of Snow White’s seven dwarves, so Bruce was out. The role is still vacant.

Should miracles be taken seriously? Many religious believers hold that the absence of a plausible explanation of a scientific theory, the best explanation therefore is, they were performed by a supernatural being, and cite this as evidence of a God.


Lets take a few more happenings open to question:

*Did Lot’s wife really turn to salt when she looked back to Sodom and Gomorrah? I have been looking up various theories and explanations put forward, which, to put it bluntly, need to be taken with a pinch of salt

*Did David kill Goliath? Again, after raking through the theories and explanations, you’ll end up where you started ie, non the wiser. Even Sherlock Holmes would be baffled.

*Do cherubs live outside of paintings?

AdamEve*Are all our imported tasteless apples descendants of the poisonous one Adam and Eve bit into, for which, the story goes, God banned them from the Garden of Eden? If so, let’s ban the ones we get till such time when overseas growers learn to put the taste back in.

Why is it I can name Adam and Eve, but can’t remember the names of neighbours living three doors away?

Long Live Miracles!

Ingrid, it’s only a movie

CutThroatThe person doing the shaving is certainly no barber. The position of the open blade indicates an upward movement. If carried out the guy’s cheek will be sliced in half. What’s being used is an imitation razor. Would you in your right mind allow someone without experience of wielding a cut-throat razor, to carve up your face? Need I say more?

Yes I will say more. Even being shaved in a movie barber shop, the barber is just a film extra who can’t hold the implement correctly, leading you to require a blood transfusion once he’s finished the carving. I don’t know if American barbers are unionized, but if they are, they should protest to Hollywood for falsification of their trade.

PS: I’m a former barber.

Custer In the battle of the Little Big Horn sequence from the movie They Died with their Boots On, Errol Flynn, as General Custer, is the last to die. Taking this in pecking order: the first to die were privates, followed by sergeants, then the Captain, and finally, General Custer. If you’re a film extra, appearing in a remake, ask the Director to cast you as the General, as there’s more mileage in the role.

Explosion Someone is running from an explosion in a movie. When Hollywood creates explosions, only the biggest and loudest will do.

C-4 is the most common type explosion. Gasses are released at the rate of 26,000 feet per second, destroying everything in its wake. If you’re within that range, you’ll get hit by the blast and finish you off within one second. Do you think you can outrun it? No you can’t. Then how is it the lady in the picture is doing it? The best answer I can come up with, is to quote Alfred Hitchcock, who in reply to Ingrid Bergman, who asked what motivation she should bring to a scene, said “Ingrid, it’s only a movie.”

A man escaped

ManEscapesA Man Escaped tells the true story of a French Resistance Fighter who was captured by the Nazis in 1943 and sent to a notorious prison in Lyons, occupied France, to await execution. The mechanics of the film are unlike any other film depicting an escape from an impossible situation.

The ingenuity of the central character to achieve this aim is mind blowing. Unlike the bluster and noise associated with Hollywood’s prison movies, this one has none of that. The Nazi guards are seldom seen; the only violence is a few brief scenes at the beginning. The use of sounds are cleverly done – off-screen: footsteps, keys clinking, coded taps on the wall to someone in the next cell, the sound of machine gun fire signalling an execution. The main dialogue is a voice-over by the prisoner, informing us of his intention to escape.

The director, Robert Bresson, was himself a prisoner during the war and drew on his experiences when making the film. Someway into the film, the prisoner, named Fontaine, is moved to another cell. Any day now he will be taken out and shot. How is he going to get out? His eyes are centred on the cell door – that’s his way out. From then on his efforts begin to take shape.

Not having any tools, he uses what’s available for the task of getting through the cell door – a dinner spoon. I’ll stop there, because I hope you get a copy of the DVD (it’s available) and watch magic being performed.
Critics world-wide were unanimous in naming it the greatest escape film ever made.

Even barbers have talent


Still trying for another hit

I’m sure everyone has heard of Monty Norman. What, you haven’t!

I’ll put you out of your misery… Monty was a barber from Stamford Hill, London. I can hear you say “who cares?”. Fair enough. But let me continue. One day in 1961, Monty sat down and composed the James Bond theme, which opens all the Bond movies.
OK so now you know about Monty the barber – but what about Sam the barber?

This time I’ll sympathize with you for not knowing Sam. Sam was the barber at the Twentieth Century Fox studio in Hollywood in the 1940s. Sam Silver wrote a synopsis for a musical comedy; he called it Carnival in Costa Rica. He submitted it to the studio’s story department, and to his joy it was accepted to be filmed. At the time, the studio was noted, together with MGM, for making the best Hollywood musicals. A strong cast was lined up for the film, to include their top crooner, Dick Haymes, and dancer, Vera Ellen. It was released in 1947 and became a spectacular flop, the worst musical ever released by the studio. Having seen it, I concur.

As the picture shows, Sam’s still trying.

The man who won't go away

Ripper1Marie Belloc Lowndes (1888 – 1947), an English novelist, wrote a novel in 1913 – The Lodger – based on Jack the Ripper murders. Little did she know her novel would eventually be adapted for the screen five times, beginning with a silent version made in London in 1927, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, followed by another London production in 1932. The third was a major American film. The high production values of Twentieth Century Fox studio ensured a faithful replica of Victorian London, complete with swirling fog.

What carried the film was a great performance by a relative newcomer to pictures, Laird Cregar, (see photo) as the Ripper. This film version is considered by many to be the best. Next one up, 1953, had the title changed to The Man in the Attic. No great shakes, but the one following, 2009, with original title restored, saw a change in locale, with the Ripper murdering prostitutes along Hollywood Boulevard. Panned by the critics, and after a limited release, went straight to the video bin.

The bridge that wasn’t there

Ripper2In the 1944 version the climax of the film saw the Ripper jumping off Tower Bridge, which at the time of the murders, 1888, was beginning to be constructed. The foundations were in the process of being laid beneath the river, the actual structure had yet to be erected, being finally completed and opened in 1894. So how did Jack scale a bridge that wasn’t there yet? Someone call for Sherlock Holmes.

Then again, those involved in the mystique of who the Ripper was do come up with some logical theories. Most, if not all, surround the involvement of Royalty.

Back in October 2011, I wrote an article on this site, based on a book – Jack the Ripper – The Final Solution – written by Steven Knight, in which he puts forward a theory I think is worthy of consideration. Yes, he does have Royalty involved, expanding it to the artist, Walter Sickert, and the world of that part of London, then known as Bohemia. The book has rave reviews by readers and is still available to buy on the net at a very reasonable price. I recommend it.

Hollywood rebutts Newton's laws of motion

SupermanIsaac Newton was the English physicist and mathematician 1642-1727 who discovered the law of gravity, and developed the three standard laws of motion still in use today.

Basically, an object in motion continues in motion unless an outside force acts upon it. All objects have inertia, the property of matter that resists change to the object’s motion. The simplest description to describe this phenomenon is – the fairground. All the various rides are built with the law of physics in mind. A good example is the dodgem car; the dictionary describes as ‘small electric car designed to be bumped into others’. Colliding with another car produces a jolt to your body, that’s because your body’s inertia wants it to keep travelling in the direction it was moving with the car, even though your bumper car has now suddenly stopped.

Laughter all round. Now lets change the scene to New York – the heroine is falling from a skyscraper; down swoops Superman, grabs hold of her and floats safely to the ground.

WRONG……the exact moment she’s caught in mid-air, the force of inertia resisting the change to her falling, would break her neck. Tut tut, Hollywood will never learn. Stick to bumper cars, it’s safer.

Star wars without the bangs

StarWarsBecause of the vacuum in outer space, sound can’t travel, therefore explosions would be silent. A fact obviously overlooked by George Lucas when making the Star Wars movies.

Then again, if the bangs were left out, cinema audiences would ask for their money back. That goes for all the other movies, where planets, according to Hollywood, spend all their time going to war with each other. The reason is, I suppose, there’s nothing much else to do up there.

How lucky we are down here to have the quietude of places like Frinton-on-sea where the only sounds you’ll hear are waves lapping the shore.

To close this short piece, there was one movie – 2001: A Space Odyssey – where the director, Stanley Kubrick, got it right; there were no bangs outside the spacecraft, the silence only broken by music – The Blue Danube waltz. How ironic that its been acclaimed as the best space movie ever made.

Land of the free

McDanielThe first black performer to win an Academy Award film Oscar was Hattie McDaniel, for a supporting role in the 1939 movie Gone with the Wind; an American Civil War soap opera, centering on the foibles of a Southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara.

At the film’s premiere in Atlanta, the setting for the story, thousands of people lined the streets. At the reception, after the film’s showing, the Civic Authorities informed the producer of the film, David O Selznick, that McDaniel, due to the colour of her skin, should not be part of the celebration in joining her co-stars at the top table. Selznick bowed to the pressure, but permitted the actress to sit in a corner of the hall, with her escort, at a table for two.

At the Academy Awards in Los Angeles, 1940, McDaniel was again racially segregated from her co-stars in the film, being seated at the rear of the auditorium. Clark Gable, Rhett Butler in the film, protested at her treatment, but she persuaded him not to make a fuss. When her name was announced as best supporting actress, and despite the humiliation, her acceptance speech is recognized as one of the best ever made at the Oscars.

At her death in October 1952, her request to be buried at a cemetery where other Hollywood stars were laid to rest was refused, as the Cemetery practiced racial segregation.

She left an estate of less than $10,000. Internal Revenue claimed she owed $11,000 in taxes. The probate Court ordered all her property, including her Oscar, to be sold to pay off creditors.

The Perfect Riposte

© Conde Nast Store

I remember many years ago, I decided to watch the late night movie on BBC2. The channel, at the time, was noted for showing the best films on TV. It was a film I never heard of. I can’t recall the title. Thinking it might be a neglected masterpiece, I took some sips from my cocoa, and began watching.

Within minutes I fathomed this was no masterpiece and far worse than anything ITV was serving up (and still does, of course) . My respect for BBC2 plunged. I decided to ‘phone them to express my anger. I was expecting a long wait as the switchboard would be swamped by other film buffs complaining, too, but surprisingly I was put through immediately. “Oh” I said, “I was expecting a long wait”. “You’re the only caller all evening, sir, what can I do for you?” I said something like, I’m in bed at past midnight in a stupefied state watching this unmitigated rubbish you have the cheek to inflict on the viewer. Do you actually employ someone to rummage through dustbins for these movies? There was a slight pause… “You can turn off your TV, sir”. I should have countered that with “put me through to your Director General”, but didn’t, he was probably at home, fast asleep. Another thought occurred to me, if I was the only caller, where were all the other film buffs? No doubt also fast asleep.

My respect for film buffs plunged, too. There was only one thing left for me to do – turn off the TV and follow suit. Goodnight.

The colour red


In the bullring

The theory that the colour red makes a bull angry and causes him to attack was disproved when tests made several years ago found that bulls are colour blind – as are all cattle. The bull is trained to charge at the swishing of the cape. Whatever the colour, all they see is a dark cloth. The matador begins by moving the cape lightly, becoming more aggressive, provoking the bull into attack.

The colour red is used because it represents more of a spectacle than other colours. These poseurs in fancy dress who enjoy killing innocent animals would be more gainfully employed doing an honest day’s work in an abattoir.

In Hollywood

Look at the picture of the three women. You should recognize the one in the middle as Oprah Winfrey. Keep looking at the picture for a few more seconds, then shift your eyes from side to side. The picture will still be in view, but with a slight difference. Your attention will be diverted to the red dress of the woman to the right of Oprah. Lets say this was a scene from a movie; Oprah is the star and the woman in the red dress had a smaller role. As sure as night follows day, that scene would be cut from the film.

Why? I’ll tell you why. Cos this is Hollywood, folks. No female in a supporting role is allowed to dominate scenes when the star makes an appearance. I kid you not. The colour red in a Technicolor movie dominates the screen, and that woman in the red dress would steal the scene from Oprah. This is an important detail Hollywood film directors have to deal with when casting a movie.

For the colour red to make a similar impression, I couldn’t make a better recommendation than watching the red sun rising over the desert in the movie Laurence of Arabia.


  • Saturday 6th December 2014

Water Poet, Folgate St

  • New Year's Eve - Wednesday 31st December 2014

Bethnal Green Working Mens Club


My Funny Valentine

That Old Black Magic


Mike Myers Spitalfields Crooner

Mike Myers, The Spitalfields Crooner