Artist Profile: Tom Miller (1913 — 2004)

I wish there was more that I could tell you about Tom Miller, beyond that he was born in Canada and he was a prolific illustrator in the 50s and 60s.  I searched for all the information that I could find online and the main thing I discovered is that there are several talented artists named Tom Miller.  I may not have learned much about Tom Miller the pulp illustrator but I was happy to discover the work of Tom Miller, the Arizona sculptor and painter.  Also, I enjoyed looking at the work of Ontario’s Tom Miller and the paintings of Baltmore’s Tom Miller.

As for Tom Miller the pulp illustrator, his work will just have to speak for itself.


A Movie A Day #169: Malone (1987, directed by Harley Cokeliss)

It’s Burt Reynolds vs. Cliff Robertson.  Cliff has got the money but Burt’s got the mustache and the toupee.

Robertson plays Charles Delaney, a wealthy businessman who, with the help of a mercenary army, has bought nearly all the land in a small Oregon town.  Only the owner of a local gas station, Paul Barlow (Scott Wilson), has refused to sell.  Delaney and his men think that they can intimidate Paul into selling but what they do not realize is that Paul has a houseguest.  Richard Malone (Burt Reynolds) was driving through town when his car broke down.  While waiting for it to get fixed, he has been staying with Paul and his teenage daughter, Jo (Cynthia Gibb).  What no one knows is that Malone used to be an assassin for the CIA.

If ever there was a film that demanded the talents of Charles Bronson, it is Malone.  The tough and ruthless title character would have been a perfect Bronson role, especially if Malone had been made twenty years earlier.  Instead, the role went to Burt Reynolds, who was on the downside of his career as an action hero.  Sometimes, Burt tries to play the role as serious and emotionally guarded.  Then, in other scenes, Burt will suddenly smile and wink at the camera as he briefly turns back into the Bandit.  This is not one of Burt’s better performances.  He gets good support from the entire cast, including Lauren Hutton as his CIA handler, but, in most of his scenes, Burt comes across as being tired and his toupee makes him look like The Brady Bunch‘s Robert Reed.  Burt was 51 when he made Malone and he looked like he was at least ten years older, making the scenes where Jo comes onto him even more improbable.

Where Malone succeeds is in the action scenes.  Along with Burt’s final assault on Delaney’s compound, there is also a classic showdown in a barbershop.  Malone had a budget of ten million dollars.  How many blood squibs did that buy?  Pay close attention to the scene where two hitmen attempt to surprise Malone in his room and find out.

Malone is may not feature Burt at his best but it is still a damn sight better than some of the other films that awaited Burt once his starpower started to diminish.  Mad Dog Time, anyone?

Happy Birthday Peter Lorre: THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK (Columbia 1941)

cracked rear viewer

In honor of Cracked Rear Viewer’s second anniversary, I’m re-presenting my first post from June 26, 2015. I’ve re-edited it and added some pictures, something I didn’t know how to do at first. My, how times change! Anyway, I hope you enjoy this look at an early noir classic. (Coincidentally, this is also Mr. Lorre’s birthday!)

The sinister star Peter Lorre was born in Hungary on June 26, 1904. He became a big screen sensation as the child killer in Fritz Lang’s German classic M (1931), and like many Jews in Germany at the time, fled the Nazi regime, landing in Britain in 1933. Lorre worked with Alfred Hitchcock there in the original THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, then immigrated to America, starring in films like MAD LOVE  , CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, and the Mr. Moto series. In 1940, the actor starred in what many consider the first film noir, STRANGER ON THE…

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Music Video of the Day: Talking In Your Sleep by Bucks Fizz (1984, dir. Dieter Trattmann)

I mainly did the video for The Romantics’ version of Talking In Your Sleep so that I could get to the Bucks Fizz version.

Bucks Fizz was put together by Nichola Martin and Andy Hill. They wanted a group that could be entered in Eurovision with their song Making Your Mind Up. The line-up ended up being Mike Nolan, Cheryl Baker, Jay Aston, and Bobby G. Martin decided to name the group after her favorite drink, Buck’s Fizz, the group won Eurovision in 1981, and it went from there.

In 1984 they retreated from the public-eye to focus on their fourth album. They emerged in August of that year with a cover version of Talking In Your Sleep. This video was released to promote the single, which did well. Trying to make sense of this video does not go well for the viewer.

Then space folds and separates to reveal two identical, but flipped buildings with a little person dressed as a baby jumping up and down in the middle of the screen.

I could stop right there. That’s already weirder than the The Romantics’ version.

Now we pan over one of those two buildings and begin to play the game of right-side up or upside-down bicycle. This time it’s upside-down.

There’s Bobby G drinking milk while half-naked at a window–as you do.

Up on the roof, we see that the baby is jumping.

We get to see the rest of the group at their windows. My favorite is Mike Nolan, who looks like he just spotted the jumping baby up in the sky.

Now Bobby is on the roof with the baby. You can see that this is the roof with the upside-down bicycle.

We get a brief glimpse of something white over where Bobby rolled the ball. Does that mean that this baby has a corporeal form as well?

The rest of the group go up to the roof. I’m guessing Cheryl was dreaming about being someplace where it made sense to be wearing heels.

Finally, the whole group is together to forget the kind of drink they are named after.

Now the baby is jumping in Bobby’s hand.

Cut from that to Jay Aston jumping up and down on the roof.

That must be the turning point because in the next shot, we can see that the bicycle is right-side up. Mike and Jay are also frozen in place. Note that Mike is now holding the ball. Are they on the other building we saw at the beginning?

We see that Cheryl is also frozen, but is reanimated by the baby pointing at her. The same is true for Mike and Jay.

In the following shots, the video seems to confirm that Bobby is indeed on a separate roof from the rest of the group as his bicycle is up-side down…

while theirs is right-side up.

The baby walks up one of the buildings.

Mike gets a great look on his face from his apartment. Is he watching the baby? Is he really there?

Cheryl appears to enter onto the Bobby G roof.

Mike appears to enter onto the bicycle-right-side-up roof.

Now the bike looks like it’s pointing in the opposite direction. Have they switched buildings? I can’t tell.

After Cheryl gives us a, help me I’m stuck in a confusing music video face,…

we see the roof upside-down to add more confusion.

Then the band is reunited on the upside-down-bicycle roof where they appear to both push and pull on the door.

Cut back to the baby jumping up and down before the buildings disappear and space returns to normal.

I’m sure other Bucks Fizz music videos make more sense than this. They would never do a music video where Cheryl runs through Christmas trees and Captain Kidd jumps into a pool of water.

Sadly, a few months after this video was released, the group ended up in an accident while in their tour bus. They were all injured pretty badly, including Mike Nolan ending up in a coma. He woke up, but the effects are still with him to this day. You can read more over on their Wikipedia page.

The group has had a rocky history since then, but Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan, and Jay Aston still perform with somebody else to make a foursome that goes by the name The Fizz.

The video was directed by Dieter Trattmann. He appears to have directed around 80 music videos.


30 Days Of Surrealism:

  1. Street Of Dreams by Rainbow (1983, dir. Storm Thorgerson)
  2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Children by Dio (1985, dir. Daniel Kleinman)
  3. The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
  4. Take Me Away by Blue Öyster Cult (1983, dir. Richard Casey)
  5. Here She Comes by Bonnie Tyler (1984, dir. ???)
  6. Do It Again by Wall Of Voodoo (1987, dir. ???)
  7. The Look Of Love by ABC (1982, dir. Brian Grant)
  8. Eyes Without A Face by Billy Idol (1984, dir. David Mallet)
  9. Somebody New by Joywave (2015, dir. Keith Schofield)
  10. Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (1982, dir. Dick Maas)
  11. Schism by Tool (2001, dir. Adam Jones)
  12. Freaks by Live (1997, dir. Paul Cunningham)
  13. Loverboy by Billy Ocean (1984, dir. Maurice Phillips)
  14. Talking In Your Sleep by The Romantics (1983, dir. ???)