One Hit Wonders #14: “The Ballad of The Green Berets” by SSgt. Barry Sadler (RCA Victor Records 1966)


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The year was 1966. The month was May. The Vietnam War was dividing the country as the U.S. made their way into Cambodia, civil rights marchers were  protesting across the nation, and China set off their third nuclear bomb. Rock and roll ruled the pop charts, as The Rolling Stones were having their 19th nervous breakdown, Nancy Sinatra’s boots were made for walkin’, Bobby Fuller fought the law (and the law won), but it was Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler, an Army medic who served in Vietnam, who began a five-week run at #1 on the Billboard charts with “The Ballad of The Green Berets”:

The music charts weren’t as polarized then as they are now. Besides all the latest rock hits, you could find traditional pop (“My Love”, Petula Clark), R&B (“Uptight”, Stevie Wonder), country (“Cryin’ Time”, Ray Charles), instrumentals (“Theme from Zorba the Greek”, Tijuana Brass), even blues (“Scratch…

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Remembering Cheyenne: RIP Clint Walker


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At six-foot-six, Clint Walker certainly rode tall in the saddle. The actor, who died yesterday at age 90, was television’s first cowboy hero developed for the medium, and his popularity opened the floodgates for a slew of TV Westerns to follow. Walker also fared well on the big screen, and while not in the same stratosphere of John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, his movie career deserves a second look.

As Cheyenne Bodie (1955-63)

Born in Illinois in 1927, the seventeen year old Norman Walker joined the Merchant Marines for a spell, then worked a series of blue-collar jobs before being discovered by talent agent Henry Willson, who got him a small part in the 1954 Bowery Boys comedy JUNGLE GENTS, playing an ersatz Tarzan. Bit parts followed, until his burly presence and rugged good looks landed him the lead in a new TV series called CHEYENNE. Cheyenne Bodie was television’s…

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In Memory Of Bill Gold


Yesterday, the prolific artist Bill Gold passed away.

Over the course of a 70 yeas career, Bill Gold was responsible for some of the most best known movie posters of all time.  He was a favorite of everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Stanley Kubrick to Clint Eastwood.  His designed his first film poster, for Yankee Doodle Dandy, in 1942 and came out of retirement to do his final poster, for J. Edgar, in 2011.  He is also well-remembered for the famous poster for Casablanca.

I first profiled Bill Gold for this site in 2012.  In honor of his career and his memory, here are even more film posters from Bill Gold:

 

RIP, Margot Kidder


Margot Kidder was born in Yellowknife, a mining town in Northern Canada that was so remote that it didn’t even have a movie theater.  She didn’t see her first movie until she was 12, when she and her mother were visiting New York City.  Kidder later said, “I saw Bye Bye Birdie, with people singing and dancing, and that was it. I knew I had to go far away.”

Kidder started her career in her native Canada, appearing in 1968’s The Best Damn Fiddler from Calabogie to Kaladar and going on to appear in films like Black Christmas and Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx.  Even after Kidder found stardom in the United States, she continued to appear in Canadian films and won two Canadian Film Awards and one Genie Award for her performances.

In 1973, she played dual roles in Brian DePalma’s Sisters.  As detailed in Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, it was during this time that she and her Sisters co-star Jennifer Salt shared a Malibu beach house that became a gathering place for such up-and-coming Hollywood directors as DePalma, John Milius, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg.  Briefly, she and Spielberg even dated.

 

For a generation of filmgoers, though, Margot Kidder will always be Lois Lane!  In 1978, Kidder beat out over 100 other actresses for the role of Lois.  (Among the others who tested:  Anne Archer, Susan Blakely, Lesley Ann Warren, Deborah Raffin and Stockard Channing.)  Superman was the first great comic book film.  In the aftermath of both Watergate and Vietnam, Superman made audiences that a man could fly.  As important as Christopher Reeve was to the success of Superman, Margot Kidder was just as important.  In many ways, Kidder’s Lois was the audience surrogate.  We saw Superman through her eyes.  At the same time, Kidder gave such a lively performance that it was impossible not to join Superman in falling in love with Lois.  When Superman spun the world backwards to bring her back to life, nobody questioned it because they would have all done the same thing.

Kidder was even better in Superman II but, unfortunately, she was also forever typecast as Lois.  In her later years, she would be better known for her health struggles than her acting.  After having a widely publicized manic episode in 1996, Kidder became just as well-known as an outspoken mental health activist as an actress.  Though her acting career may have slowed down, Kidder never stopped working, appearing in movies and television shows up until her death.

Margot Kidder died yesterday in Montana, at the age of 69.  To many, she’ll always be Lois but she was so much more as well.  Rest in Peace, Margot Kidder.

Familiar Faces #7: Gordon Jones, Working Class Hero


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Brawny actor Gordon Jones (1911-1963) was never a big star, but an actor the big  stars could depend on to give a good performance. Stars like John Wayne, Roy Rogers, and Abbott & Costello knew Gordon could deliver the goods in support, and he spent over thirty years as a working class actor. Not bad for a small town kid from Alden, Iowa!

Gordon as The Green Hornet with Keye Luke as Kato

Jones originally came to California on a football scholarship, playing guard for UCLA. Like his fellow Iowan John Wayne , Gordon began his film career in uncredited parts, and soon moved up in casts lists with films like RED SALUTE (1935), STRIKE ME PINK (1936), and THERE GOES MY GIRL (1937). Gordon’s big lug persona made him ideal for second leads as the hero’s pal, though he did get some leading roles in Poverty Row vehicles like…

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Music Video: Feeling Good by Avicii (2015, dir by ????)


Today’s video is for Avicii’s Feeling Good.  It’s a great video from a talent who was taken from us far too early.  I’ve been listening to Avicii nonstop ever since Friday afternoon and I imagine that I’ll continue to do so for many days to come.

Enjoy!

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Beauty #2, Poor Little Rich Girl, Outer and Inner Space, Lupe


4 Shots from 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots from 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

75 years ago today, Edie Sedgwick was born in Santa Barbara, California.

While at a party in 1970, Edie ran into a palm reader who grabbed her hand and then stepped away, shocked at just how short her lifeline was.  “It’s okay,” Edie sweetly told him, “I know.”  One year later Edie Sedgwick would pass away, with the cause of death officially being an overdose of barbiturates.  She only lived 27 years but, for a brief few years, she was one of the most famous women in America.  She was a model and an actress and, in her way, a revolutionary.  She died before she had a chance to play the roles that she truly deserved.  Instead, we have only a few films that she made with Andy Warhol and a lot of speculation about what could have been.

This post is dedicated to Edie on her birthday.

These are…

4 Shots From 4 Films

Beauty #2 (1965, dir by Andy Warhol)

Poor Little Rich Girl (1965, dir by Andy Warhol)

Outer and Inner Space (1966, dir by Andy Warhol)

Lupe (1966, dir by Andy Warhol)