Just A Good Ol’ Boy: RIP Burt Reynolds


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I had just got back from a long afternoon walk on this gorgeous day when, after checking for incoming texts and calls, I checked my Facebook feed and discovered Burt Reynolds had passed away at age 82. Coincidentally, I have a post on Burt’s THE LONGEST YARD scheduled for Saturday, but rather than just move it up, I’ve decided to write this small tribute. Burt Reynolds has earned it. He was arguably the biggest box-office attraction of the 1970’s, number one from 1978-82, and his charismatic, wiseass persona made him a hit with audiences, if not with the critics. But what did they know… Burt Reynolds was The People’s Star.

Born in 1936, Burt’s family moved to Florida when he was ten, his father taking a job as Police Chief of Riviera Beach. Burt may not have been a straight-A student, but he excelled in sports, playing fullback for Palm…

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Three Short Tributes to Three Talented Ladies


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They say deaths happen in threes, and though it may be just an old wives’ tale, in the past few days movie lovers lost three underappreciated actresses. They may not have been mega-stars, but each contributed in her own way to the world of classic movies. In their honor, here’s three capsule looks at a trio of talented ladies no longer with us:

Gloria Jean (1926-2018) was probably the best known of the three, a Universal starlet of the 1940’s. She was signed by the studio as the next  Deanna Durbin, who’d moved on to more mature roles. Possessing a sweet soprano voice, Gloria made her film debut in THE UNDER-PUP (1939), and followed with two hits, A LITTLE BIT OF HEAVEN and IF I HAD MY WAY (both 1940), the latter co-starring with Bing Crosby. My favorite Gloria Jean part is where she plays a fictional version of herself…

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4 Shots from 4 Films: Happy Birthday Robert Mitchum


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 reaps that we usually post, 4 Shots from 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking. Acting icon Robert Mitchum was born on this date in 1917, and in his honor, here are four shots from four of his best films (and with a 50-plus year career, it was tough to choose just four!):

His Kind of Woman (RKO 1951; D: John Farrow)

Night of the Hunter (United Artists 1955; D: Charles Laughton)

Cape Fear (Universal 1962; D: J. Lee Thompson)

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Paramount 1973; D: Peter Yates)

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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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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The Man Who Would Be Bond (Almost): RIP John Gavin


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Most people know John Gavin, who died today at age 86, as the nominal hero of Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, who saves Vera Miles from a ghastly fate at the hands of maniacal Anthony Perkins. What most people don’t know is Gavin was once signed, sealed, and ready to go as the movie’s most popular secret agent of them all, James Bond!

Gavin in “OSS 117- Double Agent” (1968)

It’s true! Gavin had signed the contract with producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli to star as 007 in 1971’s DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER , taking over the role from George Lazenby. He would have been the first (and only) American actor to portray MI-6’s suave secret agent, except the powers that be at United Artists wanted someone with more star power to take the role. Saltzman and Broccoli then threw an enormous (at the time) sum of money at original Bond Sean…

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Last of the WOOD-en Soldiers: RIP Conrad Brooks


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It was a fateful day in 1948 when 17-year-old Conrad Brooks, trying to break into movies, met a 24-year-old would-be filmmaker named Edward D. Wood, Jr. at a coffee and donut shop. The two men hit it off, both dreaming of Hollywood success, and worked together on an unreleased short “Range Revenge”, beginning a lasting collaboration and friendship. Conrad Brooks, who died today at age 86, will never be remembered as an actor the stature of Olivier or Brando, but his participation in the films of no-budget auteur Ed Wood will always hold a special place in the hearts of lovers of uniquely strange (some would say bad) cinema.

Young Conrad Brooks with horror icon Bela Lugosi

Brooks played several parts in Wood’s first film, 1953’s gender-bending GLEN OR GLENDA, about a man who loved to dress in women’s clothing. The director managed to get veteran horror icon Bela Lugosi

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