Monday, 30 June 2014

Dennis Hopper - Photographs of the 1960s

Martin Luther King Jr,. 1965

Dennis Hopper's revealing 1960s photographs
Before Easy Rider brought him stardom, Dennis Hopper spent much of the 1960s on the LA art scene obsessively photographing its leading figures and documenting the counterculture of the time. Following the discovery after his death of boxes of prints the actor made for a 1970 show, a new exhibition is now bringing them to light

Sean O'Hagan
The Observer
Sunday 15 June 2014
Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper photography Selma, Alabama (Full Employment), 1965
Selma, Alabama (Full Employment), 1965
Hopper accompanied the civil rights protesters on one of their famous marches from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, the state capital. The march was led by Martin Luther King in 1965, and Hopper was shooting continuously along the way. Here, he captures a group of children, one wearing a hat that reads 'Full Employment', while an older one carries the Stars and Stripes. ‘I wanted to document something,’ Hopper later said, ‘whether it was Martin Luther King or the hippies’

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography
Roy Lichtenstein, 1964
Hopper once said, ‘The only people that I really found comfortable being photographed were artists. They asked me to photograph them. They wanted to be photographed. And that was cool.’ This portrait of Roy Lichtenstein, whose early work Hopper bought, is a case in point

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography
Jasper Johns, 1964

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography
James Brown, 1964

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography Andy Warhol and Members of The Factory 1963
Andy Warhol and friends at the Factory, 1963

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney
Andy Warhol, Henry Geldzahler, David Hockney and Jeff Goodman, 1963
Hopper’s Hollywood rebel credentials allowed him access to several ‘scenes’ on both the east and west coast and in London. This group shot of Warhol, art dealer Henry Geldzahler, Hockney and Geldzahler’s friend Jeff Goodman was taken when Hopper was spending a lot of time at Warhol’s Factory; he was one of the first people to buy a soup can painting

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography Brian Jones 1965
Brian Jones, 1965
US Vogue commissioned Hopper to produce a portfolio of pop stars, including the Grateful Dead, the Byrds and James Brown. He befriended the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones in England in 1965, and this portrait captures the guitarist cradling a sitar in a recording studio

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography Downtown, Los Angeles (Comer & Doran), 1965
Downtown, Los Angeles (Comer & Doran), 1965
Hopper’s street scenes are reminiscent of the work of Lee Friedlander and here he captures the city he lived in and loved. ‘LA was pop,’ he said, ‘LA was the billboards. LA was the automobile culture. LA was the movie stars and LA was the whole idea of what pop was about – commercial art’

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography Ed Ruscha, 1964
Ed Ruscha, 1964
‘Dennis and I met sometime in 1961-62 at the Ferus gallery where we both were seeing an exhibit of Kurt Schwitters collages,’ says Ruscha. ‘With Dennis, there was not a lot of posing... He used his trusty Nikon 35mm camera. In 10 to 15 minutes, he had what he wanted’

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography Hopper House at 1712 (Wall Detail), 1965
Hopper House at 1712 (Wall Detail), 1965

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim at Their Wedding 1964
Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim at Their Wedding in Las Vegas, 1964

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography Robert Rauschenberg, 1966
Robert Rauschenberg, 1966

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography Untitled (Girl in Cape & Headdress), 1967
Untitled (Girl in Cape & Headdress), 1967
A hippy himself, Hopper became the symbol of a generation after the success of Easy Rider. This snatched portrait of a dancing ‘flower child’ in a San Francisco park is one of a series he made during the so-called summer of love

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Photography Untitled (Riding Bull), 1962
Untitled (Riding Bull), 1962

Dennis Hopper Shots: Dennis Hopper Paul Newman 1964
Paul Newman, 1964

Dennis Hopper's Lost Album: life both sides of the lens
Dennis Hopper spent much of the 60s on the LA art scene obsessively photographing its leading figures and documenting the counterculture of the time. Using original prints he made for a 1970 show, a new exhibition reveals Hopper's extraordinary eye

Sean O'Hagan
The Observer
Sunday 15 June 2014

Nineteen eighty-six was an eventful year for Dennis Hopper. After a fallow period, his Hollywood career was relaunched with the release ofBlue Velvet, in which he played the mysterious gas-inhaling pimp and gangster Frank, with a sense of menace that seemed scarily real. When he was given the script, he told director David Lynch: "You have to let me play Frank because I am Frank."

That same year, his photographs were published in book form for the first time in a volume entitled Out of the Sixties. It went relatively unnoticed amid the media attention garnered by Blue Velvet, but it was a significant event for its creator. In a short preface, Hopper wrote: "These are my photos. I started at 18 taking pictures, I stopped at 31. I am 50 now. These represent the years from 25-31… They were the only creative outlet I had for those years until Easy Rider. I never carried a camera again. Thanks, Jack, for the book."

Easy Rider was the independent film, released in 1969, directed by and co-starring Hopper, that for a time changed the course of Hollywood film-making, signalling the beginning of what we now know as the alternative indie-film industry. Jack was Jack Woody, editor at Twelvetrees Press, who designed and published Out of the Sixties in a limited edition of 1,000 copies. For a long time, it was the only evidence of Hopper's short, but prodigiously creative, career as a photographer That career began when, following a famous row with director Henry Hathaway on the set of From Hell to Texas in 1958, he became persona non grata in Hollywood.

"He figured he was the greatest young actor in the world," Hathaway later recalled. "Well, he wasn't. He was a headstrong kid, full of dope and bullshit. He was a self-styled enfant terrible and a pain in the ass."

The clash with Hathaway cost Hopper his contract with Warner Brothers and brought about a long exile from Hollywood. Turning to photography out of desperation, for a time Hopper found a place where he could be utterly himself, untroubled by the compromises required by a collaborative process such as film-making and free from the constraints of the Hollywood studio system. With the success a decade later of Easy Rider, a low-budget, hippy road movie that flew in the face of Hollywood conventions, he would finally have his revenge on that system and on Hathaway in particular.

In the long years in between, though, he took photographs in order to survive creatively, if not financially. "I never made a cent from these photos," he said. "They cost me money but kept me alive."

As the Royal Academy's forthcoming exhibition Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album shows, the mercurial actor took to photography in his own instinctive and utterly obsessive way. Between 1961 and 1967, he shot around 10,000 images, using high-speed black-and-white film for immediacy, shooting only in natural light and never cropping his images. He made portraits of his fellow actors, including the young Paul Newman and Jane Fonda, and the artists he hung out with in Los Angeles, including Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg and Edward Kienholz.

He photographed Hells Angels, hippies and passersby as well as rioters in Sunset Strip in 1967 and protesters on the famous civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. He shot Andy Warhol and his retinue at the Factory in New York in 1963 and a portfolio of rock stars – Brian Jones, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds and James Brown – for Vogue magazine in 1965.

That same year, he created the cover image for Ike and Tina Turner's River Deep – Mountain High album. He also photographed shop signs and storefronts for himself in a style reminiscent of the great Walker Evans and more abstract patterns in steel, wood and fabric that he spotted on his walks in Los Angeles and New York. "Through his eyes," says his longtime friend Ed Ruscha, "I can see a virtual dictionary of the City of Los Angeles."

Hopper was both of his time and ahead of it. "He was serious about photography and very ambitious," says Petra Giloy-Hirtz, curator of the new exhibition. "He was not an actor who dabbled in art and photography, but someone who expressed himself creatively through another related medium. The photographs offset the image of him as a mad, reckless, self-destructive hippy. That came later."

The exhibition comprises a cache of 400 original prints that Hopper made for his first photography show at the Fort Worth Art Centre Museum in Texas in 1970 and which have not been seen since. They were discovered after his death in 2010 in five dusty boxes among his belongings and extensive collection of art and antiques.

"The Lost Album is the title I gave to what is a treasure trove of evidence about Dennis and how he made images," says Giloy-Hirtz, who also edited the book of the same name last year. "The prints are much smaller than the ones we are used to seeing, just 6½in by 9½in. Some are creased or showing some wear and tear, but they carry an extraordinary sense of historical authenticity. I have tried to replicate the original show by using documentary photographs of it from the time, so this is as close to what Dennis would have wanted as is possible."

It was his friend James Dean who first interested Hopper in photography. They bonded on the set of Dean's defining film, Rebel Without a Cause, and, according to Hopper, it was Dean who first noticed his eye for composition, telling him: "I know you're going to direct some day so learn to take photographs and don't crop them, use the still full frame." That advice, given by someone Hopper considered a mentor and a kindred spirit, would later help define Hopper's naturalistic style.

The disruptive behaviour that led to Hopper's banishment from Hollywood may have been precipitated in part by his grief at Dean's premature death in a car crash in 1955, just eight days after Hopper and he had finished working on Giant. Hopper got by for a time on small television roles and theatrical work but by 1960 he had also established himself as part of the fledgling contemporary art scene in Los Angeles, both as an artist and a collector. That scene centred around the Ferus Gallery in La Cienega Boulevard, founded in 1957 by the curator Walter Hopps and Edward Kienholz. Ed Ruscha tells me: "The art world in Los Angeles in the early 60s was minuscule: two or three galleries, and not many artists spread far and wide around the city. Dennis himself began to collect art and could be counted as maybe one of the four people in the movie business that had any interest in the art of the day."

"From the start, Dennis was very interested in what was happening in contemporary art," says the art dealer Irving Blum, who took over curating at Ferus in 1958. "When pop art broke in Los Angeles in 1961, he was one of the first people to pick up on it. I sold him one of the Campbell's soup cans for $100 in 1962. He bought some Lichtenstein landscapes before that when no one had even heard of pop. He saw the transparencies on my desk, and he just said, 'Yes! I want them.' You could tell he was someone with an understanding of the zeitgeist where art was concerned. He was utterly instinctive and absolutely on the money."

Ruscha concurs: "My very first sale of art was to Dennis Hopper. It was a large painting of a Standard gas station. I remember his reaction upon seeing this picture. There was a long pause, then he came out with the words, 'Oh, man!' No other verbals necessary. This was the way we communicated."

Early on, Hopper also wrote poetry, painted abstract canvases and made sculptures. He gave up painting in 1961 after a fire destroyed his home and most of his possessions, including his own paintings and his contemporary art collection. At that time, he was preparing for his first photography exhibition at the Photo Lab/Gallery in Los Angeles and, from then on, photography became his obsession. Initially, he made abstract work, experimenting with multiple images and enlarging his prints, often exhibiting his assemblages alongside found objects. He won first prize in a worldwide open submission competition in Australia for an early series called Pieces and was written about glowingly in Artforum in 1963 in a feature headed "Welcome brave new images!"

At Ferus, he became the in-house photographer, photographing the gallery's artists for catalogues, exhibition flyers and art magazines. "Dennis was shooting many portraits of his friends in those days, especially artists," says Ruscha. "I remember, with me, he picked the location, a storefront on Santa Monica Boulevard that sold saws and industrial tools. There was not a lot of making ready or posing to my portrait. He used his trusty Nikon 35mm camera. In 10 to 15 minutes, he had just what he wanted."

In 1965, London's hippest gallery owner, Robert Fraser, a friend of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, who would later be arrested with Mick Jagger in the infamous Redlands drug bust, visited Hopper's studio with Irving Blum. The two hit it off and Hopper took Fraser to Ed Ruscha's studio, where he bought some pieces that he later sold to John Lennon. In 1966, Fraser included Hopper's work – abstract photographs alongside giant foam boulders and cacti – in a group show, Los Angeles Now, at his Mayfair gallery alongside Ruscha and six other California artists.

In Groovy Bob, Harriet Vyner's oral biography of Fraser, Pauline Fordham, a gallery assistant, recalls her first meeting with Hopper. "This strange paranoid guy arrived… covered in camera equipment in tan leather cases, straps, thongs etc – masses of it – which never left him. He slept, ate, went out with it – whether he went out to dinner or a nightclub. I'd say, 'I don't think you have to take all this rather wonderful camera equipment with you.' He'd reply, 'My wife, who I've just married, gave it to me, and if I lose anything, she'll kill me.' It was quite bizarre to see this smallish man covered in equipment."

Hopper's then-wife was the actress Brooke Hayward, who was instrumental in his photographic career. Not long after they met in 1961 she bought him an expensive Nikon camera for his 25th birthday. "I spent my last $351 on a Nikon that was thereafter permanently slung around his neck," she recalled later. "He never left the house without it. It turned out that he was as natural a photographer as he was an actor." Hayward's daughter with Hopper, Marin, recalls: "He always had a camera around his neck. This is how I remember him. His friends called him the Tourist. My brother once drew a family picture and gave my father a camera for a head."

Hopper continued photographing the world around him and defining his distinctive observational style until 1967, when the idea for Easy Riderstarted gestating in his head. By the end of 1969, on the back of the film's surprise success, he was feted as the voice of the hippy generation, but he was too complex and unpredictable for that. As his spectacularly indulgent, intermittently brilliant, follow-up, The Last Movie, showed, Hopper made work purely for himself. The film, shot on location in Peru, ran way over budget and the task of editing Hopper's reams of footage took him more than a year. By then, divorced from Hayward, he had retreated to Taos, New Mexico, where his unruly, drink- and drug-fuelled life became the stuff of legend.

"I stayed in touch with him over the years," says Ruscha, "and in 1972 stayed in his compound in Taos. He was in an edgy period of his life, having finished Easy Rider and The Last Movie, and was feeling alienated and detached from his friends in the movie industry… His character in the movie Apocalypse Now was true to his form as an actor and a person in real life. Together with his character in Blue Velvet, it forms a vital and powerful image of Dennis as an actor and a person."

Hopper's film career since Blue Velvet never quite matched the intensity of that performance, though roles in Paris Trout (1991), True Romance(1993), Speed (1994) and a turn as the evil Victor Drazen, in the American TV series 24 kept him in the public eye. Back in the early 70s, however, as Hopper's reputation for self-destruction grew – he later claimed he was drinking half a gallon of rum and snorting three or four grams of coke a day – he often seemed, as Ruscha intimates, to be playing himself: a lost soul on an arc of epic self-destruction.

In 1970, though, he was together enough to sort through his huge collection of negatives, select and produce the 429 small prints he took with him to Fort Worth for his first retrospective exhibition. What happened to them between then and their rediscovery in 2010 remains a mystery.

By the mid-1970s, the negatives were almost certainly stashed in his house in Taos which, as Giloy-Hirtz puts it, had become "a biker gang, lesbian, drug and hippy nest". There, Hopper had also developed a fondness for guns. When Taschen published Dennis Hopper: Photographs, 1961-1967, edited by gallery owner Tony Shafrazi, who also put on shows by Hopper, it included an essay called The Taos Incident. It was written by Hopper's long-time friend, the late Walter Hopps, an influential photography curator. Hopps recounted how, following a series of night-time shootings at Hopper's house, he had put "nine guns, including the goddamn machine gun… under our mattresses", before gathering up all the negatives and contact sheets that were scattered about the house and fleeing back to Los Angeles.

Those contact sheets and negatives have since provided the raw material for every exhibition and book of Hopper's photography until the discovery of the original prints for the Fort Worth show in 2010. They are, as Giloy-Hirtz attests, "a treasure trove" of information about how Hopper's creative mind worked back then, not least in the surprising scale of the prints and "how densely the photographs were mounted, often three rows high, organised in thematically arranged blocks as well as in unusual juxtapositions."

They provide further evidence, if needed, of Hopper's instinctive talent for composition and his impatient, but remarkably focused, eye. "His relationship to photography was very natural. He had an eye," says his daughter Marin. "Photography didn't fit into his life, it was a part of his life." Ed Ruscha, who was one of the pallbearers at Hopper's funeral at the San Francisco de Asis church in Ranchos de Taos, says: "He approached his photographs as a sort of wandering of the soul, followed by the familiar ka-chunk of the Nikon."

Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album by Petra Giloy-Hirtz (Prestel Hardback, £35)

Dennis Hopper
The Lost Album
Royal Academy
Burlington Gardens,
26 June - Until 19 October

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Bob Dylan at the Neon Club, Jarrow

But when he got up on the stage, the years fell away...

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Bobby Womack RIP

Bobby Womack dies aged 70
Soul great who worked with musicians from Sam Cooke to Damon Albarn has died after career spanning nearly six decades

John Lewis
Saturday 28 June 2014

Bobby Womack, who has died aged 70, was one of the great soul singers, who, in a professional career that lasted nearly six decades, worked closely with leading musicians ranging from Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett and Sly Stone to Damon Albarn and Gorillaz.

Yet for many years, he was better known as a songwriter and session musician. The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, George Benson and Chaka Khan were among the many who recorded his songs and his funky guitar flourishes can be heard on records by Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield and Aretha Franklin. But he will be primarily remembered for his voice, a rugged and emotive baritone holler that came straight from the gospel church.

Womack was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the third of five brothers. His father, Friendly Womack, spotted Bobby's talent on the guitar at an early age, and Bobby was only 10 when he and the rest of his family started touring the midwest gospel circuit as the Womack Brothers, accompanied by their mother on the organ and their father on the guitar.

They soon came to the attention of Cooke, who signed them to his label SAR in 1961. Cooke changed their name to the Valentinos, relocated them to Los Angeles and encouraged them to take the same journey from gospel to secular R&B that he had taken. Bobby's speciality was to contribute unorthodox rhythm guitar lines – although he was left-handed, he played a right-handed guitar upside down without changing the stringing – but he would occasionally sing lead vocals. He was also the band's main songwriter: a 1964 single he wrote for the Valentinos, It's All Over Now, was covered by the Rolling Stones and taken to the top of the UK chart. Womack was initially furious about this appropriation, although his anger subsided with each subsequent royalty cheque. He later toured with the Stones and appeared on their 1986 album Dirty Work.Bobby Womack performs with Gorillaz.

Womack was also a member of Cooke's band, touring and recording with him from 1961. Cooke's death in December 1964 hit him hard. He grew close to Cooke's widow, Barbara, 10 years his senior. When they married, only three months after Cooke's funeral, it was seen by many as a betrayal. Womack fell out with his brothers, was booed at concerts and was severely beaten up by Barbara's brother. The first solo records he recorded for the labels Him and Checker were all but ignored.

Undeterred, Womack continued to work as a session musician. Between 1965 and 1968 he toured and recorded with Ray Charles, quitting, he claimed, because of Charles's tendency to pilot his own personal jet. He later moved to Memphis to work at Chips Moman's American Studios, where he played the guitar on recordings by Presley (Suspicious Minds), Franklin (Rock Steady), Springfield (Son of a Preacher Man), the Box Tops (The Letter) and Pickett (I'm a Midnight Mover).

Womack also wrote 17 songs during this period, and gave all of them to Pickett; with none of his own material left, Womack cut an album of covers in 1968. Ironically, his unorthodox R&B versions of Fly Me to the Moon and California Dreamin' became Womack's first solo hits in the US. Further collaborations followed: in 1969 he started writing with the jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo (their song Breezin' later became a hit for George Benson); in 1970 he co-wrote a track on Janis Joplin's last album, Pearl (his sportscar also inspired Joplin to write Mercedes Benz); the following year Womack's guitar, bass and backing vocals were crucial to Sly Stone's LP There's a Riot Going On.

By this time, Womack's personal life was deteriorating. He split with Barbara in 1970 when she found him in bed with her 18-year-old daughter Linda. (Linda later married Bobby's younger brother Cecil and formed the duo Womack & Womack).

But, despite a wrecked marriage and a cocaine habit, Womack was to start his most successful spell as a solo singer. He signed to United Artists, where his albums Communication (1971) and Understanding (1972) chalked up R&B hits including That's the Way I Feel About 'Cha and Woman's Gotta Have It. In 1972 he provided the soundtrack for Barry Shear's blaxploitation movie Across 110th Street: the title track would prove to be his most enduring single, later included in films by Quentin Tarantino and Ridley Scott.YouTube mix featuring Bobby Womack songs and clips.

As the R&B world moved from funk to disco, Womack baffled his fans by recording a country album (BW Goes C&W), and was dropped by his label in 1976. That year, he married Regina Banks; two years later, their son, Truth Bobby, died aged four months old. Womack turned again to cocaine, and his subsequent albums suffered.

Salvation came in the form of a 1980 hit single, Inherit the Wind, which he sang and co-wrote with Wilton Felder of the Crusaders, and his solo career picked up once more. The Poet (1981) and The Poet II (1984) saw him move into the modern soul pioneered by Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross. Both albums were critical and commercial successes (The Poet II was the NME's album of the year in 1984) but Womack saw little money from them, and spent much of the decade in protracted legal wrangling with his record label.

There was a scattering of albums through the late 80s and 90s (including an LP of Christmas carols in 1999) and some odd collaborations (with Living in a Box, Todd Rundgren, the Wu-Tang Clan and Lulu). In more recent years, artists such as 50 Cent, Ghostface Killah and Black Star began plundering Womack's early 70s canon for samples. Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.

In 2010 Damon Albarn invited him to guest on the fourth Gorillaz album, for which Womack sang and co-wrote the single Stylo. Albarn later co-produced Womack's album The Bravest Man in the Universe (2012). "I was ostracised from the music community aged 21 when I married Sam Cooke's widow," said Womack. "After 45 years, I feel like Damon has welcomed me back in."

Womack's son, Vincent, from his marriage to Barbara, took his own life in 1988. He is survived by his second son Bobby Truth and a daughter, Gina, both from his marriage to Regina; and by two sons, Cory and Jordan, from a relationship with Jody Laba, Cory and Jordan.

Bobby Dwayne Womack, singer and songwriter, born 4 March 1944; died Friday 27 June 2014

Bobby Womack: 'I can sing my ass off, better than I could before'
Bobby Womack is so proud of his magnificent new album, The Bravest Man in the Universe, that nothing will stop him talking about it. Alexis Petridis gets an audience at the soul legend's hospital bedside

Alexis Petridis
The Guardian
Thursday 24 May 2012

The nurse attending Bobby Womack wears an expression for which the phrase "long-suffering" was invented. "Can I give you your meds?" she asks, proffering a handful of tablets. "Potassium, magnesium, something for blood sugar," she explains. Seated in his hospital bed, naked from the waist up save for a pair of immense bejewelled sunglasses, monitors attached to his chest, his thinning hair dyed yellow and what seems to be a tattoo of himself in full song on his right bicep, the singer makes a grunting noise that could well indicate assent but could equally herald the start of what would clearly be the umpteenth argument of the day. "Potassium, magnesium, something for blood sugar," she repeats firmly. "Take them. Be a good boy," she adds, before hurriedly exiting the room.

You get the feeling that dealing with the man some people call The Greatest Soul Singer In The World constitutes the short straw for the staff of Encino Medical Centre in Los Angeles. Already suffering from a tumour on his colon – it is later removed and found to be non-cancerous – he was admitted this morning with breathing difficulties, apparently much against his will. Apparently much against the medical staff's will, he has insisted our interview go ahead regardless: for the first time in 12 years, Bobby Womack has a new album, The Bravest Man In The Universe, recorded in London last year. It was co-produced by his former collaborator in Gorillaz, Damon Albarn, and Richard Russell, head of Womack's new label XL and, following his work on Gil Scott Heron's triumphant final album I'm New Here, something of a past master at encouraging errant soul legends back to the studio.

The album, which sets Womack's careworn voice and acoustic guitar against clattering electronics, and mixes old gospel songs with guest appearances by Lana Del Rey, is a triumph. It may even be as magnificent as all the other magnificent albums Womack has released: his peerless soundtrack to Across 110th Street; 1968's Fly Me To The Moon and 1972's Understanding; The Poet and The Poet 2, where his voice chafed beautifully against the slick 80s production. Womack proclaims The Bravest Man in the Universe "the best thing I've ever done" and he clearly isn't minded to let a trifling matter like being rushed to hospital get in the way of promoting it.

"The doctor said I've got pneumonia," he growls. "It's bad enough to take my life. I said: 'I'm gettin' out of here.' I was raising a big fight in there." Chief among his weapons was his threat to simply leave the hospital and die, which on the one hand seems a little dramatic, but on the other feels entirely in keeping with 68 years already so filled with drama as to beggar belief. "I know one thing, I can walk out of this hospital any time I want to. If I chose to leave, and die, it's my life. You can't stop it. Mentally, spiritually, if I don't feel like I wanna live no more, I don't wanna live no more. Ain't nothing you can do about that." He chuckles. "I'm mad at everything. Damn, man, I'm supposed to be doing an interview. They tricked me into being here."

Being rushed to hospital because you're suffering from potential fatal pneumonia doesn't seem much like being tricked, but then the interview doesn't seem much like an interview either. Indeed, it resembles one only in so far as I'm an interviewer and I'm in the same room as Womack. I haven't said anything to him yet, beyond hello, at which point he embarks upon a monologue that continues unabated for an hour. It leaps without warning from topic to topic: during one particularly head-spinning section we go from Muhammad Ali's unerring ability to find racist undercurrents in innocuous adverts, to Aretha Franklin's love of soap operas to Martin Luther King in the space of about two minutes. It takes in both gruff homespun wisdom ("I don't wanna be a star because stars fall from the sky, and when they hit the ground they turn into a rock and a rock ain't no good unless you bust someone in the head with it") and, at one juncture, the impossibly winning phrase "your mama only got one titty and that's full of wine".

"I'm skipping subjects, but that's what I do," he offers. "If there's any questions you wanna ask, just ask me," he says, with a laugh that seems to carry a parenthetical "best of luck with that". "But I'll talk myself and I'll tell you the real deal."

But I don't ask any questions. That's partly because, even nearing 70, frail and occasionally struggling for breath, Womack has something about him that precludes interrupting. He still undeniably has the aura of, as Richard Russell puts it, "a badass", who somehow survived a childhood in Cleveland amid poverty so grinding that even the projects seemed like a distant land of plenty ("They didn't have no rats in the projects," reasons Womack. "I thought, boy, they get that for free?"), 30 years of drug addiction and enough personal tragedy to fell the most stoic man. He has outlived virtually all of his peers, something even he seems faintly startled by. "Ain't none of those people living now, and they were all around the same age as me," he frowns. "I made it. They didn't do no drugs and they died anyway. There's got to be a reason."

But the main reason I sit back and let Womack speak is because everything he says is fascinating, an endless stream of anecdotes with an impossibly starry cast drawn from what may be the most remarkable CV in music: he is, as Albarn notes, "like Zelig". He formed his first gospel group with his five brothers before he had reached his teens. A few years later, their father kicked them out when they announced they wanted to play secular music. They were mentored by Sam Cooke, who moved them to LA and whose band Womack joined, touring a segregated America. "Sam used to tell me, whenever you got some money, you go get yourself a good ring and a good watch. Why would I need that? And Sam would say, you might have to get outta town quickly, before you get paid, and you can always hock that ring and that watch."

He played with James Brown and Ray Charles and toured with a young Jimi Hendrix. He wrote It's All Over Now, which the Rolling Stones turned into a global hit, a state of affairs that did not overly delight Womack. "To be honest with you, I said: 'Let the Rolling Stones get their own fuckin' record and record that.'" He worked with the Stones decades later, on 1986's Dirty Work: he liked Keith Richards and Ron Wood, but "had a problem with Mick Jagger". "Some people never grow up if you give 'em too much," he grimaces. "They gonna be assholes, then they just become a bigger asshole."

He spent time as a session guitarist in Memphis, where he played with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and on Dusty Springfield's Dusty In Memphis. He also played on Elvis Presley's Suspicious Minds, which didn't impress him much either. "People say: 'What did you think of Elvis Presley?' I say: 'He wasn't shit. Everything he got he stole.'"

He returned to LA, where he recorded Trust Me and Mercedes Benz with Janis Joplin on the day she died – he was the last person to see the singer alive, save for the drug dealer who sold her the smack that killed her – and moved into the Bel-Air mansion where the coke-addled sessions for Sly And The Family Stone's There's A Riot Goin' On were in full swing: "It was a circus." He was working with Marvin Gaye when the latter was murdered. "The last time I saw him, the day before he died, he said: 'Bobby, what's a nigger got to do to get on the cover of Rolling Stone?' It was all white acts. I said: 'Die.'" He sighs. "It's bullshit, it's really bullshit. One of the greatest singers in the world. Marvin never knew he was gonna be as big as he is. Now you hear him on commercials every day."

Occasionally, he sounds mad at everything. He hates hip-hop. "What the shit is that?" he spits. "No melody. Generations are coming up, if they have to listen to bullshit, they'll grow up bullshitty. People don't respect their mom, say they're gonna knock her out. White kids trying to be black because they're confused. I say to them, you wanna be black? You're gonna have a hard time!"

He's angry at America for criticising the Obama administration – "He got four years to straighten out 50 years of bullshit, shit's been going on a long time, but they gotta put it on the black man" – angry at the music industry for ripping off artists, himself included, and, furthermore, angry he was admitted to the hospital without his sunglasses. The latter situation at least has been rectified by the arrival of the three young women he introduces as his nieces. They are indeed his nieces, daughters of his brother Cecil and Linda Cook, better known as Womack And Womack, the duo behind the 80s hits Love Wars and Teardrops. But thanks to what you might charitably call Bobby Womack's complicated personal life, they're also the grand-daughters of his ex-wife: Bobby married Linda's mother, Sam Cooke's widow Barbara, shortly after the murder of her husband, a move that proved so controversial it scuppered his career for years. And they're also the daughters of his ex-lover: with his marriage to Barbara failing, Womack began an affair with his step-daughter, which ended when his wife discovered them together and expressed her displeasure in no uncertain terms by shooting him.

Incredibly, this was just another incident in a life filled with turmoil. Two of his sons are dead – one, Truth Bobby, suffocated in 1978 aged four months after being left unattended, while Vincent, the little boy pictured on the cover of his 1972 album Understanding, killed himself in 1986. Another son, Bobby Jr, is in jail for second-degree murder. His brother Harry, the subject of his 1972 hit Harry Hippie, was stabbed to death in Womack's home by a jealous girlfriend. In the late 90s, Womack finally kicked a 30-year cocaine addiction, but found himself despondent. "When I walked away from that I lost a lot of so-called friends. I was ready to check out. I knew more people dead than I knew living. Now I say, God, what a fool I've been. Put my music on hold. It was my life. A God-given gift."

He credits Albarn – "a sweetheart" - with re-igniting his interest in music, first by co-opting him into Gorillaz, then by offering to co-produce The Bravest Man In The Universe. He was, he says, equally startled by Russell's appearance in the studio. "I thought it was one of Damon's friends. I didn't know he was president of the record company. Never in my 50 years have I had the president of a record company come in and play with me. Normally, you got to fight them for every goddam song. I didn't understand a lot of things they were doing, to tell you the truth. I'd say: 'Damn, what the fuck is that?' They said: 'That's you! Took your voice, speeded it backwards.' I would never have dreamed of doing stuff like that, but I wanted to related to the people today. Bad as I been, I can sing my ass off, better than I could before. Maybe it's been preserved or something. If I can take control of my life from drugs, divorces, anything, I stand tall." He frowns. "I'm speaking for all those singers who gave up. Marvin, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett: I can keep naming them until you say OK, I got enough. They need more respect than can ever be given to them. And I'm gonna set the record straight."

Albarn calls Womack "a force of nature", which sounds like a knowing understatement. "He's booked himself in to headline Lovebox," he laughs incredulously, "which I find extraordinary. I mean, if he's there, I'm there. I've got great faith that he's going to pull through all the problems he's got at the moment. You wouldn't ordinarily think that, but because it's Bobby Womack I don't really think his time is up in any sense of the word. It's just an instinctive thing. I can't really explain it. Do you know what I mean?"

I do. Another nurse arrives in the room. She too wears a long-suffering expression, but this time it's coupled with a purposeful air, which seems to indicate the interview is over. But Womack waves her away. He has something else to tell me. "I talked for hours and if I find out you only done an article on me this big" – he indicates a tiny space with his thumb and forefinger – "I swear to God, when I throw a punch, I've lost my cool, I can't take no more of this shit and whoever's in front of me is in trouble. I'm serious." The nurse, having finally lost her own cool, starts strapping an oxygen mask to his face, but Womack is still talking. "You better not bullshit me, boy!" he laughs. "Don't think I ain't gonna be back!" I wouldn't doubt it for a minute. And neither should you.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Last night's set list

At The Habit, York - The Elderly Brothers: -

Crying In The Rain
You Got A Friend
Everybody Knows
End Of The Line

What a change from last week, very few punters for most of the evening, but loads of players. Things livened up considerably after 11pm and the after-show unplugged jam was a thing of wonder. Another 'new' song, from 1967 - Dave Clark Five go all hippy!

Eli Wallach RIP

Eli Wallach obituary
Award-winning character actor with memorable roles in The Magnificent Seven and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Ronald Bergan
The Guardian
Wednesday 25 June 2014

The characters played by the actor Eli Wallach, who has died aged 98, were seldom good but almost always bad and ugly. The mould was set with his second film, Don Siegel's The Lineup (1958), in which he played a nervous psychotic killer called Dancer. Most memorably, Wallach portrayed Calvera, the bearded, grinning, sadistic bandit chief with gold teeth who terrorises Mexican villagers in The Magnificent Seven (1960). This role led to his being cast as the heavy in several spaghetti westerns a few years later, notably Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).

"On films, my image is the villain," Wallach once declared. "Whereas on stage I play the little man from Rhinoceros, or the little good-hearted, sweet-natured boy Kilroy from Camino Real, or the good-natured truck driver from The Rose Tattoo. So it's the opposite side of the coin."

Wallach was born in Brooklyn, New York, one of four children of Abraham and Bertha Wallach, immigrants from Poland. Among the few Jewish children in the mostly Italian neighbourhood, Wallach started acting around the age of 15 in boys' club productions. A bright boy, he got a grant to study at the University of Texas, and then City College, New York, where he received a master's degree in education. He prepared for a career as a teacher but was soon studying acting under Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, where he met his future wife, Anne Jackson. After four years of second world war service, Wallach played opposite Jackson on stage in 1948 in Tennessee Williams's one-act two-hander This Property Is Condemned.

Williams provided Wallach with some of his best roles in the theatre, and wrote the screenplay for Baby Doll (1956), in which Wallach made his film debut, aged 40. Wallach even turned down the part of Maggio in From Here to Eternity (1953), which won Frank Sinatra an Oscar, in order to do Williams's Camino Real on stage, directed by Elia Kazan. Conversely, in 1990, Wallach took over the role of Altobello, the close friend of the Corleones, in The Godfather Part III, when Sinatra could not fit it into his schedule.

Both Kazan and Wallach were founder members of the Actors Studio in 1947, among whom were Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger and Karl Malden. "We were like converts to a new religion," Wallach recalled. "We didn't understand anyone else's acting except our own. Everyone else was a pagan."

Wallach played in Shaw and Shakespeare at the American Repertory theatre, and was Sakini, the Okinawan interpreter, in The Teahouse of the August Moon on Broadway in the mid-1950s, but it was only in his Tony-winning performance as Alvaro Mangiacavallo in Williams's The Rose Tattoo, on stage opposite Maureen Stapleton in 1951, that he was able to use the "method".

With Kazan directing, and featuring Wallach, Malden and Carroll Baker, all from the Actors Studio, the film Baby Doll had "method" spread all over it. Wallach was splendidly sly, sensual and funny as Silva Vacarro, a moustachioed, vengeful Latin seducer of the virginal child bride married to a sexually frustrated cotton-mill owner.

Back on stage, in 1958, Wallach appeared as the Old Man opposite Joan Plowright's Old Woman in Tony Richardson's production of Eugène Ionesco's The Chairs, in New York. He also had a great success as Berenger in Ionesco's Rhinoceros (1961), with Zero Mostel. Eli Wallach and Marilyn Monroe in The Misfits, 1961. Photograph: Moviestore Collection/Rex

In The Misfits (1961), the final film of two Hollywood legends, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, Wallach played Guido, a former wartime pilot, one of three failed men who come together in the Nevada desert to catch wild mustangs to be slaughtered for dog food. Arthur Miller's heavily symbolic screenplay gave Wallach such lines as: "I can't make a landing and I can't get up to God." He was also given the last, misogynistic speech against Monroe's character. "She's crazy! You struggle, you build, you try, you turn yourself inside out for them. But it's never enough. So they put the spurs to you. I know I've got the marks." Thirty years later, he was in a revival of Miller's The Price on Broadway.

While Wallach continued a long career on television – guest-starring in many series and appearing in 13 episodes of Our Family Honor (1985-86) as the patriarch of a crime family – he was seldom off the big screen in the 60s and 70s, mostly being asked to play madly grimacing villains such as the self-styled General who captures and tortures the hero (Peter O'Toole) in Lord Jim (1965) and the shifty Shah in Genghis Khan (1965), starring Omar Sharif.

The apogee of these evil characters came in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, in which he played a lecherous, obnoxious, brutal bandit, with a price on his head. With Clint Eastwood, whom Wallach calls "Blondie", he operates a racket whereby Clint captures him, gets a reward, then rescues him from the rope at the last moment. In the showdown of showdowns, Eastwood, Lee "Angel Eyes" Van Cleef and Wallach face each other with meaningful looks and lingering closeups, before the inevitable crossfire.

In contrast, in The Tiger Makes Out (1967), a fleshed-out version of Murray Schisgal's one-act play The Tiger, which Wallach and Jackson performed in New York and London, he was subtly amusing as a sexually repressed New York postman who kidnaps a socially repressed Long Island housewife (played in the film, too, by Jackson).

It was then back to playing a bandit being tracked down by the hero (Terence Hill), in the spaghetti western Ace High (1968). Apart from portraying Napoleon in Jerzy Skolimowski's The Adventures of Gerard (1970), the quality of Wallach's roles and pictures began to decline. Therefore, it was a delight to see him taking himself off in Stanley Donen's two-part spoof Movie Movie (1978), first playing a crooked prizefight promoter in the boxing melodrama, and then a stage doorman, in the musical. The critic Pauline Kael observed: "Wallach usually has irrelevant energy pouring out of him, and doesn't do anything plain any more … Somehow Donen has restored him to simplicity, and he's more likeable than he has been for years."

Though he was forced to rely on his macho mannerisms in his later films, he occasionally managed to show a milder side in roles such as the rather sympathetic Jewish bailbondsman in Steve McQueen's final movie, The Hunter (1980). He also provided good support to ageing contemporaries Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster in Tough Guys (1986); was Barbra Streisand's psychiatrist in Nuts (1987); a wise rabbi in Keeping the Faith (2000); a screenwriter taken under Kate Winslet's wing in The Holiday (2006); and, in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), a CEO given to ending sentences with bird noises and fluttering hand gestures.

In 2010, the Motion Picture Academy awarded Wallach an honorary Oscar, saluting him as "the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role".

He is survived by Jackson and their son, Peter, and two daughters, Roberta and Katherine.

• Eli Herschel Wallach, actor, born 7 December 1915; died 24 June 2014

From Tennessee Williams to Sergio Leone: Actor Eli Wallach at 95
From his iconic role in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in 1966 – he was the Ugly – to apperances in Wall Street 2 and The Ghost in 2010, Eli Wallach is the actor who never stops
Rob Hastings
The Guardian
Thursday 4 November 2010

There's one myth Eli Wallach wants to put to bed. It wasn't the mafia that got Frank Sinatra the career-saving role of Maggio in From Here to Eternity in 1953, he says. It was Tennessee Williams – and no horses' heads were involved. "I had promised to do Tennessee's play, Camino Real, but they couldn't get the money together," Wallach says. "So I auditioned for From Here to Eternity and I got the job, but then they found the money for the play, so I pulled out. Whenever I met Frank Sinatra afterwards, he'd always say to me: 'Hello, you crazy actor.'"

Passing up the chance to play Maggio didn't condemn Wallach to obscurity, of course. He's racked up 162 acting credits across TV and cinema over the past 51 years, with a stage career predating his move to the screen. He's still working, too, even as his 95th birthday approaches: this year alone he's appeared in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, for Oliver Stone, and The Ghost, for Roman Polanski. "I'll retire when I die," he says. Small wonder he'll be the recipient of an honorary Oscar at a special ceremony in Los Angeles later this month.

"I'm hoping Clint Eastwood will be there," Wallach says from his home in New York, "but he is a very busy man." Eastwood, of course, was the star of the film in which Wallach gave one of the screen's most memorable accounts of villainy: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, in which Wallach played Tuco Martinez, the Ugly. "Clint Eastwood was my coach in a way," Wallach says. "He said: 'I'm warning you that it's very dangerous, the way you ride your horse,' but I'd been riding horses in Texas since the 30s, so I knew how to ride. Clint is a wonderful horseman and we got along."

Not that acting in a spaghetti western was always easy, he says. "The actors in the movie always spoke their own language on camera. I spoke in English, they spoke in Italian or French or Spanish or whatever. The man playing my brother was an Italian and there's a wonderful scene between us, but I don't speak Italian and he didn't speak English, so it was a bit bizarre."

Wallach came to professional acting late, having been diverted from his path by the second world war. "My sister found an acting school in the neighbourhood, so I went there, and it was a brilliant school," he says. "When I finished I said: 'Broadway, here I come.' But then I got drafted into the army, and I wound up in Hawaii. Then they sent me to a school in Texas to become an officer, and after that they sent me all over the world.

"I was a captain in the army and I spent five years in world war two, and the last year we were in Berlin two months after Hitler committed suicide. The colonel in the army said 'Why don't you put some plays together for the people who are in hospital?' So I said 'OK, I'll play Hitler.'

"I was scheduled to go on to Japan after five years, but then they dropped the bomb and I was released. I went back home to New York, and I met a young lady when we both wound up in a play by Tennessee Williams, and I married her. That was 62 years ago."

Williams became an important figure in Wallach's acting career. His favourite among his own films is 1957's Baby Doll, written by Williams. "He was a marvellous talent," Wallach remembers. "We knew him very well. He praised my wife very much, and then he said, 'And Eli pisses everyone off because he's happy.' He was a marvellous character."

One might imagine Wallach these days sitting on a fortune accumulated over six decades of screen acting. Not so, he says, not least because The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – despite being one of the most popular westerns ever – was made in Italy, where the system of residual payments did not favour actors: "I got a letter from the Academy once. It was an Italian residual – a cheque for showing it in America – and it was two cents. I'm not a rich man."

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Buyer, a complete unknown, as Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone manuscript sells for over $2 million...

Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone manuscript sells for over $2m
Sotheby's auction price for working draft of song breaks world record for the sale of a popular music manuscript

Associated Press in New York
The Guardian
Tuesday 24 June 2014

A draft of one of the most popular songs of all time, Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone, sold Tuesday for $2m, which the auction house called a world record for a popular music manuscript.

A working draft of the finished song in Dylan's own hand went to an unidentified bidder at Sotheby's. The selling price, $2.045 million, included a buyer's premium.

The manuscript is "the only known surviving draft of the final lyrics for this transformative rock anthem", Sotheby's said. The draft is written in pencil on four sheets of hotel letterhead stationery with revisions, additions, notes and doodles: a hat, a bird, an animal with antlers. The stationery comes from the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington DC
Dylan was 24 when he recorded the song in 1965 about a debutante who becomes a loner when she's cast from upper-class social circles.

"How does it feel To be on your own" it says in his handwriting. "No direction home Like a complete unknown Like a rolling stone." Scrawls seem to reflect the artist's experimentation with rhymes.

The name "Al Capone" is scrawled in the margin, with a line leading to the lyrics "Like a complete unknown."

Another note says: "… dry vermouth, you'll tell the truth …"

Sotheby's described the seller as a longtime fan from California "who met his hero in a non-rock context and bought directly from Dylan". He was not identified.

The manuscript was offered as part of Sotheby's rock and pop music sale. In 2010, John Lennon's handwritten lyrics for A Day in the Life, the final track on the Beatles' classic 1967 album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, sold for $1.2m, the record for such a sale.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Philip Marlowe at the Movies

Marlowe Goes to the Movies

J. Kingston Pierce
Thursday 26 March 2009

In commemoration of this being the 50th anniversary of the death of oil company exec-turned-crime novelist Raymond Chandler, I’ve put together a collection of trailers from the various 20th-century film adaptations of his private eye Philip Marlowe novels.

After some experience penning screenplays for Hollywood, Chandler came to despise the movie-making business; yet producers were willing to pay big bucks for Chandler’s stories, and he was no less willing to take their checks and cash them. Under those terms, most of the seven Marlowe books were brought to the silver screen, several of them more than once, though the results weren’t always sympathetic to their source material.

It seems impossible to find online videos from every one of those adaptations, but there are certainly enough to make clear that Hollywood loves Chandler--even if he didn’t always love it back.

Let’s begin with the opening from 1944’s Murder, My Sweet, which starred Dick Powell as Marlowe in the first big-screen version of Chandler’s 1940 novel, Farewell, My Lovely, to feature Marlowe as the detective. (There was an earlier adaptation of the book, 1942’s The Falcon Takes Over, but it substituted George Sanders’ “gentleman sleuth,” Gay Lawrence, in the lead role.)

Two years later, director Howard Hawks turned the first Marlowe novel, The Big Sleep (1939), into a movie starring Humphrey Bogart as the iconic P.I. and Bogey’s new (fourth) wife, the almost-quarter-century-younger Lauren Bacall, playing the fetching femme fatale. Here’s the trailer:

And here is the opening sequence from Hawks’ The Big Sleep:

In 1947, actor-director Robert Montgomery stepped into Marlowe’s scuffed shoes in a cinematic version of Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake (1943). This production is undoubtedly most memorable for the fact that it was shot strictly from the detective’s viewpoint--the audience saw things as if through Marlowe’s eyes. “A milestone in movie-making,” proclaimed the studio.
A different Montgomery--George Montgomery--assumed the role of Chandler’s knight errant in The Brasher Doubloon (1947), which was loosely based on the author’s 1942 novel, The High Window:

James Garner has always been one of my favorite movie Marlowes. He played the part in 1969’s simply titled Marlowe, which set the stage for his later starring role as a not altogether different gumshoe, Jim Rockford, in the popular TV series The Rockford Files. To quote Wikipedia: “Many of the wisecracking Marlowe lines written by [Stirling] Silliphant for this movie (quite a few of which were lifted directly from Chandler’s novel) could just as easily have come from the mouth of Garner’s television private eye Rockford, although Garner played Marlowe as a substantially more serious character.”

Go ahead and take a look at the Marlowe film trailer:

And here’s an edited sequence from that same picture. Note the accompanying song, which makes clear that Marlowe was based on Chandler’s 1949 novel, The Little Sister:

The most often criticized adaptation of Chandler’s work has to be director Robert Altman’s 1973 silver-screen version of The Long Goodbye (1953). Marlowe fans usually grouse about it because they don’t think that star Elliott Gould was a good choice to play the Los Angeles investigator, and because Altman changed the story’s ending. Personally, I prefer the way that Gould’s Goodbye concludes, but then I’m not averse to stirring up a bit of trouble now and then. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a small part in this film as a muscle-bound thug. Watch the trailer:

Robert Mitchum, who had played tough guys for so many years in Hollywood, was cast as Marlowe in the 1975 picture Farewell, My Lovely. It was based (like Murder, My Sweet) on Chandler’s 1940 novel, and was even set in the colorfully corrupt L.A. of that time period. Many critics applauded director Dick Richards’ casting of Mitchum as Marlowe, even though he was a couple of decades older than the character in the book. 

The then 60-year-old Mitchum returned to play Marlowe in Michael Winner’s 1978 adaptation of The Big Sleep. Only this time, the story wasn’t a period piece and it wasn’t even set in the City of Angels; for no obvious reason, the action was transferred to modern-day London. While Winner’s film could be a bit more explicit about pornography and homosexuality than the earlier, Bogart-Bacall version, the movie was weakened by its shift of setting and the fact that the scandal from which Marlowe was protecting his client would have seemed so much more devastating during World War II than it could have during Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Unfortunately, I don’t find a trailer for this second Big Sleep anywhere on the Web, but here’s a clip.

It’s interesting that, of the seven original Philip Marlowe novels, only Playback (1958)--a book that was Raymond Chandler’s reworking of a rejected screenplay he’d penned during his Hollywood-writing period--never made it to movie theatres.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Get Carter in Newcastle - behind the scenes

Michael Caine on Westgate Road

Corner of Westgate Road and Grainger Street

As above

Opposite St John's Church at the bottom of Westgate Road

Bottom of Westgate Road

Caine with Ian Hendry (Hebburn/Wallsend Ferry); producer Michael Klinger to the left of Hendry

Ian Hendry, as above

As above

As above with George Sewell at left

Royal Station Hotel with Petra Markham and Dorothy White

As above, with Michael Klinger (left) and director Mike Hodges (right)

As above

Benwell - slightly less grim these days...

Made it ma! Top of the world...