Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Obit watch: January 22, 2018.

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Hemmingway and Ruark have a new hunting partner.

Harry Selby passed away on Saturday at the age of 92.

I’ve touched briefly on Selby in the past, but more in the context of Ruark. So please indulge me:

Mr. Selby was a postwar protégé of the East Africa hunter Philip Hope Percival, who took Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway on safaris, and he became a professional hunter himself in the late 1940s. He took the American author Robert Ruark on safari in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), and with the 1953 publication of Ruark’s best-selling book “Horn of the Hunter,” Mr. Selby became one of Africa’s most famous hunting guides.

Without cellphones or evacuation helicopters, Mr. Selby had to be the doctor, mechanic, chauffeur, gin-rummy-and-drinking partner and universal guide, knowledgeable about mountain ranges, grassy plains, rivers, jungles, hunting laws, migratory patterns, and the Bushmen, Masai, Samburu, Dinka and Zulu tribes. He spoke three dialects of Swahili. And he improvised; if there was no firewood, he burned wildebeest dung.
He was no Gregory Peck, but had an easygoing personality that made for good company in the bush. He coped with emergencies, pulling a client clear of a stampede or a vehicle from a bog, treating snakebites or tracking a wounded lion in a thicket — his most dangerous game. He was left-handed, but his favorite gun was a right-handed .416 Rigby, which can knock down an onrushing bull elephant or Cape buffalo in a thundering instant.

For 30 years, Mr. Selby ran company operations in Botswana, and guided hunters and photographers into leased concessions covering thousands of square miles in the Okavango Delta in the north and the vast Kalahari Desert in the south, home of the click-talking Bushmen. He cut tracks and built airfields in the wilderness.
In 1970, he established Botswana’s first lodge and camps for photographic safaris. He hired guides and a large support staff for what became a dominant safari business in Southern Africa. After Ker, Downey and Selby was bought by Safari South in 1978, he remained a director, and even after resigning in 1993 he continued to lead safaris privately until retiring in 2000.

Noted actor Bradford Dillman.

Mr. Dillman played prominent roles in “The Enforcer” and “Sudden Impact,” the third and fourth films in the “Dirty Harry” series, and won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1975 for his work on the TV series “The ABC Afternoon Playbreak.”

He was “Capt. McKay” in “The Enforcer” and “Captain Briggs” (not to be confused with Hal Holbrook’s “Lt. Briggs” in “Magnum Force”) in “Sudden Impact”. As we all know, Callahan went through captains like CNN goes through Russian conspiracy theories.

And finally, more of local interest: Hisako Tsuchiyama Roberts. Mrs. Roberts and her husband, Thurman, founded the Salt Lick barbecue restaurant in Driftwood, a little outside of Austin.

Tsuchiyama Roberts, who held a masters degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, dedicated her professional life in Texas to running the restaurant in the idyllic setting. She brought her flavors of her own culture to the smoked meat specialists, according to her son, Scott Roberts, who in his 2014 book “Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love,” wrote about his mother’s tempura frying of vegetables and shrimp for the menu along with her addition of poppy seeds to cole slaw and celery seeds to potato salad.

…with her passing, family shared a tale of the diminutive Tsuchiyama Roberts felling a charging buck with the swing of a pecan bucket she was using for shelling and killing it with a rock while her husband and his friends were away on an unsuccessful hunting trip.

She was 104.

Obit watch: January 20, 2018.

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Paul Bocuse, one of the great French chefs.

I don’t have my copy of Alice Let’s Eat in front of me, but I remember Trillin quoting Bocuse: “Without butter, without cream, there is no point to cooking.” Bocuse was 91.

Dorothy Malone, Texan and retired actress. She was in Douglas Sirk’s “Written on the Wind” (and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress). She also played Constance McKenzie for four out of five seasons of the “Peyton Place” TV series. (She was written out after season four.)

Dorothy Eloise Maloney was born on Jan. 30, 1924, in Chicago and grew up in Dallas, one of five children of Robert Ignatius Maloney and the former Esther Smith. Two of her sisters died of polio in childhood, and a brother was fatally struck by lightning in his teens.

Stansfield Turner, former CIA director.

Peter Mayle, author. I never read A Year in Provence but from the description it sounds a lot like a French version of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

TMQ Watch: January 16, 2018.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Yes, we know, we’re way late. It doesn’t have anything to do with something we’ll get to in a moment. It’s just been a matter of it being relatively cold here in the greater Austin metroplex. And like a giant lizard or some other cold-blooded animal, we’ve been curling up and conserving body heat. (We also fell into a time sink Tuesday night reading the archives of Damn Interesting. But that’s another story.)

But the cold spell is starting to break. After the jump, this week’s TMQ. Plus: viewer mail!

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Obit watch: January 14, 2018.

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

Some more from the past couple of days:

Keith Jackson, legendary announcer.

Edgar Ray Killen is burning in Hell.

David Toschi passed away a week ago Saturday. FotB RoadRich mentioned this to me in the middle of the week – he saw it on a low-rent cable channel – but I had a lot of trouble finding a good obit. I couldn’t find the actual obit on SFGate: I was only able to get at an arthive.org version.

Anyway, “David who”? He was a famous San Francisco PD detective. He was one of the lead investigators on the Zodiac killings.

He was removed from the case after revelations that in 1976 he had sent several letters praising his own work to a San Francisco newspaper writer under fake names.
“It was a foolish thing to do,” he acknowledged at the time.

I don’t remember where I picked up this detail (maybe in the archive.org version), but that “newspaper writer” the NYT doesn’t name? Armistead Maupin, who was working as a reporter for the SF Chron at the time.

But that wasn’t the only reason he was semi-famous, at least among us common sewers connoisseurs:

Mr. Toschi was a personality in the police department even before his involvement with the Zodiac case, so much so that Steve McQueen had borrowed from him for the fictional police officer he played in the 1968 movie “Bullitt.”
“They literally were filming in my dad’s office,” Ms. Toschi-Chambers said. “My dad took off his jacket, and Steve McQueen said, ‘What is that?’ And my dad said, ‘That’s my holster.’ And Steve McQueen told the director, ‘I want one of those.’ ”

(I wonder what that holster was: and if it’s out of production, how much do vintage ones go for? There’s a discussion on defensivecarry.com, but I can’t judge how accurate it is.)

Clint Eastwood also drew on Mr. Toschi for his portrayal of the title character in “Dirty Harry,” Don Siegel’s influential 1971 movie about a San Francisco police inspector, Harry Callahan, who hunts a psychopathic killer. Mr. Toschi, though, was bothered by Callahan’s penchant for administering his own brand of justice. He is said to have walked out of a screening of the movie, which was released when the Zodiac investigation was in full swing.

(Damn shame. He missed out. And I still haven’t seen “Zodiac”.)

Edited to add: this might lead to a longer post later, but: there are certainly worse hobbies in the world than engaging in Steve McQueen cosplay. Though I will concede that could get expensive quick, especially if you go full “Bullitt” and start looking for a Mustang.

Obit watch: January 8, 2018.

Monday, January 8th, 2018

A roundup of obits from the past couple of days:

John Young, Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle astronaut. NASA.

Jerry Van Dyke, noted television actor (“My Mother the Car”).

Peggy Cummins. She’s mostly forgotten now – she stopped acting in the 1960s – but she was the female lead opposite John Dall in the famous 1950 noir film “Gun Crazy”.

Start with a badass, end with a badass: Ulrich Wegener, founder of the German Border Protection Group 9 (aka Grenzschutzgruppe 9):

The unit, also known as GSG-9, was created after the September 1972 attack on the Summer Olympics in Munich, when Palestinian militants kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes. Ill prepared for terrorism, and lacking a tactical sniper team, the German police botched an attempt to rescue the athletes, who were killed, along with one police officer and five of the eight kidnappers.

One of his first accomplishments: Lufthansa Flight 181.

Around 2 a.m. on Oct. 18, Somali soldiers lit a fire 65 yards in front of the jet, creating a diversion. As the hostage takers entered the cockpit to see what was going on, Colonel Wegener and his commandos stormed the aircraft. Over the next seven minutes, three militants were killed and the fourth was wounded. Three passengers, a flight attendant and a commando were injured. But all 86 passengers, along with the four surviving crew members, were saved.

Later that night, three members of the Red Army Faction — Gudrun Ensslin, Jan-Carl Raspe and Andreas Baader — were found dead in their cells, having committed suicide, and Mr. Schleyer, the abducted executive, was murdered.

Briefly held by American troops as a prisoner of war, he returned home, to what became East Germany, to finish his schooling.
Caught handing out leaflets critical of the Communist government, he was jailed for 18 months. Upon his release in 1952, he fled to West Berlin, where he went on to join the police.

(I haven’t found a source I consider completely trustworthy for this, but there are reports that Colonel (at the time) Wegener also participated with the Israeli Sayeret Matkal in the raid on Entebbe.)

TMQ Watch: January 2, 2018.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Yeah, we can’t believe it, either. We want to try on our best Don LaFontaine voice. “In the future world of 2018…”

And that’s as far as we’ve gotten. “…you will believe that a famous chef sends out an apology for sexual harassment that includes his recipe for cinnamon buns“? Nobody would believe that.

“You will believe that Gregg Easterbrook watched football on New Year’s Eve”? That might work.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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TMQ Watch: December 19, 2017.

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Before we jump into this week’s column, we did want to make note of the not-technically-a-firing-but resignation of ESPN president John Skipper. We think it is appropriate to note this here because this is sportsfirings.com, and for reasons we will get into shortly.

We really don’t have much to say about this: we don’t care much for ESPN, or the way Skipper’s been running it. But substance abuse of any sort sucks, and we wish the man all the luck in the world.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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Cahiers du cinéma 2017.

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

The Library of Congress announced the latest additions to the National Film Registry yesterday.

Random thoughts:

  • The Saturday movie group is doing pretty well, if I do say so myself. We watched both “Spartacus” and “Ace in the Hole” this year. Of the two, I like “Spartacus”, I think more than the CHeston “Ben-Hur” (which we watched last Saturday). But even I think “Spartacus” is a little long. (And I believe this “restored edition” is even longer than the Criterion DVD we watched.) As for “Ace in the Hole”: wow. This is a fantastically underrated movie that you should buy on Criterion and watch as soon as you can.
  • The greatest Christmas movie ever is on this year’s list. Good.
  • Haven’t changed my mind about “Field of Dreams”.
  • We need to find “He Who Gets Slapped”, “one of the earliest ‘creepy clown’ movies”.
  • Maybe I should watch “Memento”.
  • Saw the original “Superman” in theaters. I remember it being…okay. But even as a 13-year-old, I didn’t care much for Superman as a character: where’s the conflict if you have a character who is basically invulnerable to everything? (And don’t give me that kryptonite crap: Superman is allergic to his home planet? Really?) I think I just wasn’t born with the superhero gene.
  • Saw “Titanic” in theaters too. I don’t think it is a great movie, and I wouldn’t have put it on the list, but it does have Kate Winslet going for it.
  • I would like to see “Four Little Girls”.
  • I’ve never seen “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”.
  • We need to watch “Only Angels Have Wings” one night when RoadRich is with us.
  • A Winsor McCay WWI propaganda film? Sign me up, please.
  • “Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser” is pricy. But I do want to see it.

Obit watch: December 6, 2017.

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

On my way out the door, but I wanted to get this up now because otherwise I don’t know when I will have time.

Christine Keeler. NYT. WP.

For folks of a certain age, the name almost certainly rings a bell. For those who don’t recognize it, Ms. Keeler was the central figure in the British “Profumo affair” of the early 1960s.

Ms. Keeler was the “party girl” — as she was often described — who had an affair with John Profumo, a star in the Conservative government of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. The secretary of state for war at the time — some saw him as a future prime minister — Mr. Profumo had met Ms. Keeler at a party in 1961, when she was still a teenager and he was in his mid-40s.

Ms. Keeler had had multiple lovers, among them Cmdr. Eugene Ivanov, an attaché in the Soviet Embassy in London, and when that relationship came to light, government figures and MI5, the domestic intelligence agency, feared that her affair with Mr. Profumo might have created a grave security breach.

I may update this obit later.

Edited to add 12/7: strictly in the interest of history, and not for any prurient reasons at all, I thought I would include what the WP calls “one of the decade’s most famous images”:

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Obit watch: October 25, 2017.

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

Robert Guillaume.

Man, what a career.

He landed his part in “Soap” in 1977 after a Tony-nominated run as Nathan Detroit in an all-black Broadway revival of “Guys and Dolls.”

I’d love to see that. I’m sure it exists…in an archive…somewhere in New York City…

Mr. Guillaume said Benson’s sharp tongue and dignified mien had allowed him to transcend his station while getting laughs. “What made the humor was that he didn’t care what people thought about him,” he said of the character in an interview for this obituary in 2011. “He wasn’t trying to be mean; he was just trying to be his own man.”

Obit watch: October 23, 2017.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Federico Luppi, noted Argentinian actor.

He was also the lead in Guillermo del Toro’s “Cronos” (which I have seen) and is in “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”. (I have not seen the latter two, but “Devil’s Backbone” is scheduled for this Saturday.)

Mr. Luppi played the monstrous Gris with touches of weakness — at one point in the film he sinks to a bathroom floor to lap up a spot of blood.

Yeah, having seen “Cronos”, describing Luppi’s character as “monstrous” is more than a bit of a stretch. Especially compared to Ron Perlman’s character. Further deponent sayeth not, because spoilers.

Edited to add:

NYT writers, meet the NYT Twitter feed. Hope you guys get along.

TMQ Watch: October 3, 2017.

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

We’ve got nothing clever to start off with this week. This is the kind of week that sucks all the clever out of our strategic clever reserves. Let’s just get into it.

After the jump, about 5,000 words of this week’s TMQ…

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