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Shirley Eaton/ Valerie Leon ~ Carry On Golden Girls

September 30, 2014

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Talent…

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… These are the lovely ladies and gorgeous girls of eras gone by whose beauty, ability, electricity and all-round x-appeal deserve celebration and – ahem – salivation here at George’s Journal

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When it comes to the silver screen, is there truly anything more British than either the Bond or Carry On series? Surely not. And in celebration of that (and the fact that spy-fi monolith Goldfinger celebrates its 50th anniversary this autumn), this blog’s serving up a very special post for you here, peeps – a pictorial tribute to a couple of indubitably glorious UK lovelies who’ve enjoyed various brushes with both Bond and Sid James and co. in their time. Yes, we’re talking the blonde (ahem) Bond-shell that’s Shirley Eaton and the bodaciously leggy and buxom Valerie Leon – the latest, you better believe it, double-entry in this blog’s Talent corner

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Profiles

Names: Shirley Eaton/ Valerie Leon

Nationality: English

Heights: 5’7″ / 5’11”

Professions: Actresses

Born: January 12 1937, Edgware, London/ November 12 1943, Hampstead, London

Known for: Shirley – becoming iconic for all-time as the villainous title character’s companion Jill Masterson in classic Bond film Goldfinger (1964); although, few will probably remember her actual role (let alone her name), much more likely the fact she was full-bodily painted gold from which her character (impossibly in the real world) dies from skin suffocation. In addition to similarly gold-painted co-star Margaret Nolan (in the latter’s case for flashy titles-featuring and marketing purposes only, though), she became the face of the film, even making it on to the cover of Life magazine in late ’64. Away from Bond she memorably starred in three early flicks of the much-loved Carry On series – 1958’s Sergeant, ’60’s Constable and ’59’s Nurse (in which she played the ostensible protagonist). She also appeared in three episodes of UK adventure TV serial The Saint (1962-68) and opposite Mickey Spillane as his own detective creation Mike Hammer in The Girl Hunters (1963). Considered a British sex symbol throughout the ’50s and ’60s, she retired from acting in 1969 to raise her children.

Valerie – perhaps most of all for appearing in five Carry On films in the late 1960s/ early 1970s (just as the movies’ bawdiness became more and more obvious, ergo her figure proved something of a must for the filmmakers): 1968’s … Up The Khyber, ’69’s Camping, ’70’s Up The Jungle, ’72’s Matron and ’73’s Girls. For horror fans, she put in an all-time iconic performance as the protagonist/ antagonist of Hammer’s Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb (1971) and Bond fans will note she also essayed minor but memorable roles in two separate 007 flicks, 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me and 1983’s ‘unofficial’ effort Never Say Never Again, in addition to typically sexiful appearances in other notable UK/ US movies such as The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer (1970), No Sex Please, We’re British (1973), Revenge Of The Pink Panther and The Wild Geese (both 1978). Moreover, an entire generation of male TV viewers will happily recall her featuring in British TV ads for Hai Karate aftershave.

Strange but true: Shirley appeared in a heat for the UK (BBC’s) entry for the 1957 Eurovision Song Contest/ Valerie was apparently cast as the Sardinian hotel receptionist in The Spy Who Loved Me (despite her patent lack of an Italian accent) because she told the filmmakers she didn’t want to play a character that ended up being killed

Peak of fitness: Shirley – in that black underwear of hers, lying face-down and peering through binoculars in Goldfinger, as Bond (and we) ogle her before his introduction/ Valerie – despite all those appearances in low-cut dresses and skimpy bikinis in the Carry Ons, it has to be in her truly-only-almost-there costume as Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb‘s reincarnated Egyptian goddess Tera  

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ September 2014

September 1, 2014

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Dick Dale and the Deltones ~ Misirlou (1963)¹

Julie London ~ Wives And Lovers (1965)

Count Basie and his Orchestra ~ Goldfinger (1965)

Donovan ~ Atlantis (1968)

The J.B. Pickers ~ Freedom Of Expression (1971)²

The Faces ~ Maybe I’m Amazed (1972)

Sally Oldfield ~ Mirrors (1979)

Joy Division ~ She’s Lost Control (1979)³

Blondie ~ Sunday Girl (1979)4

Marvin Gaye ~ I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1980)5

Cyndi Lauper ~ The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough (1985)

Kate Bush ~ Big Sky (1985)

The Rembrandts ~ I’ll Be There For You (1995)

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¹ As featured over the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, released 20 years ago this year

² From the soundtrack of the cult road-movie classic Vanishing Point (1971)

³ Recorded live for the BBC2 music showcase Something Else in September ’79 and, yes, featuring Ian Curtis losing himself in the music and idiosyncratically dancing

4 A rare version of Blondie’s classic hit that sees Debbie Harry timelessly deliver the lyrics in French

5 A sumptuous version – with an awesome intro – of Gaye’s signature tune recorded live at the Montreux Festival

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Did someone call for a Doctor? George’s Journal’s great Doctor-ranking-rundown

August 22, 2014

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Top of the Docs: so just which of these oh-so familiar faces will be Time Lord Victorious?

That’s right, we’re almost there, my fellow Gallifreyan-partial peeps. Unlike The Doctor himself, we’ve had to come the long way round – we’ve patiently waited (that is, those of us who haven’t in any way checked out the ‘leaks’ on the ’Net) nine whole months and finally the moment has come. Yes, tomorrow, folks, on the goggleboxes in the corner of our lounges and in the flickatoriums across our towns and cities (indeed, how you choose to get your Who-viewing jollies is entirely up to you), Peter Capaldi will finally make his bow as The Twelfth Doctor.

But, my, just what will he be like? Will he genuinely be a much darker version? A far more alien Gallifreyan? A far less patient Time Lord? Dare one say it, a less easy to like Saturday teatime TV hero? Who knows? Indeed, ‘Who’ really knows – but certainly not us yet. What we all do know, though, is exactly what each of the previous 12 – yes, 12 – incarnations of the show’s iconic character have been like and, just as significantly, what we think of them. And, boy, haven’t they been different – and yet similar at the same time? And, golly, don’t we all tend to disagree – and hopefully agree to disagree – on just which ones we prefer and which ones we’d rather see packed up in a box under the time console never to emerge from the TARDIS ever again?

So, methinks, what better way for this blog to mark the unveiling of the next Doctor (and the beginning of the next series of Who) than for a trip down memory lane by taking a look back at all the Doc’s previous incarnations – and, while doing so, ranking them from 12th place right up to my (ahem) numero Who-no?

And lo, is that a thud I heard from outside? And hasn’t the time console stopped sliding up and down? Yes, we’ve landed, folks; time indeed then to fling open the TARDIS doors and commence our adventure…

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12. Colin Baker ~

The Sixth Doctor

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Aka: The curly, surly one

Era: 1984-86

Episode total: 31 (8 serials)/ most episodes 25-minutes-long

Appearance: Big, blond curly barnet and a quite ridiculous multi-coloured outfit – in the words of Baker himself: ‘like an explosion in a rainbow factory’

Personality: Irritable, pompous, argumentative, volatile and self-aggrandising, yet also – like all the other incarnations – heroic and moralistic

Catchphrase: None

Major companion: Nicola Bryant (Peripuguilliam ‘Peri’ Brown)

Major foe: Michael Jayston (The Valeyard)

Best serial: The Trial Of A Timelord (1986)

Worst serial: The Twin Dilemma (1984)

Pros: A Doc with a difference? One who’s far from immediately likeable and thus a bit of a challenge (following his introductory-regeneration he really shows a dark side too) and that regeneration is arguably the greatest in the show’s history

Cons: The prickly personality and crap clobber takes some getting used to; perhaps the only Doctor it’s hard to actually like (the idea had been for Baker to peel back the layers of the character, ensuring he became more likeable, as time went on – only the actor was fired by the Beeb before the plan properly got underway)

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11. Sylvester McCoy ~

The Seventh Doctor

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Aka: The one with the question-mark umbrella

Era: 1987-89 and 1996

Episode total: 42 (12 serials)/ all episodes 25-minutes-long

Appearance: Short and dark haired with a cream (later dark brown) raincoat, sleeveless pullover featuring question-marks, spats, a panama hat and a red question-mark-umbrella

Personality: Initially a clownish, play-the-fool sort, with a propensity to roll his ‘r’s and predilection for alliterative utterances and playing-the-spoons; eventually he takes on a darker, more sombre air, giving the impression he was manipulating events rather than reacting to them

Catchphrase: Fine

Major companion: Sophie Aldred (Dorothy Gale ‘Ace’ McShane)

Major foe: Fenric

Best serial: Remembrance Of The Daleks (1988)

Worst serial: Time And The Rani (1987)

Pros: A diminutive dynamo of a Doctor, full of energy and unexpectedness; transformation of a light-frothy incarnation into a deeper, darker, more complex one

Cons: The rolling ‘r’s, alliteration and spoon-playing grates quickly and, although interesting and admirable, the change into a darker version isn’t entirely convincing – it hardly feels like a natural evolution and McCoy isn’t the best when it comes to the sober drama and gravitas

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10. William Hartnell ~

The First Doctor

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Aka: The grumpy grandfather

Era: 1963-66 and 1973

Episode total: 134 (29 serials)/ all episodes 25-minutes-long

Appearance: A combed-back grey mane and an Edwardian gentleman’s outfit, including a long, black frock coat and sometimes checked trousers

Personality: Often authoritative, irritable, short-tempered and forgetful (owing to advanced years), but at other times caring and well-meaning – especially to his grand-daughter Susan

Catchphrase:Mm, what’s that, my boy?

Major companion: Carole Ann Ford (Susan Foreman)

Major foe: The Daleks

Best serial: The Dalek Invasion Of Earth (1964)

Worst serial: The Gunfighters (1966)

Pros: The original, ‘authentic’ Doc, thus, to a large extent, the one that set the template for all the others to follow or (more often) deviate from; always engaging and, as an older man who’s restricted in the physical stakes, a somewhat off-kilter but comfortingly cosy heroic leader

Cons: That irascible personality isn’t easy to warm to, while the old-school manners and headmasterly air aren’t exactly dynamic; similar to (but to less of an extent than) the unlucky Sixth and Seventh Doctors above, he wasn’t actually blessed with the greatest stories either

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9. Patrick Troughton ~

The Second Doctor

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Aka: The scruffy cosmic hobo

Era: 1966-69, 1973 and 1985

Episode total: 119 (21 serials)/ all episodes 25-minutes-long

Appearance: Short with a black Beatles-esque mop, over-sized black jacket, ill-fitting bow-tie and, like his predecessor, sometimes checked trousers – but deliberately unlike his predecessor, the overall look was like he’d thrown on bits he’d found at a jumble sale; in colder climes often sported a deep brown, very woolly coat which looked like it once belonged to a mammoth

Personality: On the surface, a mixture of kindliness, scatter-brained skittishness and even comedic buffoonery, belying an inner cunning, steeliness and bravery

Catchphrase:When I say run, run!

Major companion: Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon)

Major foe: The Cybermen

Best serial: The War Games (1969)

Worst serial: The Krotons (1968)

Pros: Charismatic and amusing; a distinctive change to (even negative of) Hartnell’s original Doctor, thus the successful source for all subsequent Docs’ larking about; adept at instantly dropping the clowning and heroically taking control

Cons: Favourite of die-hard Whovians he may be, but his explain-things-to-everyone-like-they’re-a-child style is rather reminiscent of a Blue Peter presenter; that shabby outfit is sartorially rubbish; unfortunately quite a large chunk of his episodes are still missing

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8. John Hurt ~

The War Doctor

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Aka: The ‘retconned’ one

Era: 2013

Episode total: 2 (and 1 mini-episode)

Appearance: Post-middle-aged, grey and a bit haggard with an unruly beard yet somewhat coiffed hair, a beaten-up brown leather jacket, boots and an ammunition belt

Personality: Irascible, old-fashioned and mannered like the First Doctor – but more no-nonsense (or ‘no more’?) and world- and war-weary; a man of undisputed action, preferring to sip from a thermos lid than a teacup, for example

Catchphrase: Gallifrey stands!

Major companion: None

Major foe: The Daleks/ The Time Lords

Best episode: The Day Of The Doctor (2013)

Worst episode: N/A

Pros: He’s the War Doctor, ergo a badass; oozes awesome charisma without even trying; a fascinating eye on what the Doctor would be thrown slap-bang into a war; he’s bloody John Hurt!

Cons: Only properly appears in one episode; created via ‘retconning’; is he even ‘technically’ The Doctor?

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7. Peter Davison ~

The Fifth Doctor

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Aka: The young one with the blond mop

Era: 1981-84 and 2007

Episode total: 69 (20 stories)/ most episodes 25-minutes-long

Appearance: Youthful and blessed with longish blond hair, dressed in beigey-cream and white cricketing togs and often sporting a stick of celery on his lapel

Personality: Amiable and often cheerful, but prone to doleful brooding and guilt; likes to collect and keep a group of companions around him if possible – given his lack of authoritativeness then, something of a team-leader of do-gooders and put-righters

Catchphrase:Brave heart, Tegan

Major companion: Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka)

Major foe: Anthony Ainley (The Master)

Best serial: The Caves Of Androzani (1984)

Worst serial: Four To Doomsday (1982)

Pros: Given his agreeableness, maybe the most likeable of all the Doctors; an unquestionable success as the first ‘young’ one (ensuring McGann, Tennant and Smith’s later casting wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows); a solid, dependable and charming lead in a far from golden era

Cons: Lacks the authority, edge and combination of light and dark of many incarnations – and sometimes overly indecisive; all his companions were either average or pants; like the other two ’80s Docs, was burdened with stories more akin to kids’ TV than thought-provoking sci-fi/ mild horror (apart from his swansong, the fantastic The Caves Of Androzani)

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6. Paul McGann ~

The Eighth Doctor

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Aka: The ‘blink-and-you-missed-him’ one

Era: 1996 and 2013

Episode total: 1 (and *1 mini-episode)

Appearance: Initially, Byron-esque long brown locks and an Old West-style dark outfit (intended for a costume party), complete with frock coat and cravat; when we later meet him, with shorter hair but a long fringe, a long dark overcoat, waistcoat and neck-scarf

Personality: Youthful, romantic, exuberant, whimsical and filled with wonder and joy at the limitless nature of the universe – sort of like a Gallifreyan Pre-Raphaelite

Catchphrase: ‘Physician, heal thyself

Major companion: Daphne Ashbrook (Dr Grace Holloway)

Major foe: Eric Roberts (The Master)

Best episode: *The Night Of The Doctor (2013)

Worst episode: N/A

Pros: Always engaging and charming, yet with just the right touch of mystery; a finely judged take on The Doc as a modern TV (romantic) hero, thus a successful forerunner to Tennant and Smith’s versions; returned to TV 17 years later and was even better second time round

Cons: The real what-could-have-been incarnation; controversially, is apparently half-human, rather than a full Time Lord; the only one to have headlined a failed Who project; seen too little of him to form an opinion on how good he was/ his strengths and weaknesses?

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5. Christopher Eccleston ~

The Ninth Doctor

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Aka: The Northern one

Era: 2005

Episode total: 13/ all episodes 45-minutes-long

Appearance: Tall with cropped dark hair, a black leather jacket, variously coloured v-neck shirts and Dr Martens boots

Personality: Sprightly, spunky, mercurial, moody, unpredictable – life’s like a box of chocolates with the Ninth Doctor; you never know what you’re going to get (I thank you)

Catchphrase:Fantastic!

Major companion: Billie Piper (Rose Tyler)

Major foe: The Daleks

Best episode: Dalek (2005)

Worst episode: The Long Game (2005)

Pros: An unusual and interesting departure for the character (modern, dynamic, fast-talking and faster moving); a successful kick-starter for ‘Nu Who’; thanks to ‘rectonning’, his personality and appearance make perfect sense as The War Doctor’s successor

Cons: Only featured in 13 episodes; audience didn’t get to see his introduction via a full regeneration; departed after only one series, leaving fans wanting more?

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4. David Tennant ~

The Tenth Doctor

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Aka: The ‘sexy’ one

Era: 2005-10

Episode total: 47/ most episodes 45-minutes-long

Appearance: Slim and handsome with long sideburns, spiky hair and an often upturned fringe, dressed in a dark blue or brown pin-stripe suit, tie and trainers/ sneakers; sometimes wears an ankle-length faux-suede coat and rectangular-framed glasses

Personality: Arguably the most human Doctor – exuberant, excitable, amorous, geeky yet trendy and up on the pop-culture-zeitgeist, but certainly not without his brooding moments too

Catchphrase:Allons-y!

Major companion: Billie Piper (Rose Tyler)

Major foe: John Simm (The Master)

Best episode: The End Of Time – Parts One and Two (2009-10)

Worst episode: Love And Monsters (2006)

Pros: Hugely charismatic and hard to take your eyes off him; iconically heroic and easy on the eye; the first incarnation to enjoy a genuine character arc (including doomed romance and overdoing his do-gooding); a huge hit with the punters, truly cementing the success of ‘Nu Who’

Cons: The geeky-trendy shtick and accompanying catchphrases can become a bit annoying; too mainstream, or rather human a Doctor – should the character actually fall for a human being?

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3. Jon Pertwee ~

The Third Doctor

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Aka: The dandy with the schnoz

Era: 1970-74 and 1983

Episode total: 128 (24 stories)/ all episodes 25-minutes-long

Appearance: Tall, grey and always dressed like an Edwardian Beau Brummell – long, often dark frock coats, waste-length capes, neck-scarves and frilly collared and cuffed shirts; often too wears driving-gloves when motoring around in his beloved pseudo-vintage car Bessie

Personality: Usually mannered and courteous, if a little posh, nay even patrician, but invariably becomes indignant at cruelty and evil; a lover of all things vehicular and not averse (unlike most Doctors) to resorting to fisticuffs – especially if it means he can practice his Venusian karate (‘Aikido!’)

Catchphrase: ‘Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow

Major companion: Katy Manning (Jo Grant)

Major foe: Roger Delgado (The Master)

Best serial: The Dæmons (1971)

Worst serial: The Time Monster (1972)

Pros: One of the unforgettable ones – that voice, that face, that hair and those outfits; The Doctor as a true action hero – if there’s a chance of karate-chopping a monster or driving something funky, this Doc never passes it up; surrounded by the cosy but marvellous company of characters that’s the ‘U.N.I.T. family’ and the original (easily best) version of The Master; spearheads the show’s hugely successful transition into colour

Cons: Much of his time sees him banished to Earth, unable to pilot the TARDIS into space and away to other eras, thus somewhat limiting his adventures; the ‘U.N.I.T. family’ as a supporting cast and constancy of The Master as main villain might be a little too samey for some

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2. Matt Smith ~

The Eleventh Doctor

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Aka: The young one with the chin and the fringe

Era: 2010-13

Episode total: 44/ most episodes 45-minutes-long

Appearance: Always young-looking with a long, swept-to-one-side fringe and, originally, dressed in a tweed jacket, black jeans and boots; later adopts a more Victorian look, comprising colour-coordinated three-quarter-length coat, waistcoat and trousers and a pocket-watch. Oh, and a bow-tie – always a bow-tie.

Personality: Something of a mixture of the previous incarnations: brilliant, brave, eccentric, excitable, chipper, bitter, geeky, confident, socially awkward, somewhat amorous and, most significantly, young and old at the same time

Catchphrase:Geronimo!

Major companion: Karen Gillan (Amy Pond)

Major foe: The Silence

Best episode: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang (2010)

Worst episode: Nightmare In Silver (2013)

Pros: A beautifully realised and finely balanced interpretation of The Doctor – fitting for this supposed-to-be final incarnation, not least because he combines so many of his predecessors’ traits; fascinatingly presents the character as a sort of folk hero throughout the universe and all-of-time; high quality of this Doctor is matched by high quality of his era; enjoys a story and (character) arc that lasts his entire tenure – indeed, it could be said the conclusion of his character arc is the conclusion of the character arc of all the previous Doctors too

Cons: A ‘greatest hits’ Doctor – does he actually take the character anywhere new?; as they go along, his series’ story arcs (and episode plots) tend to get a bit timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly complicated – and might his overall arc be tied up rather too hurriedly and conveniently?

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1. Tom Baker ~

The Fourth Doctor

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Aka: The boho with the scarf

Era: 1974-81, 1983 and 2013(?)

Episode total: 172 (41 stories)/ all episodes 25-minutes-long

Appearance: Tall and a bit lanky with unruly, curly dark brown hair, boggling eyes and a crazy grin, accompanied by a ludicrously long, multi-coloured scarf, a dark brown (sometimes red) coat and occasionally a cravat (the overall look was based on that of ultimate boho Aristide Bruant); later sports a burgundy version of this general outfit

Personality: The most protean Doctor of all, the Fourth is wonderfully unpredictable – wildly happy or angry one moment, contentedly or morosely quiet the next; all wise and knowing or filled with childlike wonder and amazement; silly and stubborn or overflowing with common sense; yet rarely is he wrong or confounded and always brave, resourceful, moralistic and heroic

Catchphrase:Would you care for a jellybaby?

Major companion: Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith)

Major foe: Michael Wisher and David Gooderson (Davros)

Best serial: Take your pick… The Ark In Space (1975),
Genesis Of The Daleks (1975), Pyramids Of Mars (1975), The Deadly
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(1976), The Talons Of Weng-Chiang (1977) or City Of Death (1979)

Worst serial: Underworld (1978)

Pros: Before (and maybe still after) Tennant’s stint, he’s seen as the definitive take on the Doc by millions of fans – after all, who is it that’s the curator at the end of The Day Of The Doctor?; easily the longest lasting incarnation and never lets up the pace or quality as the years pass; boasts the largest number of quality stories (see ‘Best Serial’ above); early part of his era arguably sees the ‘Classic Series’ at its best as the stories homage and pastiche gothic horror and classic literature; forms an exquisite partnership with surely the show’s greatest companion Sarah Jane Smith

Cons: Truly hard pressed to come up with one… actually, while I’m thinking and you’re waiting, would you like a jellybaby…?

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Peter Capaldi ~

The Twelfth Doctor

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Peter Capaldi makes his debut as the Twelfth Doctor in Deep Breath tomorrow at 7.50pm on BBC1, at 8.15pm (Central Time) on BBC America, at 8pm on Space (Canada) and at 4.5oam on ABC1 in Australia. Oh, and at more or less the same time in cinemas across the world…

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Who ya gonna call? Don’t get spooked, but Ghostbusters has hit 30

August 13, 2014

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I ain’t afraid o’ no ghost: detail from the Ghostbusters teaser poster, featuring the iconic ghost-caught-in-a-‘no’-sign logo – created by Michael Gross from Dan Aykroyd’s original design

The miners’ strike. Band Aid. Reagan’s rampant re-election victory. That guy with his jet-pack at the Olympics. And Torvill and Dean. What do they all have in common? That’s right – incredibly, frighteningly they all took place 30 years ago. Just as did, in fact, the first wave of ‘Ghostbusters-mania’. For, even more pertinently, the spectrally terrific comedy adventure is celebrating its big ‘three-oh’ this summer.

Wait, the first wave of public delirium associated with Venkman and co.? Don’t get me wrong, summer ’84’s definitely wasn’t the only one. On the back of the marvellous original movie, there next came the animated TV show The Real Ghostbusters, which then flooded the toy market with Kenner’s oh-so awesome, oh-so colletable action figures – kids went utterly crazy for both. And then, as the decade came to a close, the original big-screen team were back, saving Christmas with the Statue of Liberty. Or something.

But, there’s no getting away from it (just like trying to outrun a giant King Kong-like marshmallow sailor man), the original earthquake caused by the box-office cash-till-ringing splendiferousness of Ghostbusters was truly seismic; it was everywhere in the summer (and later) months of ’84. Ray Parker Jr.’s oh-so catchy theme tune was thoroughly contagious, Slimer was utterly loveable and Bill ‘The Murricane’ Murray seemed like the biggest, coolest star on the planet. Indeed, getting caught up in Murricane’s ghost-bustin’ hurricane made many feel like a god. And practically everyone said yes.

So, then, peeps, join me please in saluting Ghostbusters’ 30th with a very special post dedicated to the ghoulishly great blockbuster (a true cultural cornerstone for millions that grew up in the intoxicating ’80s), featuring, as it does, tidbits on the flick’s making, quotes from cast and crew members, classic video clips and many, many a top image (several from behind-the-scenes). Warning: If you don’t, Slimer’ll get you – but don’t worry, you’ll feel so funky…

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The cast…

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Ghostbusters was originally conceived by paranormal enthusiast Dan Aykroyd as a movie vehicle for himself and fellow ex-Saturday Night Liver John Belushi; he wrote the film-to-be’s screenplay with friend and oft co-star Harold Ramis. Eventually, Aykroyd would play Dr Ray Stantz (‘The Heart’) and Ramis Dr Egon Spengler (‘The Brains’).

Cast as the movie’s unofficial lead Dr Peter Venkman (‘The Mouth’) was Bill Murray, with whom Ramis had starred in hit comedy Stripes (1981); in fact, in the ’70s the trio had all performed together in Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe. The final ‘Ghostbuster’ role, Winston Zeddmore (‘The Everyman’), was filled by Ernie Hudson, the victim character, Louis Tully (‘The Keymaster’), by Rick Moranis and the client/ Venkman’s love-interest, Dana Barrett (‘The Gatekeeper’), by Sigourney Weaver – whom won her role by acting out Dana’s transformation-into-a-terror-dog in her audition for director Ivan Reitman.

Intriguingly, Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd and Christopher Walken were all considered for Spengler, while Tully and Venkman were supposedly written for, respectively, John Candy and John Belushi – Candy had ‘artistic differences’ with Reitman; Belushi didn’t live long enough to fill his intended role, dying of a drug overdose in 1982 (apparently, Chevy Chase and Michael Keaton also turned down Venkman, but – although often trotted out – Eddie Murphy was never the intended casting for Zeddmore).

Ultimately, Serbian model Slavitza Jovan was cast as the androgynous god Gozer after Paul ‘Pee Wee Herman’ Reubens passed on it, while according to Aykroyd, loveable ghoul and unlikely break-out star Slimer was to some extent supposed to be ‘the ghost of John Belushi’.

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I went over and I introduced myself and he said, ‘Hello, Susan.’ [Then] he picked me up and put me over his shoulder and walked down the block with me … It was a great metaphor for what happened to me in the movie: I was just turned upside down and I think I became a much better actress for it~ Sigourney Weaver on meeting Bill Murray for the first time, on location for Ghostbusters outside New York Public Library (from vanityfair.com)

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We had three different studios going [at once], I had a motorcycle going back and forth from one to the other~ SFX genius Richard Edlund, whom set up his own company for Ghostbusters, on the time-strapped challenge of getting all the movie’s effects finished on time (from vanityfair.com)

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The numbers…

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Ghostbusters was greenlit with a budget of $25m, a figure plucked out of the air for the executives by Ivan Reitman and a then astronomical sum for a comedy; the deal for that show of faith was its script had to be finished and the film shot and edited in just 12 months.

It opened on June 8 1984 and promptly hit #1 at the US box-office, staying there for seven non-consecutive weeks. So far, it has grossed a worldwide total of $291.6m; ensuring it was the third biggest global hit of 1984 and stands at #33 on the list of highest grossing movies of all-time, adjusted for inflation. It was nominated for two Oscars (Original Song and Visual Effects) and currently holds a 96% ‘Certified Fresh’ rating on rottentomatoes.com.

The same summer, its theme song, performed by Ray Parker Jr. (see bottom video clip), topped the US Billboard chart for three weeks and hit a high of #2 in the UK, where it stayed for the same amount of time. Lyndsey Buckingham has claimed he turned down the opportunity to write and perform a theme song for the film.

Several Stay Puft Marshamallow Man suits were made for the shoot and all of them were destroyed due to the rigours of filming – each of them cost $20,000.

The huge dollop of marshmallow that falls on NYC health department irritant Walter Peck (William Atherton) was actually 50 gallons of shaving cream – he was often harrassed by the public for some time after the movie’s release; a bus full of schoolkids apparently shouted ‘Dickless!’ at him.

While on location, Bill Murray withdrew $2,000 from an ATM for a homeless man.

The sequel, Ghostbusters II, was released on June 16 1989 and achieved the biggest ever three-day opening-weekend box-office gross – only for the record to be broken just one week later by Batman (1989).

Ultimately, Ghostbusters II (even accounting for five years’ worth of increasing inflation) grossed around $75m less than the original; it currently holds a 51% ‘Rotten’ rating on rottentomatoes.com.

Fondly recalled TV cartoon spin-off The Real Ghostbusters ran for seven seasons from 1986-91, totalling 147 episodes. It was this series, rather than the films, that generated the hugely successful Kenner toy action figures and play-sets. The Venkman character was voiced by Lorenzo Music, whom at the time also provided the voiced of Garfield on TV – ironically, Bill Murray voiced the iconic cat in 2004’s Garfield: The Movie. In January 2009, The Real Ghostbusters was named #22 on ign.com’s list of the ‘Top 100 Animated TV Series’.

During Ghostbusters’ original run, the commercial in the film was independently shown in cinemas, the artificial telephone number it features (with the standard movie ‘555-’ prefix) replaced with a genuinely functiong telephone number. When fans called the number, they heard a pre-recorded message from Aykroyd and Murray – the number received 1,000 calls an hour (that’s 24 hours a day) for six weeks.

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The film crossed over to so many markets and audiences and was celebrated for so long … It went through three seasons: the entire summer, [then] every kid was dressed as a ‘Ghostbuster’ for Halloween, and it dominated the Christmas gift season~ Rick Moranis on Ghostbusters’ unexpectedly extraordinary box-office success (from vanityfair.com)

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Many of the images featured in this blog post can be found in the book Making Ghostbusters by Don Shay (ISBN: 9780918432681)

Thanks to Mike Seiders’ stupendous infographic and Lesley M M Blume’s article The Making of Ghostbusters: How Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and ‘The Murricane’ built Ghostbusters (published on vanityfair.com) for much of the information and artist Fabrizio Fioretti for the final four 3D character images

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ August 2014

August 2, 2014

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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Louis Armstrong ~ Chim Chim Cher-ee (1965)

Jefferson Airplane ~ Embryonic Journey (1967)1

Alan Hawkshaw ~ The Night Rider (Theme from The Milk Tray Man adverts/ 1968-92) (1968)2

Woodstock (August 15-18 1969) Medley:

Elvis Presley ~ Suspicious Minds (1970)3

The Murgatroyd Band ~ Magpie (1971)4

Eric Rogers ~ Carry On Medley (1963-73)5

10cc ~ I’m Not In Love (1975)6

Stu Phillips ~ Theme from Quincy, M.E. (1976)

Dennis Wilson ~ Love Remember Me (1977)

Sade ~ Smooth Operator (1984)

Bruce Springsteen ~ Dancing In The Dark (1984)7

Ray Parker Jr. ~ Ghostbusters (Dub Version) (1984)

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1 This awesome guitar instrumental from The Airplane’s legendary Surrealistic Pillow album (1967) closed the last ever scene of Friends (1994-2004)

2 The ace advertorial composition for the unforgettable Bond-esque UK TV commercials; it was written by Cliff Adams, whom later would record a smoother and funkier, arguably even cooler version

3 This live Las Vegas effort made just be the ultimate performance of the ultimate Elvis song. Trust me… 

4 The Murgatroyd Band – performers of this, the ’71 single release of the theme from Magpie (1968-80), ITV’s ‘trendy’ answer to the Beeb’s kids’ magazine show Blue Peter (1958-present) – are actually, of course, Spencer Davis Group; the lyrics are lifted from/ inspired by the magpie-superstition-concerning old English nursery rhyme ‘One For Sorrow’

5 Featuring themes written by Rogers and performed by his orchestra from, in order, Carry On Doctor (1967), Carry On Camping (1969), Carry On Girls (1973), Carry On At Your Convenience (1971), Carry On Matron (1972) and Carry On Cabby (1963)

6 This rendition of the Cheshire-hailing popsters’ overdubbing, endless looping multi-tracking-tastic mega-hit (UK #1; US #2) was captured for the ’75 Christmas Day edition of BBC chart show Top Of The Pops (1964-2002) 

Yes, that is a long-before-Friends Courtney Cox jumping up from the crowd to dance with ‘The Boss’ in this naff-as-hell yet rather marvellous video for the mid-’80s stone-cold rock classic

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You’re the best around: 1984’s blockbuster summer – 30 years on, the greatest ever?

August 1, 2014

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Six of the best: fan-art inspired by and detail from the posters of half a dozen of 1984’s summer (and autumn) offerings courtesy of Hollywood – back when it genuinely was a dream factory

Hmm, so, as far as I can tell this summer season of blockbusters on offer from Hollywood have been headlined by a CGI-driven Planet Of The Apes second sequel – or prequel – and yet another CGI-driven Marvel Studios adaptation of one of its comic book creations that looks intriguing and ‘different’ because it features a snarling (albeit still cute) raccoon whom shoots stuff. You know, once upon a time, when it rolled round to May/ June, it wasn’t like this. But it sure seems like a long time ago.

And that’s because, peeps, sadly it was. The last truly great cinematic blockbuster summer I can recall is that of 1994 (The Lion King; Forrest Gump; Speed; True Lies; Four Weddings And A Funeral; Maverick). That’s 10 years ago. And even that was arguably a flash in the pan. Because, really, the majority of them came in the ’80s. It seemed that most summers back then, we yoof were blessed with original and oh-so exciting fare from one fortnight to the next. Not only did the sun shine, but our eyes, ears and imaginations were given an explosion of thrills, spills, laughs and excitement. Take 1989’s, for example (Batman; Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade; Lethal Weapon 2; When Harry Met Sally…; Back To The Future: Part II; Ghostbusters II; The Abyss) or 1985’s (Back To The Future; The Goonies; Rambo; Fletch; St. Elmo’s Fire; National Lampoon’s European Vacation; A View To A Kill; Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome; The Black Cauldron). And, if you go back further, even 1977 arguably offered a classic cinematic summer thanks to the thunderous triumverate that was The Spy Who Loved Me, Smokey And The Bandit and, of course, the very first Star Wars.

For me, though, the greatest blockbuster summer of all occurred three decades ago. However you look at it (in terms of originality, diversity, depth and breadth), 1984’s always was, remains still and surely always will be the sun-soaked season at the flicks to beat. In which case, in celebration of its 30th anniversary, here’s my countdown of the 10 greatest summer blockbusters that were released in ’84. And, what’s more, at the very end of the post, you lucky folks have the chance to agree or disagree with me, by voting for your top movie out of ’em all in a poll. Oh yes, we’re not doing things by half in this post – it’s summer ’84, after all…

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10. Police Academy

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Who? Hugh Wilson directs Steve Guttenburg, Kim Cattrall, Bubba Smith, Michael Winslow, David Graf, G W Bailey, Leslie Easterbrook and George Gaynes

What? Infinitely infantile, slapstick-reliant comedy about a hapless group of new recruits in the eponymous police academy of an unnamed metropolis. Mild and silly sex, fat, height, gun and authority-undermining gags ensue before the disparate gang reach their unlikely graduation.

When? Released March 23/ box-office gross: $81.2m (domestic)

Well? Easily the weakest entry on this list (not least because its run at cinemas could only just be said to squeeze into ’84’s cinema summer), but hugely popular; especially in the States. The best things about it are Steve Guttenburg’s likeable leading (straight) man, which he’d replicate for Short Circuit (1986) and Three Men And A Baby (1987), and Michael Winslow’s incredible electronic-esque aural impressions. The bad things about it are, erm, everything else. And the fact that six even worse sequels followed. Somehow, though, it’s still very whimsically recalled.

Wow? Legendary critic Roger Ebert claimed of Police Academy: “it’s so bad, maybe you should pool your money and draw straws and send one of the guys off to rent it so that in the future, whenever you think you’re sitting through a bad comedy, he could shake his head, and chuckle tolerantly, and explain that you don’t know what bad is”

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9. Purple Rain

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Who? Albert Magnoli directs Prince, Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day, Clarence Williams III and Olga Karlatos

What? Vehicle for pop-pixie-cum-sex-god Prince’s mid-’80s idiosyncratic funky sound disguised as a thinly veiled would-be biopic of the Minneapolis-hailing hero

When? Released July 27/ box-office gross: $68.4m (domestic)

Well? More feature-length, MTV-friendly flashy video (therefore advert) for the album that shares its name than a convincing commercial movie venture, and yet, no question, it somehow proved to be the latter too, defying the odds to become a huge hit and, thus, a rare out-and-out success as a modern pop/ cinema crossover

Wow?  Prince and Day (and their respective bands The Revolution and The Time) returned for a Prince-directed sequel Graffiti Bridge (1990); it unceremoniously bombed, failing to make back its $6 million budget

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8. The NeverEnding Story

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Who? Wolfgang Petersen directs Barret Oliver, Noah Hathaway, Tami Stronarch and Thomas Hill

What? Fairy tale-esque fantasy adventure wrapped up in a natty story-in-a-story-book narrative that captivated a generation of ’80s kids whom never wanted its (ahem) ‘never-ending’ story to end

When? Released April 6 (West Germany)/ box-office gross: $100m plus (worldwide)

Well? Curiously over- and underdone at the same time, it nonetheless remains a much-loved family favourite, full of magic, mysticism and the fantastical and surrounded by, dare one say it, something of a refreshingly un-Hollywood feel (owing to the fact it was a product of Euro-cinema). Best not to mention the sequels, though.

Wow? Giorgio Moroder’s unmistakeable techno-pop score – including the classic title tune performed by Kajagoogoo’s Limahl (see above video clip), which is absolutely impossible to separate from the film – oddly wasn’t present on the print of the movie released in West Germany, where much of it was filmed and from where much of its budget derived

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7. Splash

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Who? Ron Howard directs Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy and Eugene Levy

What? Light, frothy romantic comedy about a not-so-little mermaid whom steps out of the frothy surf to sample Noo Yawk, her guide around the Big Apple being Tom Hanks in his original ‘comic everyman’ role – and the one that made him a Hollywood star

When? Released March 9/ box-office gross: $69.8m (domestic)

Well? Comfy as your toes in Granny’s knitted woollen socks it may be, but this debut directorial effort from Ron ‘Richie Cunningham’ Howard is one of his most successful; genuinely charming and, at times, tittersome, it’s a tamely but finely crafted slice of Tinseltown-served family entertainment that, owing to its quality, has dated well. And Daryl Hannah’s damned hot.

Wow? It was the first film to be released under Disney’s more adult-themed Touchstone Pictures stable, owing to the big-wigs deciding its brief moments of cussing and nudity didn’t fit the Disney brand and, going forward, the creation of such a spin-off studio wouldn’t be a bad move

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6. The Karate Kid

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Who? John G Avilsden directs Ralph Macchio, Noriyuka ‘Pat’ Morita, Elisabeth Shue, William Zabka and Martin Kove

What? Baby-faced handsome new kid in town calls on the Japanese answer to Yoda  to toughen him up and fend off the cool, buffed-up crowd that frequent the local karate club (yep, seems unlikely they’d hang out there, but hey, it’s the ’80s) and, in doing so, learns and earns much more than a black-belt. Such as how to correctly paint fences – wax-on; wax-off, apparently.

When? Released June 22/ box-office gross: $90.8m (domestic)

Well? Basically an adolescent-does-martial-arts version of 1976’s Rocky (it’s even directed by the same bloke), Karate Kid nonetheless remains almost as enduringly popular and well recalled. It hit a huge chord with ’80s teens and kids, leading to its sequels (each of which inevitably got crapper as they went along) and an unlikely merchandising blitz, but did so not just because it was timely, perky and marketable, but also because it was a decently drawn and paced drama that engaged audiences as much as it kick-started a karate club boom.

Wow? Studio backer Columbia Pictures’ first choice for martial arts mentor Mr Miyagi was Japanese screen legend (and frequent Akira Kurosawa collaborator) Toshiro Mifune 

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5. Star Trek III: The Search For Spock

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Who? Leonard Nimoy directs William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Christopher Lloyd, Robin Curtis and himself

What? Following hot on the heels of 1982’s hot-to-trot Wrath Of Khan (and, thus, forming the middle part of a mid-movie-series-trilogy that would conclude with ’86’s The Voyage Home), this entry in the not-quite-yet-geriatric first Trekkers’ quest to conquer the silver screen saw Shatner and friends attempt to retrieve from beyond the grave the recently self-sacrificed Spock (Nimoy; whom also directed – not from beyond the grave)

When? Released June 1/ box-office gross: $76.6m (domestic)

Well? The weakest of the three flicks in the aforementioned sort-of-trilogy, meaning it’s the third best Star Trek movie of, erm, however many of ’em have been made, Search For Spock also obviously features little of the unmistakeable pointy-eared one, yet it somehow doesn’t diminish proceedings, caught up as we are in Kirk & co.’s desperate bid to retrieve their Vulcan chum via hot-tailing it in their (stolen) spaceship, battling ruthless Klingon thugs and dodging doom on a quickly self-destructing planet. Genuinely, heroic sci-fi hokum rarely rollicks more.

Wow? Despite actively dieting to get in shape to play Kirk again, Shatner’s weight fluctuated during the shoot so much that 12 shirts of different sizes had to be made for him

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4. Romancing The Stone

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Who? Robert Zemeckis directs Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Zack Norman, Alfonso Arau and Manuel Ojeda

What? Bestselling romance author (Turner) finds herself in a real romantic adventure when she schleps to South America to save her sister from the clutches of a dodgy army colonel, encountering Douglas’s ‘B-movie’-esque herioc rogue along the way and, together with him, facing fatal waterfalls, snap-happy crocodiles, deadly drugs barons and Danny DeVito

When? Released March 30/ box-office gross: $86.6m

Well? Indy-lite it may be, but it’s a winner all the way. Judged and paced perfectly with a smart, witty script and cracking casting (the Douglas-Turner pairing’s spot-on and DeVito a fine foil; so much so they’d all team up for 1986’s sequel The Jewel Of The Nile and ’89’s very different, DeVito-directed The War Of The Roses). Often overlooked and undeservedly so – not least because it persuaded Spielberg to take a punt on another Zemeckis project named Back To The Future.

Wow? Stone wasn’t actually inspired by Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981); its script was written in the late ’70s by screenwriter Diane Thomas, whom pitched it to Michael Douglas while serving him as a waitress; her job at the time to pay the bills. Tragically, shortly after Stone premiered (and while working on a Raiders sequel and the Spielberg film that would become 1989’s Always), she was killed in a crash – in the car she bought with her pay from Douglas.

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3. Gremlins

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Who? Joe Dante directs Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Frances Lee MacCain, Corey Feldman, Polly Holliday, Judge Reinhold and Keye Luke

What? Yuletide-set comic-horror in which an eccentric inventor dad gives his teen son the most unique Crimbo gift imaginable, a sweet, furry, otherworldly creature nicknamed ‘Gizmo’, with which the adolescent fails to follow the rules (as is so often the case when it comes to horror protagonists), the results being the thing spawns macabre and devilish – and yet still somewhat cute – versions of itself, reaping violence and chaos throughout his sleepy, snowy town

When? Released June 8/ box-office gross: $148.2m (domestic)

Well? A delicious black-comedy delight from start to finish, Gremlins is easily one of the most original, inventive and satisfying of all ’80s blockbusters. And a huge hit it was too, despite its sly skewering of US festive cultural norms (and, in doing so, sending up of the likes of 1946’s classic It’s A Wonderful Life) being received by an eager American audience slap-bang the middle of ’84’s cinema summer – and even coming out on the very same day as, yes, Ghostbusters.

Wow? Gizmo’s voice was provided by Howie Mandel, well known in the US as a comedian and host of game-show Deal Or No Deal; outside of the US he’s best known for portraying  Dr Wayne Fiscus in legendary hospital semi-soap St. Elsewhere (1982-88)

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2. Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom

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Who? Steven Spielberg directs Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Key-Huy Quan, Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth and Philip Stone

What? Sequel (or, to be precise, prequel) to Raiders, in which the awesome archaeologist sets out to retrieve sacred stones for an Indian village (read: really, an adventure conducted at break-neck speed in which the iconic ’80s film hero, with ditzy blonde chanteuse Willie Scott and ultimate short-arse sidekick Short Round in tow, faces-off against evil religious fanatics via a series of eye-boggling action set-pieces, such as on a mine-cart railway and an epic rope-bridge)

When? Released May 23/ box-office gross: $333.1m

Well? It’s Temple Of Doom, for chrissakes; of course it’s awesome. All right, it might not quite be in Raiders’ class and, while the playing around with the Indy formula (i.e. attempt to darken the tone in several respects) remains controversial, its risky audacity and stand-out sequences still undoubtedly thrill three decades down the line. Like the it’s-clearly-really-a-rollercoaster rollercoaster-like mine-cart chase, Doom was, is and always will be one hell of a ride.

Wow? David Niven was apparently attached to the British army officer role Captain Blumburtt (eventually played by Philip Stone), but died before filming began

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1. Ghostbusters

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Who? Ivan Reitman directs Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Oh, and Slimer.

What? A trio of New York paranormal scientists strike out on their own as ‘ghostbusters’, setting up their HQ in a disused fire-station and crashing about the city in a knackered old ambulance, just as the Big Apple’s barraged by a plague of ghouls; the lead up to a potential demonic apocalypse (‘cats living with dogs’ etc.). Can our unlikely heroes save the day?

When? Released June 8/ box-office gross: $291.6m

Well? Possibly the greatest ever comic-adventure summer blockbuster, slyly mixing its heroics and top comedy with mild (and finely realised) horror, excellent characterisation from the leading and supporting players (all of it comic and all of it spot-on) and an irresistible theme song hit. Ultimately, though, Ghostbusters’ undoubted quality and deserved success comes down to the superb script from Aykroyd and Ramis and pitch-perfect direction from Reitman. In the summer of ’84 there was no question who most peeps were gonna see – and, had they existed in real life, who they were gonna call too.

Wow? Aykroyd initially envisaged Ghostbusters as a vehicle for himself and fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus John Belushi, in which they would travel through time, space and even other dimensions to tackle ghosts; director Reitman suggested reigning in his ambitions owing to inevitable budgetary constraints

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And making it an Indian summer were…

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A Nightmare On Elm Street

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Who? Wes Craven directs Heather Lagenkamp, Robert Englund, John Saxon, Johnny Depp, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss and Jsu Garcia

What? A quartet of teens experience horrific nightmares in which hat-wearing, stripey jumper-sporting, severe face-burned killer Freddy Krueger stalks them, attempting to kill them with the knives that protrude from his gloves – only, it turns out, when he murders them in their dreams he bumps ’em off in real life too

When? November 9/ box-office gross: $25.5m (domestic)

Well? Not exactly deserving in this company in terms of cinematic gross, Nightmare was nonetheless a big hit on initial release given its minuscule budget ($1.8m) and hugely unexpected commercial success. Like Police Academy, its popularity led to a dearth of inferior sequels, yet unlike Police Academy, it was a critical success and deservedly so; an imaginative and genuinely shocking slasher-horror and massive influence on its genre

Wow? Protagonist Nancy Thompson could have been played by either Courteney Cox, Demi Moore or Jennifer Grey, while her boyfriend character Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp) saw auditions from Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, C Thomas Howell, Brad Pitt, Charlie Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland

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The Terminator

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Who? James Cameron directs Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield and Lance Henriksen

What? Fantasy actioner in which a near-indestructible human-looking cyborg from the early 21st Century is sent back in time to 1984 Los Angeles to kill unassuming local girl Sarah Connor, as she’s about to give birth to a son who’ll grow up to lead a resistance movement to the über-artificial intelligence entity that has laid waste to humankind via nuclear war – and is the creator of the robot-warrior-assassin

When? November 26/ box-office gross: $78.4m

Well? A sci-fi action adventure for adults (of now legendary proportions), the original Terminator movie is basically a dark, violent comic book translated to cinematic form. That, though, doesn’t do it justice, for it’s also a smart, stylish, compelling and wholly satisfying experience – with a genuine superstar-making turn from Arnie as the titular antagonist

Wow? Initially, studio backer Orion suggested casting O J Simpson as the Terminator – but Cameron nixed the idea because he didn’t feel the public would find Simpson a believable killer

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And finally, of course…

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Beverly Hills Cop

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Who? Martin Brest directs Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher, Steven Berkoff, Ronny Cox, Gil Hill and Bronson Pinchot

What? Sweary comedy-adventure that sees streetwise Detroit police detective Axel Foley (Murphy) travel to Beverly Hills in order to track down his friend’s murderer, whom he suspects to be his previous employer, an LA tycoon. While investigating the latter, however, Foley irritates the local police (owing as much to his willful practical jokes as his probing), in particular those charged with dealing with him, Detectives John Taggart and Billy Rosewood

When? December 5/ box-office gross: $316.6m

Well? A home-run of an ’80s blockbuster if ever there was one (and certainly for me, after Ghostbusters, ’84’s best), Beverly Hills Cop is an utter joy. Strip from it Murphy’s terrific lead role, full of swaggering charm, street-smarts and underdog heroism, and you might think it’d be a humdrum (somewhat) hard and violent cop thriller, but that’d be to dismiss its sly and witty script, engagingly comic supporting turns (especially from Reinhold and Ashton), tone-perfect direction from Brest and, of course, Harold Faltermeyer’s iconic score and that Glenn Frey opening credits tune – as big a hit in the charts as the movie was at the box-office

Wow? The now deceased Christopher Hitchens once claimed that the similarly late, acclaimed British author Kingsley Amis believed Beverly Hills Cop to be a ‘flawless masterpiece’

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Deborah Kerr/ Jean Simmons ~ Hollywood’s Brit Hits

July 23, 2014

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Talent…

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… These are the lovely ladies and gorgeous girls of eras gone by whose beauty, ability, electricity and all-round x-appeal deserve celebration and – ahem – salivation here at George’s Journal

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In a long overdue move, this nook of the ’Net is, yes, folks, finally paying its dues to two of the finest – both most certainly in terms of looks and acting chops – female stars to have crossed the pond and plied their trade in Tinseltown. And my, how they made a splash over there – and, frankly, everywhere and for all-time. Yup, it is, of course, the flame-haired fantasy that was Deborah Kerr and the lovely as a sunny summer’s day Jean Simmons – undoubtedly, then, they’re the latest double-entry in this blog’s Talent corner

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Profiles

Names: Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer/ Jean Merilyn Simmons

Nationalities: Scottish/ English

Professions: Actresses

Born: September 30 1921, Glasgow (Died: October 16 2007)/ January 31 1929, London (Died: January 22 2010)

Known for: Deborah – undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s greatest female stars of the ’50s; she lent her beauty, class, grace, intelligence and outstanding talent to every one of her roles (often subtly suggesting a fragility and sexuality beneath their ice-cool exteriors), most famously, governess extraordinaire Ann Leonowens opposite Yul Brynner’s Thai monarch in monster hit musical The King And I (1956) and disloyal military wife Karen Holmes in drama From Here To Eternity (1953) – which saw her, against type, notoriously romp in the surf with Burt Lancaster. She also, to great popular acclaim, romanced Cary Grant in comedy An Affair To Remember (1958), played three different roles in Powell and Pressburger’s wartime masterpiece The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), portrayed a repressed nun tested to the limit in the same filmmakers’ Black Narcissus (1947), was a Christian martyr in ancient epic The Robe (1953) and shone as the oldest ever Bond Girl (at 46) opposite David Niven in 007 spoof Casino Royale (1967). Nominated for the Best Actress Oscar six times (for 1949’s Edward, My Son, From Here To Eternity, The King And I, 1957’s Heaven Knows, Mr Allison, 1958’s Separate Tables and 1960’s The Sundowners), but never winning, she finally received a long overdue honorary statuette in 1994. Her greatest love, though, as with many of the best actors, was the stage.

Jean – blessed with big, brown eyes, a glorious grin and often a marvellously mischievous expression, the preternaturally beautiful Ms Simmons enjoyed a long career in cinema and on TV, even though it rarely featured the great roles and acclaim her talent suggested it should. Most memorably, she burst on to the screen as a teenager opposite Deborah Kerr in Black Narcissus and as surely the ultimate Estella in David Lean’s adaptation of Dickens’ Great Expectations (both 1946) and then exceeded many’s expectations by going blonde to play Ophelia in Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948), for which she was Oscar-nominated. Moving to Hollywood with husband (and fellow Brit movie star) Stewart Granger, she was snapped up by a smitten Howard Hughes for a terrific femme fatale turn in Otto Preminger’s film noir Angel Face (1950), sang and hoofed it up with Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra in Guys And Dolls (1955), essayed Burt Lancaster’s and Kurt Douglas’s love interests in, respectively, Elmer Gantry and Spartacus (both 1960) and co-starred with Kerr again in both Young Bess (1953) and The Grass Is Greener (1960). Later, she married filmmaker Richard Brooks (whom directed her to another Oscar nom in 1969’s The Happy Ending), appeared in legendary TV serials The Thorn Birds (1983) and North & South (1995-86) and battled and beat alcoholism.

Strange but true: Deborah was reputedly offered a fee as much as the rest of the cast’s combined to appear in Carry On Screaming! (1966), but turned it down in favour of a stage play that was eventually aborted/ Jean dubbed the voice of lead character Sophie in the English-language version of Studio Ghibli’s animation Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Peak of fitness: Deborah – utterly charming and beguiling in her tri-character-turn in The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp/ Jean – finally free from Roman servitude, frolicking in a lake with her hero lover Kurt Douglas in Spartacus

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Deborah's Patience

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