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George’s (extended) birthday party: pick of the flicks and top of the pops ~ 1970-74

November 7, 2014

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On the face of it, the transition of the 1960s into the 1970s doesn’t bring a cheer to the hearts of many (pop) culture vultures – perceived, as it often is, as a slide from an economically and materialistically buoyant era of social progression and radical and exciting development in the pop/ rock and cinematic arenas into an economically depressed, energy challenged and politically corrupt and crippled few years beset by naff pop and rock on our radios and vacuous bawdy comedies and disastrous disaster movies on the big screen. But is that fair? Was that what really happened?

Well, as this is a post (the return of, yes, the series detailing my ‘best of’ films and tunes from each year which regular visitors to this nook of the ’Net may well have wished wasn’t coming back – sorry, folks!) is a celebration of the first half of the ’70s, predictably enough, for me, that isn’t fair and certainly wasn’t what happened.

In retrospect, the semi-decade that was 1970 through to ’74 was, in fact, a fascinating five years. It may have seen the cool young ’uns fall out of love with free love and psychedelia, while everyone else finally got into ’60s fashions and wore flares like they were going out of fashion and slowly became easier about ’60s social changes (leading to suburban flings with swinging and, er, Tupperware and fondue parties), but it also allowed for the adoption by the mainstream of Glam rock, prog rock and trendy, folksy singer-songwriters (and thus the explosion of the sensations that were Bowie, Pink Floyd and Elton John, Carole King and Carly Simon), unbridled neo-realism in American film (step forward Coppola, Scorsese, Friedkin and Altman) and maybe even a taste, more so than ever before, for culturally colourful and challenging Euro cinema greats (Bergman, Roeg, Buñel, Malle and new kid on the block Bertolucci).

So, peeps, bounce along with me if you will (on your Space Hopper, naturally) into this follow-up to the previous ‘pick of the flicks and top of the pops’ posts from the ’50s (see here and here) and the ’60s (see here and here) – for, yes, whether you like it or not, we’re heading down the yellow brick road that’s 1970-74, where the dogs of society howl (yeah, don’t worry, they don’t really)…

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CLICK

on the film and song titles for video clips…

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1970

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Surprise election success for Heath and Tories; US troops invade Cambodia;
Pelé stars in Brazil’s thrilling third World Cup triumph; Houston has a problem with Apollo 13;
Black September and October Crisis; The Beatles, The Supremes and Simon & Garfunkel call it quits

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Film:

Il Conformista

(Le Conformiste/ The Conformist)

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Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci/ Starring: Jean-Louis Tritingnant, Stefania Sandrelli,
Dominique Sanda, Enzo Tarascio, José Quaglio, Gastone Moschin and Pierre Clémenti/
Country: Italy/ France/ West Germany/ 111 minutes/ (Historical drama-thriller)

What George says: By turns period-drama grand and sweeping, by others introspective and self-contained, Il Conformista was the film that established Bertolucci as a major talent outside of Italy; even if, curiously maybe, it’s a very Italian tale of a skewered oddball whom finds his making in the Mussolini fascist era of the 1930s as he’s sent on an assassination mission by the secret police. Off-kilter and amusing, erotic and a little perverted, it’s always absorbing, dramatically bold, beautiful filmmaking.

What the critics say: “In this dazzling film, Bertolucci manages to combine the bravura style of Fellini, the acute sense of period of Visconti and the fervent political commitment of Elio Petri — and, better still, a lack of self-indulgence … The Conformist … is not merely an indictment of fascism — with some swipes at ecclesiastical hypocrisy as well — but also a profound personal tragedy” ~
 Kevin Thomas

Oscar count: 0

Oscar’s Best Picture pick this year: Patton

The public’s pick this year: Love Story (global box-office #1)

George’s runners-up: 2. Patton; 3. M*A*S*H4. Little Big Man; 5. Performance

patton_1970 mash_1970 little_big_man_1970 performance_1970

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And the rest: AirportLe Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle); Deep EndFive Easy Pieces; Le Genou de Claire (Claire’s Knee); Husbands; Let It Be; Love StoryPeau d’Âne (Donkey Skin); Ryan’s DaughterTristana; WoodstockZabriskie Point

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Song:

Bridge Over Troubled Water ~

Simon & Garfunkel

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Writer: Paul Simon/ Released: January 1970

What George says: Paul Simon’s epic testament to being there for someone who falls was huge back in the day and remains huge today. The silver-lined, silver-girled masterpiece, which overshadows everything on the otherwise still superb swansong album with which it shares its name, is a faultless exercise in studio manipulated brilliance, opening simply with Art Garfunkel’s angelic vocals and an accompanying piano, then slowly building and building to become a gigantic showcase of melodic balladry. It’s basically Lawrence of Arabia (1962) as a pop song. Well, sort of.

What the critics say: “The ’60s stand for heedless free love; in Simon’s songs, emotional entanglement brings heavy consequences and duties … [Bridge Over Troubled Water] expresses devotion and empathy in terms more likely to resonate with an adult than some headstrong hippie: ‘When you’re weary, feeling small,’ goes one verse, ‘I’ll take your part’. Simon is a deceptive lyricist – he starts out describing the scenery, and pretty soon he’s drawn listeners deep into the thoughts of his complicated, often conflicted characters” ~ Tom Moon , 1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die (2008)

Chart record: US #1 (for six weeks)/ UK #1 (for three weeks)

Recognition: Won the Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Contemporary Song, Best Engineered Record and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists (1970)/ ranked #3 for 1970, #17 for the 1970s and #81 for ‘all-time’ on acclaimedmusic.net’s cumulatively ranked ‘top songs’ lists

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George’s runners-up: 2. Layla (Derek and the Dominos)/ 3. Your Song (Elton John)/
 4. Let It Be (The Beatles)/ 5. Groupie (Superstar) (Delaney and Bonnie)

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And the rest: ABCI’ll Be There; I Want You Back (The Jackson 5)/Across The UniverseThe Long And Winding Road (The Beatles)/ All Right Now (Free)/ American Woman (The Guess Who)/ Apeman; Lola (The Kinks)/ Band Of Gold (Freda Payne)/ Bell Bottom Blues; I Looked Away; Keep On GrowingThorn Tree In The Garden; Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? (Derek and the Dominos)/ Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)/ Cecilia; El Cóndor Pasa; The Only Living Boy In New York (Simon & Garfunkel)/ Cracklin’ Rosie; Shilo (Neil Diamond)/ Cry Me A River; The Letter (Joe Cocker) Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) (The Delfonics)/ Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine (James Brown)/ Give Me Just A Little More Time (Chairmen Of The Board)/ Groovin’ With Mr Bloe (Mr Bloe)/ If Not For YouIsn’t It A Pity; Let It DownMy Sweet Lord; Wah-WahWhat Is Life (George Harrison)/ Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin)/ In the Summertime (Mungo Jerry)/ Instant Karma!; LoveMother (John Lennon)/ It’s So Easy (Andy Williams)/ Jig-A-Jig (East Of Eden)/ Love The One You’re With (Stephen Stills)/ Lucky Man (Emerson, Lake & Palmer)/ The Man Who Sold The World (David Bowie)/ Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney)/ Moon Shadow; Tea For The TillermanWild World (Cat Stevens)/ No Matter What (Badfinger)/ Our House (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young)/ Paranoid (Black Sabbath)/ Question (The Moody Blues)/ River Deep Mountain High (The Supremes and The Four Tops)/ Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand) (Diana Ross)/ The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Gil Scott-Heron)/ Ride A White Swan (T. Rex)/ See Me, Feel Me (The Who)/ Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours (Stevie Wonder)/ Something (Frank Sinatra)/ Stay With Me (Faces)/ Suicide Is Painless (The Mash)/ Tears Of A Clown (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)/ (They Long To Be) Close To You; We’ve Only Just Begun (The Carpenters)/ To Be Young, Gifted And Black (Nina Simone)/ War (Edwin Starr)/ Whole Lotta Love (CCS)/ The Wonder Of You (Elvis Presley)

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1971

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Britain enters the EEC and decimalises the pound; Idi Amin’s Uganda coup;
12,50o troops now in Northern Ireland; 60 percent of US now against Vietnam War;
Lunar Rover driven on Moon; Greenpeace founded; Open University begins 

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Film:

A Clockwork Orange

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Directed by: Stanley Kubrick/ Starring: Malcolm MacDowell, Patrick Magee, Anthony Sharp, Warren Clarke, Michael Bates, Adrienne Corri and Miriam Karlin/ Country: UK/ 136 minutes/ (Dystopian-satirical drama)

What George says: Although the outrage it generated on release may now seem quaint (it’s far from the most violent film ever made), A Clockwork Orange is still a work that shocks, amuses thanks to its very dark humour and forces one to face awkward truths about modern society’s hypocritical attitudes to social rebellion and violence, and political regulation and control. Maybe most successful and memorable of all, though, is its retro-futuristic look and use of music; like his brilliantly stark and caustic handling of the film’s themes, this is proof indeed that Kubrick was a visionary ahead of his time.

What the critics say: A Clockwork Orange is a brilliant nightmare. Stanley Kubrick … takes the heavy realities of the ‘do-your-thing’ and ‘law-and-order’ syndromes, runs them through a cinematic centrifuge, and spews forth the commingled comic horrors of a regulated society. Uncomfortably proximate, disturbingly plausible and obliquely resolved, the film employs outrageous vulgarity, stark brutality and some sophisticated comedy to make an opaque argument for the preservation of respect for man’s free will – even to do wrong” ~ A D Murphy

Oscar count: 0

Oscar’s Best Picture pick this year: The French Connection

The public’s pick this year: Fiddler On The Roof (US box-office #1)

George’s runners-up: 2. The Last Picture Show; 3. The French Connection;
4. The Go-Between; 5. Sunday Bloody Sunday

the_last_picture_show_1971 the_french_connection_1971 the_go-between_1971 sunday_bloody_sunday_1971

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And the rest: The Anderson TapesCarry On At Your ConvenienceDirty Harry; Duel; Fiddler On The Roof; Get Carter; Harold And Maude; The HospitalKlute; McCabe & Mrs Miller; Straw Dogs; Summer Of ’42; Utvandrarna (The Emigrants); Walkabout

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Song:

Imagine ~ John Lennon

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Writer: John Lennon/ Released: October 1971

What George says: Adopted immediately on release and probably never to be replaced as the anthem for the worldwide peace movement, John Lennon’s signature tune is proof not just of what a talented songwriter he was, but also of the fact that (despite a long hiatus from the mid-’70s up to nearly his death in 1980), of the four Fabs, his post-Beatles output was tops. Imagine is, of course, a sumptuously simple would-be-ballad, with its tumbling, nay hypnotic piano melody and Lennon’s lilting, wistful delivery of his ‘what if?’ lyrics. And what of those lyrics? They’ve been criticised for revealing the hypocrisy of the just-as-materialistic-as-the-rest-as-us millionaire pop star, but surely, if one stops and really listens to them, that’s to miss the point they  make – the song’s called Imagine for a reason…

What the statesman says: “In many countries around the world – my wife and I have visited about 125 countries – you hear John Lennon’s song Imagine used almost equally with national anthems” ~ Former US President Jimmy Carter

Chart record: US #3/ UK #6 in 1975 (#1 in December 1980)

Recognition: Ranked #3 for 1971, #7 for the 1970s and #35 for ‘all-time’ on acclaimedmusic.net’s cumulatively ranked ‘top songs’ list/ ranked #30 on the Recording Industry Association of America‘s list of ‘The 365 Songs of the Century bearing the most historical significance’/ since 2005, played every New Year’s Eve in Times Square immediately before ‘the ball drops’

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George’s runners-up: 2. Let’s Stay Together (Al Green)/ 3. What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye)/ 4. Day After Day (Badfinger)/ 5. Tokoloshe Man (John Kongos)

let's_stay_together_1971 what's_going_on_1971 day_after_day_1971 tokoloshe_man_1971

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And the rest: Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers)/ Angel (Jimi Hendrix)/ Anticipation; That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be (Carly Simon)/ Another Day (Paul McCartney)/ Baba O’RileyBehind Blue Eyes; Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who)/ Baby I’m-A Want You; If (Bread)/ The Beautiful Briny (David Tomlinson and Angela Lansbury)/ Black Dog (Led Zeppelin)/ Brown Sugar; Moonlight MileWild Horses; Sister Morphine (The Rolling Stones)/ Cosmic DancerGet It On; Hot Love; Jeepster (T. Rex)/ Coz I Luv You (Slade)/ Desiderata (Les Crane)/ Devil’s Answer (Atomic Rooster)/ Everything’s Alright; I Don’t Know How To Love Him (Yvonne Elliman)/Express Yourself (Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band)Family Affair (Sly and the Family Stone)/ Gimme Some TruthHappy Xmas (War Is Over); How?; Jealous Guy (John Lennon)/ Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves (Cher)/ Have You Ever Seen The Rain? (Creedence Clearwater Revival)/ Have You Seen Her (The Chi-Lites)/ Hyacinth HouseLove Her Madly; Riders On The Storm (The Doors)/ I Am… I Said (Neil Diamond)/ I Feel The Earth Move; It’s Too Late; So Far AwayWill You Love Me Tomorrow?(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Carole King)/ I’d Like To Teach the World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony) (The New Seekers)/ I’ve Seen All Good People/ Your Move (Yes)/ If I Were A Rich Man (Topol)/ Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler); Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) (Marvin Gaye)/ Life’s A Trippy Thing (Frank and Nancy Sinatra)/ Life On Mars; Oh! You Pretty Things (David Bowie)/ Maggie May (Rod Stewart)/ Magpie (The Murgatroyd Band)/ Me And Bobby McGee; Mercedes Benz (Janis Joplin)/ Main Theme from Get Carter (Roy Budd)/ Mr Big Stuff (Jean Knight)/ Nathan Jones (The Supremes)/ Peace Train (Cat Stevens)/ Proud Mary (Ike & Tina Turner)/ Pure Imagination (Anthony Newley)/ Rainy Days And Mondays; Superstar (The Carpenters)/ Respect Yourself (The Staple Sisters)/ Scorpio’s Theme (Lalo Schifrin)/ Theme from Shaft (Isaac Hayes)/ Theme from The Persuaders! (John Barry)/You’ve Got A Friend (James Taylor)

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1972

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Nixon visits China, later re-elected by giant margin; Watergate break-in;
Munich Massacre at Olympics but Spitz wins seven golds; Baader-Meinhof Gang caught;
Bowie and Bolan; cannabis now sold legally in Amsterdam; The Joy of Sex published

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Film:

Viskningar Och Rop

(Cries And Whispers)

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Directed by: Ingmar Bergman/ Starring: Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Thulin, Harriet Andersson, Kari Sylwan and Erland Josephson/ Country: Sweden/ 91 minutes/ (Period-psychological drama)

What George says: A seminal voyage into despair and regret, suffering and the supernatural and the repressed sexuality and emotions of dysfunctional siblings, Bergman’s masterpiece is at once beautiful, absorbing and affectingly melancholic. Featuring outstanding performances by Liv Ullmann and Ingrid Thulin and extraordinary, Oscar-winning cinematography by Sven Nykvist (wallow in all those deep reds and ‘pure’ whites), it will haunt you long after you see it – perhaps forever.

What the critics say: Cries and Whispers is like no movie I’ve seen before, and like no movie Ingmar Bergman has made before; although we are all likely to see many films in our lives, there will be few like this one. It is hypnotic, disturbing, frightening … We slip lower in our seats, feeling claustrophobia and sexual disquiet, realising that we have been surrounded by the vision of a filmmaker who has absolute mastery of his art … [It] is about dying, love, sexual passion, hatred and death – in that order” ~
Roger Ebert

Oscar count: 1

Oscar’s Best Picture pick this year: The Godfather

The public’s pick this year: The Godfather (global box-office #1)

George’s runners-up: 2. The Godfather;
3. Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie (The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie);
4. Solaris; 5. Aguirre, The Wrath Of God

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And the rest: Cabaret; The Candidate; Deliverance; Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask); The Getaway; The Hot RockLast Tango In Paris; The Poseidon Adventure; The Ruling Class; Sleuth

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Song:

You’re So Vain ~ Carly Simon

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Writer: Carly Simon/ Released: November 1972

What George says: The biggest hit of Ms Simon’s career has been somewhat overtaken by the media’s obsession with learning of its lyrics’ subject, but that’s never been important, slowly obfuscating, as it has, the fact it’s an absolute belter of a tune; its jangly, lazy, honky-tonk but highly appealing composition blending perfectly with its driving, irresistible melody, culminating in those cracking Mick Jagger-backed choruses. Far from clouds-in-your-coffee frothy, this is a fantastic soft-rock/ pop classic.

Chart record: US #1/ UK #3

Recognition: Ranked #13 for 1972, #112 for the 1970s and #508 for ‘all-time’ on acclaimedmusic.net’s cumulatively ranked ‘top songs’ list/ ranked #82 on Billboard magazine’s ‘Greatest Songs of All-Time’ list (1994)

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George’s runners-up: 2. Heart Of Gold (Neil Young)/ 3. Starman (David Bowie)/
4.
 If There Is Something (Roxy Music)/ 5. Diamonds Are Forever (Shirley Bassey)

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And the rest: All The Young Dudes; One Of The Boys (Mott The Hoople)/ Always On My Mind; Burning Love (Elvis Presley)/ American Pie; Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) (Don McLean)/ Amoureuse (Véronique Sanson)/ Baby Blue (Badfinger)/ Cabaret; Maybe This Time (Liza Minnelli)/ The Candy Man (Sammy Davis, Jr.)/ Changes; Five YearsThe Jean Genie; John, I’m Only Dancing; Moonage Daydream; Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide; Suffragette City; Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)/ Children Of The Revolution; Metal Guru; Telegram Sam (T. Rex)/ Crocodile Rock; Honky CatMona Lisas And Mad HattersRocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time); Tiny Dancer (Elton John)/ Do It Again (Steely Dan)/ Everything I Own; The Guitar Man (Bread)/ The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack)/ Go All The Way (Raspberries)/ Goodbye to Love (The Carpenters)/Gudbuy T’ JaneMama Weer All Crazee Now (Slade)/ Happy; Let It Loose; Shine A LightTumbling Dice (The Rolling Stones)/ The Harder They Come (Jimmy Cliff)/ A Horse With No Name (America)/ I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash)/ I Saw The Light (Todd Rundgren)/ I’ll Take You There (The Staple Sisters)/ If You Don’t Know Me By Now (Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes)/ Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) (Van Morrison)/ Join Together (The Who)/ Joy (Apollo 100)/ Lady Eleanor (Lindisfarne)/ Lean On Me (Bill Withers)/ Listen To The Music (The Doobie Brothers)/ Ladytron; Re-make/Re-modelVirginia Plain (Roxy Music)/ Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress (The Hollies)/ Look At Yourself (Uriah Heep)/ Love Train (The O’Jays)/  Midnight Rider (The Allmann Brothers Band)/ The Money Song (Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey)/ Morning Has Broken (Cat Stevens)/ Mother And Child Reunion (Paul Simon)/ Outa-Space (Billy Preston)/ Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone (The Temptations)/ Perfect Day; Satellite Of LoveWalk On The Wild Side (Lou Reed)/ Play Me (Neil Diamond)/ School’s Out (Alice Cooper)/ Silver Machine (Hawkwind)/ Spoon (Can)/ Stuck In The Middle With You (Stealers Wheel)/ Summer Breeze (Seals & Croft)/ Superstition (Stevie Wonder)/ 10538 Overture (Electric Light Orchestra)/ Where Is The Love (Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway)/ Whiskey In The Jar (Thin Lizzy)/ Why Can’t We Live Together (Timmy Thomas)/ Wilkommen (Joel Grey)/ Without You (Harry Nilsson)/ You Wear It Well (Rod Stewart)

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1973

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Nixon tells world he’s ‘not a crook’; America out of Vietnam; Yom-Kippur War;
oil crisis; World Trade Center and Sydney Opera House open; Roe vs. Wade;
Dark Side Of The Moon, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Tubular Bells released

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Film:

Don’t Look Now

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Directed by: Nicholas Roeg/ Starring: Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie, Hilary Mason, Clelia Matania, Massimo Serato, Sharon Williams and Adelina Poerio/ Country: UK/ Italy/ 105 minutes/ (Psychological thriller-horror)

What George says: Haunting, disturbing, disorientating, melancholic, moving and – in one notorious scene in particular – ebulliently erotic, Don’t Look Now is a thriller-cum-horror of the highest order; complex and mature in its emotional beats and psychological turns, startling in its ability to stun, nay shock, and unforgettable in its blend of Venetian setting, perfect playing and inspired direction.

What the critics say: “A brilliant, in many ways unique, conflation of the erotic and the uncanny, with a masterly feel for images and mood that will reverberate in your mind for days. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie give performances of deeply felt humanity and sensitivity … It’s a ghost story; it’s a meditation on time, memory and the poignancy of married love. And it’s a masterpiece” ~
Peter Bradshaw

Oscar count: 0

Oscar’s Best Picture pick this year: The Sting

The public’s pick this year: The Exorcist (global box-office #1)

George’s runners-up: 2. Badlands;
3. Scener Ur Ett Äktenskap (Scenes From A Marriage);
4. The Sting; 5. Amarcord

badlands_1973 Scener_Ur_Ett_Äktenskap_1973 the_sting_1973 amarcord_1973

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And the rest: American Graffiti; The Day Of The Jackal; El Espíritu de la Colmena (Spirit Of The Beehive); The ExorcistLive And Let Die; The Long Goodbye; Mean StreetsLa Nuit Américaine (Day For Night); O Lucky Man!; Paper Moon; Papillon; Serpico

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Song:

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ~

Elton John

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Writers: Elton John and Bernie Taupin/ Released: October 1973

What George says: An outstanding standout from his incredibly productive early career, Elton’s near signature single  has stood the test of time due to its flawless combination of piano-driven pop balladry and epic ambition. It’s tumbling rather than tub-thumping, though, coated in a rich, melancholic, infectious charisma, while Bernie Taupin’s lyrics, full of the woes of lost innocence, invite the composer to display the full vocal range that his oh-so distinctive voice was once able to deliver.

What the critics say: “[A] small masterpiece of ’70s soft rock … Lyrically, [it’s] evocative of faded Hollywood glamour in the manner of Sunset Boulevard … [and it’s] a vocal triumph; although the wordless melisma that decorates the bridge between the verse and chorus melodies is straight out of The Beach Boys playbook, John makes that keening wail his own, and it’s very likely his single finest vocal moment, one that creates shivers every single time … Extravagant but not pretentious, [the song] is a pinnacle of its style” ~ Stewart Mason

Chart record: US #2/ UK #6

Recognition: Ranked #12 for 1973, #129 for the 1970s and #584 for ‘all-time’ on acclaimedmusic.net’s cumulatively ranked ‘top songs’ lists

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George’s runners-up:
2. Us And Them (Pink Floyd)/
3. Cum On Feel The Noize (Slade)/
4. Could It Be I’m Falling In Love (The Detroit Spinners)/
5. Mind Games (John Lennon)

usa_and_them_1973 cum_on_feel_the_noize_1973 could_it_be_i'm_falling_in_love_1973 mind_games_1973

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And the rest: All The Young Girls Love AliceDaniel; Funeral For A Friend/ Love Lies Bleeding; Grey SealSaturday Night’s Alright For Fighting (Elton John)/ Also Sprach Zarathustra (Deodato)/ Amoureuse (Kiki Dee)/ Angie (The Rolling Stones)/ Apple Of My Eye (Badfinger)/ The Ballroom Blitz; Block Buster! (The Sweet)/ Band On The Run; Jet; Live And Let Die; My LoveNineteen Hundred And Eighty-Five (Paul McCartney & Wings)/ Brother Louie (Hot Chocolate)/ Cindy Incidentally; Ooh La La (Faces)/ Do The Strand; Pyjamarama; Street Life (Roxy Music)/ Don’t You Worry ’Bout A Thing; Higher Ground; You Are The Sunshine Of My Life (Stevie Wonder)/ Drive-In Saturday; Sorrow (David Bowie)/ Dueling Banjos (Arthur ‘Guitar Boogie’ Smith)/ Evil (Earth, Wind & Fire)/ Eye Level (Simon Park Orchestra)/ 5.15; Love Reign O’er Me (The Who)/ Frankenstein; Free Ride (Edgar Winter Group)/ The Great Gig In The SkyMoney; Time (Pink Floyd)/ Hocus Pocus (Focus)/ I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (Wizzard)/ I Won’t Last A Day Without You; Yesterday Once More (The Carpenters)/ The Joker (The Steve Miller Band)/ Jolene (Dolly Parton)/ Jungle Boogie (Kool & the Gang)/ Killin’ Me Softly With His Song (Roberta Flack)/ Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Eric Clapton)/ La Grange (ZZ Top)/ Let’s Get It On (Marvin Gaye)/ The Love I Lost (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes)/ Merry Xmas Everybody (Slade)/ Midnight Train To Georgia (Gladys Knight & The Pips)/ The Morning After (Maureen McGovern)/ The Most Beautiful Girl (Charlie Rich)/ No More Mr. Nice Guy (Alice Cooper)/ Nutbush City Limits (Ike & Tina Turner)/ Pinball Wizard/ See Me Feel Me (The New Seekers)/ Radar Love (Golden Earring)/ Ramblin’ Man (The Allman Brothers Band)/ Reelin’ In The Years (Steely Dan)/ Ring Ring (ABBA)/ Rock On (David Essex)/ Roll Away The Stone (Mott The Hoople)/ Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple)/ Space Race (Billy Preston)/ Superstar (Bette Midler)/ Touch Me In The Morning (Diana Ross)/ Tubular Bells (Mike Oldfield)/ 20th Century Boy (T. Rex)/ Twistin’ The Night Away (Rod Stewart)

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1974

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Nixon quits before he’s impeached; Three-day-week topples Heath, Wilson back in;
Birmingham pub bombings; Pompidou dies in office; ‘Rumble in the Jungle’; Lord Lucan;
ABBA win Eurovision; India becomes nuclear power; West Germany wins home World Cup

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Film:

The Godfather Part II

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Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola/ Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Talia Shire, Michael V Gazzo, Lee Strasberg and Oreste Baldini/
Country: USA/ 200 minutes/ (Period-crime drama)

What George says: It’s hard to disagree with the oft trotted-out opinion that The Godfather Part II is one of the greatest films of all-time. It achieves all its aims with bells on, continuing the story begun in its classic predecessor by simultaneously presenting us with the contrasting narratives of the rise of Vito Corleone from street gangster to don (a sensational Robert De Niro) and the tragic, total moral fall of his son and successor Michael (Al Pacino, full of quiet power). Few movies so epic in both length and scope also boast the smarts, pacing and beats, and beauty and brilliance of Coppola’s mobster masterpiece.

What the critics say: The Godfather is a more important film, of course it is. But The Godfather Part II is a better film. It’s more ambitious, it’s more elegiac, it delves deeper into the soil of Italian-American myth … Everything that was majestic and mythic about The Godfather is more so in Part II, with scenes deliberately matching the original … So instead of constantly reminding us that the first film is better, Part II builds on its operatic sweep and cranks up the drama, both narratively and visually” ~
Andrew Collins

Oscar count: 6

Oscar’s Best Picture pick this year: The Godfather Part II

The public’s pick this year: Blazing Saddles (US box-office #1)

George’s runners-up: 2. Chinatown; 3. The Conversation; 4. Lenny; 5. Lacombe, Lucien

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And the rest: Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore; Blazing Saddles; F For Fake; Hearts And Minds; Murder On The Orient Express; The Parallax View; Thunderbolt And Lightfoot; The Towering Inferno; A Woman Under The Influence; Young Frankenstein

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Song:

Rebel Rebel ~ David Bowie

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Writer: David Bowie/ Released: February 1974

What George says: Let’s be honest, it’s all about that guitar riff, hooking us right from the beginning and irresistibly, even hypnotically pulling us through the entirety of the four minutes and 30 seconds of this Bowie masterclass in rock song composition and realisation. A genderbending anthem for the glam rock movement, Rebel Rebel was actually a swansong for Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust phase, but remains one of the most vibrant, youthfully aspirational and undeniably coolest tracks to have come out of the ’70s.

What the critics say: “When it comes on at the ‘retro’ dance party, the redneck bar or on the way home from work, you can’t help but rock out to its quintessential message: we are young, we are free, we are filled with a special kind of love our parents will never understand. It’s like [Bruce Springsteen’s] Born To Run for perverts” ~ Mallory O’Donnell

Chart record: US #64/ UK #5

Recognition:  Ranked #14 for 1974, #230 for the 1970s and #1,055 for ‘all-time’ on acclaimedmusic.net’s cumulatively ranked ‘top songs’ lists

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George’s runners-up: 2. You Are So Beautiful (Joe Cocker)/ 3. Free Bird (Lynyrd Skynyrd)/ 4. The Air That I Breathe (The Hollies)/ 5. Annie’s Song (John Denver)

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And the rest: Bad Company; Can’t Get Enough (Bad Company)/ Benny And The Jets; The Bitch Is Back; Candle In The Wind; Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me; Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Elton John)/ Cats In The Cradle (Harry Chapin)/ Diamond Dogs (David Bowie)/ The Entertainer (Marvin Hamlisch)/ EverydayFar Far Away (Slade)/ Free Man In Paris (Joni Mitchell)/ He’s Misstra Know-It-All (Stevie Wonder)/ Hooked On A Feeling (Blue Swede)/ I Won’t Last A Day Without You (The Carpenters)/ It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It) (The Rolling Stones)/ Killer Queen; Seven Seas Of Rhye (Queen)/ Kung Fu Fighting (Carl Douglas)/ Lady Marmalade (Labelle)/ Machine Gun (The Commodores)/ The Man Who Sold The WorldThe Man With The Golden Gun (Lulu)/ Mockingbird (Carly Simon and James Taylor)/ Never Can Say Goodbye (Gloria Gaynor)/ No Woman, No Cry (Bob Marley & the Wailers)/ Number 9 Dream; Whatever Gets You Thru The Night (John Lennon)/ Piano Man (Billy Joel)/ The Real Me (The Who)/ Rikki Don’t Lose That Number (Steely Dan)/ Rock The Boat (Hues Corporation)/ Rock Your Baby (George McCrae)/ She (Charles Aznavour)/ She’s Gone (Hall & Oates)/ Streets Of London (Ralph McTell)/ Summer Breeze (The Isley Brothers)/ Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)/ Takin’ Care Of Business; You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet (Bachmann-Turner Overdrive)/ This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us (Sparks)/ The Thrill Of It All (Roxy Music)/ Tiger Feet (Mud)/ TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) (MFSB)/ Upon The My-O-My (Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band)/ Waterloo (ABBA)/ We May Never Love Like This Again (Maureen McGovern)/ When Will I See You Again (The Three Degrees)/ You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything (Even Take the Dog For A Walk, Mend A Fuse, Fold Away The Ironing Board, Or Any Other Domestic Shortcomings) (Faces)/ W.O.L.D. (Harry Chapin)/ You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me (The New Seekers)

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And coming up…

George’s pick of the flicks
and top of the pops ~ 1975-79

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ November/ December 2014

November 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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Sally Ann Howes ~ Lovely Lonely Man (1968)¹

Van Morrison ~ Sweet Thing (1968)

Michael J Lewis ~ Opening Titles from The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970)

Dennis Coffey ~ Scorpio (1971)

Kiki Dee ~ Amoureuse (1973)²

The Marshall Tucker Band ~ Can’t You See (1973)

Janis Ian ~ Water Colors (1975)

Robert Palmer ~ Every Kinda People (1978)

Ferrara ~ Love Attack (1979)

Suzanne Vega ~ Tom’s Diner (1987)³

Hans Zimmer and Sandy McLelland ~ Theme from Going For Gold (1987-96) 

Deacon Blue ~ Real Gone Kid (1988)

Aztec Camera and Mick Jones ~ Good Morning Britain (1990)

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¹ From the soundtrack of the classic 1968 family fantasy movie musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, whose source novel by Bond author Ian Fleming celebrates its 50th anniversary this autumn

² The English language version of the tune released the previous year by chanteuse Véronique Sanson, which proved a huge hit in her native France

³ The alt-rock songstress’s classic effort, whose 1990 remix by the British dance group DNA many may better recognise; technology enthusiasts may also be aware that Tom’s Diner was the track used by the marvellously monikered engineer Karlheinz Brandenburg as the test subject for the digital audio  compression format MPG, ensuring the song ranks alongside other legendary ‘standard test items’ such as ‘Test Card F’ (BBC TV signal), the ‘Cornell box’ (3D computer design) and ‘Lorem ipsum’ (typography)

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The movie with the midas touch: Goldfinger’s golden anniversary

October 4, 2014

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Going for gold: to sate the growing 007 fans all around the world, Broccoli and Saltzman’s magic factory Eon Productions pulled out all the stops and verily sparked ‘Bondmamia’ with its third spy-fi fantasy epic – a precious-metal movie masterpiece that proved to be less gilt-edged, more 24-carat

On September 17 1964, at the prestigious Odeon Leicester Square cinema in London’s West End, one of the few films that can genuinely be considered an out-and-out cornerstone of post-war pop culture premiered. The film was Goldfinger. And, arguably, the world would never be the same again. Goldfinger, of course, wasn’t the first of Eon Productions’ ‘official’ Bond film series; it was the third, but owing to a wilful adoption of a somewhat lighter, more ironic, even knowingly self-parodying tone, it set the template for every 007 flick that would follow.

It also properly delivered for the first time the ‘box of delights’ offered by so many future efforts – the world-threatening plot; the grandiose larger-than-life villain; his equally larger-than-life, harder-than-nails henchman; Bond’s gadget-laden mode of transportation (the now world-famous Aston Martin DB5, of course); the totally bodacious title song; the witty puns throughout and the outrageous how-will-he-possibly-get-out-of-this? Bond-trap.

Directed by Guy Hamilton, who’d later return for three further consecutive movies (1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, ’73’s Live And Let Die and ’74’s The Man With The Golden Gun), designed by the genius that is Ken Adam (whose cathedral-like Fort Knox set was the result of letting his imagination run wild as he wasn’t allowed a look around the real US federal gold reserve) and scored by the incomparably brilliant John Barry (whom with Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse also wrote arguably maybe still the best Bond title theme, recorded by Shirley Bassey), the movie was graced with a cast including versatile German thesp Gert Fröbe as the eponymous villain Auric Goldfinger, Honor Blackman as his personal pilot Pussy ‘I must be dreaming’ Galore, Shirley Eaton as unforgettably literal ‘golden girl’ Jill Masterson, Tania Mallet as her vengeful sister Tania and Korean judo ace Harold Sakata as the fantastically formidable henchman Oddjob. Oh, and Sean Connery as James Bond, of course, in a performance seemingly more-at-ease than ever before or since.

And it would be with Goldfinger that Connery became an undisputed global superstar; in fact, in the minds of many around the world the character of 007 and the man Sean Connery became synonymous (later in the decade, he signed an autograph only for the recipient to complain it didn’t read ‘James Bond’). Such was the unadulterated anticipation for Goldfinger and Connery’s Bond in autumn ’64 that at that London premiere, the crowd pressure was so great it broke the windows of the Odeon. And the movie too did much breaking of its own – breaking box-office records, that is. In today’s money, it raked in over $1 billion; out of the 23 ‘official’ 007 movies so far, it still ranks third on the all-time (inflation-adjusted) grosser list, behind only 2012’s Skyfall and ’65’s Thunderball).

So, as the unique and still rather magnificent Goldfinger celebrates its golden anniversary this autumn (I was lucky enough to catch it on the big screen in the summer; it still looks and feels fresh as a daisy), do please, peeps, join George’s Journal as it gets in on the act, with this rare images-, videos-, facts- and quotes-boasting post. For, when back in ’64 Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman aimed for a bold change in direction for 007, they verily pulled off an Operation Grand Slam – and then some…

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Golden nugget of knowledge

It’s been said that 70-80% of the world’s population has seen Goldfinger at least once and that sales of the Aston Martin DB5 increased by 50% after its release – sadly for car-buying-punters, though, none of the vehicles sold featured the box of tricks 007’s did

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24-carat quote

You have to walk the line between absolute nonsense and seriousness and a way to cope with it is a little bit of humour~ Guy Hamilton on screenwriter Richard Maibaum’s approach to scripting Goldfinger (BAFTA/ Film4 Summer Screen interview, July 2010)

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Golden nugget of knowledge

Goldfinger was at first banned in Israel because the actor who played the titular villain (Gert Fröbe) was a registered Nazi during the Second World War; sometime later, however, it emerged he had helped hide Jewish families from the Gestapo during the war, and so, rightly, the ban was lifted

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24-carat quote

“[Co-producer] Harry [Saltzman] came from the circus; for him, Bond was a show. And [he was] always looking for something new. He popped in one day and said: ‘There’s a thing called a laser-beam, it’s fantastic; we’ve got to have it in [the film]’. I said: ‘Harry, that’s terrific – how do we use that in the picture?’. He said: ‘I don’t know, that’s your job’. [Scriptwriter] Dick Maibaum was thinking ‘the Perils of Pauline’: ‘Instead of using a circular saw [as used in the famous torture sequence as it is in the original novel], we’ll use the laser-beam’. And I said: ‘Thank you, Harry!’” ~ Guy Hamilton on how the laser-beam effect came to grace Goldfinger (BAFTA/ Film4 Summer Screen interview, July 2010)

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Golden nugget of knowledge

Future Hollywood writer-producer-director (most notably the man behind TV’s Happy Days and The Odd Couple and helmer of 1990’s Pretty Woman) Garry Marshall appears as a hood in the games room scene at Goldfinger’s Kentucky stud farm

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24-carat quote

I got into a situation where I didn’t have anywhere to live for two weeks and John [Barry] said ‘Come and live with me’… [The first night] I went to sleep and I was woken up about an hour later by the piano …. All night long he was on the piano. I thought: ‘I’m going to be here two weeks, my God, I’m never going to get any sleep!’. In the morning I got up, went down to breakfast and he was still on the piano … and [then] he said: “I’ve finished”. I asked: “What were you composing?” … He played me Goldfinger [the song] … and so I was the first person in the world to hear Goldfinger – and I heard it all night!” ~ Michael Caine on the writing of Goldfinger’s title song (John Barry Memorial Concert, Royal Albert Hall, London, June 2011)

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ October 2014

October 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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Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren ~ Bangers And Mash (1960)

Jayne Mansfield ~ Suey (1965)1

The Beach Boys ~ Good Vibrations (1966)2

Moby Grape ~ He (1968)

Joe Cocker ~ Feelin’ Alright (1969)

Barbra Streisand ~ Life On Mars (1974)

Richard Rodney Bennett ~ Overture from Murder On The Orient Express (1974)

John Lennon and Elton John ~ Whatever Gets You Thru The Night (1974)3

Violinksi ~ Clog Dance (1979)

Shuki Levy and Haim Saban ~ Theme from Pole Position (1984)

Robbie Robertson and Gil Evans ~ Main Title from The Color Of Money (1986)

Debbie Harry ~ French Kissin (In The USA) (1986)4

Diana Ross ~ If We Hold On Together (1988)5

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Digging that ace bass? That may be because it’s from then lowly session musician Jimi Hendrix on guitar – no really. This seemingly highly unlikely pairing of the electric lady and the man behind Electric Ladyland (1968) came about because, at the time, they shared the same manager; Suey is in fact the B-Side of  Mansfield’s single As The Clouds Drift By (1965), recorded at the same session and also featuring Hendrix on guitar

2 Featuring footage of California’s finest ever band recording a take of one of the greatest pop/ rock songs ever produced

3 Recorded at an Elton John concert held on November 28 (Thanksgiving Day) 1974 at Madison Square Garden, New York City – Lennon’s appearance and co-performance of the song took place as John agreed to play on the studio cut of the tune but with a caveat; should it reach #1 in the US, Lennon would make a rare public-performance-appearance at said concert. The song, of course, topped the charts and, in addition, the two also performed together the Beatles standards I Saw Her Standing There and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (which John had covered around this time). It’s also said that back-stage at this concert Lennon got back together with wife Yoko Ono after several months apart (his notorious ‘lost weekend’ episode)

4 Believe it or not, this sunny-as-a-California-summer-day UK #8 solo hit for Harry was written by Chuck Lorre, whom would later hit pay-dirt as the creator and executive producer of the sitcoms Two And A Half Men (2003-present) and The Big Bang Theory (2007-present)

5 As featured in dinosaur-cute-a-thon hit animated movie The Land Before Time (1988)

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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
Assassin
(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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