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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lawrence of Arabia Motorcycle Crash, May 18, 1935

On May 19, 1935, T.E. Lawrence, an avid biker who favored Brough Superior bikes, died in a motorcycle accident near his cottage in Dorset. He was just 46 years old, and he died as he swerved to avoid hitting 2 boys on bicycles, lost control and went over the handlebars. Check out this newsreel, with some brief footage of T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. (ed. note - oddly enough, I was also in a bad motorcycle accident as a 46 year old, trying to avoid a young kid who was making an illegal left turn on a side street into oncoming traffic... me :~) And thankfully, I didn't die, but it was really close. And years before that, I wrote a song called funky motorcycle(mp3 download) produced by Frank Random in my garage circa 1995.)

If you'd like to learn more about T.E. Lawrence, check out wikipedia's extensive entry, or better still, read one of his books, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. This book was edited by his friend, George Bernard Shaw. And David Lean's movie, Lawrence of Arabia is a great film, sorry - an amazing film, one of the best but not the best source to learn about the man.

Also of note today, May 19 - a young girl named Janet Gaynor cleaned up on the first Oscar night, winning three Academy Awards in one evening, for her role in A Star is Born.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Frank Sinatra Movie

How cool! Martin Scorsese is planning on directing a new movie about one of Hollywood's greatest stars - Frank Sinatra. And in a rare twist - it seems this film has gotten the okay from the Sinatra Estate as Tina Sinatra, Frank's youngest daughter (not to be confused with Nancy, these boots were made for Walking, Sinatra) will be an executive producer on the project. Now - who will play old blue eyes? hmmm. Tough shoes to fill there buddy.

So - why not get ready for the new movie by checking out some timeless classics starring Frank Sinatra. My personal favorite is The Man with the Golden Arm starring Kim Novak and Eleanor Parker. In addition to a killer sound track by Elmer Bernstein, you get Arnold Stang in a classic role as Frankie Machine's sidekick. Another awesome Sinatra movie is Suddenly - where Frank plays a would be assassin looking to kill the President in a quiet little town called Suddenly. Great film! Need more? got it. Check out a TV special starring Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis jr. and others saying hello to Elvis Presley as he returns home from the US army, sponsored by Timex, the watches that can take a licking and keep on ticking in ye olde John Cameron Swayze days. Also recommended highly - Till the Clouds Roll By, a movie tribute to the great composer Jerome Kern that features a ton of amazing artists including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Lena Horne.

And there's more video clips too in addition to the Frank Sinatra movies. Just search for Frank Sinatra and check it out if you are a Sinatra fan like we are.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Slaughterhouse 5

Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 is one of my favorite movies, and one of those rare movies that actually does a pretty decent job of doing justice to a great book. And considering what a big Vonnegut fan I am, and always have been - that's saying something. Let's face it - this is one really weird story, with time tripping travels, aliens, and life choices that happen the same way, like a an old vinyl album that keeps playing the great music you never grow tired of. I think I have seen this movie maybe 5 or 6 times, and you know what... i am really looking forward o watching it again.

Michael Sacks plays the lead character Billy Pilgrim, a guy who is as normal and non hollywood as it gets. He played a new more roles in movies, but for the most part, he will always be remembered as Billy Pilgrim, and he does an amazing job in the role. There are a few noteworthy actors including Holly Near who plays Barbara Pilgrim and Valerie Perrine as Montana Wildhack, but for the most part - there are no great stars in this movie, which actually makes it better because you are not distracted by their star quality. These are just normal folks stuck in an extraordinary story. Being an old coot - I always have a laugh about Eugene Roche who plays Edgar Derby. You see, as a kid - Eugene Roche was a recurring character on a bunch of commercials, most memorable for me as the guy on the Ajax Cleanser commercials. So, in his case - I was a little distracted. ahaha.

But if you a fan of weird movies like me, in the same vein as The Big Lebowski, or Slingblade, or Best in Show - you will just love Slaughterhouse 5. The film is directed by George Roy Hill, and the Vonnegut novel was adapted into a screenplay by Stephen Geller. Enough of the blah, blah blah... go watch the movie.

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