Want long life? Be Bond, sing about Bond, star with Julie Andrews, be Julie Andrews, appear with Ray Harryhausen

Roger Moore’s death was the first of a cinematic James Bond (well, excluding David Niven in the first Casino Royale) – Sean Connery, born 1930, is still with us, as is Lazenby (1939), Dalton and the rest. As far as I can  make out, Chris Cornell’s death in 2017 was only the second of a Bond theme singer after Matt Monro’s in 1985.

At 83 Julie Andrews is still with us, as are her co-stars from The Sound of Music (Christopher Plummer, born 1929) and Mary Poppins (Dick van Dyke, 1925)

Meanwhile, half of Badfinger died by suicide before their mid-40s, and another member died of a brain aneurysm in his mid-50s. Being a Beatle has had a fifty percent mortality rate, so far. None of the original the original Magnificent Seven  survive, though some at least had a good innings

Usually women live longer than men, but the male stars of the 1961 Ray Harryhausen monster movie Mysterious Island are still with us – Michael Craig aged 91 and Michael Callan aged 84 – while the female stars Joan Greenwood and Beth Rogan, the youthful sex interest of the movie, are dead, Beth Rogan dying in 2015 with home grown cannabis drying in the airing cupboard after a life of more off screen drama than on.

Sadly Todd Armstrong,  Jason in the 1963 Jason and the Argonauts , another Harryhausen feature,  also died by suicide, but the other stars have exhibited a reasonable degree of longevity – Honor Blackman (1925) (and also a Bond girl), Nancy Kovack (1935),  John Cairney (1930)Gary Raymond (1935)

What to make of all this? It is, I guess, statistically unremarkable. It would be tempting, but too much, to suggest that if you want a long life, play James Bond (or sing about him), or star with (or be) Julie Andrews, or play opposite a Ray Harryhausen beast (he himself died at 92)

And I haven’t even touched on Angela Lansbury’s survival of the astonishing murder rate of Cabot Cove.


#MondayMonsterMovie “War Of The Monsters”

What title could improve on “War Of The Monsters”?

What animated logo could beat that of American International Pictures, Inc. which opens this picture with an appropriately stern invocation of the great power of the American state? What voiceover could more directly bring the viewer in media res with its tales of the awakening of Gamera and attacked dams and stray nukes?


#AprilCountry, April 14th, Hey Good Lookin’, Tom Hiddleston

So dominant a figure is Hank Williams even now that I thought I would approach him through the prism of some of the covers of his work. To start with the one most explicitly “straight”, most earnestly trying to match the original – Tom Hiddleston from his actually quite good turn as Hank in the actually quite good – but commercial bomb – biopic “I Saw the Light” First we have a YouTube clip from the movie of Hank/Tom performing live, then the Spotify link to the track.

#ChoralMarch: March 12th, “Arise Ye Russian Peoples”, from Alexander Nevsky, Sergei Prokofiev

Is Sergei Prokofiev’s score to Alexander Nevsky, the Eistenstein tale of a heroic Russian unifier defeating a Teutonic foe which was naturally enough suitable propaganda for Stalin, the greatest soundtrack of all time? Watching the movie is somewhat unnerving, with its deChristianised orthodox steeples and evidently propagandist purpose. The soundtrack, by a composer who was one of the very very few who was an exile from the Bolsheviks to subsequently return to Stalin’s Russia and survive purges and the war (to die on the same day as Stalin, just as C S Lewis and Aldous Huxley died the day of Kennedy’s assassination which naturally overshadowed their deaths), is a superbly dramatic piece of work with atmospheric highlight after atmospheric highlight. None more so than this stirring anthem:


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