Sunday, 26 August 2012

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

This brilliant Steve Martin comedy was released in 1982.  The movie is a parody of a film noir and pulp detective movie of the 1940's.  It was directed by Carl Reiner, who was also involved in the equally brilliant The man With Two Brains (from 1983) and The Jerk (from 1979). 

Steve Martin took the lead role as Rigby Reardon, a private investigator, who is hired by Juliet (played by Rachel Ward - who also starred in The Thorn Birds) to investigate the death of her father (played by George Gaynes...yep Commandant Lassard from Police Academy!).

The movie goes in all kinds of directions, royally parodying this type of movie, and the really clever thing is the way they incorporate a ton of old black and white movie footage with the black and white modern work, and incorporating the acting talents of 18 stars including James Cagney, Humprey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

It's actually a really hard movie to describe plot-wise, but one things for certain, this makes you ache for the days when Steve Martin could do no wrong and was a genuinely funny and innovative performer.  He plays a really mean Banjo these days, but really, when was his last good movie?

This hopefully reminds you though of the days when he was just brilliant.

The movie was scored by Miklós Rózsa, his last movie.


Finally, a collection of the funniest scenes.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

My Girl Lollopop (My Boy Lollipop) by Bad Manners

This fun cover version of a classic 1950's song was released by the band Bad Manners in July 1982.  It was renamed My Girl Lollipop.  The original song has been credited to Barbie Gaye as the first artist to record the song.  Robert Spencer of the Doo wop group The Cadillacs write the song.  Millie Small had the most popular version in 1964.

Bad Manners were a 2 Tone Ska band and were really successful in the early 80's, clocking up 111 weeks in the charts in the period 1980-83.  This was a magical era for this type of music, with Madness, The Specials, The Beat and other bands all having great success with this type of music. 

Bad Manners are best known for their amazing frontman, Buster Bloodvessel, real name Douglas Trendle, who was an amazing sight to behold.  he was a pretty large guy, was bald (at a time when people were not!), had a disposition for sticking his tongue out and I recall wore a lot of dungarees (younger folks might need to look up what these are!).  He was energetic to say the least but it really fit in with the anarchic and energetic sound.  They were a firm TV favourite on Tiswas, Top Of The Pops, well at least until they got banned from the latter due to Buster's antics!

The band had been around since 1976 and, after a couple of hiccups, are back touring again.

The single reached number 9 in the UK charts.  Still a great song!

Here is a great live version.  They look great fun live!

And finally, here is that Millie Small song from 1964.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Yosser Hughes (Boys From The Blackstuff)

Wow, such a delay - holidays - sorry!!

I was watching Lord of the Rings today (The Two Towers) and, watching Bernard Hill playing King Theodin reminded me that first prominent role was  starring in this seminal early 80's TV drama. This 5 episode series was written by the well known Liverpudlian writer Alan Bleasdale and was set in Liverpool.  It followed the lives of 5 unemployed men and each episode featured a story about an individual character.

The series was developed from a 1978 play for television called The Black Stuff (the men had a tarmac laying job at that time).  to set this in context, in the early 80's in Liverpool, this was an era of high unemployment and a certain degree too of lawlessness (whether deserved, this has been a Liverpudlian trait portrayed a lot on TV).  Quite simply, a lot of men were unemployed as the former large employers such as coal mines and large car manufacturers stopped production.

The series starred Bernard Hill, Michael Angelis, Alan Igbon, Peter Kerrigan and Tom Georgeson, most of them well known actors on British TV at the time.  It also launched the career of Julie Walters, later to star in Educating Rita in 1983.

The most well remembered story of the series was Yosser's Story, named after Bernard Hill's character Yosser Hughes, as he faces losing his children due to his mental instability and violent reactions to his problems. 

The two most well known aspects of Yosser's character, were,

1. Headbutting people who he disagreed with

2. Him saying "Gis a job".

For non (UK) English readers, Gis a Job was him saying Give me a job.  It really was tragic as it seemed clear that his mental instability was due to him not having a job in order to provide for his children.  All he wanted was a job and was absolutely desparate.

This famous scene features the classic "I'm Desperate, Dan" as Yosser goes to confession.

Asa you can see, the famous "Kirby Kiss" has been passed on to Yosser's Young Daughter as the Social Services take his children away.

The episode also starred famous Liverpool FC players Graeme Souness and Sammy Lee.  This is a brilliant scene.  Graeme Souness was a hard man of football but even he was worried about being sat next to Yosser.

Finally, Yosser's famous "Gis a job" catchphrase became so popular (because it expressed a common feeling at the time) a 7 inch single was released!

In the UK at least, the whole series is on YouTube.  If you want to check out what a desperate place England was in the very early 80's, this is a good place to start.