Obit: Tammy Faye Bakker, 65

The Eyes of Tammy Faye documents the life of the emotive camp icon from the time she met Jim Bakker until the fall of their ministry. DVD 468

The Eyes of Tammy Faye documents the life of the emotive camp icon from the time she met Jim Bakker until the fall of their ministry. DVD 468

Obit: Jack Palance, 87, one of the heaviest of screen heavies

It’s impossible to capture in words the menacing effect Palance was able to exude on-screen. His deepset eyes and tight angular face, even as a younger man, probably got him typecast as a villain early on but his acting made his characters indelible. He’s probably best known to today’s moviegoers for the role of Curly … Continue reading “Obit: Jack Palance, 87, one of the heaviest of screen heavies”

It’s impossible to capture in words the menacing effect Palance was able to exude on-screen. His deepset eyes and tight angular face, even as a younger man, probably got him typecast as a villain early on but his acting made his characters indelible. He’s probably best known to today’s moviegoers for the role of Curly in City Slickers (1991) and City Slickers II (1994) and for the onstage pushups he peformed in his walk to receive his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the former. The performances worth seeking out are those from his early films including Shane (DVD 300), Panic in the Streets (VHS 2459), and Attack (VHS 5404). He also gives an amusing performance as a film producer in Jean Luc Godard’s Contempt (DVD 537).

Obit: Glenn Ford, 90, star of Blackboard Jungle, Gilda, and The Big Heat

The films of Glenn Ford available in Media Services: The Big Heat DVD 758Blackboard Jungle DVD 1232Gilda DVD 1604 Ford always struck me as a likable journeyman. With a few exceptions, including his role in Gilda, he usually found himself playing easy-going sympathetic characters. Of the 85 or so films he made, only the above-mentioned … Continue reading “Obit: Glenn Ford, 90, star of Blackboard Jungle, Gilda, and The Big Heat”

The films of Glenn Ford available in Media Services:

The Big Heat DVD 758
Blackboard Jungle DVD 1232
Gilda DVD 1604

Ford always struck me as a likable journeyman. With a few exceptions, including his role in Gilda, he usually found himself playing easy-going sympathetic characters. Of the 85 or so films he made, only the above-mentioned titles, along with the yet-to-be -released-on video Human Desire, are among the few that made the cut as classic films. Ford made more than his share of westerns. Some good and many forgettable but a personal favorite worth seeking out is The Sheepman (1958 and currently out-of-release). It’s a fresh light-hearted take on the tired range war theme that had become so common in the Western genre.

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Obit: Naguib Mahfouz, 94, Egyptian Novelist

Mahfouz is the only Arab to have ever been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and was also the oldest living recipient of the award. A critic of Egyptian society and Islamic Fundamentalism, in 1994 Mahfouz, then 82, was stabbed in an assassination attempt over perceived blasphemy in his 1959 novel Children of Gebelawi. Media … Continue reading “Obit: Naguib Mahfouz, 94, Egyptian Novelist”

Mahfouz is the only Arab to have ever been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and was also the oldest living recipient of the award. A critic of Egyptian society and Islamic Fundamentalism, in 1994 Mahfouz, then 82, was stabbed in an assassination attempt over perceived blasphemy in his 1959 novel Children of Gebelawi.

Media Services has a good documentary about his life and views of society – Naguib Mahfouz: The Passage of the Century VHS 5365

Obit: Mickey Spillane, 88, creator of detective Mike Hammer, hence also the writer of film noir classic, Kiss Me Deadly

No Mickey Spillane, no Quentin Tarantino. Spillane’s writing had an edgy toughness, some might say sadism, that seemed to dovetail with the alternately explosive and nonchalant method acting of Marlon Brando, James Dean, Dennis Hopper, Lee Marvin, and Jack Nicholson to create a new anti-hero archetype. A handful of his novels were made into movies … Continue reading “Obit: Mickey Spillane, 88, creator of detective Mike Hammer, hence also the writer of film noir classic, Kiss Me Deadly”

No Mickey Spillane, no Quentin Tarantino. Spillane’s writing had an edgy toughness, some might say sadism, that seemed to dovetail with the alternately explosive and nonchalant method acting of Marlon Brando, James Dean, Dennis Hopper, Lee Marvin, and Jack Nicholson to create a new anti-hero archetype.

A handful of his novels were made into movies though only Kiss Me Deadly (Media Services DVD 1058), like Spillane himself, achieved pop icon status. There is however a much lesser known Spillane film worthy of a cult of its own, The Girl Hunters, starring Spillane himself as Mike Hammer. His acting is stiff as a board but his no-nonsense tough-guy schtick probably embodies how he intended the detective to be. No subtleties, no ambiguities, no irony. Watch for it on Turner Classic Movies where it gets aired several times a year.

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Obit: Shohei Imamura, 79, Japanese New Wave filmmaker

Imamura was one of the icons of Japanese New Wave cinema, twice winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Concentrating on gritty social issues, he frequently raised eyebrows with his work, which included a piece based on the September 11th terrorist attacks as part of the 2002 short film compilation 11’09”01 (DVD 1329). … Continue reading “Obit: Shohei Imamura, 79, Japanese New Wave filmmaker”

Imamura was one of the icons of Japanese New Wave cinema, twice winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Concentrating on gritty social issues, he frequently raised eyebrows with his work, which included a piece based on the September 11th terrorist attacks as part of the 2002 short film compilation 11’09”01 (DVD 1329). Cause of death was liver cancer.

Other Imamura films in Media Services:
The Eel DVD 438
Black Rain VHS 954

Wikipedia article on Imamura

Obit: Elma Gardner Farnsworth, 98, wife of Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television

We all owe a great debt to Philo T. Farnsworth. He’s known to many, but not most, as the true inventor of what became television. Married in 1926, Elma was at the side of Philo when he first tested the invention he had conceived seven years earlier while going back and forth plowing a field … Continue reading “Obit: Elma Gardner Farnsworth, 98, wife of Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television”

We all owe a great debt to Philo T. Farnsworth. He’s known to many, but not most, as the true inventor of what became television. Married in 1926, Elma was at the side of Philo when he first tested the invention he had conceived seven years earlier while going back and forth plowing a field on a tractor at the age of 14. Farnsworth wondered if an image could be scanned onto a screen in a similar fashion.

Though he patented his invention, RCA took it uncredited and claimed the invention as one of theirs. Years later after drawn-out court cases Farnsworth eventually got the credit due him. Though by then the RCA myth had taken hold and his contribution went largely unrecognized. Philo T. Farnsworth died in 1971 but Elma continued to fight the good fight to ensure that his name not wind up in history’s dustbin.

PBS produced an excellent profile of the inventor as part of its American Experience series, Big Dream, Small Screen (VHS 4472). Stop by Media Services and check it out.

Obit: Garrett Scott, Documentarian, 37

Garrett Scott’s most recent film Occupation: Dreamland is about the lives of army personnel fighting in Fallujah, Iraq. It is slated to air on the Sundance Channel next month.In 2002, his first film, Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story (VHS 7270), was released. This unusual film starts with the news story of Shawn Nelson, … Continue reading “Obit: Garrett Scott, Documentarian, 37”

Garrett Scott’s most recent film Occupation: Dreamland is about the lives of army personnel fighting in Fallujah, Iraq. It is slated to air on the Sundance Channel next month.
In 2002, his first film, Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story (VHS 7270), was released. This unusual film starts with the news story of Shawn Nelson, who emerged from a mineshaft dug in his backyard to seize a 60 ton tank and rampage through the streets of his San Diego neighborhood. This story segues to the larger story of a defense-industry boomtown, which flourished for decades but eventually declined leaving a desperate suburban wasteland in its wake.
Mr. Garrett suffered cardiac arrest while swimming in his local community pool in Coronado, California.

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Obit: Gordon Parks, 93

Parks, a multi-talented artist, first gained recognition as a photographer for Life Magazine, often focussing on individuals dramatically affected by living in poverty. He also directed two films of historic interest. His first feature, The Learning Tree (VHS 4291), was based on his autobiography and was among the first 25 films selected for the National … Continue reading “Obit: Gordon Parks, 93”

Parks, a multi-talented artist, first gained recognition as a photographer for Life Magazine, often focussing on individuals dramatically affected by living in poverty. He also directed two films of historic interest. His first feature, The Learning Tree (VHS 4291), was based on his autobiography and was among the first 25 films selected for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1989. His second feature, Shaft (VHS 3134), became a cultural landmark both as a pioneer of the Blaxploitation genre and for an unforgettable theme song. It too was eventually named to the National Film Registry.

Also of interest: Videos featuring interviews with Gordon Parks
I Remember Harlem, Part 3: Toward Freedom, 1940-1955 VHS 5113
Remembering Life VHS 1231
Malcolm X: Make it Plain VHS 2508
Baadassss Cinema: A bold look at 70’s Blaxploitation Films DVD 539

Obit: Dennis Weaver, 81

Most widely known for television roles on Gunsmoke, Gentle Ben, and McCloud, Weaver also delivered riveting performances in two extraordinary films. In Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil (1958, DVD 163), he is unforgettable as the quaking-in-his-boots night manager of the desert motel where Janet Leigh is being held captive by Mercedes McCambridge and her gang. … Continue reading “Obit: Dennis Weaver, 81”

Most widely known for television roles on Gunsmoke, Gentle Ben, and McCloud, Weaver also delivered riveting performances in two extraordinary films. In Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil (1958, DVD 163), he is unforgettable as the quaking-in-his-boots night manager of the desert motel where Janet Leigh is being held captive by Mercedes McCambridge and her gang. In Steven Spielberg’s Duel (1971,VHS 5256) he’s a mild-mannered business man who inadvertently provokes a psychotic truckdriver when he attempts to pass him on a stretch of highway. Duel is considered by some to be Spielberg’s true film debut. It was originally a made-for-tv movie in the US but it’s critical success earned a theatrical release overseas.
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