Life is a Highway

Life is a Highway
Source: YouTube

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Michelle Milly: Intimate Portrait Grace Kelly- The Amazing Grace Kelly

Source: Michelle Milly-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

The Amazing Grace Kelly, whom I call Grace Kelly, not just because of her first name, but because she was amazing in so many ways was a woman who didn't just look like royalty but was royalty, even though she grew up in Philadelphia. She not only looked like a princess but was the Princess of Monaco until she died in the early 1980s. But before that, she was a hell of an actress who made her mark mostly in the 1950s.

What most impresses me about Grace is her versatility as an actress.  She could play both dead serious and pretty funny in the same movie and was perfect for movies that weren't pure comedies or dramas. I believe that is one of the things that the great director Alfred Hitchcock saw in her when he hired her for films like Rear Window, playing the girlfriend of photographer Jimmy Stewart, who was confined to an apartment with a broken leg. She solved a murder case by spying from his apartment. This is not believable but the movie is very well done.

Another one of my favorite movies starring Grace would be another Hitchcock movie, To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant, which takes place on the French Mediterranean, in which she plays the daughter of a very wealthy woman. Vacationing in France with a lot of expensive jewelry at the high point of a cat burglar's activities, she suspects that Cary Grant, the retired cat burglar, stole her mother's and others' jewelry, but in the end falls in love with him nonetheless.

With Grace Kelly, you are talking about a sexy actress who always looked like she never completely grew up, similar to Marilyn Monroe or Barbara Eden. But she was a real lady and a great actress who again had the versatility and timing that few actresses ever acquired.   She was similar to Elizabeth Taylor or Lauren Bacall, which is what made her unique.  She is still missed today.
Michelle Milly: The Princess of Monaco

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Nevada Kubrick: The Candidate 1972- The Jarman-McKay Debate

Source: Nevada Kubrick-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

Even with Bill McKay's wishy-washy answer to the first question in this debate, this is still my favorite scene in a great movie about the classic underdog Bill McKay, played by Robert Redford against classic establishment incumbent Crocker Jarman, played by Don Porter. One candidate, Bill McKay, except for school busing and abortion, two critical issues where he essentially dodged the questions, says what he thinks. The incumbent, Crocker Jarman, gave classic sound-bite answers allowing no insight into his philosophy.
Nevada Kubrick: The Candidate 1972- The Jarman-McKay Debate

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Warner Brothers: The Candidate 1972- Starring Robert Redford

Source: Warner Brothers-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat

I love the movie The Candidate for several reasons.  Perhaps the main one is that it has given me an idea for a book about an anti-establishment liberal candidate or perhaps a John McCain Conservative Republican. They face each other in the general election with the anti-establishment candidate  beating the establishment, talking point, sound-bite, candidate who always plays it safe in hopes of offending the fewest.

The Candidate is a movie about a little guy running against  big time politicians and the big time political establishment in the Democratic Party. He's Bill MacKay, played by Robert Redford, running against his own party and against Mr. Establishment,  U.S. Senator Crocker Jarman played by Don Porter. McKay's campaign manager played by Peter Boyle is part of that Democratic establishment but wants to run an outsiders campaign without allowing the outsider MacKay to get too far out in left field. You see these two men fighting  against each other in the campaign.

The outsider Bill MacKay runs his campaign based  on his beliefs.  He gives voters a  good idea of who he is and speaks his mind.  He probably doesn't use a speechwriter for the whole campaign.  His opponent, three-term incumbent U.S. Senator Crocker Jarman just tries to be likable expressing traditional America values, speaking mostly to older voters.  He says you should reelect me because I stand up for America etc.
Warner Brothers: The Candidate 1972- Theatrical Trailer

Friday, 21 February 2014

Belle Zonder Hetbeest: Video: Jonestown Nightmare in Paradise

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

To understand Jonestown, you first have to know about the People's Temple, which started out in downtown San Francisco, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and in a many ways an actual paradise, which is where a lot of members of Jonestown were from or at least were living before they moved to Guyana in South America in the early to mid-1970s to build what became Jonestown, which at the end of the day was not much more than a prison camp.

The People's Temple in San Francisco was put together by a Socialist Christian, the Reverend Jim Jones, who moved his organization from Indianapolis, Indiana, where it was unwelcome because his group was a biracial multi-ethnic church. Far-right religious conservative Indiana in the 1960s and early 1970s did not accept non-Caucasians and people who didn't believe in their American way of life, whatever the hell that was supposed to be, so the group moved to San Francisco, which was seen as progressive or socialist, and sufficiently tolerant to allow them to build their community.

I think this is where the paranoia of Jim Jones comes in, because San Francisco, for whatever reasons, was not not acceptable for what he wanted, which was to build a community and an organization, where people literally took care of each other and lived off each other in a socialist communitarian Christian way of life, real Christianity if you will, and not the religious-right silliness that is more common in America.

The People's Temple in San Francisco comprised American outsiders of all races and ethnicities, including Jim Jones himself, people who couldn't make it in America for all sorts of reasons, including drug addiction, who were looking for something that would give their lives meaning.  They wanted to make a difference or hoped to make the world better. These were the people who made the People's Temple run and did much of the work.

If you take Jim Jones out of the picture here and replace him with someone like Dr. Martin King or Dr. Andrew Young or Reverend Jesse Jackson, or even Dr. James Dobson, a leader of the Christian Right, the People's Temple, I believe, is still in business today because it had the strong moral leadership of people only interested in serving the then under-served and would have the financial backing to be in business today.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Belle Zonder Hetbeest: Video: Jonestown: Life and Death of The People's Temple

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

Forget about the Manson Crime Family when it comes to cults, because at the end of the day, the Manson Family was a family of criminals but Jonestown was a cult that ended horribly with several hundred people, if not more, murdered by their leader, a paranoid dictator/terrorist, Jim Jones. This was a real cult, a group of Americans lost inside the United States, the country of their birth, looking for a new concept that would make their lives worth living.

With regard to the paranoid evil aspects of Jim Jones, someone strong enough mentally and physically could have taken on Reverend Jones and said "enough is enough," for lack of a better phrase. "What you are doing is wrong and we should not be a concentration camp in Guyana, but instead a socialist communitarian community of people living and working together to make a good life for ourselves and our families. Jonestown could probably still be in business today and thriving because, with another philosophy, it would have had the structure needed to be successful.

The People's Temple and Jonestown had the vision and the people to be successful, but they lacked the necessary leadership to succeed as a community of people who would care for each other, where no one would go hungry and live in poverty or be a prisoner of addiction, and who would have the basic health care needed to be successful. They would have been able to produce what they needed to live well in Guyana.


Monday, 17 February 2014

Dame Elizabeth Taylor: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966- Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton Star

Source: Dame Elizabeth Taylor-
Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat 

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf with the great Taylor/Burton combo is supposed to be a drama but  I always laugh throughout this movie, which I've seen now four or five times and saw again over the weekend. I've been thinking about this movie a lot for some reason but for me this movie turns into a 2-hour comedy that is so great that Turner Classic Movies with Robert Osborne did a special about it about a year and a half ago and brought in actress Ellen Barkin to give an expert analysis of it.

If you are not that familiar with this movie perhaps you are very young, with not much respect for movies that weren't made in this century, which I'm afraid is very common among the younger generations. Think of Married With Children or The Honeymooners from  the 1950s, which are about married people who seem to love each other but can't go very long without pissing the other off and spend a lot of the marriage beating the hell out of each other verbally.

Virginia Woolf is one long argument between a couple, George and Martha, who have lost their son (fantasy perhaps?), with the mother especially not ready to accept this reality and not quite there mentally and taking out her anger on her husband, who is the father of their son.  He is having issues with his wife about why their son is no longer there, and they go through these issues as they are entertaining guests.  The man is in direct competition with George to the next professor at their school, yet they do not know each other very well.

I laugh through most of this movie because the shots that they take at each other are dead on because they know each other so well.  The sarcasm is so direct and on target, and even though they are supposed to be entertaining guests, they can't stay out of each other's way for most of the movie and even bring their guests into the never-ending argument about what happened to their son and why he is no longer with them.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966 Trailer

Friday, 14 February 2014

30 For 30: Video: Straight Outta LA: The Story of the Los Angeles Raiders

This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger

The truth is that had Al Davis and his team marketed his Raiders franchise in Los Angeles as the Dodgers and Lakers are marketed in Los Angeles, the Raiders would probably still be in LA today. Instead Mr. Davis believed that people would automatically just show up to see a good football team every week. The fan interest would have been there and the crowds would have been there and there would have been enough interest for Los Angeles to give the Raiders franchise what it needed to be successful in Los Angeles, whether that was new renovations to the LA Memorial Coliseum or a new stadium altogether.

When I think of the Los Angeles Raiders who were in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994 before moving back to Oakland, I think of both good and bad and probably more bad then good actually, as my first paragraph, I believe, points out, but to be positive and factual, the LA Raiders were very good in the 1980s. They won two Super Bowls in 1980 and 1983 and probably should have won a couple more in 1982 and 1984, but the 1983 Raiders were one of the best and most dominant Super Bowl champions of all time.

But the story doesn't end there, because again, they were there from 1982 to 1994 and are not still there today. Also there's a lot of what could have been, had Al Davis basically not ruined running back Marcus Allen's career and not cost him at least 4 to 6 years.  Marcus was the best all-around running back of his era, at least post Walter Payton, and the mistake of Al Davis telling his coaching staff not to play Marcus because he believed Marcus became bigger than the Raiders franchise itself.

But instead they traded for running back Bo Jackson because of baseball. He was never more than a part-time player for the Raiders and only played four seasons because of the hip injury. Instead of trading for Bo, they should have invested the money into getting a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback to take over for Jim Plunkett or again trade for Bo but not reduce the role of Marcus in the backfield. They should have gone to a two-back full-time set and become a run-oriented football team with Marcus and Bo and 2,000 yard rushers year after year on the same team. How much better would their vertical spread passing game had been with that running game.

To sum up, the Los Angeles Raiders were a team of underachievers, not just some of the players but the franchise as a whole, and again we are talking about a two-time Super Bowl champion franchise, but they could have done so much more and should have been the team of the NFL of the 1980s to take over for the Pittsburgh Steelers from the 1970s because of the talent they had, the market they played in, and the man at the top in Al Davis.