“These are not the soldiers you are looking for” The Jedi in WWII

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This blog is about 2 men of whom you could say “They just don’t make them like that anymore” Both Christopher Lee and Sir Alec Guinness were formidable actors and both served in WWII.

Christopher Lee

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Famous for so many iconic roles like Dracula, Count Dooku in Star Wars prequels  and Saruman in The Lord of the Rings. And lets not forget Christopher Lee was also an accomplished Heavy Metal performer and recording artist. However he showed his true grit in WWII.

In an interview with the Independent he said “When the Second World War finished I was 23 and already I had seen enough horror to last me a lifetime,”

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When the Second World War broke out, Lee volunteered to fight for the Finnish forces during the Winter War in 1939.He and other British volunteers were kept away from actual fighting, but they were issued winter gear and were posted on guard duty a safe distance from the front line.

Christopher Lee enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1940, where he worked as an intelligence officer specializing in cracking German ciphers . In North Africa he was attached to the Long Range Desert Patrol, the forerunner of the SAS,

As an intelligence officer attached to No. 260 Squadron RAF, he reportedly prevented a small mutiny after troops – frustrated and lacking news from the eastern front – threatened to break ranks.

For a while he was assigned to the Long Range Desert Group.

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For the final few months of his service, Lee, who spoke fluent French and German, among other languages, was seconded to the Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects Here, he was tasked with helping to track down Nazi war criminals.Of his time with the organisation, Lee said: “We were given dossiers of what they’d done and told to find them, interrogate them as much as we could and hand them over to the appropriate authority … We saw these concentration camps. Some had been cleaned up. Some had not.” He retired from the RAF in 1946 with the rank of flight lieutenant, and later again Jedi Master and Sith Lord.

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Sir Alec Guinness

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Sir Alec Guinness(center row third from right in the picture above) was one of the most versatile actors of all time. His genres included comedy,drama and science fiction. Probably most known for his portrayal as Ben Kenobi aka Obi Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars Trilogy.

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The Bridge on the River Kwai is one of my favourite WWII movies, actually one of my favourite movies overall and it is mainly because of Alec Guinness’s convincing portrayal of Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson that makes the movie so compelling.

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Alec Guinness de Cuffe was born to mother Agnes Cuff and an unknown father in Britain in 1914.

Guinness served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in the Second World War,download initially as a seaman in 1941, before receiving a commission as a Temporary Sub-lieutenant on 30 April 1942 and a promotion to Temporary Lieutenant the following year.[Guinness then commanded a landing craft at the Allied invasion of Sicily, he aslo saw action in the , the invasion of Elbe,and Normandy and later ferried supplies and agents to the Yugoslav partisans in the eastern Mediterranean theatre.

During the war, he was granted leave to appear in the Broadway production Flare Path, which was a play about the RAF Bomber Command.

 

Two heroes on and off screen.

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Movie sequels that never should have been made.

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I am not going to say that every movie sequel is bad, because there are some good ones out there. However in general most sequels are really money making vehicles especially when they are following a very successful movie.

I could easily fill this page with hundreds of bad sequels but I am limiting it to 3. Three sequels of iconic movies, you may not even know they were made.

Grease 2

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I believe only 2 people actually saw this movie, I am one of them I would like to know who the other person was. It was just an awful movie, no redeeming features whatsoever.

What made it so shocking for me is that I am a massive Grease fan I had high hopes for this sequel. It was made in 1982.

The movie was set again at Rydell High but the in the year 1961.

The plot

Michael Carrington is the new kid in school.An English student considered a nerdy brainiac who  has to prove himself to the leader of a girls’ gang whose members can only date greasers, the Pink ladies,lead by  Stephanie, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.

It got 4.2 out of 10 on IMDB

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Staying Alive

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Another classic 70s movies destroyed by its sequel. The original of course being “Saturday Night Fever”

This time at least they stuck with the same character and actor,John Travolta, but that didn’t make the movie any better. In fact the opposite was true.

The Plot

In this sequel to Saturday Night Fever, former disco king Tony Manero has left Brooklyn and lives in Manhattan. He stays in a cheap hotel and works as a dance instructor and as a waiter at a dance club, trying to succeed as a professional dancer on Broadway.

It got 4.5 out of 10 on IMDB

Well it was directed by Sylvester Stallone

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Exorcist II: The Heretic

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The original “The Exorcist” I still consider the scariest movie ever made.

I remember watching it for the 1st time. I created the perfect atmosphere, I had darkened my room so I would focus only on the screen. While I was watching the movie I didn’t affect me at all, however when I tried to go to sleep afterwards, I couldn’t. In fact I stayed awake for 3 nights.

Needless to say I had high hopes for the sequel which was made in 1977, 4 years after the original. I only saw both movies many years afterwards.

The sequel had the opposite affect on me, it put me to sleep within 10 minutes, because it was just so boring.

The Plot

A teenage girl once possessed by a demon finds that it still lurks within her. Meanwhile, a priest investigates the death of the girl’s exorcist.

It got 3.7 out of 10 on IMDB

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The humour of Laurel and Hardy

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Today is the 53 rd anniversary of the passing away of Stan Laurel, time to look back at some of the wonderful and funny moments he and his ‘Partner in Crime’ delivered for our entertainment.

The power of the humour of Laurel and Hardy is that it did not date, it is still as fresh today as it was then.

Here are just some of their classic lines, very dry but very funny.

From ‘Another Fine Mess’

Ollie “Call me a Cab” Stan “Huh” Ollie “Call me a Cab” Stan “You’re a Cab”

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From Sons of the Desert

Ollie: You’d better take my temperature….. get that thermometer.
Stan: The what?
Ollie: Thermometer! You’ll find it on the shelf.
(Stan places the thermometer into Ollie’s mouth and starts to take his pulse)
Ollie: What does it say?
Stan: Wet and windy.

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From Way out West.

Lady “What did he die off” Stan ” I think he died of a Tuesday”

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From Brats

Stan “You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be led.”

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Corporal Mel Brooks

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“I was a Combat Engineer. Isn’t that ridiculous? The two things I hate most in the world are combat and engineering.” — Mel Brooks

By far one of the funniest people on earth,Mel Brooks, born Melvin Kaminsky in Brooklyn in 1926.

I won’t go into his life as Comedian,Director.Actor,Producer and Singer because I’d be here forever. In this blog my focus is on his role in WWII.

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Mel Brooks was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926 as Melvin Kaminsky to Jewish parents from Germany and Ukraine. Brooks lost his father when he was two years old, and in retrospect, reflects on that event as the genesis for his farcical comedy style: “I’m sure a lot of my comedy is based on anger and hostility. Growing up in Williamsburg, I learned to clothe it in comedy to spare myself problems – like a punch in the face.”

Before he could complete his degree in psychology from Brooklyn College, Brooks was drafted into the Army to fight during World War II. He served as a corporal in the 1104 Engineer Combat Battalion, 78th Infantry Division as a combat engineer.The 1104th had been activated in March 1943 and landed in Normandy on 11 June 1944. It advanced with the Allied forces through France, Belgium, and the Netherlands and entered German downloadOne of his tasks during the war was to defuse land mines, and he also fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

It has been reported that when the Germans played propaganda recordings over loudspeakers, Brooks responded by setting up his own sound system and played music by Al Jolson, a Jewish musician.

I would have loved to see the reaction of the Nazis as the music of Al Jolson was blaring away. I don’t know what songs Mel Brooks picked to play but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was “The Jazz Singer” a double whammy a Jewish singer singing the music Hitler hated most.

Even at war he had a sense of humour. Mel Brooks a Hero in the truest sense of the word. They just don’t make them like that anymore.

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Recasting Movies-What if?

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I have never made a movie but I am a movie buff. It is hard to cast movies, not every actor is suited to every movie.

I do have a theory of ‘ Stand-by’ actors which is purely and solely based on my own imagination, what I mean whit ‘stand-by’ actors is , when a studio doesn’t get the actor they want for a movie or if their budget isn’t big enough to hire a big movie star, they hire an actor that looks like the star. For example, I have seen movies which I thought were suited for Nick Nolte, but Gary Busey was cast instead,

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Another example would be Mel Gibson and Aidan Quinn.

But again this is purely my own theory there is no back up for this.

Recently I came across some movie posters of classic and more modern movies with a completely new cast on them. I don’t know who made the posters but they are fantastic and it make you wonder, if you could back in time and shoot a movie who would you pick to play in it. What if you could remake a movie with a different cast, would it work?

Hell Boy with Sly Stallone

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Scanners with Frank Sinatra

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A new(old) ensemble cast for Watchmen

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Blade Runner with Bogart and Brando

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Not David Bowie but Jimi Hendrix in Labyrinth

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Dean Martin, Jack Lemon and Jerry Lewis in The Hangover.

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Where eagles dare- The story of Ingrid Pitt aka Heidi

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I don’t know how often I have watched this movie but it is one of my favourite war movies.It is funny though that you never really know anything about the real lives of actors or actresses. You may know something about the big stars in movies, but when it comes to the people who play the smaller parts, you just know nothing about them.

Ingrid Pitt (born Ingoushka Petrov) survived World War II and became a well-known actress on the East Berlin stage, however, she did not appear on screen until well into her twenties.

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Ingoushka Petrov was born in Warsaw, Poland, to a German father of Russian descent and a Polish Jewish mother.During World War II, she and her family were imprisoned in Stutthof concentration camp in Sztutowo, Free City of Danzignow present-day Nowy Dwór Gdański County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland.

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She survived, and in Berlin, in the 1950s, married American soldier, Laud Roland Pitt Jr. and moved to California. After her marriage failed, she returned to Europe, but after a small role in a film, she took the shortened, stage name, “Ingrid Pitt” and headed to Hollywood, where she worked as a waitress while trying to make a career in films.

In the early 1960s, Pitt was a member of the prestigious Berliner Ensemble, under the guidance of Bertolt Brecht’s widow Helene Weigel. In 1965, she made her film debut in Doctor Zhivago, playing a minor role. In 1968, she co-starred in the low-budget science-fiction film The Omegans, and in the same year, played British spy, Heidi Schmidt in Where Eagles Dare opposite Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood.

But she was best known as Hammer Films’ most seductive female vampire ,Countess Dracula, of the early 1970s, the Polish-born Pitt possessed dark, alluring features and a sexy figure that made her just right for Gothic horror.

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She also played in “The Wicker Man” and several episodes of “Dr Who”But I will always remember her as Heidi Schmidt in “Where Eagles Dare”

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In Old Arizona- The innovative movie that nearly didn’t get made due to a Jackrabbit.

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In Old Arizona is a 1928 American Western film directed by Irving Cummings and Raoul Walsh, nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film, which was based on the character of the Cisco Kid in the story “The Caballero’s Way” by O. Henry, was a major innovation in Hollywood. It was the first major Western to use the new technology of sound and the first talkie to be filmed outdoors. It made extensive use of authentic locations, filming in Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park in Utah, and the Mission San Juan Capistrano and the Mojave Desert in California. The film premiered in Los Angeles on December 25, 1928 and went into general release on January 20, 1929.

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Raoul Walsh was cast as the Cisco Kid, as well as being the director; but during a return drive to Los Angeles from Utah, a jackrabbit jumped through the windshield of Walsh’s car, with both the rabbit and the broken glass hitting Walsh in the face. (Safety glass was added to cars the following year.) The damage to Walsh’s right eye necessitated replacing him in the lead role, re-writing the script and re-shooting some scenes with a different director while Walsh recuperated; Walsh thereafter wore the eye patch for which he was known, and eventually lost the eye entirely. Some footage of Walsh, in chase scenes and long shots, remains in the film.

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In Old Arizona contributed to creating the image of the singing cowboy, as its star, Warner Baxter, does some incidental singing. Baxter went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.

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Other nominations included Best Director for Irving Cummings, Best Writing for Tom Barry, Best Cinematography for Arthur Edeson, and Best Picture.

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Carole Lombard-the death of a Legend

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On January 16 in 1942, the actress Carole Lombard, famous for her roles in such screwball comedies as My Man Godfrey and To Be or Not to Be, and for her marriage to the actor Clark Gable, is killed when the TWA DC-3 plane she is traveling in crashes en route from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. She was 33.

When the U.S. entered World War II at the end of 1941, Lombard traveled to her home state of Indiana for a war bond rally with her mother, Bess Peters, and Clark Gable’s press agent, Otto Winkler. Lombard was able to raise over $2 million in defense bonds in a single evening.

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Her party had initially been scheduled to return to Los Angeles by train, but Lombard was anxious to reach home more quickly and wanted to fly by a scheduled airline. Her mother and Winkler were both afraid of flying and insisted they follow their original travel plans. Lombard suggested they flip a coin; they agreed and Lombard won the toss.

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In the early morning hours of January 16, 1942, Lombard, her mother, and Winkler boarded a Transcontinental and Western Air Douglas DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) aircraft to return to California.

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After refueling in Las Vegas, TWA Flight 3 took off at 7:07 p.m. and around 13 minutes later, crashed into “Double Up Peak” near the 8,300-foot (2,530 m) level of Potosi Mountain, 32 statute miles (51 km) southwest of Las Vegas. All 22 aboard, Lombard and her mother included, plus fifteen army servicemen, were killed instantly.

Warning beacons that might have helped guide the pilot had been blacked out because of fears about Japanese bombers, and the plane smashed into a cliff near the top of Potosi Mountain. Search parties were able to retrieve Lombard’s body, and she was buried next to her mother at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California, under a marker that read “Carole Lombard Gable.”

Hysterical with grief and adrift in the empty house he had shared with Lombard, Gable drank heavily and struggled to complete his work on Somewhere I’ll Find You. He was comforted by worried friends, including the actress Joan Crawford. That August, Gable decided to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Forces.

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He spent most of the war in the United Kingdom, and flew several combat missions (including one to Germany), earning several decorations for his efforts. He would remarry twice more, but when he died in 1960 Gable was interred at Forest Lawn, next to Lombard.

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Paul Newman Race driver

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Paul Newman is one of my all time favourite actors. You sometimes here people say “They just don’t make ’em like that anymore” this definitely applies to Paul Newman.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is still one of my favourite movies(even despite that bizarre bicycle scene)

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But Paul Newman was so much more then just an actor aside from entrepreneur, philanthropist he was also an accomplished race driver.

From the 1970s onward, Newman became a driver for the Bob Sharp Racing Team, and was even inducted into the Sports Car Club of America Hall of Fame.

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Despite being colorblind, Newman won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing, and his race teams won several championships in open-wheel IndyCar racing.

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Newman began racing cars in 1972, three years after completing the movie “Winning,” in which his character, Frank Capua, was a struggling race car driver who turned his career around by winning the Indianapolis 500.

The movie’s subplot involved a three-way love triangle between Capua, his wife Elora (played by Newman’s real-life spouse Joanne Woodward, whom he married in 1958) and rival Luther Erding, portrayed by Robert Wagner.The film grossed about $14 million. But what it did for Newsman’s second career was priceless

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Newman’s greatest accomplishment as a driver was a second-place finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in ’79, driving a Porsche 935. He remained active in endurance racing, making his last start at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in 2006 at the age of 81.

Newman was posthumously inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame at the national convention in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 21, 2009.

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Smoke gets in your eyes

Children from the past.

I never smoked, really only because I did not see the fascination of spending an enormous amount of money to see something go up in smoke.

However most of my family were or still are smokers and I do feel sorry for smokers. I do think they get a bad press. Yes, smoking is bad for you but what chance did the smokers have with so many people making it look cool.

If I was a smoker I don’t think I could have resisted the temptation. Here are just some historical pictures of people,mostly famous, who made smoking look cool.

Tippi Hedren, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, with a tame Raven shown helping her indulge a bad habit.

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Young Drew Barrymore

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Models learning proper cigarette smoking technique in practice for TV ad. 1953

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Jack Nicholson & Sean Penn

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Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, Mogambo, 1953

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I mean Steve McQueen on a bike smoking a cigarette, how cool is that. Yes I know it’s bad and can kill you but with images like that what chance does a smoker have.

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This is the Marilyn Monroe pic that obviously inspired Lana Del Rey.

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Michael Caine and Natalie Wood

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Humphrey Bogart Lauren Bacall.

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I do not want to trivialize the dangers of smoking because the dangers are real, but too often smokers and particularly smokers of an older generation are being preached to, where they should be educated.

They grew up in an era where smoking was perceived to be cool as per their screen idols, and I do feel sorry for them because often this is the last vice they may have and they are being crucified for it.