Saturday, 30 March 2013

Dracula A.D. 1972

Published in 1972 by the New English Library, the 'DRACULA ANNUAL' is a thing of exquisite beauty. I'm told that NEL took the remaining stocks of their 'Dracula' magazine (published in the same year, and running for 12 issues), bound them together, and released them in this hardback format.

This book is a heavyweight 240 pages of full colour comic strips, featuring cosmic European psychedelia, wigged-out swords and sorcery, deranged gothic nightmares, and a wealth of disturbing standalone tales.
My copy is kept well guarded, and is treated as a visual spell-book; useful in emergencies, and any time my psychic batteries need a swift recharge.
Inside the front cover is the name 'Sarah Smith', written in pencil. I'd love to know who she is/ was, and why she let this magnificent book escape into the night..

Marxist Folk

Friday, 29 March 2013

It Always Rains On Sundays

‘It Always Rains On Sunday’ is a brilliant piece of work, a masterpiece of complex narrative in the social-realist style. It’s also dark, a real Brit Noir, shot through with quiet desperation that gradually grows into suicidal despair.

Set on March 23rd, 1947 in Bethnal Green, London, the films main narrative is about Rose Sandigate, a former barmaid now married to a man who is ‘decent’ to her, stepmother to two teenage girls and mother of ten year old Alfie, whose main focus is in getting enough money to buy a mouth organ. When Rose goes outside to the Anderson Shelter she is accosted by Tommy Swann, her ex-boyfriend.

Tommy has broken out of Dartmoor and is on the run. He needs food, sleep, shelter, dry clothes, and sex, and he expects Rose to provide them.  This is no great love story, however:  when Tommy asks Rose for money, she gives him her most precious belonging, the engagement ring he gave her ten years ago. He doesn’t recognise it.

Because she’s never stopped loving him, Rose puts everything on the line to help Tommy, even though he knows he’s using her out of desperation rather than desire, but the strain of doing so in a house full of people and incident, and the eventual discovery of her secret leads her to put her head in the gas oven. She survives, and has to go on living a little life in that little house, with her boring husband, in a poor, broken down place where it rains all the time, not just Sundays – a cruel, mundane fate.

Around this tense central narrative, director Robert Hamer weaves flashbacks and a number of different stories, introducing a myriad of characters, all interconnected, all living in the same wet, bombed out bit of London.
There’s Morry Hyams, ‘The Man With Sax Appeal’ who owns a local record store and plays the dance halls at night. Morry is having an affair with Vi, Rose’s step-daughter, and his wife Sadie finds out and leaves him.

Rose’s other step-daughter, Doris, is a nice, dopey girl who has a nice, dopey boyfriend, but they argue when Morry’s brother,  Lou, a local gangster with a penchant for fur gloves, takes an interest in her.

A slow-witted gang of toughs have pinched a gross of roller skates, and are finding them difficult to offload, and a genial but worldly wise detective (Dixon of Dock Green himself, Jack Warner) is on their trail as well as trying to find Tommy.

The only person who avoids drama is George, Rose’s husband, whose well-established routine keeps him busy while the world goes on around him. While he has his newspaper, his pipe and his darts (‘you and your darts’) all is well with the world, and he provides a stoic presence in a world of barely suppressed emotional chaos.

Tommy Swann gets caught, of course, but only after a very tense chase in the railway yard which features loads of smoke, steam and shadows, some scale models, and an almost extraordinary finale in which, realising the game is up, Tommy puts his head on the railway line and waits for a goods train to cut it off. He’s pulled from the path of the train at the last minute and, presumably, sent back to Dartmoor, no remission, no hope, and a date with the Cat O’ Nine Tails for his impudence (flogging was still used as a prison punishment up until 1948, the year after the film is set).

‘It Always Rains On Sunday’ is quite an amazing film, brilliantly realised by cast and crew. Many critics have described it as a portrait of misery and poverty but for me, it isn’t purely about money or the highs and lows of an emotional rollercoaster, but rather the steady flat line of ordinary life. The arrival of Tommy Swann shakes things up temporarily, but the status quo is re-established within twenty four hours: the everyday, with all its tedium and routine, its regrets, wrong turns, dead ends and thwarted opportunities, triumphs.  

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Greedy Guts

"People often say to me 'you must have a very perverse sense of humour' to which I usually respond 'what a perverse thing to say', immediately turning their own words against them and making them feel about this big.

Perversity is the subject of tonight's story although, perversely, it doesn't feature any perversion. To be honest, I'm really not that closely involved with the programme now. This isn't my house. Or my chair. Or my tie. That fire is fake.

So, here we are, episode 183, series 12, an unlikely tale of gluttony where, if you listen closely, you will hear the sound of the base of a wooden receptacle being scratched with a metal utensil.

Can I keep the tie?"

Gunther Guttman (Orson Welles) is a world renowned and famously voracious gourmet and food writer, a cruel and bitter man whose critique can be devastating. When a chef he has destroyed in print throws himself into an industrial mincer, Gunther finds himself unable to eat anything without immediately soiling himself. To fill time and make sure we get the point, this is shown happening six times, including once during a live television interview and once at a Buckingham Palace garden party.

Disgusted, hungry, a laughing stock and smelly pariah, Gunther resorts to desperate measures to stay alive. The story ends with him gleefully tucking into a big plate of sausages, unaware in his madness that he is actually chowing down on a large serving of steaming faeces.

Welles / Guttman utters the classic line from the TV studio scene:
'Is this going out live? Yes? Then we have a problem'. 

'Greedy Guts' famously came to the attention of Mary Whitehouse who said 'It was funny. I really enjoyed it' - but it was not well received by the general public, who, aside from the coprophagia, objected to the sound effects and, especially, a scene where The Queen (Jeanette Charles) shakes Guttman's hand and gets shit on her white glove. 

The episode was directed by Mr. Welles under the pseudonym of A. Fattybumbum and, unusually for a 'Tales Of The Unexpected' show took three years and £4 million dollars to make. It's also only sixteen minutes long.  

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Rim Job

Edith Rimmington (1902-89)

Untitled, 1930s
Family Tree, photomontage, 1937

Decoy, 1948
Design for Message from Nowhere, 1944
Museum, 1951
Drawing, c.1946

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Monday, 25 March 2013

Rear Of The Year-ers: 1938


‘The Rear of the Year’ competition has always been a popularity contest rather than a genuine rectal examination, with the winner invariably being the man or woman of the moment.
Inevitably, this has led to some ‘interesting’ choices, with champions ranging from the ephemeral (Jenny Logan, Jim Diamond) to those discredited in later years (Anthony Blunt, Dave Lee Travis, ‘H’ from ‘Steps’). Perhaps the biggest arse clanger of all came in 1938, when Time Magazines 'Man of the Year' Adolf fucking Hitler also became our Rear of the Year.

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor flew to Berlin to present Herr Hitler with his award.
They stayed for three months.
Oops. To be fair to the competition organisers, however, they made sure Hitler didn’t even get nominated in 1939. Stalin won it that year.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Dirt Box

As M&C readers will already be aware, upon it's cinema release Night After Night After Night received unprecedented media attention, with glowing reviews coming from audiences and critics alike. It also generated a range of merchandise -one of the first films to do so- and cereal giants Kellogg's were quick to capitalize on this latest marketing trend.

The new cereals: "Porn Flakes" were initially sold in the cinema foyer during film screenings (in a bowl with milk and a spoon), but proved so popular that boxes became widely available in shops throughout the British Isles. The firm's managing director, Kenny Kellogg, even appeared on several TV magazine shows to promote his new cereal, claiming that eating a box a day, and going to the cinema to watch the film on a weekly basis would help most families maintain a balanced lifestyle.

Due to the massive popularity of the film, a huge number of units were sold, enabling Kellogg's to open their famous wheat-condensing factory in Garstang, establishing the company as the household name we depend upon to this day.

Collectors may be interested to know that boxes are still pretty easy to come by, and I was able to obtain the one pictured for less than £5 in an online 'auction'.

Night After Night After Night After Night After Night After Night After Night After Night After Night

Well, it’s been an interesting week (for us, anyway), indeed one that has divided opinion amongst the Mounds and Circles team.
As I type, Glimmung and Fearlono are stripped from the waist and fighting to the death in the back garden. Fearlono has just used the blog trampoline to execute a perfect 360 degree flip and roundhouse kick. Glimmung has borne the blow with a wry smile, and is now preparing himself for another onslaught by doing that clicky thing with his neck and shoulders. I’d intervene but I’m not allowed as my mastery of martial arts means that I am registered as a deadly weapon. If I kick someone’s head off, it’s murder.  Dolly Dolly is smiling beatifically and sitting on the fence. Lucky fence.
Anyway, here’s ‘Night After Night After Night’ in full so, if you like, you can find out what the hell we’ve been jabbering on about all week. 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Night After Night After Night

Glimmung reporting.

1 hour and two minutes or something in, a sleazy looking bastard heads towards Mornington Crescent station ('Sorry, I Haven't Got A Clue' listeners take note!) into a police station. Grass.

There aren't enough people in the world called Gilbert these days.


It's a look.

Detective Gilbert Wynne observes a smut decorated room and returns to the station for some stilted dialogue with a colleague. It's so awkward, you begin to wonder if they once had a 'thing'. Cut to Jack May’s psychotic Judge in terrible Mancunian indie wig and leather jacket shuffling along the street, window shopping for lingerie.

Quite an appropriate sign for a red light area.

Chekov's first time.


I shit 'im.

He crosses Shepherd Market and is solicited by a prostitute, where he is spotted by what looks like a passing cross dresser who phones the cops. The nutcase Judge goes into a girl’s room. He paws at her privates half heartedly before producing a flick-knife. The cops arrive just in time and he ducks out of a window and flees across the rooftops.

Judgie quickly enters an empty flat and swaps wigs conveniently placed and attempts to disguise himself very badly as a woman / tranny with clownish make-up. The overall effect is Ivy Tilsley on 'The Word', but with less testosterone.  

'We're homophobic...'

'...and there's nothing you can do about it...'

'...because it's the sixties. We're racist, too, and we jeer at ladies.'

Seriously, would you fuck about with this bloke?

The fuzz lose him and he returns to the street in bad tranny disguise, but it's the sixties, so he is nabbed by one of the homophobic gangs that used to hang around every street corner all day and night on the offchance that someone vaguely homosexual might walk past. They follow him up the street, hands on hips, blowing kisses and, finally, snatching his wig off and plonking on their own stupid heads. There's only two ways to combat prejudice of this sort, of course: the first is to rise above it, the second is to stab that fucker in the eye. That will teach him. The Judge returns to his smutsit, hallucinating at all the dirty pics and finally frenziedly attacking them with his tongue and knife. Lick, lick, laugh, laugh, stab, stab. Quite unpleasant.

Sad face.

Happy face.

Down in the dumps.

He's cheered up again. Make your fractured mind up, mate. 

The cops are stuck in traffic (London, innit) His Honour finds a gun in his desk drawer and decides to attempt shooting himself in his lipstick smeared mouth, but when the cops finally arrive he’s gone again.

This is a low. Even for a Judge.

Cut to Albert Bridge, where Judgie is now tottering along the riverbank in unsuitable shoes. The pigs arrive and a siege of sort takes place. At one point, George Best attempts to bring him a Wimpy burger, but he can't get past the cordon. The Police approach painfully slowly and, just at the moment the Judge is about to surrender, he makes the mistake of lifting his gun half an inch and a sniper shoots him dead for no apparent reason. Heavenly choir. The End.

“He said he needed help”. Care in the community strikes again.

This screenshot sums it all up, really.

The plot appears to be a standard cops chasing cross dressing psycho sex killer Judge feature, with exceedingly dull dialogue, painfully slow pacing, and a little smut thrown in to keep the audience from slipping into a vegetative state. Piss poor and not a fucking duck in fucking sight.