In July, the world bid a fond farewell to number of stars of the silver screen and the small screen. In brief, shown below, is my passing tribute to those stars who leave an indelible mark on the entertainment industry, and in particular the world of film and television. May you all Rest In Peace, and thanks for the memories . . . . Steve Ditko, Tab Hunter and Stan Dragoti.
* Stephen J. Ditko - born 2nd November 1927, died 29th June 2018, although not announced publicly until 6th July 2018, aged 90. Ditko was an American comics artist and writer best known as the co-creator and artist, together with Stan Lee, of the Marvel Comics superheroes 'Spider-Man' (and his antagonists 'The Green Goblin', 'Sandman', 'The Lizard' and 'Dr. Octopus') and 'Doctor Strange'. He began his career in 1953 working in the same studio as Jack Kirby and Joe Simon and then for Charlton Comics across various genres. During the '50's he also started working for Atlas Comics which would later on evolve into Marvel Comics during which time Spider-Man and Doctor Strange were born. In 1966 however, after an unclear falling out with Stan Lee, Ditko worked for DC Comics, Charlton and smaller independent comics publishers during which time he co-created 'Captain Atom' amongst others. Ditko returned to Marvel in 1979 where he remained until the mid-'90's working on a freelance basis. He retained a writing studio in New York up until his death and was a recluse, turning down interviews, meeting his legions of fans, or attending movie premiers of his highly popular and successful Superhero characters.
* Stanley John Dragoti - born 4th October 1932, died 13th July 2018, aged 85. Stan Dragoti was an American film Director and Writer who started out shooting television commercials and whose feature debut 'Dirty Little Billy' in 1972 starred Nick Nolte in his film debut and Gary Busey too telling the origin story of Billy the Kid. From here he Directed the horror comedy 'Love at First Bite' with George Hamilton and Susan Saint James based on the Count Dracula character in a modern day New York setting. This was followed up by the 1983 comedy 'Mr. Mom' with Michael Keaton, Christoper Lloyd, Jeffrey Tambor and Teri Garr, and then the 1985 comedy 'The Man with One Red Shoe' with Ton Hanks, Dabney Coleman, Jim Belushi, Charles Durning, Carrie Fisher and Lori Singer. 1989 saw 'She's Out of Control' with Tony Danza and Matthew Perry, and his last feature film offering came in 1991 with sport comedy offering 'Necessary Roughness' with Scott Bakula, Robert Loggia, Hector Elizondo, Jason Bateman and Rob Schneider. Dragoti has seven film Directing credits to his name and two as Writer.
* Tab Hunter (born Arthur Andrew Kelm) - born 11th July 1931, died 8th July 2018, aged 86. Hunter was an American Actor, Singer, Writer and Producer who was at the height of his fame during the '50's and '60s', and one of the hottest teen heart throbs of the '50's era. He gained his screen debut in the 1950 feature film 'The Lawless', and thereafter scored secondary roles in Western, Wartime and crime drama films until signing a contract with Warner Bros. in the mid-'50's. His first film with the major studio was 1955's 'The Sea Chase' with John Wayne and Lana Turner and then 'Track of the Cat' with Robert Mitchum that same year. Both were strong hit films which only served to brighten his star all the more. Perhaps his breakout role came in 1955's WWII drama 'Battle Cry' which helped to coalesce Hunter's place as one of Hollywood's romantic leads. In 1956 he starred with Natalie Wood in two films 'The Burning Hills' and 'The Girl He Left Behind' having been elevated to 'star' status by Warner's together with James Dean and the aforementioned Wood. Hunter was Warner's most popular male star from 1955 through to 1959, so much so that for Valentine's Day 1956, he received some 62,000 cards and wishes from adoring fans. Hunter also had a singing career reaching #1 in 1957 with 'Young Love' selling over a million copies, and 'Ninety-Nine Ways' which peaked at #5 in the UK chart. He also starred in his own television sitcom 'The Tab Hunter Show' which was a bigger hit in the UK than the US, and from there he had regular work across the '60's, '70's, '80's and beyond. His last film was 'Dark Horse' in 1992. All up Hunter had 76 Acting credits to his name, four as Producer, one as Writer, and nine Soundtrack acknowledgements. An award-winning 2015 documentary about his life titled 'Tab Hunter Confidential', was Produced by Hunter's life partner for the past three decades Allan Glaser. A feature film is currently in development at Paramount Pictures to be produced by Glaser, J. J. Abrams and Zachary Quinto charting the life and times of this '50's and '60's screen idol.
This week then, coming to an Odeon near you, we have four new cinematic releases to tease you out to your local multiplex or independent theatre. We kick off with the sixth instalment in this hugely successful all action international espionage franchise that sees our titular hero showcasing plenty of derring do and epic stunts, but will he accomplish his impossible mission this time around? We then head to remote France back in the early '50's that sees a former confidence trickster passing himself off as a trained Doctor and offering to cure all comers of their ills - be they real, imagined or completely fictional. Next up is a drama of great man, behind whom stands an even greater woman who has supported him through the ups and downs and trials and tribulations of their forty or so years together as told on the eve of the great man being publicly honoured. And we wrap up this weeks latest releases with a Spanish foreign language film about a young girl, recently orphaned and taken in by her loving Aunt and Uncle in the mountain countryside, but against which she struggles to adapt.
Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the four latest release new movies as Previewed below, or those doing the rounds currently on general release and as Reviewed and Previewed in previous Blog Posts here at Odeon Online, you are most welcome to share your movie going thoughts, opinions and observations by leaving your relevant, succinct and appropriate views in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and in the meantime, enjoy your big screen Odeon outing during the coming week.
'MISSION : IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT' (Rated M) - here we have the sixth instalment in the Tom Cruise action franchise based on the popular '60's television series that since 1996 has been dusted off every five years or so with another big budget high octane screen offering. Launching with Brian De Palma's first film adaptation in 1996, John Woo Directed 'Mission : Impossible 2' in 2000; J.J. Abrams took over Directing duties with 'Mission : Impossible III' in 2006, then Brad Bird assumed the mantle in 2011 with 'Mission : Impossible - Ghost Protocol' followed by Christoper McQuarrie in 2015 'Mission : Impossible - Rogue Nation'. These first five films have grossed at the worldwide Box Office a combined US$2.8B from a collective Budget of US$650M. Now in 2018 Christoper McQuarrie returns to the Directors chair for 'Mission : Impossible - Fallout' which he also wrote. Tom Cruise Produces too, as he has all other films in the series to date. The film has received universal acclaim from Critics, with many praising it as the best in the series so far with the cinematography, action set pieces, stunt work, storyline and cast performances as being particularly credit worthy. The film cost US$178M to Produce and has so far raked in US$163M since its release Stateside last week.
'DR. KNOCK' (Rated PG) - this French comedy film is Directed and Written by Lorraine Levy and is based on the 1923 satirical play by Jules Romains that has been made into feature films in 1925, 1933, 1951 and now this version which is a remake of that 1951 offering. The film had its initial release in October last year and only now does it arrive in Australian cinemas having grossed just US$4.5M off the back of a US$15M budget outlay. It is the early '50's and here Dr. Knock (Omar Sy) is a former thug and con man who travels to the small village of Saint-Maurice in the French Alps, to masquerade as a trained and qualified medical practitioner and convince the locals that they are sick and only he can cure them using his own unique methodology. Persuading the community that they are perhaps not as healthy as they would like to believe, he will find in each 'patient' an imaginary symptom, or not, and therefore begin to weave his lucrative spell. Just as his plans begin to take off and the village is taken in his past catches up with him, and the emergence of an old acquaintance disrupts his scheme, as does the love of a beautiful farm girl.
'THE WIFE' (Rated M) - Directed by the Swede Bjorn Runge and based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer, this film Premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September last year and is released Stateside in mid-August, and in early screenings has received generally positive press by Critics. Here Joan Castleman (Glenn Close) and husband Professor Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) have been married for approaching forty years. Joan and Joe have a complimentary relationship where Joe enjoys his very public role as the great American novelist, and Joan provides her considerable intellect, grace, charm and diplomacy into the private role of a great man's wife. As Joe is about to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his acclaimed and prolific body of work, Joan starts to think about the shared compromises, secrets, betrayals and mutual love and respect that have marked their lives together since they first met in the late '50's. Also starring Christian Slater, Max Irons and Elizabeth McGovern.
With four new release films this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephile friends afterwards here at Odeon Online. In the meantime, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead at your local Odeon.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-