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Summer Under the Stars…John Wayne

This is my entry for the 2017 TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon hosted by Journeys in Classic Film.

I was over the moon when I saw John Wayne on this year’s Stars list. My childhood hero. The one who made me fall in love with Westerns from way back when I was a little girl. To this day my absolute favourite genre. And John Wayne still holds a special place in my movie heart.

It isn’t only John Wayne though. No, it is a combination of him and the Super 8 films through which we were introduced. As some of you may know, I never had a television growing up (parents’ choice). But, I did have a whole stack of Super 8s that my parents had rescued from landing on the dump when video cassettes first came out. Amongst those wonderful reels were The War Wagon and Big Jake. Did I love watching those (I know the dialogue by heart – to this day). Had to be a non-school night and some setup was required.  Screen. Projector (maybe lightbulb replacing or un-jamming the film before it melted too much). And then the sheer joy of watching.

To mind always that strawberry-pinkish shirt he wore in The War Wagon. And the running leap onto his horse. He made it look so easy, elegant (in as far as cowboy elegance goes) and effortless. Then came Big Jake. I still have a soft spot for this movie and the colourful lines that come out of tough dad Jacob McCandles’ (John Wayne) mouth. My best was/is when son James, played by real-life son Patrick Wayne, calls him “daddy” to which the no-nonsense answer is “You can call me father, you can call me Jacob, you can call me Jake, you can call me a dirty son-of-a-bitch, but if you ever call my daddy again, I’ll finish this fight“. 

We also had McQ  with a much older John Wayne. For me though…cowboy works better than detective. It was only many years later that The Cowboys came my way. Another perfect role for this man as he takes a group of school boys on as hands for a cattle drive. Naturally The Seachers was next on my radar. Thoroughly enjoyed The Comancheros. Hmm…McLintock was different to what I’m used to. And the list goes on.

All I can say is: John Wayne. Cowboy like no other.

Wow…I’m on an adrenaline, stress high…

…but I feel good. For now. Until reality hits home. Then we’ll talk again.

Never did I realise what a big thing moving is. Not “down the road” big…but “to another country” big. “To another continent” big. 

I’m trying to find my feet but with family support and a relatively familiar environment (holidays are always different to living in a country though) I should be back to my usual comments and likes soon. Thanks for your ongoing support. I really appreciate the time you take to read my posts and comments and have felt really bad for being distant and distracted these past few weeks.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

So, until my high crashes to a “what the *%#! have I done?????” low…I’ll take each blogging day as it comes. 

Have a wonderful weekend.

Movie Rob’s Genre Grandeur: Open Range (Western)

For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Westerns, here’s a review of Open Range (2003) by Catherine of Thoughts All Sorts Thanks again to Catherine of Thoughts All Sorts for choosing this month’s genre. Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Sean of SeanMunger.com We will be reviewing our favorite Nautical Film. “Loosely defined […]

via Genre Grandeur – Open Range (2003) – Thoughts All Sorts

Or read it here…

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Grace Kelly’s Mrs Kane in High Noon

High Noon (1952). A masterpiece western which I must admit, I appreciate more on viewing this time round than the first. It may be one of two reasons: 1) the fact that I know what it is about and so can concentrate on other aspects or 2) the fact that I viewed it with a focus on Grace Kelly for the Grace Kelly Blogathon. Either way, it is still a brilliant movie that has more to it than first meets the eye. But, that’s a topic for another time. Grace Kelly is the star for now (minus all the gossip that surrounds this movie).

Beautiful Grace Kelly plays devout Quaker Amy Fowler Kane, newly wed to Will Kane (Gary Cooper). And I mean newly, newly wed…as in the wedding takes place in the first few minutes of the movie. It is at this point that Will Kane hands in his marshal badge and intends to live quietly with his new bride. However, it is not meant to be…you see, the noon train is expected to bring Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) to town. The problem? Will Kane had put this dangerous outlaw behind bars. Waiting at the station are Miller‘s gang (played by Lee Van Cleef, Robert J. Wilke and Sheb Wooley) setting up wonderful tension by simply “hanging around”. Kane feels responsible for the situation that will undoubtedly arise and cannot just ride away.

Amy, is expecting a quiet, peaceful life with her new husband so desperately wants Kane to get out of town, leaving it all to the new marshal (who is only due to arrive the next morning). She can’t understand why Kane won’t run. At one point she tells Kane “Don’t try to be a hero! You don’t have to be a hero, not for me!”. The thing is, if he does back down, he won’t be able to live with himself and there will probably always be some sort of animosity towards Amy. It really is a tricky situation but personally, he has to do what he does. It is at this time that one already wonders why these two are together. They seem so different. I just don’t understand why Amy doesn’t support her husband. Surely, being married, they are now a team? Instead, she takes the easy option out and buys a ticket on that very same dreaded noon train that is bringing in Miller. To me, Amy becomes as much an antagonist as Miller. She’s a problem (among others) that Kane shouldn’t have to deal with at this perilous time. I’m not sure Amy is quite convinced about her actions. Yes, she decides to wait in the town hotel because she’s nervous of the gang waiting at the station. But, I think her heart isn’t totally in it. She’s hoping he will change his mind but also, giving her the benefit of the doubt, she’s not ready to abandon Kane just yet.

There’s a part of her that is intrigued by her husband hence she keeps asking the hotel clerk about him, hoping for more information than he gives. Clearly she doesn’t really know Kane as well as we’d expect (and we never get any insight into their relationship before the wedding). This is also confirmed when she goes to see Kane‘s former girlfriend Helen Ramírez (Katy Jurado) who tells Amy that if she doesn’t know Kane, she doesn’t know her husband. That she asks around confirms that she does care about him. If she didn’t ask at all, I’d say she was indifferent and probably not worth Kane‘s hand. It also shows that she isn’t just the helpless damsel. That she does actually have some oomph as it must take quite some courage to face your husband’s former lover on your own.

This courage shows itself when she finally helps her husband (and so, in my opinion, she redeems herself). In fact, she’s the only one in the entire town who comes to his aid. She does the unexpected (I won’t reveal) which symbolises to me that she is, after all, committed to the relationship which one questions during the rest of the movie, especially when she steps onto the that dreaded noon train.

I’m not big on finding hidden meaning in movies but it seems fitting to me that Grace Kelly is always in her white dress when everyone else is darkly dressed (Kane has a mix of white and black and I think this shows his inner torment).  It is very interesting how at the end, as the show-down is about to begin, both Amy and Helen, one dressed in white, the other in black are side-by-side in the carriage going to the station. It is almost like good and bad, right and wrong being represented. The angel and the devil sitting on Kane‘s shoulder. In the same way we have both Amy and the outlaws waiting for the same train.

Directed by Fred Zinnemann, High Noon was nominated for 7 Oscars and won 4 (Best Actor in Leading Role, Best Film Editing, Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture), Best Music (Song)).

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Interesting stuff…Morgan’s trailer and AI

I read something really, really cool this morning…on my company’s news site of all places! I was sure my colleague had posted in the wrong spot but no! I have recently been ‘playing’ around with IBM Watson Analytics as part of my job. Up to now, the usual business stuff.  The real appeal just revealed itself….I’m soooo excited (and freaked out)…IBM Watson was used in the making of the Morgan trailer. Very interesting…

What is Watson? Well, as this is not a technical blog, I won’t go into the details (you can look those up yourself) but, in a nutshell, Watson takes data it has been given, assesses it, together with any outcomes or responses (so this requires some sort of human input) and tries to “teach” itself patterns or other possible outcomes.

Now for Morgan (2016) the new movie about an AI being. Apparently Watson analysed a large number of horror trailers to determine what type of scenes, music etc. would be best suited for the Morgan trailer and from this isolated a handful of clips that were ultimately used.

While for me the trailer is very creepy and uncomfortable to watch (ok, I don’t think Morgan is something I’d watch anyway) I think the result is fascinating (and maybe just a little scary from a technology perspective). Does the trailer work? I don’t know. Is it different to what humans would come up with? I don’t know. Possibly? After all, Watson has based the clip selection process on assessing other human-created trailers. What I did notice is that after watching I still wasn’t sure as to what the movie is about (maybe all-revealing trailers are a thing of the past?). But what better way to create a trailer about an AI being than with AI?

Here it is (watch to the end for a commentary section):