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Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Writer's Life 5/21 - Of Course, Of Course

RIP Alan Young, 96, near and dear to the hearts of baby-boomers as the star of 144 episodes of Mister Ed, which ran from 1961-'66 on CBS, and then in syndication. Born in Northern England as Angus, his family moved to Canada, where he appeared on radio at 13 and was writing and starring in his own show by 17. That led to an invitation to the USA, where he performed on stage and in movies as well. He had a three year stint in an eponymous variety show on CBS that began in 1950. There are 102 credits listed under his name at IMDb, which doesn't include multiple appearances on series. For instance, he did the voice-over for 98 episodes as Scrooge McDuck and 199 as a cast member of The Smurfs. He landed the lead in the film version of Jules Verne's The Time Machine (1960). For those old enough to remember Million Dollar Movie, which ran Monday-Friday on channel nine in the 50's and '60's, he was the star of Androcles and the Lion (1952). Here's a quote attributed to him: "When I was young I was paid $3 for doing a short monologue. That impressed my dad, who earned the same amount for working all day in a shipyard at the time. He told me to 'Keep up this talking business because lips don't sweat.' It was good advice." Well done, sir. Thank you.

The only movie I can think of that is as good as the book upon which it is based is One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). I read Joe Hill's Horns recently and was curious as to how it was adapted to the silver screen, so I added it to my Netflix list despite the tepid reviews it received. Although it is faithful in spirit, the film makes several changes, condensing matters, which is understandable. Being completely faithful would have required much more than the two-hour running time. One element suffered a great deal, the murderer's character hardly developed. Although the protagonist's brother is changed from a successful west coast talk show host/musician to a local struggling player, it does not hurt the narrative. One of the tormentors is reduced to a background role, and I would have liked to have seen his comeuppance. The leads, Daniel Radcliffe and Juno Temple, are fine. The supporting cast features several Hollywood vets: James Remar, Kathleen Quinlan, David Morse as a non-villain for a change, and Heather Graham in a brief role as a wicked waitress, the flick's strongest asset. It was directed by Parisian Alexandre Aja, whose previous work is unfamiliar to me. The screenplay was adapted by Keith Bunin, his first full length feature after a successful run on the cable show In Treatment, for which he wrote seven episodes. Hill consulted on Horns and does not seem unhappy with the result, although the box office returns were disappointing. It brought in "only" $3.8 million worldwide, and I'd be surprised if it didn't cost considerably more than that to make. 52,000+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to a consensus of 6.5 of ten. I can't argue with that. Anyone squeamish about graphic violence or sexual situations should pass. I thought the latter went way too far for a film of its type, then again, it was directed by a Frenchman.

As I begin my 66th year on planet Earth, I feel blessed that I am still here and in good health. Several of my childhood friends have not been as fortunate. My birthday was lucky for the floating book shop. The rain held off and three customers made purchases: a young mom buying five kid's books, a teenage girl buying a mix of five works of fiction and non, and Hakim, who bought Close to the Edge. My thanks, and also to whomever downloaded Billionths of a Lifetime to Kindle.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

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