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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 22 Sep - 28 Sep 2014
Project: THE TAINTED ARCHIVE
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

Summary


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Pageloads1381481501571221491381,002143
Unique Visits129131123134115140126898128
First Time Visits128127111128108134122858123
Returning Visits14126764406

Monday, 29 September 2014

John Wayne - His Ten Best Westerns

Doing all those B-westerns taught him how to be resilient. Doing all those quickie westerns taught him how to be John Wayne and it was with the movie,Stagecoach that the cinematic John Wayne was truly born.

Wayne's introduction in the 1939 John Ford western, Stagecoach was heavily thought out. Ford wanted Wayne to do something flashy with his gun, but the script specified a rifle and Ford didn't want to diverge from the script so spinning six guns were out. And besides, Ford reasoned, any western actor worth his salt could spin a pair of six guns and it wasn't something the audience had not seen a hundred times before.

'Do something flashy with the rifle,' Ford told Wayne.

Stuntman Yakima Canutt, a close friend of Wayne's, suggested spinning a Winchester and then cocking it with one hand which was something he'd seen as a kid when Buffalo Bill's West Circus came to his home town. Wayne liked the idea and a standard Winchester was used but the barrel had to lose an inch because it wouldn't clear Wayne's body cleanly. The scene, almost 18 minutes into the film,  has become part of cinema legend - we don't see Wayne's character until then but we are told he is an outlaw and his presence is felt at the edge of each frame so when he finally appears on screen his entrance is breathtaking.

He has a youthful handsome face, not movie star handsome but compelling just the same. His deep blue eyes, which show up pale grey in black and white, command the viewer's attention. The camera lingers on Wayne's face for his introduction and although it is a face that has been seen many times before in one cheap movie or another, it has never been framed quite like this and for the first time we truly see John Wayne. By the time he made Stagecoach, Wayne had already appeared in more than eighty movies but it is with this movie that he assumes his position on screen as a true superstar - a position he would hold for the rest of his career. And indeed even now, many years after his death, he still ranks as one of America's favorite movie stars. Modern day movie stars don't even come close to Wayne.

Wayne became the personification of America and in many ways John Wayne was America. I am not an American, I am THE AMERICAN, Mark Twain wrote in his notebook in 1897. It's a famous quote and one which may suit Wayne even more than it's original author.


As an actor Wayne didn't really rate himself and believed that his stardom had been due to the support of others rather than his own hard work.

'The reason Pappy (John Ford) made a star of me was because I played cards with him.' John Wayne.

Though in this Wayne is wrong and whilst it may have taken him an age to become a true superstar, it was inevitable ever since he'd first appeared as an uncredited extra before the camera. Stagecoach wasn't Wayne's first big budget movie but it was his first real success - he should have become a big name almost ten years before  in Raoul Walsh's The Big Trail but the movie, which is these days considered a classic, was an expensive flop - and following the movie things were never the same again. True Wayne made several other B-movies following Stagecoach, but with each subsequent picture he became a bigger and bigger star. It wasn't until 1948 that Wayne delivered his second truly classic western with Red River but between that and Stagecoach there had been a few sturdy if not quite classic westerns - Angel and the Badman and Tall in the Saddle to name but two. Wayne followed up Red River with Fort Apache and from there on he seemed to crank out classic movie after classic movie, a great many of them westerns.

Wayne made many classic pictures which were not westerns, but it is for the western that he is forever associated, and so just for fun here is my own personal list of Wayne's ten best westerns. Putting this list together was  not as east as it seems, and I had to leave out several superb Wayne westerns in order to come up with a  definitive top ten. Likely not everyone will agree with me, so let's see your own choices in the comments section of this post.

Counting down....

 10 - THE COWBOYS (1972) - This is a rather sentimental western but never has Wayne's fatherly qualities been so well presented on screen. Wayne plays a rancher who is forced into hiring on a bunch of schoolchildren as cowboys for a cattle drive. The movie was an huge success and inspired a short lived TV series.

9 - She Wore A Yellow Ribbon ( 1949 ) - In my opinion the best of the Calvary trilogy that Wayne made with John Ford., The other two were Fort Apache and Rio Grande and both would have been on my list but I decided to allow only one of the calvary movies on my top ten list and so Yellow Ribbon it is.

8 - THE THREE GODFATHERS (1948) - Incredibly Wayne made three westerns in 1948, the other two being Red River and Fort Apache. 

7- TRUE GRIT (1969) - This was the western that gave Wayne an Oscar, and whilst it is a strong performance by Wayne it is far from his best. If not for Wayne's inclusion the movie would have been just another western but Wayne made the movie a classic, and his portrayal of the one eyed marshall created a true cinematic icon.


6 - THE SHOOTIST (1976) - Wayne's final movie is a bitter sweet movie about a gunslinger dying of cancer. Made when Wayne himself was battling the illness which makes the movie all the more compelling. Excellent

5 -  THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962). Wayne here takes second fiddle to Jimmy Stewart but his considerable presence is felt throughout the movie, even when sharing the screen with the scene chewing antics of Lee Marvin.

4 - STAGECOACH (1939 - I had to include this in the top five as the character Wayne created here is part of the DNA of every western hero he played since. There are also some excellent stunt scenes in this rather brilliant movie.


3 - Rio Bravo (1959) -   A western so good that it was virtually remade later as El Dorado. Wayne is brilliant alongside Dean Martin. This movie set the template for many of Wayne's later westerns.

2 -Red River (1948) - One of Wayne's best acting performances. When John Ford saw Wayne in this movie he remarked, 'I never realised that son of a bitch could act.'


1 - The Searchers (1956) - Not only Wayne's best ever movie but in my opinion the greatest western ever made, and certainly one of the most influential. The character of Ethan Edwards is one of cinema's most layered characters and Wayne brought him to life with a superb performance that ranks among the very best ever put on film.


If I redid this list tomorrow likely there would be some changes, and I am aware that I have left out several classic Wayne westerns, but I chose my top ten list in a way that I think reflects Wayne's versatility in the genre. For instance I have included True Grit when I think Wayne made several better westerns that didn't make my top ten, but True Grit better reflected the way Wayne's screen persona is remembered by movie fans.















Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Great Granny ePromotion

It's the Great Granny Promotion

For the next four days you can buy Granny Smith Investigates on Amazon for a low low price, and also get the second and third Granny Smith book for free.

"I was brought up on Miss Marple. I loved the idea of an old lady solving cases through sheer nosiness and this is a modern day version.
It starts with a murder at the Village Fete. Unfortunately for the murder, she happens to be Granny Smith's next door neighbour and when the poor husband of the victim is arrested, Granny Smith leaps on her bike into action. With a surveillance team comprising of long suffering husband and gay son, she is on the case!!
A lovely easy read and a good plot- a real winner :)"
Five star review

"I've now read two books in this series and found both books entertaining and funny, really made me laugh, suggest people read them" Five star review

This was the first I've read this author and if others are as good, it won't be the last.


"I loved it from the beginning. The way that Granny Smith got her "nickname", the pipe....you name it. She was not only an unusual character, but one that you'd never expect to find doing the things she did. The book was funny, interesting, fairly well written and made me want more. Definitely a hit with me. I recommend it highly for those who like a humorous mystery. Great!! " Amazon five star review

For the next four days you can get  the second and third books in the Granny Smith series for free. You can also get the first book, Granny Smith Investigates for a new low price.

Offer on Amazon worldwide.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

eBook news

The new Fire Tablets
Is the Kobo brand dead in the water? The always reliable Good eReader Radio Show Blog this week reported that Barnes and Noble have disabled the ability to download eBooks in its Kobo store. You can follow the story HERE. Meanwhile Amazon have announced both new eReaders and Tablets this month - in terms of eReaders the flagship product is the Kindle Voyage which is the company claims an improvement on the already excellent Paperwhite- several of the devices including a new version of the Kindle Fire which is aimed at children are now available for pre-order and the Voyage has already sold out on pre-order's alone.

Kindle Voyage

I'm still using my original Kindle Fire 7" tablet and see no need to upgrade to a newer model, but I am tempted by the Kindle Voyage. I love my current 1st gen Paperwhite, and didn't think the 2nd gen Paperwhite was enough of a upgrade to warrant buying the newer version. But with the Voyage there are enough bells and whistles to interest me - The display has been upped to 300ppi, and the front light technology has been vastly improved and now sets itself to give the best in whatever reading environment you find yourself. Integration with Good Reads is reportedly flawless. All in all this new device has a number of innovative hardware features such as Page Press and the front-light controlled by an ambient light sensor. Amazon has also developed exciting new software that even allows you share content with family members.

And sticking with Amazon - PC News reported HERE that Amazon have snubbed author's who have taken Hatchette's side in the eBook pricing war, from it's annual campfire retreat for writers. Bestselling name for hire, James Patterson informed the New York Times that he had not been invited this year, but said that he wouldn't go even if he had been invited. See what Patterson had to say HERE.

This year the Amazon/Hatchette battle has filled more magazines, newspapers and blogs than any other book related news, with a lot of bog name author getting involved. Two of Amazon's biggest defenders in the row are Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, and both have written articles on the subject that are well worth reading - check out these two for a start - HERE and HERE.



Monday, 22 September 2014

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 15 Sep - 21 Sep 2014
Project: THE TAINTED ARCHIVE
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

Summary


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Pageloads131125152156114122140940134
Unique Visits121118136135103100130843120
First Time Visits11410413412810098127805115
Returning Visits71427323385

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Bond 24 to start shooting. Titled rumoured is Only Time Will Tell

The next James Bond movie, the 24th in the long running series, will start filming on Dec 6th and will once again be directed by Sam Mendes. At the moment the film is without a title though the hot rumour is that the film will be called, Only Time will Tell - you know that has a Bondian ring to it.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Hell on Wheels

I'm enjoying AMC's western, Hell on Wheels and other than a few shakey episodes I'm of the opinion that the series has been pretty damn good, with many standout scenes - for instance last week's episode (series 4, episode 5) had an incredible set piece which surely rates as the most original escape from a hanging scene in all western history. The show has some great characters and with AMC's expertise with small screen production it certainly looks good in a gritty kind of way. And yet the series has largely failed to connect with the critics -



The Huffington Post called it "tedious," TV Guide "heavy-handed," USA Today "as subtle as a sledgehammer," The San Francisco Chronicle "cartoonish," The Philadelphia Daily News "meandering," and Variety "diluted and herky-jerky." Slate, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times said much the same. Two glowing reviews from The Washington Post and The Boston Globe notwithstanding, even the positive write-ups in Newsday, The Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Post, The Miami Herald, and The Wall Street Journal seemed to conclude that the show was solid if unspectacular, a significant come-down for a network accustomed to scooping up Emmys by the handful. 
 


A lot of western fans read the Archive and chances are many watch the series so it would be interesting to know what Archive readers think of the show. Personally I enjoy the show and whilst I don't rate it as highly as that other relatively recent TV western, Deadwood I still rate it pretty highly. And of course westerns on the small screen are rare these days so it's a nice change amongst all the cop dramas and zombie-filled soap operas.


The show is set around the construction of the first transcontinental railroad across the USA, and the moveable towns called Hell on Wheels that exists alongside the railroad. AS soon as one stretch of rail is completed and the railroad moves on, the town goes with it. The current season (season 4) is set in 1867 and chances are given the reasonable ratings (it's the networks second most watches show just coming in behind The Walking Dead ) and AMC's track record is that the show will be renewed for a fifth series - I do hope so as I want to see the conclusion to this story.

Tainted Stats

Weekly Stats Report: 1 Sep - 7 Sep 2014
Project: THE TAINTED ARCHIVE
URL: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/

Summary

  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Pageloads121151142144138136140972139
Unique Visits115138120119117111125845121
First Time Visits111131116117114104118811116
Returning Visits4742377345