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His service not so secret

Little fun to be found in spycraft satire

History’s file on Bill Cosby, born on this day (July 12) in 1937, contains before and after photos. The "after" image is a mug shot, representing the fact that he is currently serving a prison sentence of up to ten years for “aggravated indecent assault.” His 2018 conviction, called a watershed moment for the #MeToo movement, represents justice for one among some 60 women who came forth to accuse the entertainer of sexual abuse. Forever in its shadow will be our "before" picture of Cosby, the successful stand-up comic, actor, author and positive inspiration to black youth. As the first African-American to co-star on a prime-time TV series — opposite Robert Culp in 1965’s I Spy — he brought about change. He became beloved for his work promoting family values on The Cosby Show (1984-92), where he played Cliff Huxtable, rated “greatest TV dad” in a TV Guide poll. A prominent advocate for education, he held about 70 honorary degrees prior to his fall from grace. And, of course, he was a movie star, often working with his friend Sidney Poitier. The five films being added today to the Reeling Back archive (with links to each following the Afterword to this posting) include director Paul Weiland’s evocation of Cosby’s I Spy days, the 1987 espionage comedy Leonard Part 6.


local news

Wedded to an evil bitch

Damned until death does them part

OK, today (July 1) is Canada Day. In 1974, when the national holiday was still known as Dominion Day, the celebrations were held during the last week of a federal election. On July 8, Pierre Trudeau’s governing Liberal party went from a minority to a majority in Canada’s House of Commons. To the best on my recollection, film policy was not an issue in the campaign. Support for the struggling domestic industry was neither mentioned in finance minister John Turner’s pre-election budget speech on May 7, nor his post-election speech on November 18. On that day, though, the government increased its Capital Cost Allowance for films from 60 to 100 per cent. Under the new rules investors could deduct from their taxable income 100 per cent of the dollars they put into domestic productions. A Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office (CAVCO) was created to administer the CCA, and the result was the “tax shelter era” of Canadian filmmaking. Eight years of excitement, controversy and disappointment followed. In the positive spirit of the day, though, we’ll stay with 1974, and recall four of the Canadian features that opened in Vancouver during a year in which the most popular baby names in the U.S. were Michael and Jennifer. Today’s additions to the Reeling Back archive (with links to each following the Afterword to this posting) include director Claude Jutra’s award-winning 1973 historical epic Kamouraska.

comics page

Many happy returns

Never too old for a seashore shindig

On this day (July 5) in 1946, Parisian lingerie designer Louis Réard introduced a two-piece, navel-baring swimsuit he called the bikini. There is no evidence that Annette Funicello ever wore anything really itsy bitsy, and certainly not in her 1987 trip Back to the Beach.


More than a good year

Looking forward to the best memories

Today (July 4) Turner Classic Movies is celebrating the 80th Anniversary of what it calls “Hollywood’s Greatest Year.” I had some fun with the same subject on its 50th anniversary, writing a tongue-in-cheek feature on home video in an alternative reality 1939.


Plans set, goals met

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

On October 4, 2013, the day that Reeling Back went live on the Internet, I thought I knew where all this was going. Five years, four months and 12 days later, I’m older, perhaps wiser and certainly more aware of the “innumerable confusion” of our times that Marshall McLuhan first noted in 1964.



A DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES is the Internet address of Michael Walsh, a Canadian living in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I spent my working life as a newspaperman. While others covered the waterfront, I specialized in movies. As a film critic, I published my views in newspapers and magazines, on radio and television, at conferences, conventions and in the occasional courtroom. It was my good fortune to cover 30 of the most exciting, innovative years in screen history (1965-1995).
Retired, but not inactive, I've launched Reeling Back in in order to recall and, perhaps, make sense of it all. Eventually, it will grow into an archive of the nearly 6,000 films I've reviewed to date. Because everything old is news again, each posting will include a note connecting these particular movie memories to the here and now.

And, yes, I intend Reeling Back to offer new material, including web-log commentary, reviews of current pop culture and additions to my own "works in progress" — four book-length projects still in the notebook phase.

From Will Shakespeare to Marshall McLuhan to Joss Whedon, the great thinkers have all reminded us that we live in a world of wonders. In this small corner of cyberspace, I'd like to share some of the wonders that I have seen.