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Stanley’s bad behaviour

Confronting the beast in American culture

Of the two Stanleys in Alex North’s creative life, Stanley Kubrick was the biggest jerk. North, born on this day (December 4) in 1910, was the A-list composer that director Kubrick called in to score his 1968 sci-fi feature 2001: A Space Odyssey. At the time, North had nine Academy Award nominations to his credit, including one for his previous collaboration with Kubrick, the 1960 epic Spartacus. At the 2001 premiere screening, North was shocked to discover that his music had been replaced by an eccentric selection of cuts from the director’s own classical record collection. Lied to and insulted by the self-indulgent Kubrick, North enjoyed better relations with such directors as Daniel Mann, with whom he worked on seven features, John Huston (five features) and Martin Ritt (four features). The other Stanley closely linked to North was Stanley Kowalski. The brutish creation of playwright Tennessee Williams, Kowalski first strutted the stage 70 years ago yesterday (December 3, 1947), when A Streetcar Named Desire premiered on Broadway. Four years later, its director Elia Kazan was preparing a movie adaptation. He called the New York-based North to Hollywood to write the music. More than up to the task, the innovative composer created film’s first all-jazz score. It earned him the first of his 15 Oscar nominations, as well as the enduring respect of his artistic colleagues. Included on the American Film Institute’s 2005 list of all-time best movie scores, North’s music remains the highlight of Kazan’s 1951 screen classic A Streetcar Named Desire.


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Survival run

In pursuit of something more

“Reliable” is the word often used to describe James Naughton, the New York-based character actor who’s been a familiar face on television since 1972. Born on this day (December 6) in 1945, his first feature film starring role was in director Don Shibib’s 1976 tale of inner conflict, Second Wind.

comics page

Celebrating secret love

Life less like tango, more a fandango

She is one of just 23 performers to claim acting’s triple crown — an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy Award. Born on this day (December 7) in 1932, Ellen Burstyn reprised her Broadway triumph on the big screen, co-starring with Alan Alda in director Robert Mulligan's 1978 adaptation of Same Time, Next Year.


The hills are a life

Alpine acting bred a love of geology

In town to promote the 1973 re-release of The Sound of Music, retired child actor Duane Chase was unexpectedly forthcoming about his tolerance for X-rated movies. Born on this day (December 12) in 1950, the 22-year-old Chase admitted to seeing “a lot of them.”


From stage to screen

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

Happy Place, Pamela Mala Sinha’s look into the lives of seven women who have attempted suicide, has its Vancouver premiere tonight (October 20). Last week during a “meet & greet,” the Winnipeg-born actress-playwright talked about her play’s upcoming motion picture adaptation.



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.