front page

Belgian upstart prevails

Projecting palatable personal warmth

"Art has to be national to be international,” Peter Ustinov once told a late night chat-show host in Toronto. I heard him say it on this day (November 21) in 1962, and immediately scribbled down the quote, the program’s name (Midnight Zone), and the date. His words struck a chord with my own nascent nationalism and, later, nicely summarized the thinking behind the creation of an annual World Television Day by the United Nations. Marked on November 21 since 1997, it focuses on the broadcast medium’s power to educate, illuminate and promote international understanding. Celebrated as an actor, author, raconteur and humanitarian, the London-born Ustinov was a lifelong internationalist, who promoted his values with insight and wit. Knighted by Her Majesty in 1990, the year he assumed the presidency of the World Federalist Movement, Sir Peter was a welcome presence on stage and screen for some six decades. Today, I’m adding reviews of four of his feature films to my Reeling Back archive (with links to each following the Afterword to this posting), a package that includes Ustinov’s debut as Agatha Christie’s fussy Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, in director John Guillermin’s 1978 feature Death on the Nile.


local news

Running out of options

Young stars already past their prime

Remembered as the youngest person ever to win an acting Oscar, Tatum O’Neal was born on this day (November 5) in 1963. Less well-remembered is her working visit to Vancouver to play a girl on the run in debuting director Stephen Gyllenhaal’s 1985 feature Certain Fury.

comics page

Show taken on the road

Lots of heart along with authentic soul

Baseball historian Larry Lester was in Detroit on this day (November 3) in 2010 to speak on the “History of the Negro Leagues.” Authentic Americana, the subject had inspired director John Badham’s 1976 feature The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor-Kings.


Negotiating minefields

Not about to give up on art or craft

Continuing change in the power dynamics of the entertainment industry have prompted a veteran filmmaker to update his 2013 book. John Badham on Directing - 2nd Edition offers a timely reassessment of the art and craft in the age of episodic television.


Imagine a silicon screen

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

As Americans go to the polls today (November 3), not a few political reporters will be outlining books based on their campaign experiences. Most of them will end up unfinished in a desk drawer. And yes, I’ve planned books about movies, including one featuring the work of John Badham.



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.