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Look, mom . . . Cowboys!

Black hats, white hats, hat tricks

The doctor is in. Or, more precisely, he is in touch with the times. The recipient of a 2008 honorary degree from Toronto's York University (recognizing his work as an environmental activist), actor Woody Harrelson is an outspoken advocate of all things green. Since becoming an A-list movie star, he's used his celebrity to promote a host of socially progressive causes, among them wilderness conservation, alternative fuels and the work of UNICEF. Last month, the man who first gained fame as the genial, if dim, TV barkeep Woody Boyd (during eight seasons of Cheers; 1985-93) opened a Culver City bistro called Sage, billed as the world’s first organic vegan beer garden. An ethical vegan since the 1980s, Harrelson eschews meat and dairy products, as well as sugar and flour — public stands that have made him a hero to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Harrelson is probably best known, though, for his leadership in the campaign to legalize marijuana. In 1999, he narrated Canadian director Ron Mann's documentary feature Grass, a critical examination of the U.S. government's pot policy. Born on this day (July 23) in 1961, Woody Harrelson has shown himself to be much more than the fun-loving rowdy that he played in 1994's The Cowboy Way.

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Historic moment lost

Redneck redcoat's tale turns tragic

The only First Nations actor to win an Academy Award (for 1970's Little Big Man), Vancouver's Chief Dan George was born on this day (July 24) in 1899. Among his 14 feature film roles was that of Sounding Sky, the grieving father of Almighty Voice, in 1974's Alien Thunder.

comics page

Fairy magic & fruit batty

Aussie-inspired eco-toon a treat

The comic talents of Robin Williams, born on this day (July 21) in 1951, often seem inspired by classic Warner Brothers cartoon characters. No surprise, then, that he's a runaway hit in his first animated feature role, Batty Koda in 1992's Ferngully: The Last Rainforest .


A spy for all seasons

When there were but three

In 1980, when there were only a dozen James Bond features to choose among, it was easy to know everything there was to know about the screen's most popular superspy. Reeling Back invites you to test your recollection of those simpler times with this film quiz.


High summer surge

My Blog; Your Guide to What's New

The weather is hot, and the pace of postings to the Reeling Back archive is hotter. Since the July 1 Canada Day holiday, there have been 17 new reviews for visitors to choose among. It's about time to set some goals for the website's first anniversary, coming up on October 4.



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.