December 21, 2014

Flashbacks - 1983 and beyond

A last look at my old movie magazine shelf...

While my collection of horror and sci-fi books and mags is another matter, this shelf of general movie magazines has a wider appeal and proved very popular on Twitter. Here's the last few highlights, skipping through the rest of the 1980s.

After this, my collection became very specialised, and I rarely bought Empire magazine, especially as their opinions were so differently tuned than mine. I switched to Movieline for a few years, though my life was mostly ruled by the collectors' bible Video Watchdog, which is also still running today.

All my early peeks inside the mags of the 70s are linked at the end of this article. Here we finish off the decade, starting with 1983...

Dustin Hoffman put on a dress and won an Oscar in Tootsie. Another winner, American Horror Story's Jessica Lange, was also on a roll with star roles at the time.

The third Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, lands in London at three West End Cinemas, in 70mm.

Film Review, July

Flashdance hit big that summer, though the news soon broke about Jennifer Beals not doing all her own dancing. Though a big clue was all of the stark backlighting...

Another busy summer, another Bond, another Star Wars, another Superman...

Film Review, August

Meanwhile, Scorsese was about to release The King of Comedy. Here he is with De Niro as Rupert Pupkin.

Film Review, August

The last Monty Python film, The Meaning of Life, snuck out quite quietly. Terry Gilliam directed the short supporting film that later attacks the main feature! His next directing credit would be the epic Brazil.

A new, but short-lived, movie magazine Movie Scene had great colour pages. This spectacular cover from Fright Night...

...and this publicity shot for John Carpenter's Big Trouble In Little China.

More sequels, here's Freddy in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

Merchant/Ivory delivered this relatively frank gay drama, based on a novel by E.M. Forster, who also inspired their acclaimed successes with adaptions of his A Room With A View, A Passage To India and later Howard's End. Maurice features a great role for young Hugh Grant.

Films Illustrated, November

Photo from a one-page interview with Randall Cook, who provided some startling visual effects for the superbly entertaining horror, The Gate.

After being derided in many roles, Arnold was finally taken more seriously in The Terminator and Predator.

Writer/director Derek Jarman's films were some of the few that were made that angrily fought back against A.I.D.S. paranoid British society. Tilda Swinton was a regular collaborator in these experimental visual poems, mostly shot on Super 8 film.

Director Ken Russell's last great works appeared in a loose trilogy, sharing a few overlapping cast members: Lair of the White Worm, The Rainbow and Salome's Last Dance (above).

Great shot of Paul McGann on location for Withnail & I.

Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix in Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho.

Earlier magazine flashbacks from 1963 to 1982, can be found in the sidebar, at right...

December 08, 2014

Bela Lugosi was here - a look round his old mansion!

Through a series of unrepeatable, lucky coincidences, I recently found myself standing in Bela Lugosi's bedroom. He may not have lived here for long, but just walking around one of the houses he owned felt very special. The rooms he once walked in, the views that he once enjoyed...

Bela and his wife regularly moved homes when he was at the height of his career. It's estimated that he lived here for less than two years, in 1934 and 1935, in the Hollywood Hills' Beachwood Canyon in a mansion known as Castle La Paloma. 

Because the house was up for sale, we were able to briefly look around inside, with the realtor's permission. As this is private property, this certainly isn't open to the public, but sightseers can still see the front of the house from the street.

This isn't the modest, cramped home portrayed in Tim Burton's Ed Wood, when Bela was at the end of his career. This is where he lived twenty years earlier, while making Mark of the Vampire.

The house perches on a very steep drop, allowing views from the back of the house, and gardens, to overlook a significant chunk of the City of Los Angeles, as well as across at many other lofty residences around the rest of the canyon. It has quite extensive grounds, carefully planted out, despite some of them being on a 30 degree slope! 

The 1924 house has recently been renovated and restored for the current sale, with this swimming pool added to what was once a large lawn where Lugosi's menagerie of large dogs must've romped.

The front of the house looks like a quaint English country bungalow, disguising the fact that the house is actually on two levels, built down the canyon slope at the back. 

I wasn't allowed to take photos in the room where Bela most likely used to sleep, which added to its mystique. The fascinating aspect of that room was a hidden, tiny back door that lead outside and subtly out of a corner of the grounds, past a hidden arbour. A remnant of forbidden Hollywood, to include a sneaky secret escape route out of the bedroom and away from the house!

It was a pleasure to witness some vintage Hollywood history, and a privilege to look inside one of the luxury homes I normally only marvel at from the outside. The views are spectacular, and the chance to live in a genuinely old property relatively rare. I wonder who's going to end up buying it?

More photos of this Lugosi residence on Curbed L.A.

Me, not believing my luck