Saturday, March 25, 2023

Music Reviews: Jimmy Donley

Skilled people aren't necessarily nice or moral people. Today many folks like to "cancel" people. Maybe the consumer doesn't like the artist's politics. Maybe the artist is abusive to family members or intimates. The artist might be racist or sexist. The artist might be violent. The artist might just be a low quality human being.

I don't think the value of a person's art or the level of their skill is determined by their morality. Flowers can grow from crap. We are all different mixes of good and evil. The worst and best of us are still human.

The troubled singer/songwriter Jimmy Donley (1929-1963), who committed suicide in 1963, was a mix of good and evil. The Mississippi born Donley was dishonorably discharged from the Army in the late forties/early fifties because of his racism towards a Black NCO. Think about how racist you had to be to kicked out of the Army in the mid 20th century! Nevertheless Donley later became good friends with Black rock-n-roll icon Fats Domino, occasionally writing for and singing with Domino in integrated bands. 

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Movie Reviews: Theatre Of Blood

Theatre of Blood
directed by Douglas Hickox

Growing up back in the day I always thought that if one wanted to be an evil overlord one could do worse than model yourself after Vincent Price. Price was one of the most famous practitioners of the now archaic Transatlantic Accent. 

Price was also an actor who could simultaneously bring a tremendous amount of gravitas to almost any movie he starred in while also, if the role called for it, chewing the scenery with an unmatched manic hammy intensity. Price never made any good movie bad but he made quite a few bad movies good. 

Many of Price's villains were often insane, inbred, murderous, lustful, scheming, and completely malevolent but they were also almost always polite and possessed of remarkably good manners. Just because Price's character might be preparing to serve you your own kidneys is no reason for him to be uncivil or mean to you. Perish the thought! Price's characters were gentlemen! And so was Price in real life. He was the opposite of villainous.

Movie Reviews: The World The Flesh and The Devil

The World The Flesh and The Devil
directed by Ranald MacDougall

This is an apocalyptic movie with statements on society, fear, and race. Superstar actor and icon of cool Harry Belafonte also produced the movie. As
 this film was made in 1959, what was then likely daring and risk taking may appear less so to modern eyes. Or not. 

There are certain storylines that Hollywood was and is squeamish about investigating, both in 1959 and in 2023. Still, this film was unusual in featuring a reasonably well developed Black character. 

Extroverted or not we all need some human contact. Ralph Burton (Belafonte) is a mine inspector in Pennsylvania who is investigating a mine tunnel that has been shut down. After a cave-in Ralph can hear people digging to rescue him but then they stop.