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Best of 2020

My annual review of reviews BEST OF 2020 is linked. I usually do three, but I’ll do two this year. Recorded music to follow, as I’m waiting for more to arrive. This is different. Very different. Theatre? Up to the end of February. Film? All except one was seen at home. Only two concerts … and lots of 60s Retrospective reviews. Take a look …

This year, it’s a question of Netflix or Amazon Prime rather than Odeon v Cineworld. The latest review is MANK on Netflix, (SEE LINK) the “Citizen Kane” prequel or how Citizen Kane was written by Herman Mankiewicz (and not by Orson Welles). Gary Oldman, Tom Burke, Charles Dance … hold on, they’re all British. See the review.

The 60s Retrospective series adds TAKE A GIRL LIKE YOU, (linked) a 1970 British comedy. On the surface the cast looked solid … Oliver Reed, Hayley Mills, Noel Harrison, John Bird and cameos from Sheila Hancock and Penelope Keith. Script by George Melly, directed by Jonathan “Alice in Wonderland” Miller. Trouble is, it was several years too late for its Swingin’ Sixties storyline. Oliver Reed and Hayley Mills? It’s like watching Bill Sikes from ‘Oliver’ trying to seduce Pollyanna.

A return to the 60s Retrospective series with a film about an American blond- haired, arrogant, racist narcissist in a position of power. Not not that one. This is the 1967 film about Custer starring Robert Shaw. CUSTER OF THE WEST (follow link). Among the many films about Custer this was the last before the revisionist view of Little Big Man. As this is mainly about fiction v history, you probably don’t need to have seen the film.

The Rebecca review is becoming a major piece on the various versions. Lisa added some notes today on the novel versus the 1997 version (after the review of the 1997 version) and then some fascinating observations on “The Second Mrs De Winter” remaining nameless. See the main REBECCA article.

This isn’t a new page, but having seen the 2020 film and the classic 1940 Hitchcock film, we watched the 1997 TV miniseries with Charles Dance, Emilia Fox, Diana Rigg and Jonathan Cake. I added thoughts / review to the main REBECCA article, which has been popular. Scroll down till you get to the 1997 review.

OK, it was 1973, but as Lindsay Anderson’s OH’ LUCKY MAN (link to review) was the (kind of) sequel to If …. I’m putting it in my 60s Retrospectives section. Starring Malcolm McDowell and many of the cast of If …. including Arthur Lowe, Peter Jeffrey, Graham Crowden. Plus a young Helen Mirren. It takes up the story of Mick Travis, transformed from rebel into a go-getter coffee salesman. The film is an indictment of post-Imperial British culture (and manages to parallel the Vietnam war in the Zingara story). I was disappointed when I saw it in 1973 and 1993. Now it all makes sense. It’s much better than I’d thought. The Alan Price soundtrack album is brilliant too.

I’ve just added an article on AROUND AND AROUND on Big Daddy, the wonderful American covers band. They did hits of the 80s and 90s but in late 50s / early 60s style. It’s an expanded version of a Toppermost article … their “back story” explaining why they hadn’t heard any of the original songs, and only had the sheet music is very good … I’ve quoted it in the article. You may never have heard of them, but you should try them out. Their masterpiece is Sergeant Pepper’s … every track re-imagined in late 50s / early 60s styles.

The “Reviled! The Albums Critics Love To Hate” section at AROUND AND AROUND adds David Bowie’s 1973 covers album, Pinups. It was far more disliked by American critics than British ones, and for an album that critics knocked (two stars was Rolling Stone magazine’s rating), Bowie had the last laugh … seven weeks at number one in Britain.

The most popular section on AROUND AND AROUND is ‘Reviled: The Albums The Critics Loved to Hate.” Do look further than that on the site, but today’s addition get us to Paul McCartney, and WILD LIFE by Wings. (linked) It was considered his weakest album in a rush of post-Beatles ire at Paul. It bears re-listening especially as later reissues added the singles Give Ireland Back to The Irish and Mary Had A Little Lamb.