2017: A Year In Film and Music


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For me, this year was dominated by the return of Twin Peaks, reaffirming David Lynch’s status as the most daring filmmaker of our time. Dark, playful and thrilling, it once again pushed the outer limits of television.  Continue reading


Christine, From Beginning To End


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Upon hearing the sad news of Christine Keeler’s passing, here is the epilogue to my novel, Wicked Baby, in which I reimagined the years following the Profumo Affair, in her voice. The photo above, shared by her son on social media, shows Christine enjoying freedom after leaving prison in 1964.  Continue reading

Madonna’s ‘Erotica’ At 25


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In 1991, Madonna’s fame was at its height. Truth or Dare, her behind-the-scenes documentary filmed during the Blond Ambition tour a year earlier, caused a sensation with its revealing take on the star. After reaching her pop apotheosis with Like a Prayer, she had struck out in new directions with ‘Vogue’ and ‘Justify My Love’ (a sultry, experimental track produced by Andre Betts, with a video banned by MTV.) Continue reading

Marilyn in Love … and Art


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I have written two new reviews for the Immortal Marilyn website. The first, Dead Blondes: You Must Remember Marilyn, covers film historian Karina Longworth’s podcast series from earlier this year, while Artists in Love: Marilyn and Arthur Miller looks back at a 2016 TV documentary for the Sky Arts channel.

Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies


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Ava Gardner: the name conjures timeless elegance. She was a North Carolina sharecropper’s daughter whose beauty gave her the regal bearing of a goddess. Beyond the glamorous aura, she is most often recalled for her stormy personal life, and especially her marriage to Frank Sinatra. But this is only a partial vision of one of the greatest female stars of the 1940s and 50s. Even the most devout cinephiles often overlook her unique contribution to post-war American cinema. Continue reading

An Actor’s Truth: Jeanne Eagels in ‘The Letter’


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Mick LaSalle, film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and a champion of Pre-Code cinema, has often praised the few surviving film performances of Jeanne Eagels, who made her name in the theatre. Perhaps the best-known is her first ‘talkie’, The Letter, later remade with Bette Davis. Many viewers today are impressed by the raw power of Jeanne’s acting. In his regular ‘Dear Mick’ column, LaSalle answers an Oakland reader’s question: ‘Do you think that it’s possible to compare the quality of acting between generations?

Great acting has a truth, on its own terms, that may inevitably be influenced by its period in history, but which is grounded within the actor — it’s the actor’s truth … A perfect example of this is Jeanne Eagels in The Letter (1929). It’s a wild, mannered, crazy-over-the-top performance, with echoes of an earlier stage tradition. But you can’t take your eyes off her, because she is putting it all on the line and holding nothing back. You finish that movie, and it’s like Jeanne Eagels has just hit you in the face.

You can read more about her remarkable talent in Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed.

Remembering Diana, 20 Years On


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My first memory of Diana is visual: that blue suit she wore and the sapphire ring, on the day of her engagement. When she married Charles in 1981 I was nine years old; she was twice my age, but still hardly a woman. Continue reading