Month: February 2017

Alec McCowen 1925-2017


Alex McCowen in ‘Frenzy’

Alec McCowen, the English actor who portrayed the chief inspector investigating the ‘Necktie Murders’ in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy,  has died aged 91.

His death was reported by The Guardian

In the film his investigation leads to the arrest of the wrong man, Richard Blaney (played by Jon Finch), whilst the real murderer Robert Rusk (played by Barry Foster) is still at large. McCowen famously speaks the last line of the film.

His film career began in the 1953 drama The Cruel Sea, directed by Charles Frend, where he portrayed a seaman as part of the Royal Navy. In the 1958 Roy Ward Baker film A Night to Remember, he was the real-life RMS Carpathia wireless operator Harold Cottam, who received the distress signal from the Titanic.

During the 1960s he acted in Tony Richardson’s The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962),  In The Cool of the Day (1963) opposite Peter Finch, Jane Fonda and Angela Lansbury, and the horror film  The Witches (1966) where he portrayed the wealthy owner of a small private school who hires a schoolteacher (played by Joan Fontaine).

He received a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor nomination in Travels with My Aunt (1972) as the retired London bank manager who journeys across Europe with his Aunt (played by Maggie Smith).


Alec McCowen in ‘Never Say Never Again’

In the James Bond film Never Say Never (1983),  he was the character Q who heads up the Q-Branch.  Sean Connery reveals his name to be Algernon during the film.   The film was one of the few Bond films not produced by Eon Production

Director Martin Scorsese hired him for two films.  Firstly as Sillerton Jackson, the expert on the families that make up New York society in The Age of Innocence (1993) and  as Reverend Raleigh in the Oscar nominated film Gangs of New York (2002).
It was his last film appearance.


Alec McCowen in ‘Gangs of New York’






Dial M Five: February 2 2017


Five film stories you may have missed.  Curated by me with tender-loving care.


David Shepard, a giant of film preservation who unfairly didn’t receive the universal acclaim that Kevin Brownlow got (ie: an Oscar), has died.
The Hollywood Reporter obit is here

I interviewed David in 2011 and he spoke about working with Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton to preserve their films.

“Chaplin was very concerned with the care of his films , he thought of himself as an artist. And beside that he had lots of progeny who were depending on these things for being fed and clothed.   Keaton wasn’t very interested.”

The audio of our phone interview is here


President Trump and Hollywood seemed destined to be connected at the hip for at least four years.  Matthew McConaughey was interviewed on 29 January  by the BBC about his new film GOLD, and asked “Do you think its time maybe Hollywood and the cultural elite of America gave this guy a break?”

McConaughey’s reply:  They don’t have a choice now. He’s our President.
(see the rest of his reply at the 2min 55 sec mark)


Footage of the late Debbie Reynolds appearing on the Australian TV show The Mike Walsh Show, has surfaced online.
The National Film and Sound Archive has uploaded her appearance from November 13 1979, and it really is quite lovely – it includes a performance of Gee, But It’s Good To Be Here.    Watch the footage here


Here’s a very impressive montage of every film that won the Best Cinematography Oscar. From SUNRISE to THE REVENANT.  Some forgotten films in here.


Walt Disney Animation, Pixar, and LucasFilm filed a motion in U.S District Court on Tuesday for the approval of a settlement over wage theft and anti-trust claims.

“The studios were able to achieve this by conspiring to set salary limits and avoid hiring artists from other studios, thereby circumventing the free market for the skills and talents of their artists.”

Read more from Cartoon Brew, who has been reporting on the case for the last 2 years



Warner Bros has announced all 8 Harry Potter films will be released on 4K Blu-ray before the end of 2017.    By the time you buy those,  they will have been released on 5K I guess.
More here

Gavin J Blair from THR reports that Sony Film Unit reported a $926 million loss in the last quarter. The revenue was hit by the failures of PASSENGERS, and THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (remake).  Read more

David Oyelowo is conducting a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Feb 8.
He has 3 films out this year NINA, QUEEN OF KATWE, A UNITED KINGOM
Put it in your calendar.

Have you ever crowd-funded the restoration of an old film?
I made a small donation to this project – which was to release THE PRIDE OF PALOMAR (1922), a film directed by Frank Borzage, that is currently held in the Library of Congress.  Because the Kickstarter went over his target, the additional money used was to release a additional Borzage silent film called  BACK PAY (1922).   The latter has been sent to donors to view privately, and will appear on YouTube in around 6 months.
Pencil in June 2017.
Pride of Palomar is still being digitised after a few setbacks and is due for a DVD release this year.

Regal cinemas throughout America are screening all 9 Best Picture Oscar nominees for only $35.    For those wondering,  $35 would get you 1 1/2 films in Australia.