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Celebrity boozehounds hawking hooch: Dennis Hopper, Merle Haggard, Redd Foxx, Sean Connery & more

Print ad featuring Merle Haggard (RIP) for George Dickel Whisky
Print ad featuring Merle Haggard (RIP) for George Dickel Whisky, 1986.
Most of the time when our favorite musicians or celebrities appear as though they have “sold-out,” we all breathe a collective sigh of sadness. Such as the time that John Lydon shilled for Country Life Butter (the proceeds from which the crafty Lydon used to fund the creation of PiL’s 2012 album, This is PiL. Take that haters!), or when a part of you died after seeing Bob Dylan in a strange television commercial for Victoria’s Secret in 2004. As was the case with Lydon, it’s not always a bad thing. I mean, even I couldn’t hate on The Cure’s “Pictures of You” (from the band’s brilliant 1989 album, Disintegration) playing in the background of a Hewlett-Packard commercial back in 2003.
Dennis Hopper and John Huston for Jim Beam
Dennis Hopper and John Huston for Jim Beam.
But back to the point of this post—if there is a more perfect pairing when it comes to commercial endorsements than badass celebrities and musicians pimping out booze, I do not know what it is. And I’m quite sure that many of these vintage ads will have you checking your watch to see if it’s already noon. However, if you’re like me and go by the guideline that it’s always noon somewhere, then congratulations! Because you’re probably on your second Bloody Mary, rationalizing that it’s okay because it’s almost a meal as long as it’s served with olives and celery. Tons of vintage ads for Jim Beam, Smirnoff, Colt 45 and other party liquids, held lovingly by folks such as Merle Haggard (pictured at the top of this post, RIP), Chuck Berry, Dennis Hopper (seen above with director John Huston), Telly Savalas, and two badass ladies—Joan Crawford and Julie Newmar—follow.
Julie Newmar in an ad for Smirnoff Vodka, 1966
Julie Newmar in an ad for Smirnoff Vodka, 1966.
More celebrity boozehounds hawking hooch (say that in a slurred voice) after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb
09:59 am
Telly Savalas takes a cinematic trip around Great Britain
10:58 am

Who loves ya, baby?

In the 1980s, Hollywood legend and Kojak star, Telly Savalas showcased a series of promotional films made to boost the fortunes of three very different British cities: Aberdeen, Birmingham and Portsmouth.

Each of these cities was undergoing major changes and it was hoped the films would promote each one as “a city of the future.” Telly Savalas Looks at Aberdeen captured the “Texas of North Scotland” during its oil boom; while Telly Savalas Looks at Birmingham looked at life in the post-industrial “workshop of the world”; Telly Savalas Looks at Portsmouth examined the great sea-faring port.

The films were produced by Harold Baim, king of the quota quickies—short features originally intended to help stimulate the flagging British film industry—which ran as B-movies in local cinemas.

Each of these shorts captures some delightful period charm, even, if Mr. Savalas was enthusing about a world of oil rigs, concrete shopping malls, tower blocks and newly built freeways.

Telly looks at Aberdeen and Portsmouth, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
10:58 am
‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’: James Bond’s behind-the-scenes secrets

Your favorite James Bond tends to be the one you saw first. I saw Sean Connery first in a double bill of Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, at the Astoria Cinema, Edinburgh. This was soon followed by Diamonds are Forever at the Playhouse. Of course, Connery being Scots means I am probably biased, but his Bond had what made the series work best - sophistication, humor and thrills.

If it came to a second choice? Well, Moore never seemed sure if he was playing Simon Templar or Lord Brett Sinclair, and by Octopussy, he was cast as a sub-Flashman character in a dismal script by Flashman author, George MacDonald Fraser. Timothy Dalton was too dull and way too serious, perhaps he should have played it more like Simon Skinner, a slightly unhinged secret service man with a license to kill. Pierce Brosnan was good but deserved far better scripts - his Bond should have eliminated the scriptwriters. And as for Daniel Craig - started well, but he looks like he’s in a different film franchise.

For me George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the only possible second choice. He tried to make his Bond more humane, and kept much what was best in Connery’s interpretation. He was also assisted by a cracking script by Richard Maibaum (additional dialog by Simon “the mind of a cad and the pen of an angel” Raven); an excellent supporting of Diana Rigg as Countess Tracy di Vicenzo, and Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld; and one of the best opening theme tunes (and a glorious song sung by Louis Armstrong) of the series by John Barry.

Yet no matter what Lazenby did, or how good the film, he faced the momentous task of filling a role made by Sean Connery, and he was damned by a lot of critics for it. In this rarely seen interview, George Lazenby talks about the difficulties faced in making On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the rumors, the on-set niggles and why he was banned for growing a beard. First broadcast on the BBC, February 4th, 1970.

With thanks to Nellym

Posted by Paul Gallagher
07:14 pm
Horror Express: Campy gore classic returns

Playing almost like a particularly claustrophobic Argento film produced by Roger Corman, but starring Hammer’s two most notable leading men, the gory low-budget—but totally wonderful—Horror Express is one of those films that we of a certain age saw repeatedly on “Chiller Theater” type TV shows in the mid to late 70s. When I was a ten-year-old kid, this film absolutely scared the shit out of me.

In Horror Express, which is almost a horror comedy, a supposed “missing link” is discovered in Siberia, but the frozen creature is merely the vessel for an extraterrestrial spirit of “pure evil” that can hop from victim to victim turning them into zombies that bleed from their eyes. It stars Christoper Lee and Peter Cushing as two competitive archaeologists. Telly Savalas has a great supporting role as a brutal Cossack officer who’s a nasty piece of work and there is even a weird Rasputin character, too.  It was written by Arnaud d’Usseau and Julian Zimet, the same (one-time blacklisted) screenwriters who penned the “undead biker” classic Psychomania. It was directed by Eugenio Martín. Like many European films of the time, this Spanish production was shot without sound and the actors dubbed their voices in later so it’s got that loopy sort of feel.

The film has been in the public domain for years and crappy quasi-bootleg copies have been making the rounds for a while (I have one that has the film reels out of order). At long last, Horror Express fans are getting treated to a new deluxe 2-disc dual DVD/Blu-ray release from cult meisters extraordinare, Severin Films. The new high-definition master has been created using the original camera negative and DVD extras include a recording of an extensive 1973 interview with Peter Cushing. (Cushing’s wife died before filming on Horror Express commenced. He almost backed out of the film entirely).

Pre-oder a copy of Horror Express on Amazon.

Posted by Richard Metzger
02:47 pm