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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Man Flu

It is with great sadness that I report I am suffering from Man Flu   

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Magnificent Seven (1960)

In anticipation of the forthcoming re-make of the Magnificent Seven, the Tainted Archive rolls out reviews of the original movie, its sequels and the TV series.

"A pallid, pretentious and over-long reflection of the Japanese original.' New York Times

Given it's iconic status in the western moviescape, it may come as a surprise to hear that John Sturges' 1960 movie, The Magnificent Seven was largely a box office disappointment - during the year of its original release it placed well behind movies such as the Elvis Presley vehicle, G I Blues. But when the film was released in Europe it became a smash hit, being particularly popular in the UK and Germany.




Of course over the years the movie has gained its well deserved classic status, (in fact it remains the second most  played movie on American television) and watching the movie today it feel like what it is - a genuine screen classic which regularly features in top ten lists of the best western movies ever. Opening with Elmer Bernstein's rousing theme tune - a song that could be argued to be THE WESTERN THEME rather than just another western theme. It's a really exciting, rousing piece that once heard can never be forgotten. So iconic did it become that it was used in television adverts for Malboro Cigarettes and also for comedic effect in the James Bond movie, Moonraker.

The film starts proper with Calvera (Eli Wallach) and his bandit army riding into a small Mexican village and pushing the residents about. Eventually the residents decide to fight back but rather than buying guns and fighting themselves they hire Chris (Yul Brynna) to protect them. Soon six other gunmen join Brynner's team and we have the magnificent seven.

The film doesn't really put a foot wrong in the way it is structured - the first part of the film deals with the seven coming together. Next they arrive at the Mexican village and there are some great character moments here, but ironically it is Hortz Buckholz (the actor most forgotten by participants in pub quizzes when asked to name the seven actors) who shines the brightest. He has some great moments, not less his discovery of the women the villagers have hidden from the American gunmen. Steve McQueen also stands out as does James Coburn - between them these two give us the two coolest most laid back characters in the entire movie. The middle section of the film sees the seven training up the villagers and they initially drive off Calvera (Wallach) and his men but the film builds up the tension for the return of Calvera and the final climatic shoot-out.

The real star of the movie though is the lean script - the dialogue is particularly good with few words wasted and virtually every line carries the story forward in some way. Though of course the action scenes, particularly the gunfights are excellently blocked and acted out.

'The old man was right, only the farmers won. We lost.' Chris' (Brynna) final line as he and McQueen
 ride off into the sunset.

A western then that truly is magnificent.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Miss Marple on steroids comes at you at full volume

OK it's that time again - time to push product and try and get some of you out there to browse on over to my title and click buy. Hey we all have to make a living you know and these days writers can't afford to be precious and from time to time we have to put on our sales hat and push, push, push.

Granny Smith Investigates was my first book in the Granny Smith series and it's done pretty well - I'm pleased with the way it has gone down with strong sales and good reviews. The book is now also available as an eBook from those nice people at Audible. Performed by Fiona Thraille you can check out a sample reading by clicking HERE

There's a brutal murder in the small Welsh village of Gilfach. The police are clueless. With no motive and no real suspect, the investigation soon grinds to a halt. Enter Mary Anne Smith, otherwise known as Granny Smith, the 71-years-young, pipe-smoking, heavy metal-loving, chaos-causing amateur sleuth with a difference.
Granny has a talent for mayhem, and soon those talents are put to good use as our intrepid pensioner starts the unravel the case, which finds her provoking Chief Inspector Miskin as she comes up against a full scale police investigation, proving that you're never too old to make a nuisance of yourself and that 71 is actually the new 21.
Murder's never been so much fun. 

If you like crime novels, particularly cozy crimes than this title should be right up your street. Then again I believe the characters are so wide ranging and comedic that anyone who takes the plunge will find much to enjoy in the title. Well I would say that, after all I am the creator of Granny Smith but there have been four books about the character, with several more to come so I must enjoy writing about her, the world she inhabits muse seem real to me. Is Granny my favourite of all my characters? Well I'm going to become all precious now and say that all my characters are equal to me, they are all my babies but then again Granny came kicking and screaming, fully formed from my imagination.

'The eccentric Welsh pensioner gets her teeth (usually gripping a corn-cob pipe) into solving the mysterious murder of a friend in the village. Despite being ignored and warned off by the police, she persists. This delightful story makes great family reading with plenty of humour. I can just imagine a nice TV comedy series from this.' *****


Actress, Fiona Thraille has done a wonderful job in performing the book - note I say performing rather than reading, because Fiona does an incredible job in bringing the characters to  life. The actress will soon start work on the second Granny Smith title so if you enjoy the first one, and I'm confident you will, then you'll have another title to look forward to.

"A delightful story with an unpredictable plot, remarkable characters, zany happenings that combine for an engaging light hearted read. Granny Smith, named after the apple convincingly morphs into "Miss Marple on steroids".*****

If you don't have an Audible account then you can sign up for a trial and get Granny Smith Investigates for free - simply select the title for your free title. Find out how HERE . 

You can, of course, hear a free audio sample before you decide to buy so you've really got nothing to lose by checking out Audible.

'It had been a while since I have read the likes of the character Miss Marple from Agatha Christie works. Now Granny Smith has fulfilled that void in my reading life. Granny Smith is not exactly old to be a Granny by heart but irrespective of that, everyone has been calling her Granny. She is a young at heart woman who has a trait to be curious about everything that is happening around her. So when her friend Sheila gets engaged to Nigel, who is younger than her, Granny Smith gets suspicious. The following murder in the town makes Granny even more curious and on she follows the clues of the murder, much to the chagrin of Detective Inspector Miskins.' *****




Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Cowboys and Aliens: Did Aliens visit the Old West?

In late March 1897, around seven years before the Wright Brothers undertook their first controlled flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, airships were in the news after several hundred residents of Missouri, Kansas claimed to witness a strange sight as a huge airship hovered over farms, ranches and small towns in a three state area. Reportedly it swept a huge searchlight along the ground and terrified residents who witnessed this strange event. The story made the local Kansas Newspapers but then went national and then worldwide.

The story would have died a death, many were sceptical but then on 1st April 1897 (April Fools day, don't forget) Alexander Hamilton,a  farmer from LeRoy, Kansas claimed that the air machine had hovered over his farm and one of his cows had been sucked up into the machine. Later cow parts were discovered in a three mile radius.

That same night as many as 10,000 witnesses would give statements to the press about the airship. It was said to have flown over Kansas City, going through a series of erratic manoeuvres. Some witnesses even claimed that the airship was the planet, Venus...one man told the Kansas City Times that, 'Venus does not dodge around, fly swiftly to the horizon, swoop rapidly towards the ground and then fly away to be lost in the Southern sky.'

From descriptions given to the newspapers the aircraft seemed to be - shaped like an Indian canoe with a basket some 25 to 30 feet in length. Four light wings extended from the basket and these wings were triangular with a giant bag, thought to be a gas balloon, above the basket. The craft had powerful lights that lit up the night sky  it was said that these lights were as bright as those of a locomotive.


This started the world's first UFO scare and in the weeks following the aircraft was reported all over the United States. When it was spotted in Michigan, observers claimed to have heard human voices coming from the machine. On April 6th it was spotted over Omaha and more than six hundred people made statements to the press. The craft was also spotted in Iowa where a farmer claimed a drag rope had come from the craft, hooked his trousers and carried him several hundred feet before dropping him to the ground. Speculation in the press became widespread - one theory being that the craft was a new invention, piloted by American astronauts who were testing the commercial validity of the machine. Cattle rustling was, of course, denied.

There were yet more sightings of the strange craft - The Kansas City Free Press reported that, 'the airship is not of this world, but it is likely operated by a party of scientists from the planet, Mars who are out on a tour of the universe for scientific study.'

Whatever the truth of the story it remains one of the most enduring mysteries of the Old West.