Six Damn Fine Degrees #46: The Shirelles’ “Boys”

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

“What’s your favourite Beatles tune sung by Ringo” is – it should be said – quite a niche Fab Four related question. But for me the answer is 1963’s “Boys”, his track on their first album Please Please Me. It’s a great little stomper of a rock tune, grabbing the listener’s attention from the very start, and holding it for its brisk running time of under 2½ minutes. It’s also fun, with Ringo playfully grinning as he sings his way through a chorus that goes:

Well, I talk about boys (yeah, yeah, boys)
Don’t ya know I mean boys (yeah, yeah, boys)
Well, I talk about boys, now (yeah, yeah, boys)
Aah, boys (yeah, yeah, boys)
Well, I talk about boys, now (yeah, yeah, boys)
What a bundle of joy! (yeah, yeah, boys)

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #39: The Final Scene in The Lady Eve

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

Ever since the invention of the motion picture, there’s been an audience appetite to watch hot couples getting it together. You want people to pay money to go see your movies, you can’t go wrong with putting a gorgeous man and an attractive lady in front of the camera and let the audience know they’re into each other.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #36: Le Axe Murderer de Rochefort

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

Michel Legrand’s score to 1967’s Les Demoiselle de Rochefort is one of that film’s many delights. Not only is it better than his score for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (yes, it is, no, I will not be taking questions) but its a vital underpinning to a frothy delight of a film full of bright, vibrant colours, happy dance routines, beautiful people falling in love – and, of course, an axe-wielding psychopath.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #30: Shelley Duvall in The Shining

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

In the inaugural awards ceremony for The Golden Raspberries back in 1980, Shelley Duvall was nominated for her performance as Wendy Torrence in The Shining. This fact is a useful reminder as to how mixed to hostile the critical reception was for the film on its initial release. And that the annual exercise in lazy trying-to-be-cool snobbery that is the Razzies really don’t know what they’re talking about.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #25: Mystique

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness.

It’s only in the last couple of years that Marvel comics have finally acknowledged the truth about one of their oldest coded gay relationships in its superhero universe. In 2019, the characters finally got to share an on-panel kiss and at the beginning of 2020 the first ever direct reference to their exact status made it to a published comic.  Nearly forty years after the supervillains Mystique and Destiny had first appeared in a comic together (and thirty years after the latter’s demise), that they had been a homosexual couple was made unambiguously clear.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #19: Mr Yunioshi

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness.

Watching classic cinema for the first time on the big screen can be a fabulous experience. Firstly, you’re getting to see how the makers intended you to see it. Secondly, the audience in the type of cinemas that play old movies tend to be incredibly well-behaved. No loud phone calls mid-movie or bored kids kicking the back of your chair.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #13: The Lavender Hill Mob

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness.

There’s a moment in 1951’s The Lavender Hill Mob that captures an important truth about the best of the Ealing comedies: our two genial leads, having nearly successfully executed the gold heist of the century, suddenly realise their plans are in trouble. They need to swiftly descend the steps of the Eiffel Tower or evidence of their crime might fall into the wrong hands.

The two men start awkwardly racing down the spiral staircase. As their speed increases, and their need to reach the ground fast overcomes their vertigo they both start laughing. At this tense moment in a heist film, with all their schemes about to awry, two middle-aged men beginlaughing and hollering with giddy abandon.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #7: Cinematic Chernobyl

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness.

The drive from Kyiv to the exclusion zone around Chernobyl is not long. The small coach my friends and I had hired back in 2018 took us there in just over two hours. “You can watch this to pass the time,” the driver said. “Some of it was shot in the exclusion zone so you’ll get an idea as to what to expect.” And so it was that I got to see the 1991 TV movie Chernobyl: The Final Warning.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #3: Curse Of The Cat People

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness.

Following Matt’s dislike for the cat-shaped shenanigans of Garfield, I thought I’d follow up with something far more positive in the world of the feline: Val Lewton’s incredible Curse Of The Cat People.

When it comes to Hollywood, the rationale behind sequels is obvious. We’ve had a success and made money. Let’s make more of the same and make even more money. In 1942, RKO Pictures had a big hit with Cat People, a low-budget horror about a woman who fears she’ll transform into a panther if aroused by passion. So the bigwigs at the studio made the obvious call. The public liked the mix of feminine desire laced with the threat of feline danger so let’s make a sequel. Hence they were to greenlight:

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The Rear-View Mirror: Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

There’s an apocryphal tale told about the very earliest days of cinema. In this anecdote, a film is shown where a large steam train puffs its way towards the camera. The audience, so the story goes, panicked and started to race out the cinema. I’ve heard this story a lot, and its always told with the angle that we should laugh at the naïve early cinema audience. A crowd, as this story implies, were so ignorant of the new technology that they genuinely thought they were about to be run down by a non-existent train. Such illiterate fools!

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