Remembering Patrick Macnee (Feb 6, 1922 – June 25, 2015)

July 8th, 2015 by Matt

Patrick Macnee as John Steed

Patrick Macnee as “John Steed” in the British TV show, “The Avengers”

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Patrick Macnee recently. By coincidence, I had been on an “Avengers” TV show kick, viewing some of the 1965 and 1966 episodes with him (as John Steed) and Diana Rigg (as Emma Peel).

I loved this show as a kid. I think I was 8 years old when I first discovered it, so that would make it the 1966 season. I was in awe, of course, with “Mrs. Peel,” as was any young boy of the time! But, the chemistry between these two actors, the sly humor, along with the fascinating (and sometimes a little weird, creepy, or both!) storylines were what made the show for me.

And “Steed” was just so smooth, elegant, and charming, all while being a “man of action” in his unflappable British way. Macnee’s Steed was the very epitome, to me, of what a British gentleman spy could be: very suave, cool, canny, unperturbed, clear-headed, and dryly witty. And he packed a mean umbrella for all fighting purposes! I have always admired him.

Thank you, Mr. Macnee! Your “John Steed” will live forever in this once-young boy’s heart!

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Grand Prix–Are You Ready to Race?

March 8th, 2010 by Matt

Grand Prix, 1966

Grand Prix, 1966

I recently bought and watched the new DVD release of perhaps the greatest of the racing movies, Grand Prix. I remember seeing this as a kid of eight in 1966. (You do the math!) What an impact it had…the stunning cinematography and vibrating, road–level views of the famous Formula 1 racecourses really thrilled me! It also featured James Garner, who has always been a favorite actor of mine.

Having been years since I last saw this movie, I was really looking forward to seeing it again. I also wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered…to see if it still stood up after all these years. So…has it?

Well, in pure racing terms, it sure has. The DVD transfer is crisp and clean, the colors pure with no bleeding. And the racing scenes…fantastic! There is no other word for it. After all these years, it still has the most exciting racing scenes of any movie ever made, period! You get a view of the racing that actually makes you feel like a part of it. Another thing that makes the racing so special is that it featured the actual Formula 1 racing stars of the day driving in the racing scenes! If you’ve ever heard of Dan Gurney, Graham Hill, Jimmy Clark, or Phil Hill, well, they’re in here driving! And the cars of this period were so beautiful…It takes me back to those days as a kid collecting the Matchbox replicas of the cars that are featured in this movie.

But, on the negative side, I also didn’t remember the cheesy melodrama in–between all the racing scenes. Jessica Walter, of psycho–“Play Misty For Me” fame, really revs the cheese meter, and most of the “drama” really rings false, like something from daytime soaps. Luckily, James Garner is his usual likeable leading–man self, while Yves Montand also brings a likeable characterization as an “old–pro” F1 racer coming to the end of his career. Thankfully, this movie is mostly racing, so these temporary drama “breaks” aren’t too irritating.

This DVD also has some great special features, including some really interesting documentaries about the making of the film and the staging of the racing scenes. These scenes were staged at the same time as the actual Formula 1 races were being held, so there was a ton of prep work involved in this movie. And now that the sport has been highly corporatized and become super expensive, a movie like this will probably never be shot again, at least in true live–action! So if you are ready for some real Formula 1 race action, pop this in, grin through all the racing magic, and grit your teeth slightly at the melodrama in–between. Cheer up though, the next racing scene is just around the bend!

Posted in Cars/Racing, Fun Stuff, Movies and TV | No Comments »

Indiana Jones Trilogy Pixelmashes!

February 10th, 2010 by Matt

Here are links to David Court’s great work on the Indiana Jones Trilogy. Enjoy everyone!

Raiders of the Lost Ark Animated GIF

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The new year started off really well when I received a nice e-mail from David Court, of Star Wars Pixelmash fame. In a previous post, I said that I hadn’t figured out who the creator of these great Star Wars animated GIFs was. Well, David was kind enough to let me know, and now you do too!

Temple of Doom Animated GIF

Temple of Doom

David also let me know about his new Pixelmash collaborations…Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade! The Indiana Jones animations are in the same familiar, although slightly taller 129 x 94 pixel format as the Star Wars offerings, and if anything, they are even cooler and more detailed in their animations. There are tons of small animated figures and even more detailed facial expressions. The opening “Raiders” scene where Indy is being chased by the natives had me cracking up!

The Last Crusade Animated GIF

The Last Crusade

Finishing the Indiana Jones Trilogy, we have the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade pixelmash, “live and and in living color!” I love the zeppelin! Awesome job, David!

Needless to say, I’ve really been impressed with David’s efforts. Who knows what great stuff he’ll come up with next? Thanks again for the “heads up,” David!

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Star Wars Trilogy Animated GIFs!

February 8th, 2010 by Matt

Back in 2005, David Court created a sensation on the web by recreating the Star Wars Trilogy in animated GIF form. These are works of art and deserve to be kept out there for everyone’s viewing enjoyment. In that spirit, here are links to the original Trilogy, as well as some I am housing here on my website, in the spirit keeping this great web–based art available to everyone.

I’ve corresponded with David from time to time and have enjoyed our brief conversations. He is a nice guy with a delightfully sardonic sense of humor. I wish him well.

Star Wars Animated GIF

A New Hope

This is too cool for words! I found a link to this on another blog and just had to mention it. This animated GIF file contains all of the main scenes from Star Wars IV: A New Hope, all in a 168k file! Awesome! My kudos to the designer, David Court!

Empire Strikes Back Animated GIF

The Empire Strikes Back!

Another fantastic GIF animation, this time it’s Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back! Man, it takes a lot of work to animate something like this, especially to do it this well!

Return of the Jedi Animated GIF

The Return of the Jedi!

The final piece of the puzzle! And once again, a fantastic GIF animation, Star Wars VI: The Revenge of the Jedi! Awesome!

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