Brock Peters Dies at 78

Brock Peters (1927-2005)

Sad to hear of the death from pancreatic cancer of To Kill a Mockingbird star Brock Peters, a distinguished actor who was always a strong presence, whether in groundbreaking films like Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess or genre fare like Soylent Green and Slaughter's Big Rip-Off. I was surprised to learn he also played Darth Vader in the radio dramatization of the original three Star Wars films ... I guess James Earl Jones was off somewhere recording CNN IDs.

Renowned for his stage work as much as his film and TV appearances, Peters will likely be best remembered for playing Tom Robinson in Mockingbird, falsely accused of raping a white woman in Robert Mulligan's adaptation of the Harper Lee novel, although I'm looking forward to watching him play Aesop again in Sam Peckinpah's Major Dundee when the extended cut of that mangled masterpiece finally emerges on DVD later in the fall.

Credits Where Credit is Due

Saul Bass title for Advise and Consent
(Otto Preminger, 1962)

Thanks to the folks over at Cartoon Brew, I've been made aware of this Saul Bass tribute site, featuring some of his greatest title sequences in still form. There's no Walk on the Wild Side, the first one I thought of, but lots of his work with Preminger and Hitchcock is represented.

Looking at these just makes me want to grab copies of In Harm's Way and The Cardinal (boy, Preminger sure knew how to throw a cast together) and lock myself away for the weekend. Too bad duty calls...

The Art of Cinema #83

After the Thin Man
(W.S. Van Dyke; 1936)

Guess what just showed up in the mail today...?

People Who Died #22

Director W.S. Van Dyke (1889-1943), seen here with Norma Shearer on the set of Marie Antoinette in 1938.

Heroes of American Literature #7

We here at If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger . . . would like to note that, on this day, one of America's great writers of the last century, Ray Bradbury, turns 85. If you haven't read The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes or any of the dozens upon dozens of short stories he wrote in the 1940s through the 1960s, then you qualify as deprived (benignly so) in our book.

The Golden Age of Prurience #24

Office Wife
(by Richard Grant)
(Beacon Books; 1950)

(our thanks to Richard Gibson for this bit of lurid splendor)

Adventures in American Filmmaking #38

Today's Adventure: Filling in for an absent Andy Warhol, Gerard Malanga presides over the world premiere of Empire at the Warhol Factory (1964)

They Were Collaborators #69

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

Stacks o' Wax #10

Peter Pan with Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff (Columbia Records)

Although I believe there is no filmed performance of Boris Karloff playing Captain Hook, there is this recorded version, with the added bonus of the great Jean Arthur doing a Mary Martin as the original lost boy. As they do every week, the folks at have posted the audio from this double 78 r.p.m. disc set, along with all the graphics and even the label. You can just download the audio, or get a torrent .zip file with the whole shooting match.

Other recent postings include The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (read by Paul Wing) and The Great Gildersleeve reading Hansel and Gretel and The Brave Little Tailor.

And, if you keep an eye on the site in the next couple of weeks, you'll get to hear Gloria Swanson doing Joey the Jeep. As she might say, viewing the state of recorded music today, "I AM's the discs that got small."

Authors on Authors #5

"Philip Roth is a good writer, but I wouldn't want to shake hands with him."
-- Jacqueline Susann

This Week's Goya #1

The Duke of Wellington (1812)

Seminal Image #272

Gold Diggers of 1933
(Mervyn LeRoy; Busby Berkeley; 1933)

Kino Art #5

Дворец и крепость: Историческая кинодрама
(The Palace and the Fortress: A Historical Cine-Drama)
(Aleksandr Ivanovsky; 1924)

They Were Collaborators #67

The Carry On Gang (Sid James, Joan Sims, producer Peter Rogers, director Gerald Thomas, Barbara Windsor, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques and Jim Dale) on the set of Carry On Again, Doctor in 1969.

When Legends Gather #52

Chester Conklin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and George Bagnall, as the Big E contributes $50,000 to the Motion Picture and Television Archive in 1963.

Chester Conklin?

Go here for more pictures from this event.

The Art of Mai, 1968 #5

Seminal Image #270

Tengoku to Jigoku
(High and Low)
(Akira Kurosawa; 1963)

Tom's Influences #4

James Baldwin

They Were Collaborators #66

The Everly Brothers

Great Philosophers of the 20th Century #14: Webb Pierce

"There stands the glass
That will ease all my pain
That will settle my brain
It's my first one to day

"There stands the glass
That will hide all my tears
That will drown all my fears
Brother, I'm on my way"

When Legends Gather #51

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Francis Albert Sinatra

Tricky: Scenes from a Life #23

Tricky and his wife enjoy a rare moment of contact (1970)

They Were Collaborators #65

Francois Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Leaud

Seminal Image #269

Nettezza urbana
(Michelangelo Antonioni; 1948)

The Art of the Centerfold #19

Marilyn Monroe
(Miss December, 1953)

The Present Day Composer #18
Great Madmen of the 20th Century #9

Shortly before his death on August 14, 1972, Pianist/Composer/Actor/Raconteur Oscar Levant turned up at Richard Avedon's studio in Manhattan for this Portrait session wearing pajamas, slippers, and a bathrobe replete with foodstains from God only knows when. No one's essence has been rendered in a single frame more bluntly, more cruelly.