All posts by alanwp

Arthur Lyons Palm Springs Film Noir Festival Celebrates 25 Shadowy Years

There’s no shadow of a doubt that Palm Springs will soon be swarming with damsels in distress, gregarious gangsters, diminutive dicks, lascivious ladies and odoriferous oddballs.
Welcome to the 25th Annual Palm Springs  Film Noir Festival, officially known as the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival.
The festival runs May 9-12 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center,  where 12 films will be screened all for the first time, along with a small handful of special guest appearances.  It takes about a half a year to pull together this excursion into shadowy cinema. The festival was founded in 2000 by noir enthusiast and film historian Arthur Lyons; when he died in 2008, the festival was renamed in his honor.
“I’ve always defined ‘noir’ as films that treat light and shadow like characters,” explains Eric Smith, General Manager of the Palm Springs Cultural Center at The Historic Camelot Theatre.
2024 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival
Opening night’s film is Body and Soul, the 1947 gem starring John Garfield and Lilli Palmer (below), Anne Revere and Canada Lee.  The flick is described as “the undisputed champion of boxing movies” [that] “depicts the seamy world of the so-called ‘sweet science’ as an unforgettable metaphor for loss and redemption.” Scheduled special guest is actor/writer Jim Beaver, who also wrote a biography of Garfield.
All access pass holders and special guests are invited to the opening night reception. Expect to see the wild and wooly: One patron likes dressing as Mickey Spillane; one year the celebratory cake featured an inside filling resembling blood. More food for thought: The center’s cafe has been renamed Mildred’s, as in Mildred Pierce.
None of the films shown since 2001 have been repeated, not an easy task since films are always undergoing restoration and being pulled from circulation. This is one of the reasons the festival has been successful every year;  Smith says that the festival has continually made money. He’s proud to admit that 29% of attendees are repeat customers.
Body and Soul (1947)
Why has the festival lasted a quarter of a century?
“There’s nothing better than sitting together in a  dark theater with like-minded people watching rare, lost and rarely-seen films,”  explains Smith. “These films are black-and-white classics. And they’re never seen on Netflix.”

For a complete schedule of films and screening times, visit arthurlyonsfilmnoir.org/schedule

TICKETS
Tickets can be purchased at the Cultural Center’s box office (2300 East Baristo Road, Palm Springs, CA) or in advance at eventbrite.com/e/2024-arthur-lyons-film-noir-festival-tickets-849709693567?aff=oddtdtcreator

Charles Busch’s “Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy” is a Delicious Romp

Charles Busch is not the boy next door.

He’s not the girl next door either.

What he is is a legendary drag performer who has proven throughout the decades that he is a damn good writer… think Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, The Lady in Question, Red Square on Sunset, Psycho Beach Party, Die Mommie Die!

Now Busch has unleased Leading Lady: A Memoir of a Most Unusual Boy (Smart Pop Books, $27.95), an autobiography that’s fast and furious and funny, funny, funny and at times, sad, but not as sad as you will be when you’re on the last page.

The LGBTG+ icon takes us from Hartsdale, New York (with references to dead celebrity-studded Ferncliff, Westchester County’s take on Forest Lawn) to losing his mother to a damaged heart before he turned eight to his love of theatre (given to him by his father, a failed opera singer) to losing his virginity at sixteen  to his colorful, outlandish friends and family members (including sisters Betsy and Margaret) to the onslaught of AIDS to being nominated for a Tony for The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife to his near-death experience to . . . well, you get the idea.

Busch is a rambunctious raconteur. There are no chapters, but dozens of short tantalizing time capsules. The book is a magnificent mosaic, crammed with so many delicious anecdotes that blindingly shine and rival any cubic zirconia jewel Joan Rivers sold during her QVC career. The gems will have you laughing and crying, though the emphasis is on laughing. The stories are sassy (this is where Claudette Colbert and Kim Novak come in); sinful (this is where Esther Williams and Michele Lee come in); sentimental (this is where Carol Channing and Stephen Sondheim come in) and (bitter)sweet (this is where Liza Minnelli and Valerie Harper come in).

Leading Lady is not the lugubrious diary of some displaced cross dresser who longs to tackle RuPaul; it’s the best (read: candid, honest) autobiography since Joan Rivers’ Enter Talking. Joan pops up several times, beginning on page one. “Joan was the most prominent in a long line of smart, bigger-than-life mother figures I’ve attached myself to,” he writes. “All my life I’ve been in search for a maternal woman whose lap I could rest my head on.”

His life was guided, perhaps sometimes misguided, by his mother’s oldest sister, Aunt Lil Blum, who Busch saw as an Auntie Mame and whose ritzy Park Avenue apartment is where he lived as a teen. Aunt Lil had faith in her nephew since Day One and began taking him to Broadway shows when he was nine years old. “Some, like the talky and sexually explicit John Osborne British drama Inadmissible Evidence, were a bit of an intellectual stretch for a third grader, but Aunt Lil never explained anything to me. There was the assumption that I’d either figure it out or let it pass over my head,” he writes.

Busch cannot remember not wanting to be on stage. “I was desperate to be a child star, but my ambitions were always foiled,” he writes. He recalls auditioning for a Yonkers, New York community theater production of Oliver! — losing the role after five auditions. “In the end, they cast some dreadful butch child without a shred of sensitivity.”

It was Aunt Lil who sent Busch to acting school on Saturdays; he recalls the very first lesson. “The teacher taught us how to make an entrance down a staircase wearing a gown with a long train without ever looking down at our feet—a skill that has proved invaluable in my career in the theater.” Ironically, Aunt Lil never saw Busch on stage in drag. “I’d be worried that the audience might not like you or be unkind,” he recalls she told him.

Aunt Lil supported him when Busch needed the money; before fame hit, part-time jobs usually didn’t work out. Busch acknowledges that in so many ways that she was the one who nourished his dreams, especially before he discovered his gift for writing plays and making a living as a male actress.

Busch witnessed Aunt Lil’s decline for eight years. Her death crumbled him. “Entering the hospital room . . . I climbed onto the bed, snuggling next to her, and buried my face in her long beautiful grey hair,” he writes. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. . . I had so much to thank her for. She had saved my life. She made everything possible. . . . Everything leads me to Aunt Lil.”

The end of Aunt Lil, but not the end of Leading Lady. Even with all the sissified innuendos and campy asides, the book ends up centering around love: love of theatre, of film, of family, of friends and ultimately love of oneself.  To give away much more is to give away the heart and soul of the book. Read it, wander off to the 24 pages of (mostly) color photos, then roam back into Busch’s valentine of memories and magic, vim and vitality.

Here’s Lucie! Lucie Arnaz on her one-woman show, gay icons, Michael Bennett and, of course, her mom

Lucie Arnaz can precisely remember the moment she wanted to be in show business. It had nothing to do with her mom, Lucille Ball, stomping around in a huge vat of grapes.  It had nothing to do with watching her dad, Desi Arnaz, bang out “Babalu on the bongos. It had to do with loving another lady: Mame. It was in 1966 and Lucie, then 15 and in New York City, caught Angela Lansbury in the Jerry Herman musical.
“I remember watching Angela having all this fun, getting to sing all these great songs and dance all these wonderful numbers,” Lucie recalls. “I thought, ‘That’s it! That’s what I’m going to do with my life. I’m going to sing and dance!’”
And she did. And then some.
Her career began with occasional appearances on her mother’s’ 60s  TV series The Lucy Show; Lucie was also a regular (along with her brother Desi Jr.) on Ball’s third series, Here’s Lucy. Regional tours followed; in 1979, Lucie won awards and accolades for her splashy Broadway debut in They’re Playing Our Song. On the day she left the show, Lucie flew to Los Angeles to begin work on the 1980 musical remake of The Jazz Singer starring Neil Diamond and Sir Laurence OIivier.
Other stage and screen work followed. In 1993,  Lucie produced the small-screen documentary Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie, for which she won an Emmy. In 2000, she starred in the London musical The Witches of Eastwick.  Since then, her resume has bulged and broken its seams. There were TV appearances (including the highly-regarded guest starring role in the 2003 episode of Law & Order, Bitch); the CD Latin Roots, the 2010 homage to her father; and various Broadway and national tours, including the 2014 revival of Pippin, in which Lucie jaw-droppingly performed on a trapeze .
All this while maintaining a life with actor Laurence Luckinbill, 16 years her senior, to whom she has been married since June 1980. (The couple have five children.) During the COVID self-isolation years, Lucie edited her husband’s autobiography Effective Memories: How Chance  and the Theatre Saved My Life (Sunbury Press, $34.95) being released next April. She learned to cut her own hair; chronicled the growing years of her grandchildren; dabbled with Facebook and listened to “lots” of audible books.
This month, Lucie returns to New York City with I Got the Job! Songs From My Musical Past. She’s bringing the show back after four years of cancelling because of COVID and last year’s knee replacement surgery.
But that was then. On July 19, 2023, two days after her 72nd birthday, Lucie returns to Below 54 for four nights of proving life is a cabaret, accompanied by her good friend, musical director/pianist Ron Abel.  Call 646.476.3551 for reservations.
Here, Lucie proves she’s still on the ball as she chats about her one-woman show, her new hairdo, imitating Cher, working with Sir Laurence Olivier and Michael Bennett, and gay icons.
Before we go into any hair-raising topics, let’s chat about your gorgeous hair! It’s snow white!
This is my COVID cut and color do. What can I say? I couldn’t go anywhere to get it cut or colored, so when the roots got too long, I cut it all off down to the nubbies. I wore a hat for a few weeks and  thought , ‘Let me see what I look like.’ I’ve been able to cut it myself, and for two years, I have kept it cropped.  It’s white, my dad’s color, but sometimes it shocks me in the morning because I expect a brunette to pop up.  But I like it a lot.  It looks cute, doesn’t it?

Lucie now and with her mom, then

Tease us a bit about I Got the Job! 
This is the first show I’ve done that has a theme. I talk about what I learned from working with people. I remember mistakes I made. I sing songs— whether I sang them or someone else did—and tell stories from my musical theater career.  I’ve been indeed fortunate to have the opportunity being in shows written by some great composers.

One reviewer said you sound like a meld of Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand and a shot of Eydie Gorme. What think?
Oh my God! Kill me now! I’m so happy l’ll never have to sing again! It never occurs to me to sound like anybody else. With Liza, it must have to do with energy and tone and song interpretation. I certainly don’t sing like Streisand. I don’t have her notes at all. Maybe there’s a nasal quality. And Eydie! I love her. She and Rosemary Clooney are the kind of singers I listen to.

Speaking of Cher . . . you did a smash-on imitation of her (with Frankie Avalon doing Sonny) singing “I Got You Babe” on Here’s Lucy. Was that fun?
Oh yes! The writers knew Frankie could do Sonny and figured I could do Cher. We went to see Sonny and Cher doing their show to get some ideas. We watched the show and Cher—who I did not know—said, ‘C’mon to my dressing room.’ She asked, ‘Do you have a wig?’ I told her I did, but she handed me one and said, ‘Here, take this. It’s mine and it’s better.’ She also gave me the pair of earrings I wear. Everything that was Cher she gave me. I loved her for doing that. And I loved doing that song. It’s a favorite.

Frankie Avalon as Sonny and Lucie as Cher on “Here’s Lucy”

Any recollections of working with Sir Laurence Olivier on The Jazz Singer?
He was so ill making the movie. His cancer was not in remission and he was in terrible pain. He was always sitting in his dressing room with his head in his hands. When he heard his call—‘Sir Larry, we’re ready for you’—he’d get right up and get to the set.  I had only one scene with him, about two words. I would look at the call sheet to find out whenever he was going to be working and I’d make sure I was also on the set, watching his work. [Pauses] I think the film is underrated. The critics didn’t like it. It was as if they were thinking, ‘You’re Sir Laurence Olivier. How dare you be in a movie with a singer who can’t act [Neil Diamond].’ So they cut him and the film down a few notches.

A vintage 1980 promo ad for “The Jazz Singer”

What was it like working with Michael Bennett on Seesaw?
I was the luckiest girl on the planet.  I got my first legit equity tour working with him and Tommy Tune. He had a tough reputation and he wasn’t diplomatic.  If he didn’t like something he would hurt my feelings and make me cry all night long. We’d come in the next morning and fix what was wrong. It was usually a simple fix. And I’d think, ‘Michael, couldn’t you have been more tactful so I could have gotten some sleep?’ He was a complicated little character. One day he invited me to his apartment, made dinner and said, ‘You could be one of the great ladies of the American theater if you take it seriously.’ So I did exactly what he told me to do: I moved to New York, took acting classes with Herbert Berghof and made people know I was serious about my career. [Laughs] That changed my life. If I didn’t listen to Michael, I would have gotten back into a TV series  . . . and been much wealthier than I am today!

Michael Bennett and Lucie Arnaz

Let’s talk about your creepiest role . . . Elizabeth Short.
Oh, The Black Dahlia. I was surprised I got the role because I hardly had any credits. A friend took me to [executive producer] Doug Cramer who had newspaper clippings of her death on his desk. He took a look at them and me and said, ‘Oh my God! You look just like her!’ I think that’s why I got the role.  It was a great film to make; the movie had lots of famous, amazing cameos. Mercedes McCambridge played my grandmother. But everything was so fast. I was asked to choose between two black stretch wigs and two black dresses and we began filming. The first scene was the one in the coffee shop in which I am named The Black Dahlia. There was no rehearsal period. We did a take, adjusted the lighting, did the take again and that was it. Thank God I had training from summer stock where I learned things fast. I am pleased with that movie and I get asked a lot about her, who wasn’t the sharpest pencil in the box.

Lucie as Elizabeth Short
Lucy and Lucie

I’ve heard your mom lowered her voice through an unusual way of driving. Do you know what I am talking about?
Yes. When she was starting out, someone at the studio told her that her voice was too tinny, that it had no tone or presence.  My mother asked, ‘What the hell am I going to do about that?’ She was told to drive her car down the middle of the road, screaming at the top of her lungs into the wind. I’ve heard my mother say this many times, but she may have exaggerated the story since she’s been known to exaggerate. I don’t know if she actually drove at 90 miles-per-hour or how long she did this. It’s suicide for any singer or actor who tries this today.

We’ve already mentioned Liza and Cher and Barbra. Let’s toss in Dolly and Bette . Are you a gay icon?
I don’t see myself as a gay icon—Minnelli, Cher and Dolly are significant arena fillers. I  think I have a respectable gay following. Let’s put it this way: We like each other.  I have lots of gay friends. They like fun. They like laughter. They like dressing up and having a good time. That’s what it’s all about, no?

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A triumvirate of gay icons: Liza, Lucie and Joan

 

Douglas Fairbank’s massive “Black Pirate” arrives on Cohen Film Collection Blu-ray

Cohen Film Collection has done it again: A big-screen spectacle that ranks as one of the monumental accomplishments of the silent era, Robin Hood is a timeless story of romance and intrigue, staged on a herculean scale. And now it has been released on Blu-ray.

The film’s sets were erected by an army of 500 carpenters and towered 90 feet in the air, covering acres of land—historically accurate to the smallest detail. For this restoration, a full frame 35MM fine grain positive was scanned at 4K, with 175 hours of digital clean-up at 2K completed.

Shot in two-strip Technicolor, Fairbanks had conceived of The Black Pirate years before it was finally made. According to Fairbanks biographer Jeffrey Vance, it was “the most carefully prepared and controlled of Fairbanks’s entire career,” certainly in no small part due to the expense and limitations of the early color process. The resulting film earned high praise from The New York Times, which praised its “unrivalled beauty…mindful of the paintings of the old masters.” A 35MM color negative was mastered in HD for this presentation.

Bonus Features:

Audio Commentary for THE BLACK PIRATE by film historian Rudy Behlmer | 18 minutes of THE BLACK PIRATE outtakes with commentary BY RUDY BEHLMER | 29 minutes of additional BLACK PIRATE outtakes.

Review: Larry Luckinbill’s graphic novel about Teddy Roosevelt

Actor Laurence Luckinbill has underscored his career by performing stellar showcases, breathing life into a trio of important historical icons: Clarence Darrow, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ernest Hemingway. Then there’s, perhaps most famously, Theodore Roosevelt who has helped the actor begin a new chapter in his career: Luckinbill, along with Eryck Tait, has whittled his popular one-man play Teddy Tonight! and has turned it into a graphic novel.
Teddy (Dead Reckoning, $24.95) tells the tale of the 26th and, not quite 43, youngest President in the nation’s history (1901-1909). Roosevelt is here tonight giving a speech to a rapt crowd. Woodrow Wilson is now president, yet Roosevelt, half deaf and blind in one eye, takes center stage: “Bully! I’ve always said I’d rather wear out than rust out.” Teddy rants and raves. His youngest son Quentin had been captured by the Germans. He brings us back to his asthmatic childhood: “From age four I had to fight to love. My father taught me how. He got me breath. He got me lungs. Strength. Life.” His father is the impetus of much of Roosevelt’s drive: “My father taught me that I had to work for my bread, and work hard. He also taught me that I had to finish everything I started.”

We learn much, including Roosevelt’s obsession with nature and biology: “I supposed myself a naturalist, and outdoorsman, having collected and classified hundreds of specimens from birds to snakes to seals all my life. My rooms were a forest of dead skins … embalmed critters…and jars and boxes full of bits and pieces of them.”
He enters the legislature at Albany “as the only thing a man of my background and upbringing could be—a Lincoln Republican.” He was despised and learns, quickly, the meaning of disdain.
Roosevelt suffered double tragedy: The deaths of his mother of typhoid fever at 48 and his first wife Alice of renal failure following childbirth at 22.
Roosevelt heads West. The Rough Riders, (mis)adventures, the presidency. Pages remind readers of Roosevelt’s demands: “Equality of rights between men and women . . . old age pensions, sickness and unemployment insurance, public housing, shorter work hours. Aid to farmers and regulation of large corporations. We must protect and celebrate the glorious natural beauty of our land.”
He leaves the presidency after seven and a half years. As he ends his speech to the crowd: “Life and death are both part of the same adventure…and the worst of all fears…is the fear of living.”
Luckinbill and Tait have crafted a flawed yet flawless man who emerges out of history with a vision he refuses to lose.

Though the book is “officially” geared toward readers age 8 to 12, Teddy is important for all ages. Tait’s gray and black and white illustrations, at once dramatic and daring—extreme closeups of a moustache-less, single-chined Roosevelt, thick eyeglasses, shadowy cemetery visits—accentuate Teddy’s recollections and reminisces.
Not a word is wasted; not a stroke of the ink pen misleads.
A graphic novel that’s indeed novel.

Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme’s son, David, resurrects their recording career

They were the greatest interpreters of the Great American Songbook. And then some. Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme—more often and most lovingly known in one fell swoop as SteveandEydie—entertained generations with pitch-perfect harmonies and playful banter for more than 50 years. Steve and Eydie cumulatively recorded 1,000 songs. According to executive producer/music guru Jim Pierson, “Eydie as a solo artist recorded more than 400 songs with Steve responsible for well over 300 on his own and together they duetted on approximately 200 masters.”

Their first album recorded together? The aptly-titled We Got Us, winning them a Best Vocal Group Grammy in 1960. They also kept the musical gems alive on the small screen; they were frequent guests on TV shows, winning Emmys for their television salutes to George Gershwin and Irving Berlin.

In 2000, the couple announced plans to reduce touring; in 2008 Eydie retired and Lawrence embarked on a solo music tour. Even recording was no longer begin done—with one important exception. In 2014, during the seventh decade of his career, Lawrence recorded what has become his last CD, When You Come Back to Me, dedicated to his beloved wife who died in 2013. (They married in 1957.)

As Steve says: “Eydie has been my partner on stage and in my life for more than 55 years. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and even more the first time I heard her sing. While my personal loss is unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time.”

And now, with the support and guidance and love of their son, David, Steve and Eydie are making a comeback. Think of it as two stars being born. Again.

In conjunction with Gordon Anderson, Co-President of Real Gone Music, Lawrence plans to remix and remaster the best of his parents’ multi-track recordings and reissuing them over the next two years. The first CD of this collaboration, the critically-acclaimed That Holiday Feeling, has been remastered from the original 1965 two-track master and was released on November 11, 2022.

Considered by many fans and music professionals as one of the best holiday recordings ever made, the CD was loaded with eight additional bonus tracks that were never part of the original 1964 release. these bonus tracks are from various recordings during their years at Columbia Records that Lawrence promises, “are sure to enchance that ‘holiday feeling as you listen.'”

Lawrence knows and understands the importance of his parents’ career; there’s no ego or conceit when he calls his mother “one of the top five vocalists of the 20th century.” (The others include Barbara Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Billie Holiday.)

Steve and Eydie’s main office has all of the original 24-track masters from their recordings with Columbia Records. Los Angeles home is filled with his parents’ two-track master recordings. “When my parents signed a contract with Columbia [in 1962], part of the deal was that they got the masters back after 25 years,” Lawrence explains. So in the early 1990s, Steve and Eydie digitally transferred those recordings to CD and began selling them on their website through their label, GL Music.  Years later Real Gone Music entered the picture “on and off” until the company’s Co-President Gordon Anderson and Lawrence committed to properly remaster and remix (if possible) their recordings with Columbia.

“I am basically going through which masters are most important to their careers and are in the best physical shape with which to work,” Lawrence says.  The next remix and remaster will most likely be “Don’t Go to Strangers, Gorme’s 1966 seminal album that features her Grammy-winning single “If He Walked Into My Life”.

Another goal: A Legacy series box set of Eydie’s Spanish recordings with the Trio Los Panchos, and a “best of” series for both of them, together and individually. Vinyl collectors take note: There may also be limited-edition vinyl pressings. Anderson and Lawrence promise feedback from fans is important and will help shape future releases. “Real Good Music and I want to make sure that fans will be able to hear these magnificent recordings as pristinely as possible.”

Lawrence pauses. “My Mom and Dad were the first duo to introduce American Popular Music with amazing swing arrangements by the greatest arrangers and orchestrators of the time,” he says. “In that respect, they continued the legacy of this genre that began with Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle, only as a Duo. My hope is that these remasters will reach new audiences and continue to thrill their existing audience.”

For more information: realgonemusic.com

Mike Purewal is on his way to the right stuff as he begins a new career chapter

Mike Purewal decided to make a change in his life.
A big change.
He spent 20 years in the corporate world, leaving the company  as a Vice President of Sales.  He says he “experienced severe burnout, due to stress related health issues, from the intensity of my career. For the majority of my life, I didn’t feel like I made a positive impact to society.”
And so he left in 2020 to “pursue a path of passion that includes writing. My ultimate goal is to bring more laughter and joy to the world for both children and adults alike when they are snuggling together enjoying one of my books.”

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Purewal’s first book On Your Way! (Olympia Publishers, $10.99; amzn.to/3DFMDOa), is geared for ages 4 to 8.
His inspiring story was documented in a commercial by ManuLife Financial and can be watched here.
Here, Purewal recalls his path.

You began your journey by taking a year “unplugged.” How did that help shape you today?
In 2010, before mindfulness and meditation was mainstream, I took the road less travelled by living in an Ashram in Northern California. I studied happiness, mindfulness and became devoted to my meditation practice. This experience radically changed my outlook on life. I weave the main essence of mindfulness in my stories using a fun and simple approach that children can relate to.

What is On Your Way! about?
It is a rhythmic story that inspires children to be adventurous, imaginative and explore what’s around them and within them. Yielding a superhero vibe, this magical journey takes children from outer space to the center of the universe. With rainbow trees, rocket ships, dances with the stars and tapping into the powers of the universe, this story inspires immense creativity.

Are there secondary messages in On Your Way!?
Absolutely. The book has a mindfulness component by touching upon the mental obstacles we all face, such as anger, worry and fear, assuring that they are natural but can be overcome. Mental health and wellness are such critical issues in our society and I want to ensure that children are heard and understood. Another central theme throughout the story is encouraging children to get off their electronic devices such as their tablets and TVs to explore the world and make new adventures.

From where did the idea to write the book come?
After I left corporate, I naturally gravitated towards writing. I started with deep reflection and poetry. During this time, my daughter Bianca and I went through a phase of reading Dr Seuss books. Our favorite was Oh, the Places You’ll Go! I thought, why don’t I try rhythmic writing, something as I enjoyed doing that when I was younger. I planned out multiple scenes for the main character to explore and created this rhythmic text to match! The rest is history.

What was it like having your daughter illustrated as the main character?
It was an incredible bonding experience. At the onset of production, I sent my illustrator pictures of her to be utilized in the story. Every time there were creative revisions, Bianca and I would sit down and she’d give me her perspective. It was so cool for her to see the illustrations evolve and see herself as the main character. I’ll forever cherish those moments when we’d discuss what we loved and what needed changing.

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Mike Purewal

Why is it important to you having BIPOC representation in the characters?
I’m a huge advocate of increasing BIPOC representation for authors and young readers. On Your Way! features children from all backgrounds, with the main character a South East Asian girl. Growing up, I rarely saw children that looked like myself in books. This needs to change. I wanted Bianca to feel seen and heard in her
lifetime. This is a story that she can see herself in.

What are your future writing plans?
I have a second children’s book called Boban from Zoltan that will release in early 2023. This story is about Boban from Zoltan, a wise and witty wizard.  He shows how the world works in a way you’ve never heard of. He reminds children of the day-to-day things to be grateful for, including the little miracles in life that are taken for granted . . . all while explaining Boban’s crazy, rhythmic way.

For more information, visit mikepurewal.com

Journalist Hayley Campbell brings death to life in “All the Living and the Dead”

We are surrounded by death. It is in our news, our nursery rhymes, our true-crime podcasts. Yet from a young age, we are told that death is something to be feared. How are we supposed to know what we’re so afraid of, when we are never given the chance to look?

Fueled by a childhood fascination with death, journalist Hayley Campbell searches for answers in the people who make a living by working with the dead. In school, her questions about death were rarely answered, and when a 12-year-old friend drowned, the casket at the funeral was kept shut. Along the way, she encounters mass fatality investigators, embalmers, and a former executioner who is responsible for ending 62 lives. She meets gravediggers who have already dug their own graves, visits a cryonics facility in Michigan, goes for late-night Chinese with a homicide detective, and questions a man whose job it is to make crime scenes disappear.

In All the Living and the Dead: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99), Campbell takes readers on a trip behind closed doors and speaks with people who have hands-on experience with the dead, fashioning long-running careers in the service
of the departed. These are the people who look after the dead so the rest of us don’t have to, and perhaps in doing so take away something about death that society needs to understand.

Campbell talks with funeral directors, embalmers, crematorium workers, and gravediggers to discover what insights their regular contact with the dead and the mourning has brought them; she meets with a man who makes death masks, a bereavement midwife, and a cleaner of crime scene sites, to learn what people’s reactions to death really tell us; she sits down with an executioner and with a homicide detective to discuss their careers spent confronting death, and attends forensics autopsies, one of which makes an devastating impression on her.

All the Living and the Dead is an absorbing panorama of the industry that dismantles the dead and puts all the pieces away. These are the people whose voices are rarely heard—oftentimes because many
people tell themselves they’d be more comfortable not hearing them—but who have intriguing stories to share and who contribute to an awareness of death that, according to Campbell, we’ve all been avoiding for a long time. The result is a fascinating book that offers much food for thought and brings readers closer to a workaday world focusing on life’s closing chapter. For Campbell, death is very much a thing that people can face, and her book will have readers sharing that opinion.

Ignite Films ignites film fan fervor with restored ‘Invaders From Mars’

Ignite Films, the Dutch company formed in 2005 by Jan Willem Bosman Jansen, lives up to its motto, “Classics for the Future,” with the award-winning sensational 4K restoration of William Cameron Menzies’ Invaders From Mars, the first title released under the Ignite Films label. The groundbreaking sci-fi classic will be released in partnership with MVD for retail sales in stores including Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and through online retailers including Amazon.com, on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD on July 11, 2023, with pre-orders open now, announced Jan Willem Bosman Jansen, founder of Ignite Films.

Special bonus features include a restored 4K version of the original 1953 trailer and a newly commissioned 2022 trailer, an interview with the film’s star, Jimmy Hunt, an in-depth look at the restoration process led by Scott MacQueen, Restoration Supervisor, plus a new documentary about the film featuring interviews with directors Joe Dante, John Landis, Multiple Visual Effects Academy-Award winner Robert Skotak and other luminaries. These extras and the documentary were produced and directed by award-winning

filmmaker Jeremy Alter.

“I’m excited for audiences, old and new, to finally be able to watch this masterpiece of both film and restoration on Blu-ray and 4K UHD,” says  Ignite Films Director Jan Willem Bosman Jansen.
“We have taken great care to cover as many aspects of the movie in our bonus materials and design to bring it back to life for as wide an audience as possible. The work we have done is also a homage to the overall genius of William Cameron Menzies, and I cannot speak for him of course, but I think he would be thrilled with how his movie looks today.”
Fearful memories of this timeless 1953 bone-chiller still haunt the dreams of fans who have never forgotten the story of David MacLean, a young boy (portrayed by Jimmy Hunt) who witnesses an alien invasion. Invaders from Mars was filmed from a child’s point of view, using exaggerated sets and upward angles. It became a modern classic and was also one of two early ’50s classic alien-invasion science fiction films (the other is Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still) reflecting Cold War tensions, the Red Scare and paranoid anxiety typical of many films in the ’50s.
The restoration of Invaders from Mars has been much hoped for and a long time coming. But the process was not an easy one. Leading the effort was longtime enthusiast and preservationist of classic cinema Scott MacQueen, who previously was head of preservation at UCLA Film & Television Archive for more than a decade, before retiring in 2021.
The biggest challenge for MacQueen was that the color negative confirmed for printing in SUPERcineCOLOR lacked many shots and needed to be sourced from 70-year-old prints.
Invaders from Mars was one of the most complex projects I have ever undertaken,” MacQueen says.  “In the days of analog restoration, it would not have been possible, but 21st century digital tools have been game-changers. Released in an archaic process that is irretrievable today Invaders from Mars was pieced together from five different sources. Additionally, eight minutes of European scenes and an alternate ending, and the original trailer, have been preserved. As star Jimmy Hunt says, ‘Invaders from Mars has never looked so good.'”

The 4K restoration process of the sci-fi classic required a lengthy search for the final elements, which was conducted by Ignite’s Janet Schorer. Additionally, it was imperative to locate the elements necessary to fill in the gaps in the original camera negative, which was stored with great care at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The George Eastman Museum and National Film and Sound Archive of Australia were instrumental in supplying additional key elements which were essential to completing the film.

Bonus Features
  • Restored 4K original 1953 trailer AND a newly commissioned 2022 trailer
  • Interviews with star Jimmy Hunt, William Cameron Menzies’ biographer James Curtis and recollections of Menzies’ eldest granddaughter Pamela Lauesen
  • Featurette with acclaimed film directors John Landis, Joe Dante, editor Mark Goldblatt, special visual effects artist and two time Oscar Winner Robert Skotak (foremost expert on Invaders from Mars), and enthusiast and film preservationist Scott MacQueen
  • John Sayles’ introduction at Turner Classic Movie Festival in Hollywood, April 2022
  • Before/after clips of restoration: Original negative and archival film elements,  with film restoration supervisor Scott MacQueen
  • Restored segments in 2K of the Alternate International Version– alternative ending and extended Planetarium scene
  • Gallery with original Press Book pages, behind the scenes photos from the restoration process
  • Twenty page extensive essay on the restoration process: Invaders From Mars: A Nightmare of Restoration by Scott MacQueen

Cohen Film Collection offers two important French classics

One of Cohen Film Collection’s August DVD and Blu-ray releases feature two titans of French Cinema: Simone Signoret and Alain Delon.  They are brought together for The Burned Burns, a crime drama set in the snow-covered French countryside on the border with Switzerland. The body of a young woman is found savagely murdered near the isolated Burned Barns farm run by Rose (Signoret ) and her family.

The police work begins and the investigating judge, Pierre Larcher (Delon), soon comes to suspect that Rose’s family, and in particular her sons, may have played a role. Signoret and Delon are outstanding as two forces playing a game of wits with profound consequences. Keep your eyes and ears open—Jean Chapot’s film features a stunning soundtrack by electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre.

The second must-have flick: Symphony for a Massacre. In this stylish heist noir from director Jacques Deray, master director of the French crime film, five men tied to businesses with varying degrees of legality pool their money to go in on one huge narcotics deal that can set them up for life—and test their loyalties.

Restored in 2K from a 4K scan of the surviving 35MM interpositive (the negative is lost), the film boasts stunning black and white photography, supported by a lush and memorable score. Deray assembled an impressive cast of stars, including Charles Vanel, Michel Auclair, future director José Giovanni who also co-wrote the film, and Jean Rochefort, in a brilliant casting against type from his largely comedic roles up until then. This rediscovered crime thriller is sure to please fans of classic film noir.