My 1979 Charts – November

me at the palace

me at the palace


youtube vids here…


6th November 1979

The rapid turnover at the top continues as Lene Lovich gets an unexpected Number 1 with a minor UK hit, the quirkily melodic Bird Song. Many found Lene laughable, but I found her endearing, and loved this record. Earth Wind & Fire keep the run of big hits going, 4 years into their chart career, as Star goes up 7, just ahead of the gorgeous Hold On from Ian Gomm, and Herb Alpert Rises to 10, his first foray there since my very first chart of all in 1968, with Burt Bacharach’s heart-rending This Guy’s In Love, a record that still makes cry buckets if I try and sing along. And anyone else within earshot, for different reasons.

Suzi Quatro’s back in the top 20, 6 years on and going strong, but never quite getting that number 1, and BA Robertson knocks one off at 27, his 2nd top 40 hit. Highest new entry is Dynasty with the OK disco track I Don’t Want To Be A Freak – well, I can’t help myself either! – ahead of the fairly average follow-up ballad to Sail On. Still, that’s normal for the Commodores. Another disappointing (ska) follow-up, for The Specials Rudi, who at least stay ahead of a bunch of kiddies tweeting about Sparrows! Kool and The Gang start their string of largely soundalike hits, with Ladies Night at 61, Bonnie Tyler appears to believe in my sweet love, actually not a bad single, pity it got no airplay to speak of. The Jam hit their stride though, at 53 with the brilliant Eton Rifles, The Damned Smash It Up at 68, Thin Lizzy mellow down with sarah at 71, Darts peter out a bit at 74 and Sparks get their third chart entry of the year – just! – at 75, their 9th or so. No airplay you see…..no internet, no airplay, no hear.

In the real world, on TV Not The 9 o’clock news, it was a generally not-that-great sketch show, but with moments of inspiration and some new big comic names, like, oh Rowan Atkinson. Yes, Mr. Bean, Blackadder, Johnny English, him. At College, in English, our eccentric lecturer (Hello Mr Jackson) had us all prancing round a willow tree outside reciting folk poems, in full view of the staff room and other lecturers. I swear it was a bet to see who could make students look the most ridiculous. He won! It did make some of the 4th years students actually talk for a change though, so mission accomplished I suspect. The BBC singles charts disappointed, I entertained Ian and Pete with a coffee on a Teaching Practice break for them, Pete off to the Grimsby/Everton footie match in the evening. Sue round in the evenings, snooker with Ian, Pete and Sue lunchtime, great fun. Halloween masks for Pete, who tried to scare passers-by to his window with a flashlight – at least he tried!

Pete, Sue, Pauline, Alan, and Helen popped in on their way to (allegedly) the most boring lecturer (ever, presumably), and consoled afterwards with drinks in my room, with Julie having arrived. I finished an assignment, somehow, amidst the stream of friends dropping by (Jane, Bev, Paul, Dave, Clive as well as the previous suspects), helped push a car to start, watched a play about a transvestite, painted some giant fireworks ready for the Rag Parade, watched more holiday slides on my projector, two first years got me to agree to put on tights for the fireworks costume I was going to wear, lying to me that Paul had already said he would – he did not!! We started doing the ‘Float up for the Parade, only to find it all blown away by the wind when we got back from dinner. Doh! Rather embarrassingly (but making up for the first year when I opted out) Paul and I were the only men on an otherwise entirely first-year-female lorry-load of brightly-coloured fireworks. Paul was fairly happy, I think, with that arrangement. We wet lots of passers-by on the slow-drive through Lincoln, and as usual I took loads of black and white photos. To my huge surprise, my first ever real day spent as a centre of public attention was pretty enjoyable – not that I did that again for 5 years or so, but it was good to realise I can do it without freezing. The Rag Revue had one highlight, Dave Allen and Robert Lythgoe as Hinge and Brackett, very funny (especially since Dave had been someone who got on my nerves in the first year, with his stories of his Bishop dad or something like it). A bonfire evening cheerio to the busy week, with Pete back from a London trip with a tale of being robbed while there. Hey ho, certainly wasn’t a dull life!

1 ( 8 ) BIRD SONG Lene Lovich
2 ( 1 ) TUSK Fleetwood Mac
3 ( 2 ) GIMME GIMME GIMME (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT) Abba
4 ( 5 ) WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN Dr. Hook
5 ( 3 ) MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE The Police
6 ( 4 ) VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR The Buggles
7 ( 22 ) STAR Earth Wind & Fire
8 ( 20 ) HOLD ON Ian Gomm
9 ( 6 ) SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE Rainbow
10 ( 17 ) RISE Herb Alpert

11 ( 15 ) MY FORBIDDEN LOVER Chic
12 ( 9 ) MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL XTC
13 ( 7 ) DREAMING Blondie
14 ( 14 ) OK FRED Errol Dunkley
15 ( 11 ) WHATEVER YOU WANT Status Quo
16 ( 10 ) DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH Michael Jackson
17 ( 27 ) SHE’S IN LOVE WITH YOU Suzi Quatro
18 ( 12 ) DON’T BRING ME DOWN E.L.O.
19 ( 13 ) GET IT RIGHT NEXT TIME Gerry Rafferty
20 ( 29 ) ON MY RADIO The Selecter

21 ( 19 ) THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA The Charlie Daniels Band
22 ( 18 ) CARS Gary Numan
23 ( 30 ) SAD EYES Robert John
24 ( 24 ) GLORIA/ EVERYONE’S GONE TO THE MOON Jonathan King
25 ( 33 ) GONNA GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU NOW Viola Wills
26 ( 16 ) THE CHOSEN FEW The Dooleys
27 ( 54 ) KNOCKED IT OFF B.A. Robertson
28 ( NEW ) I DON’T WANT TO BE A FREAK Dynasty
29 ( 26 ) SAIL ON The Commodores
30 ( 25 ) CRUEL TO BE KIND Nick Lowe

31 ( 43 ) YOU’VE GOT MY NUMBER (WHY DON’T YOU USE IT) The Undertones
32 ( 35 ) SPIRIT BODY AND SOUL The Nolan Sisters
33 ( 21 ) SUMAHAMA The Beach Boys
34 ( 23 ) THEM HEAVY PEOPLE Kate Bush
35 ( NEW ) STILL The Commodores
36 ( 36 ) GOODBYE STRANGER Supertramp
37 ( 37 ) FREEDOM’S PRISONER Steve Harley
38 ( NEW ) A MESSAGE TO YOU RUDI The Specials
39 ( 71 ) THE SPARROW The Ramblers
40 ( 31 ) EVERYDAY HURTS Sad Cafe

41 ( 32 ) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK The Sex Pistols
42 ( 40 ) VOULEZ VOUS/ ANGEL EYES Abba
43 ( 42 ) WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE Cliff Richard
44 ( 34 ) LET ME KNOW (I HAVE A RIGHT) Gloria Gaynor
45 ( 38 ) YOU CAN DO IT Al Hudson
46 ( 28 ) FOR YOU Judy Tzuke
47 ( 47 ) STRAIGHT LINES New Musik
48 ( 58 ) NUCLEAR DEVICE (WIZARD OF AUS) The Stranglers
49 ( NEW ) I BELIEVE IN YOUR SWEET LOVE Bonnie Tyler
50 ( 44 ) THE LONELIEST MAN IN THE WORLD The Tourists

51 ( 55 ) YOU’RE A BETTER MAN THAN I Sham ’69
52 ( 70 ) BRIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD Van Morrison
53 ( NEW ) ETON RIFLES The Jam
54 ( 45 ) SLAP AND TICKLE Squeeze
55 ( 50 ) JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST Randy Vanwarmer
56 ( 53 ) I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS The Boomtown Rats
57 ( 60 ) DREADLOCK HOLIDAY 10CC
58 ( 59 ) BAKER STREET Gerry Rafferty
59 ( 57 ) ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC Tubeway Army
60 ( 64 ) CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE Queen

61 ( NEW ) LADIES NIGHT Kool And The Gang
62 ( 39 ) HEARTACHE TONIGHT The Eagles
63 ( 63 ) SPOOKY Atlanta Rhythm Section
64 ( 41 ) BACK OF MY HAND The Jags
65 ( 48 ) ALIEN Nostromo
66 ( 65 ) CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU The Police
67 ( 46 ) THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME The Headboys
68 ( NEW ) SMASH IT UP The Damned
69 ( 62 ) LOST IN MUSIC Sister Sledge
70 ( 49 ) BABY BLUE Dusty Springfield

71 ( NEW ) SARAH Thin Lizzy
72 ( 52 ) THE PRINCE Madness
73 ( 73 ) IF YOU REMEMBER ME Chris Thompson
74 ( NEW ) CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF YOUR LOVE Darts
75 ( NEW ) TRYOUTS FOR THE HUMAN RACE Sparks

TV
1 Star Trek: The Galileo Seven
2 It’ll Be Alright On The Night 2
3 Soap
4 MASH
5 Top Of The Pops
6 The Rockford Files
7 Film 79
8 Muhammed Ali’s Greatest Hits
9 The Waltons
10 Not The 9 o’clock News

oh no me, oh to be that young again!

oh no me, oh to be that young again!


13th November 1979

Back up to number one, saving Gimme Gimme Gimme from the shame of shortest run topping my charts for an Abba song. It’s great too! New in at 2 though, following on from the Dickies cover, the original epic version by The Moody Blues is back 7 years after peaking at 3 and 11 years after first being released (pre-dating my charts). Saw them last year in concert (2013): fab. Sole climber into the 10 is ska act The Selecter, and a jumpy bit of the same old song On My Radio. Not really!

BA climbs to 13, Commodores to 17, Specials to 21, Undertones to 25, Jam at 31 ahead of the new entries surge: Dan-I in at 30 with Monkey Chop, a great KC-ish soulpop minor dance hit that should have been big, lyrics aside it’s great. Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand had both hit the top spot in 1977, but not done it since despite hits throughout, so will the battling diva duet take them all the way? Nah! I like it though. At 37, ELO’s 5th of the year is a double A Side delight of two great tracks from discovery, following up number 1 Don’t Bring Me Down. First off the block was Last Train To London, a riffy catchy synthy pop slice of typical ELO. Confusion wasn’t getting any airplay at this time, sadly.

Also following up number 1’s: The Police return with another winner, the great Saturn-V video’d Walking On The Moon at 57, while Cliff sneaks in at 75 with Hot Shot, behind his topper, and also behind his producer and songwriter Alan Tarney at 72 with a cover of Cathy’s Clown. Oops Cliff bad choice! The Tourists get on the Dusty cover-version bandwagon as 60’s pop nostalgia starts to get a hold on the new pop music scene, in at 65 with a good version (as opposed to the Bay City Rollers twee version from 1976) of I Only Want To be With You. At 59, though, it’s the majesty state-of-the-art synth-strings-percussive dance sounds of Rose Royce and their brilliant Is It Love You’re After. Heavily sampled for 1988 Number One Theme From S’Express, the original is an exciting, rifftastic anthemic delight, as is S’Express’. Also keeps up their run of hits 3 years in…

Others: Secret Affair pop back with an OK track, France Joli has a smooth ballad, big in the USA, at 70, The Simms Brothers pop in quite highly at 51 – who?! – US rockjazz, actually, not a million miles away from Styx, who enter at 74 with future UK hit ballad Babe (and US biggie), a good ol’ song.

At College, I finally got to get to see Alien, that Ridley Scott masterpiece of dramatic sci-fi tension, visually-stunning, plot-unpredictably-twisted, ground-breaking monster invention movie. The one I’d missed in California due to friends inability to get ready on time! My review? “Classic…I shivered from beginning to end…I haven’t seen such a tense film ever, I was biting my hand at the tenseness. Sigourney Weaver was Brilliant as the HERO – a heroic struggle of the individual versus the unknown…the definitive horror film for me.” Still is, actually! I made a list of my top films immediately:

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Star Wars
Alien
The Poseidon Adventure
Superman
2001
Planet Of The Apes
Jesus Christ Superstar
Blazing Saddles

I did my all-time top 100 recently, and 2010 edged out 2001 (though 2001 is the classic), while only Superman missed the list by a mile, so my tastes remain pretty constant.

Raved about Alien to Julie, Pete, Bev, Paul, Sue and Jane, all round for TV, chat, slideshow, a game of scrabble, Life Of Brian featured on Film 79 (yes, seen it 2 months at the Chinese Theatre LA, already, I told Barry Norman on the screen, the UK having to wait even to see bloody British films!) and also panel discussion shows with tits like Malcolm Muggeridge insisting it was anti-Jesus, when it was actually anti-religious blind followers and full of social commentary. English lecturer this time had us performing a South Sea Island Pre-Marriage Ritual, which was kinda fun actually, as was snooker. Read Poe’s The Raven. One of my fave poem’s actually, largely due to the MAD magazine illustrated version I bought in Singapore. Watched a harrowing TV shown on Auschwitz. Not ideal bedtime viewing.

Everyone decided to go and see Alien while Star Trek was on TV (so no chance of me joining them, everyone knew!). The next game of snooker “I was really brilliant” 33 point break. Well, everything’s relative! More evenings of laughs and visits and TV – I must say as social life goes, it can’t get better than everyone using you as a focal point, makes you feel so wanted! Or, more likely, I would never turn anyone away…! Mark Twain’s Huck Finn the next novel for American Studies. Top Of The Pops annoyed me: Dr Hook had been replaced at 1 by Lena Martell. How very dare they! That’s not what they announced on Tuesday’s chart rundown!

Friday was Art day, I was grouped with 3 mature student ladies (probably in their 30’s, eek!) for a discussion on foyer printworks. Not the ceramic sculptures of the female ladyparts though, that were put on exhibit, and then very quickly taken off exhibit from the College foyer following complaints. I wasn’t shocked, more bemused as I’d never seen ladies bits up close before, but it made a great bit of drama and talking-point. The artist, male, was most put-out at his forest of lady-gardens being pruned.

I went home for the weekend, dad picked me up, mum having been ill lately, and looking very tired, we had to call the doctor out saturday night as she was in so much pain and nauseous. By now she was so desperate to get rid of the pain, which had been going on weeks, that she wanted to get into hospital to get it sorted. All very worrying and depressing. Just to add to the mood, little cousin Rachel let loose that all my budgies were dead from the cold (donated to grandad’s school for the kids, they had an outdoor aviary and he was caretaker) which pissed me off. This is turning into a novel…..! Sorry!

1 ( 3 ) GIMME GIMME GIMME (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT) Abba
2 ( NEW ) NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN The Moody Blues
3 ( 2 ) TUSK Fleetwood Mac
4 ( 1 ) BIRD SONG Lene Lovich
5 ( 4 ) WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN Dr. Hook
6 ( 10 ) RISE Herb Alpert
7 ( 7 ) STAR Earth Wind & Fire
8 ( 20 ) ON MY RADIO The Selecter
9 ( 6 ) VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR The Buggles
10 ( 5 ) MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE The Police

11 ( 8 ) HOLD ON Ian Gomm
12 ( 17 ) SHE’S IN LOVE WITH YOU Suzi Quatro
13 ( 27 ) KNOCKED IT OFF B.A. Robertson
14 ( 12 ) MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL XTC
15 ( 23 ) SAD EYES Robert John
16 ( 16 ) DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH Michael Jackson
17 ( 35 ) STILL The Commodores
18 ( 9 ) SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE Rainbow
19 ( 11 ) MY FORBIDDEN LOVER Chic
20 ( 14 ) OK FRED Errol Dunkley

21 ( 38 ) A MESSAGE TO YOU RUDI The Specials
22 ( 13 ) DREAMING Blondie
23 ( 19 ) GET IT RIGHT NEXT TIME Gerry Rafferty
24 ( 18 ) DON’T BRING ME DOWN E.L.O.
25 ( 31 ) YOU’VE GOT MY NUMBER (WHY DON’T YOU USE IT) The Undertones
26 ( 28 ) I DON’T WANT TO BE A FREAK Dynasty
27 ( 15 ) WHATEVER YOU WANT Status Quo
28 ( 22 ) CARS Gary Numan
29 ( 25 ) GONNA GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU NOW Viola Wills
30 ( NEW ) MONKEY CHOP Dan-I

31 ( 53 ) ETON RIFLES The Jam
32 ( 29 ) SAIL ON The Commodores
33 ( NEW ) NO MORE TEARS (ENOUGH IS ENOUGH) Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand
34 ( 21 ) THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA The Charlie Daniels Band
35 ( 24 ) GLORIA/ EVERYONE’S GONE TO THE MOON Jonathan King
36 ( 26 ) THE CHOSEN FEW The Dooleys
37 ( NEW ) CONFUSION/ LAST TRAIN TO LONDON E.L.O.
38 ( 30 ) CRUEL TO BE KIND Nick Lowe
39 ( 61 ) LADIES NIGHT Kool And The Gang
40 ( 51 ) YOU’RE A BETTER MAN THAN I Sham ’69

41 ( 36 ) GOODBYE STRANGER Supertramp
42 ( 40 ) EVERYDAY HURTS Sad Cafe
43 ( 34 ) THEM HEAVY PEOPLE Kate Bush
44 ( 42 ) VOULEZ VOUS/ ANGEL EYES Abba
45 ( 33 ) SUMAHAMA The Beach Boys
46 ( 60 ) CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE Queen
47 ( 49 ) I BELIEVE IN YOUR SWEET LOVE Bonnie Tyler
48 ( 43 ) WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE Cliff Richard
49 ( 63 ) SPOOKY Atlanta Rhythm Section
50 ( 71 ) SARAH Thin Lizzy

51 ( NEW ) BACK TO SCHOOL The Simms Brothers Band
52 ( 46 ) FOR YOU Judy Tzuke
53 ( 39 ) THE SPARROW The Ramblers
54 ( 55 ) JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST Randy Vanwarmer
55 ( 57 ) DREADLOCK HOLIDAY 10CC
56 ( 58 ) BAKER STREET Gerry Rafferty
57 ( NEW ) WALKING ON THE MOON The Police
58 ( 56 ) I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS The Boomtown Rats
59 ( NEW ) IS IT LOVE YOU’RE AFTER Rose Royce
60 ( 59 ) ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC Tubeway Army

61 ( 50 ) THE LONELIEST MAN IN THE WORLD The Tourists
62 ( 37 ) FREEDOM’S PRISONER Steve Harley
63 ( 32 ) SPIRIT BODY AND SOUL The Nolan Sisters
64 ( 45 ) YOU CAN DO IT Al Hudson
65 ( NEW ) I ONLY WANT TO BE WITH YOU The Tourists
66 ( 48 ) NUCLEAR DEVICE (WIZARD OF AUS) The Stranglers
67 ( 44 ) LET ME KNOW (I HAVE A RIGHT) Gloria Gaynor
68 ( 74 ) CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF YOUR LOVE Darts
69 ( NEW ) LET YOUR HEART DANCE Secret Affair
70 ( NEW ) COME TO ME France Joli

71 ( 66 ) CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU The Police
72 ( NEW ) CATHY’S CLOWN Tarney and Spencer
73 ( 73 ) IF YOU REMEMBER ME Chris Thompson
74 ( NEW ) BABE Styx
75 ( NEW ) HOT SHOT Cliff Richard

TV
1 Star Trek: Wolf In The Fold
2 Soap
3 MASH
4 The Odd Couple
5 Top Of The Pops
6 Film 79
7 Friday Night Saturday Morning
8 The Rockford Files
9 The Muppet Show
10 Doctor Who


20th November 1979

The Moody Blues get a new record – longest wait between chart debut and hitting number one, taking over from Hawkwind, at just over 7 years. Nights In White Satin is a sweeping dramatic orchestral rock masterpiece, oh yes it is! The video starts off in Paris, which is kinda appropriate (see later). B.A.Robertson gets a second top in a row, well he knocked it off. He knocked it off well I mean. Suzi Quatro keeps up her top 10 entries, her 7th, and Dan-I chops those monkeys at 15, while Donna & Babs, & ELO both shoot into the top 20. Rose Royce rocket to 25, and highest new entry is The Isley Brothers, having a disco night at 29, 11 years since they first impressed me with This Old Heart Of Mine, and since.

The Tourists hit 34, as The Gibson Brothers follow up a big hit with a similar-sounding fun-packed Que Sera Mi Vida. Queen at long last make my top 40 with huge UK and USA hit Crazy Little Thing Called Love – I admit I preferred early Queen to rockabilly Queen, and as Matchbox claimed at 75, I’m a rockabilly rebel. Not really, but I like it. KC & The Sunshine Band are back after a year gap with a new sound, laid back soul essentially, which I rather liked at the time, less so these days thanks to that godawful 90’s moronic cover by KWS.

Madness get a 2nd hit at 66, the largely instrumental and ska-tastic, sax-heavy One Step Beyond, pushing Madness into a higher league. Sparks have another go at tryouts, doing a little better this time at 64, Anne Murray gets a 4th hit subsequent to her number one in January, the lovely Broken Hearted Me. Less lovely, but whimsically cynical, The Boomtown Rats follow-up 2 number ones with social commentary Diamond Smiles, an under-rated record, and a flop in comparison to previous singles, sneaking in at 74.

On TV repeats of Roots and TV series Logans Run still hit my appreciation spot, and new sitcom Barney Miller mildly amused. Back at college, and 2 months after the USA adventure, I was preparing for an Art course excursion to Paris art galleries, architecture and museums, my second one inside 12 months, but this time without my friends, being a mix of 2nd year students, a couple of girls on my Combined Studies course in the same year, and some Honours students. Rang mum to hear she was going into hospital again, which sort of relieved me a bit as it might sort out the problem and stop the pain.

Snooker and TV/drinks with the extended gang of friends in various combinations, with Edgar Allen Poe stuff in between, and some great chatting with Jane, Julie and Pete, always a good combo the 4 of us. The College had a showing of Young Frankenstein Mel Brooks’ classic, which I watched with the American coursemates (they loved it as much as me) and my room left with friends watching TV, sob I knew it was my TV they wanted! I noted Terri Garr was wonderful, appropriately enough as I watching my home video last night of her and Burt Reynolds in a 90’s between-filming breaks to TV quiz show Reel To Reel, all about movies. Life can be quite circular…

I gave a speech on Huck Finn’s optimism/pessimism, very monotone reading from notes and stuttering, not something I’m good at – John Davies the lecturer noted I was typically Lincolnshire in my casual remarks about important things. Lincoln is a sort of milder, less working class version of Mansfield, the two places I spent more of life in than anywhere else up to that point. Feeling depressed in mood I quoted, what with work, mum, and Paris anxiety. I wasn’t, I was mildly stressed and down but I can get moody. Went all introverted and friends tried to cheer me up, sweet of them.

Saturday: 1.45 am rise for minibus ride to Grantham rail station, met Jane Moorse outside (lots of Jane’s at College) and chatted on the bus and train. Kings Cross, Charing Cross, breakfast guessing occupations of passer-by’s for amusement. Group trip to Dover by train, 2 noisy second-year lads took a fancy to Emma and Jane in our compartment – yes trains had compartments once upon a time – and then hung around them all day. Hovercraft at Dover (is this still running!?) for a bumpy ride to Calais, my first! Hovercraft that is. Train to Paris, Metro to Republic and the hotel where I met my new room-mate, David, who was actually easy-going, a drama student who had gossip-related comments directed to me about his alleged sexual preferences. We had single beds each and a sink, the girls on the other hand were pissed off at having to share double beds in smelly rooms.

A pricey meal with Emma, Jane and Sue in the Notre-Dame area in the evening, then down the Boulevard Saint Michel (shades of Peter Sarstedt!) to the Sorbonne. Back to the hotel, David was out till late, and “must have forgotten his pyjamas” I noted, as he was starkers in the morning. Many years later I saw him on TV news as a Friend Of John McCarthy hostage activist, which impressed me.

Sunday: Flea Market group visit, it pissed down, and gave sympathy to bedraggled Jo and Sarah, who I spent the morning with afterwards. Then we met up with David and his “nerd” friends – how rude of me! Kettle calling frying pan etc. Pompidou Centre. Photographs. Fire-breathers in the square. Chatted to Joe and Ann, stuck with them the rest of the day, poor me flipping about amongst everyone, felt like a virginal slag! walked to Notre Dame with them. Evening at Sacre-Coeur I love it there, the mood, the lighting, the streetlife, so took Emma Jane and Sue there for a meal at a restaurant I’d been to before. I sadly joined in the gossip about David, confirming his late nights (and not mentioning the winkle-washing behaviour in the sink when he got back in, thinking I was asleep. I thought that odd at the time, and of course know exactly what that means now!). So naive, me.

1 ( 2 ) NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN The Moody Blues
2 ( 1 ) GIMME GIMME GIMME (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT) Abba
3 ( 3 ) TUSK Fleetwood Mac
4 ( 4 ) BIRD SONG Lene Lovich
5 ( 6 ) RISE Herb Alpert
6 ( 5 ) WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN Dr. Hook
7 ( 13 ) KNOCKED IT OFF B.A. Robertson
8 ( 8 ) ON MY RADIO The Selecter
9 ( 12 ) SHE’S IN LOVE WITH YOU Suzi Quatro
10 ( 7 ) STAR Earth Wind & Fire

11 ( 11 ) HOLD ON Ian Gomm
12 ( 9 ) VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR The Buggles
13 ( 17 ) STILL The Commodores
14 ( 10 ) MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE The Police
15 ( 30 ) MONKEY CHOP Dan-I
16 ( 21 ) A MESSAGE TO YOU RUDI The Specials
17 ( 37 ) CONFUSION/ LAST TRAIN TO LONDON E.L.O.
18 ( 33 ) NO MORE TEARS (ENOUGH IS ENOUGH) Donna Summer & Barbra Streisand
19 ( 14 ) MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL XTC
20 ( 16 ) DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH Michael Jackson

21 ( 31 ) ETON RIFLES The Jam
22 ( 15 ) SAD EYES Robert John
23 ( 26 ) I DON’T WANT TO BE A FREAK Dynasty
24 ( 19 ) MY FORBIDDEN LOVER Chic
25 ( 59 ) IS IT LOVE YOU’RE AFTER Rose Royce
26 ( 23 ) GET IT RIGHT NEXT TIME Gerry Rafferty
27 ( 24 ) DON’T BRING ME DOWN E.L.O.
28 ( 18 ) SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE Rainbow
29 ( NEW ) IT’S A DISCO NIGHT The Isley Brothers
30 ( 39 ) LADIES NIGHT Kool And The Gang

31 ( 20 ) OK FRED Errol Dunkley
32 ( 22 ) DREAMING Blondie
33 ( 28 ) CARS Gary Numan
34 ( 65 ) I ONLY WANT TO BE WITH YOU The Tourists
35 ( 69 ) LET YOUR HEART DANCE Secret Affair
36 ( 27 ) WHATEVER YOU WANT Status Quo
37 ( 50 ) SARAH Thin Lizzy
38 ( 32 ) SAIL ON The Commodores
39 ( NEW ) QUE SERA MI VIDA (IF YOU SHOULD GO) The Gibson Brothers
40 ( 46 ) CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE Queen

41 ( 29 ) GONNA GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU NOW Viola Wills
42 ( 34 ) THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA The Charlie Daniels Band
43 ( 25 ) YOU’VE GOT MY NUMBER (WHY DON’T YOU USE IT) The Undertones
44 ( 38 ) CRUEL TO BE KIND Nick Lowe
45 ( 47 ) I BELIEVE IN YOUR SWEET LOVE Bonnie Tyler
46 ( 44 ) VOULEZ VOUS/ ANGEL EYES Abba
47 ( 40 ) YOU’RE A BETTER MAN THAN I Sham ’69
48 ( 36 ) THE CHOSEN FEW The Dooleys
49 ( 42 ) EVERYDAY HURTS Sad Cafe
50 ( 41 ) GOODBYE STRANGER Supertramp

51 ( 51 ) BACK TO SCHOOL The Simms Brothers Band
52 ( 35 ) GLORIA/ EVERYONE’S GONE TO THE MOON Jonathan King
53 ( 43 ) THEM HEAVY PEOPLE Kate Bush
54 ( 48 ) WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE Cliff Richard
55 ( 56 ) BAKER STREET Gerry Rafferty
56 ( 55 ) DREADLOCK HOLIDAY 10CC
57 ( 54 ) JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST Randy Vanwarmer
58 ( NEW ) PLEASE DON’T GO KC and The Sunshine Band
59 ( 45 ) SUMAHAMA The Beach Boys
60 ( 60 ) ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC Tubeway Army

61 ( 57 ) WALKING ON THE MOON The Police
62 ( 72 ) CATHY’S CLOWN Tarney and Spencer
63 ( 75 ) HOT SHOT Cliff Richard
64 ( RE ) TRYOUTS FOR THE HUMAN RACE Sparks
65 ( 58 ) I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS The Boomtown Rats
66 ( NEW ) ONE STEP BEYOND Madness
67 ( NEW ) BROKEN HEARTED ME Anne Murray
68 ( 70 ) COME TO ME France Joli
69 ( 49 ) SPOOKY Atlanta Rhythm Section
70 ( NEW ) HE WAS BEAUTIFUL Iris Williams

71 ( 53 ) THE SPARROW The Ramblers
72 ( 74 ) BABE Styx
73 ( 71 ) CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU The Police
74 ( NEW ) DIAMOND SMILES The Boomtown Rats
75 ( NEW ) ROCKABILLY REBEL Matchbox

1. Star Trek: The Changeling
2. Barney Miller
3. Soap
4. Logans Run
5. Barney Miller
6. Roots
7. The Muppet Show
8. Sapphire And Steel
9. Top Of The Pops
10. Doctor Who

27th November 1979

A 2nd week for the Moody’s at 1, as ELO’s double A side shoots up to 2 to my Confusion, and BA goes top 5. The Commodores get a 4th Top 10, 5 years after the first (and best) Machine Gun, and Dan-I breaks his monkey chops to get to 9. The Tourists and Rose Royce make headway into the 20, their 2nd and 4th respectively, while The Isleys make it 7 or so at 20.

Biggest climber: The Boomotwn Rats forgotten diamond single up 50 to 24, as highest new entry is Gary Numan’s forgotten bizarre ballad Complex at 26. Madness leap one step beyond at 29, and Blondie replace themselves in the top 40 with new single Union City Blue entering at 33. KC cries Please Don’t Go, and gets to 40, as new entries drop in from Marianne Faithful, once famous in the 60’s, and now debuting in my charts at 69 with Shel Silverstein’s great The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan (he was the principle songwriter for Dr Hook’s best records). Janis Ian follows up her gem of a 1975 UK flop At 17, with a laid-back Fly Too High, not flying that high at 75.

Michael Jackson’s follow-up to his classic number one is Off The Wall at 67, title track off the album that changed his career, assisted in no small part by Quincy Jones and Rod (UK Heatwave songwriter) Temperton. Stevie Wonder’s career, on the other hand, is treading water with Send One Your Love at 66. The Pretenders 3rd hit enters at 53, the fantastic Brass In Pocket, Dollar get a 4th 1979 hit as they cover the Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand, which was sounding a bit dated by then (albeit a childhood fave), so they gave it a clappy synthy vibe which grew on one. They had by now, of course, outdone their whole career inside Guys And Dolls. Final new entry is Touch from Lori and The Chameleons. Who!? You may have heard of David Balfour, of The Teardrop Explodes and producer of Echo And The Bunnymen, and Bill Drummond, he of The Timelords and KLF. Both were in cult Liverpool band Big In Japan, and this was one of their releases on their own record label Zoo Records. Quirky.

Still in Paris this week, it was a trip to the UNESCO building, where we had a film about Thailand before, and I quote, “an upper-class one-eyed twit gave us a DULL lecture on UNESCO”. Gosh, I was SO judgmental in those days! This was followed by a Peruvian lady with a French accent trying to give a lecture tour in broken English. Henry Moore sculptures abounded outdoors, along with a Japanese-designed garden. I was impressed with the latter, and not in the slightest by the former. From here to the Eifel Tower, where we bumped into the very drunk and noisy Drama students (including David), and on to Jeu De Paume for some more art: I liked some Renoir and Pissarro works. I had a quiet night in after all the walking, how dull of me!

Next day, Max (my ever-present mild and likeable art lecturer) took a group of us to the Hayter workshop, chock-full of artists from all over the world doing their etchings, where an American lady artist gave us a tour. I enjoyed the group I hung around with today, including 3 second-year lads who’d I’d been wanting to get to know, what with spending all my time with girls so far, pretty much, though I did end up showing a group of girls round Paris, for which they were gracious in thanking me. Notably, Notre Dame square for snacks and a cathedral tour. I had a hunch I’d see Quasimodo. Sorry….! River Seine, and off to climb le Tour Eifel, windy and cold. As it turned out a major movie shoot was in progress on the 2nd Stage, called The Hostage Tower, with some very famous (and cold) actors sat around a table doing nothing much waiting for “Action”: I recognised Douglas Fairbanks Junior immediately, and found out afterwards who the others were (we weren’t allowed to get too close): Maud Adams off James Bond, and Peter Fonda, off Henry, Jane and Easy Rider. Well, I get starstruck, what can I say!

Arc de Triomphe up next, did some postcards and posted them, back to say hi to David at the hotel, and had an evening meal with Emma Jane and Sue off the Champs Elysees, where fleas in the wine failed to impress. Especially Sue, who swallowed one of them. In a bar, conversation drifted to a prostitute in the corner. Allegedly. I went bright red with embarrassment, and generally felt bad about the girls not having a party night (I didn’t want to go, and I think they didn’t feel comfortable going unescorted). Not the party type, me, in those days. Boring! Next day was the trip back via Boulogne hovercraft – or that was the plan. It broke down, so we had to wait for the next available ship. I was pissed off as it meant we wouldn’t get back in time for Star Trek. Pah (Pete and Sue recorded it on tape for me though)! As the general mood from everyone was one of “humbug” at the delays though, I became Mr Happy for the trip home, trying to cheer everyone up. I expect they wanted to throttle me. Back late evening to tell Julie Pete Jane and Sue of my adventures. Phew!

1 ( 1 ) NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN The Moody Blues
2 ( 17 ) CONFUSION/ LAST TRAIN TO LONDON E.L.O.
3 ( 2 ) GIMME GIMME GIMME (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT) Abba
4 ( 3 ) TUSK Fleetwood Mac
5 ( 7 ) KNOCKED IT OFF B.A. Robertson
6 ( 4 ) BIRD SONG Lene Lovich
7 ( 6 ) WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN Dr. Hook
8 ( 5 ) RISE Herb Alpert
9 ( 15 ) MONKEY CHOP Dan-I
10 ( 13 ) STILL The Commodores

11 ( 18 ) NO MORE TEARS (ENOUGH IS ENOUGH) Donna Summer & Barbra Streisand
12 ( 22 ) SAD EYES Robert John
13 ( 25 ) IS IT LOVE YOU’RE AFTER Rose Royce
14 ( 16 ) A MESSAGE TO YOU RUDI The Specials
15 ( 34 ) I ONLY WANT TO BE WITH YOU The Tourists
16 ( 14 ) MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE The Police
17 ( 8 ) ON MY RADIO The Selecter
18 ( 9 ) SHE’S IN LOVE WITH YOU Suzi Quatro
19 ( 23 ) I DON’T WANT TO BE A FREAK Dynasty
20 ( 29 ) IT’S A DISCO NIGHT The Isley Brothers

21 ( 12 ) VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR The Buggles
22 ( 10 ) STAR Earth Wind & Fire
23 ( 11 ) HOLD ON Ian Gomm
24 ( 74 ) DIAMOND SMILES The Boomtown Rats
25 ( 21 ) ETON RIFLES The Jam
26 ( NEW ) COMPLEX Gary Numan
27 ( 20 ) DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH Michael Jackson
28 ( 30 ) LADIES NIGHT Kool And The Gang
29 ( 66 ) ONE STEP BEYOND Madness
30 ( 39 ) QUE SERA MI VIDA (IF YOU SHOULD GO) The Gibson Brothers

31 ( 27 ) DON’T BRING ME DOWN E.L.O.
32 ( 26 ) GET IT RIGHT NEXT TIME Gerry Rafferty
33 ( NEW ) UNION CITY BLUE Blondie
34 ( 35 ) LET YOUR HEART DANCE Secret Affair
35 ( 19 ) MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL XTC
36 ( 33 ) CARS Gary Numan
37 ( 40 ) CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE Queen
38 ( 28 ) SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE Rainbow
39 ( 37 ) SARAH Thin Lizzy
40 ( 58 ) PLEASE DON’T GO KC and The Sunshine Band

41 ( 45 ) I BELIEVE IN YOUR SWEET LOVE Bonnie Tyler
42 ( 24 ) MY FORBIDDEN LOVER Chic
43 ( 68 ) COME TO ME France Joli
44 ( 36 ) WHATEVER YOU WANT Status Quo
45 ( 38 ) SAIL ON The Commodores
46 ( 46 ) VOULEZ VOUS/ ANGEL EYES Abba
47 ( 32 ) DREAMING Blondie
48 ( 44 ) CRUEL TO BE KIND Nick Lowe
49 ( 31 ) OK FRED Errol Dunkley
50 ( NEW ) TOUCH Lori And The Chameleons

51 ( NEW ) I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND Dollar
52 ( 41 ) GONNA GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU NOW Viola Wills
53 ( NEW ) BRASS IN POCKET The Pretenders
54 ( 55 ) BAKER STREET Gerry Rafferty
55 ( 56 ) DREADLOCK HOLIDAY 10CC
56 ( 54 ) WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE Cliff Richard
57 ( 62 ) CATHY’S CLOWN Tarney and Spencer
58 ( 67 ) BROKEN HEARTED ME Anne Murray
59 ( 61 ) WALKING ON THE MOON The Police
60 ( 50 ) GOODBYE STRANGER Supertramp

61 ( 57 ) JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST Randy Vanwarmer
62 ( 42 ) THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA The Charlie Daniels Band
63 ( 53 ) THEM HEAVY PEOPLE Kate Bush
64 ( 65 ) I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS The Boomtown Rats
65 ( 60 ) ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC Tubeway Army
66 ( NEW ) SEND ONE YOUR LOVE Stevie Wonder
67 ( NEW ) OFF THE WALL Michael Jackson
68 ( 75 ) ROCKABILLY REBEL Matchbox
69 ( NEW ) THE BALLAD OF LUCY JORDAN Marianne Faithful
70 ( 43 ) YOU’VE GOT MY NUMBER (WHY DON’T YOU USE IT) The Undertones

71 ( 49 ) EVERYDAY HURTS Sad Cafe
72 ( 63 ) HOT SHOT Cliff Richard
73 ( 64 ) TRYOUTS FOR THE HUMAN RACE Sparks
74 ( 59 ) SUMAHAMA The Beach Boys
75 ( NEW ) FLY TOO HIGH Janis Ian

1. The Trouble With Tribbles
1. Soap
3. Sapphire And Steel
4. MASH
5. Top Of The Pops
6. The Odd Couple
7. My Wife Next Door
8. Soap
9. The Muppet Show
10. Hawaii 5-0

My 1979 Charts – October

My new college room

My new college room

click here for youtube links to featured 1979 songs..

2nd October 1979

3 weeks for ELO on top, but the competition is so fierce that classic records I bought full-price, like Cars, actually drop. Michael Jackson gets his biggest solo hit since 1972 as Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough shoots up to 3, chased by The Police following up their number 1 with a message in a bottle at 5. Kate gets her 4th Top 10, Rainbow get their first (and last) and Quo just miss out at 12.

Supertramp, and The Tourists, go back up to new peaks of 14 and 15 respectively. Tusk, in the meantime, drums it’s way up 30 places to 19 and The Buggles take that video statement up 31 to 20. Squeeze, The Jags, Madness, Herb Alpert, The Headboys and The Little River Band all rise inside the 40, giving a very very busy chart. That’s not enough though! 12 new entries pop in, including The Dickies taking on The Moody Blues Nights In White Satin at 36: it must be heard to be believed! Following up the gorgeous Lady Lynda, The Beach Boys enter with the equally gorgeous Sumahama, a Japanese oriental-flavoured delight, while Judy Tzuke is For You at 53. Sad Cafe debut at 63, as do XTC at 66 with the brilliant, unusual and exciting Making Plans For Nigel, a record that is as relevant today as it was then in subject matter (nepotism of the rich). The O’Jays get 7 years of hits at 70, Gloria Gaynor 5 years at 74 – it’s I Will Survive part 2, sort of. Elton also makes it 8 years of hits as he goes full-blown disco again, after dabbling with older recordings of Philly soul sessions: Victim Of Love at 75 is a forgotten goodie.

Lincoln

Lincoln


Back in the UK a while, I was now back at College (hooray!), in new digs, on campus (hooray!) for the first time as I started my 3rd and final year (Boo!). Most of my friends were in the same block, Pete and Paul on my floor, Sue, Julie and Bev upstairs, which was great. Did some painting, shelves, cleaning bedroom, cleaning budgies, fish tank cleaning. I taught one of mum’s friend’s young sons how to get water moving down the pipe from the tank by sucking – he got a mouthful of fishy water, though! I hope that wasn’t the start of his lifelong substance abuse, he certainly seemed happier then.

Gracie Fields died, noted that Carry On The Khyber is the best Carry On, that MASH (practical joker episode) remained as good as ever 7 years on, and the Doctor Who episode in Paris was one of the best in ages, though I was still unsure about the new Romana. I watched Parkinson guests Terry Wogan and the marvellous Carol Channing have a great Python-esque show while the rest of the family had a huge argument downstairs, which meant Sue (brothers fiancee) had to go back home to her parents house (she’d been living with Mark here) while Ernie, the retired disabled father of the late next-door-neighbour still lived with us too in a 3-bedroom house. We have spent a lifetime often taking in people relations and family and it’s not always easy if things get fraught, as they tend to do when you have a lot of people in an overcrowded house. That, of course, is life in UK 2014 for many – just that’s it’s been life in mum and dad’s house in 1979, 1989, 1999, 2009….but not any more. Ernie, with mum and dad, took me to College, and he was always nice and appreciative of us till the day he died a few years later, but he was never happy with his condition, the loss of his wife and daughter, and really only his young grandson kept him going for a few years. When he got moved into a Council assisted flat development (staff on site, but own flats) the residents used to call it “Death Row” waiting to see who’d be next to go. It wasn’t that bad actually, certainly better than care homes and mental institutions I’ve seen.

1 ( 1 ) DON’T BRING ME DOWN E.L.O.
2 ( 2 ) GET IT RIGHT NEXT TIME Gerry Rafferty
3 ( 25 ) DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH Michael Jackson
4 ( 6 ) SAIL ON The Commodores
5 ( 11 ) MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE The Police
6 ( 3 ) CARS Gary Numan
7 ( 10 ) CRUEL TO BE KIND Nick Lowe
8 ( 13 ) THEM HEAVY PEOPLE Kate Bush
9 ( 9 ) DREAMING Blondie
10 ( 15 ) SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE Rainbow

11 ( 5 ) JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST Randy Vanwarmer
12 ( 30 ) WHATEVER YOU WANT Status Quo
13 ( 7 ) WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE Cliff Richard
14 ( 22 ) GOODBYE STRANGER Supertramp
15 ( 35 ) THE LONELIEST MAN IN THE WORLD The Tourists
16 ( 8 ) LOST IN MUSIC Sister Sledge
17 ( 12 ) VOULEZ VOUS/ ANGEL EYES Abba
18 ( 4 ) SAD EYES Robert John
19 ( 49 ) TUSK Fleetwood Mac
20 ( 51 ) VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR The Buggles

21 ( 20 ) REGGAE FOR IT NOW Bill Lovelady
22 ( 14 ) I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS The Boomtown Rats
23 ( 27 ) SLAP AND TICKLE Squeeze
24 ( 38 ) BACK OF MY HAND The Jags
25 ( NEW ) YOU CAN DO IT Al Hudson
26 ( 32 ) TIME FOR ACTION Secret Affair
27 ( 53 ) THE PRINCE Madness
28 ( 50 ) LONESOME LOSER The Little River Band
29 ( 16 ) DUCHESS The Stranglers
30 ( 18 ) ANGEL EYES Roxy Music

31 ( 17 ) GOTTA GO HOME Boney M
32 ( 44 ) RISE Herb Alpert
33 ( 24 ) GONE GONE GONE Johnny Mathis
34 ( 31 ) STREET LIFE The Crusaders
35 ( 19 ) LOVE’S GOT A HOLD ON ME Dollar
36 ( NEW ) NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN The Dickies
37 ( 26 ) BANG BANG B.A. Robertson
38 ( 21 ) GANGSTERS The Specials
39 ( NEW ) SUMAHAMA The Beach Boys
40 ( 47 ) THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME The Headboys

41 ( 28 ) STRUT YOUR FUNKY STUFF Frantique
42 ( 34 ) CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU The Police
43 ( 33 ) AFTER THE LOVE HAS GONE Earth Wind And Fire
44 ( 45 ) WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN Dr. Hook
45 ( 39 ) LINES The Planets
46 ( 29 ) IF I SAID YOU HAD A BEAUTIFUL BODY (WOULD YOU HOLD IT AGAINST ME) The Bellamy Brothers
47 ( 41 ) ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC Tubeway Army
48 ( 70 ) DIM ALL THE LIGHTS Donna Summer
49 ( 43 ) BEAT THE CLOCK Sparks
50 ( 42 ) THE DIARY OF HORACE WIMP E.L.O.

51 ( 23 ) MONEY The Flying Lizards
52 ( 36 ) OOH WHAT A LIFE The Gibson brothers
53 ( NEW ) FOR YOU Judy Tzuke
54 ( 46 ) LADY LYNDA The Beach Boys
55 ( 67 ) QUEEN OF HEARTS Dave Edmunds
56 ( 52 ) LIGHT MY FIRE Amii Stewart
57 ( 37 ) BOY OH BOY Racey
58 ( 48 ) BORN TO BE ALIVE Patrick Hernandez
59 ( NEW ) OH SUSIE Secret Service
60 ( NEW ) GOOD GIRLS DON’T The Knack

61 ( 57 ) BAKER STREET Gerry Rafferty
62 ( 59 ) DREADLOCK HOLIDAY 10CC
63 ( NEW ) EVERYDAY HURTS Sad Cafe
64 ( 58 ) DIFFERENT WORLDS Maureen McGovern
65 ( 62 ) CHIQUITITA Abba
66 ( NEW ) MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL XTC
67 ( 63 ) SUNDAY GIRL Blondie
68 ( 64 ) DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW/ KISSES OF FIRE Abba
69 ( 69 ) MY SHARONA The Knack
70 ( NEW ) SING A HAPPY SONG The O’Jays

71 ( 55 ) IF I HAD YOU The Korgis
72 ( NEW ) THERE MUST BE THOUSANDS The Quads
73 ( 54 ) LEAD ME ON Maxine Nightingale
74 ( NEW ) LET ME KNOW (I HAVE A RIGHT) Gloria Gaynor
75 ( NEW ) VICTIM OF LOVE Elton John

TV
1 Star Trek: Court Martial
2 MASH
3 Carry On Up The Khyber: film
4 Rhoda
5 The Rockford Files
6 Top Of The Pops
7 Film ’79
8 Doctor Who
9 The Two Ronnies
10 Ned Sherrin: Christopher Reeves interview


9th October 1979

Michael Jackson gets his 2nd solo number one, 7 years after Ain’t No Sunshine, and it’s a brilliant Quincy Jones dance production, mixed with the first evidence that he was more than capable of writing his own great songs. It sounded like a disco step forward at the time – because it was. Still sounds great too. Quo go up to 4, Whatever You Want taking the throbbing riff and perfecting it – this is the best riffing Quo single, though surprisingly to some they had plenty of other non-riffing great singles.

Squeeze grab a 4th Top 20 entry, and Madness their first of a long run as The Prince hits 19. XTC, Judy Tzuke, Donna Summer, Dave Edmunds and Sad Cafe go top 40 along with Secret Service, no-hit wonders. The highest new entry is an advert song, Don’t Be A Dummy, at 49, while at 55 The Devil, apparently, Went Down To Georgia with The Charlie Daniels Band, a record I’d heard on my US holiday but hadn’t rated much. It was a grower, country fiddle-tastic.

Reggae? OK Fred, says Errol Dunkley new at 60, The Dooleys Are The Chosen Few, melodically tweeting at 67, and the funk run of soul singles by Earth Wind & Fire keeps shining a Star on my charts. The Nolan Sisters, before they dropped the sister and went pop, debut with a sweet enough old-fashioned pop song, Spirit Body And Soul at 70, The Eagles days are almost numbered for 30 years, as Heartache Tonight thumps in at 72, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section cover 60’s classic Spooky, jazzfunk style and grab 74 – Dusty Springfield has the definitive version, but it’s still pretty good. Lastly it’s The Skids with a 3rd frantic chanting punkpop single at 75, Charade!

Lincoln

Lincoln

Back at College, in my new digs, new room, I gathered a large crowd in my room watching my portable black and white TV, half-joking “I’ll have to throw them out” I said to a friend when we went for our meal in the dining hall, who bluntly repeated it when I got back, to my mortal embarrassment, bright red, and they sheepishly drifted off, never to return some of them. Aaghhh! The core group of holiday friends and Jane thankfully stayed for some USA holiday slideshow fun. Most of my gang spent weekdays out on Teaching Practice while I had lectures with 4th-year honours students – though no “honours” title to my degree, pah!

Snooker games, news of someone who’d failed exams and left, and the sudden realisation I had a 3-hour exam in 2 days on humour in 19th century novels and I hadn’t even got the books yet, swanning off to America all summer as I did. Agh! Revised like mad, answered only 2 questions and a big flop. The other 7 or 8 exam-takers joined me for consolation in my room afterwards, which meant I missed eating. Socialised lots with my growing gang of core friends, and had great fun, laughs, and noted they were all nice people. Ahhh good times!

Friday was ART day, developing my photos in the darkroom (I always enjoy seeing what develops in darkrooms © 1965), by far my fave subject, loved it. An ex-college friend who’d left in the 2nd year was back visiting the day before she should have been getting married (it was a late cancellation of the permanent kind, sadly), then home to mansfield for the weekend, babysitting for my lil’ cousins and Kenny Everett on Parkinson, yay! Then my brother announced he was getting married to Sue next September. Can’t say it wasn’t a busy week…..!

1 ( 3 ) DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH Michael Jackson
2 ( 1 ) DON’T BRING ME DOWN E.L.O.
3 ( 5 ) MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE The Police
4 ( 12 ) WHATEVER YOU WANT Status Quo
5 ( 10 ) SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE Rainbow
6 ( 9 ) DREAMING Blondie
7 ( 2 ) GET IT RIGHT NEXT TIME Gerry Rafferty
8 ( 8 ) THEM HEAVY PEOPLE Kate Bush
9 ( 7 ) CRUEL TO BE KIND Nick Lowe
10 ( 4 ) SAIL ON The Commodores

11 ( 6 ) CARS Gary Numan
12 ( 20 ) VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR The Buggles
13 ( 15 ) THE LONELIEST MAN IN THE WORLD The Tourists
14 ( 14 ) GOODBYE STRANGER Supertramp
15 ( 23 ) SLAP AND TICKLE Squeeze
16 ( 19 ) TUSK Fleetwood Mac
17 ( 18 ) SAD EYES Robert John
18 ( 11 ) JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST Randy Vanwarmer
19 ( 27 ) THE PRINCE Madness
20 ( 24 ) BACK OF MY HAND The Jags

21 ( 26 ) TIME FOR ACTION Secret Affair
22 ( 25 ) YOU CAN DO IT Al Hudson
23 ( 13 ) WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE Cliff Richard
24 ( 39 ) SUMAHAMA The Beach Boys
25 ( 17 ) VOULEZ VOUS/ ANGEL EYES Abba
26 ( 44 ) WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN Dr. Hook
27 ( 16 ) LOST IN MUSIC Sister Sledge
28 ( 32 ) RISE Herb Alpert
29 ( 63 ) EVERYDAY HURTS Sad Cafe
30 ( 36 ) NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN The Dickies

31 ( 66 ) MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL XTC
32 ( 21 ) REGGAE FOR IT NOW Bill Lovelady
33 ( 28 ) LONESOME LOSER The Little River Band
34 ( 22 ) I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS The Boomtown Rats
35 ( 40 ) THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME The Headboys
36 ( 53 ) FOR YOU Judy Tzuke
37 ( 48 ) DIM ALL THE LIGHTS Donna Summer
38 ( 55 ) QUEEN OF HEARTS Dave Edmunds
39 ( 59 ) OH SUSIE Secret Service
40 ( 31 ) GOTTA GO HOME Boney M

41 ( 41 ) STRUT YOUR FUNKY STUFF Frantique
42 ( 30 ) ANGEL EYES Roxy Music
43 ( 35 ) LOVE’S GOT A HOLD ON ME Dollar
44 ( 38 ) GANGSTERS The Specials
45 ( 29 ) DUCHESS The Stranglers
46 ( 34 ) STREET LIFE The Crusaders
47 ( 37 ) BANG BANG B.A. Robertson
48 ( 42 ) CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU The Police
49 ( NEW ) DON’T BE A DUMMY John Du Cann
50 ( 75 ) VICTIM OF LOVE Elton John

51 ( 33 ) GONE GONE GONE Johnny Mathis
52 ( 43 ) AFTER THE LOVE HAS GONE Earth Wind And Fire
53 ( 50 ) THE DIARY OF HORACE WIMP E.L.O.
54 ( 47 ) ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC Tubeway Army
55 ( NEW ) THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA The Charlie Daniels Band
56 ( 74 ) LET ME KNOW (I HAVE A RIGHT) Gloria Gaynor
57 ( 60 ) GOOD GIRLS DON’T The Knack
58 ( 49 ) BEAT THE CLOCK Sparks
59 ( 45 ) LINES The Planets
60 ( NEW ) OK FRED Errol Dunkley

61 ( 61 ) BAKER STREET Gerry Rafferty
62 ( 62 ) DREADLOCK HOLIDAY 10CC
63 ( 56 ) LIGHT MY FIRE Amii Stewart
64 ( 54 ) LADY LYNDA The Beach Boys
65 ( 58 ) BORN TO BE ALIVE Patrick Hernandez
66 ( 70 ) SING A HAPPY SONG The O’Jays
67 ( NEW ) THE CHOSEN FEW The Dooleys
68 ( NEW ) STAR Earth Wind & Fire
69 ( 46 ) IF I SAID YOU HAD A BEAUTIFUL BODY (WOULD YOU HOLD IT AGAINST ME) The Bellamy Brothers
70 ( NEW ) SPIRIT BODY AND SOUL The Nolan Sisters

71 ( 65 ) CHIQUITITA Abba
72 ( NEW ) HEARTACHE TONIGHT The Eagles
73 ( 52 ) OOH WHAT A LIFE The Gibson brothers
74 ( NEW ) SPOOKY Atlanta Rhythm Section
75 ( NEW ) CHARADE The Skids

TV
1 Star Trek: Catspaw
2 Top Of The Pops
3 Doctor Who
4 MASH
5 Parkinson (sat)
6 Parkinson (wed)
7 Sykes
8 Talking Movies
9 Starsky and Hutch
10 To The Manor Born

16th October 1979

Another new number one as The Police get their 2nd chart-topper, the terrific frantic rock-reggae Message In A Bottle, and Sting very much being the pin-up man of the time (pin-up boys not being that much in demand). New in at 2, though, the group most-likely-to (knock ‘em off after 1 week) it’s Abba’s brilliant disco track Gimme Gimme Gimme – not only did it inspire a TV sitcom, that insistent catchy flutey sound was borrowed heavily by Madonna for her just-as-good Hung Up. By this time Abba hadn’t NOT topped my chart in four years (and would have had at least an additional 10 or 15 had I allowed album tracks). Bit of a fan.

Rainbow go top 3, and Fleetwood Mac charge their Tusk up to 5, incredibly only their second top 5 hit (after Dreams peaked at 3). The Buggles get into the top 10, under-appreciated quite frankly! Herb Alpert gets his 2nd Top 20 hit 11 years on, as he rises, while The Chosen Few takes The Dooleys into the top 40 for the 5th time or so. New in at 40, their 6th, it’s Chic with my forbidden lover – I’m lying, I didn’t have one, forbidden or otherwise, but it’s as classy as previous hits, albeit not quite as bass-ily classic!

In at 66, Lene Lovich has a 3rd hit with the utterly fantastic Bird Song, a complete change of pace, and still mad as a hatter in a touching way. Dusty’s back again with Baby Blue, her disco period, but this is a soulful disco minor classic that never became the hit it deserved to be, but giving my all-time fave female vocalist 11 years of hits. Steve Harley, meanwhile, has lost his Cockney Rebel’s, and bounced back with the great Freedom’s Prisoner at 64 5 years on from Judy Teen. Ian Gomm debuts at 67 with the gorgeous US hit Hold On: who he? He be ex-Brinsley Schwarz, and Cruel To be Kind British co-writer, that be who. Pure American-radio-sounding, it’s yet another UK flop, not being that much in vogue with New Wave UK.

Wrapping up the lower-end, The Sex Pistols keep on having that barrel scraped as the 3rd version of Rock Around The Clock charts, more of a shambles than a punk record, but might have been mildly amusing if the tw*t farting about on lead vocal hadn’t murdered his girlfriend before overdosing. Not that funny, after that. Viola Wills also covers an old 50‘s song, disco-fashion, that had been a hit in many different genres, big-band swing, country, wall-of-sound, latino-pop, ska before it added another hit notch here. It’s OK, thanks to the song more than the arrangement. Suzi Quatro is also back again with a romping poprock She’s In Love With You at 74, and at 75 it’s Nostromo with a dance version of the theme tune to the forthcoming sci-fi film Alien. Nostromo is the name of the ship, the tune is haunting and daunting from the brilliant Jerry Goldsmith, composer of movie soundtracks like, (pause for breath) Planet Of The Apes, Logans Run, Star Trek (5 of ‘em!), Gremlins, LA Confidential, Chinatown, The Mummy. Among others. Phew!

Back at college again, it was snooker games, a social group gathering in my room for TV & tea, where my review of Airport 80: Concorde was shared by Barry Norman on Film 79. Lots of friends, chatting, discussing, opinion-ating, and general fun times. Reading Lord Of The Flies for literature course – classic! Hanging about a bit with American exchange student Steve from Waukesha Wisconsin. Evenings, I’d forgotten how much my room was the social centre of the gang, I pretty much had a parade of visitors from tea-time till bed-time watching TV and chatting. Friday a gang of us over-crowded Paul’s car for a pub evening down at the Quay (The William IV’th). In town for records searching Saturday I bumped into my old form-tutor from school, Mrs Gibson. Entertained non-campus friends in the evening, but basically every single evening I socialised, an evening sat on my own watching TV was unheard of (I’m happy to say) as everyone wound down from the stress of Teaching Practice for a laugh.

1 ( 3 ) MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE The Police
2 ( NEW ) GIMME GIMME GIMME (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT) Abba
3 ( 5 ) SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE Rainbow
4 ( 1 ) DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH Michael Jackson
5 ( 16 ) TUSK Fleetwood Mac
6 ( 2 ) DON’T BRING ME DOWN E.L.O.
7 ( 6 ) DREAMING Blondie
8 ( 4 ) WHATEVER YOU WANT Status Quo
9 ( 12 ) VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR The Buggles
10 ( 7 ) GET IT RIGHT NEXT TIME Gerry Rafferty

11 ( 8 ) THEM HEAVY PEOPLE Kate Bush
12 ( 24 ) SUMAHAMA The Beach Boys
13 ( 11 ) CARS Gary Numan
14 ( 10 ) SAIL ON The Commodores
15 ( 9 ) CRUEL TO BE KIND Nick Lowe
16 ( 26 ) WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN Dr. Hook
17 ( 13 ) THE LONELIEST MAN IN THE WORLD The Tourists
18 ( 14 ) GOODBYE STRANGER Supertramp
19 ( 22 ) YOU CAN DO IT Al Hudson
20 ( 28 ) RISE Herb Alpert

21 ( 20 ) BACK OF MY HAND The Jags
22 ( 15 ) SLAP AND TICKLE Squeeze
23 ( 31 ) MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL XTC
24 ( 18 ) JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST Randy Vanwarmer
25 ( 17 ) SAD EYES Robert John
26 ( 29 ) EVERYDAY HURTS Sad Cafe
27 ( 19 ) THE PRINCE Madness
28 ( 35 ) THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME The Headboys
29 ( 23 ) WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE Cliff Richard
30 ( 25 ) VOULEZ VOUS/ ANGEL EYES Abba

31 ( 67 ) THE CHOSEN FEW The Dooleys
32 ( 60 ) OK FRED Errol Dunkley
33 ( 38 ) QUEEN OF HEARTS Dave Edmunds
34 ( 37 ) DIM ALL THE LIGHTS Donna Summer
35 ( 21 ) TIME FOR ACTION Secret Affair
36 ( 36 ) FOR YOU Judy Tzuke
37 ( 55 ) THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA The Charlie Daniels Band
38 ( 49 ) DON’T BE A DUMMY John Du Cann
39 ( 68 ) STAR Earth Wind & Fire
40 ( NEW ) MY FORBIDDEN LOVER Chic

41 ( 39 ) OH SUSIE Secret Service
42 ( 34 ) I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS The Boomtown Rats
43 ( 50 ) VICTIM OF LOVE Elton John
44 ( 70 ) SPIRIT BODY AND SOUL The Nolan Sisters
45 ( 27 ) LOST IN MUSIC Sister Sledge
46 ( 57 ) GOOD GIRLS DON’T The Knack
47 ( 33 ) LONESOME LOSER The Little River Band
48 ( 72 ) HEARTACHE TONIGHT The Eagles
49 ( 56 ) LET ME KNOW (I HAVE A RIGHT) Gloria Gaynor
50 ( 40 ) GOTTA GO HOME Boney M

51 ( 32 ) REGGAE FOR IT NOW Bill Lovelady
52 ( 48 ) CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU The Police
53 ( 66 ) SING A HAPPY SONG The O’Jays
54 ( 30 ) NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN The Dickies
55 ( 54 ) ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC Tubeway Army
56 ( NEW ) BIRD SONG Lene Lovich
57 ( 44 ) GANGSTERS The Specials
58 ( 42 ) ANGEL EYES Roxy Music
59 ( NEW ) BABY BLUE Dusty Springfield
60 ( 41 ) STRUT YOUR FUNKY STUFF Frantique

61 ( 53 ) THE DIARY OF HORACE WIMP E.L.O.
62 ( 61 ) BAKER STREET Gerry Rafferty
63 ( 62 ) DREADLOCK HOLIDAY 10CC
64 ( NEW ) FREEDOM’S PRISONER Steve Harley
65 ( 58 ) BEAT THE CLOCK Sparks
66 ( 43 ) LOVE’S GOT A HOLD ON ME Dollar
67 ( NEW ) HOLD ON Ian Gomm
68 ( 63 ) LIGHT MY FIRE Amii Stewart
69 ( 64 ) LADY LYNDA The Beach Boys
70 ( NEW ) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK The Sex Pistols

71 ( NEW ) GONNA GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU NOW Viola Wills
72 ( 52 ) AFTER THE LOVE HAS GONE Earth Wind And Fire
73 ( 47 ) BANG BANG B.A. Robertson
74 ( NEW ) SHE’S IN LOVE WITH YOU Suzi Quatro
75 ( NEW ) ALIEN Nostromo

TV
1 MASH
2 Star Trek: Who Mourns For Adonis
3 Roots: The Next Generation
4 Rhoda
5 Parkinson (sat)
6 Top Of The Pops
7 Doctor Who
8 Ripping Yarns
9 To The Manor Born
10 Mike Yarwood Show

23rd October 1979

Another week another new number one: of course Abba got there, it’s one of their great singles and it wasn’t on Voulez Vous (though there was yet another single to go from it). That makes it 12 in a row, far and away the longest run of number ones, and 13 in total. No other act has ever had a dozen in my chart, not even The Beatles and Pet Shop Boys.

The Buggles and Blondie finally go top 5, both deserved even better, and Dr. Hook finally go top 10, their 5th in 7 years. The Beach Boys get a 2nd Top 10 hit of the year, the lovely Sumahama being their 7th in 11 years. Had I allowed album tracks, Good Timin’ would also have done it from the same album, a harmony delight. XTC make plans for the top 20, OK Fred ragga raggas up to 17, The Dooleys get a 4th top 20, and Lene Lovich makes it 3 in a row as Bird Song flies up 40 places to 16.

The Sex Pistols mystifyingly make the top 40 while more understandably old faves the O’Jays double number one’s are long behind them, but are amiable enough singing a happy song at 39, and Steve Harley is at 40, freedom’s prisoner no more. Debuts for The Selecter and Matumbi, both decent singles, ska and reggae respectively, and The Undertones are back with their second great single, the very under-rated, and brilliant, You’ve Got My Number at 57.

B.A. Robertson has a 2nd pop gem, claiming he knocked it off amongst other football references. Cats UK fly in from Luton Airport: fear not it flew out just as quickly to everyone’s relief. The Stranglers go atomic, Bob Marley has a good social message which sadly will never stop being relevant as long as their are people, Van Morrison is a little more optimistic with one of his least-dreary records, and Queen continue to underperform in my charts with their 1979 singles as Crazy Little Thing Called Love rockabilly’s its way in at 74 – the abrupt change of style didn’t work for me at the time, but it’s a pop gem actually. Lastly, Atlanta Rhythm Section re-enter with a song Dusty recorded, as she rises with her new one: Spooky!


Back in digs, the stream of evening pals dropping by continues. I feel so loved! A dull poetry lecture, some photo lab-bing, some laughs with friends, some relationship developing between 2 of them (I was chaperone). Read “Pincher Martin”, snooker (I won), college cinema for “Jaws” I was gratified to see the American students just as reactive as they were in California a few weeks back “not dumb quiet like English”. A spot of Knights Of Ni Python silliness between ourselves afterwards, and Billy Connolly very funny on Parkinson. I got the boys in stitches of laughter when I announced to the girls we used the girls toilets on our side of the student block cos they were nearer than the men’s (it was down to the comic timing, you had to be there!). At the cinema I went to see spoof Dracula movie Love At First Bite with fave Susan Saint James in it: “good cast good script mildly amusing throughout…” which leaves me bewildered as to why it’s become so obscure these days, it’s never repeated. Doctor Who: “Excellent, best series in long time”. Post-wedding social-evening with non-campus friends, to complete another great week for me. I can see why I look back so fondly on those years compared to the 80’s…

1 ( 2 ) GIMME GIMME GIMME (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT) Abba
2 ( 1 ) MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE The Police
3 ( 5 ) TUSK Fleetwood Mac
4 ( 9 ) VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR The Buggles
5 ( 7 ) DREAMING Blondie
6 ( 3 ) SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE Rainbow
7 ( 4 ) DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH Michael Jackson
8 ( 16 ) WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN Dr. Hook
9 ( 12 ) SUMAHAMA The Beach Boys
10 ( 11 ) THEM HEAVY PEOPLE Kate Bush

11 ( 8 ) WHATEVER YOU WANT Status Quo
12 ( 6 ) DON’T BRING ME DOWN E.L.O.
13 ( 10 ) GET IT RIGHT NEXT TIME Gerry Rafferty
14 ( 23 ) MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL XTC
15 ( 13 ) CARS Gary Numan
16 ( 56 ) BIRD SONG Lene Lovich
17 ( 32 ) OK FRED Errol Dunkley
18 ( 31 ) THE CHOSEN FEW The Dooleys
19 ( 15 ) CRUEL TO BE KIND Nick Lowe
20 ( 20 ) RISE Herb Alpert

21 ( 14 ) SAIL ON The Commodores
22 ( 39 ) STAR Earth Wind & Fire
23 ( 37 ) THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA The Charlie Daniels Band
24 ( 21 ) BACK OF MY HAND The Jags
25 ( 25 ) SAD EYES Robert John
26 ( 26 ) EVERYDAY HURTS Sad Cafe
27 ( 40 ) MY FORBIDDEN LOVER Chic
28 ( 28 ) THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME The Headboys
29 ( 18 ) GOODBYE STRANGER Supertramp
30 ( 19 ) YOU CAN DO IT Al Hudson

31 ( 22 ) SLAP AND TICKLE Squeeze
32 ( 70 ) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK The Sex Pistols
33 ( 36 ) FOR YOU Judy Tzuke
34 ( 17 ) THE LONELIEST MAN IN THE WORLD The Tourists
35 ( 49 ) LET ME KNOW (I HAVE A RIGHT) Gloria Gaynor
36 ( 71 ) GONNA GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU NOW Viola Wills
37 ( 30 ) VOULEZ VOUS/ ANGEL EYES Abba
38 ( 29 ) WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE Cliff Richard
39 ( 53 ) SING A HAPPY SONG The O’Jays
40 ( 64 ) FREEDOM’S PRISONER Steve Harley

41 ( 24 ) JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST Randy Vanwarmer
42 ( 27 ) THE PRINCE Madness
43 ( 43 ) VICTIM OF LOVE Elton John
44 ( 44 ) SPIRIT BODY AND SOUL The Nolan Sisters
45 ( NEW ) ON MY RADIO The Selecter
46 ( 35 ) TIME FOR ACTION Secret Affair
47 ( 74 ) SHE’S IN LOVE WITH YOU Suzi Quatro
48 ( 75 ) ALIEN Nostromo
49 ( 42 ) I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS The Boomtown Rats
50 ( NEW ) POINT OF VIEW Matumbi

51 ( 41 ) OH SUSIE Secret Service
52 ( 33 ) QUEEN OF HEARTS Dave Edmunds
53 ( 48 ) HEARTACHE TONIGHT The Eagles
54 ( 59 ) BABY BLUE Dusty Springfield
55 ( 45 ) LOST IN MUSIC Sister Sledge
56 ( 38 ) DON’T BE A DUMMY John Du Cann
57 ( NEW ) YOU’VE GOT MY NUMBER (WHY DON’T YOU USE IT) The Undertones
58 ( 55 ) ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC Tubeway Army
59 ( NEW ) KNOCKED IT OFF B.A. Robertson
60 ( RE ) CHARADE The Skids

61 ( 62 ) BAKER STREET Gerry Rafferty
62 ( 63 ) DREADLOCK HOLIDAY 10CC
63 ( 67 ) HOLD ON Ian Gomm
64 ( 52 ) CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU The Police
65 ( NEW ) LUTON AIRPORT Cats UK
66 ( 34 ) DIM ALL THE LIGHTS Donna Summer
67 ( 50 ) GOTTA GO HOME Boney M
68 ( NEW ) NUCLEAR DEVICE (WIZARD OF AUS) The Stranglers
69 ( RE ) SPOOKY Atlanta Rhythm Section
70 ( 65 ) BEAT THE CLOCK Sparks

71 ( NEW ) SO MUCH TROUBLE IN THE WORLD Bob Marley & The Wailers
72 ( 68 ) LIGHT MY FIRE Amii Stewart
73 ( NEW ) BRIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD Van Morrison
74 ( NEW ) CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE Queen
75 ( 61 ) THE DIARY OF HORACE WIMP E.L.O.

TV
1 Star Trek: The Apple
2 Roots: The Next Generation
3 Parkinson (wed)
4 Top Of The Pops
5 For Pete’s Sake: film
6 Doctor Who
7 Parkinson (sat)
8 Friday Night Sunday Morning: film
9 The Rockford Files
10 Blankety Blank

30th October 1979

For the 4th week in a row it’s a new number one, even knocking off a new Abba single – Fleetwood Mac’s sprawling, ambitious, drum-thumping, everything-thrown-in-including-the-iamspamspamamisink marching Tusk. It shocked everyone at the time, following up Rumours, but I loved it. It’s fair to say if there hadn’t been so many great singles about Video Killed The Radio Star and When You’re In Love would have topped my charts as well as the UK’s.

Lene Lovich and XTC bring a bit of New Wave quirkiness into my Top 10, and there’s no Hold On Ian Gomm up 43 to 20. Highest new entry is both the first chart version of a song to be big 4 years on for Laura Branigan – Gloria – and also, as a double-pack single, 60’s melodic classic Everyone’s Gone To The Moon which I loved as a kid, helping Jonathan King to be one of my fave pop stars during the 70’s – always fun, despite being a terrible singer. Moon was supposed to be a piss-take of cliched pop drivel with trite lyrics, rhymes designed to use every lyrical cliche about. Trouble was, the tune was so strong it wasn’t at all obvious it wasn’t serious and could be taken straight, giving graduate-student JK a surprise hit and career. It didn’t qualify for my charts (I’d excluded reissues by then unless they charted in the UK) but the reality is it would have at least been as high as the much inferior Gloria, and likely a number one, had I allowed it.

Suzi Quatro’s back in the top 40, The Eagles also do it despite a little bit of heartache tonight, and The Nolan Sisters get their first Top 40 hit. Few new entries this week, but New Musik point the 80’s pop way with Straight Lines, a great debut entry at 47 from a great under-rated pop album From A To B chock-a-block with great singles and potential singles. Sham 69 have an abrupt change of style, Misty you’re a better man than I, and end their chart career in the process. On the one hand, phew! On the other hand the more ballady single should in theory have been a good way forward had some of their fans not been more into rioting and racism than actual music.

On TV, Doctor Who nearly knocks Star Trek off my weekly top spot, and back in student-land, visitors to Chez-John this week included Alan, Julie, Jeanette, Paul, Pete, Sue, Jane, Bev, Joe, Ian, Jane D. individually or in any combination thereof day or evening. Designed a poster for a screen print (for Art), came to the conclusion that one of my English Lit lecturers was a droning bore, and had tons of coursework and assignments assigned, such as Volpone. Boo! More snooker and laughs, after I won by 20 points for spite because I wasn’t allowed some points I felt I deserved, so I played “brilliantly” while pretend-mocking I was annoyed about it. Our American students hosted an American Studies lecture, which was fun, and I noted this weeks TOTP was crap – yes the one that was just broadcast on BBC4 as I type. It’s still crap.

Friday was an Art field trip to Bradford with Chuck my new American friend, Max, my art tutor, and 3 mature students, for a David Hockney exhibition – which didn’t overly impress me. Next stop was Sheffield for a Diane Arbus photographic exhibition, I do like her style to this day and choice of unusual people portraits. Late back, but not too late for a social evening for Paul’s Party in the student uni room, I refused to dance (as always in those days), though when a few punk tracks came on nearly everyone stopped dancing and I started – much more comfortable dancing to rock music (still am) The Cars, The Skids, The Sex Pistols which not many of our gang liked. Hey ho! Saturday in town, bumped into another ex-school teacher Mr Poole who i always liked, and had a quick chat. A pub afternoon in Anersley with Jane Dave and Paul, then the Rag Ball in the evening, with tie (against my principles, ties) and which I tried to get out of, the sound system and music pretty poor. Refused to dance again, but sulking cos I needed to stop having fun and knuckle down to the bloody pile of assignments – so Sunday was work day. Degrees, honestly, get spoilt by having to study and write rather than have fun!

1 ( 3 ) TUSK Fleetwood Mac
2 ( 1 ) GIMME GIMME GIMME (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT) Abba
3 ( 2 ) MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE The Police
4 ( 4 ) VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR The Buggles
5 ( 8 ) WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN Dr. Hook
6 ( 6 ) SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE Rainbow
7 ( 5 ) DREAMING Blondie
8 ( 16 ) BIRD SONG Lene Lovich
9 ( 14 ) MAKING PLANS FOR NIGEL XTC
10 ( 7 ) DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH Michael Jackson

11 ( 11 ) WHATEVER YOU WANT Status Quo
12 ( 12 ) DON’T BRING ME DOWN E.L.O.
13 ( 13 ) GET IT RIGHT NEXT TIME Gerry Rafferty
14 ( 17 ) OK FRED Errol Dunkley
15 ( 27 ) MY FORBIDDEN LOVER Chic
16 ( 18 ) THE CHOSEN FEW The Dooleys
17 ( 20 ) RISE Herb Alpert
18 ( 15 ) CARS Gary Numan
19 ( 23 ) THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA The Charlie Daniels Band
20 ( 63 ) HOLD ON Ian Gomm

21 ( 9 ) SUMAHAMA The Beach Boys
22 ( 22 ) STAR Earth Wind & Fire
23 ( 10 ) THEM HEAVY PEOPLE Kate Bush
24 ( NEW ) GLORIA/ EVERYON’ES GONE TO THE MOON Jonathan King
25 ( 19 ) CRUEL TO BE KIND Nick Lowe
26 ( 21 ) SAIL ON The Commodores
27 ( 47 ) SHE’S IN LOVE WITH YOU Suzi Quatro
28 ( 33 ) FOR YOU Judy Tzuke
29 ( 45 ) ON MY RADIO The Selecter
30 ( 25 ) SAD EYES Robert John

31 ( 26 ) EVERYDAY HURTS Sad Cafe
32 ( 32 ) ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK The Sex Pistols
33 ( 36 ) GONNA GET ALONG WITHOUT YOU NOW Viola Wills
34 ( 35 ) LET ME KNOW (I HAVE A RIGHT) Gloria Gaynor
35 ( 44 ) SPIRIT BODY AND SOUL The Nolan Sisters
36 ( 29 ) GOODBYE STRANGER Supertramp
37 ( 40 ) FREEDOM’S PRISONER Steve Harley
38 ( 30 ) YOU CAN DO IT Al Hudson
39 ( 53 ) HEARTACHE TONIGHT The Eagles
40 ( 37 ) VOULEZ VOUS/ ANGEL EYES Abba

41 ( 24 ) BACK OF MY HAND The Jags
42 ( 38 ) WE DON’T TALK ANYMORE Cliff Richard
43 ( 57 ) YOU’VE GOT MY NUMBER (WHY DON’T YOU USE IT) The Undertones
44 ( 34 ) THE LONELIEST MAN IN THE WORLD The Tourists
45 ( 31 ) SLAP AND TICKLE Squeeze
46 ( 28 ) THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME The Headboys
47 ( NEW ) STRAIGHT LINES New Musik
48 ( 48 ) ALIEN Nostromo
49 ( 54 ) BABY BLUE Dusty Springfield
50 ( 41 ) JUST WHEN I NEEDED YOU MOST Randy Vanwarmer

51 ( 43 ) VICTIM OF LOVE Elton John
52 ( 42 ) THE PRINCE Madness
53 ( 49 ) I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS The Boomtown Rats
54 ( 59 ) KNOCKED IT OFF B.A. Robertson
55 ( NEW ) YOU’RE A BETTER MAN THAN I Sham ’69
56 ( 52 ) QUEEN OF HEARTS Dave Edmunds
57 ( 58 ) ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC Tubeway Army
58 ( 68 ) NUCLEAR DEVICE (WIZARD OF AUS) The Stranglers
59 ( 61 ) BAKER STREET Gerry Rafferty
60 ( 62 ) DREADLOCK HOLIDAY 10CC

61 ( 39 ) SING A HAPPY SONG The O’Jays
62 ( 55 ) LOST IN MUSIC Sister Sledge
63 ( 69 ) SPOOKY Atlanta Rhythm Section
64 ( 74 ) CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE Queen
65 ( 64 ) CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU The Police
66 ( 46 ) TIME FOR ACTION Secret Affair
67 ( 50 ) POINT OF VIEW Matumbi
68 ( 51 ) OH SUSIE Secret Service
69 ( 71 ) SO MUCH TROUBLE IN THE WORLD Bob Marley & The Wailers
70 ( 73 ) BRIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD Van Morrison

71 ( NEW ) THE SPARROW The Ramblers
72 ( 72 ) LIGHT MY FIRE Amii Stewart
73 ( NEW ) IF YOU REMEMBER ME Chris Thompson
74 ( 70 ) BEAT THE CLOCK Sparks
75 ( 75 ) THE DIARY OF HORACE WIMP E.L.O.

TV
1 Star Trek: Metamorphosis
2 Doctor Who
3 Fawlty Towers
4 Roots: The Next Generation
5 MASH
6 Film 79
7 The Odd Couple
8 Starsky And Hutch
9 The Two Ronnies
10 Top Of The Pops

Top 100 fave Movies Of All-Time: Part 2: Top 50

Image

Popcorn transfers 1970 Singapore…

 

50. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

I had to have a classic Trek movie in the Top 50, and this is the most entertaining of the series. Leonard “Spock” Nimoy directs and it’s a wonderful fan friendly, wide-appealing fun movie. It has a socially-motivated film (Save The Whales cos it’ll save the planet) and no real baddie, just a threat. This allowed the cast to have fun, and they gave it a good ol’ go, amusing dialogue and scenes, and room for lots of laughs at the expense of the 1980’s (where they had been sent to gather up now-extinct humpbacks). The screen play was a Nimoy-insisted rewrite, by Star Trek II screenwriter (Wrath Of Khan being the best of the Trek’s to that date) Nick Meyer, and it all worked beautifully, by far the biggest box-office of the Trek movies after the relative yawnfest of the first one. Lots of Trek cameos from the original cast, and all the regulars on board and each getting their moment. I love ’em all, and I’ve sadly only ever caught Nichelle Nichols and George Takei at Trek conventions, but I have to state: up to 1986 Star Trek the TV series was my number one show of all time. These days it’s Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and Brock Peters from that show is in this film so it’s beautifully circular. A fun movie.

49. Toy Story 2 (1999)

Destined (like many part 2’s of trilogies) to be the filling in between the structures, but I actually love this one too. Pixar is always good, this is a great film, full of charm, action and like many older blockbuster movie comedies, chock-a-block with great character actors (albeit voice-only). The plot: Woody gets stolen by perennial tubby villain the fab Wayne Knight (of Third Rock and Seinfeld fame) to complete a collector’s set, and Buzz and the gang save him. New characters pop in, including the fabulously ruthless Kelsey Grammar (Frasier, Cheers, not to mention Sideshow Bob and a Star Trek captain) and Jonathan Harris (Dr Smith of Lost In Space “oh the pain the pain” fame). Pixar make movies for all ages, the old-fashioned way, but cool and modern with it. Fabulous.

48. The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad (1988)

Daft, slapstick, corny, filled with visual gags and one-liners and a fabulous follow-up to the wonderful (and tragically short-lived) TV series Police Squad, this was a welcome bit of cinema fun, and the spiritual sequel to the Airplane movies. That’ll be the Zuckers & Jim Abrahams then! The TV show played with the format a lot, and lead Leslie Nielsen was a treasure as the straight-faced bungling cop. He’s shown what he could do with comedy in Airplane and this movie gave him a whole new career late in life as a comic actor, better reflecting his light-hearted real-life character than po-faced straight men. The supporting cast is great too, Priscilla Presley post-Dallas happy to debunk her image, the reliable George Kennedy, the brilliant Ricardo “Khan!” Montalban, and Nancy Marchand. They even bung the Queen in there. The 2 sequels were much the same, but just a bit less good, but it’s the one-liners that are the genius. I can’t resist a good one-liner:

“I promise you – whatever scum did this, not one man on this force will rest one minute until he’s behind bars. Now, let’s grab a bite to eat.”

47. Red (2010)

As a comic book fan, I’d somehow missed this comic book, but no matter, I LOVED the 2 films, the second one, frankly, is just as good but not quite as fresh as the first gemtastic senior-actor ensemble comic-action spy thriller. Violent (in a comic fashion), ruthless, funny, amusing, endearing, both the script and cast carry it off beautifully. Bruce Willis could feature in so many movies (but almost all of them have just missed the Top 100) he’s been so consistently good since leaving the brilliant and banter-ful Moonlighting TV series, so it’s great that he joined the quirky and fab John Malkovich, the unexpectedly wonderful Helen Mirren as a hitman spy, and Morgan Freeman who’s in everything over the last 10 years, uniformly playing himself and uniformly marvellous everytime, goodie, baddie, President or God. Karl Urban is a great goodie-baddie, following on from Dr McCoy in the JJ Abrams Star Trek’s, and the plotting is great fun, the film is great fun, and seeing a veteran cast having a ball is infectious great fun. Fab!

46. The Iron Giant (1999)

A Brad Bird animated movie version of Ted Hughes story, and a box office flop. Sometimes the world is mad. This movie is brilliant, one of the greatest animated features ever made, and has since won critical acclaim, I loved it from day one. I loved the style, classy and very fifties, the widescreen beauty. I loved the characters and cast: Vin Diesel, Jennifer Aniston and Harry Connick Jnr were never better in a movie (well, in Aniston’s case not until We’re The Millers, which is a comedy destined to feature in my top 100 revisited in a few years, cos it’s fab). I loved the 50’s Cold War theme, the sci-fi elements, the heartwarming story of love between a boy and giant robot, and a beatnik and the boy’s mom. The military are pigheaded, and love conquers all, not war. Probably the last classic family film of the 20th century, but Brad Bird went on the almost-as-good Pixar The Incredibles, having served on The Simpsons during it’s classic period. Pretty damn good credentials.

45. Carry On Up The Khyber (1968)

How can I rate a piece of British innuendo-laden, pun-tastic, bad-gag-fest 60’s period-piece ahead of a classic animated feature…err because! This is the greatest of the Carry-On’s, a self-mickeying irreverent take on the days of the British Empire and their self-important-England-rules-the-world attitude. That’s not the primary aim, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to see us portray ourselves (or rather the British upper classes) as mad as a hatter, having afternoon tiffin while being bombed by the “natives”. The cast is perfect, the caricatures (as opposed to characters) brilliant, the one-liners hilarious. Utterly non-PC these days, but to be fair, the citizens of the Empire aren’t shown in a bad light, though they are played by the regulars, very much a no-no these days. Who’s brilliant? Kenneth Williams and Sid James sparring, Joan Sims letching, Peter Butterworth’s Brother Belcher nervy and seeing everyone as mad as they are. With character names like Private Ginger Hale, lines like “Fakir Off!” (after a Fakir has performed badly), and just general good-natured having-a-laughness, it’s a film I never tire of re-watching. Low-brow, yes, fun, definitely.

44. Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Dreamworks’ Jack Black-starring vehicle, and Far-Eastern-appealing, animated comedy-adventure of a heroic Panda, is funny and charming. The China setting appeals to me, reminding me of my boyhood in Singapore when Chinese fables and adventures were often on TV, animated or live-action. The cast is great: Jack Black never better, Dustin Hoffman never more likeable, Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Ian McShane all animals of different types, heroes vs villain (McShane of course). Master Ping is my fave, though, Po’s dad (a duck, played by the fab James Hong, a staple of movies like Blade Runner and many a TV show of the 70’s onwards), the scenes between Po and his dad are the funniest and also the most touching. The sequel was also a great movie, and in both I love the martial arts setting, the journey to becoming a hero against the odds plots, and the fabulously beautiful animation, the style is deliberately inspired by Chinese artworks and looks just gorgeous throughout. A modern classic.

43. Calamity Jane (1953)

Doris Day: Secret Love. Just Blew In From The Windy City. The Black Hills Of Dakota. The Deadwood Stage (Whip Crack A Way). Fabulous songs, performed marvellously reason enough to love this film? No? How about Doris Day never better, all Tomboy-ish, but still charming. She has the mannerisms, the attitude and secretly is still a little girlie waiting for a man. Well, that bit’s less believable, but hey ho. A great cast, heartwarming, Howard Keel is a perfect antagonist-cum-lover, and certainly much livelier than Clayton Farlow in Dallas! Secret Love was a huge number one, spine-tingling still in the movie, but The Black Hills Of Dakota is just as affecting. Calamity jane was a real-life figure, though I doubt much of this has anything to do with historical accuracy, but it doesn’t matter, it’s all about the comedy, really, and especially Doris Day the movie personality. Her best film by far, and 60 years on it was great to have another album from her.

42. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Harrison Ford. A triumvirate that could no wrong for me, Spielberg is still my fave Director, and George Lucas is best as an ideas man. This nazi-chasing, Ark Of The Covenant-chasing, fantasy set in 1936 has the bonus of being filmed in the UK, and making use of some familiar UK TV character actors, the advantage of Spielberg’s stylish approach to resurrecting old-time serial adventures, and the supreme advantage of Harrison Ford as the lead. Star Wars made him big, but this made him a Star, the leading action man hero of the 80’s and beyond. Always cool, manly, cynical, wise-cracking, and yet loveable, I’m a bit of a fan of his films and the attitude-free man who sort of became embarrassed to be a superstar. It’s a great action romp (my fave word) and did for the family action movie what Star Wars did for sci-fi: made it fun again! Karen Allen is also great in this, and it was good to have her back in the most recent of the sequels, but all of them are at least great fun, and sometimes very great fun. The original is the best though….

41. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

Another sequel not a million miles away from the oriiginal, but Mike Myers was getting into his stride and there some obvious new bonuses and plot threads to make up for the familiarity of some characters. Plot? Austin is sent back in time to the 60’s, a major plus for me as it’s all childhood nostalgia through rose-tinted whimsical spectacles (and false British teeth). Rob Lowe does a great Robert Wagner impression, as the younger version of Number Two, and Verne Troyer as Mini-me is naughty and funny. Heather Graham is a good new romantic lead, and the guest spots fabulous, what’s not to like about Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello, Woody Harrelson, and of course Clint Howard in yet another cameo. It’s all very silly, the Madonna theme tune (Beautiful Stranger) is one of her best singles and heads a pot pourri of great music (such as REM’s version of Tommy james Draggin’ The LIne), and Will Ferrell as Mustafa is still funny, Frau Barbissina, Scott Evil, Dr Evil are all still fabulous. Groovy Baby, Bondtastic.

40. Airplane! (1980)

From one daft comedy to another. This time it’s the disaster movie cliches that are the main target, but it’s pops into other recent movie and cultural mild-knocking. It’s all very good-natured, and The Zucker’s and Abraham introduce the double whammy of verbal gags and visual gags in the background to actors playing it straight to the camera. A large cast of established actors add to the delight, but newcomers Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty are also great. This was the movie that let Leslie Nielsen show his comic side (“and don’t call me Shirley”), Mission: Impossible’s Peter Graves airplane Captain take an unusual line of questioning to a little boy, Ethel Merman as a psychiatric patient who thinks he’s Ethel Merman, James Hong popping up again in my list as a Japanese General, and other assorted very non-PC one-liners and caricatures. It’s never mean-spirited though, so it carries well. If anything I’ve seen the film too often for it to have the same affect on me it used to, but there are so many hilarious moments (topped by the singing nun Airport 1975 piss-take – maureen McGovern of Poseidon Adventure theme tune fame – repeatedly knocking out the life-support drip to the child she’s singing to) that this and the space-based identikit sequel continue to give joy.

39. The Fugitive (1993)

Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, a great thriller remake of a favourite David Janssen 1960’s TV series of mine, how could it fail? It didn’t, phew! Ford & Jones are great combatants even though the scenes together are minimal, and the plotting is tight, the script punchy and involving, the set piece action sequences thrilling. In short, one of my all-time fave thrillers with two of my all-time fave leading men at their best. The basic plot: Dr Richard Kimble is framed for the murder of his wife, but escapes and searches for the truth (the one-armed man, essentially, played by the great Andreas Katsulas, soon to be the best thing in Babylon 5) while evading justice. That’s the whole series condensed into one movie, but the pacing is perfect, regardless. Tommy Lee won a best-supporting actor Oscar, quite deservedly, Jane Lynch puts in a showing almost 20-years ahead of her Glee-tastic bitchy award-winning Sue Sylvester, and the film was deservedly nominated for Best Picture. Should have won, too.
38. Cat Ballou (1965)

One of the great westerns, incidentally a comedy/drama, and Jane Fonda’s most endearing (title) role at a time when she was also stunningly beautiful and yet to be American public political enemy number one. The real star, of course, is oscar-winning double-roled Lee Marvin, capable of switching from menace to side-splittingly funny wisecracks or visual gags. It’s not all about him, though, Fonda is great, and the young cast-members match her, headed by TV favourite Dwayne Hickman (clean-cut Dobie Gillis, here a likeable rogue). Throw in the Greek-chorus duet singing of the cancer-stricken great Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye throughout the film, and it’s a very re-watchable treat. Reviews were apparently mixed at the time, according to Wikipedia, but I only ever remember word-of-mouth love for the film, and it did Top 10 box office. It’s recently been voted 10th best western by the AFI, and referenced by hot-actor of the moment Bryan Cranston as the film in his life that had the most impact. It was a childhood fave to me too. So “critics miss the point” shocker headlines, eh, who would have thought it….

37. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Spielberg’s follow-up, spiritually, to Close Encounters was a money-making sensation for such a small-budget kids movie, essentially. As always, plenty of people love to brag that they don’t fall for hype and have never seen the film, as if it’s something to be proud of. I call them “people with no imagination and no sense of wonder” co it’s a treasure of a film. There’s enough hard-times/cynicism/laughs in the film to avoid over-sentimentality, but at it’s heartlight it’s a film about love and survival against the odds. There are no baddies, only threat that isn’t what it seems, no-one gets killed, the directing and cinematography is stunning, an extension of Spielberg’s previous David Lean-ist movie style, and should have got him Best Picture, Director and Cinematography at the Oscars, as generously suggested, more or less, by winner Richard Attenborough. Child-star Drew Barrymore was amusing, and a future force in movies, but really it’s a cast of unknowns portraying the Family, and doing it well, especially Elliot (Henry Thomas) and of course ET. The John Williams soundtrack is gorgeous, the now-famous classic scenes in the film retain their charm, and all-in-all it’s just wonderful to re-live on a semi-regular basis, preferably after hopping on Universal Studios ET Ride for a boost to get in the mood. The film, of course, is destined to charm new generations of kids and kids-at-heart in a good way….Hooray!

36. Young Frankenstein (1974)

A Mel Brooks/ Gene Wilder script and movie, a loving parody of 30’s horror movies, complete with black and white cinematography and editing to match the target. It uses the cliches of horror to affectionate affect, the script is witty and packed with great lines, and the cast is top-notch. Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder were at the top of their games in this, hot off the back of Blazing Saddles, whatever they did afterwards might have been amusing, but it wasn’t quite as classic as this one. The cast? Oh, that cast! Gene Wilder is perfect as Dr. “FRONKensteen” trying to live down his ancestor’s mad inventions, Marty Feldman transferred from UK TV comic to memorable movie comedian and seemed to be having a ball, and the brilliant and under-rated Madeline Kahn shows herself to be one the great women film comic actors of all-time, her delivery is always spot-on. But there’s more! Terri Garr, of Star Trek, Close Encounters, Tootsie fame, shows she can do broad comedy too, I’d been a big fan of hers since coming across her Shirley Maclaine-esque role in Star Trek, and was very happy to sit in the audience of a 90’s TV pilot show with Burt Reynolds (a movie quiz) after she’d suffered a stroke and en-route to being Phoebe’s mom on Friends. Cloris Leachman, the fabulously bitchy Phyllis of Mary Tyler Moore Show and psycho-grandma from Malcolm In The Middle, has worked consistently brilliantly in character roles over the decades, this one might even be her best (Frau Blucher! – cue horses whinneying). Peter Boyle as the Monster is also great, and he went on to late-life fame and success on TV, his best role was in the X Files and this one though. Then there’s Kenneth Mars, a Mel Brooks regular, also of Malcolm In The Middle, and a great cameo from Gene Hackman, and the musical number (Puttig Ong De Ritzz) and townspeople burning frenzy, Wilder’s wide-eyed on-the-edge calmness, and just so many quotable lines. Fab. U. Lous.

35. Toy Story (1995)

The first entirely computer-animated movie, and the birth of Pixar as movie-makers. It’s also a return to mega-success family friendly, but contemporary, animated films that appeal to adults as much as kids, thanks to the great scripts, characters and cast. How about a list of great things? Randy Newman’s songs. Tom Hanks as Woody, he’s pure Mr Everyman and Mr Nice, even when he’s being envious and selfish. Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen’s first incarnation as spaceman) in tribute to the great Buzz Aldrin. Cowboys vs Spacemen, the two great kids genres of the 20th century, as a fantasy adventure, the other great genre, as the toys have a life of their own when humans aren’t around. Joss Whedon honing the script and adding Rex (Wallace “Grand Negus DS9” Shawn). Cheers’ John Ratzenberger (natch, it’s a Pixar film!), Don Rickles veteran comedian as Mr Potato Head. A great cast of characters/toys. Toy story wasn’t the first of the Toy Story’s I saw (that was 2, which in some ways is funnier), but it’s still a great entertaining film, and gets bonus points for being influential and ground-breaking.

34. Jurassic Park (1993)

Stephen Spielberg. CGI dinosaurs bringing the extinct big reptiles to life in a way that stop-motion movies never quite could, Ray Harryhausen apart, now that science had uncovered so much more about them. It’s very Spielberg-ian as films go, a cast of kids and adults, drama, excitement, human folly, beautifully shot and directed, great John Williams music, and a great cast: Richard Attenborough in his last real memorable acting role, Sam Neil and Laura Dern great leads, Jeff Goldblum being Mr Cynical, as always, Wayne Knight in my list again (Seinfeld/Third Rock From The Sun) as the baddie, and Samuel L Jackson popping up for the first time in a great big-budget movie. Of course no blockbuster is complete without him in the 21st Century (he claims his list of movies have made more money than any body of work by any other actor – and I’m sure he’s right!). There are so many great scenes in the film, the appearance of the T.Rex trapped in cars in the rain, the toilet block, the hunting packs of velociraptors (artistic licence here I think!) and the climactic ending. Florida’s brilliant theme park Islands Of Adventure (Universal Studios) is the best in the world, for me, not hurt by having a whole section devoted to Jurassic Park themes, wet dinosaur rides, and an interactive/dining centre designed to look like the Jurassic Park centre and loads to do for kids, with the theme music constantly chiming out as a backdrop amongst the sprays of cooling mists and foliage. The film is iconic and for a while was top money-maker of all-time. Spielberg at his commercial best, and significantly better than either of the sequels. Hopefully the 4th will be great again…

33. Alien (1979)

Ridley Scott’s tense, brilliant sci-fi horror movie. Design-wise it’s stunning (H.R.Giger’s alien and sets are beautifully frightening), and the Direction is genius, setting and building the tenseness and the horror cliche of victims being picked off one-by-one was never better than in Alien. Done to perfection, and genuinely shocking when it came out. Sigourney Weaver was a revelation in this, a tough, no-nonsense leading “man” role who happened to be a woman (the script had been written for a man), which set her up for a whole career as a goddess of sci-fi. The cast is uniformly brilliant, John Hurt and his chest-burster scene, Veronica Cartwright’s nervousness (later of X Files, earlier of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers), Tom Skerritt’s shock leading-man early departure, Harry Dean Stanton’s “here kitty kitty”, Yaphet Kotto’s lashing out, and Ian Holm’s emotionless android. Not to mention the ultimate cunning monster to beat all monsters, the semi-indestructible and adaptable alien itself. The grim n gritty vision of the mining spaceships was a million miles from glossy Star Trek, but Jerry Goldsmith’s score was the equal of the movie, and Dan O’Bannon’s script. The sequels were variable (see Aliens lower down the list, but none of the others came close), but the memory lingers. In 1979 one of my all-time fave films, I know it too well to watch as often these days, but the recent Ridley Scott prequel Prometheus improves on repeat viewing and may well join the 100 at some stage…

32. The Sound Of Music (1965)

Robert Wise may not have Star Trek The Motion Picture in the list (even though it would have rated higher than this for many years) but the childhood monster musical has legs. The reason it became the biggest musical of all-time (and biggest money-making film for a decade) was because it was so bloody brilliant. Julie Andrews was taken for granted at the time, she was such a huge star, the album topped the charts on and off for years, and songs from the film (and clips on TV) were still going strong well into the 70’s. And what songs, a mix of the catchy and family-friendly (The Lonely Goatherd, Do Re Me – we sang it at school – My Favourite Things) and the dramatic (the spine-tingling Climb Every Mountain as sung by Margery McKay (not Peggy Wood) Edelweiss, as sung by Bill Lee (not Christopher Plummer) and The Sound Of Music (as sung by Julie Andrews, thankfully!). It’s not just the songs though, nor the great dance routines, nor even the great cast – well so many sci-fi links to me! – it’s the script, it’s a proper musical with drama, threat (Nazis and fleeing) and ultimately a love story as the governess marries the Captain. Julie Andrews and icy Christopher Plummer are great. Sci-fi link 1: Star Trek IV movie Klingon = Plummer. The kids are cute: sci fi links: Nicholas Hammond was TV’s Spiderman; Heather Menzies was TV’s Jessica 6 in Logan’s Run; Angela Cartwright was Penny Robinson in Lost In Space (and just pips older sister Veronica in Alien!); Marni Nixon doesn’t have a sci fi connection (she’s a nun here) but her singing was prominent in many musicals dubbed over actors, most famously Natalie Wood in the other great dramatic musical 60’s Robert Wise film, West Side Story. End of the day, though, it’s a feel-good movie, timeless, a bonafide classic and anyone who dismisses it on grounds of “saccharin Julie Andrews wholesomeness”, which it was bombarded with for decades, is missing the point. Just give in and enjoy!

31. Notting Hill (1999)

Highest-rated traditional Rom-com on the list is this one, Richard Curtis’ follow-up to the hugely successful Four Weddings And A Funeral. That’s not to ignore everyone else’s contribution, but it’s all about the script with Richard Curtis TV and movies, and after Blackadder (my own fave Curtis co-scripts) this is far and away my favourite. Hugh Grant is at his most bumbling and charming, Julia Roberts was never more sensitive and likeable, and the supporting cast of British actors is great:
Rhys Ifans comical, Tim “Blackadder’s Percy” McInnerny and other TV Curtis or Ben Elton regulars all great support. It’s had it’s critics (twee middle-class Brit view of the world that isn’t based in reality) but it’s charm over-rides quibbles, and the plot is joyous: famous beautiful actress finds true love with a bookish nerd. Oh please that’s bound to appeal to every bookish nerd. Hello! Nerd here! It’s amusing, clever dialogue, whimsical largely-bitterness-free attitude, and tear-jerking (with happiness) finale is a guaranteed rainy-day-feeling-low boost for me. Its’ optimism and good-will is infectious, and it’s appeal grows with the years. Terrific.

and so to the top 30 fave movies of all-time, starting with a bang:

30. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

It’s James Cameron again, back with yet another sequel that’s bigger than the original – this time an action-packed, time-twisting, apocalyptic, relentlessly pursuing robot-with-a-twist thriller. Arnie said he’d be back…and here he is, this time as the protector of John Connor, future saviour of the human race in the battle against machines. Turning Schwarzenegger into a heroic figure was a stroke of genius, and it suited his acting ability brilliantly, he’s very, very likeable in a ruthlessly macho way. Linda Hamilton is also back, as Sarah Connor, John’s mother, trying to warn of the forthcoming catastrophe and locked up in a mental institution, now tough and utterly single-minded in her mission to look after her son. Still working in sci-fi (great in “Chuck” TV series) Hamilton’s performance is sooo different from the cowering character of the first film. That’s a good thing! Robert Patrick, later of the final X Files seasons, also a revelation here, as a morphing ruthless shapeshifter sent from the future to kill John Connor. CGI state of the art at the time, some of the scenes, like the car chase have since been parodied beautifully by the likes of The Simpsons. There are several different edits of the movie, all are great, and there’s also the little matter of Terminator 2: 3D: Battle Across Time, a mini movie sequel featuring Arnie and Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton and Robert Patrick, which has been showing at Universal Studios florida for 18 years, to millions of visitors each year. Now that’s what I call an exciting movie (shame about the sequels).

29. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)

The follow-up to blockbuster Jaws, which shocked and startled and became instantly iconic, Steven Spielberg opted for a very different film, and which jointly (with Star Wars) turned around an ailing film industry, sci-fi suddenly meant cash not box-office poison. Special Effects were now advanced enough for aliens and spaceships to look convincing, not laughable, and Spielberg put forward an alternate viewpoint that advanced species would be intent on destroying humanity. There was something magical about the philosophy to me, and the small-town suburban America, and the cast: Richard Dreyfuss was great as the mysteriously-obsessed Roy Neary (he’d talked Spielberg into giving him the role over superstar actors, who frankly wouldn’t have had the right liberal intellectual hippie mood), Francois Truffaut was a bonus, and Terri Garr was terrific as always. The special effects and cinematography, though, were as much the real stars of the film as anything: I had posters on the wall of that breath-taking moment when the giant spaceship dwarfs Wyoming’s Devil Tower, and so many scenes in the movie are magical, the little boy standing shadowed in bright light, the mix of John Williams brilliant theme music with the spaceship communication, and the many false starts and jumps leading up to the climax. For many years it was my all-time fave film, from early 1978 well into the 80’s, and I bought all the booklets, photonovels and eventually DVD’s of the various released versions (Spielberg felt the original needed extra scenes and editing, especially as ILM took off – see George Lucas!). I can see now I was dazzled a bit by the pretty lights a bit, or else I just watched it too often, I know it by heart almost – it’s still the film I’ve paid to see most times at the cinema – but it’s not one I put on as regularly these days. I still love it though, and it kick-started my Spielberg-worship. I “heart” it, smiley face, in short

28. Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003)

Jerry Bruckheimer reinvented the mega-Disney family movie with this series of films. Pirates had been decidedly out-of-fashion since Disney’s Blackbeard’s Ghost delighted kids of the 60’s, but decades of kids and grown-ups had been on the theme ride at the various Disney parks so it wasn’t THAT much of a stretch really to imagine a film doing well. What sent it mega, though, was the update for the new century in attitude and CGI effects, and most of all Johnny Depp doing an impression of the Rolling Stones Keith Richard and playing it for laughs. He’d always done cult movies, especially for Tim Burton’s most interesting movies, but he’d not really gone comic. Turns out he was a natural. The first in the series is still the best (though all have their moments) and the cast is great – what’s not to like about Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Crook, and Zoe Saldana and others swashbuckling, dashing, falling, swimming, getting captured by the undead, skeletons, and nods here and there to scenes on the Disney ride? It’s a lark, and most of all it’s Johnny Depp having a lark. Fantasy, of course, but pure fun.

 

27. What’s Up Doc? (1972)

A 1930’s pastiche tribute to screwball comedies from Peter Bogdanovich and a script co-written by Buck Henry, co-creator and co-writer of the wonderful Get Smart TV series with Mel Brooks. Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal are marvellous as the unpredictable force of destruction meeting the nerdy professor and causing chaos. Visual gags aplenty, many of them tributes and variations on cliched trusty or famous movie moments, and the characters and actors are delicious. Streisand was never more likeable, ditto O’Neal (so much so that a rematch was set up for them, but The Main Event didn’t have the same magic), and any film that introduces the fantastic Madeline Kahn on the world as the uptight fiancee has won me over already. Kenneth Mars is also, as ever, pompous and amusing, and Liam Dunn got a great late career out of his judge/father role, in Mel Brooks movies and many a TV show fave, for the next 4 years of his life. How big was the film in 1972? Just behind The Godfather and The Poseidon Adventure. Why? Cos they’re great! The Poseidon Adventure was my all-time fave film till Close Encounters, and this one has sort of overtaken them both as it’s still a feel-good film with a great witty script and a film for movie lovers looking for references. It’s also very very funny.

26. Donnie Darko (2001)

A low-budget marginally profitable fantasy drama that sort of owes it’s success to Drew Barrymore backing it (and being in it), it’s a bit of a stunner. Dramatic, haunting and macabre, it made a star of Jake Gyllenhaal (and sister Maggie who’s also in it), and gave Patrick Swayze a post-movie-idol meaty role. Part of the appeal of the film is the brilliant use of 80’s British indie poprock, most notably the awesome Echo & The Bunnymen track, “The Killing Moon” at the start of the movie, part is also down to the building cult following of the very dark and disturbing subject matter and imagery, and working out what is mysteriously going on. It’s a clever movie, tragic but also heroic, and Gyllenhaal is a sensation in the central role. He’s had a few great roles since, such as award winning Brokeback Mountain and the very good Source Code, but this remains my fave, one that grows with time. Just to show how much it grew, 3 years after release Mad World, a cover track featured in the film, topped the UK charts. I caught the buzz, bought the DVD and have never regretted taking a pop. Wonderful. The hardest thing to believe though is writer/director Richard Kelly having no subsequent success. Astonishing!

25. Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery (1997)

From the sublime to…the ridiculous? Ridiculously funny, anyway! Mike Myers has British Liverpudlian parents and his upbringing (despite being Canadian) is so obviously rooted in UK pop culture in this film, the love for James Bond, 60’s music and assorted sundry 60’s references is pure delight for anyone sharing them. That’ll be me then. It’s a Mike Myers film, script and most of the great characters from Austin Powers and Doctor Evil to the supporting cast of Carry On innuendo named characters like Alotta Fagina (I still laugh), Scott Evil (the fab Seth Green, and here Doctor Evil’s son with Frau Farbissina, Mindy Sterling doing a sterling job, arf), and Vanessa Kensington obviously based on Mrs Peel from the Avengers (Elizabeth Hurley in this case). Toss in Michael York, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe, Christian Slater, Carrie Fisher and especially Will Ferrell as the not-quite-dead-yet Mustafa and hilarity ensues. I’m guessing if the references pass you by it may be a bit Whoosh-over-the-head, but Myers and co give it more than enough gusto to be funny anyway. Goodnatured, a large proportion ad-libbed, daft, engaging and knowing, the plot holds it all together enough to flow well without getting any dull bits on repeat viewing. Plot? Brit Superspy with teeth Austin is frozen and reawakened into the 90’s and a new world where he’s a bit anachronistic. Fortunately the world comes to see things his way. Quite rightly too, it’s a very lovable movie!

24. Finding Nemo (2003)

Talking of lovable. A clown fish. Pixar. Parental love. An adventure saga. Whacky aquatic fish characters. The Coral Reef. What’s not to love?! As always with Pixar, the real story is over-protective fathers (following mama Clown fish getting eaten along with all of their offspring bar one partly disabled son). An unfortunate side-effect is the raiding of reefs for the adorable fish after the movie became a huge success. Somehow the other message of the movie (capturing fish from the wild not a good thing) got lost on many selfish child-pandering moronic individuals. Anyhoo, it’s got Ellen DeGeneres as Dory, the fish with the literal short memory, and what a terrific creation she is, utterly utterly free from malice, non-judgmental, funny, and heart-on-sleeve warm-as-toast personality. OK so she can’t remember anything or anyone for long, a real-life trauma for millions and millions, but she has a heart of gold and love to give. The film would be much much less effective without her. Throw in some great supporting actor-fish/birds/whatever, from Barry “Dame Edna” Humphries, Geoffrey “Pirates of the Caribbean” Rush, and of course John Ratzenberger as a shoal of fish. The seagulls are hilarious: “mine”. “mine”. I declare several biases in favour of the film: I kept fresh-water tropical fish (bred not from the wild) from age 12 to ooh, 26 or so; One of the great experiences of my life is snorkeling around Australia’s reefs cos I love coral reefs (I was careful); the movie is gorgeous to look at, beautifully designed; the plot is wonderful (kudos to Andrew Stanton co-writer and Director); did I mention its just so lovable a film? It is.

23. Blazing Saddles (1974)

Mel Brooks first foray into movies (The Producers) is great, but this comedy western was a sensation, and is still critically revered (though as ever sniffed at by some supposed-high-brow critics of the time). I was the right age for the first movie fart gags in a hollywood movie, and the Very-1974 hip and cool dialogue superimposed on an 1874-set cowboy film cliches mickey-take was a blast, as we might have said at the time, man. The Richard Pryor script is hilarious, which comes as a relief as many of the gags would be considered no-no’s in these overly-politically-correct days, and let’s be clear, it was the first not-pro-white film comedy (the whitefolk are largely inbred idiots – the whole town is populated by hilariously named famous people all named Johnson – or villains). The black cast are the heroes, along with the Indians. Mel Brooks is brilliant here, the theme tune alone (sung by Frankie Laine) is genius Brooks, the timing is perfect, Gene Wilder memorable, Cleavon Little as Bart the first black sheriff is enaging, and the supporting cast are pure genius. I’ve waxed lyrical about them already, so here they are again: Madeline Kahn (Best Supporting Actress nominated) as a short-tongued teutonic Dietrich rip-off Lili Von Shtupp; Harvey Korman talking direct to the audience with great one-liners; Alex Karras as Mongo part-man part-monster; Slim Pickens as the ultra-redneck cowboy and his various cronies as dumb as dishwater; Don DeLuise as the film director in the musical sequence when the big fight finale spills-out into Warner Bros studios lots. So many great gags.

Waco Kid: [to Bart, after the old woman insults him] “What did you expect? ‘Welcome, sonny?’ “Make yourself at home?” ‘Marry my daughter?’ You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the New West. You know…morons.”

The final scenes show the actors watching themselves at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, still dressed in Blazing Saddles gear, then it all goes back to the film again. Manic, inventive, irreverent, brilliant. I mention the Chinese Theatre as 5 years later I sat in the same cinema theatre in real life watching a similarly manic, inventive, irreverent, brilliant British comedy (see Number 19, coming soon).
22. Shrek (2001)

Dreamworks Shrek franchise has been a delight. I’ve nominally nominated the original (well, it IS the best of the bunch, still) but they all have their individual charms. Mike Myers has popped up before in my list, so why not again, Shrek’s grumpy, antisocial anti-hero was a breath of fresh air in animated movies. They took the Disney fairytale characters and turned them on their head. Suddenly the ogre was the goodie and the Prince Charming’s, Fairy Godmother’s and the like the baddies. Mike Myers is perfect for the role, it’s impossible to see anyone else being able to do it so convincingly (even though Chris Farley had already recorded most of it before he died, Shrek would have been less cool and knowing if Myers hadn’t stepped in). Eddie Murphy is equally terrific as Donkey, after years being a bit irritating, suddenly Murphy was a bit endearing and very funny. Cameron Diaz also shows off her funny side, ready to give anything a go with the lads, and John Lithgow is just his brilliant Third Rock persona, vain and arrogant and very very funny. The Universal Studios 3D version is set just after the end of the movie, and the ghost of Lord Farquaad (Lithgow) is hilarious in it (along with the rest of the gang). A final treat also, with the voice of Kathleen Freeman in her last movie. Who? Oh just wikipedia her, she’s been in every single movie released between 1948 and 2001, the world’s premier battleaxe (and she’ll pop up again in my Top 20). Just a brief list of films and TV? Singin’ In The Rain, The Fly, Innerspace, Naked Gun 33 and a third, Blues Brothers, I Dream Of Jeannie, Married With Children and many many more. She never stopped working. Shrek, though, fab script, ad-libbed and re-written by Myers, great choice of oldies, Smashmouth’s version of I’m A Believer is fun, the plot is perfect and unusual, and the ending is the real twist: love yourself for who you are, not what people want you to be. Throw in (as so many of my fave films do) references to previous movies and characters and cliches, especially Disney, and it’s icing on the cake. Or Gingerbread Man, at least. Funneeee!

As we move into the 21 most favouritist (made up word) movies of all time, as viewed by me, I see Empire Magazine just HAD to steal my thunder and publish 303 of the readers “Greatest” movies of all-time. I take consolation that to fairly large extent, they’ve just taken my list and shuffled them about a bit, bunged in some Tarantino and a few other darker movies and then gone and ruined the whole credibility of the list by having the Lord Of The Rings movies way high. How high? Way! No way? Way! I remain mystified by their charm, and I’ve sat through them all. This is my train of thought condensing those hours into a few lines…

Hmm good cast. Nice effects, cinema really has come a long way. Lovely landscapes. Love to go to New Zealand one day. Bit slow though.

Hmm not that keen on the characters actually, don’t they go on a bit without saying anything remotely interesting, all pomp and bluster! I’m sure it’ll pick up in the action sequences. Sometime soon. Anytime now. Still dull.

Oh god this dull. Is it nearly finished yet? You’re kidding? Half-way! Oh god this is tedious. I hate them all. Boooooring. So wooden. No personality. I wish they’d all die!

Oh. My. God. I’m going to explode with boredom. Help Me!!! Please!!! Oh kill me now!!! Is it never going to end. Please End!!! Give me a rifle I hate the world!!!!!

That was just the first film:) I’m sure they’ll grown on me one day.

Just missing the Top 20?

21. The Truman Show (1998)

The film that stopped me hating Jim Carrey. Quite an achievement, and to be fair, he gives a great performance in the title role. It’s a unique film, fantasy social-commentary, amusing, dramatic, involving and stylishly clever, with edits and camera angles all brilliantly taking the michael of TV in particular, adverts, reality TV and the dubious morality of those in control of it. Ed Harris, as ever, is great as the manipulative Christoff, and the supporting cast of unknowns (to me) were just perfect, especially Truman’s histrionic “wife” Laura Linney. Oh, plus Harry “Simpsons” Shearer in a cameo. I love the 50‘s look of the film, and Truman’s gradual awareness of how he seems to be the centre of the universe (he is) is engrossing and delicious. There’s no fat in the film, it’s exactly as long as it needs to be, taut, perfectly-formed and self-contained in it’s own little world. Just like a great TV show. There are no other Carrey films on my list, but he’s grown on me over the years since Truman Show with movies like Yes Man, Bruce Almighty and Kick Ass 2, and he’s a bloody good interviewee and a bit of a hero these days. The film was highly regarded on release and nominated for Oscars, but won none, which is shame, at the least the screenplay (Andrew Niccol) and Director (Peter Weir) should have won. I say that knowing my fave Director (Spielberg) got the Oscar for Director that year, and Shakespeare In Love best script. Saw them both, preferred Truman Show to both.

Next up…Top 20!!!

 

20. Planet Of The Apes (1968)

The debut of a film TV and comics franchise that’s still going strong, but the original is still far and away the best. Charlton Heston giving the role of his life, as astronaut crash survivor Taylor and reinventing himself as a cynical hero for modern (and frequently future) times, as opposed to a biblical hero for olden times. His other films don’t quite make the list, though there is a biblical “epic” coming up next. Of sorts. The recent movies use CGI rather than men in ape masks, but they lack the depth of character and appeal of Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans as Cornelius, Zira and Dr Zaius, and the social commentary on their society and the shock ending where it turns out to be not a Planet of Apes, but a future Earth devastated by mankind. Heston is majestic throughout, but it’s that final scene of the Statue Of Liberty in the sand that is iconic. You know you’ve made it when you become iconic and parodied, and Maurice Evans brilliant performance as the main antagonist even had a song dedicated to him (to the tune of Rock Me Amadeus) inThe Simpsons. Prosthetic make-up was advanced seriously by this film, and the script (by the brilliant Twilight Zone genius Rod Serling) notches up the drama and surprises despite rewrites (his TV scripts needed no rewrites). Budgets got cheaper and scripts less good with later sequels, until the reboots by Tim Burton and the 2011 second reboot boosted budgets, cast and effects, but failed to capture the magic of the original. The film made me a fan of all the cast, except oddly enough Charlton Heston who absolutely dominates the film. A movie classic. The second highest-positioned film of the 60’s.
19. The Life Of Brian (1979)

One of the most controversial films of all-time, as religious groups gathered to get it banned from cinemas across the lands. It’s not surprising really, not because it’s mocking Christianity (Jesus is never mocked) but because it mocks fanatics, be they religious, political or stereotypical. Beatle George Harrison rescued the film financially (and cameos along with Marty Feldman and Spike Milligan), and I saw the film the week it opened in the most unlikely place you could imagine to see a typically British, madcap, shouty, irreverent comedy: Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre, the one with the megastar signatures and handprints in the sidewalk. A student of 21 and having the adventure of a lifetime, but I certainly never saw that one coming. My two Christian friends (of the 5 of us) also saw the film and weren’t offended, it’s too intent on a being a group of comics having a laugh for the accuracy of the material’s targets to have venom behind it. The script cleverly lampoons how quick to follow, and how obtuse to reality, people can be. It’s not a proper film, really, as it’s the same Python team of 6 in multiple ridiculous (and politically incorrect) caricatures (and controlling everything in the film), it’s not remotely heartwarming, though the Bassey-esque theme song and Eric Idles anthemic Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life are needed to lighten the ending a bit. Plenty of gags, and the most rounded of the Python movies, it’s probably one to split opinion – Python were a cult 70’s TV show, but they had a very large male bias in appeal, women and girls not so fussed, and the abstract and bizarre nature of much of the material left many blinking rather than laughing. Me, anyone that can imagine John Cleese dressed as a woman selling ice-creams at the cinema, but with a giant albatross in the tray (shouting “albatross! albatross!”) is going to have me in stitches. To be honest this is not as good a film as the 20 or 30 below, but, hey I saw it in Hollywood and it’s Python! Best bit: the crowd shouting “Yes, I’m an individual” in unison. Oh, and another reason to push it into the top 20: my motto is, if a film’s got aliens and spaceships it gets extra points. This biblical epic has them in it (taking the piss out of Star Wars) and confirms it’s a good motto….

18. Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969)

A comedy western towards the tail-end of the era of the mega-popular cowboy movies, but a warm-hearted, slightly cynical, adorable anti-hero type of western. The hero of this film (James Garner) is very much based on his TV western series Maverick persona – gambler, cowardly, selfish, blunt but so, so charming. He’s also a bit OCD when it comes to disorder and unregulated baddies who think they can do as they like by using fear and the gun. He prefers brains and deceit. James Garner, as I’ve said before, is one of my fave movie stars, he can have any number of bad characteristics to his screen personas and still make them charming and likable. It worked so well here that they did a quick copycat Support Your Local Gunfighter! follow-up, which was nearly as good, and then a couple of years later came the eternal Jim Rockford on the Rockford Files, the best TV detective of all-time. What makes Sheriff! genius though is the supporting cast of familiar movie faces, like the wonderful Jack Elam as his Deputy (previously town drunk), Harry Morgan of MASH & Dragnet TV fame, the fab Joan Hackett as the tomboy love interest, Bruce Dern as baddie spoilt-son, and Walter Brennan, veteran of westerns for 30 years, as the head of the clan battling against law and order. Bung in Kathleen Freeman (again) and it’s my favourite 100% western and my highest-placed film from the 60’s. You won’t find it in many All-Time lists, but it’s good-natured amusing cynicism and playful messing with western cliches just ticks all the right boxes for me. Did I mention James Garner is in it?

17. The Mummy (1999)

Fond memories of seeing this in a fab International Drive, Orlando, Florida multiplex the week of release, and of bits and bobs from the movie being on display at Universal Studios to promote the movie, might have pushed it further up my list. But not that much further up, it’s still a great adventure romp in the old-fashioned sense, swashbuckling, horror, fantasy, bickering hero and spunky heroine, and Brits in the cast to give a touch of class. The CGI is amazing, the cast impeccable, the dialogue snappy and tight, the characterisation spot-on, and Brendan Fraser in the lead was just perfect. Written and Directed by Stephen Sommers, it’s technically a remake, but is actually more a modern re-imagining. Rachel Weisz and John Hannah are great as heroine and sidekick (brother), Arnold Vosloo is perfectly cast as Imhotep/The Mummy, a striking and memorable villain, and Patricia Velasquez a great baddie-ess (a short role, but much more from her in the sequel). Oded Fehr is great, Bernard Fox is great (Welsh actor of many an American TV and film playing stiff-upper-lip Brits types in Titanic, Bewitched, Monkees, MASH and many more), and Omid Djalili takes a break from stand-up comedy and goes all character actor comedy. The various swarms of scarab beetles, sandstorms, life-sucking mummies and more are terrific fun, and the film cracks along at a great pace. Fraser and Weisz are great together too. Love it.

16. Return Of The Jedi (1983)

The 3rd and least of the original Star wars trilogy, it has one main flaw: Ewoks. Cute cuddly diminutive warrior aliens were more to do with merchandise than drama. An edit without would produce a much better and more dramatic, darker finale. The recent CGI additions don’t make a great deal of difference to the original, so I’ll just stick with ratings for all the Star Wars films as the original versions. In a way, Return is Part 2 of The Empire Strikes Back and the cliffhanger that finished on (Han frozen into a giant brick sculpture) is resolved after an iconic battle with Jabba The Hutt, Leia in skimpy outfit and all. The original cast is happily back to gladden the heart-strings, Mark Hamill, Carrie (daughter of Debbie Reynolds) Fisher, Harrison Ford (by now a superstar), Dave Prowse (Darth Vader’s physical being, caught him at Disney MGM studios nearly 15 years ago now in a Star Wars parade), and the evil baddie to beat all evil baddies, Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor, gives a brilliantly sinister performance. R2D2 and C3P0 are still amusing, the in-family soap scenes are good (Luke/Leia the son & daughter of daddy Darth Vader), and the special effects were on a galactic scale at the time. Not any more, of course, CGI has changed movie-making beyond recognition, and all the model-work and alien-suit techniques in use then have moved on to a virtual computer-driven experience. In a way Jedi was almost the end of an era (bar one other trilogy), but that sort of gives it a period charm these days (which is why I’m not keen on CGI tinkering round the edges). I haven’t mentioned George Lucas, yet, head of an Empire of his own, thanks to keeping the merchandising rights. The prequel trilogy started badly (Even seeing The Phantom Menace in Florida with media megahype couldn’t stop it being a) boring b) convoluted plotwise c) Liam Neeson being in it d) Jar Jar Binks ruining it) but the next two were both good, the last one still has a shot of making my Top 100 if I see it some more. I’m looking very much forward to seeing the reunited cast, another trilogy and best of all J J Abrams being in control after his recent Star Trek re-energizing. I wonder if we’ll hear from Lucas and Abrahams higher up the list….Hmmm. Guess!

15. Men In Black (1997)

Barry Sonnenfeld’s best movie, and my favourite Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones roles, and yet another Stephen Spielberg production. Stevie certainly knows how to appeal to me! In this case, it’s another comic-based rollicking, funny, engaging, fast-paced roller-coaster ride, aliens galore, good and bad, hi-tech, brilliant special effects, and a good supporting cast in Rip Torn, Tony Shalhoub, and many others. The plotting is fun (the Earth about to blown-up unless a galaxy hanging round a cat’s collar is kept away from a rampaging cockroach. Yes, that old ploy!), the large cast of colourful aliens is hilarious, Will Smith not only had a chart-topper with the theme tune, he cornered the market in blockbuster sci-fi heroes for a decade and beyond. Smith & Jones are a brilliant double-act, and this extends into the sequels – they might not be quite up to the originality of the first, but they are still well worth watching in their own right. The mass appeal of Will Smith is partly down the Fresh Prince TV show and friendly teen rapper background (having hits in the UK from 1986 on), partly down to a winning personality and family-friendly attitude, and not least down to being a great movie star. Box Office megabucks were also now possible for black actors too, worldwide, as lead hero, as opposed to support or comedians, so I see Will as a Sigourney Weaver-type of new role model in movies. I love this film, never get bored with it, cheers me up when I watch it, and is one of that rare breed: perfectly-formed, exactly as long as it needs to be, and no more. The curse of the modern movie (excess padding) not on view here! Actually, now I talk about it, I feel like watching it again – and I only saw it a month ago! Classic!

14. Some Like It Hot (1959)

This is a perfect film, and it’s difficult to imagine a Best, Favourite or Greatest list of films without it in – exceptions granted for those too young to have seen it yet! Billy Wilder’s comedy is regularly acclaimed critically and popularity-wise as the best comedy of all-time, and it’s just brilliant. The script is terrific, but the performances lift it up a notch further, especially Tony Curtis in his light-leading-man prime (doing a fantastic impotent Cary Grant impression on top of his Tony Curtis Brooklyn-charmer), and Jack Lemmon going way over the top in drag. Plot: a historical setting (well, all of 30 years at the time at any rate) as two musicians witness the St Valentine’s Day Massacre and go on the run in drag with a band of female musicians, especially Marilyn Monroe at her breathy iconic best: I Wanna Be Loved By You (poop poop bi do). The Mob (with many a great gangster actor) are out to get them. The gender-confusing cross-dressing plot is a lark (and quite daring for the time) and the sparring between Curtis & Lemmon for Monroe’s affections is great fun. Throw in Joe E. Ross and that perfect throwaway last line to Jack Lemmon’s wig-removing “Aww I’m A Man” after he got swept away being romanced (as a woman) by millionaire Ross: Nobody’s Perfect. But some films are. Top-rated film from the 50’s, top black and white movie, top notch.

13. Gravity (2013)

An Alfonso Cuaron film, screenplay (with son Jonas), Director (oscar winner), Producer, and amazingly a British-American film, filmed in the UK, this film is nothing short of stunning. The most realistic sci-fi film space drama ever, the plot is more a “might have been” than fantasy. OK it stretches quite a few coincidences to breaking point, but life is full of billion-to-one unlikely series of events (marooned in orbit following space catastrophe and the battle for survival against the clock). Even more incredible, there are basically two actors on screen in the whole film, George Clooney who is total hero, in the real sense of the word, ready to risk and sacrifice his life for others, and with a sense of positive optimism in the face of adversity, who wouldn’t just fall in love with him! The centre-piece though is Sandra Bullock, who is simply stunning. Given that for most of the movie she is acting with no-one but herself, and against screens for special effects (stunning Oscar-winning cinematography 3D special effects) it’s criminal she wasn’t the winner of the Best Actress Oscar. Star of a host of pleasing comedies, most recently the fab The Proposal with the marvellous Ryan Reynolds and Betty White, and occasional great dramas like The Net, she conclusively proved she can do drama as well as any actress, and do it brilliantly. Ed Harris, in a nice touch, is there on voice Mission Control reprising that other great space drama Apollo 13. The film has no flab, it’s perfectly-formed and perfectly-edited, inspiring, involving, and for once 3D is totally justified (as opposed to a gimmicky profit-increasing incidental). I’ve only seen the film 3 times in 12 months, but I see this film only going higher in my chart with the years. I. Love. It.

12. Wall-E (2008)

Another Pixar heartwarming tale with a difference – this time the last miniature robot left working on an abandoned planet Earth, environmental catastrophe appearing to have wiped out most life, bar a superfast mutated smart cockroach. It’s a film of 2 halves, the first half almost free of dialogue, full of mystery and engaging the viewer on a tiny l’il robot, still beavering away on his rubbish collecting and saving of souvenirs. Self-aware and curious, and above all lonely, a recurring Pixar theme is loneliness and finding love, and Wall-E finds it in a mysterious visiting probe and a rescued plant, a plant that is the saviour of a space-bound obese dumbed-down race of idiots under the thrall of super-computer in the second-half action-packed space-bound part of the film. There’s a lot of social commentary going on, and it’s certainly ambitious and critically-acclaimed, but that doesn’t mean the film isn’t charming in the extreme. It so is. One of the ultimate feel-good films, and just for bonus I’ll mention two names that just keep on cropping up in my list. Sigourney Weaver. John Ratzenberger. Voices. Nuff said. Me, I love the mood change in the film, I don’t think the entire film could have worked focused on one location or the other, it needed both to give it a sense of scale, and the scale is grand. The future of the human race and the planet? Can’t really get more important than that… Brilliant!

11. Galaxy Quest (1999)

I couldn’t quite bring myself to put a daft film into the Top 10, and it DOES parody Star Trek and it’s fandom – but it’s so without malice, and accurate, and funny, and engaging it almost comes over as a mix of Star Trek and the Star Trek actors lifestyles. Alan Rickman is hilarious (as he often is) as the Spock-Nimoy character, Sigourney Weaver is wonderful (yes her again, I wonder if she’s in my Top 10. I wonder if Star Trek is…) as the computer-repeating Uhura-role, and Tim “Buzz Lightyear” Allen as Shatner-Kirk is marvellous. The rest of the cast is equally delightful, including the unknowns, and including the better-knowns such as Tony Shalhoub (see Men In Black) and Sam Rockwell (see Cowboys & Aliens). The script is funny, both for kids and adults, the aliens that turn a sci-fi show into reality are a great invention for the purposes of the laughs, and it’s not afraid to turn geeks into heroes. So I’m bound to love it. It’s fairly well-regarded as a great movie but not a Great movie, but there are few films that just give you a massive warm fuzzy feeling inside after watching it. It’s so damn lovable. It became my mum’s all-time favourite film when it came out on DVD, age 61, one watched with regularity, so that’s good enough for me. She still watches it, and still loves it, even though she has memory problems now (we watched it last week). Anyone mistakenly thinking it’s low-brow can just go and re-assess themselves, cos it’s an under-rated gem. So there!

 

10. Back To The Future Part III (1990)

The conclusion to the Robert Zemeckis trilogy, it’s part sci-fi Time Travel, part western-romp and re-unites the cast, notably Michael J. Fox in multiple roles, and Christopher Lloyd having a ball as old Doc Brown living in the past with new flame Mary Steenburgen and Thomas F. Wilson, the unsung great baddie of the three movies (Biff), here playing his descendant Mad Dog with nasty gusto, he’s great to watch. Fox is a great hero-with-flaws in these films, his TV days long behind him, till illness cut short his movie career, and Christopher Lloyd had been a major fave of mine since he debuted as Reverend Jim in Taxi. His Doc Brown is one of the great cinema eccentric scientists. As a western movie fan, it was great to have this final box-office hit for the genre (more or less) and having Pat Buttram in a saloon cameo didn’t hurt, star in many a western I was a huge fan of the Simpsons-influencing 60’s sitcom Green Acres, where he played wheeler-dealer Mr. Haney, complete with “has to be heard to be believed” nasal whiney voice. The plot of this film is more coherent than part II (which it quickly followed, as both were filmed simultaneously) and has a much lighter tone to it. Try not to think too hard about all of the time-travel paradoxes that each film creates, I count two past history changes, three 1980’s-present alternates (at least) and two future-possibilities (at least), so it’s better to just enjoy the romp, cos it’s the ultimate feel-good trilogy.

 

9. Back To The Future Part II (1989)

Sprawling sequel, this was in a way Back To The Future revisited, with it’s revisit of 1950’s small-town america, had most of the original cast return (bar 2), and took things further by going into the far future of 2015, where a lighthearted romp ensues showcasing such ridiculous far-fetched fantasy devices as wall-TV’s, skype, computer-controlled houses, 1980’s nostalgia, real-life celebrities recreated by computers and other stuff. OK, the fax is still about in 2015 (as if!) and the hoverboard and flying car better get going as they’ve only got 6 months now to sort themselves out, not to mention the ending of oil as a fuel. 2115 maybe….! For a long while this was my favourite part of the trilogy cos I loved the future setting followed by the time-travel-caused alternate dystopian future where Biff seems to have single-handedly caused the hope to be replaced with worldwide misery (or at least American). Michael J. Fox as his own daughter looked good, but was probably inadvised after the initial laugh, and Christopher Lloyd playing young and old Doc Brown got over the problem thanks to that rejuvenation treatment that I could do with next year. Looking forward to that coming onto the market! I also love time travel films, and paradoxes, though if you look too closely at it poor old Jennifer and Einstein end up left in an alternate universe 1985 present-day which has always bugged me. My nostalgia for the fifties (to be more accurate, nostalgia for 70’s versions of the 50’s) was still going strong, and I enjoyed the double-take revisit of the events of the original movie. Thomas F. Wilson again gives several great performances as various versions of Biff, the Bob Gale-Robert Zemeckis script is sharp and entertaining, I love hearing Mr Sandman in the film, and there’s a great cliffhanger at the end. In 2014, the 2015 sequences look a bit overly-ambitious technology-wise but they insisted they had to have flying cars, just because. And why not!? Fab.

8. Paul (2011)

OK I said there weren’t any daft films in the Top 10. I lied. This one ticks all the right boxes for me: sci-fi? Tick. Great cast? Tick. Funny script? Tick. References to past movies? Tick. Aliens? Tick. Affectionate pastiche of fandom? Tick. In a way, it does for Close Encounters (even to the same locations), E.T. and X-Files what Galaxy Quest did for Star Trek – takes the piss in a knowing and lovable way. To be honest, I’d not been a huge fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost up to this point – I mean, I liked them, but hadn’t been totally convinced till Pegg popped up in Doctor Who and Star Trek (as Scotty) – but their performances, their script, and their obvious love of the fandom/sci-fi stuff won me over. Seth Rogen as smart-assed alien Paul was a good modern-cynical take on the cliche, Jason Bateman is great as CIA baddie (sort of), Kristin Wiig is hilarious as the religious fundamentalist daughter (and opened up a career for her as romcom star of good movies like Bridesmaids), and of course, no sci-fi blockbuster is complete without Sigourney Weaver as a bad-ass bitch these days. Tick! Chuck in great character actors like Joe Lo Truglio (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Jeffrey Tambor (Hill Street Blues among a million TV series, and fabulous The Invention Of Lying among a million movies), Jane “Glee” Lynch, and Bill “Men In Black 3” Hader and it’s one of the most joyous road movies ever made. It should have been a huge hit, but maybe it’s most appreciated by sci-fi geeks like me who juuuuust feel the love in it rather than the mainstream. Plus it has a great oldies soundtrack, notably the brilliant Todd Rundgren’s Hello It’s Me. Classic!

7. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Just voted the greatest movie of all-time in Empire magazine, the second-part (or fifth) of the Star Wars saga is a bonafide classic. Darker than the original (part IV), it has a few advantages over it (special effects are better, it’s on a bigger scale even than the universe-crossing original, most of the cast reprise their roles) but it also has some disadvantages to me (the Yoda scenes are over-long, Lando’s a bit bland) and one major flaw that will always stop it being top-rated: it just ends. OK, Luke gets his hand chopped off and Darth Vader announces he’s his dad, but it’s very much part 1 of 2 parts with Han Solo freeze-dried and the goodies in turmoil licking their wounds. That said, it was of course a joy to have the sequel after the cinema-changing sensation that was Star Wars 1977, and there’s many a cinema memorable moment, the ice-planet, the battle between Luke and Darth, and of course there’s many a great tribute to it, not least the funny Family Guy trilogy. George Lucas had a less-hands-on role in this one, but you wouldn’t notice too much, if anything the actors are better – guiding actors has never been one of Lucas’ strong points, nor has dialogue, here carried out by Irvin Kershner (Director), Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan (writers). I should also mention Pixar-regular  John Ratzenberger is in it. I haven’t checked who gets more mentions in my Top 100 films, but it must be Ratzenberger, Ford, or Weaver, just ahead of Will Smith. Ratzenberger though, wins as top supporting/cameo actor. I do enjoy trivia. Great film.

6. Star Trek (2009)

Highest-placed Star Trek film, it’s more of a surprise that it’s been forced out of my Top 5, cos, simply-put, I immediately fell in love with Star Trek the TV series when I was 11, it became my all-time fave TV series – until subsequent Star Trek series, notably Deep Space 9, overhauled it in my affections. I’ve been to conventions, met the stars of the various shows (briefly) and my mum has been a fan throughout too. After all the TV overdose, the franchise needed a rest until it got revitalised. J.J. Abrams did exactly that. He took the original characters, legendary and world-famous, got a perfect new cast of actors to reprise and keep the flavour of the original cast, and then rewrote the premise (time-travel tragedy changes everything that originally happened and this is now a new Star Trek universe where anything can happen and does. It’s obviously geared for modern action-oriented blockbuster-savvy audiences but it stays reverential to the original for the fans, even to the point of having Leonard Nimoy back meeting his new younger self (Zachary Quinto), and Majel Barrett as the voice of the computer two weeks before she died. Chris Pine is brilliant as Kirk, Karl Urban is great as McCoy, Simon Pegg is perfect as Scotty, and all the others actors are equally great in their roles. I love that it has brought classic Trek back to me, and JJ Abrams handling of the forth-coming Star Wars films also promises much (in comparison to the prequel trilogy that never really captured the zest of the original trilogy). OK, it’s not as ideas-based as the TV series, but movies have to appeal across-the-board, and this one bought in the dosh without dumbing down anything, keeping the heart of the show alive – that’s the character-interplay between Kirk and Spock, and all of the rest of the loyal characters – while adding in a new early-life trauma for this Spock (his mother’s death) and Kirk (his father’s death before he was born) to punch up the drama. That I rate it higher than any of the other Star Trek films is a joy!
5. Marvels’ The Avengers (2012)

Outside the UK just drop “Marvel’s” but oldtime TV fantasy fans still love the 60’s TV show of the same name. OK, the most recent of the top 5 is at 5, but it could easily be at 1 in a few years as the film is genius. That’ll be Joss Whedon then, a man who can do no wrong in my book, his scripts are always perfect combinations of humour, drama, invention, character-development, pathos and structure. If he wasn’t working in fantasy (with its sniffy-nosed critics looking down their noses) he would be considered a great, purely because he deals with the eternal human lot of life and death and love – just, in this case, with super-heroes. Whedon dialogue is amazingly concise, beautifully phrased, and the pace is always perfect. From 7 years on Buffy, 5 years on Angel, half-a-year on the gorgeous Firefly and on into the movies he’s never let me down. I’m a fanboy! So…this film hitched up the super-hero movie to a new level, and as a former huge DC Comics fan it’s through gritted teeth that I admit Marvel is the one to do the super-hero team movie right. Near-perfect, in fact, as the large cast is juggled beautifully, the inter-action is engaging, and the villains are an equal part of the appeal (here, Tom Hiddleston is every bit as important to the movie as the heroes – something other films often forget: the better the villain, the better the heroes look and the better the movie). Humour is vital to my enjoyment of any fiction-project, and there’s plenty here. Not to say it will always be appropriate to have humour in a tragedy, but I avoid mega-depressing films like the plague generally-speaking, there’s more than enough trauma in real life to deal with, films are an escape from it, for me.

The cast? Brilliant. The great thing is it’s genuinely an ensemble effort, there is no single star, though the organiser, if you like, is Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who has popped up (as a character) in so many Marvel blockbusters, and (as an actor) in so many other blockbuster movies, that he lays claim to be the world’s biggest money-spinner star. Might well be too. Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Gwyneth Paltrow and many others (not least Whedon’s fab Agents of SHIELD TV show set-up) shine beautifully and link in to the various franchise spin-off movies for their characters before and following-on, such as the terrific 2nd Captain America movie, which came out too late to feature in my list – but would have! The plot is exciting, the effects fabulous, the pace non-stop: in short a perfect super-hero movie. Happily, the world seemed to agree with me, currently 3rd in box-office gross. Marvel-lous!

4. Up (2009)

After a lot of anguish, and rewatching it last week, I couldn’t quite put this into my top 3 as it’s too soon (at 5 years old!) to rate it properly – but it’s very much on the way Up. Top-rated film of the noughties, top-rated Pixar, top-rated animation, this heart-warming and sentimental film is equally funny, adventurous and gorgeous to watch. The animation is pure Art, by any standard, the fantasy charming in an Oz-fashion, the characters going against stereotypical kids movies and heroes, starring as it does a 78-year-old widower and a semi-abandoned Japanese-American boy, both with dreams of being explorers. The first 15 minutes of the film are both yearningly beautiful and heart-breaking. This grown-man weeps at the sequence where we see childhood sweethearts live out their life through short scenes and photos, until Carl is left a widower, bereft and empty. It speaks to me at my time of life, because I had to watch my grandma learn to live alone and lonely after my granddad died, but it also speaks to the optimistic boy wannabe adventurer in me who lost himself in exciting fantasy worlds created by others, be it books, films, TV or comics. As this film proves, that little boy is still there, live and kicking, just looking a bit more wrinkly these days!

The cast? Perfection: they chose Ed Asner, character actor of many a classic sitcom and drama (Lou Grant, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Roots) of the 70’s, where he played grumpy, lovable heart-in-the-right-place types, there’s no one of that age I can think of better suited to be Carl. The debut movie voice actor Jordan Nagai as Russell is charming, and the film is really about Russell dragging Carl back into the world while on their balloon-inspired house-flight to Peru, both of them finding love and a reason to live life to the max in each other, where a huge lonely gap had been before they met. Baddies: Talking dogs? Hilarious! Christopher Plummer (yet again) in my list, just before showing life can still be full at 82 (winning an academy award for Beginners), is terrific at the paranoid ruthless lost famous adventurer. Of course, there’s John Ratzenberger too. I love the 1930’s styled visuals to much of the film, accurate and charming. Above all though, I love the script/story – kudos to Pete Docter, co-writer of both as well as Director. As a film it’s unique, no Hollywood cliched rom-com adventure here, no brainless kiddie-flick, it deals (as ever with Pixar) with universal human lot issues like loss, living, loneliness, friendship. And it’s got a whacky bird too! What’s not to love. One of the greatest movies ever made, by any standard. Epic.

3. Star Wars (1977)

Shock! The film I generally mention as my fave film of all-time, if asked, and often see listed at 1 on many film polls, is only 3. I just watched it for the umpteenth time (it’s the film I’ve seen more times than any other, by far) and that’s part of the problem – I know it backwards. When it first came out I went to see it 5 times, in itself unprecedented for me, and it became my new fave film till Close Encounters came out weeks later and usurped it. Gradually it pulled back, though and reigned for 30 years because in a way it was the first modern movie and didn’t date quite like most movies. Since it occupied a brand new world of it’s own, it didn’t have a period to sit and be charming in. Is it a great film? Yes and no. If you want to have a laugh at the plot and characterization, and dialogue, and even the stilted acting, I suggest watching Family Guy’s Blue Harvest, which amiably and accurately re-does the whole movie brilliantly, but never loses it’s admiration and love for it. In any case, being Citizen Kane never was the point of George Lucas’ magic creation, the aim was to take the 30’s Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials and gift that pace and imagination, that galactic adventure melodrama and one-liners, with a modern-budget special effects setting. Job done, and then some!

When Star Wars was about to be released in the UK, the hype and word of mouth was intense, I was 19 and at College sharing a bedroom digs with 2 mates who asked me if it lived up to the hype (I went to see it immediately). Easily one of the Top 3 best films ever-made, I opined, thus setting up expectations which is not the best thing to do ahead of viewing! Well, here we are, 37 years on, and I still hold the view that I was spot on, all in all, because the elements of modern action cinema (especially sci-fi fantasy blockbusters) lead back to Star Wars. The editing, manic pace, special-effects led galactic-scale goodies and baddies was pretty influential to put it mildly. I don’t think it’s an over-stating the case that before Star Wars films were more leisurely (to the point of boredom sometimes) and sci-fi was well-known as box-office poison – not least because by it’s nature it needs special effects to not look silly. Everything changed immediately, sci-fi fantasy blockbusters became (and stayed) big business. Star Wars was like a glittering, sparkly, rollercoaster ride for the senses, and ordinary films seemed quite dull in comparison, even the big budget disaster movies, Bond films and the like. Star Wars may not have saved cinema, which was declining disastrously during the 70’s, but it didn’t hurt to have the new biggest-money-maker-film-of-all-time being one you could happily repeat view.

Cast? Do I need to list Alec Guinness, Harrison Ford’s highest-rated of many Top 100 films, Mark Hamill’s energetic Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher’s spunky bun-wearing Princess, the double-act C3PO and R2D2, the whinging butler robot and his short rebellious companion? Then there’s Darth Vader, James Earl Jones hissing evilly, and Peter Cushing (best performance in the movie). Add in John Williams music (and disco spin-off hit covers) which dominated the film and changed movie soundtracks back to the epic full-on strings-heavy drama that they need to be in blockbusters. MGM’s Star Tours ride upped the excitement after the sequels had been and gone (and eventually prequels), and Star Wars was copied and aped on TV and in the movies, none of them managing to kick the film from it’s revered pedestal (by fanboys such as me and Seth MacFarlane), cos George Lucas did it first. The Empire Strikes Back is most-likely a better film, but this one is a complete story, right to the bows and clapping at the end, stating quite clearly it’s old-fashioned roots. Ignore the annoying revamped digital versions though, they look even more dated than the original these days and add nothing much, save the bonus Jabba The Hut scene. I’ll prob give it a rest for a few years now though and let newer films shine through! Hopefully the next installment with Han, Leia, Luke, Chewie, C3PO, R2D2 clanking about with rusty aging bits….

 

2. Back To The Future (1985)

I love this movie, and the entire trilogy. It’s crept up on me over the years, I mean I thought it was great when it came out, but there’s just something special, heartening, warm and endearing about it that lets me watch it over and over without ever getting bored with it. For a start it’s got time travel and it’s effects, a concept I love, it’s got fifties nostalgia, it’s got 80’s music and 50’s music, it’s got Michael J. Fox as the perfect all-American-Boy (slightly-flawed, but enthusiastic and loyal), it’s got the brilliant Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown in dual roles, without doubt the greatest mad (lovable) scientist ever, shortly after spending a few years as hilarious stoned Reverend Jim on Taxi, and the ruthless Klingon that kills Captain Kirk’s son. The plot is great (Marty Mcfly’s mum falls in love with her own son instead of Marty’s dad, which causes a loop stopping himself from existing unless he changes events back).

The time-travel paradoxes are an appeal of the films, though you have to accept things happen the way they do, cos it’s sort of fated, as opposed to the likely consequences where in the real world, change behaviour of people and you change events in life, change events in life and key moments change, people aren’t born, other people are born who weren’t originally (for instance if George McFly became a famous writer rather than failed insurance salesmen, it’s most likely the kids wouldn’t have been conceived the nights they were supposed to be, events would just change too much), so for the purposes of the film best forget and just enjoy the various different Marty McFly universes, cos they’re all great.

Ultimately, it’s a feel-good family-friendly sci-fi romp, but everything about it just seems to gel perfectly, especially Biff actor Thomas F. Wilson who is everyman school-bully, a type we all know from school, and on behalf of geeks world-wide there’s deliciousness seeing him get his come-uppence. It’s a sweet film, beautifully-imagined by Robert Zemeckis, produced by Stephen Spielberg (outdoing all of his own greats), and it’s now got the added bonus of being it’s own 80‘s nostalgia period-film charm to add to the original 50’s nostalgia period-charm – it was always an idealistic small-town version of both, but that’s not to say it’s fake, it’s just less…horrible than real life. A version I’d like to think existed in some small American communities. Top rated film of the 80‘s. Love it.

So, what’s Number One….? It’s a 90’s movie.

Ready for it? Want to know which is my Top Of The Film Pops..

 

 

 

 

 

 
It’s…..

 

 

 
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1. Groundhog Day (1993)

This film is miraculous. It takes what sounds like a boring idea (living the same day over and over for what must be centuries) and turns it into magic. The variations in the possible outcomes of the day are funny, touching, disturbing, and in the end, heart-warming and an affirmation that there is always hope, there is always love, and a selfish person can learn to love and be loved. It’s possibly the most-optimistic film ever, and it’s had such an impact on the world that the title has entered into the English language in it’s own right. What started out as a seemingly inoffensive Bill Murray-vehicle semi-rom-com from his Ghostbusters-mate Harold Ramis had more to it than it appeared. As time passed, the joy of the film became clear and critical opinion changed and re-evaluated it properly, belatedly having greatness bestowed on it. It has the ability to move, gladden the heart and reward familiarity that It’s A Wonderful Life has – it never gets tiring, there’s always something extra there that pops up.

Credit goes mostly to the script, which is almost perfectly-formed, original, chock-full of great one-liners (many of them based on the repeat-themes), but the cast also need applause too. Bill Murray is always Bill Murray, snide, cynical, arrogant, but he’s always managed to get away with it cos the charm and wit pulls through and wins. In this case, his unredeemable weatherman is redeemed when he gives up thinking about himself and genuinely learns to love the small-town cast of many. Andie MacDowell is also vital to the film, she is the moral compass, can spot bull a mile off, and nothing Murray ever does convinces her that he’s sincere – until he is, and the perfect day is the perfect ending. We’re never sure how long he’s been living the same day eternally, but he is accomplished in so many things, and knows everything about everyone in town, and spent so long trying to kill himself in inventive endless way, that it must be centuries at least. It was his own personal hell and it became his own personal heaven. Overstating the case? Nah!

I still love “I Got You Babe”, I love the German-festival-music and the whole groundhog event, I love the sci-fi/fantasy concept of the film, and I love a great rom-com. I love Larry and Ned Ryerson among the rest of the characters in the film, and I love that the Writers Guild Of America voted it the 27th best screenplay of all-time – except that it should have been higher! Not bad for a Bill Murray throwaway rom-com…..

So there you have it. That’s the film I go back to more than any other these days, it lifts me up when I’m down, and gives an optimism boost when I’m feeling jaded and cynical. Thanks for reading and putting up with the looooong wait between reviews!