Random thoughts on lives, deaths, and tributes

This was not the post I had intended for this week. As a matter of fact, I had not given any thought to what I’d write about, but I had imagined it would be something light-hearted (perhaps a song list I’ve been working on for a while). Something, definitely, cheerful—to help me get over the sadness of one of my favourite actresses having passed away. Something too, to build up the spirit of good cheer for Christmas.

Instead, I began the week by learning that another favourite actress of mine, Joan Fontaine, award-winning lead of Hitchcock’s Suspicion (and the female star of his superb Rebecca), had passed away, at the age of 96, on the 15th of December. Just a day after the death of another legendary star, Peter O’Toole, the Lawrence of Arabia (which I heard about only on the 16th, as it happened).

Joan Fontaine in Rebecca
Peter O'Toole in The Night of the Generals

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The Night of the Generals (1967)

As a young teenager, I went through a phase when I watched a lot of war movies. And when I say ‘a lot’, I mean a lot: everything from Operation Daybreak and Operation Crossbow to The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare, Escape to Victory, Von Ryan’s Express—and this one.  I remember The Night of the Generals as being an offbeat war film, because it didn’t have the drama and high adventure of most of the other war films I saw during that period. Instead, it was an unusual film, in that it was shown from the point of view of the Germans—and it combined suspense with war.

The three generals

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How to Steal a Million (1966)

Ever noticed how many old films were set in Paris? The Last Time I saw Paris, Gigi, An American in Paris and countless others celebrated the French capital’s reputation as one of the world’s most romantic cities. Interestingly, too, a lot of films that weren’t primarily romances were also set in Paris. Ninotchka, A Shot in the Dark, Charade – and this one, like Charade, an Audrey Hepburn starrer that’s a fantastic cocktail of comedy, romance, and most importantly, very clever crime.

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