Archive for September, 2020

Blackpaint 679 – Lonnie, Des and the Dead Zone

September 30, 2020

Six Five Special

The brilliant Talking Pictures channel has been showing “Six Five” again (for those who don’t remember. this was a BBC TV showcase for popular music in the late 50s.  It featured bands like Don Lang’s Frantic Five and the John Barry Seven, who played a sort of hybrid, jazz- tinged rock n’ roll – Lang was a vocalist and trombonist, Barry the man who later became the distinguished composer and performer of the James Bond theme and much more film music.


This film, based on the TV prog, takes place mostly on board the “Six Five Special” to London, which happens to be packed with stars (Jim Dale, Petula Clark, the King Brothers) and the presenters Jo Douglas and Pete Murray.  Later, an episode of the show provides the setting for the rest,  Fantastic performances from Johnny Dankworth, Don Lang and above all, Lonnie Donegan.  Donegan starts with his- relatively- relaxed performance of the Woody Guthrie song “The Grand Coulee Dam” (yes, I have the 78) and follows up with “Jack O’Diamonds”.  It starts fast but quietly, but then builds to a climax in which Donegan seems just barely to be in control of himself.  In this respect, “Diamonds” is second only to his “Gamblin’ Man”, recorded at the London Palladium in 1957, was it? (yes, I’ve got that too – but with a crack, unfortunately).

Note the spelling of “Coolie” – I think Coulee is right,

Crack not visible.

Fantastic stuff.

“Des” & Killing for Company

Tennant on the right…

David Tennant playing Dennis Nilsen, whom he resembles very closely; murderer of young transient men in London, killed between 12 and 15 men in the late 70s-early 80s, kept their bodies in the flat with him for days, watching TV, chatting with the corpses – he was killing for company, not sex, he claimed and the phrase was used by Brian Masters as the title for his book on Nielson.

The police interviews with Nilsen and those with Masters reconstructed in the TV progs show Nilson to be articulate, manipulative and very chippy about perceived injustices and infringements of his rights in custody; he professed sympathy for his victims and claimed he was glad to have been caught – otherwise, he says, he would have carried on (true, no doubt).

Considering the circumstances of the arrest, he certainly asked for it.  He flushed human remains down the drain – and then called (or insisted that the landlord call) a plumber. who found bits of fingers.  The police found his flat to contain bodies and body parts, plastic bags full of innards and a human head in a large pan on the stove.

Apart from Tennant’s great job and that of Daniel Mays as the main investigating officer, the most noticeable feature was the smoking, incessant throughout, and carried on by all parties.  The most smoking I’ve seen on a screen since Fritz Lang’s “M” – another serial killer, portrayed by Peter Lorre and based partly on Peter Kurten, the “Vampire of Dusseldorf”.

The Dead Zone, dir David Cronenberg (1983)

After The Shining and Carrie, the best adaptation of a Stephen King book to date – some may argue for “Shawshank”, I suppose – but Christopher Walken has that intensity and capacity for sudden violence…  Martin Sheen’s mad dog populist candidate Greg Stillson is a great cartoon too.  The murders are low key but the scissors suicide of the cop murderer and the shoot out with his demented mother (shades of Carrie) are good shock value.

Next time, Tropic of Cancer, Naked Lunch and Performance –  and other up-to-the-minute stuff….


Standing Woman Collage


Wild Turkey – old painting, new title







Blackpaint 678 – Andy, Ed and Death in the Snow

September 1, 2020

Tate Modern – Andy Warhol


Great, clean, single line drawing – wish I could do it too.


From the Ten Most Wanted series.


Red Riot



Elvis.  touch of Bollywood in the image, I think.


More violent death in the media…


Older readers will remember those retouched photos you used to get of murders and murderers in the 30s and 40s in American magazines like True Detective.



Touch of Rauschenberg here – or maybe Richard Hamilton, more like?


Never noticed before that the mauve (purple?) blotches were little Maos as well.  Must be more observant…


Great use of colour in these laughing skulls.


Don’t know who the woman in this portrait is…


…but no problem with these two.


Lenin in red, with a touch of ruthlessness around the eyes – surely not…


Her expression strangely reminiscent of Lenin’s above.


Although this is such an iconic picture, it’s an unusual image of Warhol, who was more often photographed smiling vaguely, or peering thoughtfully at something.

Ed Ruscha


Typical Ruscha – the incongruity of the slogan and the image; see also John Baldessari.


Love these pipes. straining at the edges of the picture.


You can hear Johnny Cash reciting  “Ragged Old Flag”, looking at this.  Or I can, anyway.


Started with a typical Ruscha, so ending this bit with an unusual one.  Something Chinese about the image, I think, or maybe Vietnamese – makes me think of peasant revolutions.  Maybe it’s an age thing, all those marches and posters in the 60s and 70s.  I do have a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book still…


And This…

What a great photo.  There were actually two photos, both showing resigned commuters forced against the glass – but the other one came out blurred (my picture, not the original, of course).  Sorry to say I didn’t get the artist’s name.

The Victors, dir. Carl Foreman (1963)

Oddly reminiscent of “All Quiet on the Western Front”, the Lewis Milestone classic of 1930.  I think it’s the episodic structure, the scenes with the various civilian women and families, and the general anti -war message.  The most famous scene, of course, is the execution in the snowbound countryside of the American GI, which takes place as Frank Sinatra sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on the soundtrack.  More shocking though, is the arrival of George Peppard at the British hospital where his sergeant is a patient, to find him badly disfigured and not wanting visitors…

The scenes are separated by newsreels and headlines; it’s raining – well, pouring – most of the time in Belgium, France, Germany and especially Britain.  The film is full of stars – Peppard, George Hamilton III (pre – permatan), the great Eli Wallach, Peter Fonda, and is that Robert Mitchum? No, it’s his son.  The women – Melina Mercouri, Elke Sommer, Romy Schneider, Senta Berger and Jeanne Moreau.

The film ends with a knife fight in the ruins of Berlin, between Hamilton’s character and a drunken Russian soldier.  Who plays the Russian?  Albert Finney!



And so, to my offering; I have actually managed to complete a couple of paintings since last blog.


Seated Red