Friday, November 19, 2010

'Deathly Hallows' is more spectacular, brooding than ever

By Steve Crum

Spectacular and increasingly brooding as ever, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 marks the near end of the series and--we assume--franchise. (Spinoffs, anyone?) It is, for the 11 souls unaware, the film version of J. K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter novel. Forgive the half-truth. The grand finale (Part 2) plays mid-July, 2011.

Yes, Deathly Hallows 1 is a cliffhanger that abruptly, yet elegantly, concludes after nearly two and a half hours, Do not look for a ”To Be Continued” insert, however. This lack of story resolution will still disappoint Potter fans, even though they knew it was coming. Anticipation is everything, isn’t it? When Star Wars originally baited us to wait three years between chapters, it was a killer. Prepare for more pain.

The Potters have now stretched through seven magical films, or eight including the second half out next summer, over the last decade. Even more incredible is its three main stars have not totally outgrown their characters. Of course, their book counterparts also aged. In either case, these more mature Deathly Hallows actors are a long stretch from retirement age.

Each Potter episode offers its own character revelations, its own visual dazzles. Deathly Hallows is the most foreboding and shocking of them all, Steve Kloves, who has written all the Potter screenplays, has faithfully adapted Rowling’s final chapter to emphasize the book’s tensions on the race to resolution. David Yates’ crisp, fast paced direction helps.

Among the myriad delights, Deathly Hallows features multiple Harrys, a clever, fun ID safeguard for our central wizard boy. Essentially, Harry’s clones guard Harry’s life. In addition, there are group scenes and interactions of all Hogwarts’ good guys as well as all its villains, including the giant serpent. (It becomes more than a mere man eater here.) Central to Deathly Hallows hype is the well publicized death of one of the major characters. I don’t know about Part 2, but there are at least three well knowns who violently kick off (SPOILER DANGER) in Part 1. Enough, maybe too much, said on this grim point.

Briefly, the story follows two plot lines, one being the Dark Lord Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. The grand old wizard academy has transitioned from a warm, eccentric, learned institution of wizardry to a cold, dungeon-like, warehouse of evil. Quidditch has given way to Voldemort’s Death Eaters. Unfriendly skies, indeed.

Harry, Ron and Herione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) team to finish the late Prof. Dumbledore’s quest to find the rest of the Horcruxes to defeat Voldemort. Despite sparse hope to succeed, they race cross country to attain the Deathly Hallows trifecta: The Elder Wand (buried with Dumbledore), a Resurrecting Stone, and The Invisibility Cloak. (Another spoiler: Michael Gambon has a cameo as Dumbledore.)

It is no shock that the friendship between Harry, Hermione and Ron is further tested, since that has been the case in every Potter movie so far. However, this time around, their comradery veers toward tragedy. Just a side note: As the three actors have aged since the first Potter film premiered in 2001, so have their acting skills. Unknowns then, they are forever a well known, vital part of the Potter legacy. There will no doubt be a rerun of this and similar nostalgic thoughts in my Part 2 review next year.

Maybe I am a bigger Harry Potter fan that I have thought all these years.

A TRIVIA TONGUE IN CHEEK: Look for an Equus poster on the background wall in the London diner scene with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Daniel Radcliffe starred in that very play.
GRADE On an A to F Scale: B
The Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 trailer:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

RICHARD BOONE, from 'Medea' to 'Medic' to Paladin

Pictured: RICHARD BOONE as DR. KONRAD STYNER in MEDIC. [From Steve Crum's showbiz memorabilia collection.]
By Steve Crum

Although he will be forever known as Paladin in the long running (1957-63) TV western, Have Gun-Will Travel, RICHARD BOONE (June 18, 1917-Jan. 10, 1981) had a life and career worthy of his own reality series, had such existed in those days. Boone appeared in over 50 movies and TV shows, as well as acting on Broadway.

After serving in the Navy during WWII, Boone used his GI Bill opportunity to take acting lessons. His talent and drive were immediately obvious, sparking a short run of plays on Broadway in 1947, beginning with Medea and Macbeth. Contracted by Twentieth Century Fox, Boone’s first film was The Halls of Montezuma (1950), starring Richard Widmark. Segue to television, and Richard Boone portrayed Dr. Konrad Styner in the early, influential medical series, Medic (1954-56). Boone introduced each episode as Styner, and acted in many of them. Incidentally, the series’ theme music, Blue Star, composed by Victor Young, is considered one of the most memorable TV themes of all time. Boone received his first Emmy nomination for his portrayal.

Boone received two Emmy nominations for playing the highly educated and moralistic hired gun with a conscience in Have Gun-Will Travel. Following his departure from the series, he developed and starred in The Richard Boone Show, a dramatic anthology series that regrettably ran only one season, from 1963-64. After his family moved to Hawaii, Boone was offered the title role of Steve McGarrett in the upcoming series, Hawaii Five-0, but turned it down. (Jack Lord then got the part.) It is interesting to note that Boone is responsible for convincing the show’s producer to film the series in Hawaii, a decision that benefitted not only the show’s ratings, but Hawaii’s Tourism Dept.

Other TV roles followed, most notably Boone’s Hec Ramsey western-detective series, which ran from 1972-74. Movie appearances, over the years, include three with John Wayne (The Alamo, Big Jake, The Shootist), The Night of the Following Day (with Marlon Brando), and The Big Sleep (with Robert Mitchum).

Shortly before Richard Boone died of throat cancer in 1981, he wrote a newspaper column for a Florida newspaper, and taught acting.
Some Richard Boone Family Trivia: He was a descendant of Squire Boone, Daniel Boone’s brother. 
A Personal Note: In the late 1950’s, during Have Gun’s run, my Aunt Ada Holley bumped into Richard Boone. Literally. While shopping with her family in Tijuana, Aunt Ada was chasing her young son through the aisles of a shop. Partially bent down as she ran, she turned a corner, and head butted Richard Boone in his chest. He was taken aback, but laughed, as she nervously did too. She apologized, he accepted such, and off she went to grab her little boy. Have Kid-Will Travel.
A complete episode of the classic TV show, MEDIC, starring RICHARD BOONE: