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Dennis Hopper 1936-2010

It's probably corny to describe Dennis Hopper as an "icon among iconoclasts", but the mark he left on motion picture history was notable and much admired. And not just because he lived to the age of 74 despite decades of drugs and alcohol.

Hopper died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was meant to visit Australia last year to open an exhibition of his photography in Melbourne. He had to pull out at the last minute, and made no further public appearances.

100 today: Was Errol Flynn the biggest Tasmanian ever?

Today, June 20, is the centennial of Tasmania's biggest thespian, Errol Flynn. While I pondered some three years ago whether Ricky Ponting was a bigger Tasmanian, his Punterness hasn't been swashing his buckle too well in those live action shorts better known as the ICCWT20 lately.

A hundred years of James Mason

As Australia mourns the passing of Bud Tingwell - who has, indeed, been granted a state funeral next Wednesday - let us cast our minds back to the 1953 war drama "The Desert Rats", in which Tingwell played a minor role. Field Marshall Rommel was played in the same film by James Mason. Today, May 15, is the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Charlton Heston 1924-2008

There was a time when Charlton Heston, who died yesterday at the age of 83, was a hero of mine. Then I began to appreciate some of the subtleties of screen acting. And well before he became chief evangelist for the Gun Lobby. In the tradition of my Jack Palance obituary, here is my Top Ten List In Chronological Order of my favourite Charlton Heston screen appearances:

A hundred years of Barbara Stanwyck

Monday (July 16) is the centenary of the birth of Ruby Stevens - Barbara Stanwyck to you. This is a list of my top ten Barbara Stanwyck films of all time, in chronological order:

  1. The Miracle Woman (1931): An early Frank Capra film with Stanwyck as a fiery female evangelist.
  2. The Mad Miss Manton (1938): Not a major film, but a favourite screwball comedy co-starring Henry Fonda.

A David Bowie At 60 Playlist

Elvis is 72 today. If you happen to spot him at Macca's or KFC today give him my regards. His contribution to world culture is embodied by his presence on the soundtrack of Disney's Lilo and Stich movies.

More pertinent, however, is the fact that January 8 is also the birthday of David Jones - not the Monkee or the department store chain, but the artist who would become known as David Bowie. Today he turns 60. Scary eh?

To mark the birthday of an extraordinary craftsman, here's a playlist of my favourite Bowie numbers. In no particular order, though I've tried to give some form of thematic flow. My favourite of all is the last, even if I was suckered in at the time by the (for 1980) brilliant video clip.

Jack Palance 1919-2006

With the passing of Jack Palance at the age of 87 on Friday, I thought it might be worthwhile to compile a list of my favourite Jack Palance performances on film (with the help of IMDb to jog my memory):

  • Shane (1953) memorable western villain
  • I Died A Thousand Times (1955) Great villain from that sub-genre of film noir called "Shelley Winters gets murdered again"
  • I Mongoli (1962) Hamming it to the hilt as a warlord of Genghis Khan, dubbed into Italian and subtitled back into English
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