Call of the Month


Couples That Weren’t >>> Warren Beatty-Lana Turner: The Graduate. Sean Connery-Steve Railsback, The Stuntman. Johnny Depp, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, River Phoenix and Jennifer Aniston, Sophie Marceau, Gwyneth Paltrow: Titanic. Paul Newman-Joanne Woodward, Oklahoma! Denzel Washington-Emma Thompson: Pretty Woman. As for Thelma & Louise, take your pick: Carrie Fisher-Kim Basinger, Nicole Kidman-Diane Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer-Jodie Foster <<<


Everybody wants to work with the #1 2023 star and producer. But Margot Robbie is keeping faith with her pals. She’s rejoining Ken Gosling, as George Clooney’s parents in an Ocean’s 11 prequel – and marrying Brad Pit in a modern-day re-tread of the delightful 30s/40s Thin Man six-film franchise. (Pitt already did that, in a way, with Mr and Mrs Smith – now Hulu series with Donald Glover and Maya Erzkine). The title might well be changed to be all socially correct: The Thin Couple? (More likely: Nick and Nora). Actually, in the 1933 original the title referred to their quarry and not the detective Nick Charles, helped by his rich wife, Nora, and their terrier, Asta.

Margot’s two projects are inter-connected… While shooting the Smiths (and they were assassins, not private dicks), Pitt had to leave for three months to make… Ocean’s Eleven. And Ryan has a likely winner ready for March – his version of the old Lee Majors 80s stuntman series, The Fall Guy, directed by David Leitch… who helmed Brad in Bullet Train in 2020 after having been his stunt double din the Smiths; adventure in 2004.  Neither one seems a day older.


Christopher Nolan says  “No, sadly no – no truth to those rumours” about making the next the Bond. So, no Cillian Murphy as Jimbo, then…

As  the new 007 search continues, other Bondian heroes are being bred. Jason Statham is Levon Cade in Levon’s Trade, first of eleven books by Chuck Dixon – now the first script by Stathamate, Sylvester Stallone, since Rambo: Last Blood in 2018. Why not  Sly as Cade? No “r” in the name. As in Rocky, Rambo and Ross (the Expendables chief).

And Pierce  Brosnan is Charlie Swift in Fast Charlie, less hit man than “problem  solver.” Or as Victor Gischier‘s book called him, Gun Monkey. All vey reminiscent of The November Man, but instead of Luke Bracey Broz is with the delish Morena Baccarin. 

Oh, and Jason  Bourne – whose film birth in The Bourne Identity in 2001, changed 007 for evermore – is due back for a sixth gig. With – or without – Matt Damon is entirely up to Matt Damon.


Year of the Daisy

2024 is the Year of the Dragon in China. For the rest of us, it’s The Year of the Daisy…  Ms Ridley has five films awaiting release. Women in the Castle, the Magpie thriller, Young Woman and the Sea as Gertrude Ederle, first woman to swim across the English Channel in 1928, Bondsmith Martin Campbell’s Cleaner (la re-tooled Die Hard, in and outside London’s Shard – tallest skyscraper in Western Europe. And Daisy’s 2022 film, Sometimes I Think About Dying, remains on the UK shelf. Next? Her Rey heads the first Star Wars movie since The Rise of Skywalker in 2018. No title as yet, apart from Star Wars X. No script either. That’s coming from Peaky Blinders’ Steven Knight – and (book now!) opens in 2026. Rey is building a new Jedi Order. Daisy is delighted, surprised, very excited. “It’s not what I expected, It’s really worth telling, worth exploring.” Her director, new to the fold, is Ms Marvel’s Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.


Gary Oldman in Slow Horses

Ice work if you  can  get it… Jackson Lamb, head of the Slow Horses is not Gary Oldman’s final role after all. He’s fallen for a film in Italy. Writer-director Paolo Sorrentino says Parthenope covers the life of a woman who shares the name but is not the mythical figure connected to the creation of Naples. Gary’s co-stars include the sensuous Stefania Sandrelli. Then it’s back to Lamb for a fourth and fifth season. If/when Horses packs up, so does Gary.

Keanu Reeves refused 40 films: Batman, Superman, Jack Reacher, etc. Preferring John Wick.


She lost Baby Doll, Can-Can, Freud, Harlow. So what! She was sublime in Some Like It Hot.


Halle Berry lost the Tina Turner biopic, but won Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. (And James Bond).


Charles Schultz

It’s been eight years since the last Peanuts movie. However, Craig Schulz is hinting there’s a new one around the corner. “Nothing is off the table, we’re always exploring different ideas and different things… and as you know, the Peanuts universe is sort of endless.” Craig is the son of the late comic-strip artist Charles M Schulz. I met the great man – one of my few idols – in his home-cum-office at #1 Snoopy Villas in Santa Rosa, near San Francisco. (Although on that particular day, the ”n” of Snoopy had fallen off the sign). He drew Spike over his Snoopy sketch for me to show the difference between the brothers. He even signed it much against his usual rule. “People always sell these things”. (Not me, baby/ It’s still safely framed on my office wall). He also opened a desk drawer to show me a mass of unfinished strips. “I haven’t found the joke for the fourth panel yet,” He always did. 


Scary news from Hollywood. It’s changing its name to Toy Town… Even before the unbelievable triumph of Greta Gerwig’s Barb and Kenny, the Mattel toy company (#2 in the world) completed deals for a whole bucketful of other toy movies. Can you actually name any other Mattel toy? Well, yes, OK, Thomas The Tank Engine. But what else..?

We’ll know soon enough. Eighteen of them are thundering our way. Plus another forty-five are in development. Thankfully, they may not all be made.

Skydance, the Top Gun company, is tackling Matchbox Cars. Lena Dunham directs Polly Pocket. Even the once mighty J J Abrams is revving up Hot Wheels. Daniel Kaluuya is producing a “surrealistic” Barney the Purple Dinosaur. Even Tom Hanks, Hollywood’s Mr Seal of Approval, is becoming 1966’s Major Matt Mason, pitched as “a Close Encounters of the Third Kind-esque drama for adults”. Oh, really?

Lesser known directors Aaron and Adam Nee are playing with the He-Man and Masters of the Universe – this is Mattel’s Star Wars. As a toy, that is. On-screen, it disappeared up its nether regions in 1987. So good luck with that, guys! 

Lost biopix >>>Audrey Hepburn: The Diary of Anne Frank. Mick Jagger: Litzomania.  Burt Lancaster: WWII General Patton. Michelle Pfeiffer as Andy Warhol “superstar” Edie Sedgwick in Factory Girl. Charlize Theron: Grace of Monaco. Spencer Tracy, Chopin in A Song to Remember. John Travolta: Jim Morrison in The Doors. Bruce Willis as Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea<<<


All The President’s Men montage: Reg Oliver; Halle Berry: Eon-Danjaq-MGM, 2002; Faye Dunaway: Columbia, 1967; Marilyn Monroe: 20th Century Fox, 1962; Gary Oldman: Apple TV+, 2023; Jack Nicholson: Paramount, 1973; Keanu Reeves: Hulu, 2022; Daisy Ridley: Disney, 2017; Margot Robbie: Warner Bros, 2014; Charles M Schulz: CBS; TC sketch: Graham Marsh, 1976; Plus enormous thanks to The Man: Daniel Bouteiller.