Guy Fawkes Day

On 5 November 1605 Londoners were encouraged to celebrate the King’s escape from assassination by lighting bonfires, “always provided that ‘this testemonye of joy be carefull done without any danger or disorder'”. An Act of Parliament designated each 5 November as a day of thanksgiving for “the joyful day of deliverance”, and remained in force until 1859. Although he was only one of 13 conspirators, Fawkes is today the individual most associated with the failed Plot.

Guy Fawkes mask

The Guy Fawkes mask is a stylised depiction of Guy Fawkes, the best-known member of the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the House of Lords in London in 1605. The use of a mask on an effigy has long roots as part of Guy Fawkes Night celebrations.

In Britain, 5 November has variously been called Guy Fawkes Night, Guy Fawkes Day, Plot Night  and Bonfire Night; the latter can be traced directly back to the original celebration of 5 November 1605.  Bonfires were accompanied by fireworks from the 1650s onwards, and it became the custom to burn an effigy (usually the pope) after 1673, when the heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, made his conversion to Catholicism public. Effigies of other notable figures who have become targets for the public’s ire, such as Paul Kruger and Margaret Thatcher, have also found their way onto the bonfires, although most modern effigies are of Fawkes. The “guy” is normally created by children, from old clothes, newspapers, and a mask. During the 19th century, “guy” came to mean an oddly dressed person, but in American English it lost any pejorative connotation, and was used to refer to any male person.

William Harrison Ainsworth’s 1841 historical romance Guy Fawkes; or, The Gunpowder Treason portrays Fawkes in a generally sympathetic light, and transformed him in the public perception into an “acceptable fictional character”. Fawkes subsequently appeared as “essentially an action hero” in children’s books and penny dreadfuls such as The Boyhood Days of Guy Fawkes; or, The Conspirators of Old London, published in about 1905. Historian Lewis Call has observed that Fawkes is now “a major icon in modern political culture”. He went on to write that the image of Fawkes’s face became “a potentially powerful instrument for the articulation of postmodern anarchism”[h] during the late 20th century, exemplified by the mask worn by V in the comic book series V for Vendetta, who fights against a fictional fascist English state.

Guy Fawkes is sometimes toasted as “the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions.”

Source: Wikipedia


Bastille Day – Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity

Bastille Day Fireworks

Photo by Paris Perfect

It’s just about that time again when France celebrates French National Day, or Bastille Day, on July 14th. This historic celebration dates back to 1880 and commemorates the birth of the French Republic and modern France. Similar in spirit to Independence Day on the 4th of July in America and Canada Day on July 1st, Bastille Day features patriotic events, parades and one of the most outstanding fireworks displays you’ll ever see.

Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on 14 July 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute and arbitrary power of Louis the 16th’s Ancient Regime. By capturing this symbol, the people signaled that the king’s power was no longer absolute: power should be based on the Nation and be limited by a separation of powers.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

These famous lines, which open A Tale of Two Cities, hint at the novel’s central tension between love and family, on the one hand, and oppression and hatred, on the other.
(to find out more, click here for SparkNotes, Important Quotations Explained)

Character Sydney Carton played by Ronald Colman, "A Tale Of Two Cities" 1935 MGM
Ronald Colman as Sydney Carton
Photo by Ted Allan – © 1978 Ted Allan – Image courtesy

A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. With well over 200 million copies sold, it ranks among the most famous works in the history of literary fiction.

The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralised by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period. It follows the lives of several characters through these events. The 45-chapter novel was published in 31 weekly installments in Dickens’s new literary periodical titled All the Year Round. From April 1859 to November 1859, Dickens also republished the chapters as eight monthly sections in green covers. All but three of Dickens’s previous novels had appeared only as monthly instalments. The first weekly instalment of A Tale of Two Cities ran in the first issue of All the Year Round on 30 April 1859. The last ran thirty weeks later, on 26 November.

A Tale of Two Cities, a 1935 black-and-white MGM film starring Ronald Colman, Elizabeth Allan, Reginald Owen, Basil Rathbone and Edna May Oliver. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.


Summer Nights from the movie “Grease”

Here’s a scene from the 1978 movie “Grease,” based on the musical of the same name, starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.  It is the song “Summer Nights.” 

Set in high school, most of the principal cast were way past their high school years. When filming began in June 1977, John Travolta was 23, Olivia Newton-John was 28, Stockard Channing was 33, Jeff Conaway was 26, Barry Pearl was 27, Michael Tucci was 31, Kelly Ward was 20, Didi Conn was 25; Jamie Donnelly was 30, and Annette Charles was 29; Dinah Manoff, Lorenzo Lamas, and Eddie Deezen were all 19.

Summer Lovin’

Famous Beach Scene turns 60


During the summer, it isn’t just the sun that gets hot.  Check out this article by Samuel Wigley below.  (Click here to see original post on BFI Film Forever site.)

The famous kiss from the film "From Here to Eternity"

The famous Beach kiss – Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the film “From Here to Eternity.”


“The Pacific swells into crests of white foam, its waves crashing on the sand. Two lovers, Sergeant Milton Warden (Burt Lancaster) and army wife Karen Holmes (Deborah Kerr), lie entangled in the wash, oblivious to the surge of the tide over their adulterous embrace. She’s in a halterneck swimsuit; he in black trunks – both gleam with wet in the black and white photography as, breaking apart, they run up the beach to a drier spot. Karen lies down on her towel. Milton drops to his knees, kissing her. “I never knew it could be like this,” she gasps. “No one ever kissed me the way you do.”

Described in words, the famous beach scene in From Here to Eternity (1953) is torrid stuff, without even mentioning the soaring strings of George Duning’s Oscar-nominated score. Of course, as cinema, it’s magic – one of the Golden Age’s most memorably erotic encounters.
The scene was considerably toned down from James Jones’s source novel, about the lives and loves of American soldiers stationed in Hawaii in the leadup to Pearl Harbor. On screen, Milton and Karen aren’t exactly having sex, as they do in the book, but for 1950s cinemagoers they might as well have been. The orgiastic music, the thunder of the waves, trembling bodies, the looks of intent in their eyes – this was strong stuff for films of the time.

This alchemical moment is now 60 years old. Fred Zinnemann’s film premiered in New York on 5 August 1953, and would go on to receive 13 Oscar nominations, winning a total of eight including best picture, best director, best screenplay, best cinematography and best supporting actor for Frank Sinatra.

Nothing, sadly, for Lancaster or Kerr, though both were nominated. But it’s these two, and their amorous clinch in the waves at Halcona Cove, on the island of Oahu, that are the most fondly remembered elements of the film. History records that it was Lancaster’s idea to do the scene lying down in the surf; the script had maintained propriety by having the lovers kissing standing up. With this flash of censor-baiting inspiration, a classic sequence was born that’s lost little of its power in these 60 years. From here to eternity…”


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