The Beatles solo cinema projects. Some not-so-fab films (part 2)

9th September 2022

The solo cinematic careers of John, Paul and George were covered in Part 1, which may be accessed here: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2022/08/31/the-beatles-solo-cinema-projects-some-not-so-fab-films-part-1/

So now it’s Ringo’s turn, and he co-starred alongside Richard Burton, and Peter Sellers among others. Furthermore, two-time Oscar winner Marlon Brando was in one of the films so they should have been magical … unfortunately that is not the case.

Let’s start with the source material, novels by Terry Southern.

Southern had published these books in 1958 and 1959 respectively, then in the 60s he worked on such iconic films as ‘Dr Strangelove,’ ‘The Collector’ and ‘Easy Rider.’

Writer Terry Southern

‘Candy’ is said to be based on Voltaire’s ‘Candide’ but I think the film, described as a sex farce, owes more to de Sade.

A blonde-haired, blue-eyed innocent teenage girl is sexually manipulated and exploited throughout the film. Ringo only appears in one sequence (with a brief appearance at the end of the movie) playing a gardener, speaking broken English with some kind of accent. He is later identified as being Mexican though he sounds pure Merseyside.

Brando appears as a guru, and actually displays some excellent comic timing. Just a pity the material is rather weak, laboured and very dated.

Candy star Ewa Aulin with Marlon Brando

The film, however, was quite a commercial hit although reviews were mixed. Today it has acquired cult status and is very much a late 60s period piece, the look, the sound and social mores.

‘Candy’ was released in the US on 17th December 1968, and the soundtrack features The Byrds and Steppenwolf.

A year later, Ringo’s second solo film was released. In ‘The Magic Christian,’ he has a co-starring role alongside Peter Sellers (who had memorably played three roles in Kubrick’s ‘Dr Strangelove’).

The film is a satire on wealth and greed, and a condemnation of capitalism. Sellers plays a man of immense wealth, who sees Ringo’s character as the son he never had, and subsequently adopts him.

Ringo with 60s icon Raquel Welch

The film is a series of set-pieces where Sellers shows what people will do for money; a Shakespearean actor is bribed to strip during the famous soliloquy in ‘Hamlet,’ a traffic warden is asked to eat a parking ticket, and the climax shows respectable businesspeople diving into a tank of unmentionable content to retrieve paper money. This film does not go in for subtlety.

Again, the film is packed with familiar faces from film and British TV, and again, as with ‘Candy,’ it’s not a film I would rush to re-watch.

Finally, there is another Beatles connection in this film. The main song is ‘Come and Get It,’ performed by Badfinger but written by Paul McCartney.

Speaking of The Beatles, they spent January of 1969 rehearsing for a proposed TV special or live concert. This was captured in the documentary film ‘Let It Be,’ released in May 1970 by which time the band had broken up.

But the music remains … forever.

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Young Learners, Level 4: “Can you hear me, Major Tom ?”

6th June 2019. Everybody Up 4. Unit 7, Lesson 4

Today’s lesson is a cross-curicumlum class about space, astronauts and basic science. It is a mighty theme and so, to paraphrase Melville, we need a mighty beginning … for cinema fans, there really is no other choice … the opening of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-QFj59PON4

So what do the students know about the solar system ? I’ll let them tell me, after boarding some key words:

solar system

planet (Earth, gas giant, rock)

moon (the Moon)

star

asteroid

vacuum

I’ll put a flash card of planet Earth on the board, towards the right-hand side. The students can them fill in the gaps … what planets do they know ? How big is the sun relative to the planets ? What exactly is the sun ? Where does light come from in space ? What exists in space ?

FUN FACTS:

The speed of sound is 343 metres per second (usually given as 330 m p s)

The speed of light is 299 792 458 metres per second or

approximately 300 000 000 metres per second or 300 000 km per second.

Sound cannot travel through a vacuum

To demonstrate the last point, show NOT tell; here’s a good example (start around the 0:24 second mark): An iPhone not making sound in a vacuum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrU9LouWY18&list=PL97HViQblvdEM3zsauRxnIg1baFTNmsDM&index=26&t=0s

Group work: Would you like to go to space ?

What would be the pros and cons ? In small groups, discuss the question, trying to use some of the recent vocabulary.

Song time: A British classic, and the first hit for David Bowie, an artist with a deep connection with space. This video has lyrics, but how many words can they recognise ? They can shout them out as they hear them.

‘Space Oddity’. Lyrics start around the 0:30 second mark

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_M3uw29U1U

Board any new words or phrases such as ignition / made the grade / peculiar /

Runaround

This is based on the UK children’s show from the 1970. The class will be split into small groups. One member from each has to stand in front of the board. I will read a question and then give three answers. The students have to run to the correct number. They then have three seconds to change their minds.

Who was the first man on the moon ? Buzz Aldrin / Michael Collins / Neil Armstrong

What is the biggest planet ? Jupiter / Saturn / Mars

The sun is a: planet / star / moon

What is faster ? light / sound / Mr Phuc speaking (just give the name of any talkative students).

In space, people are: heavier / lighter / weigh the same ?

The first animal in space was a: monkey / elephant / dog

(Last one could seem to be a trick question. The answer is Laika, the Russian dog. Monkeys were first put into rockets but they didn’t go high enough to officially enter space).

Bookwork. Today there is a fair amount of reading. I’ll use the passages to show a little grammar, introduce the students to adverbs.

The princess was very beautiful (very = adverb, beautiful is an adjective)

Here, the adverb ‘very‘ goes before the adjective. For concept checking (do the students understand and can use this formula ?) some quick questions:

Correct these sentences:

The very student was clever

Laika, the dog, was scared very

Very David talented is

During the reading, I’ll be asking the students to point out the adjectives and adverbs in the short pieces of text.