Maureen O’Hara – Don’t Think You’re Gonna Get Rid of Me That Easy

Maureen O'Hara in McLintock!

When I was a child, I firmly believed that Maureen O’Hara was married to John Wayne. Not only did the two fit, but she was the only female who could have stood so tall against the Duke.  As I was convinced the flame haired beauty was Wayne’s wife, in real life, versus, reel life, when Disney’s The Parent Trap came on television it culminated in a moment of confusion, Brian Keith was not the Duke.

O’Hara worked with Wayne on a number of films, each time playing either wife, or (in the case of The Quiet Man 1952) romantic interest and then wife. In each film Maureen played the head strong and formidable female who stood head to toe, metaphorically at least, with her big strong husband.

The news that she died October 24, at the age of 95, in her sleep, stunned me. O’Hara seemed ageless. A woman for all seasons who would live to be 100, herself’s professed goal.   The actress, born in Dublin, Ireland, spent her life playing strong positive role models. In a time when feminists were not even contemplating burning a bra, her characters stood up to and ruled the menfolk in many of her films.

Her Mary Kate Danaher, who believes her new husband to be a coward, stands up to him when he “manhandles” her back to fight the bullying brother (Victor McLaglen). The red-haired colleen takes a mighty swing at Sean Thornton but misses.  

It was her role in the 1963 comedy western McLintock! (which was retelling of Kiss Me Kate with a cowboy setting) produced by Wayne’s son Michael and directed by Andrew V. McLaughlin where O’Hara proved that not only could she stand up to Duke, but she was adept at comedy.  Her bossy, and hilariously gruff, Katherine Gilhooley McLintock ruled the roost.

Her scenes with Chills Wills, who Duke obviously forgave for his tasteless 1960  Best Supporting Actor Oscar campaign for his role as the beekeeper in The Alamo, are brilliantly funny.

Katherine to Drago: “Shut up and do as you’re told.”

Drago: “This here Douglas feller…”

Katherine: “DRAGO!”

O’Hara could deliver these orders as only she could. With a tone that allowed no argument and gave no quarter.  As Barry Fitzgerald’s character Michaleen Oge Flynn the Matchmaker says of Maureen’s Mary Kate, “She’s the tongue of an adder.”

It was with complete delight that I introduced my, then, young daughter to the magic that was Maureen O’Hara when an old friend found a VHS copy of McLintock! and posted it to us in England. Despite the fact that the film is quite chauvinistic in its belief that women secretly want a man to either a) spank them, or b) “man-handle”  them, it works precisely because it is a comedic rendering of the Cole Porter adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

The plot, of McLintock! deals with a cattle baron being “bullied” by his wife for a crime (lipstick on his collar) for years. When their daughter returns home to the town of McLintock and her father’s 200 square mile spread, Katherine Gilhooley McLintock increases her assault on George Washington “GW” McLintock her husband.

Featuring Patrick Wayne as the love interest of a young Stephanie Powers, the film is a favorite of John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara fans alike.  While the movie “condone’s violence toward’s women and the message is very old fashioned, the entire thing is made more palatable by the ending.

After an epic town-long chase, with Katherine being doggedly followed by GW, the two end up at the blacksmith’s, where McLintock spanks Kate with a coal shovel. After tumbling the woman off his lap he tells her, “Now get your divorce.”

Drago, the hired hand, comes up with a wagon and the two men head back to the ranch. Katherine, rubbing her tender nether region, points  up at her husband on wagon and shouts:

“Don’t think You’re gonna get rid of me that easy!”

Katherine then runs after the buggy and grabs hold, riding the thing back to the ranch. The film ends shortly after with the two reconciled at last.  The scene works, not just because of the writing but because of Maureen O’Hara’s conviction and performance. On screen, the actress was bigger than life.

She was one of a kind and it is all too easy to believe that until she went to sleep at age 95, Maureen must have told the “big fella” that he was not going to get rid of her that easily, as “herself” had plans to stick around another five years.

Maureen O’Hara, actress, star, businesswoman, mother and the onscreen wife of another legend in five films has passed on.  I sat and watched McLintock! on Sunday appreciating once more the talent and performance of Ms. O’Hara.  Watching the featurette’s afterward, Stephanie Powers revealed that Maureen showed her how to keep the bright lights (used “back in the day” for filming) from affecting her performance. Maureen was a professional as they come and, sadly, there will be no replacement now that she is gone.

Mary Kate Danaher Thornton, Katherine Gilhooley McLintock, Mrs. Kathleen York, Min Wead, Martha McCandles, Martha Price, Olivia Spencer and even Doris Walker (Miracle on 34th Street) were all strong, passionate women who were unforgettable as was Maureen O’Hara herself. All will allow Maureen to live on.

RIP Ms. O’Hara the world will not be the same without you.

The Player Gets “Constantine-d” by NBC – WTF?

The Player - Season 1

NBC strikes again. Once more the network has killed a show before it really got started and just as the pace and interest level seemed to be increasing exponentially. The Player has been “Constantine-d” and shut down at nine episodes. Although Constantine was allowed to finish up 13 episodes instead of being halted mid-run. (It could be said that The Player has met the same fate as Joss Whedon’s Firefly which was also abruptly stopped mid-season).

Rather interestingly, the NBC series was on the up. Figures showed that, presumably due to what the series faced in terms of competition, DVR viewing was rising. Considering that the show was up against sports and is a “male” oriented series, this should have been seen as a positive sign.  It seems that those in charge of programming do not realize that Wesley Snipes, Philip Winchester or the gorgeous and talented Charity Wakefield were never going to pull viewers from a live sports event.

While the first episode was a little lackluster (mainly because of a lack of Snipes, whom the show’s producers seemed reluctant to allow too much screen time) the merits of Wakefield, who was by far the most interesting character, were obvious.

By the second episode, it was apparent that Damon Gupton’s character had been poorly written, making his “best friend” role to Philip Winchester’s Alex Kane (the Player) an odd fit. Snipes had more of a presence and Wakefield ruled the episode (as indeed she has pretty much ruled them all).

The third episode increased the action and the inter-action. The show was hitting its stride as the actors found their roles more comfortable and in turn made their characters feel more realistic. The mystery of Ginny became a constant and increasingly highlighted thread that allowed the delightful Daisy Betts to maintain a presence.

The Player  has a male lead, Winchester, who learned how to do action scenes convincingly on the UK series Strike Back,  and  is  a good “all rounder” who could produce tears and sport some very powerful acting chops. Philip is more than an athletic actor, he is an actor full stop.

As is Snipes. While the star has major martial arts skills, he also has more than his share of thespian talent. Wakefield has the ability to captivate the screen whenever she is in front of the camera and easily became the focus of attention.

So what went wrong?

It could be a number of things. The location for instance. With a  setting of Las Vegas, where a number of second unit shoots are used for each episode to continue the illusion that the show is not really shot in LA,  with exteriors done sans actors (mostly) on an ad hoc basis, may be expensive to maintain.

Or…

The stunts, which for the small screen are very impressive, may also be a bit costly to continue. After all, once a standard has been set, the show’s producers cannot cut back. Especially on a show with “limited” viewers already.

Or…

Snipes may want more freedom. The star is a film actor and not accustomed to the rigors of television work.  Hence his “limited” presence on the show initially. It could even come down to price tag. How much does it cost to put Snipes through his paces on a weekly basis?

Too much?

Constantine logo

In all likelihood, this appears to be a case of impatience on the part of NBC. Just as it was with Constantineand, ultimately, with Hannibal cancelled after three seasons because viewing figures were not what the network wanted.  The thing these two other show’s had in common was an “outside the box” mentality of the producers.

The Player was likened to Person of Interest (CBS) and while the latter series is still going strong, although it is rumored this last season is the last, the show’s may be the same “at the core” but the delivery is different.  Sadly, this will not matter to those in the NBC version.

It really does feel like NBC should stand for “No Bloody Clue” (pardon the language) when it comes to letting a new series hit its stride. The Player was hitting all the marks and even Damon Gupton was starting to feel like a good fit.  Despite a cast that were becoming an enjoyable team and episodes that were becoming addictive NBC have killed the show by cutting it off at nine episodes.

Unlike Constantine‘s Matt Ryan (as the main protagonist) who will at least have a small resurgence in CW’s The Arrow, The Player will have no such “second chance.” There has been no news of the show being taken up by Netflix or Hulu, or even another network, so the show is just as dead as the series’ player before Alex Kane.

The Player airs Thursdays on NBC for at least another four episodes. After which it will either fade into obscurity or get picked up by another network. Tune in to see what NBC has thrown away.

 

Cilla Black Legend and Icon Gone at 72

Cilla Black dead at 72
Cilla Black, the legend and entertainment icon has died. The singer and television host died in Spain at the age of 72. Cilla’s agent confirmed the news of her death to the BBC. Spanish police have also verified that Black, real name Pricilla White, died of apparently natural causes in Estepona on the Costa del Sol.

Paul O’Grady who was Cilla’s best friend has talked of the mischief that he and Black got up to whenever they were together. Grady, who started his career as Lily Savage, met Cilla on Michael “Parky” Parkinson’s talk show and as he told the Daily Record, the two just “clicked.”

In 2014 ITV produced a mini series on the life and career of Cilla and she was played by Lincolnshire actress Sheridan Smith. When Smith heard about Cilla she immediately expressed her condolences to the family and her dismay at the news.

Cilla Black worked with some of the biggest names in the music business and carved out a career as a singer before becoming a fixture on English television. She presented Surprise Surprise! a popular program that ran for 15 seasons. The show first aired in 1984 and Cilla had presented 137 episodes by the time the show ended in 2001. She also presented the contestant dating show Blind Date which ran from 1985 to 2003. Ms. Black always held out hope that one of the couples who dated on the show would get married so she could go to the wedding. In 1993, one couple finally tied the knot and Cilla did indeed attend.

As well as hosting and presenting these two long running programs on British television, Cilla appeared on many other programs like game shows, variety programs and her own television show Cilla that ran from 1968 to 1976. Between 2004 and 2009 she appeared on her old pal Paul O’Grady’s show no less than six times and guest hosted one episode. She was also a regular fixture on Loose Women, doing 17 episodes in all.

Cilla was awarded the OBE in 1997 and was the holder of many industry awards. She was more than just a legendary performer and an English television icon, Cilla Black was an institution. She was adored by millions and as news of her death became known, her many professional friends rushed to pay tribute to a dear friend and talented entertainer.

Ms. Black was well known for her “down to earth” sensibility and being game for a laugh. O’Grady loves to tell of holding his best friend by her ankles as they entered a window to her home after she had locked herself out. Paul tells the story and adds that she was shouting “Surprise, Surprise” as people walked past.

It is fitting that on YouTube one can find a clip of an unbelievably young Cilla singing Anyone Who had a Heart live. It is also fitting that listening to her sing the Burt Bacharach and Hal David song that became a number one hit for the young Scouse entertainer still gives one goosebumps. That marvelous voice will be missed as will the marvelous personality that was Cilla Black, gone at 72, 2 August 2015. RIP Chuck.