#Seven Films – Peter O’Toole

Some of you may remember a couple of months ago the hashtag above going around.  It asked what were your seven favorite films of all time.

I couldn’t do it.  I could not name just seven films.  My tastes are so far ranging that to just name seven is a disservice to all the other films I’ve seen or not seen.  Sure, “Casablanca” will always be up there, but what of all the James Bond movies I love?

So today, I want to revise that hashtag.  I will be giving you #Seven Films – but of different actors, actresses, and genres.

I’ll begin with one of the greatest actors of our time, one who was nominated for a record eight Oscar nominations…and failed to win one of them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Mr. Peter O’Toole.


At one of the most popular, as well as hell raising, British Actors of the 1960’s until his death in 2013, O’Toole rarely failed to captivate his audience.  I’m sure the blueness of his eyes helped his appeal, for his eyes were one of his many acting tools, and one which I love to watch in his movies.

In no particular order, I will begin with his first Oscar-nominated performance, and his most famous, the title role in “Lawrence of Arabia”.  Based on the writings and exploits of the real-life T.E. Lawrence, O’Toole shines in this biopic.  The scene that stands out for me is when he has been captured by the Turks and they release him.  The screen shows his face, and his eyes show the horror the character has endured.

My next favorite of O’Toole’s is a comedy he did with Audrey Hepburn.  “How to steal a Million” is a movie based in Paris, with O’Toole posing as a thief to help Miss Hepburn steal a statue.  A fun romp.

O’Toole became one of the rare actors to be nominated for a role they had already played in another movie when he played King Henry II in “A Lion in Winter” opposite another Hepburn, this time Katherine.  She won the Oscar, he didn’t.

By the way, the other movie where he played Henry II?  That was “Becket” opposite Richard Burton.  O’Toole received a nomination for that performance as well.

After an illness slowed him a bit in the late 70’s, O’Toole was back in a big way with his role as a director in “The Stuntman”.  His Eli was crafty, devious, and larger than life.  It was a great role for Peter.


His last nominated film was in 2006, four years after winning an honorary Oscar for life achievement.  “Venus” gives us O’Toole playing an aging actor and his fascination with the younger granddaughter of one of his friends.  There is a poignancy to his performance, while not his last, is one of his best.  He lost the actor to someone performing in a biopic.  Ironic.

I have saved my ultimate favorite for the last – Peter O’Toole as Alan Swan in mfyfront_“My Favorite Year”.  This is a gem of a film where the script, direction, casting and action all come together as a present to the filmgoer.  O’Toole played a slightly heightened version of Errol Flynn, using real film clips of past O’Toole films with a one done just for the film.  The most telling moment for me is right at the moment the 2nd act becomes the third.  It starts the with a close-up of O’Toole as Alan Swan in the back of a car.  He is watching the daughter he knows about but never met as she is riding her bike around her neighborhood.  I can’t help but watch his eyes.  There is no dialogue, but the scene speaks volumes.  If you haven’t seen this film, find it, watch it, cherish it.


Bonus moment.

In the original “Casino Royale”, released around 1967, O’Toole has a brief cameo in Peter Sellers torture hallucination scene.  O’Toole is part of a bagpipe band.  Not well known, but Peter O’Toole actually knew how to play the bagpipes. How’s that for a party favor?

Don’t forget to visit my shop where I’ve linked many of the films mentioned here!

Popcornbytes Concession Stand


My new Amazon Store

I’ve become an Amazon Affiliate to better show you the films, books, and other items I may be discussing in my blog postings.  The first includes a couple of categories about a couple of my favorite actors – so without further ado, I present the

Popcornbytes Concession Stand – Books, Videos, & More


Thanks for visiting!

Popcornbytes –

My 9/11 Story

I was working, on September 11th, 2001, as a master control operator for a small PBS station in California.  In case you don’t know what a master control operator does, they are the ones who actually get the programs, either from tape, live satellite or live studio onto the air.

That morning started as most did for me, I arrived at the station at five a.m., we started our broadcast day at Six a.m. Pacific Time.  The first program was a fifteen-minute news broadcast out of Florida, which I would tape at 5:45 then do a VERY quick rewind to get it on the air (thankfully we had a function on the tape machine that made this fairly easy).

The last thing on the news broadcast (roughly 8:59 a.m. Eastern Time) was “We have just been informed a plane has hit the world trade center.”

I rewound and put the news on time on the air and while concerned, didn’t think much of it until I got a phone call from the President of the Station.

“Walt, I need you to lock down the station, make sure everyone comes through the front door.”

I quickly posted a sign on the side doors during the 6:30 program. By then, the Chief Engineer had arrived and filled me in.

While we played the rest of the morning and early afternoon programming on air, those of us in master control had a television tuned it to the local network news, watching the footage of the planes hitting the towers over and over on replay.

I had friends in New York, and the Chief Engineer had a nephew that worked as a fire-fighter.  They all made it through that day, many more did not.



A writing challenge – mapping it out.

No matter how long you’ve been blogging, there is always more to learn. As part of the Weekly Writing Challenges, once a month, we’ll highlight a feature in the WordPress.com Dashboard and challenge you to incorporate it into your blog. We want to help you take full advantage of all the tools available on WordPress.com […]

via Writing Challenge: Map It Out — The Daily Post

Schilthorn – in the shadow of the Jungfrau

Or, Bonding in the Swiss alps  Piz-Gloria093

If you are a James Bond fan, then Shilthorn is a destination you must visit. The 360 degree revolving restaurant served as Blofeld’s Alpine fortress in the 1969 film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. It is a film that Shilthorn has embraced and through the years has added to via a new “007 Walk of Fame” last year on 31 July 2015. You can see a short video of the event here – Opening of the 007 Walk of Fame at Schilthorn

Located at nearly ten thousand feet above sea level in the Berner Oberland area of Switzerland’s Alp you can only get to Schilthorn via Cable Car from Mürren, or Stechelberg below.

I have visited Schilthorn a few times, usually in fall or winter – although the berg offers a fantastic ski run (called the ‘Inferno Run’!) and can become quite crowded in the area between Christmas and New Year. I arrived by train from Interlaken Ost, the eastern station that connected the valley via private railway (meaning anyone with a Eurorail pass needs to get a ticket at the station!).

The first couple of times I visited I  stayed overnight in the area, arriving at a quaint Swiss railway station, now sadly replaced by a more modern steel construct that shelters the passengers. From the station I walked pretty much across the street and rode a funicular (a rather steep one too!) up to the small village of Mürren, which has no cars whatsoever. Any deliveries that need to be made are down via an electric cart – think golf cart with a small flatbed to hold packages and such. Everything in this small town is within walking distance, and the cable car leading further up the alp is centrally located.

It was strange visiting Schilthorn, as I had recently viewed the Bond movie and was noticing where different scenes were filmed. From the Helicopter landing pad (which the Bond producers built as part of the agreement to use the site for filming, to the entrance hallway which still has Blofeld’s coat of arms on the wall, and, of course, the revolving restaurant itself. Although parts of Shilthorn were recreated in Pinewood Studios for interior shots, as much as possible was filmed on site.

For a sightseer, the views from Schilthorn are magnificent. You have the Eiger, the Jungfrau, and the Mönch alps surrounding you, and the view over the valley is magnificent.

For more information about Schilthorn, you can visit Schilthorn home page and for Mürren itself, try the Mürren and Vicinity information page.

You can also purchase the following items related to Switzerland in general and  “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” at Amazon –

(for Kindle users only)






What’s your favorite James Bond film location?  Drop me a line and let me know!

Happy Travels!


The Days of the Armchair Traveler

ThomasCook Cover

Back in the days before the World Wide Web,  I would sometimes plan my dream vacation, and being the detailed person I was, made use of the ever helpful Thomas Cook Continental Timetables that could tell me the best ways to get from Town A to Town B by rail.  Because when you’re on vacation, and on a bit of a budget, getting a Britrail and Europass was the way to go.

Of course, in today’s world the Thomas Cook guides are now online, for a fee, and with so many other free apps available (e.g. Rail Europe or Amtrak Forum), it has become rather obsolete to use a book size guide when you can have the same information on your smartphone or tablet.

Rail Passes are still available, but with the advent of the internet, you no longer have to purchase them via a travel agent, if you can even find one nowdays that still operates out of a storefront.  Now you simply go to Eurailpass.com and cut out the middleman.  And you can get your train pass direct for Great Britain by going to Britrail.net

Ah, but those days of dreaming are remembered fondly.  What’s your favorite app to get around Europe or North America with? Drop me a line and let me know.

#Happy Traveling!

6 Facts you may not be aware of during Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond

Now that it seems official that Daniel Craig is stepping away from the role of James Bond, I’ve been thinking of his tenure and present six facts you may not be aware of.

  1.     First Actor as James Bond in the EON series not to have the Gun Barrel Sequence opening for more than one film. Daniel_Craig_James_Bond_Based_On

The gun barrel sequence, as it is known, appeared at the end of the films Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall.  It was not until SPECTRE that the sequence was at the beginning of the movie.  The only other time the sequence did not open an EON film was Doctor No.

      2.     First actor to have the least amount of female partners over the course of four films.

If you only include the woman Bond is shown actually having sex with, or in bed with, Craig’s Bond has only bedded six women: Vesper, Agent Fields, Severine, unknown woman in Skyfall (billed as “Bond’s Lover”), Lucia, and Madeline.  That is a measly one point five females per film.  Not exactly keeping the British end up, are we?  Compare that to Sean Connery’s first four film total of at least nine, including two (the Gypsy Camp girls in FRWL) at once!  Roger Moore has a least nine encounters as well.  Three alone in his debut Bond film, Live and Let Die, and Pierce Brosnsan enjoyed at least ten women in his four films as 007.

      3.     Oh, yeah, have we mentioned yet that Craig is the first Blonde haired Bond?

      4,     Out of all the Bond Films where Felix Lieter makes an appearance, Craig is the only actor to have the same actor playing Felix

Felix didn’t even bother showing up in any of the Brosnan films, changed between each of the two Dalton films, only showed up in the first Roger Moore film, and changed each time he appeared in the Connery films.

      5.     Craig is the only Bond actor to have at least four films linked by Spectre but only one appearance of Blofeld.

It is revealed that SPECTRE is behind LeChiffre, Quantum, and Silva, but Blofeld only makes an appearance in SPECTRE.  The five of the first six Bond films of the series involve Spectre (Dr. No through Diamonds are Forever, the exception is Goldfinger) and Blofeld makes a vocal or physical appearance in four of the five films, including finally seeing his face in the last three.   Spectre, and thus Blofeld was not present in any of the Dalton or Brosnan films, and Blofeld maybe is the man in the wheelchair in the pre-title opening sequence of the Moore film For Your Eyes Only.

      6.     Believe it or Not, Daniel Craig is the first James Bond to walk OUT of the Gun Barrel Sequence.

At the end of Quantum of Solace, the gun barrel sequence occurs.  Bond enters from the right side of the screen, shoots, the red covers the barrel, it disappears, and Craig exits to the left side of the screen out of the gun barrel.

       007 Bonus – The Daniel Craig Bond soundtracks were the first ones NOT to include the title song on them.

The title songs were released as separate singles.  Thus you needed to dole out more money for the “complete” soundtrack.

008 Update Bonus No Time to Die Spoilers ahead!

Craig’s Bond is the only one to have officially fathered a child in the series.

And sadly the only Bond to actually die in the series.  #RIP Daniel Craig’s James Bond!

Can you think of any others?  Drop us a line or add a comment below!  Happy viewing!



A New Look

Lights. Camera, Action!

           I’m going with a new look on this blog, mainly because the original vision was a bit blah.  In future posts, I’ll be sharing thoughts on films from my over 700 DVD Film and Television Library, techniques I use in writing, and travel tales, most of which comes from personal experience.  So join me as I jump back into this pool and try to keep my head above water!  Here we go again!


Connecting the dots.

    Last week I finished my latest novel.  I’ve been working on it for the past year or so. Doing the actual writing of it that is – I’ve known the story and the points I wanted to cover for at least 16 years. After a couple of false starts, I finally was able to connect the dots to the finish.  

The morale of this is never give up, stick to your dream.  I know I have rewrites and maybe piles of rejection letters in the future, but the hard part is done.  And I’m happy.

Be happy!  Find a dream to follow!


Bond Book Cover imagesThe new James Bond movie has just premiered in the UK. SPECTRE returns 007’s best known evil organization back into the series.

Last referenced with the ghastly Helicopter scene with the bald headed unnamed man in a wheelchair Bond scoops up at the start of ” For Your Eyes Only”, the reincarnation is sure to bring back some real tension in an already tense series that marks Daniel Craig’s’ tenure as James Bond.

Can’t wait, myself.