Monday, July 14, 2014

I'll be back!


First off, I'd like to apologize for not being able to make the rounds on the blogosphere for about the last two weeks and comment on most of your great blogs.  July has been crazy.  Crazy and busy, with more and more real life challenges piling on everyday. 

I'm temporarily throwing in the towel until at least late July / early August.  Hopefully by then I'll have gotten the chance to hobby a bit so there will be a few more posts about projects, minis, and games to share.  Not just all history and movies posts.

Thanks for stopping by, and I'll see you all again soon!

Jason

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

War Movie Wednesday - The Guns of Navarone


This week War Movie Wednesday rolls out one of the "Big Guns" of war movie classics, The Guns of Navarone.  Directed by J. Lee Thompson and staring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn, along with Stanley Baker and Anthony Quayle.  Truly one of the greats, it was nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture, winning Best Effects, Special Effects. 

"Our Heroes", well maybe not that one on the right...

The movie pits a small Allied Commando team against the Germans of occupied Greece and the seemingly impregnable mountain fortress that houses the massive "Guns of Navarone."  These radar directed monsters control a key pass in the Aegean Sea that threatens destruction to any Allied ship that dares sail within range.

Meanwhile 2,000 British troops are stranded on the island of Keros with the Germans moving in for the kill.  The Good Guys must take out the "Big Guns" so that the Royal Navy has a chance to rescue the poor Tommies before it's too late, and also help prevent Turkey from being bullied into joining the Axis Powers.

The REAL stars of the show!

Commando raids make some of the best and most tense war movies.  They're also a great way to showcase a small collection of actors against an the epic backdrop like that of fictional island of Navarone.  The cast doesn't disappoint either with Peck doing his usual solid job, Quinn bringing his flare and emotion, and any war flick the includes Niven is almost guaranteed to be a good one.  Stanley Baker and Anthony Quayle could of both handled the lead themselves and add another level of quality to the group.

The most intense game of "Knock, knock.  Who's there?" of WWII.

The Guns of Navarone is a true epic that still manages to maintain an intimate feel to the plot.  The individual characters, tensions, and twists are not lost in a barrage of special effects and larger than life sets.  We are able to follow along with our heroes to the bitter end, sharing in their daring adventures, while also being aware of the thoughtful anti-war message woven into the story.  Whether you've seen it before or not, I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I have.


The Guns of Navarone (1961)


A few final thoughts...

I don't remember when I finally got to see The Guns of Navarone for the first time (probably a rental), but long before that I owned the playset (I still do actually, stored somewhere in the garage...).  Countless hours were spent setting up huge battle scenes down in the basement.  For years, I had to go on pure imagination as the TV listings were always far beyond my bedtime. 

The movie eluded me for years, and the closest I ever came as a kid was while I was in the hospital.  The movie was scheduled for 11:00 pm, and my Dad had gotten special permission (small town) to stay past visiting hours to stay up and watch it with me.  The great mystery behind the Guns of Navarone was about to be revealed, and I can still remember the anticipation and the excitement of spending some special time with my Dad.  Alas, my little eyelids failed me, and I fell fast asleep before the movie started. 

Still, every time I watch The Guns of Navarone, a little bit of that childood emotion reawakens.  :-)

Literally, hours of fun!

Bonus Links:

The Guns of Navarone Trailer

The Guns of Navarone Theme

The Guns Of Navarone Soundtrack Suite

The Guns of Navarone Theme Song

Up in the air Juinor Birdman!  Up in the air...

NOTE:  War Movie Wednesday is an opportunity for me to feature a few of my favorite war/war related movies on the blog.  Maybe not technically the "best" war movies or even "great" movies, but films I've enjoyed for one reason or another.  Interesting and entertaining enough to watch during hobby time at least.  Something that can be found for free on YouTube and played on your computer or similar gadget sitting by your hobby area.  Unfortunately these posts are also limited in choice and quality by what I can find on YouTube, which also includes putting up with subtitles from time to time.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

War Movie Wednesday - North West Mounted Police

In TECHNICOLOR!

Little change of pace this week as we head to the Canadian frontier of the 1880's  In the days when the North West Mounted Police were an earlier version of today's Mounties and trouble was brewing among the Métis (Frenchy types) and the native Cree in the form North-West Rebellion with everyone else caught in between.

"Dusty Rivers? Isn't that a contradiction in terms?"

Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, the aptly named North West Mounted Police stars Gary Cooper and Madeleine Carroll.  The film also co-stars Paulette Goddard, Preston Foster, Robert Preston, Akim Tamiroff, and Lon Chaney, Jr..  Nominated for five Academy Awards (Won Best Film Editing), the movie is a mix of action, adventure, drama, love triangles, treachery, and tragedy with many lighthearted bits thrown in.

"So your answer is "NO" then?"

Texas Ranger Dusty Rivers (Cooper) has come north looking for the outlaw Jacques Corbeau, the same man Sergeant Jim Brett (Foster) is after.  An uneasy alliance is formed, but our heroes soon find themselves in the midst of a rebellion where friend or foe is not always determined by your accent!

Women, the real trouble makers!

For me this was an enjoyable movie for its unique period subject matter alone.  Used to seeing Cooper in serious no nonsense westerns, it was fun to see him in a more lighthearted humorous role.  Although modern audiences may find the obvious fake indoor filmed "outdoor" scenes and bright Technicolor uniforms a bit campy, I really find it part of the charm.  Back when movies had to create "the illusion" without the help of CGI.  I hope you will enjoy it too!  :-)

North West Mounted Police (1940)


NOTE:  War Movie Wednesday is an opportunity for me to feature a few of my favorite war/war related movies on the blog.  Maybe not technically the "best" war movies or even "great" movies, but films I've enjoyed for one reason or another.  Interesting and entertaining enough to watch during hobby time at least.  Something that can be found for free on YouTube and played on your computer or similar gadget sitting by your hobby area.  Unfortunately these posts are also limited in choice and quality by what I can find on YouTube, which also includes putting up with subtitles from time to time.



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Monday, June 30, 2014

Dracula Untold - Finally another epic Dracula movie?


There's lots of "vampire" movies/shows out there, but very few of them worth watching.  Even fewer still for a classic vampire/Dracula fan like me.  Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1992 remains one of my all time favorite movies.  It's impact is seen throughout my gaming hobby and my Warhammer Vampire Counts Army.  It continues to influence a desire for future Gothic Horror projects and games.  Its soundtrack is still a mainstay every October.  Its imagery is now my default for the genre.  As far as Dracula and vampire films go, it is an epic, and there has never been another one since.


Cue Dracula Untold coming this October.  Starring Luke Evens of recent Hobbit/Bard fame, its cast includes a number of other notable actors as well.  The story mixes the historical Vlad Tepes and dark fantasy.  The trailer looks good, but that's not always a sure sign.  I admit to a bit of quiet excitement, but I've been burned too many times to get my hopes up just yet.  I'm hoping at least for an enjoyable movie, but I dream of finally seeing another inspirational epic!

Dracula Untold (2014)


I guess we'll see on October 17th, but until then... your reaction? thoughts? predictions? concerns?  Let me know what you think in the comments below.  :-)




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Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Fun - Give a Hoot!!

Nope.

Wargamers love to do things PROPERLY, so if you want to cut loose this weekend and hoot and holler with the rest of 'em, then you better take a moment and learn from the best of 'em.  How exactly does one learn how to hoot and holler properly?  Look no farther than this charming video of old American Civil War Vets giving it one last go at the "Rebel Yell," and you'll be well on your way!

Enjoy and have a great weekend!  :-)



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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

War Movie Wednesday - 84 Charlie MoPic


Before the mid to late '80s, movies about the Vietnam War were few and far between.  With the success of Platoon in 1986 the gates were soon open for others like Hamburger Hill and Full Metal Jacket or even television series like Tour of Duty and China Beach.  The low budget independent film 84 Charlie MoPic is definitely a gem that unfortunately gets lost in the shuffle.


Directed by Vietnam Vet Patrick Sheane Duncan and starring a cast of unknowns, the film takes the form of a mock documentary seen entirely through the camera lens of the 84C20 Motion Picture Specialist the movie (and soldier) is nicknamed for.  The cameraman and a fresh Second Lieutenant are send along a routine five day recon patrol to film for training purposes.  Of course nothing is routine in war.


Personally, I hadn't seen or heard of this movie until it was shown in one of my college ROTC classes in the early '90s.  I was just learning the basics of small unit tactics and patrolling back then so it definitely had an impact.  The filming technique made more famous by films like The Blair Witch Project, seemed hokey at first, but gets more and more "real" as the film goes along.  No soundtrack and no frills, the movie simply follows the same squad of soldiers from beginning to end.  It makes the movie very personal and unique among war movies that I've watched.

84 Charlie MoPic (1989)


War Movie Wednesday is an opportunity for me to feature a few of my favorite war/war related movies on the blog.  Maybe not technically the "best" war movies or even "great" movies, but films I've enjoyed for one reason or another.  Interesting and entertaining enough to watch during hobby time at least.  Something that can be found for free on YouTube and played on your computer or similar gadget sitting by your hobby area.  Unfortunately these posts are also limited in choice and quality by what I can find on YouTube, which also includes putting up with subtitles from time to time.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the movie!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

War Movie Wednesday - Waterloo


They just don't make them like they used to.

On June 18th, this week's feature almost has to be Waterloo.  Certain words and names are recognized around the world and Waterloo is definitely one of them.  If not the most famous battle in history, Waterloo is close to the top.  Even without ABBA's help, there's just something about Waterloo that captures the imagination of so many people.  The last grasp at glory, the fall of giant, the end of an era, a near run thing that could of tipped history either way.


Of course to wargamers Waterloo is old hat, and probably the most worn hat next to Gettysburg.  Most gamers that are into Napoleonics have run across this movie at one time.  To others, it's a true epic waiting to be discovered.  Back when war movies had to use actual real people (The Soviet Army) or cardboard cutouts instead of CGI.  Unfortunately Waterloo even with its spectacular battle scenes, didn't do so hot at the Box Office, otherwise we might have seen a few more of these "big battle" epics (Like Stanley Kubrick's planned "Napoleon") .  I guess we're left to treasure the ones we have.


Making of an Epic

Produced by Dino De Laurentiis and directed by Sergei Bondarchuk who had previously done another big battle epic "War and Peace," Waterloo was one of the most expensive movies ever made at it's time.  Starring Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer, and a cameo by Orson Welles, the movie also employed over 15,000 soldiers from the Soviet Army, a full brigade of 2,000 cavalry, 50 circus stunt riders to perform horse falls, and a bunch of engineers and laborers to work on the battlefield itself.  It was said that the director was in command of the seventh largest army in the world while filming.


 In order to turn the rolling farmland outside Uzhhorod, Ukraine into an authentic battlefield , the Russians bulldozed away two hills, laid five miles of roads, transplanted 5,000 trees, sowed fields of rye, barley and wildflowers and reconstructed four historic buildings.  To create the mud, more than six miles of underground irrigation piping was specially laid.  Too bad they couldn't do anything about the mountains in the background.  The original film apparently only shown in the Soviet Union, was around four hours long and also covered the battles of Ligny and Quatre Bras in more length and detail.


Bits 'O Trivia

The Soviet soldiers panicked repeatedly and scattered during the filming of some of the cavalry charges. Attempts to reassure them by marking the closest approach of the horses with white tape similarly failed, and the scenes were cut.

When filming Napoleon's abdication speech producer Dino De Laurentiis ordered the cameraman not to load a new reel of film in order to save costs.  The film ran out before Rod Steiger had finished delivering this highly emotional speech.  The actor was not pleased.

When the British offer surrender to the Old Guard, Vicomte de Cambronne supposedly said, "The Old Guard dies but never surrenders."  Cambronne himself said afterwards that his reply was, "Merde," (shit) as was shown in the film.  For years afterwards, the word "merde" was referred to by the French as "le mot de Cambronne" (Cambronne's word).

Richard Burton was sought to play Napoleon.  Producer Dino De Laurentiis blamed the film's box office failure on the lack of stars.

Waterloo (1970)


Parting Thoughts

Anytime I want to get into the mood for painting Napoleonics, I just need to pop this movie in.  It has a great soundtrack, and all those spectacular battle scenes and uniforms are a real treat.  Although Steiger took some time to grow on me, the portals of Napoleon and Wellington are really what make this movie great.  The raw emotion one moment, charming wit the other.  The juxtaposed scenes, especially pre-battle, where the two adversaries seem to talking to one another are very well done..  Also I love the use of "whispering thoughts" just like in another favorite movie of mine, Dune.

Last but certainly not least are all the memorable quotes this movie has to offer.  From Star Wars to Monty Python, memorable quotes are a clear sign of a classic regardless of the genre.  Quotes that can be used as "bits" at the gaming table are even a bigger bonus for us Wargamers, and Waterloo is packed full of them.  So packed, that I will address them on their own future post, but you can get a taste of them HERE.


As Always...

War Movie Wednesday is an opportunity for me to feature a few of my favorite war/war related movies on the blog.  Maybe not technically the "best" war movies or even "great" movies, but favorites of mine for one reason or another.  Definitely films that I enjoy watching again and again, and that inspire me in one way or another.  Whether that is to laugh, cry, feel pride or disgust, think deep thoughts, run around the room yelling "Ratatatatatatat!", or sit down and paint a mini or two.

Ultimately what I hope to offer here is something interesting and entertaining enough to watch during hobby time at least.  Something that can be found for free on YouTube and played on your computer or similar gadget sitting by your hobby area.  Unfortunately these posts are also limited in choice and quality by what I can find on YouTube, which also includes putting up with subtitles from time to time.

As always, I hope you enjoy the movie!


Bonus Links:

Waterloo Trailer

Waterloo Soundtrack Suite

Waterloo Documentary


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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

War Movie Wednesday - Midway


Only six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, The US Navy decisively defeated an attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy at the Battle of Midway (June 4-7, 1942) inflicting irreparable damage on the Japanese fleet.  This was Japan's first naval defeat since the Battle of Shimonoseki Straits in 1863.  Military historian John Keegan called it "the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare."


Sounds like a big deal, huh?  Well, Hollywood responds in a big way with this week's feature Midway.  Directed by Jack Smight the film features an international cast of superstars including Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Glenn Ford, Hal Holbrook, Toshiro Mifune, Robert Mitchum, Cliff Robertson, Robert Wagner, James Shigeta, Pat Morita, Robert Ito and Christina Kokubo, among others.  John Williams supplied the musical score and Harry Stradling, Jr. the acclaimed cinematography.


One of the movie's big "pros" or "cons" depending who you talk to are all the action/combat sequences.  Do they intensify the story or drag the movie out.  Many are stock footage from the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! and 1942 newsreels that seem to downgrade the overall quality.  Regardless, this classic harkens back to a time of heroic American made war epics with large ensemble casts that are rarely seen today.

Midway (1976)


Please note:  As I've mentioned before (WMW intro post) these features are not necessarily meant to "the best" war movies or even all considered high quality films.  What I hope to offer here is something interesting and entertaining enough to watch during hobby time at least.  Something that can be found for free on YouTube and played on your computer or similar gadget sitting by your hobby area.  Unfortunately these posts are also limited in choice and quality by what I can find on YouTube, which also includes putting up with subtitles from time to time.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the movie!

Nine members of the cast near a Wildcat fighter on the flight deck of the
USS Lexington, which was used for shooting and today is a museum ship.

Bonus Links:

Midway Trailer

Midway Theme

Midway Soundtrack

Battlefield: The Battle of Midway (Documentary)


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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pick yarr Pirates!

So many to choose from!

I've started and abandoned a Pirate Project a couple of times now.  The miniatures and rules maybe long gone on eBay, but I still have two half constructed ship to prove it.  Still there remains an interest especially with the small model count of the usual skirmish level game.  The biggest hurdle is probably building a ship, although in most cases you really don't need one.  It just seems a must though.

(Click on links to see Pirate miniature ranges.)

Wargames Foundry has a huge range!

I've owned a bunch of Wargames Foundry Pirates before which is a good line with lots of variety, but also suffers from being a bit cartoony/chubby when placed next to certain other ranges.  Crusader Miniatures and Artizan Designs seem to be on the same level.  I also like Black Scorpion's Pirate line, the only negative is that they are noticeably taller/bigger scale-wise when mixed with other lines.  Another concern is that a couple local players already have BS Pirates painted up and our crews might end up looking very similar.

 Black Scorpion Pirates

There's also Dixon, Old Glory, Reaper, Redoubt, Freebooter, Eureka Miniatures to name a few.  I'm sure I could never successfully compile a complete list as it seems almost everybody has at least a couple of pirates in their figure ranges.  Having said all that, the real inspiration for today's post is the recent news of North Star Military Figures entry into the Pirate ranks.  The initial pics look promising despite being painted a bit bright for my tastes.  I wonder how they would look in the colorful yet muted tones of the BS paint scheme above.

North Star's new Pirates!

 Help me pick 'em!

So now comes the participation part of the post.  Please place an answer/pirate feedback in the comments below. (Or else!)  Which pirate minis do you collect?  and why?  What's your favorite range?  Who's minis are the best?  Which lines are the most compatible?  Which ones would you choose?  In short....

PICK YARR PIRATES!!


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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Weekend Wrap - Eye Candy


Eye Candy

In an effort to conserve more "hobby" time and finally have a few painted minis to post on the old blog again, I'm keeping this one relatively short.  So first up is a little "eye candy" for those of you that are into that sort of thing in the form of some "Historical" pin-ups.  The girls are cute and the art is well done without being tacky, so if you'd like to see more stroll over to Bartek Drejewicz's Facebook page HERE and check 'em out.


Wurttemberg Army

Speaking of "eye candy," we all love looking at painted miniatures and units, but there's few things as spectacular (and satisfying for the painter) as a completed army.  Mick over at Land of the Lead has just posted a bunch of pictures his recently completed 28mm Napoleonic Wurttemberg Army that he has spent the last 6-7 months on.  You can read about and see more of this fantastic army HERE.





Arnold!

For a bit of fun check out Arnold Schwarzenegger on The Tonight Show talking about crushing stuff for charity with his tank.  The tank, a M48 Patton, is the exact same one he drove while serving in the Austrian Army.  The best part for me was Arnold telling his story of getting into a downhill race at night with another tanker and forgetting there was a bunch of soldiers sitting on top.  Luckily no one got hurt, but Arnold gets a pretty grueling punishment.



Milestones

Finally, I'm not one to make a big deal of passing certain milestones especially since I was away from the blogosphere for awhile and am just getting back into the grove of it.  There's a few I passed recently without even realizing it.  The first is hitting 200 posts (I'm currently at 224).  Another is passing 150.000 hits (currently at 159,179).  The third was finally passing 150 followers (currently 153).

Although I'd like to have a few more followers by now, I am very thankful for all the support and comments left on my blog over the years.  I enjoy the blog thing and the community, but it means a lot to know others enjoy what I have to offer as well.  I've been trying some new features, while trying hard to catch up on my painting.  So I hope to have lots of fun stuff to share down the road.  Thanks again!

"Hasta la vista, baby."

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