Sunday, 2 July 2017

Au revoir Mister Norman

BARRY NORMAN  -  Film Critic
1933 - 2017

I was surprised and saddened to hear of the recent passing of Film Critic and tv
movie pundit Barry Norman. Apparently he hosted the BBC's weekly late night
Film review show between 1972 and right up until 1998.

It has often been said that he packed up his role as Film critic after being bounced
around the tv schedule by the BBC. And it's no secret that he also quit his role due to the
decline in quality movies. As he once said 'I have to sit through hours of rubbish
week in week out. And so I just got fed up with it all.' And it's believed to have
been something to do with what almost became like a weekly conveyor belt of poor
comedies. I think he may have been referring to those Adam Sandler and Jim Carey
movies of the 1990's. Films that might have caused a tickle now and then, but never
offered any sort of stimulation like the great films that Norman was so fond of.

I was just looking at a 2012 Radio Times list of his top 100 Movies and I wasn't
surprised at all to see many of my own favourite movies there like 'The Searchers'
'All About Eve'  'North By Northwest'  'Citizen Kane' as well as 'The Third Man.'
Sadly they're not listed by merit but rather in alphabetical order.

He once had a run in with legendary actor John Wayne at a Press conference when
Wayne labelled him 'A Goddam liberal pinko faggot' after Norman laughed out
loud at Wayne's ridiculous suggestion that The U.S might consider bombing Moscow.
Wayne is undoubtedly and surprisingly one of my all time favourite actors
but I discovered some time ago that his right wing political leanings were
not so appealing.

One thing I find odd is that the BBC has never properly replaced Barry Norman.
They tried out Jonathan Ross for a while until his sacking over a misdemeanour
on the Radio with Russell Brand. And now of course we have a whole bunch of
unknowns presenting 'Film 2017.'  So that should help the BBC's wasteful wages
budget. Once again it's BBC dumbing down again with the idea 'Oh lets have lots
of presenters all talking over one another to give the feel of excitement and noise'
...over yet another poor movie.

What I don't understand is why they don't give that job to heir apparent and the
best man for the job, Mark Kermode. He has such a passion for films and is quite
an aficionado of  fringe and cult movies. You do wonder if the BBC have at any time
actually offered him the job.

Below is a youtube video of a FILM 83 special when Barry Norman interviewed
Sean Connery after he returned to the role of James Bond in 'Never Say Never Again'
in 1983.
And what's interesting about the interview is that back then this is how Hollywood
actors were interviewed by the likes of Barry Norman and Michael Parkinson,
as opposed to today's dumbed down bring em on like cattle on to The Graham
Norton Show where screaming non stop laughter and lavatorial humour ensues.
I really liked Norton when he first emerged on to our TV's and was pleased that
the BBC signed him up. Sadly I wasn't to know in which direction he was about to
take in the format of chat shows.
Norton's opening weekly monologue continues to establish the myth that many camp
gay men are bitchy and relish the idea of putting someone down.


The actual interview with Connery doesn't start until about 10 minutes
in to the video. But it's well worth watching just to see how things were
done before the BBC's great dumbing down agenda started.


  1. I agree with what you think of Norton. The Jonathon Ross you mention, is he the Australian one? If so, I don't like him at all. Your BBC gets a mention in my blog post tomorrow.

  2. Andrew, No I've not ever heard of an Aussie Jonathan Ross. I doubt that our Ross is known in your parts. But a bit surprised that you've heard of Norton, perhaps because of his interviewing, if we can call it that, of fairly big names.
    Although I think you might be familiar with Parky... Michael Parkinson, who was more preferable to watch and had the honour of properly interviewing past legends. Am enjoying his re-run shows on BBC4. Last week his guest was Richard Burton from a 70's recording.

    Will look out for your BBC post. They're quite rightly facing some well deserved hostility due to their ongoing political bias and bitterness over the Brexit result.

    1. Norton is known very well in Australia. Ok, I know your Jonathon Ross from Frank Skinner's podcasts and I have seen him on tv a while ago. Yes, it is a different JR to the Australian born one that I think is an English resident.

    2. Andrew, So there's another Jonathan Ross. Yes I do like Frank Skinner.

  3. I've always had a great love of film but I could never be a critic as there is just too much crap to wade through to get to the gems. I would prefer to just write about the films that interested me but who would employ such a critic? It was good to see Connery back in Never Say Never Again, its a pity it was a terrible remake of Thunderball. As for Norton, he is of the 'look at me look at me' style of interviewing and those invited on are usually in town to promote their latest movie. Having said that, the February episode in which Patrick Stewart tells Hugh Jackman his circumcision story is s hoot. - Ian

  4. Ian, It just might be a bad time for anyone starting out as a film critic, what with the current and worsening slump in the quality of movies. I mean, today you've had it if you don't like super heros, which sadly do absolutely nothing for me, because that's all that seems to be coming out of Hollywood.

    No I just cant imagine Graham Norton doing a sensible interview with a top star, with no audience... just a proper interview with say Brad Pitt or even Robert Di Nero. Oh no, Di Nero wont open up and tell us anything about his movie career or any small humorous anecdotes with the likes of Brando or Joe Pesci. Norton had Di Nero on the show twice and he wouldn't say anything. It was a complete waste of time. I guess he's saving it for the eventual biography.
    Was quite excited that Connery returned as Bond. The promotional pictures were awesome, like he hadn't changed since 'Diamonds Are Forever.' But then just before the filming started some dago partly shaved his famous dark eyebrows and he frankly looked stupid, you know, just like gay boys that want to look girly.

    Ian, I wonder if I should put my top films up again, but maybe not a hundred. I'm trying to think of ways to get L.A. Tom (pitbullshark) to come back to the blogging world.