Welcome to Pogue's Pages!

I'm POGUE...known by many as Chuck Pogue, a few as Charles Pogue, and billed professionally as Charles Edward Pogue...just because it really looks BIG splashed across a theatre programme or a movie screen. From that last remark and the profile on the left, you can see I'm a theatre man...And the term "theatre" encompasses stage, film, TV. I've been shooting my mouth off on other people's blogs and message boards for forever. So having finally gotten the hang of it, I've decided to build my own soapbox from which I can pontificate, blather, and muse...mostly on theatre, film, writing, music, books...but ultimately anything that interests me, irritates me, or just catches my fancy. I invite you to join me. I'll try to be faithful and update regularly, so that when you visit there will always be something fresh percolating and maybe even provocative that we can discuss, dissect, or debate.

Charles Edward Pogue

Saturday, March 21, 2009

An Age of Kings (or I'm a Happy Man!)

When I moved back to Kentucky, after nearly thirty years in LA, there were naturally unvoidable adjustments to be made -- some minor, some traumatic. I certainly did not miss the stress, the expense, the traffic (I can get to Cincinnati in an hour...the time it took me to get to Santa Monica from Hollywood...except that Cincy is sixty miles away; Santa Monica was ten). I didn't even miss the perennial lovely weather

(The view from my old backyard)

Mostly what I missed, aside from a cultural perspective shared by those living in a world center such as LA, were friends. It wasn't things...Okay, well, a few things...great used bookshops, several restaurants, theatres, actually having a neighbourhood mechanic that worked out of the gas station where I got my gas less than a mile from my house,...and Amoeba.

Amoeba was a gargantuan new-used CD/DVD/LP airplane hanger of a store with two floors on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood. If they didn't have a CD or a DVD, it probably couldn't be had. For a guy like me, whose taste in both music and film is eclectic, ancient, and obscure, this was Mecca. Here was where I went to unearth Broadway rarities like KEAN or Ben Bagley's Painted Smiles label, singers like Buddy Clark, Glenn Yarbrough, or Gene McDaniels singing A HUNDRED POUNDS OF CLAY and his other half-dozen hits before he faded from the scene of early sixties rock. Here I could find those off-beat films like LORD LOVE A DUCK, A KID FOR TWO FARTHINGS, or the British Restoration comedy series, HAGGARD. Stuff you can't find at your local Blockbuster or Best Buy. Mostly though I bought theatre DVDs at Amoeba. Theatre productions that had been filmed for television. I picked up the old American Film Theatre Series (filmed plays originally shown in theatres for two days and which they claimed at the time would never be shown on TV -- yeah, until someone figured out there was a profit in it); countless plays that appeared on PBS, several Shakespeares.

Moving to Kentucky made me finally have to break down and resort to Amazon.com, which I had resisted for so long because of my aversion to internet shopping. But, hey, that's where the world is going and once I succumbed, what vistas opened! Just go online, fill my electronic shopping cart, and several days later...treasures arrive on my doorstep!. Yesterday, it was the musical version of GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS starring Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark and a book from the National Theatre.

But what it has really been great for is expanding my video theatre collection which must now be nearing two hundred plays.

Amazon helpfully...or not so helpfully, depending on your point-of-view, also makes frequent recommendations...based on what you buy, own, or put on your wish list. This can be a bit overwhelming at times and so I have to go in and winnow away the source material on which they base these selections, as sometimes the connections can be quite tenuous. I mean I'm not really sure why they would recommend a Paul Newman western, THE OUTRAGE because I bought GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS or how they make the jump in thinking that I'd be interested in ELVIS: THE '68 COMEBACK SPECIAL because I bought a bio of Richard Burton (actually the '68 Comeback Special is pretty darn thrilling...I saw it on TV...in 1968! In the Kirwan Towers Dorm at UK. And I have it on video around here somewhere...).

Anyway, the other day they actually gave me a recommendation that made my little heart go pitty-pat. The BBC is finally releasing AN AGE OF KINGS! This was a fifteen-part TV series from 1960 that filmed, in historical chronological order, Shakespeare's plays of Richard II, the 2 parts of Henry IV, Henry V, the 3 parts of Henry VI, and Richard III. Some notable names in the series are Judi Dench, Robert Hardy, Eileen Atkins, and Sean Connery as Hotspur. (Richard III is played by Paul Daneman. I remember a brilliant radio rendition of of Richard III done by Daneman that played on the University of Kentucky radio station when I was in college. Clay Nixon, a friend who worked at the station, gave me a cassette of the production which I periodically played until it disintegrated over the years.).
(Clay Nixon & Me in Ceremony of Innocence at UK)

I have been aware of this awesome televised spectacle ever since the early 70's when I picked up a paperback edition of the series. I remember catching an enticing glimpse of it on BRAVO a few years back, before that network abandoned its Arts programming for the anti-intellectual dross it now vomits out of our TVs, and thinking, "I must video tape this." But I never got my act and its schedule together to do so. I've even emailed the BBC to release it...though I suspect my entreaties had nothing to do with their decision. Still I'm just glad they decided.
It's on pre-order and I await its arrival at the end of the month. The BBC has already done immeasurable service to theatre junkies like me with their boxed sets of SHAW, IBSEN, CHEKOV, COWARD, & WILDE, with productions of plays both well-known and obscure from these playwrights. And their boxed sets of actors like Olivier, Dench, and Mirren allow us to see rarities like ABSOLUTE HELL, THE CHANGELING (the one by Middleton & Rowley; not Eastwood), THE COLLECTION, HINDLE WAKES, THE COUNTRY WIFE. When you think how many other great and classic plays the BBC has televised over the years, one can only hope for more forthcoming treasures. I keep hoping for a boxed set of the late Simon Gray and Harold Pinter, both of whom have had many of their works dramatized for British television. And I've already pre-ordered my DVD of the 1970 production of EDWARD II, starring Ian McKellen.

Interesting article in THE WEEK (the best news weekly around, for my money) about how the 35-54 age bracket is the fastest-growing group on FACEBOOK, up 276 % in the last half of 2008. There are those who feel Facebook might actually better serve this age bracket than teens. Peggy Orenstein of the New York Times suggests it one thing networking and re-connecting with old friends when you're middle-aged, another when you've been on social networking sites half your life. College is a place for reinvention and Orenstein questions how youngsters can achieve that "with your 450 closest friends watching?" The article goes on: "Growth depends on introspection, which depends on loneliness. Transformation depends on experimentation, which depends on space." Interesting notion which make you wonder how much privacy we surrender to the internet and if it inhibits personal evolution and broader perspectives.



"Writing is like pulling teeth...through your penis." -- J.G. Ballard


I'm delighted to hear that The Unbelieveable Truth returns to BBC Radio4 tonight. It's one of their highly amusing comedy/quizzes hosted by the witty David Mitchell of the comedy team of Mitchell and Webb.

So for what do you yearn to see on DVD?
(GoJoe solved the one movie mystery quote, "I want to enter my house justified." See the comments section of the previous blog for the answer. But no one has gotten the "Love has to stop somewhere short of suicide" quote yet. It's from a 1936 film based on a classic American novel. Feel free to keep guessing or to comment on any of the other blogs. Sometimes folks are reluctant to comment on an old blog, if a new one's been posted, but as long as the topic interests you feel free to respond to any of them, even if four or five newer blogs are up...I'll keep checking 'em.).


  1. "You can't construct a screenplay until you first learn to construct a sentence."

    So true. Thanks for the great post.

  2. That Pyramid paperback was a perenially intriguing presence in the house of my youth (there was also a promotional booklet put out by the sponsoring oil company, so someone related to me must have watched it)
    so the dvd release is good news and Thanks for passing it along.