Mark Steyn

How Bing Crosby invented the wonderful genre of Christmas pop

Some songs are hits — Number One for a couple of weeks. Some songs are standards — they endure decade after decade. And a few very rare songs reach way beyond either category, to embed themselves so deeply in the collective consciousness they become part of the soundtrack of society. They start off the same

From the archive: Sound of the season

Some songs are hits — No. 1 for a couple of weeks. Some songs are standards — they endure decade after decade. And a few very rare songs reach way beyond either category, to embed themselves so deeply in the collective consciousness they become part of the soundtrack of society. They start off the same

Global warming’s glorious ship of fools

Yes, yes, just to get the obligatory ‘of courses’ out of the way up front: of course ‘weather’ is not the same as ‘climate’; and of course the thickest iciest ice on record could well be evidence of ‘global warming’, just as 40-and-sunny and a 35-below blizzard and 12 degrees and partly cloudy with occasional

Vivat Regina

This article appears in the latest issue of Spectator Australia. We thought that CoffeeHousers would like to read it. The trick to monarchy is not queening it. In The Radetzky March, Joseph Roth’s great novel of the Habsburg twilight, the Emperor Franz Joseph has it down to a tee:  ‘At times he feigned ignorance and

Osama doesn’t matter any more

Mark Steyn says that only Democrats and Europeans will be fooled by the offer of a truce from the ‘exiled Saudi dissident’ You know this fellow David Cameron? Well, obviously you do. But I’m thousands of miles away and I don’t, not really. I mean, I know who he is, and I read The Spectator,

Beyond good and evil

Twenty years ago George Jonas wrote a book called Vengeance, about the targeted assassinations of various murky Arab figures that took place in Europe in the wake of the Munich massacre. According to film critic Terry Lawson in the Detroit Free Press the other day, George Jonas ‘claimed to be the leader of the assassination

Meet the moppets

Years ago a movie buff pal said to me he couldn’t understand why I liked the theatre. ‘A great show is only great to the people who were there,’ he said. ‘A great film is for ever.’ Ha! Tell it to your humble critic after a month in which he’s reviewed the ‘new’ King Kong,

Bleak portrait

‘You know I ain’t queer,’ Ennis Del Mar says to Jack Twist. ‘Me neither,’ says Jack. Then they get back to having sex with each other, high up in the hills of Wyoming. I would have liked to have seen Brokeback Mountain with a Wyoming crowd, or at any rate an audience of rugged laconic

Missing Magic

Formula gets a bum rap from critics, but I’m rather partial to it myself. In the Bond movies, it’s pretty much the best bits — take out the flirting with Moneypenny, Q going ‘Pay attention, 007’, Shirley Bassey bellowing the theme song over silhouettes of dolly birds gyrating round giant pistols, and what’s left isn’t

I back Black

Mark Steyn says that Conrad Black will beat the rap — provided he gets a fair trial In the Independent this week, Sir Peregrine Worsthorne was teetering on the brink of his Glenda Slagg moment. You know Miss Slagg’s style: Monday: ‘She was the People’s Princess. Goodbye, England’s rose, our Queen of Hearts, God bless

Out of step

‘The motto of the British Air Force Special Services,’ announces Orlando Bloom, ‘is, “Those who risk, win”.’ Close enough, I suppose. Mr Bloom is from Canterbury and, if he doesn’t care, there’s no reason why I should. But it is oddly representative of Elizabethtown — a movie that even as it insists how true it

Fantasy land

Hollywood’s two biggest animated features of the month both take place in England, or ‘England’ — in the case of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Victorian London; in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a bucolic northern mill town. The latter defers to the reality of contemporary Britain in certain respects (laser security alarms)

Spaced out

Joss Whedon is believed to be the first ever third-generation TV writer. In the Fifties, his grampa John Whedon wrote Leave It To Beaver, still earning big syndication bucks today, and in the Sixties The Donna Reed Show. In the Seventies, his dad Tom Whedon wrote Alice, and in the Eighties Benson. And in the

Tame at heart

In my neck of the woods, Madagascar was the first drive-in movie of the summer. Me’n’the kids clambered on to the hood of the truck at sundown and settled in with our hot dogs and shakes. And we had a goodish time. We especially appreciated the dance number whose entire lyric is: I like to

The ultimate movie pro

I happen to be writing this on board ship, in a little café, at a table by the window, with an idle eye on any glamorous women passing by. And as always in such settings I think of North by Northwest, which contains the all-time great strangers-on-a-train/ships-in-the-night scene. In a lifetime’s travel, everyone should have

Un-American activities

New Hampshire In the summer of 2002 I wrote in this space that the President had failed to seize the moment: ‘George W. Bush had a rare opportunity after September 11. He could have attempted to reverse the most poisonous tide in the Western world: the gloopy multiculturalism that insists all cultures are equally valid,

Back to basics

Every culture creates heroes in its own image: it’s difficult to imagine transferring the British adventurers — Rudolf Rassendyll and Richard Hannay, the Saint and 007 — to America. Likewise, ‘superheroes’ — guys in gaudy tights and capes flying through the streets — never quite work outside the United States. Marvel had a Captain Britain

Marital stress

We Don’t Live Here Anymore is very faithfully adapted from a couple of Andre Dubus novellas I read a long time ago. Quite how long ago I didn’t realise until the point in the movie when Hank, a failed writer teaching literature at some small-town New England college, gets yet another rejection letter and ceremonially

Slow lane

I love Australia, and I used to love Australian movies. But a certain stiffness seems to have set in. Swimming Upstream has two terrific actors, Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis, and they’re never less than compelling, but Russell Mulcahy directs with a plonking clunkiness that makes the material even more pedestrian than it is. Perhaps