About stephenvagg

Stephen's writing career started with sketches for the UQ Law Revue, then graduated to sketches for a group of people who met doing the UQ Law Revue and didn't want to stop. He began writing plays and scripts which thankfully were never made, but got him accepted into the Australian Film Television Radio School as a token ex-lawyer. Since then he has written for TV, film and theatre, as well as various magazines and journals. He earned an AWGIE nomination for his play "Friday Night Drinks", an AFI nomination for his screenplay, "All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane", and a living writing "Home and Away" for television.

Article on collaboration in the Australian film industry

A while back I wrote an article for Lumina, the magazine of the Australian Film Television and Radio School, about the history of collaboration in the Australian film industry. A copy of it is here.

It was a great fun to research and think about – studying history enables you to see patterns. And an overwhelming pattern is you can’t have a successful career in the industry without a consistent, close knit group of collaborators. And if you do have that, you can move mountains.

“The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds”

A new book has come out about the making of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. It’s by Tony Lee Moral who did a terrific book about the making of “Marnie” a while back. This is also excellent – a thorough and entertaining look at Hitch’s last uncontested classic. Full disclosure: I helped Tony with some research (he generously thanked me in the opening spiel, which was cool) but I would praise it anyway. I wish I’d had it available when I was writing my Rod Taylor bio.

Copies available here.

Top 5 Rod Taylor Surprises

My top five Rod Taylor performances which I am a little ashamed to admitting I enjoyed.

1) Colossus and the Amazon Queen (1961) – Rod was always embarrassed by this comic peplum and if truth be told it’s not very good but he is a lot of fun in a broad comic part.

2) Zabriskie Point (1970) – an absolute mess but Antonioni had talent to burn and even when he misfires it’s worth watching. Try to see it on the big screen if it comes around.

3) The Man Who Had Power Over Women (1971) – a complete misfire in many ways with one of the most ridiculous finales in recent memory, but enough dramatic and warm moments to make one wish, really wish, it had been better.

4) Danielle Steele’s Palomino (1991) – don’t laugh. My expectations were low, I’m not familiar with this genre at all, but this was expertly made and I didn’t pick the twists. Delightful to see Rod with Eva Marie Saint again.

5) Welcome to Woop Woop (1998) - a heavily flawed movie but contains Rod’s best performance in the last 30 or so years. He’s hilarious.

Top Rod Taylor TV Efforts

My top five Rod Taylor TV performances – for no reason other than for fun. In no particular order:

1) “The Raider” Playhouse 90 (1959) – an excellent corporate drama with Rod strong in a supporting role, the conscience of the piece (he performed a similar function in “The Great Gatsby” and “The Long March” also for Playhouse 90). Superb ensemble cast including Paul Ford and Donald Crisp, wonderful script. This should be better known.

2) “The Argonauts” Cheyenne (1955) – similar to an anthology drama, this is very self contained. A remake of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) with Rod in the Tim Holt role. This got him a lot of attention and deservedly so.

3) “And When the Sky Was Opened” The Twilight Zone (1959) – superb instalment of the classic series with Rod giving one of his best performances as a doomed astronaut.

4) “The Hitchhiker” Tales of the Unexpected (1980) – most of Rod’s credits in the 70s and 80s were pretty dire but this is a lively entertaining vignette, not the greatest script in the world but joyful to watch Rod and Cyril Cusack together.

5) Hong Kong (1960-61) – Rod Taylor really came into his own as a leading man in this series, a highly enjoyable action series in a Hollywood Hong Kong.