Frank Avis Post Radio

Frank Avis by | February 24, 2010 | Movies Golf

There's not a lot happening in my old trade: it's mostly superficial.

I guess the big headline in recent weeks is the legal action by veteran journalist Ray Chesterton who has taken John Laws and 2UE to court, alleging defamation.

As mentioned previously I used MOVIES as a central plank in my news content. I always ran the highest grossing US and Australian films weekly and actually did 30-second movie previews at some stations, eg 3MP which was regarded as pretty adventurous in those days.

Not only that but when I ran a story about a major movie coming out in the US I always tried to answer the audiences' question: When can I see it here? My staff and I always attempted to put ourselves in the position of our audience, so that we were able to fulfill their expectations. We really tried to "own" this whole movie-theatre entertainment area. Indeed I remember when Cats was opening in Sydney we managed to track down one of the top cast members from New York so that in the 6PM news on Sydney's opening night our audience heard the star say, "Hi. I'm so-and-so and I play so-and-so in the Broadway production of Cats. Everyone here in New York wishes Sydney a magnificent opening night. May you run as long as we have here on Broadway." It was about targeting the audience and happily reminding them about that. Often.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that showbiz has always been a major interest. With that in mind I offer another list: Frank's Top Ten Movies.

  1. The Third Man
  2. Gone With the Wind
  3. Casablanca
  4. The Maltese Falcon
  5. Shane
  6. Dr. Strangelove
  7. The Best Years of our Lives
  8. The Philadelphia Story
  9. On the Waterfront
  10. Some Like It Hot

I hate leaving out Henry V (Oliver's), The Red Shoes, A Streetcar Named Desire, Rebecca and Singin' In the Rain.

The "arts sector" will never forgive me for omitting Citizen Kane while I apologise to lovers of European movies for failing to include Z, Bicycle Thieves, Rififi and The Cranes are Flying.

Strangely enough my top choice, The Third Man wins by a length. Few will agree with me I know.

An astonishing script, Carol Reed's direction sneaking through the bombed out streets and tenements of Vienna after WW2, a wonderful cast headed by Orson Welles and Valli plus the most extraordinary gathering of minor characters ever assembled and finally, oh yes, that pervading zither of Anton Karas as it leads you further and further into the sewers of Vienna.

Never watch The Third Man on TV. Wait 'til you see it listed for a reprise on the big screen. Four of the greatest scenes in movie history are up there in just this one film: Welles lecturing his friend Joseph Cotten up on the ferris wheel; the first sighting of Welles hiding in a doorway; the shadows of Welles as he tries to escape through the sewers; and, the most wonderful closing shot, along a Vienna boulevard. If you're a real movie fan just sit back and enjoy the camera as it captures Cotten waiting for Valli as she walks towards him. He knows he hasn't got a chance but waits for her still hoping. She doesn't give him a sideways glance, and the zither plays out to the end.

Most of the others are obvious. GWTW is the iconic Hollywood movie. I mean how could anybody make that in the 30's? Casablanca is everyone's favourite - somebody designed Bogart and Bergman to make that movie. The Falcon is another masterpiece with Bogey.

If anybody ever asks you how to direct a movie just tell them to get a copy of Shane by George Stevens. It's virtually a blueprint of how to do it.

Dr Strangelove... Ah, Doctor... There's black comedy and then there's this amazing film. I always love the line when the US President has to stop a brawl breaking out saying, "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here... This is the War Room."

Ok so Best Years is corny I know, but it is so good. Even tough men have been known to reach for the handkerchief.

We had to get Jimmy and Katie into the top ten and what better vehicle than Philadelphia Story. I think critics of the day would have called it "smashing".

No one's made a better movie than Waterfront and has any actor been more brilliant than Brando as the longshoreman who takes on the union?

I don't think Some Like it Hot is the best comedy I've seen but overall when you look at everything that makes up the film it is very, very good. Few people forget it and I love Tony Curtis sending up Cary Grant.

(I'm not sure I should put this in writing but when it came to film comedy I would have liked to have included a Marx Brothers epic or, don't you dare laugh, Arsenic and Old Lace. There I've said it in public at last!)

In TV my favourites include:
Waking the Dead, Seinfeld, Prime Suspect, Fawlty Towers and MASH.

I hope I can get away with adding another unpublished golf story, written in early 2009. Maybe somebody will read this stuff years later and actually publish it.

The Curse of the 59'ers, by Frank Avis, Jan/Feb 2009

If you're a golf fan like me I guess you were glued to your Foxtel recently watching veteran Harrison Frazer fire an extraordinary 59 in the season's Q School, that annual battle to win a card on the rich PGA tour.

59! Harrison, what were you thinking? Hasn't anybody warned you about the dreaded "Curse of the 59'ers"?

Only four players have broken the magic 60 in elite competition and only one managed to survive "the curse".

Al Geiberger (Mr 59) was the first, firing a 59 in the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic of 1977. His once-in-a-lifetime round came on one of the toughest courses on tour with the temperature over the 100-mark and is regarded by many as the greatest round of golf ever played.

But it took just a short time for the ill luck to set in. Geiberger came down with a severe bowel disease not long after his magic round,which made it impossible for Al to play at his peak. He recorded several titles in the Seniors, playing under some difficulty, but only captured one more championship on the regular PGA tour. It was the start of the curse.

Chip Beck recorded the 2nd 59 in PGA Tour history during the Las Vegas Invitational of 1991. From that point "the curse" gave Chip a nice old working over. At least he managed to get one more PGA victory on his resume before the wheels fell off. After that final victory in 1992 Chip Beck virtually disappeared off the radar. He bobbed up from time to time as "the man who shot 59" but his game basically just vanished.

If Chip's collapse was mysterious what happened to David Duval borders on utterly bewildering. Duval shot his 59 in the 1999 Bob Hope Classic at La Quinta. And he fired it in the final round, with all the pressure on. As a matter of fact he canned an eagle putt on the final hole to join the short but magic list of those who went under 60.

For a time Duval was up there with the golfing Gods. He made two Ryder Cup teams, captured the 2001 British Open and, for a brief time, took over as the World Number 1. But The Open was his last PGA Tour win. Duval disappeared into a black hole. At one point he was fighting to keep his world ranking in the 800's. It was the sort of thing Stephen King writes novels about. I remember one day watching a PGA Tour event and seeing Duval break down in tears while being interviewed. Wow, I thought, David has just won on the Tour again. Nope. He'd actually just made a cut. You've got to hand it to Duval. He just keeps soldiering on,working desperately to recapture his winning form on the US tour. Never complains. Just keeps on trying. But his collapse is almost without parallel in golf: possibly in any sport.

Only one player has managed to defy "the curse" at the elite level. The superstar of Womens' golf Annika Sorenstam broke 60 on the 2001 LPGA Tour. She not only defied the curse but she looked it firmly in the eye and just kept on winning 'til her unexpected retirement 8 years later.

Several men have managed to return a 59 at the next level of competition. Notah Begay, Doug Dunakey and Jason Gore have done it on the Nationwide Tour. I hope they'll forgive me if I observe that none went on to become a household name.

"Lefty" Phil Mickelson smashed his way around 18 holes in 59 at the 2005 PGA Grand Slam,but this is not regarded as an official event,being played over just two rounds in what was virtually a glorified exhibition match.

And don't forget David Gossett had his fantastic 59 at the 2000 Q School, the same place where Harrison Frazer repeated the dose in recent days. Again, Gossett hasn't exactly set the house on fire on the PGA since then so the dreaded "curse of the 59'ers" remains reasonably secure.

What about Harrison Frazer? Is he destined to be the first man to stare down the curse and prevail on the main tour?

Well, I remain unconvinced. It's never easy to make predictions about golf but if pressed I'd be suggesting Harrison would find 2009 a pretty tough old assignment. You need to stay in the top 125 money earners for the year to keep your full playing rights for the following year. My feeling is he won't make it. Sorry Harrison but the curse is the curse. If David Duval couldn't beat it what hope do you have!

Frank Avis, 2009

(Editors note: Actually Harrison Frazer had the last laugh on Frank. He didn't make a lot of headlines in 2009 but he still managed to finish 112th on the money list, retaining full playing privileges for the next season.)

Well dear reader that's probably enough of my regular ramblings. I'll be back in a while with some cricket trivia including the best test team, as assembled by the legendary Australian opener Arthur Morris. I'll even toss in my best ever team and name the best cricketer I ever saw. If you disagreed with my movie choices imagine the fun you'll have with this lot!

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This is the history of radio newsman Frank Avis who worked in the Australian electronic media from 1954 to 1996.


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