Michael Gambon, 1940-2023: RIP

Elizabeth Baird Hardy wrote up a short piece about the death of British actor Michael Gambon yesterday.

Michael Gambon, Cinema’s Dumbledore, Passes away at Age 82.

For readers of the Hogwarts adventures, characters in our heads rarely appear the same as they do in film adaptations, but most movie-goers probably think of Sir Michael Gambon the most of the three men who have played Professor Dumbledore on screen. He certainly played the headmaster more times than Richard Harris, who passed away after portraying Albus Dumbledore in the first two film adaptations. Gambon took up the role for the subsequent six films. Jude Law has appeared as a younger Dumbledore in the Fantastic Beasts films.

Gambon, who passed away today at the age of 82, had a long and celebrated dramatic career on both stage and screen, even before coming to the role that has made him familiar to most movie-goers. He also appeared in the film adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s novel The Casual Vacancy. His Potter co-stars,  Rowling, and other celebrities have paid tribute to his legacy and personality.

As new adaptations are on the horizon and theories abound about casting choices, doubtless many film fans will continue to recall Gambon as Dumbledore, just as his colleagues fondly recall his work and life.

What are your favorite Gambon-as-Dumbledore moments? Mine is the Time-Turner heist sequence in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Running Grave’s Extended Excerpt: First Thoughts of Elizabeth Baird Hardy

Earlier today I posted the news of the second excerpt from Running Grave that has been released by Rowling’s publishers. Elizabeth Baird-Hardy, Deputy Headmistress of HogwartsProfessor, shared her first notes about the eleven chapters we have now and I pass them on to you, post haste. If you do not want to learn anything of the story until its publication on 26 September, now would be your moment to stop reading; if you’d like to read the eleven chapters first (good idea!), it is still available via this link or was when I started writing (note: this link has been disabled and I have not yet found an alternative that includes the ‘new’ five chapters); if you’re ready to read Elizabeth’s insights, scroll down and enjoy!

Strike Seven: First Thoughts on the First Bits of Running Grave

Now that we have access to the first 160 pages (or 200, depending on your device and its use of the app) of The Running Grave, it’s time to start breaking down what we have or don’t and to continue our predictions for the rest of the book to follow in just a smidge over two weeks!

I’d like to share my first observations after a hasty read of the new text (I keep fearing that link will die). Of course, we’ve had a taste of the first chapters for some time, but this new chunk is a respectable addition.  Even with a promised complete book length of 961 pages, the preview is a nice bit and gives us some fodder for what is to come, so here are a few of my thoughts, some of which are fairly prosaic, but others of which may bode much for the future in two weeks: [Read more…]

Elizabeth Baird-Hardy’s Strike Favorites

In the interest of being as un-influenced as possible, I have collected my list of Strike novels, ranked from least favorite to favorite, without looking at anyone else’s list. I look forward to seeing how my fellow professors here at HogPro list the books, as I have been scrupulously careful to avoid seeing them yet. As with any list, there is always room for debate. While I always enjoy those countdown lists on the radio, usually around New Year’s, I often find myself shouting at some faceless host who has the gall to rank one of my favorite songs outside the top ten on the list of “Greatest 80s Songs,” so I understand the complexities of lists and personal opinions.

In ranking the adventures of our favorite Denmark Street detectives, I am considering my own tastes and interests, of course, as well as what seem to be more empirical standards. It is worth noting that I do not consider an error (like some we have noticed and discussed here over the years, unsurprising considering the amount of text covered by these books) to be an automatic reason to devalue a book or move it down the list. I find that all the novels are worthwhile, so even my Number 6 is not a bad book; I just like the others better, and there is something I like very much in each book, just as there are aspects I don’t like as much. While my number 1 book has not changed since its publication and is likely to remain my favorite in perpetuity, I have found some of the others shifting position on my list, and they may continue to move about with time. I do look forward to discussing all of our lists to see where we differ and concur. Since  I have not read anyone else’s lists, mine may be more or less detailed. So join me after the jump for my humble (and spoiler-laden)contribution to the Strike Ranking Extravaganza! [Read more…]

Clues and Couples: 1980s Detective Shows as Strike Sources

We often plumb the literary depths of influence here as we consider the ways in which Rowling/Galbraith draws upon a vast array of texts to weave together the adventures of our Denmark Street detectives. However, some of her influences are delightfully less cerebral, and, in The Ink Black Heart, a wonderful thread emerges, the influence of 1980s romantic detective shows. The 1980s, particularly the latter half of the decade, was a wonderful period for detectives on television.

Rowling has already indicated her knowledge of the world of TV detectives of the period by having Anna Phipps and her wife Kim Sullivan in Troubled Blood own cats named Cagney and Lacey after the titular police detectives from the early 19080s ( the female cats  much to the amusement of their owners, seem to prefer the company of men. Cagney, whose namesake is the cat that immediately takes up with Strike, was involved with a slew of men on the series, unlike wife and and mother Lacey).

In Ink Black Heart, there are some wonderful salutes to some of the great 1980s detective shows that, like this series, include some serious romantic tension alongside the mysteries under investigation. Join me after the jump to take a look at a few fun and fascinating homages to some delightful series, including one that is finally streaming for a whole new generation to love.

[Read more…]

No More Fantastic Beasts Films?

According to widely reported accounts, Warner Brothers may be shelving the Fantastic Beasts series. With the last two films getting less positive response and less box office response than the first one, it appears we may not see the remaining two stories in Newt’s series, or at least not anytime soon.  Some news stories blame controversy or the rumored feud between the studios and Rowling, but it seems far more likely that the issue is financial. According to the Internet Movie Database, the first Fantastic Beasts film grossed $814,044,001 worldwide,  but the second only grossed $654,855,901 and the third $405,161,334. Franchises are supposed to make more money with each installment, or at least have close box offices, not drop sharply in revenue. For comparison, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone earned  $1,023,842,938 and the eighth film, the second part of The Deathly Hallows, generated $1,342,359,942. Each of the different installments had varying returns, but they all continue to be successful, generating income and running repeatedly on syndication. Warner Bros has cut other projects that were not expected to perform well.

While some outlets are declaring the Fantastic Beasts series as dead as Professor Binns, other stories are focusing on Warner Brothers’ interest in making more Harry Potter movies, with Rowling, if she is interested. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zaslav says the studio is really interested in franchises and wants to see “if we can do something with J.K. on Harry Potter going forward.” The fact that he refers to her as “J.K.,” rather than as “Jo,” or “Rowling,” is interesting, and he also seems to be confused about the potential for more films about Harry, seeing the franchise as just another cash cow rather than as an adaptation of a book series whose books have all been adapted. Some think Warner Bros may try to move forward with a Cursed Child  adaptation, and some of the the film’s stars and director Chris Columbus seem interested, but the studio’s franchise focus may instead mean that the entire series could be getting a reboot with entirely new actors.

If Newt’s big screen adventures are over, will there be book adaptations to connect the dots between the prequels and the beginning of Harry’s story? Do you care? Thoughts, theories?