Great news for retro movie fans as ArcLight presents the premieres of the newly remastered versions of the Cinerama epics "Russian Adventure" and "The Best of Cinerama" shown at the Cinerama Dome Theatre in Hollywood, with "Russian Adventure" screening on December 6 and "The Best of Cinerama" screening on December 7. Click here for details.
The Warner Archive has released the highly enjoyable 1975 caper film Inside Out and it should appeal to fans of both The Italian Job (the good version from '69!) and Kelly's Heroes. The wisecracking cast of old pros is topped by Telly Savalas, Robert Culp and James Mason. The latter plays the commandant of a German POW camp in which Savalas was interred. He tracks Savalas down thirty years later and finds him as a high-living con-man in London whose luck has run out. He entices him to participate in an audacious scheme to infiltrate a maximum security prison in Berlin to locate its sole inhabitant: a former high ranking Nazi who has knowledge of where a stolen shipment of German army gold has been hidden for decades. The elaborate plan involves drugging the prisoner, smuggling him out of jail, convincing him he is back in WWII (complete with Hitler impersonator!), getting the necessary information and then smuggling him back inside the jail. Obviously, if logic matters tremendously to you, this isn't your kind of movie. However, if you're able to suspend belief for a few scenes, you'll find this a highly rewarding and very entertaining film. Ironically, the central absurdity- that the Allies would have an entire heavily guarded prison simply to watch over one inmate- is based on fact, as this was precisely the case with Hitler top henchman Rudolf Hess, who was the only inmate of Spandau prison. The three leads are all in top form, as is Aldo Ray, who seems to be in virtually every movie released by the Warner Archive. Director Peter Duffell gets maximum impact from locations in London, Amsterdam and Berlin. The movie moves along at breakneck pace and has some genuinely suspenseful sequences, not to mention some very amusing dialogue. A good bet for all true retro movie lovers. (The DVD is region-free).
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As he prepares to accept honors at the Kennedy Center on December 4 with President Obama and the First Lady in attendance, Al Pacino talks about his long, mostly illustrious career to Karen Heller of the Washington Post. We say "mostly illustrious" because the notoriously private Pacino admits to having built a "museum of mistakes" in relation to the roles he turned down in what turned out to be classic movies. Among them: "Taxi Driver", "Pretty Woman", "Kramer Vs. Kramer" and a little picture called "Star Wars". His first big break, playing Michael Corleone in "The Godfather", resulted in him almost being fired by the studio- and even Pacino admits he thought he was all wrong for the role. Click here to read.
Pacino says that Paramount tried to fire him three times from "The Godfather".
Cinema Retro has received the following announcement from the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria New York:
December 11–April 23, 2017
Changing Exhibitions Gallery
Martin Scorsese is the iconic American
film director. His wide-ranging body of work is at once distinctly personal and
rooted in a profound understanding of the art and history of cinema. He is also
a consummate New Yorker, and his movies capture the intensity and energy of his
home city. Martin Scorsese, the first major exhibition about the
director’s deeply intertwined career and life, explores Scorsese’s remarkable
half-century of filmmaking within the context of his personal history and his
love of cinema. Drawing extensively from Scorsese’s own collection, the
exhibition includes production material from his key films, objects from his
childhood, behind-the-scenes images, and large-scale projections of scenes from
his work. It is organized thematically: Family, Brothers, Men and Women, Lonely
Heroes, New York, Cinema, Cinematography, Editing, and Music.
During the run of the exhibition, the
Museum will present a comprehensive retrospective of the director’s work, with
the best available film prints and restored versions of his films, supplemented
with personal appearances. Additional screenings will feature a selection from
the hundreds of classic movies restored by the Film Foundation under Scorsese’s
supervision, and a selection of films that formed his lifelong love of cinema.
The exhibition Martin Scorsese is
organized by the Deutsche Kinemathek - Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin.
Martin Scorsese is made possible by
major support from Paramount Pictures, with additional support from ARRI,
Technicolor, HBO and Delta Air Lines.
Issue #36 of Cinema Retro has shipped to subscribers worldwide. This is the final issue of Season 12. Please subscribe or renew today and help keep the dream alive for the world's most unique film magazine!
Highlights of this issue include:
Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer celebrate the 50th anniversary of "The Professionals" starring Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Claudia Cardinale, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode and Jack Palance.
*Mark Mawston with a rare exclusive interview with 70's sex siren Linda Hayden
*Cai Ross takes a bite at covering the underrated 1979 version of "Dracula" starring Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier
*John LeMay uncovers the top secret story of the unfilmed "Romance of the Pink Panther" that was to have starred Peter Sellers.
*Peter Cook continues his celebration of matte painting artists
*Tim Greaves uncovers the fascinating career of British "Sex Queen" Mary Millington
*Mark Mawston concludes his interviews with legendary stills photographer Keith Hamshere, who recalls shooting "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and the James Bond films
*Lee Pfeiffer's personal tribute to the late Euan Lloyd, producer of such films as "The Wild Geese" and "Shalako"
*Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau burn up the Old West in "Viva Maria!"
Raymond Benson's Ten Best Films of 1955
*Darren Allison's latest soundtrack news
*Gareth Owen's "Pinewood Past" column
If you have not yet subscribed for Season 12, you can still do so and get all three issues: #34, #35 and #36 shipped in one package. Thanks to all of our subscribers worldwide who continue to support classic cinemain print!
Cinema Retro has received the following press
HERE'S THE THE BIG ONE!
On Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 7.30 pm, the
American Cinematheque will present a special 40th anniversary screening of the
1976 version of KING KONG at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica.
KING KONG was produced by Dino De Laurentiis, written
by Lorenzo Semple, Jr., and directed by John Guillermin. It starred Jeff
Bridges and Charles Grodin and introduced Jessica Lange to the big screen.
Richard H. Kline provided the movie's Oscar-nominated cinematography and John
Barry composed and conducted its classic score.
KING KONG's innovative creature effects were created
by Carlo Rambaldi and the Academy Award-winning make-up artist and creature
creator Rick Baker (who also starred as Kong).
The screening will feature a new HD print of the
movie (courtesy of Paramount Pictures) and will be followed by a panel
discussion about the making of the film. The panel will be moderated by
writer/director Don Mancini, creator of the Child's Play series.
Panel guests will include Rick Baker, Richard H. Kline, Martha De Laurentiis,
Rafaella De Laurentiis, John Barry's representative Richard Kraft, and Ray
Morton, author of KING KONG: THE HISTORY OF A MOVIE ICON.
Follow the link below for more information and to
set tensions between stars or between stars and directors are about as old as
the Lumiere Brothers. Sometimes that friction can have a negative consequence
on the project and sometimes it can be a positive. The Robert Redford vehicle
“Little Fauss And Big Halsy” is one of those odd examples where the tensions
yielded both positive and negative results. The antagonism that Redford
reportedly felt towards co-star Michael J Pollard certainly helps inform their
performances in the second half of the film, but the differing ideas that
Redford and director Sidney J. Furie had for handling the movie's thematic
material creates a frisson that undermines the final film. Even if you were
unaware of the differing motivations of Redford and Furie, you couldn't help
but suspect that something was up between the two.
begin with, “Little Fauss And Big Halsy” is fairly thin on plot. Itinerant
motocross racer Halsy Knox (Redford) wanders from town to town, scraping
together whatever he can to get to the next race. After an accident breaks the
leg of Little Fauss (Pollard) and gets his racing license suspended, Halsy
persuades Little to let him race under his name while tagging along as his
mechanic. The arrangement seems to work for a while until Rita Nebraska (Lauren
Hutton) joins the pair on their travels. Tired of being offered breadcrumbs
from Halsy's plate, Little walks away after Halsy tries to pass Rita to him as
just another leftover scrap. Rita later engineers something of a reconciliation
between the two, but that turns out to be even more fragile than their initial
it may share some surface similarities with 1969's “Winning” (starring
Redford's “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” co-star Paul Newman), “Little
Fauss And Big Halsy” is clearly smack dab in the center of the boom of films
exploring the then-current aimlessness of the American spirit that came in the
wake of “Easy Rider” released the previous year. Director Furie cut his teeth
on Cliff Richards rock and roll musicals before graduating to thrillers like
“The Ipcress Files” and “The Naked Runner.” Nothing on his resume would suggest
that he would be a good fit for the material- and that is born out in the
finished film, which feels like he is trying to make a racing picture. With
Redford more interested in plumbing the psychology of Halsy, the two differing
approaches don't jell very well. And with Furie more focused on the incidences
in the screenplay than exploring the characters who inhabit it – big events in
the characters' lives such as the death of a parent happen off-screen and only
get a passing mention on-screen – it falls to a string of Johnny Cash tunes on
the soundtrack to hold the often episodic proceedings together.
being a rather unsympathetic character on the page, Redford's breezy charm
still makes the character one you want to see coming out on the winning side.
And that performance becomes a necessity if the film's ending – sorry, no
spoilers - is to have any impact at all. Pollard's Little is just the right
combination of naivete, twitchiness and fumbling social graces to be endearing.
He manages to shade his performance with enough subtlety that it is only in
hindsight do we see his growing frustration with Halsy that culminates with
their falling out. Hutton makes the most of her underwritten role, fleshing it
out (and flashing a bit of flesh in the process) more so than one would expect
from an actor relatively new to the profession.
Film's new Blu-ray release of “Little Fauss And Big Halsy” marks the first time
that the film is available in a digital home video format and for the first
time in its original theatrical aspect ratio in the US. The transfer is
relatively crisp and clean with no real apparent defects or scratches. It
definitely shows off the dusty browns of the film's California desert
towns as captured by cinematographer
Ralph Woolsey. Those looking for anything beyond the movie though are bound to
be disappointed as the disc is bare-bones with not a single trailer, featurette
or commentary track to enrich the experience.
Cinema Retro hosted Fritz Weaver at a screening of "Fail Safe" at the Players club in New York City. Here Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer (L) and contributor Paul Scrabo present Weaver with marketing materials for "To Trap a Spy", the feature film made from an extended version of the "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." TV show pilot, "The Vulcan Affair". Weaver discussed how surprised he was at the level of interest there was in the fact that he was the first U.N.C.L.E. villain. (Photo: GeorgeAnn Muller).
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Weaver, who won acclaim for his work in film, TV and on the Broadway stage, has
passed away at age 90. Weaver was primarily a character actor but sometimes
top-lined in stage productions.He played Sherlock Holmes in the 1960s Broadway
musical production of "Baker Street". He won a Tony in 1970 for his
performance in "Child's Play". Weaver also earned strong reviews over
the years for his performances in Shakespeare classics. He made his big screen
debut in 1964 in the Cold War thriller "Fail Safe", giving an intense
and memorable performance as a U.S. general who cracks under pressure when the
U.S. accidentally launches a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. When this
writer interviewed him at a screening of the film some years ago, Weaver said
he still found the movie difficult to watch because of its chilling
implications. Weaver's big screen appearances also include "Black
Sunday" (1977), "Marathon Man", "The Maltese Bippy",
"Creepshow" and "Demon Seed". He continued working in film
up to this year. His TV appearances include an Emmy nominated performance in
the 1978 mini-series "Holocaust" and two classic episodes of
"The Twilight Zone". From a pop culture standpoint, he is also
remembered as the very first villain in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." TV series, having appeared in the pilot episode, "The Vulcan Affair" in 1964
opposite series star Robert Vaughn, who coincidentally also passed away two
weeks ago. For more, click here.
There are so few good roles nowadays for older actresses that any film that defies this sorry practice is more than welcome no matter how modest its pleasures may be. "Wild Oats" is a recent comedy starring two Oscar winners: Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange and directed by Andy Tennant. It speaks volumes that the movie was barely released theatrically and to date has amassed a boxoffice gross of $22,000, indicating it played an abbreviated run in one theater probably to fulfill contractual requirements. It's a pity because "Wild Oats", which sometimes plays more like a saucy sitcom episode than a feature film, does offer a number of delightful elements, the most obvious being good roles for the two leading ladies. MacLaine plays Eva, a recently widowed elderly woman who is facing a bleak financial future. Her husband's life insurance policy is worth only $50,000 and she is already struggling with the costs of day-to-day living along with the inescapable frailties that come with age. Her best friend Maddie (Jessica Lange), although younger, is facing dilemmas of her own. After enduring a loveless, sexless marriage for many years, her husband has just dumped her for his 25 year-old secretary. The two women commiserate with each other and appear to be consigned to a rather joyless view of their so-called "Golden Years". Then a quirk of fate changes everything. When the life insurance check arrives, Eva notices that it has been accidentally made out for $5 million instead of $50,000. At the urging of Maddie, the normally conservative Eva does something she once would have found unthinkable: she deposits the money in her bank account and then sets out to spend as much as she can so that she and Maddie can have one last big fling, the consequences be damned. They end up in a fabulous resort in the Canary Islands where they indulge in every type of pampering imaginable. They add to their winnings when they unexpectedly strike gold in the hotel casino and place the jackpot of $450,000 in cash a safe inside their suite.
While living the high life and spending the insurance loot like drunken sailors, Eva and Maddie draw the attention of Chandler (Billy Connolly), a charming, erudite British man whose eccentricities appeal to them. He squires them about the island and before long reawakens Eva's dormant sexual desires. Similarly, Maddie has an encounter with a twenty-something hunk named Chip (Jay Hayden) who she quickly seduces and ends up almost crippling during some intense sexual encounters. The film's non-too-subtle message to its intended audience- older women- is that just because you collect a Social Security check doesn't mean that you can't be vivacious. The film's sub-title could well be "Revenge of the Cougars". It doesn't give much away to point out that Chandler turns out to be a con man who absconds with the ladies' casino winnings. This plot device is obvious from minute one. Meanwhile, an insurance investigator, Vespucci (Howard Hessman in fine form) tracks Eva to the island and tells her she must return the insurance money or go to jail. Eva, Maddie and Vespucci need to track down Chandler and get back the casino winnings in order to compensate for what they've already spent of the insurance funds. It's at this point that the film goes off coursewith the trio tracing Chandler to the villa of a much-feared local crime baron, Carlos (Santiago Segura), whose tough guy image is shattered when they discover he is actually a nerd who is perpetually hen-pecked by his young wife. The shtick involving Carlos brings a level of surrealism to the film. Such scenarios can sometimes work, as in the case of "The In-Laws", but here it plays out in an over-the-top fashion that undermines what had been until now a believable premise. Things get back on track in the final act in which the story provides a Hallmark-style, feel-good ending that nevertheless leaves a couple of holes in the plot.
"Wild Oats" plays out like a glorified TV movie from the Lifetime cable channel, albeit with better production values and a more impressive cast. Its pleasures may be modest but there is great satisfaction in seeing two excellent actresses in strong, well-written roles and they deliver the goods. (It should be noted that Demi Moore is criminally wasted in an under-written role as Eva's daughter). Director Andy Tennant keeps the proceedings going at a brisk pace and allows for some poignant sequences that speak to the down side of the aging process. The movie is about the rejuvenation of body and soul and will hopefully get a second chance to find its audience through the DVD release from Anchor Bay. The transfer is great but the release is devoid of any extras. It's a pity because the cast appears to have had the time of their lives making this movie and it would have been great to have them discuss it on a commentary track. Although the movie is clearly geared to an older female audience, it's hard to imagine anyone who won't appreciate seeing MacLaine and Lange in top form.
There is a reason that Toshiro Mifune still reigns as Japan's greatest screen actor despite the fact that he died in 1977. Mifune was pivotal in reawakening Japanese pride in the wake of the nation's disastrous defeat in WWII, but he also helped mainstream the power of Japan's burgeoning new wave cinema. Mifune, who collaborated with the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurasawa on seventeen films, starred in some of the most acclaimed movies ever made, among them "The Seven Samurai" and "Rashomon". Like most screen legends, Mifune was a larger-than-life figure both on screen and off. His sometimes reckless habits and short-temper would ultimately put him at odds with Kurosawa, destroying their creative collaborations- but not before the two had made screen history. Mifune is the subject of a major new documentary by Steven Okazaki, "Mifune: The Last Samurai", which is receiving wide acclaim. Daily Beast writer Nick Schager takes a look back at Mifune's life and career and the impact the of the new film. Click here to read.
Actress Florence Henderson has died at age 82 apparently from heart failure. Henderson became a beloved TV icon on the long-running sitcom "The Brady Bunch" which aired between 1969-1974. Born in Indiana, Henderson always had show business in her blood. She was a star long before the "Brady" era, having impressed Rodgers and Hammerstein with her performance in a road show production of "Oklahoma!" in 1952. The famed composers chose her to play the female lead in a Broadway revival of the play. She also made TV history as the first female guest host for "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson". However it was her role as Carol Brady that ensured her enduring popularity. The show was the first to deal with a situation in which two single parents merged their families. The success of "The Brady Bunch" was somewhat improbable as it presented the image of a squeaky clean sitcom family during an era of radical social change. However, if older teens and twenty-somethings wouldn't be caught dead watching the show (or at least admitting to it), the series did catch on with pre-teens and older viewers, the latter audience primarily wanting to escape the images of hippies and protesters that permeated the evening news. In many ways "The Brady Bunch" was a throwback to the kind of comforting family sitcom that dominated TV in the 1950s through mid-1960s. The irony was that the male lead in the show, actor Robert Reed, who played Henderson's husband Mike, was a gay man. Although this information would have been damaging to his career if known publicly at the time, the cast and crew were aware of it and embraced him. Thus, the corniest TV sitcom family of all time was actually fighting back against prejudices in real life.
The series managed to thrive even after the 1970 debut of "All in the Family", which brought a new wave of realism into American households and changed the face of the traditional sitcom forever. Henderson, like her fellow cast mates, recognized the sheer corniness of the show but continued to embrace her image as Carol Brady. She and her co-stars reunited for several TV specials as the Brady family and over the decades she relished the fact that the show had developed a cult following. In 1995 Brady played the grandmother in the hit feature film spoof of "The Brady Bunch" that depicted the characters as being unwittingly out of touch with modern society. Henderson remained an active and popular performer and in recent years published her memoirs. Her last appearance on TV was earlier this week when she attended a taping of "Dancing with the Stars" to support her "Brady" TV daughter Maureen McCormick, who was competing. For more click here.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Mad Max fans will have something to put atop
their holiday gift lists with the Mad Max High Octane Collection,
debuting December 6 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE). All four
films from visionary director George Miller’s blockbuster sci-fi franchise -- Mad Max (1979); Mad Max 2:
The Road Warrior (1981); Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985);
and MadMax: Fury Road (2015), now with Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky
-- are together in one collection.
The Mad Max High Octane Collection is
available to own in both Blu-ray ($79.99 SRP) and DVD ($54.97 SRP)
versions. Both collections include the four films and five hours of bonus
content, including the visually stunning Mad Max: Fury Road “Black
& Chrome” Edition. The Blu-ray collection will also include a 4K-Ultra HD
version and a UV Digital Copy of Mad Max: Fury Road.
The Mad Max: Fury Road “Black & Chrome
Edition” will also be available on Blu-ray
($29.98 SRP) in a two film collection including the theatrical version of the
film and a special introduction by George Miller describing his vision.
High Octane Collection Special Features and Additions:
NEW! *Fury Road “Black & Chrome” Edition –
Witness the surreal black and white version of mastermind George Miller’s Fury
NEW! *George Miller Introduction to the Mad Max Fury
Road: Black and Chrome Edition – Special introductory piece by George
Miller describing his vision.
NEW! Road War – In 1982, the world was
blindsided by George Miller’s masterpiece of apocalyptic destruction: The
Road Warrior. For the first time ever George Miller, Terry Hayes and star
Mel Gibson tell the story of the car-crushing production that redefined action
Madness of Max – The previously released Mad Max (1979)
documentary is a feature-length documentary on the making of arguably the most
influential movie of the past thirty years. With over forty cast-and-crew
interviews, hundreds of behind-the-scenes photographs and never-before-seen
film footage of the shoot, this is, without a doubt, the last word on Mad Max (1979).
Interviews include: George Miller, Byron Kennedy, Mel Gibson, Hugh Keays-Byrne,
Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Joanne Samuel, David Eggby, Jon Dowding and many
more. From the Producers to the Bike Designers to the Traffic Stoppers, this is
the story of how Mad Max was made.
Mad Max: Fury Road Two Film Collection
Special Features and Additions:
NEW! *George Miller Introduction to the Mad Max Fury
Road: Black and Chrome Edition – Special introductory piece by George
Miller describing his vision.
About The Films
Mad Max (1979)
George Miller's first entry in the trilogy, Mad Max packs
brutal action and insane stunts as it follows the inevitable downfall of
relentless cop Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) in a world gone mad.
Living on the edge of an apocalypse, Max is ready to run far away
from it all with his family. But when he experiences an unfortunate encounter
with a motorcycle gang and its menacing leader, the Toecutter, his retreat from
the madness of the world is now a race to save his family's life.
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1982)
The sequel to Mad Max, Mad Max 2:
The Road Warrior provides action-packed “automotive” entertainment,
telling the story of a selfish-turned-selfless hero and his efforts to protect
a small camp of desert survivors and defend an oil refinery under siege from a
ferocious marauding horde that plunders the land for gasoline.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Mel Gibson returns for his third go-round as the title
hero who takes on the barbarians of the post-nuclear future - and this time
becomes the savior of a tribe of lost children. Music superstar Tina Turner
co-stars as Aunty Entity, a power-mad dominatrix determined to use Max to
tighten her stranglehold on Bartertown, where fresh water, clean food and
gasoline are worth more than gold.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Haunted by his turbulent past, Mad Max (Tom
Hardy) believes the best way to survive is to wander alone. Nevertheless, he
becomes swept up with a group fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven
by an elite Imperator, Furiosa (Charlize Theron). They are escaping a Citadel
tyrannized by the Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), from whom something
irreplaceable has been taken. Enraged, the Warlord marshals all his gangs and
pursues the rebels ruthlessly in the high-octane Road War that follows.
Good taste and Dr. Phil McGraw have always walked separate paths. McGraw, known by one and all in avuncular terms as "Dr. Phil", has been a mainstay of American chat shows for years ever since being championed by Oprah Winfrey. McGraw is typical of syndicated talk show hosts in that he often features troubled people in vulnerable conditions to whom he dispenses homespun advice to improve their lives. At times McGraw appears sympathetic but he often plays to the audience by chastising those he deems to be slackers or responsible for their own predicaments. It seems to please those viewers who relish seeing a parade of individuals who are less well-off than they are. The latest person to receive Dr. Phil's attention is actress Shelley Duvall, who has been mostly out of sight for over a decade. Duvall appeared on a recent episode of the show and was barely recognizable. She admits to suffering from mental illness and made bizarre claims such as her belief that her friend and "Popeye" co-star Robin Willilams is not really dead. Duvall tells McGraw "I am very sick. I need help." McGraw says he did arrange for Duvall to be sent to a mental health clinic in California but she left after a few days. He said she returned to her home in Texas where she is now receiving treatment, presumably at McGraw's expense. Duvall's appearance on McGraw's show was too much for Vivian Kubrick, daughter of legendary director Stanley Kubrick, who directed Duvall in his 1980 hit "The Shining". Vivian Kubrick sent off a couple of Tweets to McGraw, accusing him of exploiting the troubled actress. She said that when her friend, filmmaker Lee Unkrich began researching a book about the making of "The Shining", he contacted Duvall and was shocked by her mental condition. Kubrick has now set up a Gofundme page to raise funds on behalf of Duvall. However, that page has also raised some questions because it is vague about specifically how the funds raised will be used. Some readers have expressed concern that the monies might be turned over to Scientology, which Vivian is an adherent of, and which disdains traditional psychological treatments for mentally ill people. Vivian has been estranged from the Kubrick family since her involvement with the controversial religion. There is also the matter that the first line in the description of the Gofundme page is rather bizarrely worded: "Like many older movie stars, embarrassed finances is not uncommon." For more click here.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON LIVE IN CONCERT, A One Night Only Special Event:
Screening with Live Score Performed by Wordless Music Orchestra
Saturday, April 8, 2017 at Kings Theatre, Brooklyn
Producers Joseph A. Berger and Michael Sayers, in association with Wordless Music and Warner Bros.
Pictures, are pleased to announce BARRY LYNDON
LIVE IN CONCERT at Brooklyn’s extraordinary Kings Theatre on Saturday, April 8,
2017, at 8pm. Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece will be projected in a new 2K DCP
restoration, with live musical accompaniment by Wordless Music Orchestra, led
by renowned conductor Ryan McAdams.
Barry (Ryan O’Neal), is a young,
roguish Irishman who’s determined, in any way, to make a life for himself as a
wealthy nobleman. Enlisting in the British Army and fighting in Europe’s Seven
Years War, Barry deserts, then joins the Prussian army, gets promoted to the
rank of a spy, and becomes a pupil to a Chevalier and con artist/gambler. Barry
then lies, dupes, duels and seduces his way up the social ladder, entering into
a lustful but loveless marriage to a wealthy countess named Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson). He takes the name of
Barry Lyndon, settles in England with wealth and power beyond his wildest
dreams, before eventually falling into ruin.
Barry Lyndon’s Oscar winning soundtrack features Irish traditional
music and military marches, along with baroque and classical themes by Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach, and Paisiello. Most notable are sumptuous interpretations of Handel’s Sarabande and Schubert’s
Piano Trio in E-Flat Major, D. 929,
which emerges as a recurring, melancholic love theme for Lady Lyndon.
The sublime score will be performed by the 50-piece Wordless Music
Orchestra, and conducted by Ryan McAdams. Barry Lyndon will be projected on
the huge, glorious screen of Kings
Theatre (1027 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn), Brooklyn’s premier movie palace and one
of the five ‘Loew’s Wonder Theatres,’ opened in 1929 and magnificently restored
in 2015. This engagement will be on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 8pm, and promises to be a memorable evening of live
music and masterful cinema. The program is approximately three hours, plus one
It’s 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor. The nation is
nervous about the possibility of another bombing raid by the Japanese, and
nobody is more nervous about that possibility than Champ Larkin (James Craig)
and his pal Jimbo (Frank Jenks), two convicts doing time on Alcatraz. Champ’s a
pretty self-centered guy. He isn’t at all concerned about the war. It’s none of
his business. “If they want to fight, let ‘em fight.” he says. “Theres a law
says they can’t draft convicts. We’ll sit this one out.” (Jimbo’s a little more
thoughtful. “I don’t know, Champ,” he says. “Anybody pulls a sneak trick like
that is a rat and a rat means trouble here and there.”)
When they see some Zeros coming in over the Pacific to do
a flyover of San Francisco, Champ decides it’s time to evacuate. As he says in
his voice-over narration, “It ain’t easy breaking out of Alcatraz, and we can’t
tell you how we did it because it’s a professional secret. But we had two
things going for us. A blackout and a heavy fog.”
They try to swim to San Francisco in the dark but don’t
get far before the cops start shooting at them from a patrol boat. Luckily
there is a wooden crate floating in San Francisco Bay that night and they hide
inside it. The crate, by the way, and by sheer chance, has the name H. Schlom
stamped on it, which is some kind of inside joke, since Herman Schlom from
1940-52 was producer of second features for RKO, and was producer of “7 Miles from Alcatraz.” They
elude the cops but drift out under the Golden Gate Bridge and land at a
lighthouse seven miles from the prison.
Living in the lighthouse are the lighthouse keeper,
Captain Porter (George Cleveland), his daughter Anne (Bonita Granville), a
comic relief guy named Stormy (Cliff Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket), and
radio man Paul Brenner (Erford Gage). Champ and Jimbo take over the lighthouse
and hold the inhabitants prisoner. At first Champ, who hasn’t seen a woman in
five years, seems more interested in getting to know Anne better than continuing
with his escape. But, in the meantime, Brenner, the radio man, is receiving
coded message that he pretends he can’t understand. It turns out he’s working
with a small cell of German spies (Tala Birell, John Banner, [otherwise known
as Sgt. Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes], and Otto Reichow), who are hiding in San
Francisco, and are awaiting Brenner’s arrival by boat to ferry them out to the
lighthouse, which they’re going to use as a landing point for a U-boat coming
in through the Bay. Whew, I need to get my breath after that line.
When there’s another blackout, Champ decides it’s time to
split. He and Jimbo want to take the lighthouse keeper’s boat and take off, but
the lights come back on before they can get away. Things get further complicated
when the Nazis get another boat and arrive at the lighthouse. At first it looks
bad for the good guys, but Champ, being the self-centered cad that he is,
strikes a bargain with the Germans that will allow Jimbo and him to get out of
the country on the sub. Of course things go awry, and when Anne is placed in
danger, good old Champ, who’s quickly grown rather fond of the old girl, shows
his true colors and decides he won’t stay out of the fight after all. He springs
into action against the spy trio and sends the coordinates of the sub’s
location to the coast guard.
Well, it’s all pretty silly, but it’s entertaining in a
quaint sort of way, if you don’t mind the preposterous plot. The only really
noteworthy thing about it is that it was the first feature film Edward Dmytryk
directed for RKO Radio Pictures. You gotta start somewhere, right?
“Seven Miles from Alcatraz” is a low budget World War II
propaganda film released by the Warner Archive Collection in a bare-bones,
no-extras DVD. Picture and sound are okay, but nothing remarkable, which pretty
much sums it all up. If you’re a big fan of James Craig (and who isn’t) or
Bonita Granville (there may be a few still alive), an Edward Dmytryk
completist, or you just like lighthouses, this one’s for you.
By the late 1960s many popular actors found that their family-friendly trademark films were going the way of the dinosaur. Elvis Presley's popularity on screen waned thanks to Colonel Parker's Svengali influence that saw him block The King's desires to expand into meaningful dramas. Don Knotts, whose low-budget Universal comedies were hugely popular, lost much of his audience when he added some sexual elements to "The Love God?" Equally affected was Doris Day, a genuine cinematic legend who, only a few years earlier, could be counted on to bring in big bucks at the box-office through her romantic comedies. The running gag was that Day always played goodie-goodie characters (one comedian quipped "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin!") This was not entirely true. Day often played mature women who were either married or quite modern in their views of sexual relationships. Still, she was never less than wholesome even in her pursuit of romance. However, as the Sixties neared an end the sweeping changes in popular culture, spurred by the new wave of rock artists, extended into cinema as well. Doris knew her day was over on the big screen. She had a lifeline of sorts but she tossed it away when she refused to play the role of Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate". Her manipulative husband, Martin Melcher, wanted to wring the last few dollars out of her film career and often coerced her into starring in middling projects that she had little enthusiasm for. Her final role as a leading lady on the big screen came in 1968 in the comedy "With Six You Get Eggroll" (you have to see it to understand the relevance of the title.) The film is a factory-made concoction that uses the well-worn trappings of other recent films that tried to combine traditional Hollywood elements with the burgeoning youth market and the new cinematic realism that was all the rage. Generation Gap comedies were churned out by studio executives in an attempt to capture the market for both older and teenage movie-goers. The highly popular "Yours, Mine and Ours" had immediately preceded "Eggroll"'s release and the desperate-to-be-hip"The Impossible Years" would open a month later. They all played like extended sit-coms but did offer up legendary actors in starring roles. "Eggroll" is as nondescript as the other films in this peculiar niche but it isn't without its simple, unpretentious pleasures.
The most refreshing aspect of the movie is the one-and-only teaming of Doris Day and Brian Keith, who was then starring in his own popular sit-com "Family Affair", a sugary confection that is all but unwatchable today. Yet Keith had a raw masculinity that allowed him to excel in playing both light comedy and gritty men of action. In any event, he and Day make for a likable twosome. The familiar story line finds Day as Abby McClure, a widowed mother of an 18 year-old son Flip (John Findlater) who has just graduated high school and his two very young brothers. Abby seems content trying to cope with being a single mother as well as that rarest of species in 1968: a successful businesswoman. (She is the hands-on owner of a thriving construction firm.) It's all she can do to fulfill her responsibilities to both her business and her family, which gives the otherwise dated script a somewhat topical element that many women of today can identify with. Abby's sister (Pat Carroll) keeps needling her about the need to find a new boyfriend and potential husband and contrives a meeting with Jake Iverson (Brian Keith), a widower with a teenage daughter Stacey (Barbara Hershey). Abby and Jake have known each other on a casual basis for years but sparks do fly when they meet up at an otherwise disastrous house party Abby hosts. Most of the film covers predictable turf: Abby and Jake decide to get married but their bliss is short-lived when they realize that the blending of two families causes major personality conflicts between Flip and Stacey. Additionally, both teens take pride in the fact that they had been relied on heavily by their parent and feel threatened by the presence of a new spouse who might usurp their adult responsibilities. The constant fighting extends to jealousy about what house they all reside in so, to keep the peace, Abby and Jake devise an cumbersome plan where the family alternates their abode every night. Abby and Jake also find they have very little quality time together and a running gag has them sneaking away to a late night coffee house drive-in where they are greeted with familiarity and plenty of wise-cracks by one of the servers, played by up-and-coming comedy legend George Carlin. The gags are all familiar and highly predictable but director Howard Morris, himself a noted comedic actor, keeps the action moving at a brisk pace and prevents blandness from turning into boredom. At times the movie threatens to become almost poignant when it examines the challenges of blending two families together under one roof with the kids having no choice but to accept a new mom/dad. One scene, in which Abby finally breaks through and earns respect from Stacey, is actually quite touching. However, the finale delves into absurdity when a wild car chase ensues that encompasses some lovable hippies (two of whom are played by future "M*A*S*H" TV stars Jamie Farr and William Christopher.) Whenever family films of this era attempted to present members of the Flower Power movement, the results were generally cringe-inducing and this is no exception. The final scene has a chaotic mess in which everyone converges on a police station- a scenario that I believe I have seen played out about a dozen times in similarly-themed films of this time period.
Despite its flaws, "With Six You Get Eggroll" is never as bad as you probably fear it will be. The sets are cheesy and poorly lit and the laughs somewhat meager, but I found myself enjoying seeing the teaming of Doris Day and Brian Keith. The mind reels at what the possibilities might have been if they had been cast in a mature adult romance. The only hints we have are a few topical references to sex that occasionally surface in the movie. This type of innocent comedy would be all-but-gone by the time Bob and Carol got into bed with Ted and Alice the very next year. Ms. Day would go on to star in a hit sitcom that ran for years before virtually retiring from show business and the public eye (though she did re-emerge with a cable TV show in the 1980s dedicated to her life's passion: caring for animals.) Keith would go on to star in some very worthy films, among them "The McKenzie Break" and "The Wind and the Lion" and scored a hit with the tongue-in-cheek action series "Hardcastle and McCormick". "Eggroll" is elevated from sheer mediocrity by their presence in the film.
"With Six You Get Eggroll" is available as a bare-bones DVD from Paramount.
While navigating through the labyrinth of
collectibles, comic books, and dealer tables at the New York Comic Con this
past October, I came upon a vendor selling copies of old horror films. As is usual,
I had to stop for a moment and thumb through the boxes of DVDs and Blu-rays
labeled simply as “Classic Horror.” There were, of course, the standard bearers
that you would expect to find; such black and white Universal classics as The Wolfman (1941) and Frankenstein (1931), as well as such latter-age
British horror favorites as Vincent Price’s Theatre
of Blood (1973).
Continuing to flip through the boxes, I was
surprised to see The Horrible Dr.
Hichcock (1964), a mostly obscure Italian horror film that I had never had
the opportunity to see. In truth, I’d
never even heard of the film before – and before you scold me for my ignorance,
please keep in mind I’m only nineteen years old. Even Jason and Freddy Krueger are old-school
to me. Still, I admit my immediate
thought was that this copy of The
Horrible Dr. Hichcock was likely misplaced. Was this little known film deserving of having been sandwiched between the
revered classics of Universal and Hammer Studios?
Shortly afterwards, the Olive Films Blu-ray of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock dropped into
my mailbox. Now that I’ve finally gotten the chance
to watch the film, I realize the suspenseful and eerie tale is indeed a worthy addition
to the canon of “Classic Horror.”
Olive Films new Blu-ray release of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock brings – if
you excuse the expression – “new life” to this now half-century old and
unsettling melodrama. Dr. Bernard Hichcock
(Robert Flemyng) seems an OK guy. He’s a
celebrated and much admired surgeon, but also a tortured soul hiding a perverse
secret. He’s completely given to necrophilic
fantasies, of which his wife Margaret (Teresa Fitzgerald) is strangely
accepting and willing to indulge her husband’s strange desires. However, things
take a tragic turn when the not-so-good Dr. unintentionally kills her with an accidental
overdose of the anesthetic, emphasizing that there can in fact be too much of a
The film then flashes forward several years. Dr.
Hichcock returns from a long absence from the village, returning to his old stately
home with a new paramour: the understandably jittery Cynthia (played by Italian
“Scream Queen” Barbara Steele of Black
Sunday and Nightmare Castle fame).
It isn’t long before things again turn weird as Cynthia begins to see the
apparition of Hichcock’s former wife walking the estate grounds. She is tormented by the spirit.
Despite the film’s somewhat confusing plotline,
the movie possesses what I like to call “the Universal Horror aesthetic.” The film is rife with the atmospheric
elements I look forward to in every classic horror film: eerie fog, misty graveyards,
a creaking near-abandoned manor, and a devilish doctor who, more likely than
not, is up to something no good. As these elements are all welcomingly in place
here, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock was deservedly
slotted in the “Classic Horror” section at Comic Con. Or perhaps it was the
moments of suspense and mystery that, when moodily combined with Roman Vlad’s ominously
eerie score, left me guessing about who (or what) might be waiting behind every
corner of the dreary house.
There are many such memorable moments of mystery
and apprehension in The Horrible Dr. Hichcock.I found the film somewhat reminiscent of The House on Haunted Hill and The Haunting, as there are so many
twists that the audience is constantly forced to change their minds about what might
happen next. Whether due to a less than cohesive script or specific choices
made by director Robert Hampton to keep things from being too formulaic, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock succeeds in
keeping the audience engrossed and guessing. Though I found the ending to be
slightly confusing – some elements of the film’s story threads were not explained
to my satisfaction – this is a movie that’s worthy of a second viewing.Until then, I am content to say that The Horrible Dr. Hichcock has definitely
earned a place of honor in my personal library of classic horror.
MGM's remake of its 1959 blockbuster "Ben-Hur" proved the old adage that you can't go home again. The studio had hoped that the religious community would rally around the film in much the same way they had done for other faith-based films, primarily Mel Gibson's 2004 production of "The Passion of the Christ". However, this time around those audiences stayed away in droves, leading to a write-down of $48 million for the quarter. Part of the problem isn't the studio's fault: there simply aren't the type of old school, epic-leading actors like Charlton Heston, who won an Oscar for the original film. However, the marketing campaign didn't help matters. In an attempt to broaden the film's appeal to mainstream audiences, a poorly-conceived trailer tried to make the movie look like a Marvel super hero flick, with gimmicky editing and an emphasis on special effects that may have alienated the religious community. The film cost $100 to make and grossed $94 million worldwide. However, that doesn't include the tens of millions in marketing costs that will not be recouped. It should be noted that the film was released by Paramount but mostly financed by MGM. Paramount's losses are estimated to be in the range of $13 million. Click here for more.
Why do you want to do a book on Jan-Michael
This is the most common question I received
during the writing of Jan-Michael Vincent:
Edge of Greatness, my book on the
career and life of Jan-Michael Vincent. Jan’s former Hollywood colleagues, most of whom now refer to him in the
past tense, asked me this, and so did Jan’s classmates and friends from
Hanford, California, where Jan was born and raised.
I’ve always been fascinated by unfulfilled
potential, and the tragedy this represents, and I see Jan as the embodiment of
this. Although Jan, as an actor,
possessed all of the ingredients, on a purely physical level, for superstardom,
there was something missing, something very wrong, and I wanted to explore this.
I called the book Edge of Greatness, which suggests great potential but also the
existence of a precipice bordered by the arbitrary forces of fate and
circumstance. Obviously, Jan’s story
turned out very badly, and although there is no clear explanation for the
source of Jan’s lifelong sense of confusion, his eternal torment, I found some
Jan’s hallmark as an actor, at the height
of his career in the early to mid-1970s, was his physical beauty, his
incredible well of vitality, which disguised the characteristics and
personality of a lifelong misfit, an identity that carried destructive
implications for Jan in his career and life. He was cursed with natural ability, in terms
of his screen presence, and with surfing, his one true passion. He got by on this, his god-given gifts, for a
very long time. When this evaporated, turned
inward on him, there was nothing left.
Jan’s alcoholism, which is the bedrock of
not only his downfall but his life, was rooted in his family. It was passed down to him through his
grandfather, Herbert Vincent, and Jan’s father, Lloyd, a World War II veteran
who owned a sign painting business in Hanford, Jan’s hometown. However, it must be pointed out that Jan’s
brother and sister both avoided this fate. “Jan was a born alcoholic from an alcoholic family,” says Bonnie Hearn
Hill, Jan’s classmate at Hanford High, the high school Jan attended between
1959 and 1963. “He would’ve been an
alcoholic had he ended up a sign painter in Hanford. He probably wouldn’t have had access to all
of the drugs.”
Jan wanted to be a surfer. After graduating from Hanford High in 1963,
at the age of nineteen, he enrolled at Ventura College, far away from
Hanford. In early 1965, Jan abruptly
dropped out and went to Mexico in pursuit of a surfing odyssey, which was
halted due to Jan’s draft status. In
1966, after completing basic training, Jan had few prospects. Acting, as a possible career, was a last
resort for Jan, and he really had no choice.
Through his father’s connections, Jan made
the acquaintance of legendary talent agent Richard “Dick” Clayton, who
immediately saw in Jan, purely visually, the heir apparent to James Dean,
Clayton’s friend and former client. Clayton,
following the Rock Hudson model, specialized in identifying good-looking boys,
hunks, and developing them into stars, whether they had talent or not. Clayton’s stable included Harrison Ford and
Nick Nolte, whom Clayton discarded in favor of Jan.
The only acting training Jan received in
his career was at Universal Studios, in the training program, which he entered
in the summer of 1966. Jan was a
natural. The camera loved him, and he
had an instinctive sense of the camera, and he understood how to seize the
crucial moment within a given scene. “Jan
was a “stand and deliver” type of actor,” says Robert Englund, Jan’s friend and
co-star in the film Buster and Billie. “He could, in those short bursts, dominate
the scene he was in, and he was very effective. Jan was about five ten, which was the perfect height in terms of him
relating to the camera. He had
everything going for him.”
Following the Rock Hudson model, Jan was
marketed, beginning in the late 1960s and continuing well into the 1970s, as a
male model. He was a teen idol, a
luridly-developed persona that followed him into the early thirties, when he
was a husband and father.
Vincent starred with Darren McGavin in the acclaimed TV movie "Tribes".
Jan’s first acting role, which Jan received
outside of the Universal bubble, was a supporting part in the western feature The Bandits, which starred Robert
Conrad, who urged Jan to abandon his chosen screen name, Jan Vincent, in favor
of a more manly-sounding name. He became
Michael Vincent, Mike, employing the middle name he’d barely invoked in
Hanford, a moniker he kept until he appeared in the TV production Tribes, the first film Jan was proud
Conrad was the first in a parade of iconic
leading men Jan found himself paired with between the late 1960s and late 1970s. Conrad was followed by John Wayne and Rock
Hudson in The Undefeated, Darren
McGavin in Tribes, Robert Mitchum in Going Home, Charles Bronson in The Mechanic, Gene Hackman in Bite the Bullet, and Burt Reynolds in Hooper.
As a leading man, Jan found his greatest
success, critically and commercially, between 1972 and 1975, with the films Buster andBillie, The Mechanic, The World’s Greatest Athlete, and WhiteLine Fever, a film that was most notable, in spite of its success,
because it represented Jan’s introduction to cocaine, which he was turned onto
by a stuntman. None of these films were
gigantic box office hits, but they were successful and promoted the idea that
Jan was going to become a major star. “Jan was at the beginning of the process of being groomed for stardom
when I met him,” recalls White Line Fever’s
director, Jonathan Kaplan. “He was being
groomed by Peter Guber at Columbia Pictures, which distributed White Line Fever, and Peter told me that
he was convinced that Jan was going to become a major star.”
from the point of view of an idealistic and patriotic German boy from high
school graduation and military basic training to the trenches of WWI
battlefields, “All Quiet on the Western Front” is a classic tale of the horrors
of war. Written by Erich Maria Remarque and published in
1929, the German WWI veteran based the novel on his own experiences in the
trenches of WWI. A Hollywood movie quickly followed staring Lew Ayres as Paul.
Produced and released in Hollywood by Universal, it was awarded the Best
Picture and Best Director Oscars for 1930, a few short years before the rise of Adolf Hitler who banned the book and
Fifty years after the novel’s release, a
made-for TV movie was broadcast on American TV in November 1979. It starred
Richard Thomas as Paul Baumer, who was fresh off the hit TV series “The
Waltons” when he went to work on this movie which is not so much a remake as it
is a new adaptation of the classic book. The wide-eyed innocence of Thomas, who
was in his late twenties at the time, works well in his interpretation of Paul as
he transforms from German patriot seeking adventure to disillusioned soldier
tired of war.
movie follows Paul, a thoughtful and likable student who enjoys art, literature
and intellectual conversations; as he joins his friends who become soldiers at
the outbreak of the war. His school teacher, Donald Pleasence as Kantorek, is
an outspoken patriot who urges Paul to join the army. Paul and his friends, the
local postman, Himmelstoss (Ian Holm), as they bully him and knock him to the
ground for not serving in the army. We also meet Paul’s mother, played by
Patricia Neal (Thomas’ mother in the TV pilot for “The Waltons” TV series - the
Christmas classic, “The Homecoming”) saying his goodbyes to his family before
heading off with his friends to their military training.
Paul and his friends arrive at basic training, they’re met by now Army Corporal
Himmelstoss who has not forgotten their cruelty toward him and returns it to
them during their training. I never got the sense that Himmelstoss was overtly
cruel during the training sequences. All basic trainees wish they were
elsewhere during boot camp, but we are led to believe that he is over-the-top
in his cruelty. Holm does sport a menacing mustache and he has harsh words for
the recruits, but its typical stuff and the scenes are too brief to get a sense
that anything cruel is occurring apart from what we learn from the characters.
movie moves along at a predictable pace and finally settles into the meat of
the story when Paul and his friends arrive at the front and meet up with their
mentor, Stanislaus Katczinsky, played by Ernest Borgnine. He’s the old soldier who
advises the inexperienced recruits and tells them to forget everything they
learned in basic training because he’s going to tell them the correct way of
doing things in order to survive.
and his friends become seasoned soldiers after months of fighting in the
trenches. Friends are killed and wounded and Paul ends up in the hospital after
he is wounded where we see soldiers suffering from shell shock, commonly known
today as PostTtraumatic Stress Disorder. After his recovery, Paul is allowed a brief
visit home where he visits with his mother and Kantorek. Himmelstoss ends up
being transferred to the front with the boys, but he disappears from the story
without explanation shortly after his arrival. It was good to see Holm,
Pleasence and Neal once more, but they have too little screen time.
does a good job as Paul, but it felt like something was missing. I never got
the sense Paul was truly transformed in the end of that any of them were
experiencing the horrors of war. Thomas and the actors playing his friends are credible,
but are not quite up to the screen presence of the more seasoned actors in this
movie. Borgnine carries much of the water in the film and he is a welcome part
of the production in every scene he appears, but the movie is not about him.
production is very good television and it is an impressive version of a classic
tale that benefits from the cast of great actors and by the on-location filming
in Yugoslavia. Perhaps I’m simply jaded after the superior production values in
similarly themed television projects like “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific”
which depicted warfare in graphic detail as well as combat related post
traumatic stress. This production touches on it in a way that was acceptable on
1979 television, but which appears dated today.
movie was directed by Delbert Mann who moved very successfully from Emmy
winning TV director to Oscar winning movie director in the 1950s and returned
to TV in the early 1970s after directing a string of dramas and light comedies
during the 50s and 60s including the Oscar winning best picture “Marty,” his
motion picture debut, which also starred Ernest Borgnine. Pleasence, Neal and
Holm’s scenes are welcome, but all too brief and little more than cameo roles.
Borgnine is wonderful in every scene and works well with Thomas.
movie is presented in widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio, although I doubt it was
originally broadcast in that format in 1979. Its possible the movie was filmed
in widescreen with the safety area left open when broadcast on television and on
early home video releases. The run time is also longer here on the Blu-ray than
in the original CBS broadcast of 131 minutes clocking in at 156 minutes on this
Shout! Factory release. The Blu-ray looks and sounds terrific and includes the
trailer and a photo gallery as extras. The movie is an entertaining and welcome
During my formative years – as I sat before a steady
procession of unforgettable movies, my passion for cinema intensifying with the
discovery of the diverse emotions that films proved capable of stirring within
me – there were several behind-the-camera names that would show up on opening
titles sequences which I started to recognise, people whose involvement in any
given picture became synonymous with a fine evening’s entertainment. One of
those names was Elliott Kastner. The producer behind dozens of films, from
big guns such as the fabulous wartime actioner Where Eagles Dare and Charles Bronson western whodunnit Breakheart Pass, to less remembered gems
the like of beautifully melancholic heartbreaker Jeremy and psychological thriller Death Valley, if Elliott Kastner's name was attached to it then,
for me, that was a cast-iron guarantee that I wasn't going to come away
Which brings us to director Anthony Page's 1978 clerical
mystery Absolution starring Richard
Burton, which Kastner co-produced (alongside four-times collaborator Danny
O'Donovan) and which somehow bypassed me for years until I finally caught up
with it recently courtesy of Kino Lorber's new Blu-ray disc.
Benjie Stanfield (Dominic Guard) is the most promising
pupil at a Catholic public school. Feeling the pressure of permanently having
to act the model student he starts to develop a rebellious streak. Much to the
dismay of his austere housemaster, Father Goddard (Richard Burton), Stanfield
begins associating with ne’er-do-well traveller Blakey (Billy Connolly) who's
set up camp in the woodland adjacent to the school and whose bohemian lifestyle
strikes the young lad as idyllic. Furthermore Stanfield starts to spin
outrageous fictions to Goddard which, bound by the seal of the confessional,
the incensed priest is powerless to punish him for. Then, following an argument
with Blakey, the distraught Stanfield confesses to Goddard that he lost his
temper and killed the man. Is he telling the truth, or is it just more
mischief? And when he confides that he'd like to do away with irritating fellow
pupil Arthur Dyson (David Bradley), can the poor, beleaguered Father Goddard manage
to stop him?
For the most part tautly directed by Anthony Page, Absolution is a keen-edged mystery from
the pen of Anthony Shaffer (whose other notable works include The Wicker Man, Frenzy and ultimate twisty-turny thriller Sleuth). Yes, the first half is something of a leisurely affair,
taking perhaps a shade too much time to establish its protagonists. But hang on
in there, because at the midway point the screw begins to turn and continues to
tighten up the suspense to almost knuckle-whitening levels as the story reaches
its (semi-)predictable dénouement. And if it is predictable to any degree, that's only because, coming as it
does from the writer of the aforementioned Sleuth,
one spends the film’s runtime trying to second-guess its sting (one aspect of
which, expected or otherwise, still harbours a shockingly brutal punch).
I don't think I've ever seen a disappointing Richard Burton
performance – even in those occasionally questionable projects (which, with
hindsight, he himself might have conceded were poor judgment calls) he was
always the dominating presence – and with Absolution
arriving the same year as The Medusa
Touch and The Wild Geese we can certainly
be thankful to 1978 for its delicious crop of Burton victuals. His
exemplary performance here as Father Goddard, which came towards the end of a
career cut tragically short by his premature death in 1984, is spellbinding;
the character's burgeoning air of desperation and despair is relayed to
perfection. Just as he should be, Dominic Guard is irksomely smirky and
objectionably arrogant as Stanfield, the blue-eyed boy gone bad who's holding
the whip hand and seemingly relishing every moment of it. David Bradley
(probably best known for his starring role in Kes, credited here as Dai Bradley) garners audience
empathy as underdog Dyson, the gawky target of Stanfield's disdain. Billy Connolly
meanwhile is first-rate in his film debut, revealing a talent that stretched
far beyond the stand-up comedy for which, back in 1978, he was almost
exclusively renowned. The supporting cast includes a typically gruff Andrew Keir
as the school's headmaster, Brian Glover as a thuggish policeman and the always
engaging Hilary Mason, Oh, and unless I'm very much mistaken, Linda Robson puts
in a single shot cameo as a school dinner lady.
As tales of priests vexed by the sanctity of the
confessional go, Absolution would
make for a very fine double-feature companion to gripping Hitchcock drama I Confess. And where with films such as
this the words "don't watch the trailer before you've seen the film"
are a fairly mandatory warning, in Absolution's
case it's imperative one take heed. I mention this specifically because the
original trailer is included among the bonus features on Kino Lorber's Blu-ray release
and it recklessly throws away a key moment from the climax. If the disc’s menu
screen sets off alarm bells with its excessively grainy still image of Richard
Burton, it shouldn't be cause for concern; the 1.85:1 transfer of the feature
is almost impeccable, faltering only at the tail end of the closing credits
with evidence of some minor print damage. The aforementioned "avoid at all
costs" trailer aside, the disc’s all too sparse supplements comprise just
a pair of thematically-associated trailers (for Donald Sutherland vehicle The Rosary Murders, and True Confessions starring the two
Roberts, De Niro and Duvall).
Film legend Jackie Chan has been awarded an honorary Oscar at a ceremony at which he was introduced by Chris Tucker and Tom Hanks. Chan grew up dreaming of someday getting an Oscar and when he finally did, it was in recognition to his overall contributions to the film industry. Other legends also received honorary Oscars at the ceremony including editor Anne V. Coates, documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman and casting director Lynne Stalmaster. These are all great choices and the Academy deserves credit for honoring them but movie fans won't get to the see them accept their awards except for in a fast-moving compilation of the speeches that lasts about a minute. Years ago the Academy decided that viewers were bored by seeing honorary Oscars given out, even though these had been considered highlights of the broadcast by true film scholars. Instead, in a blatant attempt to cater to concerns over ratings rather than artistry, overblown production numbers and time-wasting comedy skits have eaten up much of the time that should be allocated to the real purpose of the ceremony: to honor respected artists in their fields. Sadly, the most legendary of those artists have now been relegated to a second-class tier. The Academy argues, with some justification, that the separate ceremony allows the recipients to not have have their career achievements boiled down to a few minutes each. Fair enough...but why not arrange for the awards to be telecast earlier in the day, perhaps on a cable network, so that movie fans can enjoy the goings-on?
"Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice"- no one seemed to like the film except the audience.
In an interesting article for the New York Times, reporter Brooks Barnes analyzes the hits and misses pertaining to Warner Brothers. Interviewing chief executive Kevin Tsujihara, Brooks addresses the conventional wisdom in Hollywood that WB is a studio in turmoil. Yet Tsuhihara points out that 2016 has been a highly successful year with record operating profits being posted. "Quietly, we've been having an amazing year", he says. Even critically lambasted "tent pole" productions like "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad" turned solid profits and the studio is banking heavily on the JK Rowling story "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" as a potential blockbuster (Rowling wrote the screenplay). Other major films in the pipeline include "Wonder Woman", "Kong: Skull Island" and "Justice League" not to mention Christopher Nolan's WWII epic "Dunkirk". The studio doesn't just rely on mega-budget productions, however. Clint Eastwood's "Sully" turned out a profit as did other modestly-budgeted films and the studio's TV division booming, turning out old favorites like "The Big Bang Theory" and the new HBO series "Westworld". Click here to read.
Film historian Jonathan Froes has uploaded this trailer for the 1939 Universal monsters classic "Son of Frankenstein". According to Indiewire, this particular trailer was thought to be lost due to the fact that it shot on nitrate film. That film stock proved to be highly flammable, causing studios to ends its use and destroy countless prints of feature films and trailers. Indiewire says that horror film enthusiasts consider this to be a real find because it contains alternate takes and snippets of scenes not included in the final cut of the film, which featured a stellar cast: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill. For more click here
The past year has been an especially harsh one for the entertainment industry in terms of well-known personalities who have passed away. Today's news that actor Robert Vaughn has died hits Cinema Retro especially hard and this writer in particular. He died from a battle with leukemia and was surrounded by his family in his final moments. I first met Robert in 1983 at a press conference in New York in which he and David McCallum promoted their forthcoming TV movie "Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E." I've remained friends with them ever since and shared many an enjoyable conversation. Robert was an early supporter of Cinema Retro and contributed to numerous issues, most recently issues #33 and #34 in which he was interviewed by writer Steve Rubin about the dramatic occurrences in making the 1969 WWII film "The Bridge at Remagen". Robert overcame a troubled youth in which he grew up in a household in which both of his parents, who were actors, were barely on speaking terms. In his autobiography "A Fortunate Life", he related how, as a young man with an aspiration for acting, he and his mother drove to Hollywood in a beaten up car in hopes he would find work. He did so almost immediately and gained praise for his stage appearance in "End as a Man". That led to appearances in a slew of "B" movies, including the Roger Corman cult film "Teenage Caveman". He didn't linger in "B Movie Hell" for long, however. Having befriended Paul Newman, he got a key supporting role in Newman's 1959 film "The Young Philadelphians" and earned an Oscar nomination for his performance. That led to him being cast by John Sturges in the 1960 western classic "The Magnificent Seven". He became a familiar face on TV in the 1960s and co-starred with Gary Lockwood in the short-lived TV series "The Lieutenant".
Vaughn with Steve McQueen on the set of "The Magnificent Seven".
Robert entered the realm of superstardom with the 1964 premiere of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", which benefited a great deal from the explosive success of the James Bond phenomenon. He played suave secret agent Napoleon Solo opposite David McCallum as fellow agent Illya Kuryakin. The show struggled for ratings in its first season before catching fire in the second season and becoming a pop culture phenomenon in its own right. In 1966 Photoplay named him the most popular male star in the world. The series lasted three-and-a-half years and when it went off the air in January 1968, he went immediately into production on "Bullitt", the detective thriller in which he played an ambitious D.A. in conflict with a maverick detective played by Steve McQueen. He was nominated for a BAFTA for his acclaimed performance. Over the decades Robert appeared in many other major films including "The Venetian Affair", "Superman III" , "S.O.B" and "The Towering Inferno". He won an Emmy for his performance as the political hatchet man in the 1977 mini series "Washington: Behind Closed Doors" and in 1998 was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He had a late career success as one of the stars of the British crime series "Hustle" that ran from 2004-2012, earning him a new generation of fans.
Robert was always consumed by politics. He was the first major American actor to publicly denounce President Johnson's Vietnam War policy, a position that earned him criticism from William F. Buckley, the father of modern conservatism. The two men ended up having a memorable debate on Buckley's political show "Firing Line" and a moderator ruled it a "draw", something Robert took great pride in. He and Buckley formed a mutual respect and kept in touch after the event. Robert also worked tirelessly to pursue higher education and became the first star of his caliber to earn a PHD. His thesis on the Hollywood blacklist was published as the acclaimed book "Only Victims". He was a close friend of Robert F. Kennedy and was devastated by his assassination in 1968, just two months after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, who he greatly admired and once introduced at an event. Robert became disaffected with the situation in America and moved to England for several years where he starred in the TV series "The Protectors" and made feature films such as "The Mind of Mr. Soames" and the 1970 all-star version of "Julius Caesar". Although he considered himself a confirmed bachelor, he fell for his co-star in a production of "The Tender Trap", Linda Staab. They ultimately married and raised a son, Cassidy, and a daughter, Caitlin. The Vaughns resided in Ridgefield, Connecticut, having preferred the East Coast to the dazzle of Hollywood, but they also spent a considerable time in England shooting for the filming of "Hustle". Robert loved the UK and considered it his second home. In 2014 he returned to London to star in a West End revival of "Twelve Angry Men". He received rave reviews and proved he could still bring in audiences, as the play was a smash hit and entered an extended run.
Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer reunited Vaughn with David McCallum and "Man From U.N.C.L.E." guest star Joe Sirola at the 2009 event in honor of Vaughn at The Players.
In 2009, this writer had the pleasure of arranging and hosting a black tie dinner in honor of Robert at New York's famed private club for the arts, The Players. The highlight of the evening was the surprise appearance of David McCallum, who made a very gracious speech about their long friendship. The two men remained in touch through the years and always called each other on their birthday.
With Robert's death, the entertainment world has lost another great talent. He once told me why he titled his book "A Fortunate Life". He said, "All I ever wanted to do was act and I always have. If you do what you want to do for a living then you can say you never worked a day in your life".
Thanks for the memories, Robert. Closing Channel D for the final time.
Tippi Hedren was a model with no acting experience when director Alfred Hitchcock cast her as the female lead in his 1963 classic "The Birds". The announcement surprised the entertainment industry, given Hitchcock's penchant for casting well-known actresses in his films. He saw Hedren by chance in a TV commercial and immediately set his sights on the beautiful blonde. Hedren was recently divorced at the time and in need of a new career in order to care for her young daughter, future actress Melaine Griffith. In her just-published autobiography "Tippi: A Memoir", the 86 year-old actress says that Hitchcock manipulated her when she was vulnerable by signing her into an exclusive contract that gave him dictatorial power over her career. He promised he would cast her in high profile films that would establish her as a major star. However, her dreams were shattered when Hitchcock made overt sexual advances toward her that she spurned. In retribution, Hitchcock allegedly sought revenge by sabotaging her career after their second and last collaboration, the ill-fated "Marnie". For decades Hedren has only hinted at the specifics of what caused the deterioration of her relationship with Hitchcock but in the book she finally gives her side of the story. It is known that Hitchcock was depressed during the filming of "Marnie" and some critics attribute his lack of interest in the film to the sexual tension between him and Hedren. For more click here.
UPDATE: Since publication of Hedren's accusations there has been push-back from people who knew Hitchcock or have studied his career. These people have raised doubts about the veracity of Hedren's claims and point out some facts that seem to contradict the time table in which some of the events allegedy occurred. Click here to read.
In the early Fifties movie studios were worried because fewer
people were going to see movies in the theater. They’d rather stay home and
watch that new-fangled gadget—television. To lure audiences out of their homes
and away from their TV sets, Twentieth Century Fox’s Spyros P. Skouras
developed the anamorphic widescreen filming process known as Cinemascope. “The
Robe” (1953) was the first film shot in this format and was an instant hit. More
movies in widescreen with stereophonic sound soon flooded into neighborhood
To take advantage of the widescreen, Twentieth Century
Fox’s early Cinemascope movies were often filmed in beautiful, far off locations.
These films were part travelogue, part-adventure, and romance, with lush music
soundtracks. Jean Negulesco, the Romanian-born director who made dozens of
films in the 1940s including “Nobody Lives Forever” (1946), “Humoresque”
(1946), and “Johnny Belinda” (1948) became a specialist at making these kinds
of movies. His Cinemascope work includes “Three Coins in the Fountain” (1954),
which he shot in Rome, “The Pleasure Seekers” (1964), filmed in Madrid, and
“Boy on a Dolphin” (1957), filmed in the Greek Islands.
“Boy on a Dolphin” (1957) starred Alan Ladd and is notable for
being the film that introduced Sophia Loren to American audiences. She plays
Phaedra, an earthy Greek sponge diver who finds a rare, and valuable, centuries-old
statue of a golden boy riding a dolphin down in the water off the coast of one
of the islands. Ladd plays Dr. James Calder an American archeologist whom
Phaedra first asks for help in recovering the statue so she can become rich.
Their relationship starts well but takes a bad turn when scoundrel Clifton Webb
shows up as the nefarious Victor Parmalee, an unscrupulous art collector who wants
the statue for himself. He convinces Phaedra to double cross Calder, who wants
to put the golden boy and his fish in a museum. Parmalee convinces her that
he’ll make her rich if she helps him get the statue.
There isn’t a whole lot of plot in this film, which was directed by Jean Negulesco. Mostly it’s
Phaedra leading Calder on and telling him to dive in all the wrong places so he
won’t find the statue, and helping Parmalee locate it and hide it. There’s a
ne’er-do-well boyfriend named Rhif (Jorge Mistral), who is jealous of Calder, double
crosses Phaedra, and makes his own deal with Parmalee.
The plot may be overly simplistic but it doesn’t matter
much. “Boy on a Dolphin” is one of those films that you don’t think about or
analyze. You just sit back and let all that scenery and soundtrack music wash
over you. Milton Krasner’s beautiful color photography of the Greek Isles fills
almost every frame with dazzling sunlight, azure seas and sky, and the
magnificent architectural scenery that took three thousand years to create.
It’s a treat for the eyes. Hugo Friedhofer’s score is beautifully lush and very
Debussey. The Kino Lorber Blu-ray presents the film in a magnificent 4k
restoration with gorgeous color and glorious stereophonic sound. I’ve always admired the sound of these
fifties Fox films. The sound recording is in some more impressive than what we
hear in today’s films. For this writer, these “golden oldies” often offer more
spatial dynamics between the actors’ voices that give it a more true-to-life
sound- and it isn’t so loud it blows your ear drums out. Modern sound engineers
should go back and study these films to learn how to record realistic
While “Boy on a Dolphin” was Loren’s big screen debut in
the US., sadly, it also marked the beginning of the decline of one of
Hollywood’s most charismatic stars. In a real-life “A Star is Born” kind of way,
the young Loren fills the screen with life and radiance and comes out of the
sea like Venus on the half-shell. Ladd, on the other hand, though he still had
that deeply resonant voice that carried so well, seemed tired, disinterested,
and diminished. There was no chemistry at all between him and Loren in the
stiffly acted love scenes. It was only four years after the magnificent “Shane”
(1953), but somehow the ruins of ancient Greece seemed a cruel reflection of
the star himself, whose days of glory were already beginning to fade. He died only
seven years later, going on to make ten more films of varying quality, finally
rallying with his last great performance in “The Carpetbaggers” (1964).
Kino Lorber has done a terrific job presenting this film under
its KL Studio Classics banner in a brand new 4k 1080p Restoration. Picture and
sound are excellent. The extras include trailers for other Loren films,
including “Marriage Italian Style” and “Sunflower”. Recommended.
UK-based Big Chief Studios, which specializes in producing officially licensed, highly detailed 12" action figures, has been licensed by Eon Productions to create a line of figures based on the James Bond films. Big Chief announced thatt the first wave of releases will center on the 1964 film "Goldfinger" with likenesses of James Bond (Sean Connery), Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) and Harold Sakata (Oddjob). No formal release date has been set. There have been other authorized Bond figures released over the decades. The first incarnation of Sean Connery in action figure form was produced by Gilbert in 1965 to tie in with the release of "Thunderball". The company also produced an Oddjob doll as well. In 1979 Mego produced action figures of James Bond (Roger Moore), Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), Jaws (Richard Kiel) and Drax (Michael Lonsdale) from "Moonraker". In more recent years, Sideshow created a series of highly detailed figures based on the Bond films including the only authorized figure to date of George Lazenby as 007 in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". The Big Chief license illustrates Bond's remarkable staying power as a licensed collectible line.
Director Joe Dante's 1993 comic-drama Matinee is a loving ode to the monster movies that enthralled him during
his youth. Equally it's a Valentine to film producer William Castle, without
whose uniquely innovative approach to film exhibition a generation of
moviegoers would have been denied such wonders as ‘Emergo’ (for The House on Haunted Hill), ‘Percepto’
(for The Tingler) and ‘Illusion-O’
(for Thirteen Ghosts).
During the fraught two- week period of the Cuban
Missile Crisis in October 1962, brothers Gene (Simon Fenton) and Dennis (Jesse
Lee) are thrilled to learn that not only is new horror picture Mant! getting a sneak preview at their
local movie emporium the Key West Strand, but that the screening is going to be
attended by showman extraordinaire Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman), who's
planning to test run his newest attraction, ‘Atomo Vision’. Woolsey is a
second-rate producer of third-rate pictures who peddles his wares on the back
of gimmickry, and he rigs out the Strand with all manner of electronic wizardry
to optimise the viewing experience, much to the chagrin of its unimpressed
manager (Robert Picardo). But as the evening of the big show approaches so the
threat of nuclear annihilation heats up...
Set against the backdrop of the infamous and alarming political
confrontation between America and the Soviet Union, we get glimpses throughout Matinee of the understandable mania that
gripped a terrified public – the stripping of shelves in grocery stores in
order to stock up for post-strike survival, the mind-boggling naiveté of the futile
drills instructing schoolchildren on how to live through such an attack – but
as with several other Dante films including Small
Soldiers, Explorers and The Hole, the nucleus of the narrative concerns
a bunch of kids and a childhood adventure. The four youngsters who assume the
key roles here – Simon Fenton, Omri Katz, Lisa Jakub and Kellie
Martin – are all very likeable and bring a nice measure of charm to the party.
And, unsurprisingly, John Goodman has a fine old time chewing up the scenery as
the larger-than-life showmaster with a pretty girl on his arm (Cathy Moriarty),
a big fat cigar in one hand and a litany of wild ideas in the other.
For those who enjoy such things – and I certainly do – the
setting of Matinee in a cinema makes for
an unparalleled nostalgia trip, Gene and Dennis’s wide-eyed enthusiasm for movies
provoking heady memories of the sheer excitement of those childhood trips to
the pictures, brimming with barely restrained anticipation for what might emerge
from the shaft of light beaming out over my head. Certainly anyone with a
fondness for old sci-fi and horror titles, particularly the vast catalogue that
emerged during the 1950s, should get a thrill out of the ambience that Dante conjures
up; just look at the gorgeous period decor of The Strand, its walls a haven of
gorgeous movie art, its facade bedecked with splashy posters and stills...not
to mention the two enormous rubber ant
legs extending out over the marquee. A snapshot of a joyous era of
showmanship sadly long since dispensed with.
And then, of course, there's Mant! itself, a fun homage to the very best (and worst) of those sci-fi/horror
clunkers and a recognisable hybrid of Them!
and The Fly. Dante, a dyed in the
wool monster movie buff himself, treats us to several extended scenes of this
film-within-a-film, which concerns Bill, a man who has an unfortunate reaction
to a dental x-ray and thereafter metamorphoses into a giant ant. The dialogue,
delivered with deliciously straight-faced sincerity, is very funny indeed, for
example this line from Kevin McCarthy as a military General loud-hailing the mammoth
insect scaling a tower block: "Bill…come down off that building – we've
got sugar for you!" Supported by a typically euphonious and playful score
from the always reliable Jerry Goldsmith, Matinee
may not be Dante at his best – for that I would point to Gremlins or Innerspace,
or more recently Burying the Ex – but
it's certainly Dante given reign to express his passion for a cinematic genre so
dear to his heart.
Arrow has issued Matinee
on a dual format Blu-ray/DVD release in the UK. The 1.85:1 ratio image is very
nice with only a couple of scenes bearing particularly noticeable grain.
Supplements are bountiful, the highlight for this writer being the
feature-length version of Mant!
itself, seen teasingly in interrupted chunks during Matinee; okay, so it runs for just 16-minutes, but it's
easily as much fun as the old films to which it pays tribute and there's even a
mock, distinctly Castle-esque trailer for it dropped in for good measure.
Additionally we get interviews with Joe Dante, cinematographer John Hora and
editor Marshall Harvey, a piece concerning some of the director’s stock players
(Robert Picardo, Archie Hahn, Belinda Balaski, John Sayles and, of course,
Dick Miller – hey, what would such a featurette be without input from him?), deleted and extended sequences,
some behind-the-scenes footage, a vintage electronic press kit (how antiquated
those once revolutionary, pre-Internet promotional packages look 20+ years
on!), and a theatrical trailer. The disc comes housed in a reversible sleeve,
offering fans a choice of original or newly commissioned art, and it’s also
accompanied by a collectible booklet.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
BURBANK, Calif., November 3, 2016 – To mark the 75thanniversary of
Orson Welles’ cinematic masterpiece“Citizen
Kane,”Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
(WBHE) will release a new Blu-ray™ and DVD on November 15, and the American
Film Institute (AFI) will mount a special screening of the restored master at
AFI FEST presented by Audi, the Institute'sannual film festival in Hollywood,
on November 13.The
screening will take place at the Egyptian Theatre at 1:30 p.m., followed by an
AFI Master Class, featuring close personal Welles friend Peter Bogdanovich and
a celebrity and academic panel to be announced.
The film’s central character is powerful
publisher Charles Foster Kane, who aspires to be president of the United
States. Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst
thinly veiled and slanderous account of his own life and sought to use his
formidable muscle to halt the film’s production and distribution and ultimately
to destroy Welles himself.
the early 1960s
“Citizen Kane”had been out of
circulation for many years when a panel of top industry tastemakers, selected
by the AFI,voted it as the Greatest Film of All Time. Since then,“Citizen
Kane”has remained # 1 or # 2 on countless critics’ lists and
other surveys including those from Roger Ebert, The BBC,Rolling Stone
Magazine, Pauline Kael, among many others.
One-time dean of American movie reviewers,
Pauline Kael, noted, “Citizen Kane
is perhaps the one
American talking picture that seems as fresh now as the day it opened. It may
seem even fresher.” Ebert echoed, “This towering achievement is as fresh, as
provoking, as entertaining, as sad, as brilliant as it ever was. Many agree it
is the greatest film of all time.”
According to Martin Scorsese, Welles and the
film are “responsible for inspiring more people to be film directors than
anyone else in the history of cinema.” Woody Allen:
“Welles takes a
quantum leap above every American director with that intangible thing called
genius. Just an exhilarating movie.” Mel Brooks: “Maybe the best American
picture ever. A masterpiece with artistic genius on a ‘Beethoven’ level.”
Richard Dreyfuss: “I usually avoid questions about my favorite movie but then
people keep pressing me. ‘OK, ‘Citizen Kane’ is my favorite movie. It’s the
greatest movie ever made, OK?’ Without a doubt the only film you can watch 138
times, and each time you’ll still see something new.” And finally, Steven
Spielberg: “Just one of the great movies ever made. A great American experience
also heads a long list of film dramas about the media
including such classics as “All The President’s Men,” “Sweet Smell of Success,”
“The Killing Fields,” “Absence of Malice,” “The Paper,” and lastyear’s Academy
Award®-winning Best Picture, “Spotlight.”
Not only did he star in the film, but the
then only 25-year-old Orson Welles also produced, directed and co-wrote the
film which won the Academy Award® for Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Welles
and Herman J. Mankiewicz) and captured nine nominations, including Best
Picture, Best Actor and Best Director (Welles). Joseph Cotten made an
impressive screen debut as Jedidiah Leland, newspaper reporter and Kane’s
longtime friend, from whom he had become estranged over the issue of
journalistic integrity. Other actors included Everett Sloane, Agnes Moorehead,
Ruth Warrick, Paul Stewart and William Alland as the investigative reporter who
delves into Kane’s life and his mysterious “
Alan Ladd and Arthur O’Connell appear uncredited as reporters. Gregg Toland was
the film’s cinematographer and Robert Wise, later a two-time Academy
Award-winning director, edited the picture.
Remastered and restored from original nitrate
elements in 4K resolution, the film (certified 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes)
will be available on DVD ($14.97) and Blu-ray ($19.98). A wide variety of DVD
and Blu-ray extras will be included in all editions.
story writer and poet Raymond Carver was known for pithy, honest tales of the
human condition in modern settings, the literary equivalent of cinematic
“neo-realism.” His critically-acclaimed work was published mostly in the
seventies and eighties, and he died of lung cancer in 1988 at the age of fifty.
Since Carver was known for his brevity of prose, it might seem curious that a
three-hour film would be adapted from his material.
a director like Robert Altman could make it work.
(and co-writer Frank Barhydt) took nine of Carver’s stories and one poem,
mashed them together, re-located the settings to Los Angeles, and freely
intersected them in order to create an ensemble piece that reflected “Carver
Country” with a Southern California sensibility. While the stories in the movie
might not be entirely faithful to the original tales, they capture Carver’s
spirit. Nevertheless, make no mistake—Short
Cuts is a Robert Altman film, and one of his very best.
terms of his trademark “collage” storytelling that focuses on multiple
principal characters, it’s as if the filmmaker wanted to out-do Nashville by broadening the canvas and
extending the randomness of dramatic encounters. Short Cuts is certainly a movie about chance, if anything, although
on the surface the picture follows the messy relationships between husbands and
wives and various extramarital lovers, mothers and daughters, and fathers and
sons. The way Altman moves smoothly from one set of characters to another is
masterful—his direction received an Oscar nomination (but Steven Spielberg won
that year for Schindler’s List).
cast is simply amazing—the likes of Tim Robbins, Jack Lemmon, Andie MacDowell,
Bruce Davison, Julianne Moore, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Madeleine Stowe, Matthew
Modine, Robert Downey, Jr., Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Frances McDormand, Jennifer
Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lili Taylor, Peter Gallagher, Lori Singer, Annie Ross,
Lyle Lovett, Buck Henry—and more—populate this ambitious, sprawling, and
extraordinary accomplishment. The other star is Los Angeles itself—in many
ways, Short Cuts is the ultimate L.A.
Criterion Collection had previously issued the film on DVD in 2004 but now
presents a new, restored 4K digital transfer on Blu-ray, approved by
cinematographer Walt Lloyd, with a 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.
Alternatively, viewers can choose a 5.1 soundtrack mix presented in DTS-HD
Master Audio. If that isn’t enough, one can watch with an isolated music
track—and there’s plenty of great music by Mark Isham, and songs by Doc Pomus
and Mac Rebennack (AKA Dr. John).
second disk contains a wealth of supplements, all of which appeared on the
original 2004 release (the only extra not ported over is a segment from BBC
television’s Moving Pictures tracing
the development of the screenplay). Otherwise, you get a video conversation
from 2004 between Altman and Tim Robbins; a terrific 1993 feature-length
documentary on the making of the film which includes plenty of footage showing
Altman at work on the set; a 1992 PBS documentary on Raymond Carver; a rare
1983 one-hour audio interview with Carver (who rarely spoke about his work);
original demo recordings of the songs, performed by Dr. John himself; a few
deleted scenes; and a study of the difficulty in marketing such an unusual
motion picture using examples of numerous poster and art designs and concepts,
trailers, and teasers. The essay in the booklet is by film critic Michael
Short Cuts is one of the
masterpieces of the 1990s and belongs on the shelf of any Robert Altman fan.
The latest Marvel comic book screen adaptation, "Doctor Strange", has opened strong at the boxoffice with $85, according to Variety. There was speculation that Marvel was now moving into its "B" list of superheroes and that the film might be met with apathy by audiences who may not be familiar with the character. It looks like those fears have been put to rest. "Strange" tested well in screenings and the resulting boxoffice indicates it could be a major hit. "Hacksaw Ridge", the story of a conscientious objector during WWII, also opened with a "respectable" $14.7 million. The film marks Mel Gibson's latest attempt to recover some boxoffice mojo after the scandals that derailed his career years ago involving some cringe-inducing personal behavior. Gibson directed the flick but doesn't star in it but the movie's modest $40 price tag indicates it might well prove to be profitable. For more click here.
Robert Downey Jr. is developing a third Sherlock Holmes big screen adventure though the project is still in its early stages. According to Variety writers are being hired and Guy Ritchie, director the previous two Holmes films, is expected to return along with Jude Law, who plays Dr. Watson. The two previous Holmes films starring Downey and Law have grossed more than $500 million worldwide, not blockbuster status by today's standards but then again the films don't have the mammoth budgets of many other action/adventure movies. For more click here
The good folks at the U.S. cable TV company, Cablevision, are at it again. When you press your remote control's "INFO" button, a brief synopsis of the show you are watching appears on screen. For years some person or persons has proven themselves to be more entertaining than the program itself by providing descriptions of the telecasts that are, to put it charitably, bizarre. Check out these descriptions of Turner Classic Movies recent telecasts of some Horror Hammer films classic featuring TCM's "Star of the Month" Christopher Lee:
"DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS": "Four tourists dine and spend the night at Dracula's castle; two escape and warn a monk".
Now, try sinking your teeth into this one:
"DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE": "The vampire count bites a tavern waitress and monsignor's niece, then falls on something sharp".
If you think you doubt you possess the talent to be a professional writer, keep in mind the perpetrators of these descriptions actually get paid for their efforts, so by all means send in your credentials to Cablevision.
Director Christopher Nolan is among the filmmakers who are wielding their clout to preserve the glory days of 35mm and 70mm film. Nolan has made it known that his forthcoming WWII epic "Dunkirk" will not only be seen in digital format, but will also have special engagements presented in both film formats. Quentin Tarantino also insisted upon releasing "The Hateful Eight" in 70mm, a format that was once the darling of the film industry before being deemed obsolete. Nolan's movie will depict the disastrous defeat of the British expeditionary force that tried to liberate occupied France in the early days of the war. The Brits managed to turn tragedy to triumph when an ad-hoc armada of small fishing vessels piloted by everyday citizens made the treacherous crossing to France under heavy fire to rescue the trapped British army. That they succeeded in doing so allowed Churchill to fight another day and hold out until America was finally in the war. Nolan's film is not a sure-bet with audiences which have usually been less-than-enthused about movies in which the heroes lose. John Wayne's 1960 epic "The Alamo" did well but never became the blockbuster many had anticipated. Richard Attenborough's 1977 film "A Bridge Too Far" told the story of the Allies' ill-fated invasion of Holland in 1944. It under-performed at the boxoffice. Still, we give Nolan credit for making a large scale WWII epic. In an age when many young people can't even identify their political leaders, film becomes an important tool for teaching history. - Lee Pfeiffer
It's a photo that will bring back many great memories for countless retro movie lovers across the globe. Participating in a centenary parade to honor his hometown of Carmel, California, Clint Eastwood shocked the crowd by leading a parade atop an old-time Western stagecoach and dressing as The Man With No Name, the character he made famous (and who made him famous) in the classic trilogy of films directed by Sergio Leone in the mid-1960s. For a man of 86, Eastwood stills looks might tall in the saddle. It appears that the hat he is wearing might be the one he wore in his 1992 Oscar-winner "Unforgiven". Eastwood became enamored of the Carmel area in the late 1960s. He filmed his first directorial effort, "Play Misty For Me" there in 1971. In 1986 Eastwood took a hiatus from acting to run for mayor the town. He was elected and served one successful term before resuming his career as an actor and director.
Unlike most actors, Eastwood can say that many of the costumes associated with his films have been preserved for posterity. His long association with Warner Brothers has resulted in the studio preserving an archive of his iconic costumes worn in WB films. Eastwood has been especially sentimental about the poncho he wore in the Leone trilogy and has only shown it publicly on rare occasions. In 2005 he authorized the poncho to be displayed at the Autry Center in Los Angeles as part of props exhibition relating to the films of Sergio Leone.
Here's a rarity. An original rare CBS promotional film highlighting the forthcoming TV premiere of "Hogan's Heroes" a half century ago. You'll note the film also includes cameos by Fred MacMurray of "My Three Sons" and Alan Hale Jr. and Bob Denver of "Gilligan's Island". You'll also notice that the early version of the opening credits is much longer than the final version for broadcast and that there are some cast discrepancies as well.
of Sophia Loren will be ecstatic to learn new independent label CultFilms is in
the process of releasing a collection of her award-winning movies. Launching
this fine set is the wonderful Two Women
aka La Ciociara (previously reviewed
in Issue #34 of Cinema Retro),
followed by A Special Day aka Una Giornata Particolare (which is
reviewed here). Yesterday, Today and
Tomorrow, Marriage Italian Style
and Boccaccio 70’ are to follow. This
collection showcases Loren at the top of her acting game and will be warmly
welcomed by her fans and fans of Italian cinema generally.
housewife and mother of six Antoinetta (Sophia Loren) is busy trying to ready
her family so they can attend a parade to celebrate Hitler’s state visit with
Mussolini. Rushed off her feet, it becomes apparent she won’t be able to attend
the momentous occasion as she has too much housework to deal with and is
getting no help from her husband. Deflated that her family has left her with
this mountain of work, she resigns herself to another mundane day and sets
about her daily chores. To make things worse, their pet bird escapes and lands
on the ledge of a neighbouring apartment. This seemingly innocuous event leads
to a chance encounter with neighbour Gabriele (Marcello Mastroianni) which
changes the course of her day. Instead of endless chores with no appreciation
from those around her, she converses, dances and even begins to fall for this
charming stranger who, like her, cannot attend the parade. The pair discuss
life, love and politics and, in a short space of time, seem to enjoy each
other’s company. But does Gabriele harbour a dark secret which has kept him
away from the parade? Will Antoinetta be as loyal to the ideology of the
fascist state after her educational encounter with Gabriele? Will things ever
be the same for either of them after this day?
people think of Loren as a glamorous leading lady, able to make men drool at
her phenomenal beauty while women can do nothing but begrudgingly acknowledge
what a stunning woman adorns the screen before them. A Special Day deliberately goes against this perceived image,
making Loren look far from glamorous as a character who is haggard and severely
run down due to the strains of motherhood. She plays a woman expected to wait
on her family slavishly: a dutiful wife trapped by the Mussolini-era philosophy
that women should be viewed simply wives and mothers, nothing more, mere
baby-making machines and domestic workers. In real-life, Mussolini introduced
incentives to men whose wives bore them lots of children: it was the fascist
dictator’s way of increasing the Italian population. In the film Antoinetta and
Emanuele are shown to have six children, and it becomes apparent he wants her
to have another as soon as possible as a seventh child will make him exempt
from paying taxes. So many children will obviously take a toll on the mother,
but none of that comes into anyone’s considerations. Instead of the usual
glamorous make-up and elegant clothing, we see Loren wearing dull, oversized
and scruffy garments which merely serve a practical purpose. It’s clear from
her demeanour that she has given up on life. In one scene Emanuele needs to dry
his hands and, unable find anything close at hand, he simply uses the skirt of
his wife’s outfit. From very early on viewers are prompted to be angered and
outraged at Antoinetta’s treatment at the hands of her ungrateful family.
Loren, Mastroianni puts in a remarkable performance as a radio journalist who
has been fired from his job due to his sexual orientation. Right from his
opening scene, Mastroianni shows great passion, fighting his demons while
contemplating suicide. At this point we don’t realise what issues are weighing
so heavily on his mind, making him consider ending his life. The
characterisation could have fallen flat in another actor’s hands, but he
performs it superbly and generates audience sympathy right from the start. He
keeps us engrossed with his poignant performance throughout.
and Mastroianni worked together on a number of films, including Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963), Marriage Italian Style (1964), The Priest’s Wife (1970), Sunflower (1970) and Sex Pot (1975), among many others. They
were an acting duo to rival Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. Here, they
manage to convey an important message to their audience: even when it feels
like all is lost, you may yet find comfort and support in the strangest of
the duration of the day, it becomes increasingly apparent that Antoinetta is
becoming attracted to Gabriele and believes he reciprocates her feelings. This
leads to an altercation between the two, forcing him to share his sexual secret
with her. Regardless of this, Antoinetta’s overwhelming need for human contact
- for someone to view her as a human being, an equal - overpowers everything
else and causes her to be drawn to him once more. Eventually they make love,
though Gabriele seems very dazed and confused throughout the event. This scene
has caused considerable debate, with some audiences questioning whether
Antoinette takes advantage of Gabriele, forcing herself on him. Anyone who
watches carefully, though, will note how he tenderly grabs her breast while she
is kissing him. It can be interpreted that both give the other something they
need in order to survive. Gabriele is about to be sent to exile and lacks
companionship. His sexual orientation means he is classed as a degenerate who
people want little to nothing to do with and Antoinetta needs to feel like a
beautiful woman, to be appreciated and not treated like a baby-making-machine
or slave. Gabriele knows he can give her the contact she craves even though we
see the pain and conflict on his face as he allows events to unfold. These two
people show each other that there is more to life if you are prepared to take a
chance. They know that once the day is over, things probably won’t really
change; everything will go back to how it was but, for the moment at least,
they can feel a sense of hope and take solace from the knowledge they don’t
always have to be so neglected and isolated.
In a recent appearance on "The Late Show", Tom Cruise and host James Corden participated in a very ambitious and very funny recreation of scenes from Cruise's most famous cinematic roles. Cruise appeared on the show to promote his new film "Jack Reacher: Never Look Back".
of silver-age horror and sci-fi are likely rejoicing that 1958’s The Monster of Piedras Blancas has, at
long last, crossed over to the digital realm. The film’s first and only previous commercial issue was a much
sought-after out-of-print 1990 VHS release on Republic Pictures Home
Video. This new Blu-Ray version from the
folks at Olive Films has made this film, long desired by collectors, available once
again – this time in a stunningly beautiful and virtually flawless monochrome
dismissed as a second rate low-budget reimagining of Universal’s Studio’s Creature from the Black Lagoon – this Vanwick
Productions film, reportedly made at a cost of a mere $30,000 – is an
unassuming little gem. There’s plenty to
enjoy here if you’re a buff of 1950s science-fiction, with its cheesecake damsels-in-distress
and loathsome rubber-suited monsters. Directed by Irvin Berwick, a freshman helmsman with no résumé in this
capacity, The Monster of Piedras Blancas
is an unpretentious good old-fashioned creature feature ripe for rediscovery.
black and white film is set in the sleepy seaside village of Piedras Blancas,
where the bodies of two headless, blood-drained fishermen are found on
shore. (For you sticklers, while there
is an actual Piedras Blancas on the Golden State coast, the film was primarily
photographed at a lighthouse near Point Conception and around the town of
Cayucus, both in northern California). With
no town morgue to speak of, the town constable George (Forrest Lewis) and Dr.
Samuel Jorgensen (Les Tremayne) arrange to have the bodies stored – against both
the health code and good sense, I would think - in the ice room of Kochek’s
Meat and Groceries market. This was
probably a poor decision as the storekeeper, the doom-saying villager Mr.
Kochek (Frank Arvidson), has already mocked the police department’s contention that
the fishermen were killed when their boat went into the rocks during a wild
squall. The wary storekeeper doesn’t buy
this official ruling for a moment and – much to the anger of town officials – continues
to scare his already frightened customers when he mysteriously advises they
need only “look up the history of this village” to discern what the real cause of the recent trouble is.
is at particular loggerheads with the wiry Mr. Sturges (John Harmon), the
curmudgeonly keeper of the village lighthouse. Sturges is an isolated-by-choice, painfully secretive loner who only
visits town to collect groceries and, more oddly, gather meat scraps for an
undisclosed purpose. This week the meat
scraps Kochek usually saves for him were given to another customer to feed
their dogs. This revelation causes the prickly
relationship between the two already grumpy old men to completely sour. Though Kochek possesses few admirable
qualities, the self-contained Sturges might exhibit even fewer. In the presence of Lucy (Jeanne Carmen), Sturges’
comely daughter, even the town sheriff sighs that the grim and combative lighthouse
keeper is “the most unfriendly man I ever knew.”
also the most mysterious. Following the unexplained
death of his wife ten years earlier, we learn Sturges sent young Lucy away to
boarding school, fearful of her traipsing along the sand and rocky beachside
cliffs of Piedras Blancas. Now back in
town while on summer break from college, the girl has taken a counter-person
position at a local luncheonette. She’s
relatively happy now as she’s managed to attract a handsome beau Fred (Don
Sullivan), who is visiting Piedras Blancas on an oceanographic research mission.
Though the two would share a passionate From
Here to Eternity clinch in the rough surf early in the movie, I would
imagine it was to Fred’s disappointment that he was not present when the
shapely Lucy chose to shed all of her clothes for a solo skinny dip near dusk. While enjoying her nude swim an articulated reptilian
arm steals an article of her clothing from the rocks. Her father is – as is his custom – not
particularly pleased to learn of his daughter’s unsanctioned paddle near the restricted
cliffs. He had earlier cautioned that the
eerie acreage surrounding the lighthouse is “a lonely place to get to after
dark.” Upon hearing his daughter express
concern that she sensed someone – or something – had been watching her during
her naked frolic in the cove, the father would scold – as any reasonable Dad would,
I guess – “I don’t know what they teach you in college these days, but it’s not
course Lucy’s free-spirited ways are a less pressing problem to villagers than
the fact that the tally of headless and bloodless bodies has been spiraling
upward in recent days. Something
resembling a fish gill is found on one corpse, causing Fred and Dr. Jorgensen
to suspect that if a sea-monster is terrifying the village, it’s likely an
evolutionary aberration; perhaps a diplo-vertebrate,
a presumed “mutation of the reptilian family.” (As an aside, I Googled the term
“diplo-vertebrate” thinking it was a simply a pseudo-science invention of Piedras Blancas screenwriter C. Haile
Chace. Surprisingly, there was a single
reference to this term found in an 1891 geological treatise, “structures… not made clear as yet their
precise relation to modern Amphibia and Reptilia.”).
any event, science eventually intersects with superstition and suddenly the
villager’s long whispered “Legend of the White Rocks” monster seems plausible
to all involved. Apparently, beachside corpses
sprinkled about aren’t anything new in Piedras Blancas: this has been going on
for years and years, and this grim tide has helped foster the belief that a
sea-monster exists within the cave fissures dotting the coastline. What follows is what you might expect: a climactic battle between man and beast atop
the tower of the imposing lighthouse. The
always most obvious suspect in the film finally admits collusion with the
creature, even reasonably offering it was probably “stupid” of him to
unintentionally wean The Monster of
Piedras Blancas from an all-seafood to an all-meat diet. Well, you can’t argue with that.
is a Saturday night popcorn movie, presented here in a 1:78:1 aspect ratio and
mono sound. The movie sports a pretty
good cast, good production values (for its low-budget) and competent direction
by a first-timer. The film’s screenplay,
while formulaic and unsurprising, is neither terrible nor groan- inducing. The monster’s scaly rubber suit – the design
usually credited to Piedras Blancas
producer Jack Kevan, who had earlier helped construct the iconic Black Lagoon
creature for Universal – is pretty impressive, with actor Sullivan later recalling
it being scarier in person than seen on film.
Films should be commended for rescuing this and other such dimly-recalled 1950s
sci-fi rarities. In recent years the
label has given respectful white-glove treatments to such desirable titles as Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956), The Colossus of New York (1958), The Invisible Monster (1950), Flying Disc Man from Mars (1950), and She Devil (1957). Could we have soldiered on with our lives
without these mostly forgotten titles not having appeared on home video in HD and
on Blu-Ray? Of course we could have…
though our lives would surely be far emptier without them.
Blood (Kenneth More) is a man with an incredible immune system and without worries.
He spends most of his time working as a human guinea pig for government departments
such as the Common Cold and Flu Research Agency. There he frustrates the men in
white coats by stubbornly refusing to catch a cold. He never gets ill, and his
secret is that he has no emotional attachments. “The minute you get into a
relationship with a woman, your guard is down and the coughing will start!”
News of this remarkable constitution gets to the scientists at N.A.A.R.S.T.I.,
the National Atomic Research Station and Technological Institute, who are
preparing to send the first maned rocket to the moon. They have previously sent
up dogs and monkeys, but owing to public complaints about cruelty to animals,
they have decided it would be far better to send a human. However, it is far
too risky to send one of their trained astronauts. After all, training is
expensive. Far better to send William Blood instead in the first rocket, and
provided he gets there in one piece, they will then send up the real
astronauts. This sounds like a fool-proof plan, but what is not accounted for
is a distraction, in the shapely form of stripper Polly (Shirley Anne Field),
who has fallen in love with him.
Blood begins his astronaut training he has to face the other jealous astronauts
lead by a young Charles Gray, who are furious that they won’t be the first on
the moon after all their preparations. However, he does have the project leader
Dr. Davidson (Michael Horden) on his side, and he goes through a rigorous
raining regime featuring extreme temperatures and G-force simulators to prepare
him for the adventure ahead.
Man in the Moon is a
delightful film with a sparkling and witty script written by Bryan Forbes and
Michael Relph. Basil Dearden’s direction is inventive and makes use of some
excellent location work at RAF Denham alongside impressive sets built at
Pinewood Studios. It is a perfect encapsulation of an England on the cusp of
great change. Blood, whizzing around in an open-topped Messerschmitt
bubble-car, is the epitome of modern man, whilst those in charge at
N.A.A.R.S.T.I. he meets are still wearing tweed and smoking pipes. His thinking
is progressive, as he has no qualms about seducing a beautiful woman whilst still
actively berating the institution of marriage. The Britain of Man in the Moon has one foot in the war
years, the other in the Atomic Age, with an endearing performance by Kenneth
More at the centre of it all.
his forty-year career, Basil Dearden made dozens of film, many of which are now
considered classics. With notable hits including Violent Playground (1958), The
Blue Lamp (1950) and The League of
Gentlemen (1960), he clearly had an affinity for film noir-style crime
dramas, and it is perhaps easy to forget that one of his early hits was
actually the early Ealing comedy The
Goose Steps Out (1942) starring Will Hay. Dearden made many films for
Ealing Studios, even contributing to the classic supernatural portmanteau Dead of Night (1945). His last film was the
supernatural mystery The Man Who Haunted
Himself (1970), frequently cited by Roger Moore as the best film he ever
made. Sadly, Dearden died in a car crash shortly after completing the film, the
accident occurring in the very spot where months earlier they had shot Roger
Moore’s character’s car crash for that film.
Man in the Moon is another release in Network Distributing’s ‘The British Film’
collection, and as such comes with little bonus material, limited to an
original trailer, image gallery and press book. Despite this reservation it is
still a superb release. The main reason for watching is to see an excellent
transfer from original elements, and like all the films in their collection, Man in the Moon is a forgotten
but entertaining gem.
perfectly fair to describe Mario Bava as something of a maverick; he is after
all, an Italian director from the golden period of Italian horror films. Much
is attributed to Bava, some even label him as the man responsible for launching
the giallo film genre and in particular the entire sub-genre of the slasher
Del Delitto (Bay of Blood) is also regarded as one of the very first slasher
movies. It was Bava’s 24th theatrical film as director and as such he
was confident in both his style and technique. Ecologia Del Delitto is arguably
one of Bava’s most violent films and featured some graphically bloody murders. The
film also boasted a strong international cast led by the beautiful French
actress Claudine Auger, best known for her role as Dominique in the James Bond
film Thunderball (1965). The film also featured Italian actress Laura Betti,
with whom Bava had enjoyed working with on Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1969).
the time Ecologia Del Delitto appeared, Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani was
well adapted to the thriller score. Ecologia Del Delitto was the first of three
projects that teamed both Cipriani and Bava, the second being Gli orrori del
castello di Norimberga (Baron Blood) 1972) and lastly Cani Arrabbiati (Rabid
Dogs) (1974). Whilst all three scores have been previously released on the
excellent limited edition Digitmovies double CD from 2005 ‘Mario Bava Original
Soundtracks Anthology Volume III’ (CDDM046), the Chris' Soundtrack Corner
expanded score is fully worth the upgrade. In addition to the 37 minutes of
music previously released, the CSC release contains 11 new tracks. Christian
Riedrich explains, ‘Eleven bonus tracks of about fourteen minutes total length
are added to this album, seven of which are previously unreleased, these
include alternate takes, "wild" recordings, or edited mixes of
original takes extended by looping the music and thus doubling the length of
the track in order to offer a better listening experience. The cues are not
sequenced in film order but have been placed in an order that we believe
provides an optimum listening experience of the music apart from the
score works extremely well. There is a great deal of emphasis on percussion,
tribal drums in particular are used to provide an uneasy, atonal quality which
conjures up a genuine sense of foreboding. Yet, in listening to Cipriani you
can pretty well guarantee you’re never too far from a beautiful melody. Cipriani
seems to possess a unique ability in mixing the two styles seamlessly. Listen
for his excellent ‘lounge’ version of the main title, and you’ll be transported
to a silky soft, heavenly place via an ever so slightly threatening layer of opening
strings... it’s a perfect example of equilibrium and it works deliciously well.
newly released and extended edition of Ecologia Del Delitto has been
beautifully produced by Christian Riedrich and newly mastered by Stefan Betke. The
CD is accompanied by a 16-page illustrated booklet designed by Aletta Heinsohn
featuring detailed and exclusive notes by film music journalist Randall D.
Larson. If I had one minor gripe, I would have possibly put some of that stronger
artwork to better use for the cover illustration. The powerful poster image by
Spanish artist Jano would have pressed all the right buttons - but perhaps this
was hampered by copyright limitations. Nevertheless, it certainly shouldn’t put
you off, as Cipriani’s music remains the domineering factor.
Thirteen web sites sites that provide downloads of current movies and TV shows will be blocked by major internet providers after a key ruling in a UK court sided with complaints from the Motion Picture Assn. that such downloads are illegal and deprive studios of revenue. The sites are to be blocked within the next few days. The ruling virtually ensures that traffic to the sites will be reduced substantially. According to Variety, blocking such sites has proven to be an effective tool in the battle against video piracy, which is estimated to cost the industry hundreds of millions- and perhaps billions- of dollars a year. Studies show that when accessibility to pirated sites becomes unavailable, many consumers decide to pay for access to legal streaming services. For more click here.
Altman’s self-proclaimed “anti-western,” based on the novel McCabe by Edmund Naughton, is one
peculiar piece of cinema that fits right in with the “New Hollywood” movement
that began in the late 60s and continued through most of the next decade. At
the time, McCabe & Mrs. Miller was
considered extremely unconventional, not very audience-friendly, and quirky to
boot. Cinema-goers expecting a traditional western were bewildered, but
word-of-mouth and good reviews by younger, “hip” critics edged the picture
along to more educated and receptive viewers. Today, McCabe is generally acclaimed to be one of Altman’s best movies.
weren’t yet accustomed to the director’s methods of movie-making in 1971. M*A*S*H (1970), of course, was a huge
and popular hit. His second effort, Brewster
McCloud (also 1970), was less welcomed, although its charms are appreciated
now by the faithful (I consider it one of Altman’s better pictures). McCabe followed these, so the director’s
stylistic temperaments were still new: overlapping dialogue, improvisational acting, ensemble casting,
murky—and yet beautiful—cinematography, an unusual musical soundtrack,
anti-heroes for protagonists, and a “controlled sloppiness” of mise-en-scène. McCabe had all of these things, but it
also had two strong performances by the leads, Warren Beatty and Julie
Christie, and by the soon-to-be-familiar “Altman stock company” (Keith
Carradine, Shelley Duvall, René Auberjonois, John
Schuck, Bert Remsen, Michael Murphy, among others).
(Beatty) drifts into a ne’er-do-well mining town in the U.S. northwest
territory, circa turn of the last century—so it was still very much “western
times”—and promptly decides to show the settlers he could be an alpha dog. The
town is still in the process of being built—the only notable structures are the
church and the saloon. Not bothering to refute a rumor that he’s a gunfighter
who had killed men, McCabe sets up a brothel and begins to make serious money.
Enter Mrs. Miller (Christie), a Cockney (and opium addict) who comes to town to
start her own whorehouse. She and McCabe eventually team up and create a
class-A establishment that is actually the cleanest and most comfortable place
to hang out. Then the evil mining company arrives to buy out McCabe, and he’d
better accept—or else. McCabe turns out to be not a gunslinger at all—but he
attempts to fake it in order to save his own life, Mrs. Miller, and the town.
was nominated for Best Actress for her role, and she is quite good as the
strong woman who actually becomes the brains of the outfit. Beatty’s McCabe is
actually not a very smart guy—he’s all bravado and no substance—a character he
does well seeing that it’s out of the actor’s comfort zone. Keith Carradine
made his big screen debut in the film at the age of nineteen—he’s wonderfully
goofy and lanky as a cowboy who spends most of his time at the brothel.
Zsigmond’s photography is indeed murky; its soft focus was apparently achieved
with a pre-fogging technique on the film negative prior to exposure. On
Criterion’s new Blu-ray, the imagery looks better than I remember it did when
it was projected on a screen.
the most impressive thing about the film is production designer Leon Ericksen’s
“town” which is built before our eyes as the movie progresses. Altman employed
the builders as actors (in costumes) and they are seen in the background,
working away, as the action unfolds in front of them.
disk sports a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural
soundtrack. An audio commentary from 2002 featuring Altman and producer David
Foster accompanies the film—and it’s always a pleasure to listen to the
director talk about his films. There’s a fascinating new making-of documentary
featuring the likes of Carradine, Auberjonois, frequent Altman collaborator
Joan Tewkesbury, casting director Graeme Clifford, and others; an interesting
new video conversation between film historians Cari Beauchamp and Rick Jewell;
a vintage featurette about the
production; footage from the Art Directors Guild Film Society Q&A from 1999
with Ericksen; an archival interview with Zsigmond; a gallery of stills from
the set by photographer Steve Schapiro; and—perhaps the most fun—two excerpts
from The Dick Cavett Show from 1971,
one with Pauline Kael talking about the film, and the other with Altman.
There’s the obligatory trailer, and an essay by novelist and critic Nathaniel
Rich in the booklet.
line—the Criterion Collection’s latest addition to its Robert Altman line-up is
impressive and belongs on the shelf of any true cinephile.
We were very sorry to hear that Video Watchdog magazine has announced it is closing down after an astonishing run of 27 consecutive years. Publishers Tim and Donna Lucas cite soaring postage costs combined with the ever-diminishing number of bookstores and newsstands to carry the magazine. In a written statement on the Video Watchdog web site they say they have explored all possible methods of staying in print but could not find a feasible way to do so and that the future of Video Watchdog is up in the air. Over the years, the magazine has presented outstanding coverage of the latest video releases along with insightful interviews, great photos and the talents of supremely informed writers. We at Cinema Retro never viewed Video Watchdog as a competitor, but rather, an inspiration. They faced a familiar problem that all of us who publish traditional magazines in the age of new media face: the web site draws a huge number of readers but the majority of people who read it don't buy the print edition. This is true of every print publication in the world. What many readers who enjoy the web sites don't realize is that, if there isn't a magazine or newspaper to generate funds, the web site, too, will most likely go away. We at Cinema Retro continue to buck the trend but we, too, can ultimately be susceptible to the same factors that sank so many worthy film-related magazines. So many great newspapers and magazines have gone out of business because people just take a fast read of their web sites and call it a day, which is why, to survive, even great institutions like the New York Times only allow a certain number of articles to be read for free during a given month before the reader is told they have to subscribe at least to the on-line edition. So if you enjoy any web site regularly, please do support the venture behind it. On-line journalism is terrific...but there is also something special about a printed publication that you can hold in your hands and peruse at your leisure.
Tim and Donna Lucas provided outstanding insights into the world of classic and cult cinema. We sincerely hope that their considerable talents are used in a new venture to continue their valuable contributions to film journalism. Thanks also to their outstanding "supporting cast" of talented writers. We at Cinema Retro also benefit from the selfless contributions of outstanding writers around the world. Without their efforts, we wouldn't exist. We thank everyone associated with Video Watchdog for a job well done and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.
Released in 1966, producer Ivan Tors' Around the World Under the Sea seemed at first blush like an exercise in stunt casting: cobble together some contemporary TV favorites into a feature film and have MGM and Tors divy up the profits. However, that perception would be entirely wrong. While the film did boast some popular TV stars in leading roles, the film itself is an intelligent adventure flick, well-acted and very competently directed by old hand Andrew Marton. The film stars Lloyd Bridges (only a few years out of Sea Hunt), Brian Kelly (star of Flipper), Daktari lead Marshall Thompson and Man From U.N.C.L.E. David McCallum. Veteran supporting actors Keenan Wynn and Gary Merrill are also prominently featured and Shirley Eaton, riding her fame from Goldfinger, has the only female role in this macho male story line.
The plot finds a team of leading scientists who come together to install earthquake warning sensors on seabeds around the world. The risky mission is undertaken in the Hydronaught, a nuclear-powered state of the art submarine/science lab capable of operating at the ocean's greatest depths. The physical dangers are only part of the frustrations the team has to cope with. The presence of Eaton, as a drop-dead gorgeous scientist on board the confined all-male environment leads to inevitable jealousies and sexual tensions. (Although Tors specialized in family entertainment, even he couldn't resist a most welcome, completely gratuitous sequence in which Eaton swims around underwater in a bikini.) Unlike many films aimed at kids, Around the World Under the Sea boasts a highly intelligent screenplay that has much appeal to older audiences. The heroes are refreshingly human: they bicker, they panic and they make costly mistakes in judgment. Bridges is the stalwart, no-nonsense leader of the group, Kelly is his ill-tempered second-in-command who tries unsuccessfully to resist Eaton's charms, Wynn is his trademark crusty-but-lovable eccentric character. McCallum's Phil Volker is the most nuanced of the characters. A brilliant scientist, he can only be persuaded to join the life-saving mission by making demands based on his own personal profit. He also allows a brief flirtation with Eaton to preoccupy him to the point of making an error that could have fatal consequences for all aboard. Each of the actors gets a chance to shine with the exception of Thompson, whose role is underwritten. The scene-stealers are McCallum and Wynn, who engage in some amusing one-upmanship in the course of playing a protracted chess game. However, one is also impressed by Kelly's screen presence. He could have had a successful career as a leading man were it not for injuries he sustained in a near-fatal motorcycle accident. (Partially paralyzed, Kelly went on to serve as producer on a number of successful film including Blade Runner.)
The film benefits from some wonderful underwater photography shot in the Bahamas, Florida and the Great Barrier Reef - all the result of a collaborative effort between the three top underwater filmmakers of the period: Jordan Klein, Ricou Browning and Lamar Boren. Although the special effects were modestly achieved, they hold up quite well today. Marton wrings some legitimate suspense out of several crisis situations including an encounter with a giant eel and a Krakatoa-like earthquake that almost spells doom for our heroes. How they escape is cleverly and convincingly played out. The movie also has a lush score by Harry Sukman (we'll leave it to you to pronounce his last name.)
Warner Archive's widescreen, region-free DVD looks very good indeed and boasts a couple of nice extras: an original production featurette and an original trailer (with Spanish sub-titles!). The company has wisely retained the magnificent poster art for the DVD sleeve.
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The word "restrained" doesn't often fit into analysis of Jerry Lewis' film career, but in Hook, Line and Sinker, a 1969 black comedy, the legendary funnyman is indeed restrained, as least in comparison to most of the characters he played. The film is an unusual entry from this period of Lewis' film work in that he did not direct the movie. Instead, George Marshall, an old hand at helming diverse films, took on that responsibility. There isn't much discernible difference in the end result and one could easily be forgiven if they were to assume that Lewis directed. He plays Peter Ingersoll, a typical middle class suburbanite who is living the American dream. He has a boring but steady 9 to 5 job as an insurance salesman, a pretty wife (Anne Francis), two polite children, a comfortable home and a devoted best friend, Scott Carter (Peter Lawford), who also happens to be his personal physician. The only consternation in the household is wife Nancy's concern about Peter's costly and self-indulgent hobby of deep sea fishing. Peter's mundane but comfortable existence comes to an abrupt end when Dr. Carter gives him the stunning news that a recent medical check-up has confirmed that he is terminally ill. Distraught and and depressed, Peter is stunned when Nancy suggests that he forsake his responsibilities as husband and father and enact an audacious plan whereby he will spend his last few months on a solo journey to exotic locations where he can spend his final days fishing. Nancy concocts a plot whereby the entire venture can be financed on credit cards that will never have to be paid. Additionally, his life insurance policy of $150,000 will ensure that his family can live in comfort (this was back in 1969, don't forget.) Peter is initially reluctant to engage in the scheme but he ultimately concedes. He ends up traveling to exotic locations as he wracks up enormous bills with carefree abandon. In Lisbon, he is shocked when Scott Carter appears unexpectedly with the news that an equipment malfunction on a medical device resulted in the wrong diagnosis. Peter isn't going to die, but has to pretend he has in order to escape prosecution for the monies owed to the credit card companies. Scott assures him that the statute of limitations last only seven years, after which he can reappear and resume his family life. By this point, the audience has long since figured out what Peter has to learn belatedly: that the entire plan has been an exercise in deceit on the part of Nancy and Scott. He discovers that the two are having an affair and that Nancy and his kids are in Lisbon, too, where they refer to his best friend as "Daddy Scott" even as their mother shares his bed. Emotionally devastated, Peter concocts a complex scheme of his own to exact revenge on his wife and friend.
Hook, Line and Sinker fares better than many of Lewis' late career big screen ventures in that the humor, characters and situations are more realistic and believable than those found in most Lewis films. The character of Peter is somewhat of a nerd and klutz but is far cry from the typical imbecile he usually portrays. Consequently, although he is dressed in a silly disguise when he discovers the deceit played upon him by those he trusts most, there is a certain genuine sadness that permeates the scene. The humor is also a bit more daring than usual, with the habitual abuse of corpses playing a central role in the plot. There are some over the top elements of the film, but for the most part it's a highly enjoyable, consistently amusing scenario well-played by an energized Lewis, who has a perfect foil in Lawford. It's really Lewis' show, however, with few memorable moments for supporting players other than Lewis perennial Kathleen Freeman, who makes a welcome appearance early in the film as the world's worst baby sitter. The actual on-location filming in Lisbon helps elevate the production values, even if the majority of the movie has clearly been shot in the studio. I'm a sucker for Jerry Lewis films, including this one, which remains one of his more successful efforts of the 1960s.
The Sony DVD is from the burn-to-order program and is region free. The transfer is top-notch but there are no extras. Sony should be a bit more generous in this area and provide at least a trailer, which we present for you here.
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On October 29 the landmark Loew's Jersey City historic movie palace will celebrate the Halloween season with a screening of "The Addams Family" feature film. This will be followed by festivities in the magnificent lobby including a costume contest, dancing, entertainment and a cash bar. Click here for details.
mid-to-late Seventies seemed rife with films that featured sharks and the
mysterious depths of the Bermuda waters. High class entries of course included
Jaws (1975) and The Deep (1977), both of which were based upon successful
novels by Peter Benchley. For every good example, there is naturally a fair
amount of cheaper, less impressive imitations.
Bermuda: Cave of the Sharks (1978) directed by Italian Tonino Ricci,
unfortunately lands in that category.
Andres (Andrés García ) and his partner Angelica (Janet Agren ) are hired to recover some treasures
from an aircraft that has ditched into the Bermuda Triangle, they face not only
human treachery but also the mysterious powers of an underwater civilization. Ricci’s
film did very little business and came about strictly because of the Italian
film industry’s love affair with shark movies.
Tonino Ricci did have the good sense to hire Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani
to write the score. The composer was becoming more than familiar with this particular
genre with Cipriani, also scoring Il triangolo delle Bermude (The Bermuda
triangle) (1978) and Uragano sulle Bermude l'ultimo S.O.S. (Encounters in the
score for Bermude La Fossa Maledetta is quite an eclectic mixture of styles. A
great number of the tracks serve as simplistic mood setters, not unlike
standard ‘library’ samples. There is nothing in the way of a memorable lush
theme or even a stand out action piece, which is strange considering that this
is an adventure movie. There is nothing that could be described as rousing. Instead,
Cipriani uses a recurring 6 note motif in various alternative forms.
Additionally, the listener is reminded that this is indeed 1978 and with it
comes plenty of bass guitar played over a Euro/Latin disco backing track, a
style that would come to dominate many Italian films from this particular period.
Cipriani’s score sticks very much to formula, with some nice little synthesised
cues thrown in along the way.
Chris' Soundtrack Corner's complete CD gets really interesting when it reaches the bonus material.
Cipriani seemingly gains access to a rather nice (if limited) set of orchestral
musicians. As a result, the music has a much improved, almost lush appeal and
provides a complete change of direction. Mysteriously, this only occurs for a
couple of tracks before reverting back to the more familiar synthesised
approach. However, even these ‘alternate’ versions seem to carry far more
weight and even provide some threatening wordless vocals which really hype up
the atmosphere. Ultimately, one is left wishing that there were a great deal
more strings and harmonies used within the context of Cipriani’s main score.
label Digitmovies had previously released a three-score, 2-CD set that featured
18 tracks from Bermude La Fossa Maledetta - but is now long deleted.Chris' Soundtrack Corner now offers the complete
score (31 tracks in total) with an additional 26 minutes of previously
unreleased material – an element which is bound to appeal to dedicated Cipriani
collectors. Comprehensive album notes are provided by John Bender contained within
an 8-page booklet.