welcomes reader correspondence. Please send any letters, suggestions or criticisms to
PRAISE FOR DEAN BRIERLY
finished reading the "GUNS, CAMERA, ACTION!" article and I loved it! I'd like
to see more from this guy, what a talented writer, that guy knows his stuff, and
is spot-on in perspective and opinion.
I'll be back
Cinema Retro responds: Bridget, we share your enthusiasm for Dean's writing and knowledge but really hate to pass these compliments along to him. The last time we did, it went straight to his head. We've already got reports that since receiving your letter, he is lounging about clad in an ascot and is insisting upon being addressed as "A Man Called Brierly".
STAR WARS REDUX
Thanks a whole lot for the article on Star Wars
by Bill Duelly. What a great perspective. His description of cueing up the
film at a special local showing in 1994 really captured the unique fun and
excitement that a projectionist in love with the art of movies can contribute
to in the right environment. Here´s hoping for more of that kind of
Duelly´s take on Star Wars as a movie (i.e.,
with historical context, general and personally subjective) --as a physical as
well as cultural artifact, with a social dimension-- was an especially rare
treat for the 30th anniversary. So much else has been about "the saga" and the
Thank you for an insightful article I can share
with and save for my young son, who´s a big Star Wars fan, but not convinced by
the pretentious "saga" concept either.
Cinema Retro responds: Thanks Greg...We have to admit to not being fanatical over the franchise the way many others are and that's why we also appreciated the nature of Bill's article. It gave the a human side to the impact the film had as opposed to simply debating the exact measurements of a storm trooper's helmet. While the new entries in the series may have been constructed primarily to sell toys at Burger King, there is no denying that George Lucas has created something that will be an integral part of popular culture for years to come. Our guess is even if they made a hundred more episodes, fans will still have the most appreciation for the first SW and Empire.
I recently visited the Cinema Retro website and carefully read the essay on the OHMSS
screening at the Film Forum’s “Vintage 007 and 60s Spies A Go-Go” festival in New York City. I
attended the early evening screening of OHMSS on Saturday and, I’m happy
to report, there were lots of laughs and applause and cheers at that showing as
well. I agree with almost all of the observations in your essay- but with one
caveat. I’m of the belief that OHMSS would be honored as a classic
007 film, regardless of whether it was Sean Connery or George Lazenby
wearing the shoulder holster. Lazenby’s performance is amazing –
especially when you consider his near-total lack of acting experience.
But it would seem to me that Peter Hunt was determined to bring Fleming’s (next-to-last)
great Bond novel to the screen in its original vision and I believe
Hunt’s decision would have held firm regardless of the actor portraying James
Bond. The fact that George Lazenby didn’t do Diamonds Are Forever
absolutely cheated fans out of a great follow-up to OHMSS, but (well
publicized personality conflicts with the Producers aside) I can’t imagine
Connery not at least consideringOHMSS had he known the direction
that Hunt was planning on taking the series; away from the gadgets and sci-fi
and towards the commission of a witty, intelligent screenplay and the return to
a From Russia With Love-type staging. There were so many moments
in the script – no doubt the result of Richard Maibaum’s respect for Connery’s
interpret – when the dialogue was so obviously tailored to a Connery-esque
delivery. A simple case in point would be when Bond rolls out of
Moneypenny’s office with his off-handed sign-off that he’s off for some
“beachcombing.” That’s a Sean Connery moment. And, of course,
having Connery cradle the late Mrs. Bond in the film’s final reel would have
had a far greater emotional impact on theater-goers… there’s just so much
history there, how could it not have? None of this is George Lazenby’s
fault, of course, and having said all this, OHMSS remains one of the
classic James Bond films and, unequivocally, ranks alongside FRWL and Goldfinger
as the best of the series “first phase”. I’m not of the oft-repeated
opinion that Connery mailed-in his performance in You Only Live Twice
(and having watched the film for the umpteenth time at the Forum on Friday, I
still believe that). George Lazenby was a great and credible James Bond -
no doubt about it - and I would have loved to see him stay on. But this
doesn’t change the argument that, sadly, Sean Connery walked away from the
series (at least) one film too soon
Cinema Retro responds: Thanks for the excellent observations, Hank. Actually, Peter Hunt only got the job of directing OHMSS because of the Connery departure. He was brought on board for his directorial debut largely because they felt they were going to do something bold to introduce the new 007.Thus, it's by no means certain that Hunt would have been given the job at all had Connery continued in the role. In fact, he had a falling out with the producers on You Only Live Twice because they backed off their promise to let him direct the film, opting instead for Lewis Gilbert. They very well may have continued with a known director had Connery not quit. In any event, we do agree the film would have been fascinating with Connery in the role - if they had remained respectful of the source novel. It's all speculation at this point with no clear answer. However, it seems unlikely this would have been the case simply because the series had ventured too far into the fantastic by that point. The same fate befell Pierce Brosnan- he could have done a hard-edged job in Casino Royale but he had been too closely associated with the gadget-laden Bonds that he had starred in. As for the dialogue, we agree- there were too many Connery-esque one-liners for Lazenby. As for Sean's performance in Twice, it's a matter of opinion. He's certainly fun to see in action , but we still think he had one eye on his watch while filming it.
ARE YOU LISTENING, FOX?
Lee and Dave,
Just in case you talk to anyone at Fox Home Entertainment soon,
could you please let them know how much at least one fan appreciates what
they're now doing featuring the original ad art and the old 20th Century-Fox
logo on the covers of their Classics Collections. As a fan of pre-1970 Fox,
it's like a dream come true for me.
Also, with the DVD special editions
of Fantastic Voyage and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea coming soon, I hope Fox
is readying the same sort of thing for Journey to the Center of the Earth. I
think the transfer they did for the DVD of this title is great, and I was
thrilled to finally see the original trailer, but I wish like hell it had a
commentary track and some extras. I think the movie has a lot of fans and
deserves such a treatment, and comments from cast members Pat Boone and Arlene
Dahl, both still alive and active, would be greatly appreciated (in case anyone
at Fox reads this).
And speaking of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea....
I'm really enjoying renting the TV series DVDs from Netflix (I can't afford to
buy everything I want), and I wonder if Cinema Retro plans an article on the
series soon? The transfers look fantastic and since I was a kid in the sixties
(born in '59) seeing the Fox "Color by DeLuxe" look restored is a huge
Cinema Retro Responds: Thanks for sharing your insights, Rory. Your observations regarding the special edition commentary tracks for these films really make sense and we'll pass them on to Fox brass. There is almost a moral obligation on the part of studios to solicit the participation of key actors and filmmakers for popular films from bygone eras, even if they may not have been Oscar winners. That's why we were delighted that Fox is producing special editions of films such as Our Man Flint and Von Ryan's Express. When cast and crew members can't be found for commentary tracks, there are always knowledgeable scholars and authors who can enlighten fans as to how the films were made. Regarding Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, we will indeed try to cover the series on the web site. The print magazine is still largely devoted to feature films, but with the enormous amount of potential articles and contributions that are always being submitted, we've launched the web site so we can accomodate more ideas. Thanks for your support!
AMERICA'S MOST WANTED: DVDS
Cinema Retro #7 is beautiful! Definitely worth 12 bucks!
It's a great idea to have a
DVDs Most Wanted column...Here's mine: the Traveling Executioner, Welcome Home Soldier Boys, The
Farmer, If ( a Lindsay Anderson omnibus featuring O Lucky Man and Britannia Hospital
also would be most welcome), Buster and Billie, Von Richtofen & Brown...I'll think of
later and send 'em on! Thanks.
Bill Ameen, North
Cinema Retro responds: All good suggestions, Bill. By the way, Von
Richthofen and Brown (also known as The Red Baron) starring John Philip Law will be released
on DVD in the USA in April. See posters below for the two different ad campaigns.
Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for
Ian Fleming's Bond Stories- by John Griswold (Authorhouse) (ISBN 1-4259-3100-6) It's a cultural
curiosity that some of the most in-depth analysis of Ian Fleming's life and career has come from
American writers who became smitten by the author's work when they were young boys. John Griswold's
updated edition to this previously issued volume is an impressive achievement. The title may get you
tongue-tied if you try to recite it after indulging in a few vodka Martinis, but this is probably the
most comprehensive analysis of Fleming's works ever undertaken. The phone-book sized edition presents
detailed analysis of virtually every aspect of every novel, right down to specific hands played during
card games. Painstakingly researched over a period of years, the book also features intriguing original
artwork by George Almond, a comprehensive glossary for every book and helpful maps and schematic
drawings. Griswold clearly wasn't aiming for a populist work, as this isn't a book you'd take to the
beach. However, it is a masterful example of an ambitious research project that has been superbly
realized.- Lee Pfeiffer
Arriving with virtually no fanfare late last year, Warner's
long-awaited DVD release of MGM's 1962 epic remake of Mutiny on the Bounty was included in a
boxed set of Marlon Brando films. The double-disc set includes a wealth of vintage production
featurettes, but the real treat is the restoration of the missing prologue and epilogue. If you didn't
know about these, you're not alone. Lavish sums were spent to film both sequences only to have them cut
immediatley prior to the film's roadshow releases - probably due to factors of running time. The
missing scenes are not edited into the feature, but are presented as stand-alone extras.
I've just been given the keys to the Aston Martin.
At least, that's what
it feels like to write this column for Cinema Retro's new and improved website. It's a responsibility I
don't take lightly -
unlike 007's flippant rejoinders to Q's lectures on the DB5's capabilities. Editor
in chief Lee Pfeiffer has (perhaps unwisely) given me license to fill this space with whatever wayward
and outrageous reflections strike my fancy, as long as I keep the steering wheel pointed more or less in the
direction of cult film and television. I just hope he never feels the urge to trigger the ejector seat.