Original one sheet poster designed by artist Robert McGinnis
By Lee Pfeiffer
With Elvis mania in high gear the summer to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The King's passing, a virtual tsunami of Presley DVD releases have been unleashed by the major studios. Most of the reviews tend to focus on Elvis's "golden era" of the 1950s and scant attention has been paid to his films from a decade later. These are generally considered to be lightweight entries at best, with the exception of Viva Las Vegas! Thus, it's interesting to examine some of Elvis' lesser works from the late 1960s. Warner Home Entertainment has just released Stay Away, Joe, a 1968 vehicle for The King that actually had a prestigious pedigree: it was based on an acclaimed best-selling book. As expected, much was lost in the translation to the screen. Elvis stars as a hip, younger generation American Indian who returns to his family's ramshackle house on the reservation after establishing a reputation as a Mr. Fix-It who employs less than honorable methods to solve problems, initiate shady business deals, etc. Because of his charisma, he is greeted as the Prodigal Son upon his return with men wanting to emulate him and the local girls salivating at the sight of him. This isn't quite as preposterous as it sounds, as Elvis was still in top physical condition at this point in his life and does indeed cut a handsome figure whether its on a motorcycle or riding a tempermental bull in a rodeo. In fact, there's a lot of bull in Stay Away, Joe but only some of it is on the range. The rest is in the screenplay.
Did You ever imagine what life must have been like in Rome during the era of Fellini's La Dolce Vita? Shirley Sealy doesn't have to - she lived it. As a young woman influenced by the new era of films in which females were seen as independent, adventurous travelers, Shirley left Denver, Colorado on a whim to move to Rome. She had no friends there, no job- only a few names of potential contacts scribbled down. Somehow, she not only managed to survive, but thrive and was quickly engulfed in the wonderful madness that was Rome in the early 1960s. During her time there, Fellini's ground-breaking film opened - and revolutionized not only the world of cinema but other key aspects of society ranging from fashion to sex.
WHEN SEX HAD APPEAL: MARCELLO MASTROIANNI AND ANITA EKBERG IN FELLINI'S MASTERPIECE
In issue #8 of Cinema Retro, Shirley (who went on to become a respected film critic and author) relives her experiences and publishes an excerpt from an essay she wrote at the time she was living La Dolce Vita. We truly believe that Cinema Retro attracts the finest film scholars and writers anywhere. This excerpt from Shirley Sealy's 1961 essay proves the point:
Hours spent at the Café de Paris, in the
afternoon for aperitivos, at night for coffee and brandy and crowd
watching….Short, narrow Via Margutta, my home away from home, and the Taverna
there, with Columbo, the elderly proprietor, card player and admirer of
women….Of course, all Italian men are admirers of women….The constant
summertime circus of parties, wine, conversations in several languages,
espresso bars and sports cars....Thrill of thrills—riding in a Maserati with a
handsome Italian aristocrat (a count, he said) and finding a parking spot right
in front of the tables at Doney’s….To Davy’s Blue Room, a popular bar
downstairs at the Colony (the best hamburgers in town),to mingle with the expat movie, newspaper and
embassy people….Sunday excursions with Italian friends to the beach at Fregene,
to sit on the sand and eat raw mussels out of plastic bags….To the small
trattorias in Trastevere, with their seafood stench and crazy ways to disguise
squid…An elegant feast at a grand restaurant on the grounds of a palazzo on
Monte Mario, with torches hung in the trees and mandolin players strolling by,
and me in an off-the-shoulder, crinoline-skirted black silk, with my new guy—my
new French/American guy—in his tux….Or, on other nights, the two of us dancing
at the nightclub barges of the Tevere, along with the Pincio prostitutes—in
their beehive hairdos and short, flower-printed dresses— having a grand time
with their clients or their pimps….Walking down the Spanish steps while
marveling at a spectacular red-gold sunset behind the dome of St.
Peter’s….Riding in a horse drawn carriage through the magnolia-lined lane in
Borghese Gardens… Midnight walks to see the floodlit ancient collosseo, and
touch its cold, ancient stones while listening to fountains dripping in the
ancient Foro Romano….Flirting madly with gorgeous Italian men, preening dandies
all, who loiter on the sidewalks and call out “ciao, bella, ciao….you wanna
make a walk?”….Too little sleep, too much wine. In Roma, la vita e troppo
FOR SHIRLEY SEALY'S COMPLETE ARTICLE AND HER REFLECTIONS ON FELLINI'S FILM , SEE CINEMA RETRO ISSUE #8
After successfully joining forces for the new John Wayne 100th Birthday DVD promotion, Warner Home Video and Paramount Home Entertainment have come up with a blockbuster Elvis Presley promotion that will see WB releasing Elvis:The Hollywood Collection with six feature films and Paramount releasing The Lights! Action! Elvis! collection consisting of eight major features starring the King. Additionally, several major Elvis concert films will be released and coordinated with a festival relating to Presley to be held at Graceland that will be held between August 11-18. Warners will be screening Elvis films on the grounds of Graceland during the festival. Continue reading for the full official press release.
MGM/20th Century Fox has just released
a 2-DVD set of director Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer
recently caught up with one of the stars of the film, Veronica Cartwright for
her reflections on that Hollywood rarity: a
remake that in many ways equals or exceeds the quality of the original. Successful as a child actor,by 1978 Veronica Cartwright already had an impressive
acting resume, having worked with Audrey Hepburn in The Children’s Hour and been directed by Alfred Hitchcock in The Birds. She has worked consistently
in recent years, gaining Emmy nominations for The X Files and appearing in new, major motion pictures and TV
series. She will also be appearing in the new version of the Body Snatchers story, The Invasion with Nicole Kidman and
Daniel Craig. Veronica Cartwright has a
wealth of stories about working with giants in the industry as well as the
ups-and-downs most actors experience in their careers. She is unpretentious and
good-humored and all too happy to recall one of the major films of her career
for Cinema Retro.
CR: You started
as a child actor and over the years seem to have become associated with some
iconic TV shows and movies dealing with sci-fi and the supernatural. Did you
intentionally seek out work in this genre?
VC: I have no
idea why that is. At one point I had done so many that I thought to myself, “My
God, I’m the queen of sci-fi!” I was just accepting the work that came along.
Actually, I had done a couple of Alfred
Hitchcock Presents shows and I had appeared on One Step Beyond when I was seven or eight years old. I guess that’s
how the whole thing started. Then I did the Twlight
Zone episode called I Sing the Body
Electric that’s one of the classic ones that’s shown every Halloween.
Actor Robert Vaughn reflects on the everlasting appeal of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and how the show was initially almost cancelled. The interview is with writer Christopher Stipp from the web site www.quickstopentertainment.com He also discusses the forthcoming U.N.C.L.E. DVD set and his highly successful TV series Hustle. Here are some highlights:
I’m writing an autobiography and it was just last week…David McCallum,
who was my co-star on U.N.C.L.E., they’re putting a DVD of all four
seasons, and Warner Brothers, who are putting out the DVDs asked us to
be sat down and be interviewed for this. It lasted about three hours
and it was because of this where I went and thought about why
U.N.C.L.E. was as successful as it was, when it was. There were a
number of reasons. Mainly, it was because of the success of the Bond
pictures. Next, David and I were successful in engaging a young
audience. And, the next most important reason was the time slot.
Because, when we went on the air, in 1964 we were on the verge of being
cancelled two months after we started because our Nielsen ratings were
so low. They changed our time slots from Tuesday night to Monday night
but one of the things about that is that the show caught on with
college students who were away at school. In those days, in regular
houses, there was just one black and white set so when they came back,
during the holidays, they were the ones controlling what was being
And so, the ratings suddenly went through the roof and, by the summer,
when they re-ran the entire first season, it wound up being the number
one show in the country almost a year after it almost canceled. It was
mostly all due to college students and it the time slot was moved once
more accordingly and the show remained a huge hit.
It's always nice to get a good review- especially when it's unsolicited! Count best-selling crime author Ed Gorman among the ever-increasing ranks of Cinema Retro fans. Ed writes on his blog:
"Even though I'm no fan of Dean Martin or the Matt Helm movies, Matthew
Bradley, one of the best of all writers on popular culture, manages to
make both subjects a lot more interesting than they deserve to be in
his long piece now available on Cinema Retro."
And if you need yet another reason to support Cinema Retro by subscribing to our print version, Ed Gorman also calls us, "One of the finest film magazines available anywhere." Thanks, Ed...your check is in the mail!
Looking for a chill during the dog days of summer? Check out
the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s delicious quartet of Roman Polanski
thrillers: Summer Chills: Four by Roman Polanski. Screening Monday, July
30, and Wednesday, Aug. 1, at the Walter Reade Theater at LincolnCenter in New York. The series features the acclaimed
director’s cult favorite The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) and all
three classics in what some commentators have labeled the Apartment Trilogy:
Repulsion (1965), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), and The Tenant (1976).
Given the horrors contained in the Apartment Trilogy, what
would our favorite Polish director have made of today’s rental market? A
first-time viewer of Rosemary’s Baby might take away this central
message: You’ll need no less a connection than SATAN to land a three-bedroom
apartment in the Dakota when you’re a newly married, out-of-work actor and have
no visible means of income.
Roman Polanski stars in and directs "The Tenant"
The Tenant, a harrowing tale of urban
isolation and paranoia, is instead a single renter’s nightmare: Not only have
you (Roman Polanski) just moved into the apartment of a suicide victim, your
landlord (Melvyn Douglas) hates you. The more you attempt to keep out of
everyone’s way, the more things keep going terribly wrong. Like finding the
former tenant’s tooth in the wall. Or the nightmarish visions none of your
fellow tenants believe—even the one of the mummy-woman in the bathroom window
across the courtyard who stares at you as you attempt to pee. The message:
Living alone, while initially liberating and bohemian, usually ends in your
becoming That Weird Guy Down the Hall Who Does Creepy Drag. The only solution
is to throw yourself out the window.
If you fail the first time, repeat.
If you can buy the premise of Catherine Deneuve as a repressed, sexually frustrated virgin, you'll love Polanski's classic chiller "Repulsion".
Repulsion, conversely, is more of a
cautionary tale about what your anti-social roommate does when you go on
vacation. So desperate is she for company, hands will reach out of the walls.
Figures will appear in mirrors. She will pull your food out of the fridge, then
not eat it. Psycho-sexual frustration will lead to her crawling around on all
fours and delusions of rape. The message: Roommates, like pets, are high
maintenance, especially when left alone. Either take them with you on vacation,
or while you’re away, call your answering machine and make soothing sounds into
Mia Farrow isn't reacting to another rent increase at the Dakota, she's defending her unborn child from Satanic influences in Rosemary's Baby
Back to Rosemary’s Baby, I can’t resist. Oft-cited as
one of the “scariest films of all time,” I think of itas more of a
touchstone of inspired casting – maybe the most inspired works of casting ever.
Stuffed to the rafters with everyone from 1930’s contract players (Patsy Kelly,
Ralph Bellamy); robust, British thespians (Maurice Evans, in a role that fits
him like an old houseshoe); vaudevillians (Phil Leeds, Elisha Cook), Broadway
actors (Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer) and a winking cameo by William Castle,
the film’s co-producer (Robert Evans would not let him direct as part of the
deal at Paramount) – it’s hard to imagine a better ensemble. But according to
IMDB.COM and other sources, the leads and supporting roles were the result of
weeks of negotiations, turn-downs and second choices. Polanski wanted Tuesday Weld for the
lead, and Castle wanted Mia Farrow. Jane Fonda was made an offer for the lead,
but turned it down so she could make Barbarella (1968). Both director
and producer wanted Robert Redford for the role of Guy Woodhouse, Rosemary's
husband, but negotiations broke down when Paramount's lawyers served the actor
a subpoena over a contractual dispute involving Silvio Narizzano’s film Blue
(1968). Other actors considered for the role of Guy were contemporary leading
men: Richard Chamberlain, Robert Wagner and James Fox. Legend has it that even
Laurence Harvey campaigned for it, and Polanski tried to convince Warren Beatty
to do it before offering it to John Cassavetes, who in 1968 was more known as a
TV actor. Perhaps most intriguing to imagine, for the roles of witch coven
leaders Minnie and Roman Castevet, Polanski suggested Alfred Lunt and Lynn
Fontanne (!) the renowned husband and wife Broadway acting duo. Might they have
given their roles more of a Noel Coward drawing room feel, consistent with
their theatrical careers? I guess we’ll never know. Hard to imagine Minnie
Castevet as anyone other than Ruth Gordon, in her Oscar-winning performance.
well-cast bit parts are by Emmaline Henry, who played Dr. Bellow’s wife on I
Dream of Jeannie (Rosemary and Guy’s party scene) and Victoria Vetri,
1968’s Playmate of the Year, who plays the ill-fated, adopted runaway Terry
Gionoffrio. When Rosemary meets her in the laundry room and asks “Aren’t you
Victoria Vetri?” she replies no, “but everyone says I look like her.” It is,of course,
Victoria Vetri, all 36-21-35” of her! – David Savage
Wende Wagner also appeared in "Rosemary's Baby," a film that used the Dakota
but wasn't supposed to be set there...Robert Redford in "Blue"? It's bad enough with Terence Stamp, but Redford?
The mind boggles!- Rory Monteith
Director Ridley Scott can't stop tinkering with his 1982 sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner. The film has had more surgery than Joan Rivers' face with numerous cuts and refinements ranging from major to minor having been made over the years. The film, which was a financial and critical flop upon its initial release, has gone on to earn many millions as its popularity spread through home video. The complexities of the story have long been debated by legions of fans who argue many key points of the story and explore possible hidden meanings. Scott clashed about the artistic direction of the script throughout the filming with star Harrison Ford, who has long relegated his experience on Blade Runner as one of the most unpleasant of his career. He's spoken very little about the film in the ensuing years. The Scott/Ford feud is an unfortunate byproduct of what has emerged as one of the great science fiction films of all time.
Warner Brothers has now announced that they will release an "Ultimate Edition" of Blade Runner this December. The set- which will carry the bizarre suggested retail price of $78.92- will contain five different cuts of the film, including Scott's latest which he admits differs very little from the 1992 cut that made major changes from the theatrical version. Presumably this is the final version of the film unless Scott decides to emulate Barbra Streisand whose latest concert tour celebrates the tenth anniversary of her "retirement". There will also be other variations of the release aside from the "Ultimate Edition". Additionally, the new version will have a limited theatrical run in New York and Los Angeles. Continue reading for full details from Warner Brothers' official press release and a comprehensive listing of the various forthcoming DVD editions of the film. Video business has a full report on the Blade Runner set and comments from Scott on the film. Click here to read
Steve McQueen's first wife, Neile McQueen Toffel was married to the iconic superstar for 15 years during which she experienced the bliss of seeing her husband become an international superstar. This euphoria was eventually compromised by his constant insecurities, his failure to resist sexual temptations and his immersion in the hippie lifestyle of the late 1960s. In an informative and astonishingly frank exclusive interview given to the website www.mcqueenonline.com, Neile sheds some fascinating anecdotes and rememberances that are both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
RARE PHOTOS OF STEVE AND NEILE MCQUEEN FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVES
The McQueens in Japan are guests of honor at a dinner as part of the promotion for The Sand Pebbles.
The McQueens make a rare appearance at a Hollywood party in the late 1960s. Steve McQueen generally avoided such gatherings, preferring to socialize with guys on the race car circuit.
Corny candids such as this were all the rage in the old fan magazines. The purpose was to show movie stars in an idyllic home life. In fact, McQueen had wild mood swings ranging from euphoric to virtual paranoia.
As a companion piece to his article on the lost John Cassavetes classic Too Late Blues, Cinema Retro columnist Dean Brierly spoke to the film's star Stella Stevens, who recalls the movie in this exclusive interview.
I read that John
Cassavetes originally wanted Gena Rowlands and Montgomery Clift for the
film. How did you and Bobby Darin come to be cast instead?
heard about his wife Gena being considered for the character I played;
this is news to me. Paramount had promised me that my next film would
be with Montgomery Clift, but he was too sick to play [in it], so they
got Bobby for the role, and he was excellent as Ghost. He was a great
actor as well as a musician.
What did you think of Cassavetes as a director?
I called his style “no directing” directing, as my character did “no singing” singing [wordless vocalizing] in the film.
expressed frustration with what he perceived as studio interference and
working with people he felt didn’t care about the film. Do you know who he was referring to?
not. He must have been drunk to say that, because he had one of the
finest crews Paramount could put together for him, a great actor in
Bobby, and, of course, my splendid acting as well.
Laszlo Kovacs, the esteemed cinematographer who shot classics such as Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces died Saturday at age 74. Although a cancer survivor, Kovacs appears to have died in his sleep of natural causes. Ironically, he was in the midst of co-operating on a new documentary about him and his long time friend, cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. The two had been classmates in Hungary when the 1956 revolt against the Soviets broke out. Both men became impromptu cinematographers on the spur of the moment by filming the violent demonstrations in the streets. The resulting footage made its way to CBS and paved the way for both men to have highly successful careers as directors of photography on some of the most influential films of the 1970s. For Kovacs, it was his shooting of the unheralded Easy Rider that brought him his first major acclaim. The low budget road movie shook the entire film industry upon its release in 1969 and helped usher in the a new generation of bold filmmaking. Kovacs reaped acclaim for his imaginative methods of filming the tragic tale.
Cinema Retro writer David Savage revisits a key film from Britain's golden age of movie-making.
Leading The Charge: Woodfall Film Productions and the
Revolution in ‘60’s British Cinema, July 13-26, 2007. Walter Reade Theater,
Lincoln Center, New York
Celebrating one of the most influential studios in the
development of cinema and bringing back to the big screen an era’s most
important films, the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York is presenting a two-week
showcase of the key films of Woodfall Film Productions, formed in 1956 by Tony
Richardson, John Osborne (Look Back in Anger) and American producer
Taking audiences out of the studio and into the streets,
where the real stories were, Richardson
and his partners favored realism above all: young, fresh actors, location
shooting, and narratives featuring controversial subjects such as interracial
dating and sex, homosexuality and class. Clumsily over-reaching in some parts,
deeply moving in others, but true to their founding spirit, the lasting
legacies of Woodfall were the exciting new generation of British actors it
introduced to Sixties audiences: Lynn Redgrave, Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay
and Rita Tushingham; as well as the example set for succeeding generations of
British filmmakers to examine these subjects with an uncompromising honesty.
A Taste of Honey (1961), directed by Tony Richardson,
is a key example in this cinema of the Angry Young Men, as it was alternately
called. Although time may have blunted the impact of its taboo-busting issues,
46 years on, it’s no less flavorful for its powerful performances, most notably
Rita Tushingham in her breakout role as Jo, through whose wide, expressive eyes
we see a grim world of mean expectations.
In a sad irony, just a day after Cinema Retro posted Diana Blackwell's major article about the 1964 classic war film Zulu, comes word that one of the featured actors in the movie,
Ivor Emmanuel, who played Pte. Owen in the movie has passed away. The Welsh star of stage and screen was
largely unknown to American audiences - but fans of Zulu will recall his shining moment in the movie when he leads the outnumbered British garrison at Rorke's Drift in singing Men of Harlech to raise morale and drown out the chants of the Zulu warriors who are about to attack. Ellen Baker, widow of Zulu producer and star Stanley Baker said, "It is a terribly sad day. It was Ivor who held Zulu together - he was the lynchpin and I just adored him. He was the sweetest most gentle man." Ivor Emmanuel was 80 years old. Click here for the BBC report.
We once received a letter from a subscriber who said that while Cinema Retro is his favorite film magazine, the content was best suited for a magazine titled Cinema Hetero. We confess to being guilty of over-emphasizing stories that tend to favor middle-aged, straight white guys because...er...our magazine is put together by two middle aged, straight white guys. However, our new web site has liberated us to expand our horizons and be more inclusive with our content. Let's face it...straight guys see hints of lesbianism in everything including the Ginger and Maryann scenes from Gilligan's Island. Are these just absurd fantasies or are there really intentional, latent homoerotic images in some of our most cherished films and TV series?
Journalist Diana Blackwell examines this scenario as it pertains to one of the most beloved war films of all time, the 1964 epic Zulu which recounted the legendary stand by a small number of British soldiers against an overwhelming number of Zulu warriors. In England, this is the equal of the American's Alamo - only with a happy ending. In this analysis, Ms. Blackwell examines latent homoerotic images in the film. Is this simply a case of a female perceiving homoerotic fantasies that don't reflect the intended content of a film or has she uncovered some hidden messages in oft-viewed classic adventure story? You can judge for yourself - but we think this article will tempt you to view Zulu again just to examine her thoroughly-researched conclusions. At the very least, Ms. Blackwell's article about Zulu gives an all new perspective to "keeping the British end up."
always seemed like a sexy movie to me despite its lack of love scenes or
romantic subplots.The sexiness has
little to do with Zulu’s few scenes
of women:the bare-breasted Zulu girls
aren’t onscreen for very long, whilethe
missionary’s daughter, Miss Witt, is buttoned-up in every way. 1
No, Zulu is sexy because of its men
and the subtly homoerotic quality of their interactions.
For anyone who was out of diapers in 1972, the sensation caused by the release of director Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris is still an indelible memory. Marlon Brando starred in the groundbreaking story of a middle-aged American ex-patriate living in Paris who tries to cope with his wife's suicide by having anonymous sexual flings with a free-spirited young woman. As their relationship deepens, tragic consequences occur. Brando was still in the midst of a decade-long career slump. He filmed Last Tango before The Godfather was released. That film won him an Oscar and put him back atop Hollywood royalty. The release of Last Tango shocked both critics and audiences with its startlingly frank depiction of kinky sex. Not overlooked, however, was what many feel was Brando's bravest and most effective screen performance. It is inconceivable that such a major film would be made today. No major studio would finance it and no leading star would be brave enough to appear in it. The film was banned in numerous countries and Bertolucci's native Italy branded it "obscene" and for a time, there were criminal warrants issued for him and the film's stars.
BERTOLUCCI DIRECTS BRANDO AND SCHNEIDER: A SCANDAL IN THE MAKING
Actress Maria Schneider was only 19 years old when she was cast as Brando's object of desire. Schneider was perfect in the part. Her geninune innocence gave the film an erotic quality it might not have had with a more seasoned actress. However, she was already leading a troubled personal life when cast in the film. Her raw sex scenes with Brando are still the stuff of screen legend, including an infamous sequence of anal rape. With the sensational response to the film an international phenomenon, many felt Schneider would be immediately propelled to stardom. However, despite a couple of high profile screen roles, she virtually vanished into oblivion. Now, on the 35th anniversary of the film, The Daily Mail of London has an exclusive interview with her that is both moving and revealing. Click here to read it
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away movie posters were actually considered works of art. The artists who created them were allowed to let their imaginations run wild and even B movies often boasted posters with magnificent artwork. Today, however, that era is all but gone. Movie posters generally consist of bland head shots of the stars and look like they were created by a high school apprentice working on a scanner during lunch break. In this exclusive article for Cinema Retro, Sim Branaghan, author of the new book British Film Posters: An Illustrated History, celebrates a bygone era in which movie fans would salivate over posters of forthcoming films.
Where does any love-affair with the cinema really begin? Mine, unfortunately, appears to have begun with the Christmas 1970 reissue of Mary Poppins at Walsall’s ABC cinema – or at least, it did according to my mother. Being then just a few weeks short of my fourth birthday, I have no recollection of the trip. But things improved as the years passed – The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Island At the Top of the World, At the Earth’s Core, Star Wars, Warlords of Atlantis, and many others were cheerfully enjoyed in the faded glamour of local Black Country fleapits like the Wolverhampton Odeon, Dudley Plaza, and West Bromwich Kings, all now sadly long-vanished.
One thing you couldn’t ignore about these films, while queuing patiently outside to get in (remember that?) were their posters – glorious full-colour paintings, often tending to depict Doug McClure being menaced by an irritable dinosaur. They were frequently more memorable than the films themselves.
The Living Daylights (1987) with art by Brian Bysouth, was the last major
British film to use 'painted' artwork on a quad poster design. Definitely
the end of a magnificent era for not only film posters, but the Bond style.
of artwork too.
It's enormous. It's mean. It has no intelligence, so it can't be reasoned with. It devours everything in sight including the local diner. No, this isn't another story about Rosie O'Donnell, but something far more important to civilized society: a report on the annual "Blobfest", a celebration of the community in which the 1957 Steve McQueen shlock classic was filmed. Our intrepid writer Hank Reineke braved the wilds of rural Pennsylvania to report for Cinema Retro on this year's festival, which marked a half century since production began on the beloved sci-fi "epic". His report:
The best public relations for jelly since the invention of peanut butter, our frost-bitten friend The Blob thawed out long enough to once again menace the Colonial Theater.
PA – JULY 13/14 -
Perhaps there is no more fitting a date than Friday the 13th to kick
off the Colonial Theatre’s 8th Annual “Blobfest.” The year 2007
marked the 50th anniversary of the actual filming of the revered science-fiction B-movie classic and the “Blobfest” committee planned to
commemorate this hallowed event accordingly. For starters, this year’s
“Blobfest” was subtitled “An Inconvenient Blob,” a not-so-subtle nod and a wink
to Al Gore’s alarm-bell documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” The tie-in here
is, of course, Steve McQueen’s final line of dialogue in “The Blob” when he
earnestly notes that the world will remain safe from the monster – now frozen by
CO2 fire extinguishers and soon to be imprisoned in ice – “as long as the arctic
stays cold.” On this summer’s day, the sold-out crowd at the two o’clock
screening howled at the line.
AS PART OF OUR CONTINUING CELEBRATION OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BLOB, WE DIP INTO OUR ARCHIVES FOR A VINTAGE INTERVIEW WITH ACTRESS ANETA CORSEAUT:
late actress Aneta Corseaut is best known to TV fans for her
long-running role as school teacher Helen Crump on the legendary Andy Griffith Show series. Back in the early 1990s, she granted an exclusive interview to Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer for his book The Official Andy Griffith Show Scrapbook. During the course of the interview, Ms. Corseaut recalled filming The Blob:
was done by a group of very religious people who thought if they made a
science fiction film, they could raise enough money to do religious
movies. Everyone connected to it was so religious: the producers, the
director. I remember Steve McQueen drove the producers crazy! He was
more of a maverick in those days, real hell on wheels. Every day the
filmmakers would go into prayer meetings- they would pray to everything
including the makeup brushes! They would always finish by saying, "And
save us from Steve McQueen!" They worked us about eighteen hours a day
on that picture. I ended up with pneumonia from the scene where we were
locked into a freezer.. They gave me two hours off so I could get a
shot from a doctor! When we were filming, I always kept moving around
so my back was to the camera as much as possible. When it opened, I
left the country and hoped it would blow over. Of course, it became a
big hit quite by accident but I haven't seen it in about fifteen
years." (Interview copyright Lee Pfeiffer)
(SEE WRITER HANK REINEKE'S RELATED STORY FOR EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE OF "BLOBFEST '07" )
Two major soundtracks have been released by Film Score Monthly on one limited edition CD. The Bridge At Remagen features one of master composer Elmer Bernstein's most requested scores, but a soundtrack LP was never issued to tie in with the release of the 1969 war film that depicted the fall of the last bridge leading into Nazi Germany. The big budget film was largely under-rated in its day and had an interesting history: it was shooting on location in Czechosolvakia when the Soviets invaded in 1968, causing the cast and crew to be subjected to house arrest. Stars Robert Vaughn and Ben Gazzara fled the country in a daring nocturnal escape that is recounted in Gazzara's recent autobiography. The film also starred George Segal and features some of the best action sequences ever devised for a war movie.
ROBERT VAUGHN GAVE A SUPERB PERFORMANCE AS A GERMAN OFFICER FACED WITH STOPPING HIS ENEMIES OR SAVING HIS OWN TROOPS IN "THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN."
The Train was the 1965 film that would prove to be one of the last major black and white studio releases. Burt Lancaster teamed with director John Frankenheimer for this superb action thriller in which a member of the French Resistance attempts to prevent a German officer from looting France's art treasures in the closing days of the war. A soundtrack of composer Maurice Jarre's score had been issued for the film in 1965 but it has been hard to come by in recent years.
Author and Cinema Retro columnist Raymond Benson takes a look at two new books about a master filmmaker:
Façade—Faces and Voices in the Films of Stanley
Kubrickby Jason Sperb (Scarecrow
The Philosophy of
Stanley Kubrickedited by Jerold J. Abrams (The University Press of
Stanley Kubrick has always been one
of those film directors who is often the subject of serious, scholarly
study.The reasons are simple enough—the
late artist’s work belongs in that rare category of Hollywood-produced popular “art
films,” made outside of the Hollywood system, that attracted spirited debates
among critics and audiences alike.No
one Kubrick film ever received unanimously positive (or negative) reviews; no
Kubrick film could be called a true financial “blockbuster” (but none were
considered “bombs” either); and no Kubrick film elicits the same reactions from
collective audience members.More books
have been written about the work of Stanley Kubrick than any other filmmaker
except, perhaps, Alfred Hitchcock.Two
more tomes hit the shelves this year and both are again serious, scholarly
studies published by non-mainstream, academic presses.
For decades, John Wayne's liberal political opponents had called for his scalp. Now, on what would have been the Duke's 100th birthday, their wish has finally been fulfilled. At Juliens' recent auction of rare movie props and memorabilia, Mr. Wayne's hirsute chapeau from the 1970 western classic Chisum sold for close to $2,000. No word on how Juliens obtained the item, but we thought it was getting a little wobbly during Duke's mano-a-mano fistfight with Forrest Tucker in the film! Just call it the ultimate Wayne "hairloom".
As readers of Cinema Retro's print magazine know, we have recently uncovered a wealth of rare and unpublished photos from the making of both Our Man Flint and its sequel In Like Flint. If, like Austin Powers, these are your favorite films, than the photo
spread we've incorporated should be enough to break the mold off your
checkbook and finally subscribe! After all, an annual subscription costs what you wasted for two tickets and a popcorn bucket to endure Evan Almighty.
Issue #8 features dozens of rare photos from the Flint films. Here a few teaser shots from In Like Flint:
"We only want guys who read Cinema Retro!" Like most films of the 1960s, unit photographers were enlisted to shoot plenty of cheesecake photos for publicity purposes. Here, some of the Flint lovelies pose in a gloriously superfluous photo that has nothing to do with the film itself.
Flint uses a recruiting poster as a clever disguise to infiltrate Z.O.W.I.E. HQ.
Two healthy lasses man the Flint Health Bar. If all bartenders looked like this, we'd trade our Boddington's Pub Ale for seaweed juice any day. The shot was part of the publicity shoot done on location in Jamaica.
Author Jacqueline Susanne visits Lee J. Cobb on the set. Susanne's best-seller "Valley of the Dolls" was being adapted for the screen on the Fox lot at the time.
James Coburn clowns with director Gordon Douglas on the set
ISSUE #8 IS ALMOST SOLD OUT AND IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR INDIVIDUAL PURCHASE. YOU CAN OBTAIN IT BY SUBSCRIBING FOR THE CURRENT SEASON AND ALSO RECEIVING ISSUES #7 AND #9 (DUE OUT IN OCTOBER). SEE SUBSCRIPTION SECTION FOR DETAILS.
The producers of the forthcoming documentary about the making of Jaws- The Shark is Still Working-have launched a major new trailer for the production on their web site. They have scored a coup by having actor Percy Rodrigues to narrarate. Rodrigues provided the narration for the film's original trailer in 1975 and his dramatic reading sent chills through the spines of audiences months before Jaws went into release. The long-in-production tribute to Steven Spielberg's classic thriller continues to attract prestigious names. Recently, actor and Cinema Retro contributor Richard Kiel was interviewed about the influence the film had on the character of Jaws, who he played in the James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. The new trailer perfectly captures the legacy of the film and the enduring enthusiasm for all things Jaws-related. To view the trailer, visit the official web site by clicking here.
We're second to none in our praise of the Master, Alfred Hitchcock - and we love his 1963 thriller The Birds even if it does take the equivilent of the ice age to finally get into the action scenes. Given that Hitch was known to be obsessed with insuring the technical aspects of his films were spot-on, it's surprising how many technical and continuity errors exist in this film. According to the folks at www.moviemistakes.com, there are over 500 of these glitches in the final cut of the film! One can only think that the Master's continuity team was...well, for the birds. To view all of the mistakes, click here.
To commemorate John Wayne's 100th birthday, Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief will be reviewing several of the key DVD titles recently released as part of the many tributes to the Duke. Here, editor in chief Lee Pfeiffer, author of The John Wayne Scrapbook looks at Wayne's Oscar-winner.
Duke in the final confrontation in "True Grit": his finest screen moment?
I know there isn't another film critic or scholar in the world who will share my view on this, but True Grit is my favorite western- ever. While virtually everyone agrees the movie is worthy of high praise and it garnered John Wayne some of the best reviews of his career, not to mention his only Oscar, the film is generally left out of any discussion regarding the great westerns. I'm not going to try to make a case to bring everyone over to my point of view because I freely concede that True Grit isn't the best western of all time, just my favorite western of all time. My opinion is probably colored by sentiment. It's not unusual for people to allow pleasant memories of where and when they saw a particular film to color their critical assessment of it. In my case, I saw the movie on opening day, July 4, 1969 at the magnificent Radio City Music Hall. At age 13, I was accompanied by my mom and dad- both dyed-in-the-wool Duke Wayne fans. We expected just another enjoyable, but routine Wayne horse opera. However, we knew from minute one this film was different. It seemed to be made outside of the universe of stock company actors and technicians who dominated most of Wayne's films. The tipping point was the classic sequence in which Wayne faces down Robert Duvall and three of his men across an open-meadow and responds to Duvall's taunt that he's a one-eyed fat man by shouting "Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!"
MPAA CONSIDERS WARNING LABELS RELATING TO SMOKING IN FILMS
By Lee Pfeiffer
As though lousy profit margins and the need to charge the equivilent of a 30-year mortgage for a popcorn and soft drink combo isn't enough to drive movie theater owners into despair, now comes word that the Motion Picture Association of America may bend to pressure from health groups to factor "pervasive smoking" into their ratings decision for feature films. This means that at a time when theaters are finally getting bums in seats for major movies, the MPAA may provide an impediment to getting younger viewers to see certain movies if they are deemed to have scenes of excessive lighting up. No sane person would argue that smoking is a terrible and self-destructive habit - and among all the stupid things I've done in my life I can say with pride that smoking cigarettes has never been among them. (In fact, it's just about the only stupid thing I've never done!) However, we are now issuing so many warnings for so many acts of personal misbehavior that the situation has become ludicrous. We have safety labels on everything ("Do not attempt to swallow this pitchfork!") and their sheer number has rendered them all but meaningless. The MPAA has been coy about their plans. It's unclear whether the smoking warning would only apply to films in which it is deemed to be shown irresponsibly, or whether it would apply to even period films that depict eras in which smoking was much more accepted.
A NO-NO FOR DR. NO: IT'S OKAY THAT HE WANTS TO CAUSE A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST, BUT FOR GOD'S SAKE LET'S NOT LET HIM LIGHT UP ONSCREEN!
Director Richard Lester prepares to give a boost to young Ringo Starr as he prepares to film a segment from the madcap opening sequence of "A Hard Day's Night" in London. The 1964 movie was the first feature film for The Beatles. Notice the poster on the wall advertising Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. The films were a stark contrast: "Cleopatra" cost a fortune and lost millions while The Fab Four's flick was made a shoestring and grossed huge profits for United Artists.
Cinema Retro is always scouring the web to find obscure sites that pertain to movies of the 1960s and 1970s. We found a pretty cool site that provides intricate detail about visiting the San Francisco locations of Steve McQueen's classic 1968 thriller, Bullitt. Fan Ray Smith shows where key scenes of the movie were shot and provides some images of recent vintage so you know what they look like today. To access the site, click here
STEVE MCQUEEN AND ROBERT VAUGHN ON LOCATION AT A HOME IN THE PACIFIC HEIGHTS - ONE OF THE SITES DESIGNATED IN THE "BULLITT" LOCATIONS ARTICLE