Robert Goulet, whose deep-voiced crooning of many pop culture hits gained him stardom in the early 1960s, has died from pulminary complications at age 73. Goulet was awaiting a lung transplant at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. By all accounts, he kept his sense of humor to the end. Goulet soared to fame in 1960 playing Lancelot in the Broadway production of Camelot opposite Richard Burton and Julie Andrews. Franco Nero was cast in the role for the 1967 film version, but by then Goulet was a superstar and a regular presence on top variety shows like Ed Sullivan. Goulet's talents extended to TV and feature films. He jumped on the James Bond wagon in the mid-1960s, starring as a spy in the short-lived Blue Light TV series. (A feature film compiled from various episodes was released as I Deal in Danger.) Goulet also gained praise for spoofing his own image in Louis Malle's 1981 classic Atlantic City and in the 1991 hit The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear. In that comedy hit, Goulet played a villain obsessed with Priscilla Presley. This was an inside joke pertaining to a legend that Elvis so resented Goulet that he used to shoot out the TV with a handgun whenever he appeared on screen.
For the full report on Robert Goulet's life and career, click here.
Robert Goulet was Christine Carera in the 1960s spy movie I Deal in Danger
Goulet, Andrews and Burton in the Broadway production of Camelot in 1960.
Last month we reported on the book launch party held at London's famed Odeon Theatre in Leicester Square for the new book Pictures and Premieres (see Book News section). The volume celebrates the amazing photographs taken by famed London photographer Harry Myers, who covered seemingly every major premiere or celebrity functions in the city during the 1960s-1980s. The book was co-authored by Cinema Retro columnist Gareth Owen and John Willis. It's been making quite a splash in England due to the superb photos that are being shown here for the first time. Harry Myers had a knack for catching celebrities at their most natural and casual moments and his photos provide a wonderful time capsule of these eras. From the early James Bond premieres to publicity jaunts by The Beatles, it's all here. Now, London's Daily Mail has reproduced some of the most intriguing shots from the book (see below). To read the Daily Mail article click here
We thought it might have been overkill when we put Steve McQueen on the cover of two of our first three issues of Cinema Retro. However, the fact that they still continue to sell briskly as back issues proves that McQueen's popularity is continuing to soar. Now writer Elizabeth Eaves of www.forbes.com provides very interesting insights into the factors for McQueen's increased popularity in recent years. He died in 1980 at only 50 years of age, but his legacy continues to grow. He also just came in on the top ten list of most profitable dead celebrities. To read the article click here
A rare production featurette from MGM has surfaced on You Tube. It will be of interest to all Man From U.N.C.L.E. fans. The promo, which was made in 1966, was ostensibly as travelogue of Italy. However, the film is just a thinly-disguised plug for two forthcoming MGM movies: Three Bites of the Apple starring David McCallum and The Venetian Affair starring Robert Vaughn. The actors shot their individual movies while on hiatus during filming of U.N.C.L.E. Footage is intermingled with the sights and sounds of Italy, but the brief sequences show McCallum rehearsing with Sylva Koscina and there are some interesting glimpses of Vaughn filming the climax of The Venentian Affair. To view the promo (which is taken from an airing on Turner Classic Movies) click here. (Thanks for Bill Koenig for bringing this to our attention.)
Robert Vaughn in The Venetian Affair
By the way, if you want to exchange opinions and learn the latest gossip on all things U.N.C.L.E.-related, there is a thriving Yahoo group called Channel D where fans actively debate all aspects of the show. To participate, you simply register at Yahoo Groups by using this link:
MGM (via Fox) have released a new boxed set of Vincent Price horror film titles that represent some of his finest work from the 1960s and 1970s. Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection features seven major releases in the form of double bill DVDs. Most have been available previously, but its great to have them all available in a single boxed set.
The jewel in the crown is the first American DVD release of Witchfinder General. We reported previously that Fox had been inspired to make the investment in a special edition of this film after reading Dave Worrall's in-depth report on the making of the movie in Cinema Retro issue #5. Filmed in England in the late 1960s, the movie had all the hallmarks of a disaster in the making. The 23- year old director Michael Reeves barely spoke to Price, who was portraying the infamous real-life Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, a 17th century kook who traveled from village to village threatening to convict innocent souls of witchcraft if they did not heed his demands for money and sex. Reeves envisioned Donald Pleasence in the role and feared Price would give an over-the-top campy performance. Things got even worse when Price fell from his horse on the first day of shooting and suffered minor injuries.
The story behind the making of the film is told on a fascinating new documentary included on the DVD. Additionally, producer Philip Waddilove and actor Ian Ogilvy provided a joint commentary track that sheds new light on this cult classic. Ironically, perhaps in his determination to prove Michael Reeves wrong, Price gave what is arguably the best performance of his career. Devoid of the hystronics that often accompanied his work in the Roger Corman films, Price is believable and chilling. Then again, Witchfinder General is not a horror film, though it's depiction of torture and executions are undeniable horrible. The sequences, which were somewhat groundbreaking in their time, still shock today. Price and Reeves ultimately found mutual respect. Price realized that the young director had inspired him to exert his creative juices for the first time in many years. Reeves came to the conclusion that he had greatly underestimated Price's dramatic talents. The two even planned to team again on The Oblong Box, but Reeves slid into a self-destructive pattern of drug and alcohol abuse that lead to his death a short time later, never having had his talents appreciated. Even the film's U.S. marketing campaign was botched, with an absurd opening narrative added by Price in which he reads from Edgar Allan Poe's The Conqueror Worm in an attempt to link this film to the previous Poe-inspired hits Price had done for Roger Corman. In fact, the film has nothing to do with Poe or his poem. It's like having someone read Shakespeare in the introduction to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World so it can be retitled As You Like It. The first VHS releases of the film in the USA were even more absurd. Copyright problems led to dropping composer Paul Ferris' brilliant score and replacing it by some hack humming away on a synthesizer.
This is the first time this superb film has been properly released in the USA. It should have a prominent place in the collections of all classic movie lovers.
Lois Maxwell, the Canadian-born actress who passed away on
September 29, made an indelible impression throughout the 007 film series in
her signature role as Miss Moneypenny, personal secretary to “M.” Ian Fleming
himself approved her casting, confiding to her after filming wrapped on Dr.
No: “I envisioned a tall, elegant woman with the most kissable lips in the
world. You are her!”
Moneypenny never applied those passionate lips to James
Bond’s, yet she held his affections longer than any of his innumerable screen
conquests. Maxwell sat in Moneypenny’s chair in 14 Bond films, sparking against
the disparate charms of Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Roger Moore. She made
the most of her limited screen time, exhibiting sophisticated comic flair in
ongoing racy repartee with the world’s most libidinous secret agent.
With Connery, Maxwell enjoyed a palpable sexual rapport,
especially in the first several films. There was an intriguing sense that,
given the right circumstances, they just might give in to their mutual
attraction. In Dr. No, Bond sits on the edge of her chair and seductively
nuzzles her while holding her hand. And why not? She’s wearing a fetching
sleeveless black dress that’s just begging to be ripped off. From Russia
With Love finds them in another near-embrace, with Bond whispering, “Let me
tell you the secret of the world” and Moneypenny about to come undone when M’s
buzzer breaks their reverie. As Bond leaves for his assignment, he and
Moneypenny exchange “ciaos” with the intimacy of would-be lovers.
Wesley Britton (left) meets the legendary Eli Wallach, star of The Impossible Spy. Wallach's wife Anne Jackson is also present.
This fall, spy fans were treated
to one of the most interesting metamorphosis’s on the web. In September, Spy Television author Wes Britton
transformed his personal webpage into www.spywise.net, making this diverse site a distinctive
resource on all aspects of espionage.
When www.Spywise.net debuted on
September 1st, Wes brought over many of the exclusive articles,
reviews, and interviews from his previous digs including talks with the likes of
actors Robert Conrad and Robert Vaughn along with behind-the-scenes looks into
notable independent films and books on The Saint, I Spy, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Over the years, Wes
has interviewed creators of spy-related comic books and documentaries.
Now, one new aspect of
Spywise.net is that it is no longer a one-man production. Now, you can find
chapters and selected material from a variety of new books like a new interview
with Mission: Impossible’s Peter Lupus by Eddie
Lucas and the story of a never madeI Spy movie as revealed by expert Mark
Cushman. Wes got the rights to publish the first authorized online edition of O.
F. Snelling’s classic 1964 James Bond: A
Report, including material never published anywhere else. In the pipeline
are features by spy babe expert Tom Lisanti and a photo essay on the surprising
world of “Zorro the Spy.”
Wes is making the rounds to
further expand the archives of Spywise.net. For example, on Oct. 22, he dined
with Eli (Magnificent Seven) Wallach
at the Pennsylvania Jewish Film Festival in
“I was invited to the festival,” Wes reports, “by Harvey Chertok, producer of
the great docu-drama, The Impossible
Spy. Wallach had played actual Mossad spymaster Meir Amit in that film, the
true story of Israeli spy Eli Cohen.”
“Before the screening of The Impossible Spy,” Wes says, “I tried
to get Eli to share some anecdotes, and it was difficult as in between every
third and fourth sentence, some attendee or another wanted their photo taken
with the 91-year-old actor. Including me, I’m not embarrassed to admit. He talked a bit about his World War II
experiences as a medical technician in the Orient and
Casablanca. He was with his actress
wife, Anne Jackson, whom Eli kept reminding everyone has a cousin who owns the
Pittsburgh Steelers. When I told him I was a Dallas Cowboys fan, he replied, `I
have played a lot of cowboys.’”
Just before we saw the 1987
HBO/BBC film, Wallach was honored with a lifetime achievement award. He told the
audience that he had introduced his friend, Clint Eastwood, at many honor
ceremonies and that Eastwood had promised to return the favor if Wallach ever
got such an honor. “Well, Eastwood didn’t make it to
Scranton,” Wes says, “but he did
send a nice telegram to the festival.”
The morning after the successful
festivities, Wallach was stunned to read a report about the evening in the local
paper where it was reported he’d converted to Roman Catholicism. “If you read
that article,” Wes warns, “remember not to believe everything you see in print.
It isn’t true.”
Spywise.net is a site to bookmark
if you’re an enthusiast of undercover operatives in fact and fiction. You can
also keep up with interesting spy items at his blog,
It was a mission steeped in top secrecy that would be worthy of James Bond - and even the invitation read "Shhh...." The plot had been hatched months ago and was successfully carried out last night at Aquavit, a popular Swedish restaurant off Park Avenue in New York City. The victim was lured into the trap with the assistance of a beautiful double agent- his own wife. The occasion: a surprise 80th birthday party for Sir Roger Moore. With Sir Roger on a whirlwind international schedule, his wife Lady Kristina thought it would be a good idea to celebrate his recent milestone birthday with a small intimate gathering of friends and colleagues. The main problem is how to insure that a man with an ever-changing schedule of international travel could be relied upon to show up at a specific place and time. The dinner was planned to coincide with an event Sir Roger was committed to attend- a ceremony at the United Nations today in which he will be honored by dignitaries for his tireless work on behalf of UNICEF. Despite the best plans, there was always the chance something could have gone wrong. The ten invited guests, which included Cinema Retro's Gareth Owen and Lee Pfeiffer, gathered in a private dining room to await Sir Roger and Lady Christina's arrival. It was up to Lady Kristina to insure the man of the hour arrived on time - no small feat considering his constantly-changing schedule.
Sir Roger is completely taken by surprise
Yet, at 7:30 sharp we were alerted by the restaurant staff that the Moores had arrived. As Sir Roger was ushered into the dining room, a chorus of Happy Birthday broke out. If the sudden chanting didn't alarm him, than the off-key quality of the singing certainly must have. Sir Roger admitted he was "Gobsmacked" and had been completely tricked into believing he was attending a quiet dinner with his wife. The evening was low-key but filled with laughs and allowed Sir Roger to relax a bit. He had only just come in from Los Angeles where he was honored by the Thalians in a ceremony that reunited him with Bond girls Maud Adams, Gloria Hendry and Lois Chiles. As the wine and Schnapps flowed freely, so did the humor - most of it at Roger's expense, though he proved he could toss out plenty of his own barbs. Lee Pfeiffer lobbed the old Henny Youngman line at him, "When Roger was born, the Dead Sea was only sick!" to which Sir Roger replied...well, it's best left unprinted.
Lady Christina's subterfuge insures that Sir Roger is "Gobsmacked"
More than 650 people recently attended a unique salute to the great themes from classic television series at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in North Hollywood. Among the participants were composers Mike Post, Earl Hagen and Vic Mizzy- who between them created some of the best-loved theme songs ever for series such as The Andy Griffith Show, I Spy, Hill Street Blues, The Addams Family and Green Acres. Music historian Jon Burlingame conducted interviews with the composers. Among the stars who appeared were Man From U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn, Maureen McCormick of The Brady Bunch, Stacy Keach of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, and The Bionic Woman's Lindsay Wagner. The tribute was appropriate not only to recognize the fact that these themes have become an integral part of modern pop culture, but also to illustrate the disturbing trend among present day TV producers to all but do away with opening and closing themes. For the full story click here
Did you know that the whistling heard in the legendary theme for The Andy Griffith Show was performed by the composer, Earl Hagen?
Recently released from Digitmovies is the
excellent double soundtrack from a composer whose work continues to impress me,
Franco Micalizzi. Sei lellato amico hai incontrato Sacramento / I due volti della Paura (both 1972) CDDM088, are both incredibly good scores and presented
for the first time on CD. Sacramento, A Spaghetti western starring American
actor Ty Hardin, arrived hot on the heels of the very successful They call me Trinity (1970), from which
Micalizzi also produced an impressive score. It’s fair to say that Sacramento is not too far
removed in its style to that of Trinity.
It has all the attributes of the genre. Micalizzi makes intelligent use of his
instrumentation incorporating firm favourites such as Spanish guitar, harmonica,
trumpet and Jews harp, all of which are wrapped up within very polished
arrangements. Dell’Orso is inevitably at hand once again (was this amazing
woman ever out of work?) if only to add spice to an already beautiful flavour.
Rounding off this CD is an equally good score, I due volti della Paura.
Another slice of impressive Italian giallo, the film stars George Hilton and
the beautiful Luciana Paluzzi. The music is woven with romantic themes; crafted
suspense and some great beat ‘n shake pop cuts that practically have you hooked
from their opening chords. It doesn’t take long, in fact by track 3; I was
asking the question, why on earth has this soundtrack taken so long to surface?
It’s packed with undiscovered gems, Gimkan’
being one of the best beat tracks I think I have heard in a very long time. At
just under 30 minutes, it’s one hell of a bonus and makes for a stunning double
feature. Neither of these 2 Micalizzi scores received a release outside of the
promotional LP market, which only adds further to their appeal. Audio is of the
highest quality. Attention to detail through informative liner notes coupled
with and an awesome display of original artwork and campaign posters makes this
particularly appealing on the eyes as well as the ears. It’s a combination that
leaves little reason as to wonder why Digitmovies are the market leaders in
Italian film music today. www.digitmovies.com
- Darren Allison
Cinema Retro has obtained an advanced press release for the new James Bond magazine MI6 Declassified. The magazine will cover all aspects relating
to the 007 phenomenon - from the literary side to the motion picture
and collectibles aspect. Here is the announcement from the press
release for the debut issue:
October 23rd, 2007) Introducing MI6 Declassified, the new full
colour magazine celebrating the world of James Bond and beyond.
From the first
James Bond novel “Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming published in 1953, to the
block-buster movie adaptation in 2006 starring Daniel Craig, 007 has become one
of the most popular franchises worldwide. Packed with an arsenal of fascinating
features and eye-popping visuals, whether your passion is with the books,
comics, games, music or films, MI6 Declassified will satisfy your appetite for
all aspects of the Bond canon.
The debut issue
Royale on location with Gary Powell & Alexander
Witt and the second unit
Twice Is The Only Way To Live celebrating the
40th Anniversary of You Only Live Twice
Young Bond Charlie Higson reflects on Bond’s
007 Stripped a tribute to John McLusky, the
creator of the face of James Bond
Bond Girls digitizing the new generation for
From Russia With Love
Collecting a look inside
the Sideshow Studio and their James Bond figures
Bond Connection writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade talk
about Johnny English
The Last Word Michael Madsen on his role as Falco
in Die Another Day
Screen Archives is releasing CDs of the score from two classic sci fi/fantasy films: Mysterious Island and Farenheit 451. Both feature William Stromberg conducting the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, as no soundtrack albums had been issued in conjunction with the films' original releases. For info click here
Several years ago, California-based writer John Sammon scored an interview with Clint Eastwood for the now-defunct Monterey County Post in which the iconic star discussed his passion for golf and his investments and business in the Carmel, California area. The interview is reprinted here courtesy of John Sammon.
Q: Let’s begin with
some background. What was your childhood like?
was born in San Francisco, but raised mostly in Oakland. My family moved
a lot, and I lived in places like Redding and Spokane in Washington and
Sacramento, and Pacific Palisades in California. During the
World War II years, my dad worked for Bethlehem Steel in Oakland. I attended GlenviewGrammar School.
As a kid, I earned a little money selling Liberty
and Colliers magazines. Both of these are out of print now. Every magazine I
ever worked for went out of print. Then I took a job with the Oakland Tribune,
a paper route. After the war, my father went to work for California Container,
a corrugated box company. Later on, Dad was transferred to Seattle, where he became a plant manager. I
graduated from high school and joined my parents up there for a while. I was
trying to get into SeattleUniversity on a music
program, but I applied too late. I was drafted into the U.S. Army at the time
of the Korean War, 1951. I came to FortOrd. That’s how I got
used to the Carmel
area. I got to spend time in Monterey, Carmel, PebbleBeach and Salinas.
I even used to come to Mission Ranch when I was a soldier earning $75 a month.
Q: Did you dream that
one day you would own Mission Ranch?
CE: No. Back then, I didn’t plan on owning too
much of anything. After I got out of the service, I went to Los
Angeles where I attended Los
AngelesCityCollege, studying business
administration. I started taking acting classes in the evening. After I landed
a steady job on Rawhide , I came up
to the MontereyPeninsula and bought a little house
across from the Monterey Peninsula Country Club. A tiny house with all the
furniture inside. I’d been coming up periodically at that time, and stayed
wherever I could. I loved that house. It was the first home I ever owned. I
paid $20,000, and later sold it for $25,000.
Universal has released a treasure trove of golden age sci-fi classics in a new boxed set for British fans. UK contributor Mark Mawston delved into the unknown and presents his findings.
net and you’ll findhundreds of “Classic
Sci Fi Collections” which are mostly made up from terrible killer B’s and films
that have fallen into public domain. Now however, I’m glad to say, we’ve
finally found some form of intelligence out there with the release of this
wonderful collection of some of the most outstanding sci-fi films of the 50’s.
This set is
essentially the crème de la crème of the studio most associated with fans of
the genre- Universal International. Every single one of the movies included
here deserves the title “classic”.
the line up is the last truly great monster in the Universal ranks to match the
classic roster of previous monsters such as Dracula,
Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Wolfman.
Look at any “classic horror” merchandizing and you’ll see The Creature From The Black
Lagoon holding its own in this venerable Batpack of horror stars. The
story goes that the inspiration for this movie came about when producer William
Alland (a friend of Orson Welles and a Mercury player who’d starred as the reporter
in Citizen Kane) discussed the story
he’d been reading regarding a half man half fish creature of Amazonian myth. He
was in good company as the initial design for The Creature, which Welles said
he should make, was based on that of the Oscar! After talented artist Millicent
Patrick became involved, along with veterans Jack Pierce Jack Kevan and Bud
Westmore, the creature transformed from a smooth looking alien figure of Oscar to
the Gill-Man we all know and love today. In the film, a scientific
expedition searching for fossils along the Amazon River
discover a prehistoric Gill-Man in the legendary Black Lagoon. The explorers
capture the mysterious creature, but it breaks free. The Gill-Man returns to
kidnap the lovely Kay, fiancée of one of the expedition, with whom it has
fallen in love.
In essence CFTBL
is a remake of King Kong, but is
still one of the most original of all monster movies. As it was made in the
50’s it can be classed as a sci-fi film, which had, in essence, replaced the
“horror” movie even though this is one of the few monsters that wasn’t woken or
mutated by an atomic explosion of sorts.
We came across this well made music video paying tribute to the great tough guys of cinema. If you like Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and late comers Chuck Norris, Samuel L. Jackson, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold, click here to view
I just finished delving into the latest issue, which is like a
sweet vacation every time I open a copy. The continued David McCallum interview
is still a great read, but you're killing me by continuing it again! I want to
read it to it's completion, but if you've got that much information out of him,
go ahead and drag it out another year. I could easily read this most excellent
detail of a still very contemporary actor.
Raymond Benson's top ten
almost always draws me in. I may not agree with him on certain films, but his
excellently worded reviews make me want to watch every film again, even if I've
seen it hundreds of times. And sometimes he reminds me that I have to watch a
film again. Keep this guy around, he's got a great way with the
The deep focuses on specific films, such as Dirty Harry or Salem's
Lot, are always welcome. I love the stories from the various levels of
production but there's one thing that I still think is lacking in articles of
this nature. With surviving actors, it'd be nice to see what they're up to
these days, if they have anything coming out, if they're retired, what have
you. It's a rare thing to see this sort of thing and you'd be one up on other
publications for it.
Ray Harryhausen? You slay me. As a huge
Harryhausen fan, it's always a treat to see what the Master says. I still watch
Jason and the Argonauts on a regular basis, I still think Nigel Green's
portrayal of Hercules far surpassed any I'd seen before (prompting me to search
for all his performances) and the skeleton fight scene is so beautiful to behold
I still cheer for Jason's men even though I know they're going to die. Making
the interview a multi-parter only makes me desire the next issue all the
The mention of Bruce Dern at The Players club reminded me that he
was in one of the most overlooked science fiction movies of the seventies:
Silent Running. I've seen stock footage of the movie show up in other, low
budget science fiction shows and films, but none can beat the original. It's
almost a one-man act and I'd love to see a retrospective of it some
Hell, I'd love to see a retrospective on Battlestar Galactica, the
theatrical release. Having seen the remake, I have concluded that the original
has yet to be surpassed in it's creation. I guess I just like model SFX versus
the CGI stuff. You just can't beat it.
Great issue all around again,
Cinema Retro responds: Thanks, Jon. We couldn't have written a more flattering letter ourselves (we know this is true, because we try all the time!) Issue #9 has proven to be our most popular to date as well as our best selling so far, thanks to the support of movie fans like yourself. As for the never--ending David McCallum interview, it's only because we were influenced by the plot of The Spy With My Face. We've actually got McCallum locked in a basement and forced to respond to our questions while an exact double is taking his place on NCIS. As for your suggestions, we're working on a profile of the long-neglected great British actor Nigel Green and we hope to get some comments from Bruce Dern about Silent Running in the near future. Re: Battlestar Gallactica, it's been suggested before, but we confess that we're not acquainted with the series very well. Once Lorne Greene traded his horse for a spaceship, it left us depressed. However, it might be featured as a web site article in the future. Thanks again for keeping the faith. - Lee and Dave
As October 18 was the birthday of the late actress Inger Stevens, Starlet Showcase pays tribute to the gorgeous, but troubled actress whose life ended so tragically. To read the full tribute click here
Actor/comedian Joey Bishop has died at age 89. He was the last member of Frank Sinatra's legendary Rat Pack that also included Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Peter Lawford. The most low-key of the group, Bishop was often cast as a bumbling loser, out of step with his high-liviing, womanizing fellow Rat Packers. He never got the girl but he usually got the laughs. The former nightclub comedian's trademark quip was "Son of a gun!" Sinatra discovered his act in the 1950s and a friendship formed. The Rat Pack campaigned heavily for John F. Kennedy in the presidential elections of 1960 and many believe their influence helped edge JFK to his razor-thin win over Richard Nixon. Joey Bishop served as master of ceremonies at JFK's inaugural party.Bishop only dabbled in acting, preferring to concentrate on TV work. He made memorable impressions in two Rat Pack hits: Oceans Eleven and Sergeants 3. He also co-starred with Dean Martin in Texas Across the River. Other film credits include The Naked and the Dead, Valley of the Dolls, Who's Minding the Mint and Mad Dog Time.The latter film, made in 1996, represented his last film role and he was directed by his son Larry Bishop. Joey Bishop had several failed shows on TV during the 1960s, most notably his short-lived late night talk show that unsuccessfully challenged Johnny Carson in the coveted 11:30 PM timeslot. The series is most notable for making a household name of his co-host Regis Philbin. For more on Bishop's life click here
Rare photo of Joey Bishop clowning with Frank Sinatra at the premiere of Ocean's Eleven in 1960.
John Williams' soundtrack for the film Monsignor has been released by Intrada. The score had previously been available on a vinyl LP when the movie, starring Christopher Reeve, was released in 1982. Williams has revised the soundrack for this initial CD release, eliminating three minutes of music from the LP version but adding ten minutes of music that never made it into the final cut. The release is limited to only 3,000 CDs. For more info click here
Deborah Kerr enacts her illicit love affair with Burt Lancaster in one of the screen's all time classic scenes in From Here to Eternity.
One of the few remaining actresses who could be categorized as belonging to the legends of Hollywood's golden age has passed away. Deborah Kerr, who brought elegance, grace and sophistication to every film she appeared in, died from Parkinsons Disease on Tuesday. She was 86 years old. Kerr's remarkable career was highlighted by her torrid love scene on a Hawiian beach with Burt Lancaster in the Oscar-winning 1953 classic From Here to Eternity. She also starred opposite Yul Brynner in The King and I. Kerr even had a strange and unlikely connection to the world of James Bond, starring with David Niven in the 1967 big screen spoof of Casino Royale. For more click here
Kerr played the wife of MI6 chief M in the 1967 comedy version of Casino Royale
Director Joe Dante has launched a terrific site called www.trailersfromhell.com The concept is simple but unique: Dante and other directors and prominent film buffs provide audio commentary on their favorite movie trailers. Thus, you can relish Dante extolling the virutes of the trailer for Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and John Landis analyzing the trailer for The T.A.M.I Show. The titles aren't relegated to just B movies - there are classics like Psycho and Rio Bravo as well. The whole concept is wonderful - and we're jealous we didn't think of it first! To visit the site click the image below:
Sexy Nancy Kwan was one of the first Asian actresses to gain prominence in American films. She made a splash opposite William Holden in The World of Suzie Wong and went on to many other high profile roles. She also produced her own films for the Asian market. She's seen here in the little known 1963 film Tamahine. Kwan has a devoted following of fans and still acts and produces on occasion.
Sal Mineo was one of Hollywood's hottest teen actors. His star never rose as high as critics had predicted but he worked steadily until his senseless death in 1976 at the age of 37. The rumor mill about his murder produced some outlandish and lurid theories, but in fact he was killed by a homeless drifter who had no idea who Mineo was.
Proving there's no such thing as a free meal, Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) treats Tuco (Eli Wallach) to a feast before torturing him in Leone's masterpiece The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Here's a concise but on-the-mark appreciation of Sergio Leone's films by Robert Sutton of www.popcornjunkies.com Sutton provides entertaining capsule reviews of The Maestro's major films and correctly points out that, although some were not box-office successes, all were major artistic achievements in their own way. Click here to read
Pierce Brosnan may have had to pass the mantle of 007 to Daniel Craig but he's got the last laugh as far as eating habits are concerned. While Mr. Craig is working on his formidable biceps, Brosnan is gleefully giving his midsection a must-needed rest. He tells The New York Post's Liz Smith: "I've put on a few since 007. I no longer need the James Bond physique, which means a gym's only an hour a day, not eight. And with those stunts I had facial stitches and knee injuries, so I'm just happy I don't need to get sewn up again." We understand Brosnan is still exploring a sequel to his 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair, this one based on the 1964 caper film Topkapi. Maybe he should retitle it Live and Let Dine.
Screen Archives has issued another major soundtrack CD, this time consisting of the scores for five major western classics: composer Dimitri Tiomkin's The Unforgiven, David Buttolph's The Horse Soldiers, Elmer Bernstein's Guns of the Magnificent Seven, David Raksin's Invitation to a Gunfighter and Gerald Fried's Cast a Long Shadow. Of these titles, only The Unforgiven and The Horse Soldiers had soundtrack albums issued for their theatrical release and the new CD was constructed from the surviving masters for those albums. We're particularly excited about the inclusion of the magnificent scores for these two drastically under-rated films. The Unforgiven (not be confused with Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven) was directed by John Huston and released in 1960. The director virtually disowned the movie, thinking it was an awkward and unsuccessful attempt to combine a message about racism with a traditional action film. Audrey Hepburn stars as a young woman who finds that she had been abducted as a baby from an Indian tribe and raised as white by a loving family. When the scandal is discovered many years later, the Indians demand that she be returned. Her adopted family refuses despite the urging to do so by their neighbors and friends. This sets up a tense conclusion in which the stubborn family battles alone against an overwhelming force of Indians who beseige their cabin.
Italian poster for The Unforgiven
While The Unforgiven is not a classic, it is clear that Huston was far too harsh on his own film. The movie is moody and atmospheric with some fine performances, though it is badly flawed by the miscasting of Hepburn who seems to have strolled out of Tiffanys showroom. She's far too erudite for a pioneer girl. Nevertheless, the film is quite suspenseful and boasts a great supporting cast including Audie Murphy, Lillian Gish, Joseph Wiseman and Doug McClure. It also features a haunting score by Dimitri Tiomkin that is clearly one of his best.
John Wayne and Constance Towers in The Horse Soldiers
The Horse Soldiers is an equally underrated John Ford film starring the powerhouse teaming of John Wayne and William Holden The 1959 film is based on a daring raid into the deep south by a Union cavalry troop. Ford soured on the film midway through when he blamed himself for the death of a stuntman. Still, it stands as one of his best late career films even though critics were inexplicably lukewarm to it. The score by David Buttolph is a clever use of Civil War standards and original compositions.
This CD is limited to only 1500 units. To order click here
The Men From U.N.C.L.E. back in action in this exclusive photo from their recent DVD interview session. (Photo copyright Time Life)
With the countdown ticking away toward the November 27 DVD release of the complete Man From U.N.C.L.E. DVD collection from Time Life, it seems the stars are aligning in anticipation for fans who have been waiting impatiently for the series to be released. Time Life reports sales are soaring and even the general public is abuzz about it. The other night I was having a few drinks with actor and Cinema Retro contributor Joseph Sirola at The Players club in New York. Sitting near me was a group of people discussing their excitement with the pending U.N.C.L.E. release, as they all seemed to agree it was their favorite show of all time. That's when Joe Sirola's noticed a voicemail on his phone. Turns out it was from David McCallum, who had co-starred with Joe in three episodes of the series. They haven't seen each other since and recently made contact because of their connection with Cinema Retro. They'll be planning a reunion lunch next week.
Earlier today, my phone rang and it was Robert Vaughn, calling in from Los Angeles where he said he had just served as one of the presenters at a wonderful event paying tribute to the great TV theme songs. Vaughn said he was to be introduced at the event by Monica Mancini, the musician daughter of the legendary composer Henry Mancini. A clever gag was staged whereby Monica pretended that "the next presenter" appeared to be missing. Rather than use a cell phone, she took out a pen and said, "Open Channel D!" and the crowd roared as Mr. Solo himself walked into the spotlight. (We'll have coverage of this event in the near future). Vaughn confirmed he is hard at work on his eagerly-awaited autobiography which is now titled A Fortunate Life. It is slated for release in the latter part of 2008. He confessed to being slightly overwhelmed by the sudden explosion of enthusiasm for all things U.N.C.L.E.-related and said he had a wonderful time reliving old times with David McCallum for the DVD set. He joked that he never dreamed back in the 1960s that more than 40 years later the show would still be so prominent in people's minds.
Stay tuned for more bulletins - and enjoy the above photo showing Vaughn and McCallum together for the DVD interview session. Remember, the latest issue of Cinema Retro (#9) begins our 8 part series about the making of the U.N.C.L.E. feature films beginning with To Trap a Spy. -Lee Pfeiffer
Rare publicity photo of James Garner on location in Germany holding the landmark book "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William Shirer.
The UK site www.thisisexeter.co.uk has published a fascinating interview with former Flight Lt. Geoff Willitt in which the 96 year-old man (who still works as an artist) recalls his real-life experiences in the German prison camp Stalag Luft III which is where the massive breakout of prisoners occurred that inspired the book and film of The Great Escape. Although the movie was a true classic, most plot elements were created through artistic license, most notably the insertion of key American actors Steve McQueen and James Garner as prominent ringleaders of the escape. In fact, virtually all of the participants were from the RAF. The audacious and bold plan saw a large number of prisoners successfully escape the camp only to be recaptured or executed in cold blood. Geoff Willitt, one of the few remaining survivors of the camp, did not draw a lottery number that would have entitled him to be part of the actual escape. Ironically, this twist of fate actually saved his life as he most probably would have been executed along with the 50 other British officers. To read the interivew click here
To read the story behind the making of the 1963 film The Great Escape, see Cinema Retro issue #1
Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer looks at the new edition of the notorious French sexploitation film
Jerome Wybon, one of Cinema Retro's French correspondents, has recently completed a labor of love: producing and directing the documentary An Erotic Success on the new special DVD edition of Emmanuelle, the 1974 soft core erotic blockbuster that Lionsgate has just released in the USA. Naturally, I'd ordinarily be loathe to review a film with this much sex and nudity, but c'est la vie, in the interest of Monsieur Wybon, I thought I'd suffer through these tribulations to review the release that boasts his documentaries. It's a lousy job, but somebody had to do it.
I'm almost embarrased to admit I am among the few people on the planet who came of age in the 1970s who had not seen Emmanuelle. (I think there are two eunichs in India who share the distinction). Thus, I was able to view the new special edition DVD without any preconceived notions. I was well aware that although many people classify Emmanuelle as porn, these are the same folks who give that status to Playboy magazine. To be clear, Emmanuelle is not porn- never was and certainly is not by today's standards. However, this works in the film's favor. With the porn industry now so widespread even teenagers are dozing off looking at dirty images on their computers, there is something refreshing about the relative innocence of Emmanuelle both from the viewpoint of the film and it's titular (no pun intended) character. Unlike today's straight-to-video porn films, this one succeeds in rising above the norm on numerous levels. For one, it has truly impressive production values. The movie was shot mostly in Thailand and the low budget precluded the construction of sets. Thus, the filmmakers made excellent use of the majestic outdoor settings as well as eye-popping local residences. The cinematography is gorgeous and the film boasts an enchanting musical score.
The plot, such as it is, can be written on the head of a pin. Emmanuelle is a nubile young woman married to an "older" man of thirty-two. Her husband alternates between acting as a lover and a father figure for the impressionable and naive girl. They are sent to Thailand when her husband is assigned to the local French embassy. Like Beaver Cleaver's father, however, you don't see him doing much work at the office. Why should he with a nymphet wife at home who seems to have an insatiable curiosity about any aspect of sex? This type of work ethic may explain the collapse of French colonialism, but it also explains why the French seem to have more fun than anyone else. Because of her innocence and beauty, Emmanuelle is constantly the object of desire for free spirited men and women who move in her social circles. The swinging isn't just limited to the French expatriots living in Bangkok but also extends local girls who are instantly smitten with young Emmanuelle. All of this goes on with the encouragement of her husband who seems to put a few new notches in his own bedpost every evening through sleeping with the wives of fellow diplomats. The dramatic center of the film occurs when Emmanuelle goes on a spontaneous trip with a gorgeous lesbian and falls madly in love. The feeling is not mutual, however, and she returns to her husband emotionally devastated by the life lesson that women can use other women as sexual playthings just as men are prone to do. The final act of the story is as bizarre as it is unsatisfying. Emmanuelle's husband feels she needs the guidance of an older lover and sets her up with Mario, a French aristocrat old enough to be her grandfather. Mario proceeds to subject her to various sexual humiliations including gang rape and anal sex - all carried out by others as he mumbles enough mind-boggling philosophical theories to make you believe Emmanuelle has accidentally stumbled into Col. Kurtz's cave.
Just came across a very amusing blog by Jeffrey Shaffer on The Huffington Post site. Shaffer perceptively points out that all science fiction perceptions of what we'll look like in the future seem to be trending wrong - particularly the prediction that future embodiments of human beings would sport big heads (Donald Trump not withstanding). Shaffer says we were misled by those immortal images of David McCallum in The Sixth Finger episode of The Outer Limits Richard Kiel's To Serve Man episode of The Twilight Zone - and hell, we won't even get into all those Lex Luthor appearances in the Superman comics. It's about time this scandal is exposed for what it is: a vast bald, wing consipiracy to make those with a bare pate synonymous with great intelligence. (Again, Benito Mussolini and Curly not withstanding) Check it out by clicking here
David McCallum in The Sixth Finger episode of The Outer Limits:
A special boxed set DVD edition of The World at War, the 1973 landmark documentary series is being re-released in the UK with hours of unseen footage not included in the original broadcast. The series was acclaimed as the most definitive documenatary about the greatest conflict of the 20th century - at least until Ken Burns' recently telecast The War. The series is based on the best-selling book by Richard Holmes. In the ensuing years, the series plays even better - and it's needed now more than ever. As school systems in Western nations inexplicably decline to stress the history of the war, young people are shockingly ignorant of the facts. A recent poll of American students found that a majority of them thought the USA fought with Germany against the Russians! The series is impeccably narrated by Lord Laurence Olivier and is presented on DVD by Ebury Press with a slew of extras that are as imposing as a Sherman tank. The boxed set includes:
All 26 episodes of The World at War as originally telecast
a three hour special including rare out-takes and interviews with the production team
Since 1967, movie fans have debated a classic scene from director Luis Bunuel's film Belle de Jour which casts Catherine Deneueve as a bored housewife who takes a day job in a brothel. In the film's most memorable scene, an Asian client presents her with a small, buzzing box presumably to be used in a kinky sex act. Bunuel frustrated audiences by never explaining the contents of the box and movie fans have long pondered what exactly the client had in mind. Personally, if it involved insects, we're rather glad he never spelled it out. We can barely stomach the prospect of Vincent Price having been turned into The Fly. Our friend Kimberly Lindbergs has an interesting article on her very addictive classic movies blog www.cinebeats.com that brings the Belle de Jour debate to the fore. Click here to read
Moore the Merrier- Sir Roger gets a star in his name.
Sir Roger Moore was awarded a star in his name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The iconic British actor turns 80 years old in a few days and this was the ultimate birthday present. Fittingly, the star is located at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard. Sir Roger has been in the news quite a bit lately. Only this week his announced autobiography set off a bidding war between major publishers. For "Moore" information on the Walk of Fame event click here
If you think politics makes strange bedfellows, here's proof that the anecdote is even more relevant toward show biz. Director John Landis has completed a feature length documentary about master insult comedian Don Rickles. The film- titled Mr. Warmth -The Don Rickles Project- sounds irresistable. The star-studded tribute to one of the last remaining stand-up comics from Hollywood's Golden Age will be screened as part of the New York Film Festival between September 28-October 14. Rickles may seem an unlikely subject for such a documentary, but Landis obviously recognizes that in an age of foul mouth comics who are given instant stardom through cable TV appearances, Rickles represents an era in which comedians painstakingly worked their way to the top by playing in endless small clubs and dives, fine-tuning their act along the way. Rickles embodies the era in which he came of age professionally: when a tuxedo-clad comic would use profanity sparingly so it would have some impact on the audience. Rickles had toiled as an actor in the 1950s and 1960s landing supporting roles in major films like Run Silent, Run Deep and The Rat Race before he achieved superstardom in the mid 1960s by daring to insult Frank Sinatra when The Chairman of the Board attended one of his shows. "Make yourself at home, Frank - hit somebody!", taunted Rickles. Fortunately, Sinatra was in a good mood that night and Rickles became a mainstay in his circles. Before long, you were nobody if Rickles hadn't publicly insulted you.
Over the years, Rickles has continued to appear in the occasional major feature film, most notably opposite Clint Eastwood in Kelly's Heroes, in Martin Scorsese's Casino and providing voice over in the popular Toy Story films. For more on the Landis documentary screenings, click here you hockey puck!-Lee Pfeiffer
Artist Jack Davis depicted Don Rickles, Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland and Telly Savalas in the poster for Kelly's Heroes.
James Bond collector Alan Stephenson has spent decades amassing what is undoubtedly one of the most impressive collections of James Bond memorabilia in the world. Stephenson, a California native who helps stage high profile celebrity charity auctions, is putting his collection on display beginning October 13 at Museum Royale in San Luis Obispo as a benefit for the new San Luis Obispo Children's Museum that is scheduled to open in December. Visitors to the exhibit are encouarged to wear Bond-related attire, though we would advise gentlemen from refraining from donning their razor-brimmed chapeaus.
Among the thousands of collectibles on hand will be an original Golden Gun prop and the ever-elusive French toy SPECTRE volcano playset. Bond toys are a wonderful throwback to the days before political correctness dominated the toy industry. Back in 1965, the hot item was the replica of 007's attache case - complete with hidden (rubber) knife and a exploding tear gas mechanism (actually, harmless caps). Todays, PC police would be appalled and prohibit such a toy from entering the marketplace. Instead, they'd opt to give us all safe, gender neutural toys that were manufactured in China and are coated in lead!
Alan Stephenson's collection promises to be a welcome walk through a time machine of one of most iconic film franchises of all time. For more info and an interview with Alan, click here
VINTAGE BOND TOYS AND NOVELTIES FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVE
THIS 1965 NEW YORK NEWSPAPER AD PROMOTED AN ALBUM OF JAMES BOND COVER SONGS (ANYONE WITH A HARMONICA AND A RUBBER BAND RECORDED 007 THEMES IN THE 1960S). THE AD ALSO ADVERTISES THE A.C. GILBERT ACTION FIGURE THAT SOLD FOR A SCANT $2.77. THE FIGURE NOW SELLS FOR ABOUT $300 ON THE COLLECTOR'S CIRCUIT. AREN'T YOU RESENTFUL MOM THREW YOURS OUT?
THE 1977 CORGI LOTUS ESPIRT RELEASED TO TIE IN WITH "THE SPY WHO LOVED ME"
1965 AIRFIX MODEL OF THE LEGENDARY ASTON MARTIN DB5
If there's one thing I like more than present day Great Britain, it's Great Britain in the 1960s. Not that I ever got there in the Sixties, mind you. However, I've always found it intriguing that England went from being a drab, gray nation to the vibrant center of a pop culture revolution seemingly overnight. Britain had won WWII militarily, but paid a big price in the ensuing years, having to rebuild the bombed out infrastructure and deal with economic shortages that left population demoralized. All of that was reflected in the films that were produced there. They were remarkably well made, but were often "kitchen sink" dramas that made it possible for an exciting new generation of "angry young men" to emerge with names like Richard Harris, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Albert Finney, Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. Beginning in 1962 with release of the first James Bond movie followed by The Beatles taking the world by storm, England suddenly became the epicenter of the most exciting cultural revolution of modern times. Suddenly, the nation wasn't known primarily for producing great people with bad teeth. We all wanted to be British now that the country had its mojo back.
Now there's a remarkable web site called www.reminiscethis.co.uk that revels in everything British from the 1960s. There is outstanding coverage of the politics, music and social conditions. After a brief visit through the site, you'll be as enthused as Austin Powers about the glory days of the British pop culture. To visit the site click here- Lee Pfeiffer
Famed motorcyclist and stunt driver Bud Ekins has died at age 77. Although his name is known only to hardcore movie fans, virtually every baby boomer has seen his most famous onscreen stunt: doubling for Steve McQueen in the legendary motorcyle jump across the barbed wire Swiss border crossing in the 1963 hit The Great Escape. McQueen,who was an accomplished cycle rider in his own right, was not allowed to attempt the stunt for insurance reasons. Thus, he had his old friend and colleague Ekins fly to Germany to perform the dangerous maneuver. The image of "McQueen"'s cycle going over the wire became an iconic photo in the 1960s and kids adorned their walls with posters depicting the scene. This troubled McQueen, who felt he was getting undeserved praise for a stunt he didn't do. Although he openly gave Ekins credit for the achievement, most fans believe to this day that McQueen performed the stunt himself. Ekins considered himself a motorcyclist first and film performer second. He had a list of enviable achievements in the cycling world, though he was occasionally lured back to do stunt work in films like McQueen's Bulllitt and Steven Spielberg's 1941. For Variety's full report click here
In answr to those who say the Cinema Retro gang can't appreciate a movie unless it's a western made by Italians or a spy movie made by the Brits, here's a vintage movie still to show we're really in touch with the artiste in each of us. The still is from the wonderful 1974 MGM documentary That's Entertainment which paid homage to the legendary stars of the studio's musicals including Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, who still had the right stuff. Maybe white men can't jump, but at least a few of them sure can dance. The film has spawned several sequels over the years and each one serves as a reminder that as long as the video format lives on, so will the stars who epitomized class and style.
WE CONTINUE OUR SERIES OF REPORTS FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT JOHN
EXSHAW'S DIARY FROM THE RECENTLY CONCLUDED VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM
Having crawled into bed at 5:30 a.m., the prospect of being
back on the Lido for the 8:30 a.m. screening of Takashi Miike’s ‘Sukiyaki
Western Django’ rather lacked appeal, to put it mildly, so I resigned myself to
the usual routine of four litres of espresso and a stint in the press room
prior to collapsing into a seat for the 4:30 p.m. showing of Franco Giraldi’s
‘Sugar Colt’ (1966). It came as a surprise to find Giraldi himself in
attendance, having heard earlier in the week that he “wasn’t well” – a rather
ominous phrase when applied to a man in his mid-seventies (and one that was
also used to describe Sergio Sollima’s conditionwhen he was unable to attend ‘The Big
Gundown’). But there he was, sporting a crutch and a slight hobble, but
otherwise in fine fettle.
The film’s star, Hunt Powers (real name, Jack Betts – any
relation to Tom Betts of ‘Westerns… all’italiana!’ magazine, one idly wonders?)
had already told how he landed the part of Sugar Colt at the second Spaghetti
Western Round Table, but that didn’t stop him telling it again. Here’s how it
goes: “I was on my home, in California, when I decided to call my agent. He
told me he’d gotten a call from Franco Giraldi about the leading role in a film
called ‘Sugar Colt’ Do you ride a horse? he asked. For years, I told him. I’m a
superb equestrian. Do you shoot? Indeed I do, and have in fact won many
sharpshooting contests. Can you be in Rome in two weeks? You bet your ass I
can! I then called John Wayne and told him I needed to learn how to ride and
shoot in two weeks. Duke told me to come out to his ranch, and his head
wrangler taught me everything he could. I’ve never told Franco that story till
now, so I guess I did all right.”
‘Sugar Colt’, whose screenwriters included Sandro Continenza
and Fernando Di Leo, proves to be a rather uneven film, part revenge Western
and part comedy, with a dash of spy film thrown in for good measure. Tom
Cooper, a former undercover agent codenamed Sugar Colt, is approached by one Pinkerton
(presumably old Allan himself) and asked to assist in solving a case in which
some 150 Union sharpshooters had disappeared in mysterious circumstances at the
end of the Civil War. Cooper, now the dandifyied owner of a ladies’ shooting
academy, refuses, but changes his mind almost immediately when Pinkerton is
gunned down in the street. Disguising himself as a doctor, Sugar Colt travels
to Snake Valley to crack the case . . .
Japanese poster for "Sugar Colt"
If the script of ‘Sugar Colt’ proves to be a bit wobbly, the
same cannot be said of Franco Giraldi’s direction, which is remarkably assured,
with good, clean composition and impressive use of landscape throughout. Powers
plays his part well enough, though his uncanny and extremely unfortunate
resemblance to pop star Robbie Williams, right down to the same smarmy
expressions and narcissistic posing, is highly distracting. Not his fault,
perhaps, but is smarminess really a quality one wants in a Western hero?
Soledad Miranda, Jess Franco’s ill-fated muse, shines in her role as Josefa,
and is ably supported by Gina Rovere as her Aunt Bess. In one amusing sequence,
after Josefa has been overcome by some gas released by Sugar Colt (don’t ask),
Rovere, instead of delivering the expected slap to help her regain her senses,
cold-cocks her with a beautifully-delivered straight right to the face. Also in
the cast, glimpsed briefly as one of Cooper’s clients in the shooting academy,
is Mara Krup, well-remembered as the hotel owner’s wife who drools over No Name
in ‘For a Few Dollars More’. The remarkably annoying theme tune by Luis
Enríquez Bacalov, which usually has me reaching for the skip button on my CD
player, is thankfully underemployed. It’s also interesting to note that the
name ‘Sugar Colt’, which sounds pretty odd to English-speaking viewers, sounds
even odder when uttered by Italian-speaking actors.
Afterwards, I managed to get Giraldi’s attention for all of
two minutes. Not knowing he was going to be there, I had no sensible questions
prepared, and found myself saying something inane about his use in ‘Sugar Colt’
of Carlo Simi’s El Paso set from ‘For a Few Dollars More’. “Ah,” he said, “Very
good. You have a very sharp eye.” Which was nice of him, of course, though in
truth you’d have to be Tony Anthony’s title character in ‘Blindman’ not to spot
it. I then complimented him on his direction of ‘Sugar Colt’. “It’s not
perfect, not all,” he replied. “It is, I think, very naïve. But there are
things I like. . . . I have not seen it for years.” He agreed that Miranda was
good, adding “but she died very young.” And that was the end of another
sensational, in-depth interview.
"The 7th Dawn" was an outstanding action adventure drama directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring William Holden, Susannah York, Capucine and Tetsuro Tamba. Released in 1964, it has never been available on home video in the USA. Make sure you record this one next time it's on Turner Classic Movies!
If you want to see cavemen in action, you don't have to tune in to the new poorly-received sitcom based on Neanderthal characters from an insurance commercial. Rather you can just work for Warner Brothers' president of production Jeff Robinov at least according to Hollywood Deadline Daily reporter Nikke Finke. Finke alleges that inside sources at WB have told her that Robinov has put out a decree that the studio will no longer finance films with females as leads. This is apparently due to the fact that most movies with actresses receiving top billing have under-performed. Cinema Retro has long lamented the fact that there are precious few bankable actresses left in the industry. The sin of all this is that studios aren't supporting the development of films with female leads. Instead, they choose to go for the low-hanging fruit of sci-fi, raunchy sex comedies and brain-dead action movies that appeal to the prized demographic of young males. Did it ever occur to these over-paid executives that it might be in everyone's interest to actually sink some money into developing films starring actresses that would have broad appeal? Right now if your last name isn't Streep, Dench of Mirren, an actress can't get a decent role if you're north of age 40. Male-oriented films have always dominated the box office but that didn't stop Warner Brothers and other studios from giving us such "minor stars" as Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Katherine Hepburn. What chance does the next generation have of ever developing their own legends when this type of philosophy permeates the film industry? Even Jodie Foster, one of the few remaining actresses who can pull in a crowd, is down to starring in Death Wish knock-offs like The Brave One. Apparently, the only viable type of female star is one who can out-macho Charles Bronson. Too bad Shelly Winters was 35 years too early with Bloody Mama - she'd win an Oscar for it today.
Warner Brothers publicity shot of Lauren Bacall circa mid-1940s: gone are the days.
You can say what you want about the old studio system: it was run by tyrants and the casting couch was being worn out on a daily basis. But these were also glory days for Hollywood actresses. Based on the current philosophies of the studios, it would appear there is no interest in attempting to reawaken that glorious era. Thank God for DVD and Turner Classic Movies where the true Hollywood goddesses can be enjoyed without the benefit of the "visionaries" running today's studios. (As of this writing, Jeff Rabinov has not publicly given his side of these allegations) For Nikki Finke's article click here - Lee Pfeiffer
Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer has received a DVD from Time Life with selected highlights from the forthcoming Man From U.N.C.L.E. collection. Here is his report:
I was pleasantly surprised to find a nicely packaged DVD arrive from Time Life today that contained official sample elements of the bonus extras that will appear on the highly-anticipated complete series DVD collection that will be released on DVD on November 27. Being a dyed-in-the-wool U.N.C.L.E. enthusiast, I immediately stopped work on the important project I was working on (an 80 foot statue of Leo G. Carroll made entirely out of sea shells) and sat down to watch what I anticipated would be a few tantalizing teasers from the coolest spy show of the 1960s. I was delighted to find that the sampler contained a substantial amount of material. However, devouring these U.N.C.L.E. rarities is the cinematic equivalent of trying to eat just one potato chip - the more I saw, the more I wanted to see.
Here's a breakdown of the sampler DVD:
The entire pilot for the series in its original format when the show was known as Solo. This is the rare color version of the pilot (it was telecast in b&w) and the quality is stunning. Enthusiasts of the show have seen this episode before, but for the vast majority of the viewers, it will a true revelation to see the series with its original title sequence (some bland images of exotic international locations). The colors are rich and striking and the episode only whetted my appetite for what was to follow.
The sampler also included a full length episode of a season one show titled The Never-Never Affair, a good choice as it presents the amusing spectacle of having Barbara Feldon as a guest star a year before she starred in Get Smart.
The Cloak and Swagger Affair is a superbly edited compilation of interviews with virtually every living principal involved with the show. Among those featured: Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, cinematographer Fred Koenekamp, producer Norman Felton, writers Dean Hargrove and Peter Allan Fields, directors Joseph Sargent and Richard Donner, and others. There are even archival comments from the series' late creator Sam Rolfe. Felton speaks at length about the early involvement of James Bond author Ian Fleming in the development of the series. All tell fascinating anecdotes about their experience on the show and the one constant is that everyone recalls it as being one of the best periods of their lives. Even if you've heard some of these stories before, there's nothing like the pleasure of hearing the principals relate them in their own words. The graphics are imaginative and so is the editing. A sheer delight from start to finish.
Double Agents: The Vaughn/McCallum Reunion- This is the absolute highlight of the DVD. It's the first joint interview by the two stars in almost twenty years. Despite rumors to the contrary, there was never a feud between them. They simply led vastly diffferent social lives and never became close friends until many years after the show had been cancelled. I have had the pleasure of socializing with both Vaughn and McCallum, as both contribute to Cinema Retro magazine. However, it is truly moving and very amusing to see them both together onscreen in front of U.N.C.L.E promotional signage. They are both genuinely witty, self-deprecating and prone to tossing gentle, good-humored barbs at each other. Vaughn says that prior to the series, he had been very familiar with McCallum's work, having been impressed with his performance in Freud. He confesses to trying to land the role of Judas in The Greatest Story Ever Told and asks whether McCallum was aware he was his rival. McCallum states he didn't even know who Vaughn was nor was he familiar with his work, eliciting a big chuckle from both men. It's truly a treat to listen to both stars recall specific episodes and share their memories of when they were both teen idols.
U.N.C.L.E. VIPS- is a fun look at the many prominent actors who appeared on the show. McCallum regrets not having kept an autograph book and remembers being thrilled working with Elsa Lanchester while Vaughn recalls the intimidating presence of Jack Palance in The Concrete Overcoat Affair.
There's no doubt that Time Life has done a terrific job on this set. I almost dread the day that the 41 DVD collection arrives. I'll have to check into a monastary for a few weeks just to get through them in peace.
Remember to subscribe to Cinema Retro's print magazine to enjoy the first installment of our 8 issue series The Films From U.N.C.L.E. beginning with the first movie, To Trap a Spy.
Closing Channel D! (Now back to that statue of Leo G. Carroll!)
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Try to imagine a scandal that directly or indirectly involves:
Legendary actor Rex Harrison
The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.
The Sound of Music
A public park in Maine
Attacking actors playing Nazis with spray paint
Noel Harrison as Mark Slate in The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.: is his son Will the victim of a THRUSH brainwashing plot?
No, it isn't the scenario for Mel Brooks' next project. Rather, it's a real-life newstory involving Will Harrison, son of actor/singer Noel Harrision, who played agent Mark Slate on The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Will is also the grandson of Rex Harrison. The spirited offspring of the TV secret agent is banned from visiting a public park in Maine because of any number of antics he has sprung on local residents - including climbing on stage in a cape and goggles to spray paint actors playing Nazis in a theater production of The Sound of Music! Hey, we all have to do our part to denounce Hitler's policies, don't we? We can't help but being reminded of the scene in The Naked Gun in which Leslie Nielsen's Lt. Drebin brags about having shot a gang of cult members dressed in togas who were assaulting an innocent victim. The exasperrated mayor then informs him they were cast members from a production of Julius Caesar! The younger Harrison attributes his actions to a bipolar disorder, but he's still hopeful that it won't interfere with his aspirations of being knighted. (Given some of the people who have been knighted in recent years, this goal may not be as far-fetched as you would believe.) The real question is whether this will negatively affect his chances of being an U.N.C.L.E. agent! For more on the story click here
Cinema Retro music editor Darren Allison takes a look at four interesting Italian movie soundtracks.
Fin de Siecle Media of Sweden are proving to be one great
label and consistently releasing a wealth of superb cult movie scores. Little
known Italian composer Luciano Michelini’s excellent action-orientated score
for the low budget film L’Isola Deglil Uomini Pesce (FDS22) was directed
by Sergio Martino in 1979. While Michelini’s name may not be instantly
recognizable, his music certainly deserves to be up there alongside the top
flight of Italian film composers. Making full use of his orchestra, Michelini
successfully balances a fine blend of classic orchestration with modern
elements such as synthesizer and guitar, resulting in a fusion of varying
styles. The score is laced throughout with wonderful use of strings and some
rich symphonic passages. Romantic themes such as ‘Cosa Resta Dell'Amore’
and action orientated tracks like ‘Fuga tra gli Alberi’ are both lush
and thrilling in their delivery. While remaining typically Italian to the ear, Michelini
works through the entire spectrum of moods including solemn tribal drums and
haunting percussion as examples of the scores purest minimal form. Previously
released on vinyl by the renowned label Comenta, the score has been beautifully
restored and presented for its debut on CD including original artwork, stills
and notes by John Mansell.
Cinema Retro has obtained from Time Life a film clip to whet your appetites for the forthcoming DVD release of the complete series of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.This introductory segment was seen in episodes 2-7 during the show's premiere season in 1964 and provides an interesting look at how the characters and concept of the organization were presented to viewers.
Actor George Grizzard has passed away at the age of 79. A frequent collaborator of playwright Edward Albee, Grizzard had originated the role of Nick in Albee's breakthrough play Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf? (The part was played by George Segal in the 1966 film version). Grizzard, who had been battling lung cancer, had appeared in a number of high profile films including Advise and Consent, Comes a Horseman, From the Terrace and Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks. His last screen appearance was in Clint Eastwood's 2006 film Flags of Our Fathers. For Variety's full report click here
Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer takes a (belated) look at the merits of 3:10 to Yuma
Extolling the virtues of the remake of 3:10 to Yuma makes me feel as relevant and timely as the lookout at Pearl Harbor. The film has been in release for a month, but I was in Beijing when it opened. Having blabbered endlessly about the demise of the western film, I thought I should be among those who actually supported this film by seeing it in the theater. I was prepared to like it, but midway through I had to pinch myself to insure that I was actually seeing that rarest of birds:a great, new western. I won't belabor readers with a detailed synposis of a movie that has already been widely discussed and reviewed. The story simply focuses on a financially desperate rancher (Christian Bale) who can't provide for his family. He signs on to help escort a notorious killer and outlaw (Russell Crowe) to a distant town where he will be put aboard a train for Yuma Prison. In between arec murderous Apaches, double-crossing mercenaries and the outlaw's ruthless gang of cutthroats who are determined to free him. What makes Yuma so wonderful to experience is the fact that it is remarkable because it is so unremarkable. This is not a revisionist, hip western that tries to mock the genre. It's as traditional as you can get. James Mangold is the director of record, but one suspects the ghosts of Henry Hathaway and John Sturges had their hands on the tiller. Mangold has studied the genre and gets every aspect right. Not only is every performance terrific, but the cast looks like it was dragged through sagebrush instead of having basted a few hours in Beverly Hills spa. Crowe and Bale are superb, with the former giving a performance worthy of an Oscar nomination as the charismatic killer. The supporting cast is just as impressive, with a virtually unrecognizable Peter Fonda playing the grizzled incarnation of Grant Withers and Harry Carey Jr. A wonderful character actor named Ben Foster creates one of the most notorious western bad guys since Jack Palance in Shane.
Where have all the cowboys gone? Fortunately, to a theater near you. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, both superb.
The film invokes all the mainstays of great westerns, including the time-honored plot device of having a ticking clock count down the minutes until the train arrives in town. These scenes will remind you of the best westerns from High Noon to Last Train From Gun Hill. Aside from the richly drawn characters, the movie also has some terrific technical achievements. Every aspect of the production design is completely realistic, from the dusty clothing to the creaky floorboards of the local saloons. The sound effects are also impressive, particularly in the spectacularly-staged final shootout. You feel like ducking for cover under your seat as the bullets whiz by seemingly non-stop.
Uneasy rider: Crowe gets the drop on Peter Fonda
Congratulations to all involved: 3:10 to Yuma is among the best of the scant crop of westerns made in recent years. Like Unforgiven and Open Range, it lingers long after the credits have rolled. Saddle up and see it in a theater while you still can.
We've contacted Time Life in response to the many requests we've had from fans in the UK who would like to purchase the forthcoming DVD collection for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Unfortunately, the news isn't good at this time. The company only has the rights to market the set in the USA at the moment. The only alternative UK fans have is to have someone in the USA order for them, then ship it over. This will incur some heavy duty postage fees, not to mention potential customs charges. We firmly believe that if the sets are successful here, the series will be made available in the UK. Time Life's exclusivity only runs for a period of time after which the series will be made available to retail stores. Presumably at that point in time, Warner Brothers may seek to market the set in the UK directly or through Time Life. We will keep you informed if there is a change of stragegy. (For the record, Time Life told us that initial pre-orders for the set are "great!")
WE CONTINUE OUR SERIES OF REPORTS FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT JOHN
EXSHAW'S DIARY FROM THE RECENTLY CONCLUDED VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM
“Quentin Tarantino is under sedatives,” the spokesman
announced, before starting to shuffle furiously through a sheaf of papers.
Well, of course he is, I thought. In a flash, the whole story unfolded before
my eyes: Tarantino had arrived in Venice
and discovered that the organisers of the international event to which he’d
lent his name were showing crappy digital prints of some of his favorite
movies. Naturally enough, he’d completely flipped out and strangled them both
with a length of 35mm film he keeps for just such a purpose. He’d eventually
been restrained and was now “under sedatives” in the newly-named Sergio Leone
Suite of the Excelsior Hotel, as his lawyers prepared an unanswerable defense
of justifiable homicide . . .
It was all so clear. And Cinema Retro was going to
get the cinematic scoop of the century! Hot damn in a handcart! I could already
see myself signing off my reports with Danny De Vito’s lines from ‘L.A.
Confidential’: “Remember, dear readers, you heard it here first – off the
record, on the QT, and very hush-hush.” And then, why not? the book deal,
serialisation rights, movie options . . . Larry King, here I come! Clear the
sofa, Oprah! But what to call it? ‘Death in Venice’? No, no, no . . . ‘Death by
Celluloid’? Hmm, yeah, maybe . . .“. .
. blahdy- blah . . . sends his regrets . . . blah blah blah . . .”What the hell is that man talking about?
Can’t he see I’m creating here? And why’s he waving that piece of paper?
“. . . letter . . . full text . . .” Reluctantly, I hauled myself off Oprah’s
couch and returned to Planet Earth. And this is what I heard:
“To Marco Müller and all my friends,
I will not be able to join you at this festival as I injured
I am heartbroken not to be able to watch and enjoy all the
different Spaghetti Westerns we’ve programmed for the festival. Great movies
like The Bounty Killer, El Desperado, Navajo Joe, Tepepa.
It is my wish that when this festival is over the director Sergio Corbucci will
take the place he deserves beside Leone and with John Ford, Howard Hawks and
Anthony Mann as one of the greatest Western directors of all time.
So everyone drink good wine, eat good food, ride the waters
and enjoy the magic of cinema.
In this deleted sequence from the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball, 007 boards the Disco Volante, the yacht that belongs to SPECTRE villain Emilio Largo. He is accompanied by Largo's mistress Domino (Claudine Auger). The scene was to follow Bond's visit to Palmyra, Largo's estate in Nassau. In the final version of the movie, Largo invites Bond to tour the yacht but the sequence is never shown. Unfortunately, the deleted scene appears to have been lost forever. The captain is played by stuntman Harold Sanderson.