Evel Knievel, the larger-than-life stunt driver, has died at age 69. Knievel had been suffering from a myriad of health problems in recent years including complications from the numerous serious injuries he suffered during his career. Knievel was known as much for his spectacular failures as he was his achievements, but fans remained loyal because he was a master showman whose audacious behavior and ego always made for good copy. Three films had been made based on Knievel's exploits including a 1971 feature film in which he was played by George Hamilton. He was also the subject of TV movies in 1974 and 1994. With a name that sounded like he would have fit in with a 1930s gangster movie, it was inevitable that Knievel would someday be tempted by the acting profession. However, his one major feature film - Viva Knievel!- was a box-office dud and critics felt that if Knievel couldn't play himself in a convincing manner, it was doubtful he could take on other roles. For more details click here
Composer Jerry Goldsmith's classic score for Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi blockbuster Alien has been released by Intrada as a 2 CD set. It includes virtually every note Goldsmith composed for the film including material not heard in the final cut. The set also includes a remastered version of the vinyl LP soundtrack issued at the time of the films release as well as a deluxe collectors booklet. To order click here
Marlon Brando and Al Martino in The Godfather. The film made Francis Coppola a major Hollywood director but he has few fond memories of making the movie.
In a new interview with The Telegraph of London, director Francis Ford Coppola is characteristically candid about the ups and downs of his triumphs and disappointments. Back behind the camera for the first time in ten years, Coppola is fulfilling his initial dream of making small, personal movies inspired by the European cinema that influenced him as a young man. His new movie Youth Without Youth seems to have reawakened the artiste in Coppola in that is is clearly an art house film that stands virtually no chance of being a major box-office hit. Coppola discusses his memories of making The Godfather saying, "What stands out in my mind about that movie is that I
survived it...I was so in
trouble and I was so miserable. I felt alone in my idea for the
film. I was shocked that it was so successful." He also says he stays in touch with peers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and dines with them occasionally. He opines, "It's like three
kids with the enthusiasm of how wonderful and magical cinema is; how
you can never learn enough and how every time you make a film you
learn more. I am struck with the childlike enthusiasm we all have
when we discuss the possibilities of what can be done with film." Coppola laments the fact that he has a revered reputation in Hollywood, but still can't find any financing for the films he wants to do. His next project with Matt Damon will be self-financed and modestly budgeted. For the interview click here
He may be Shemp to Bruce Lee's Curley, but Sonny Chiba has carved a loyal niche for himself among fans of martial arts movies. Turner Classic Movies offers an appreciation of his 1974 cult film The Bodyguard. To read click here
British director Ken Russell has brought some outrageous and ecclectic films to the screen including Altered States, The Devils, Women in Love, Tommy and Billion Dollar Brain. He now shares with The Times of London the greatest professioal mistakes he's made as a director. It's as amusing as it is candid and honest. To check it out click here
Cinema Retro's Dean Brierly takes a look at an offbeat Japanese film series new to DVD.
As film attendance in the United States declined dramatically
in the 1950s due to television’s increasing popularity, the Hollywood Empire
struck back with a wave of widescreen Technicolor spectaculars to lure
audiences back into theaters. When a similar small vs. big screen scenario
played out in Japan in the late sixties and early seventies, major studios like
Nikkatsu, Daiei and Toei staved off financial disaster by co-opting the “pink
film,” a type of softcore porn previously the domain of small, independent
studios. The big outfits raised the pink film into the mainstream via higher
production values, compelling narratives and superior direction, a formula that
proved potent both from a commercial and critical perspective.
Original Japanese poster for Quick Draw Okatsu (Photo: Dean Brierly collection)
From the pink film was spawned a wild subgenre that came to
be known as “pinky violence,” in which studios amped up the sex and violence
quotient of the female swordplay, women in prison and girl gang film. All
featured tough, independent heroines equally comfortable wielding their
sexuality as meting out lethal retribution. These highly stylized films
brilliantly walked a mind-bending tightrope between sleazy exploitation and
female empowerment. There are few equivalents to these kinds of films in
Western cinema, outside of such early seventies Pam Grier vehicles like Coffy
and Foxy Brown. The pinky violence influence also lives on in such
Quentin Tarantino epics as Kill Bill and Death Proof.
Toei’s late-sixties “Legends of the Poisonous Seductress”
trilogy, recently brought to DVD by Synapse Films (in association with Panik
House Entertainment), was in the vanguard of the pinky violence movement.
Although not as sexually explicit as later films in the genre, they did boast a
more intense eroticism than Japanese audiences were used to, along with
head-turning doses of ultra-gory violence. And while most pinky violence films
were set in contemporary Japan, the Poisonous Seductress trilogy unfolds during
the Sengoku, or warring states period (between the 15th to 17th centuries),
familiar to viewers of such Kurosawa epics as Seven Samurai. The period
setting, with its political context of intrigue and upheaval, contributes to
the films’ unique atmosphere and provides a down-to-earth contrast to their
over-the-top visual aesthetic.
MGM's official 8mm release version of North by Northwest ran a whopping 18 minutes - barely enough time to accomodate Hitchcock's cameo.
We recently ran a story recalling the glory days of 8mm movie collecting. Back when Neanderthals ruled the earth, movie collecting was relegated to hard core fanatics who could only obtain prints of their favorite films on bootleg 16mm prints or in 8mm versions. The latter generally only offered ridiculously condensed versions of key scenes from the films. ("Hey kids, watch Ben-Hur in fifteen minutes!") Now the web site Cinema Slave offers their own perspective on the joys and frustrations of collecting 8mm films - and breathes a sigh of relief that we now live in the age of DVD. For the article click here
The polyphonically, unfairly talented and fiendishly busy actress
Karen Black (who’s also my good
friend and upcoming interviewee in the print edition of Cinema Retro) recently premiered her own one-woman show, “How I
Learned to Stop Worrying and Sing the Song” in Washington, DC, to rave reviews.
She received three standing ovations and by her own admission, “I almost
couldn’t stand there and accept that much acknowledgment!” In the show Karen
recounts her life through musical interludes and anecdotes, beginning as a
struggling actress in New York in the early 60s (where she famously said “no
thanks” to Lee Strasberg after he invited her to join The Actors Studio),
through her move to hippie-era Hollywood and her steady rise to fame as one of
the leading actresses of the 70s. Karen treats the audience to absorbing
first-hand accounts of her work on such legendary films as Easy Rider (1969), her Oscar-nominated performance in Five Easy Pieces (1970), The Day of the Locust (1975), Nashville (1975), Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982) and
Karen Black starred in Alfred Hitchcock's last film Final Plot (1976)
If you’re surprised to learn Karen Black is also a singer, don’t be. She
can absolutely floor you with her
voice. If you remember the scene in Nashville, in
which she plays country star Connie White, the song she performs in front of
the Grand Ole Opry she not only composed herself but made it sound like a
viable country hit from that period. Karen grew up in a musical family in
and her grandfather was the esteemed classical musician Arthur Ziegler, who was
the first violinist for the Chicago Symphony. Another film in which she sings
is Henry Jaglom’s quirky comedy Can She
Bake A Cherry Pie? (1983) and the more recent Firecracker (2004) in which she plays a carnival chanteuse and really shows off her
range. Henry Jaglom, Karen’s long-time friend from Actors Studio days back in New York, cast Karen in
his runaway indie hit Hollywood Dreams (2006)
as a vainglorious actress of a certain age who is having a secret tryst with an
A-list “gay” actor with a secret: he’s straight. Between rendez-vous with Karen’s character Luna, he toys with the idea of
“coming out” against the advice of his managers.
She also appears in Jaglom’s upcoming Irene
in Time (2007) and this year’s Suffering
Man’s Charity (2007), directed by Alan Cumming. I’m eager for everyone to
read the interview with Karen in the next issue. Her career is a revelation to
those who pigeonhole her as a fixture of70s disaster or horror flicks, even if she did important work in both of
those genres as well.
One of the most thrilling DVDs to cross my desk this year doesn't have a single action sequence or special effect. It simply features the master composer Maurice Jarre's magnificent tribute to legendary director David Lean. The concert took place in 1992 with Jarre conducting the Royal Philharmonic which played the scores the French composer contributed to Lean's films Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Ryan's Daughter and A Passage to India. The DVD provides all the sad evidence you'll ever need of the sorry state of today's film soundtracks. There is no one who approaches the likes of Jarre and his contemporaries such as Elmer Bernstein and Jerry Goldsmith. Jarre's output in recent years has been far from memorable, reflecting the current status of the movie industry. Gone are the epic films he cut his teeth on, but if he never composed any scores except the ones on this DVD, his place in movie history would be secure. The sheer beauty of these compositions is enhanced considerably by watching Jarre conducting the orchestra with a no-nonsense, passionate style. Clad in a white dinner jacket, he eschews any small talk, save for a brief thank you to the audience at the conclusion. The Royal Philharmonic performs each suite magnificently and the program is enhanced by the inclusion of clips from each of the films, as well as rare photos of Jarre and Lean working together.
David Lean with cast members of Doctor Zhivago: Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin and Omar Sharif.
The DVD features a number of interesting extras including a 35 minute interview in which the composer discusses his friendship and working relationship with David Lean. Even when Lean's efforts fell short, as witih Ryan's Daughter, Jarre's superb scores would provide enough reason to to watch the films again and again. The men obviously shared a close professional relationship as well as friendship and Jarre includes the suite he composed for Lean's wedding. There is also an option to hear Jarre's commentary track over the entire concert and he provides many a fascinating anecdote. The DVD package also includes a full CD of the concert - a wonderful touch that substantially enhances the allure of this release. The set includes a booklet with extensive liner notes - something mainstream DVD releases rarely include nowdays.
If there is one frustraton with the set, it's that it unavoidably denies us the opportunity to hear Jarre's scores from non-David Lean productions performed. How thrilling it would be to see him conducting his compositions from The Train, Grand Prix and especially The Professionals. Nevertheless, this is one of the most welcome DVD releases of the year - and a "must have" for anyone who values the golden age of movie music. Congratulations to Milan Records, which saw fit to release this in such a first-rate manner. - Lee Pfeiffer
The Help! deluxe DVD edition includes two discs loaded with extras, a reproduction of the script, 60 page souvenir booklet, 8 lobby cards and a reproduction of the original British quad poster
After having their second feature film Help! recently restored for DVD release, The Beatles' 1967 TV special Magical Mystery Tour is being given the white glove treatment as well. A team of technicians who worked on the Help! restoration are turning their attention to the show that was poorly received in its day despite having been the video companion to the classic album of the same name. The film's psychedelic content was considered too far out for mainstream audiences at the time and it has only been in the years since that it has benefited from wide exposure. As for the Help! restoration, approximately $1.5 million was spent by Apple to clean up the film elements. The DVD has recently been released in both standard and deluxe editions. The restored version was broadcast in England last evening on BBC 4. Upon seeing the restoration, Ringo Starr said “I really remember Help! with lots of joy. Our attitude was that we’re making our second movie and it’s in colour – wow! The film has been cleaned up and re-graded so the colour looks beautiful.”
John Sturges' Ice Station Zebra starred Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan and Jim Brown
Columnist Nicholas Sheffo of the great DVD review site www.fulvuedrive-in.com has proposed a list of ten largely underrated films that should be released on both HD and Blu-Ray formats. It's hard to argue with most of his choices. See what you think by clicking here to read
Columnist Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times writes a glowing tribute to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the soon-to-be-released complete video collection. Lloyd revels in the pleasures of watching the series again and finds even the aspects that are dated to be quaintly amusing. He also knows his stuff: the correctly identifies the My Friend the Gorilla Affair as the artistic low point of the series! To read the article click here
TO ORDER THE COMPLETE DVD COLLECTION CLICK HERE- IT'S DUE TO SHIP DECEMBER 3!
The Dynamic Duo of the Seventies strike out in the early 1980s.
It looked like the perfect, can't-miss film for early 1980s audiences. Pair the two top box-office attractions of recent years - Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds - in a prohibition era comedy/action film reminiscent of The Sting. What went wrong? The question should be: what didn't go wrong? The film underwent a number of pre-production problems that saw several title changes (it was originally called Kansas City Jazz) and the departure of original director Blake Edwards over "creative differences". Richard Benjamin replaced him, but by then the script was a scattershot affair with the fingerprints of numerous contributors, each of whom seemed to have a different vision of the story. The film marked the decline of Burt Reynolds, both in terms of popularity and physically. Reynolds suffered a severe injury when a stunt went wrong. He entered a long period of poor health as he tried to recover, but also had to cope with mean-spirited rumors that he had AIDS. (This was during the period in which Rock Hudson succumbed to the dreaded disease.) The movie was a rare flop for Eastwood, but we always feel that as disappointing as the film is on many levels, it has a certain charm highlighted by the byplay between Eastwood and Reynolds, the latter of whom gives a deft, comedic performance. Writer Nathan Rabin on the web site the AV Club has a more jaundiced look at the end result. To read his analysis of how this "can't-miss" project missed by a mile, click here
Cinema Retro columnist David Savage gives us his top two DVD picks for the month: two worthy films that were largely overlooked during their theatrical runs in the 1970s.
The Other (1972) dir. Robert Mulligan. This Late Show creeper from
the early 70s from the same director as Summer
of ’42 (1971) seems like it was made for TV, but research seems to indicate
it did have a theatrical release (does anyone out there remember seeing it at
the theater?) In fact most people remember it from its annual broadcast on
television during that decade, after which it seemed to disappear altogether
and become something of a bad dream remembered by a handful of night owls. A
few years ago it was released on DVD and it's well worth a revisit. Based on
Thomas Tryon's taut, psychological novel, the story examines the lives of a
pair of twins -- one boldly evil, the other sweet but a follower – who are part
of a large farm family in Depression-eraConnecticut. They run rampant
around the farm with assorted cousins and neighbor kids, inventing games and
pulling mean pranks. Their loving grandmother, Ada (played by Uta Hagen, here in Method
overdrive) teaches them something called 'the game' as a way to escape the
mental pain caused by their bedridden mother's condition. Horrible accidents
start to befall neighbors and family members (look for a very young John
Ritter), all of which seem to result from the twins' actions, prompting Ada to intervene in a
final mortal decision. Even if it weren't for a few dreadful scenes involving
live rats, pitchforks in the haystack and drowned babies, the film would still
be disturbing in that it suggests something far more troubling: can a child be
born evil? The sunny, horror-in-broad-daylight cinematography of Robert Surtees
(Ben Hur, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Graduate) adds to the
atmosphere. Identical twins Chris and Martin Udvarnoky, here in their only
film, play the roles of the twins Niles
and Holland Perry.
Smile (1975), dir. Michael Ritchie. This largely forgotten mid-70s
slice-of-life from Michael Ritchie, who had a respectable run in the Seventies
with Downhill Racer, The Candidate, and The Bad News Bears
(sadly dying in 2001 at the young age of 62) is a deadpan delight in the
tradition of Nashville.
Indeed, Ritchie's style is often called "Altman-esque" for its flat
gaze upon the ridiculous at the center of everyday life. Here, the context is a
teen beauty pageant in a small California
town, which Ritchie appears to simply let unfold in all its folly and sad
hilarity, proving that there are some things in life which are so intrinsically
comic that its better to just watch rather than direct. There is not so much a
plot as several intersecting storylines, giving the impression of a camera
catching a thousand mini-tragedies and humiliations with each random turn.
There are the inauspicious rehearsals, a local salesman in mid-life crisis,
horny, ogling teens (led by Eric Shea of The Poseidon Adventure), and a
hilarious "pre-pageant interview" sequence before the judges.
And this being the mid-70s, the hair, clothing and interior décor are reason
enough to watch, mouth agape. With Bruce Dern and Barbara Feldon (Get Smart)
in lead roles, supported by a smashing Annette O'Toole as the most seasoned of
all the pageant's contestants. Also look for an older and foxier Denise
Nickerson of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory whom I would love
it interview one day, and a very young Melanie Griffith in one of her first
When Bartholdi, the French sculptor of The Statue of Liberty beseeched the nations of the world to send America "the wretched refuse of your teeming shore", we doubt he would have written these noble words if he had foreseen they might someday have pertained to Heather Mills. Our friends across the pond have been sending us more undesirable aliens than can be seen in all versions of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, what with the Beckhams and Heather Mills already on U.S. soil. Now the soon to be ex-Mrs. Paul McCartney has released a statement that has struck Cinema Retro like a shot across the bow - she is now lashing out against unfriendly media outlets that have failed to show sympathy for her in the campaign she is waging against Sir Paul. She has threatened to punish these networks and newspapers by denying them access to her daily rants. She is most peeved because she believes she is being ridiculed for her statements saying milk should not be fed to children because it causes anxiety to cows! It's pretty difficult to work up an attitude against a person who has successfully overcome a physical handicap, but Mills doesn't have a leg to stand on in the court of public sympathy - though we have to admit that no single female has provided this much laughter to the world since the late, great Gracie Allen.
Now what the hell does all this have to do with Cinema Retro? Well, since virtually every major media outlet in the world delights in mocking Mills, within days they should all be on her "banned" list. Since Mills enjoys the spotlight so much that she strikes a pose every time she opens the refrigerator door, it occurred to us that she might find that we are the only website left in the world that hasn't been put on her blacklist. To forestall any possibility of being approached by Mills, we'll put the fix in right now. We're heading straight out to enjoy about 24 ounces of dead cow at the local Longhorn Saloon restaurant, then return and watch a marathon of Rawhide episodes. To top it off, we'll make sure we have up our "Paul is Fab!" poster from the 1960s. Short of using a cross and garlic, we can't think of a more effective way of protecting our readers.- Lee Pfeiffer
Cinema Retro columnist David Savage brings us up to date on the movie event scene in New York City.
It's nearly Thanksgiving and as the holiday season breaks into full gallop,
the film calendar is already bursting here in New York. Is it possible not to overcommit oneself? A major
Pasolini festival gets underway November 28th at the Film Society of
Lincoln Center (see below), followed by the 16th edition of Spanish
Cinema Now, also at FSLC, beginning December 7th. Newly restored
35mm prints of Pietro Germi's classic Divorce Italian Style (1961) and
Albert Lamorisse's The Red Balloon (1956) are playing at Film Forum (filmforum.org) through November
22nd, not to mention the roster of foreign and indie features
rolling out weekly for the press, and the seductive eye candy of newly
remastered and special edition DVD box sets from Warner Bros., Universal,
Criterion, etc. winking on the shelves – how is a film reporter supposed to
keep on top of this all and keep a steady job at the same time?
Thanksgiving doesn't bring to mind many great movies, but rather a few
memorable movie moments. One I’d like to offer up is the scene in Annie Hall
(1977) when Woody Allen's character Alvy Singer is invited by Annie (Diane
Keaton) to Thanksgiving dinner at her parents' house. Allen correctly
identifies Thanksgiving as the WASP-iest of all holidays, given its Pilgrim
roots, and turns it into one of the funniest Jewish-Among-WASPs moments in
movie history. In the sequence Allen recreates Norman Rockwell's famous
painting of a New England family at
Thanksgiving dinner and inserts himself into the tableau vivant. As the
struggling comic Alvy tries out joke after joke on Annie's family, presided
over by a frosty Colleen Dewhurst as Annie's mother, all of them fall with a
thud in confused silence. Eventually we see him transform into a rabbi at the
table. It's one of those scenes that showcased Allen's loose brilliance as a
director during the period, and also reminds me how few young directors today are
willing to mine the WASP/Jewish culture clash for comedy. There was the original
The Heartbreak Kid (1972) with
Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd, written by Elaine May, and Jerry Stiller
and Anne Meara have perhaps made the most of their comic culture clash of a
marriage of all entertainers. But since then? A few recent exceptions are Meet the Fockers (2004) and Meet the Parents (2000), both written by
Jim Herzfeld, and this year’s Knocked Up
(2007) from Judd Apatow. While the story doesn’t address the topic explicitly,
Apatow makes the most of the contrast between the Jewish central character, Ben
Stone and the tall blonde shiksa
Alison Scott, whom he unwittingly knocks up after a fateful meeting in a
nightclub. The screenplays that treat this subject usually come from a Jewish
writer, suggesting that the satirical perspective (following conventional
wisdom) comes from the cultural outsider, as was the norm for the last half
century. But now that WASPS are rapidly dying off as a demographic in the U.S., and more
importantly as a cultural force, it will be interesting to see if a comedy
comes along from a WASP’s perspective. It might be controversial, if said
writer is so fortunate. If I’m missing any obvious examples other than the
above-mentioned, do let me know.
This won't mean a thing to our international readers, but American baby boomers are in mourning over the death of a man whose name they did even know. Actor Dick Wilson died at age 91 - but for a generation of TV viewers, he was the star of the Charmin TV commercials in which he played fussy store clerk Mr. Whipple who constantly warned customers "Please don't squeeze the Charmin". The reference was the to the ultra soft toilet tissues that was so intoxicating to the public that they pinched the rolls like they were Sophia Loren. The British-born Wilson appeared as Mr. Whipple in the popular TV ads that ran an astonishing 21 years - not counting a limited return to the role in 1999. Wilson's resume also included guest shots on countless hit TV shows ranging from Bewitched to Hogan's Heroes and a recurring part on Perfect Strangers. In lamenting his death, a Proctor & Gamble executive rightly called Wilson "one of the most recognizable faces in the history of American advertising" and attributed much of the success of the Charmin brand directly to the actor. One could say that toilet paper gave Dick Wilson the "roll" of a lifetime.
LEE PFEIFFER examines a new set of Warner videos showcasing a diverse group of leading ladies.
Warner Home Video has released an eclectic collection of five DVDs in a boxed set titles Leading Ladies Collection Vol. 2. The set consists of some titles that have been eagerly awaited on DVD for quite some time: Up the Down Staircase, Shoot the Moon, A Big Hand for the Little Lady, I'll Cry Tomorrow and Rich and Famous. Here's our take on the individual films:
Up the Down Staircase- Released during the same year as To Sir, With Love- 1967- Up the Down Staircase is the fact-based story of a seemingly frail and naive young woman who takes a job teaching high school in a ghetto neighboorhood. The book was a best-seller and the film was highly anticipated. I've never been a huge fan of Sandy Dennis. Her whiney, mousey persona worked appropriately in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but left me irritated in films such as The Out-of-Towners. In Up the Down Staircase, however, I realized I had misjudged this fine actress. She gives a winning performance that consistently surprises. She's tender when you think she'll be tough and tough when you think she'll be vulnerable. The white teacher in the ghetto school concept is cliched today, but at the time it was ground-breaking stuff. Unlike the capable, somewhat intimidating Sidney Poitier in To Sir, With Love, Dennis is the epitome of vulnerability. She has to contend with suicidal students, unrequited love, uncaring administrators,a failed attempt to reach a bright delinquent and a host of other problems. Every time you think you know the direction the story will go in, it deviates just enough to keep you interested. There are a number of loose ends that are not conveniently tied up at the end of the story, but that seems a realistic approach. The film has probably lost some of its power over the decades, but it remains highly enjoyable. The only extra is an original trailer.
SHOOT THE MOON- Director Alan Parker's heartbreaking look at the dissolution of a marriage and its impact on all concerned is so brilliantly enacted, written and directed that you forget you are watching a movie and feel like an intruder on real people's lives during their most vulnerable moments. Diane Keaton and Albert Finney are the couple coming apart at the seams even as they try to stay together for the sake of their brood of young daughters. Both are fundamentally decent, but flawed people and its hard to root for or against either as the disintegrating union takes a devastating toll on the entire family. The film reminds us of what an enormous talent Keaton can be in a dramatic role and how Finney, in one of the great performances of his career, has been woefully underutilized as leading man. This is not a feel-good movie, but it is essential viewing. Extras include a winning commentary track by Alan Parker and screenwriter Bo Goldman, and the original trailer.
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Percepto Records is issuing Randy Newman's soundtrack for the vastly underrated 1971 comedy Cold Turkey that starred Dick Van Dyke and Bob Newhart in hilarious tale about a small town that has a chance to be awarded a fortune if every resident can succeed in giving up smoking for 30 days. Percepto has issued the first ever soundtrack album to the film from the archives of Randy Newman himself. Per the high quality standards we've come to expect from this label, it is accompanied by a collector's book with insightful notes by Jeff Bond and an assortment of rare stills. This is limited to only 1,000 editions. Order today by clicking here
Talking Tina from The Twlight Zone: the perfect gift for the "Slay Belle" season.
Remember Living Doll, the 1963 episode of The Twlight Zone that has been scaring the bejesus out of kids since it originally aired? Telly Savalas played a mean guy who costantly makes life miserable for his adorable stepdaughter. When he crosses the line, her beloved doll Talking Tina takes matters into her own hands and haunts Savalas until a terrible revenge is extracted. The great fun is watching the future Blofeld and Kojak rendered helpless by a dime store doll. Well, the good folks at the web site Kindertrauma, which is dedicated to every image that haunted baby boomers as children, have put up a tribute to the episode complete with a faux toy version of Talking Tina. If only it were in stores in time for the holidays! To relish a trip down misery lane, click here and relive your childhood nightmares.
Sundown Entertainment's eagerly-awaited limited edition book THE ALAMO: A VISUAL CELEBRATION OF JOHN WAYNE'S CLASSIC MOVIE has been published. Written and designed by Cinema Retro publishers Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall, the book recounts the dramatic and inspiring story of John Wayne's obsession with making his 1960 film that recounted one of the most famous battles in history. The production was a challenge from day one, as Wayne was not only starring and producing, but also making his directorial debut with one of the largest budgeted American movies ever made. The obstacles were seemingly insurmountable and involved political battles, forces of nature and even a murder of a cast member. The book covers all aspects of production including the controversial Oscar campaign that became part of Hollywood lore.
A sampling of some of the many rare international movie posters illustrated in the book.
We've seen the final copies of the book, which will be shipped shortly to those who have pre-ordered. The hardback edition is limited to only 1500 copies, each individually numbered and signed by the authors. The price is $110. The book contains over 650 rare color & b&w photos, many of which have never been published before. There are entire sections dedicated to international marketing campaigns and collectibles tied in with the film. This is sure to be a valued collector's item in the years to come.
If that special someone in your life loves epic movies, this will make the perfect holiday gift. It will not be sold in stores or on Amazon and must be ordered directly through the publisher. (Coonskin cap not included!)
Raquel Welch is among the screen goddesses honored in the unique on-line tribute
Some unknown creative type has put up an amazing tribute to the great Hollywood actresses ranging from the silent era to today. They're all here from Judy Garland to Raquel Welch, Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood and Nicole Kidman. The wonderful aspect of this creation is that the photos all morph from one image. We don't know who has the spare time to do these things (maybe someone on death row?) but we're grateful they took the time. The only depressing aspect is the realization that as we get to contemporary times, most of the actressess included seem like mere filler material compared to those legends who precede them. (Thanks to Paul Wachsmith for the tip). Click here to view
The industry trade magazine Video Business has just given a rave review to the forthcoming complete DVD collection of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. To read click here. To order the 41 disc DVD set, which ships on November 27, click here.
The Crosby family has launched a terrific official web site to honor Bing Crosby. The site features rare photos, biography, and the ability to listen to some of Der Bingle's greatest hits. To access go to www.bingcrosby.com
What do Charles Foster Kane of Citizen Kane and Michael Corleone of The Godfather have in common beside being portrayed by brilliant actors? Plenty, according to writer Timothy Sexton who presents an intriguing essay detailing the tragic parallels in both characters' lives. To read click here
Cinema Retro columnist Bill Duelly braved the unknown to cover a unique tribute to director Tim Burton in New York City. The maverick director was there to discuss his films and career.
Cinema Retro readers will no doubt be familiar with our
frequent editorial musings regarding the current state of movies and how much
better things were back in the 1960’s & 1970’s.All is not lost however, as Tim Burton is one of the very
few visionaries making unique movies today- and his creativity was largely
inspired by the films that had influence on him during that golden era of
Tim Burton on stage in New York. (Photo copyright Bill Duelly)
On November 14th, Tim Burton made a rare public
appearance at the Film Society of Lincoln Centers’ tribute, “Tim Burton- the
Demon Barber of Cinema”. During the all too brief evening, Burton
was interviewed by Richard Pena, Program Director for the Society for 10-15
minute periods which were then broken up by series of clips from Burton’s movies.The evening was capped off by a 15 minute
preview of three musical sequences from Sweeny
Todd.The evidence is that Burton has done a masterful job of directing another
visual feast – this time centering on seedy old London (he referred to this film has being
similar in spirit to the old B&W horror films).Johnny Depp’s performance of the angry
tortured Sweeny Todd is mesmerizing.Whereas there are the musical sequences, they are not in the vein (pun intended) of your standard musical.They provide an internal glimpse to the
character’s tortured state.
Burton's latest collaboration with Johnny Depp is Sweeney Todd
A welcome treat were the glimpses provided into how Burton likes to work.He has gotten away from storyboarding and is
open to on set improvisation.In fact,
he doesn’t like to rehearse the actors before hand, preferring instead to let
them come to set and deliver their performances in an unaffected manner. On
set, he prefers just that – a set! Wherever possible, he likes full sets to be
built for the actors to perform amidst. This was also true of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory which
featured many impressive sets reminiscent of films of old. In fact, the chocolate mixing set, where we
first see the Oompa Lompas, took up the entire 007 stage at Pinewood.
In hindsight, Burton
had some wonderful anecdotes and observations about his catalogue of films:
Monty Westmore's credits include Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? starring Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.
Veteran makeup artist Monty Westmore has passed away at age 84. His family spawned three generations of revered makeup artists including his father, who worked on Gone With the Wind. Westmore had been Oscar-nominated for Steven Spielberg's Hook and his other film credits include Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and The Towering Inferno. For more click here
It’s also been a while since we touched
upon the genius of British composer John Barry, so I thought I’d recommend The
Last Valley (1971) (Intrada Special collection vol. 46). In a time
where epics were still very popular with cinema going audiences, John Clavell’s
Todd-AO production faired rather disappointingly at the box office, despite the
popularity of Michael Caine and some positive critical acclaim. Fittingly
enough, Barry’s score is the epitome of the word epic, as has been the wait for
it to finally emerge on a digital format. Intrada’s release is a straight
forward issue of the film’s original and hard to find album, without the luxury
of any bonus material. Saying that, I’m sure I read somewhere, long ago that
the masters for Barry’s majestic score were thought to be lost but
unfortunately I can’t confirm any such comments. However, listening to Barry’s
work today I can confirm that it remains both compelling and enthralling and
among the high points of his 70’s work. Naturally inspired by the film’s
incredible cinematography, Barry’s journey takes us from the delicate, pastoral
moods of a ravaged, war torn village to the mammoth choral pieces set against
the bloody and traumatic battles of the Thirty Years War. While it’s always
nice to have the composers original working of a score, occasionally there are
some very fine exceptions from which some interesting comparisons can be made.
Regarding The Last Valley, I should
also mention Nic Raine’s complete re-recording from Silva Screen, a very nicely
worked CD with the highest of production values. Significantly though, it is
Raine’s version that contains some 20 minutes more music, including a beautiful
love theme, which was subsequently dropped for the original LP release. It was
a puzzling yet common enough occurrence, as it is today, that often left
collectors both unsatisfied and asking the question why? Whichever version you
may choose to go with I’m sure you’ll be delighted. (To order Intrada’s John Barry score click
MSN film critic Sean Nelson presents an amusing list of the worst movie titles ever. We'e in agreement on most of them except the inclusion of the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy. Nelson doesn't seem to realize that the title comes from the actual Ian Fleming short story, unlike the other films on the list which were devised by marketing departments. There are probably plenty of exceptions if we had time to ponder them but two come immediately to mind: Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things and more recently, Michael Clayton, the new George Clooney film that is an outstanding thriller saddled with the blandest, most boring title of the year. To read MSN's list click here
When you think of great musicals, doesn't the image of George Burns and The Bee Gees come immediately to mind?
Entertainment Weekly has posted an amusing article consisting of letters from readers that detail specific movies they have walked out on. It's a testament to older films that virtually all of these dogs are of recent vintage, but lovers of "classic" bad movies can take heart that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band still maintains a place of dishonor in the hearts of cinema-goers. For the article click here
Best-selling author Ira Levin has died at age 78 of natural causes. Levin's creative output was modest compared to many of his contemporaries, but most of his work was widely embraced by the public. His best-selling novels such as Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives and The Boys From Brazil were made into highly successful films. Levin also wrote the hit play Deathtrap that was also brought to the screen by director Sidney Lumet. Most surprisingly, Levin's credits also include adapting the comedy No Time for Sergeants for its smash hit Broadway run in the 1950s. The play launched Andy Griffith to star status overnight. Levin often claimied to disdain for the fact that several of his books helped foster a belief in the supernatural and Satanism in particular. Levin maintained that he was a skeptic who believed in neither and simply wanted to write good thrillers. He joked that he was happy to accept royalty checks from these works, however. For more on Levin's life and career click here
Rare Thai release poster for The Boys From Brazil
Forget the recent remake (everyone else has!), the original Stepford Wives is still a superior chiller.
Not that we thought he was bluffing after passing up a fortune to star in the latest Indiana Jones film, but 'lest there was any doubt, Sir Sean Connery has confirmed he is officially retired from movie-making. "It's over", he tells the newspaper The Scotsman. He also confesses to having a horrendous memory when it comes to dates, often being off by as much as a decade. He relies on his wife to be his memory. On the upside, Connery still has what it takes to impress the public with his physical prowess. The 78-year old original James Bond has something in common with the latest 007, Daniel Craig: they both landed on the list of top ten male bodies in a recent poll. For the full story click here
A major new book about the history of Hammer films has just been published. One of Cinema Retro's London correspondents, Adrian Smith, was at the star-studded London book launch and brings you the inside story.
On the 27th October 2007 a crowd of Hammer
film fans gathered at the Cine Lumiere in South Kensington,
a stone’s throw from The Natural History Museum and the V&A. The occasion
was the launch of The Hammer Story by
film historians Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes, and to celebrate a number of
Hammer alumni were gathered to meet fans and sign autographs, along with the
screening of three films rarely shown and not available commercially: A Case for P.C. 49 (1951), The Two Faces of Doctor Jekyll (1960)
and Never take Sweets From a Stranger
Hammer documentary maker Don Fearney (left) talks with legendary screenwriter Jimmy Sangster. (Photo copyright Adrian Smith)
Amongst the guests was Jimmy Sangster, who not only
directed and produced some films but also wrote several of those considered
classics, including The Curse of Frankenstein,
The Mummy and Dracula (aka Horror of Dracula). The latter film is
currently being screened theatrically all around the UK following a restoration by the
British Film Institute. Sangster has been kept busy with interviews for the
last couple of weeks with the likes of Jonathon Ross and The Today Programme,
but still found time to talk to Cinema Retro:
“I’m amazed (about the re-release of Dracula)! It’s a film we made fifty
years ago. When we were making it it was just another movie. I’m very pleased! I
don’t think Hammer are still going though are they? I haven’t seen the new film
(Beyond the Rave). Why didn’t they
ask me to write it? They should give me a call!”
Also attending was Janina Faye, who was especially
pleased that Never take Sweets From a Stranger
was being screened. Faye starred in this controversial child abuse drama
when she was only ten, having already taken smaller roles with Hammer in Dracula and The Two Faces of Doctor Jekyll. Its depiction of a small town
protecting a known paedophile was too shocking for audiences at the time, and
it was given an X certificate, despite having support from various national
agencies such as The National council of Women, who said “it should be seen by
all parents”. It did not do well commercially, and was banned in several
countries, including France
When asked about the film, Faye enthused,
“It was such a huge change from what Hammer used to
do. They had tremendous problems from the BBFC whilst shooting the film. In the
courtroom scene we had to change the dialogue because they weren’t allowed to
say rape. To keep the drama within the cast the director (documentary maker
Cyril Frankel) didn’t tell us what was going on, or what happened to any of us.
I wasn’t allowed to see the film, and didn’t see it until they showed it at the
Barbican (in 2004). I think it’s still an incredible film. It’s so powerful.”
Lovely Janine Faye adds some glamor to the event. (Photo copyright Adrian Smith)
Cinema Retro agrees wholeheartedly, and wishes the
film were available on DVD. DD Home Entertainment have announced an R2 release
in late 2007, but this is currently looking unlikely due to financial
difficulties. We remain hopeful!
In case you needed further evidence that the glory days of movie poster art are far behind us, just consider that the web site Cinematical has posted a magnificent poster for the Star Wars legacy that incorporates all the major characters in a brilliant display. Only problem is it's unofficial and can't be purchased anywhere. While studios continue to crank out scanned in head shots of actors for the cookie-cutter designs used on contemporary film posters, amateur artists and fans are creating the stuff that dreams are made of. In years past, we had low budget movies with magnificent film posters. Now we have mega-expensive films with posters that look like someone's teenage nephew created them while playing around on a scanner. Let's hope we someday see a return of artists being employed to create classic film posters. Meanwhile, click here to visit Cinematical and get a closer view of the Star Wars creation.
The web site Bullz-eye.com has an excellent, in-depth interview with Robert Vaughn in which he discusses the new Man From U.N.C.L.E. DVD set as well as the reunion movie and his little-seen 1970 gem, The Mind of Mr. Soames. To access the interview click here
To order The Complete Man From U.N.C.L.E. DVD Collection from Time Life and receive free shipping in the USA, click on the ad on the right side of this page.
Deborah Lipp, author of The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book, sets her sites on analyzing the acclaimed western The Long Riders and takes issue with at least one "factual" aspect of the script concerning Belle Starr, whores, and ...well, read it yourself by clicking here.
Robert, David and Keith Carradine as The Long Riders.
The Longest Day, producer Darryl F. Zanuck's landmark 1962 epic retelling of the D-Day invasion has been named the greatest war movie ever made by Forces Reunited, a society of British war veterans. Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan- also a D-Day story- placed second in the poll, conducted by Sky Movie Classics. Others ranking prominently: A Bridge Too Far, The Cruel Sea and The Dam Busters.
Norman Mailer, one of the 20th centuries most talented and controversial writers, has passed away at age 84. Mailer was a larger-than-life figure in New York society and for all the acclaim his novels such as The Naked and the Dead and The Executiion of Private Slovik achieved, he alienated many other people in his life. Married six times, he stabbed one of his previous wives during a drunken argument at a party. Always a political gadfly, Mailer's views swung to the hard left and resulted in his making an ill-conceived run for the mayorship of New York City. His long-term feud with fellow author Gore Vidal is the stuff of gossip page legend. Always in the midst of controversy, Mailer was accused of plagiarism for his biography of Marilyn Monroe - a charge the author vehemently denied. He also championed convict Jack Henry Abbott and acted as his mentor, saying he had the potential of being a great writer. Mailer succeeded in getting Abbott released from prison - only to have Abbott stab a waiter to death. Mailer also produced several films, though none was a box-office success. He also directed the 1987 film Tough Guys Don't Dance. Mailer dabbled in acting occasionally, most notably appearing as Stanford White in Milos Forman's Ragtime. For full details click here
We always enjoy when Variety columnist Army Archerd delves back into his archives for his on-line pieces for www.Variety.com This week, he has dusted off an interview with Anjelica Houston that was done with the 16 year old actress in 1967 when she was about to make her film debut. She was directed by her father John Huston in A Walk With Love and Death. Archerd also gets fresh reflections from Anjelica about making the ill-fated film. To read click here
Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer provides the first review of the U.N.C.L.E. boxed set
Santa arrived a month and a half early with an advance review set of one of the most eagerly-awaited DVD collections ever - The Man From U.N.C.L.E. from Time Life, distributed under license from Warner Home Video. Quite obviously, I haven't had time to make a dent in the 100+ episodes contained on the staggering 41 discs. However, I did choose the episode I was most eager to watch: The Alexander the Greater Affair. This two-part episode was the season 2 opener in September 1965 and has been virtually unseen since. It also formed the basis of the feature film One Spy Too Many. Purists always argue over the merits of each individual episode, but for me, this was representative of the best of the series. Just as the third James Bond movie, Goldfinger, found the perfect balance between adventure and humor, so, too did season two of U.N.C.L.E.- at least in this writer's humble opinion. Many fans prefer the more straight-forward, less-than-humorous episodes in season one, when the show was seen in black and white. Virtually all agree that season three was a disaster, with the content designed to emulate the campiness of Batman. Things got considerably back on track for the aborted season 4, which ran from September 1967 to mid-January 1968, but the bloom was off the rose. The spy craze had peaked and U.N.C.L.E. had also been damaged by being placed in constantly new nights and timeslots, opposite ratings powerhouses like Gunsmoke.
The series has not been widely seen in syndication since the 1970s. Those episodes that have been shown on networks like TNT have been cut to shreds to accomodate more commercials. Thus, the arrival of the show on DVD is especially liberating for enthusiasts who will no longer have to depend upon the largesse of cable stations to show the occasional episode. The first aspect of the collection that commands attention is the packaging. The entire set is packed in a sturdy mini-silver attache case that boasts an U.N.C.L.E. emblem on the top and even has traditional snap locks to open the "case". When you do open it, there is a cool black and white photo on the upper inside cover of Del Floria's tailor shop. Each season is packaged as a separate set and features an illustrated collector's booklet complete with extensive and informative liner notes. Each season's notes is written by an expert on the series: New York TV critic David Bianculli, Jon Burlingame, Cynthia Walker (a professor) and Craig Henderson, who is authoring Cinema Retro's continuing series of articles about the U.N.C.L.E. feature films. Each collector's booklet also contains a statement about the series by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. The only hitch here is that the same statement appears in each set, rather than presenting their views on each specific season. A small quibble, though, considering how welcome the booklets are in an age in which standard DVD releases have virtually done away with this once omnipresent value-added feature.
Relive the great cinematic romances of all time in the pages of Cinema Retro. Remember Doug (Gene Wilder), the successful, happily married doctor whose business was thriving - until that fateful day when Daisy came into his life? Sure, she was quiet and could have used a few sessions with a bottle of Nair, but it was lust at first sight. Before long, they were meeting clandestinely. Doug hid the affair from his wife while Daisy did likewise with the Armenian shepherd who wondered why she had grown so cold to him. Alas, as with so many great movie romances, tragedy loomed around the corner - a la Gone With the Wind and Love Story. One fateful day, Daisy and Doug's significant others caught on. Remember the look of pain and shock on Doug's face when private investigators broke into the luxurious hotel suite he had rented - only to find Daisy attired in stockings and garter belt, as a bottle of champagne chilled near the bed? It was the beginning of a downward spiral for the lovers. Daisy was shepherded back to Armenia by her jealous lover. Doug was divorced and faced legal problems over the shocking fact that Daisy was under age. The once enviable man ended up destitute on the Bowery - drinking from bottles of Woolite as a coarse reminder of the girl he once loved.
If you've never seen the film in question, by all means do so - it's Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972). Yes, the same touching movie in which another couple finds love by working together to defeat a humungous breast that has been ravaging the countryside and killing innocent teenagers. (See below)
We offer this as proof that your editorial staff at Cinema Retro is not only into macho cinema - we're as moved as anyone by the great cinematic love stories of all time. Perhaps that's the reason why Cinema Retro is the preferred magazine among men who cohabitate with sheep.
So don't let your lover pull the wool over your eyes - what they really want this holiday season is a subscription to Cinema Retro. Subscribe today and have a full year of issues delivered to your door postage free in the USA and UK -plus get a really cool, exclusive CD of rare radio spot ads for classic and cult films. If you're already a subscriber, please renew today - or run the risk of not enjoying coverage of more great Hollywood romances!
Pink Lady and Jeff: the only TV series given a prime time slot in which the stars couldn't speak English.
The chicago Tribune has amassed a list of the worst TV shows of all time. Let's put this in context. We're assuming they intended to stick with vintage programs, as virtually every show on the air right now would qualify. In general, the usual suspects are prominent and hard to argue with: My Mother the Car and Pink Lady and Jeff rank prominently in this Hall of Shame. The latter was a variety show NBC debuted in 1980 after an executive traveling in Japan became enamoured with two sexy young female entertainers. They were signed for a weekly series on American TV before anyone realized they couldn't speak a word of English! "Jeff" was a comedian named Jeff Altman who had the unenviable duty of trying to play a foil between the two sexy chicks while clueing audiences in on what the hell they were all talking about. The only quibbles we have with the list are the inclusion of Petticoat Junction which was pretty funny to us. How can you gripe about a show in which every episode showed sexy sisters bathing together in a water tower during the opening credits?
The sexy sisters bathing together in the credits of Petticoat Junction. No wonder they lived in Hooterville!
We also are second to none in appreciating the unintended hilarity of wacky TV preacher Ernest Angley, but trying to choose the looniest of these guys is like trying to determine which of The Three Stooges is the dumbest. One would have thought even the most naive people would have stopped forking their hard-earned money over to these clowns after the release of Elmer Gantry - but that was in 1960 and the uniquely (and embarrassing) American fondness for buying salvation from TV preachers remains in good stead. For the entire list of Worst TV Series, click here
Burt Reynolds had been kicking around Hollywood since the late 1950s, playing supporting roles in TV series and B movies before his career exploded with the release of Deliverance in 1972. He knew his audience and crafted his films to please the heartland of America. In doing so, he became one of the top boxoffice stars of the decade. Some critics griped that his range was limited, but then again, could Laurence Olivier have raced a speeding sports car over a chasm while being chased by police and chatting on a CB radio with one arm draped around Sally Field?
In previous decades, it was customary practice for sexy starlets to be photographed provocatively for a new film- even if they didn't appear that way on screen. This 1967 publicity shot for In the Heat of the Night features comely Quentin Dean, who scored a Golden Globe nomination for the film. She also appeared with Elvis in Stay Away, Joe and Charlton Heston in Will Penny as well as numerous TV series. The real mystery is what happened to her? Dean dropped out of show business in the late 1960s, foregoing a promising career. If any reader can provide any updates, please let us know.
A bit of interesting trivia from the Wales-based website Babylon Wales. If you're a Man From U.N.C.L.E. fan, you'll recall (or probably have) the series of 23 paperback novels based on the show during the 1960s. One of the authors, John Oram Thomas, based one of his U.N.C.L.E. novels (The Stone-Cold Dead in the Market Affair) in Wales simply because a friend made a bet with him that Wales was so unsuitable as a setting for a thriller that no one would attempt to write a story set there. Oram wrote the novel just to prove him wrong. He also based another U.N.C.L.E. book (The Copenhagen Affair) on his wartime experiences in Denmark. For more click here
If Bogart didn't say "Play it again, Sam", what exactly did he say?
If you have to be told that James Cagney never said "You dirty rat!" or that Bogart didn't actually say "Play it again, Sam", you probably wouldn't be reading the Cinema Retro web site. However, the good folks at The List Universe have cobbled together the 15 top movie misquotes and we have to say some of them are as revealing as they are amusing. To check out the list click here
We got our hot, grubby little hands on the new James Bond magazine, Mi6 Declassified that originates in England. Although this is not sold on news stands or stores, it also isn't subscription-based, either. Apparently, issues will be printed periodically and you simply order them as each issue is published. Over the decades there have been numerous Bond magazines of widely varying quality. Mi6 Declassified boasts top production values. It is compromised somewhat by the fact that it consists of only 24 pages. However, there isn't any padding and the articles are extensive and informative. The premiere issue also follows the tradition of the best Bond-related magazines by not confining the contents to films. There is an interesting, behind-the-scenes look at the second-unit contributions to filming Casino Royale but there are also stories pertaining to the literary 007 and even an offbeat interview with Bond screenwriters Neal Purvis and Rob Wade that touches on Bond only peripherally by having them discuss their 007 spoof of several years ago, Johnny English. (The Rowan Atkinson starrer bombed in the U.S. but was a huge hit in the U.K.)
The magazine also covers the famous 1960s daily James Bond comic strips by artist John McLusky that ran in newspapers. The mag gets personal insights from McLusky's son Graham, who recalls the painstaking amount of research his father did in order to capture the essence of Ian Fleming's stories. (The strips were based on the novels, not the films). There is also an interview with author Charlie Higson, whose liine of Young Bond novels have defied the cynics by becoming best-sellers. Other unusual articles include an interesting look at how Sideshow Collectibles design their acclaimed series of James Bond statues and figurines and a behind-the-scenes story centering on how the sexy Bond babes featured in the From Russia With Love video game were designed, along with interviews with the actresses on whom the characters were based. (For us, this is the weakest article only because we've never embraced video games and are still trying to master Space Invaders.) The most entertaining piece is a reflection on You Only Live Twice which was released 40 years ago. It covers the royal premiere in London and features a cool photo of the Queen being greeted by Sean Connery (complete with mustache for filming Shalako) and Dick Van Dyke, who was in England for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. There are also brief reflections on the legacy of the film from Bond authors Charlie Higson and Raymond Benson, as well as Nancy Sinatra, actor Shane Rimmer and Commander Ken Wallis, who designed the Little Nellie autogyro.
Overall verdict: a very welcome addition to the world of Bond lore with informative articles, very good production values and some very nice photos. Our only complaint is that we wish the magazine was more substantial in terms of pages. However, given how risky publishing any magazine is in the age of the Internet, we can certainly understand why one would want to judge reaction to the concept before plunging into a more ambitious venture. We'd also like to see more interviews with people involved in the films in future issues, but that's just a personal prejudice. Although the magazine doesn't state it, we understand this to be a very limited edition, so if you're curious about MI6 Declassified, better order now or end up paying ten times the amount on Ebay next year! The magazine is only available for order on-line at www.mi6magazine.com/
Cinema Retro writer Tom Lisanti is no stranger to fans of cult movies. He has written numerous volumes tracing the careers of character actors and sexy starlets. However, his latest book, Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood (McFarland, $39.95) is his most ambitious yet. The book is a treasure trove of interviews with and updates on the careers of second-tier sexy supporting actresses. We've often wondered what became of some of these starlets whose careers burned brightly but briefly - and now we know. In some cases, they simply retired to raise a family while others suffered more tragic fates. The book covers starlets from both film and TV series and includes fascinating insights about many of the actresses who appeared in our favorite spy films such as Beverly Adams (from the Matt Helm movie The Silencers) and Donna Michelle, Yvonne Craig and Thordis Brandt (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.). The diverse number of actresses also includes Hammer horror star Victoria Vetri, sexy Paramount contract player Michele Carey, beach movie favorite Mary Hughes and dozens of others. There are a total of 75 glamour girls' careers covered.
Danica d'Hondt (left) keeps "poor" David McCallum at gunpoiint, along with her fellow villainesses Sharon Tate and Kathy Kersh in The Girls of Nazarone Affair segment of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Danica is one of many spy movie and TV actresses interviewed in Tom Lisanti's new book.
In the meantime, if you haven't checked out Tom Lisanti's popular web site that pays tribute to the films and stars of the 1960s, do so immediately by visiting www.sixtiescinema.com
Where have you gone, Howard Beale? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you...
Ace reporter/author Carl Bernstein, who made journalism history when he broke the Watergate scandal with his partner Bob Woodward, has let loose with scathing criticism about the dumbing down of American culture. In a lecture to journalism students, Bernstein wags his finger at a public removed from reality and more obsessed with the likes of non-entities like Donald Trump and Paris Hilton. He not only blames the media but also the public for embracing a news media that comfortably incorporates celebrity scandals into hard news reports. Strange as it may seem, given the fact that we are a web site and magazine that deals with film stars, we heartily agree. The place for entertainment news is in entertainment-based publications and web sites. There isn't a single film or music magazine or site that should take more prominence in people's lives than those that present world news. It should be a rare occasion when a celebrity makes their way into the legitimate news cycle - perhaps the death of a legendary actor or director or a scandal so shocking that it has actual news value. However, the networks are awash with junk that cheapens the contributions of real journalists who put their lives in danger to report on occurrences in dangerous places the world seemingly couldn't care less about. The news cycle is packed with Barbie/Ken-boy/girl anchor teams chosen for their looks, not their credentials. It's apparent many haven't the vaguest idea about the deeper meaning of what they're reading off the monitors. It's like Braodcast News and Network redux. Ironically, although American cable TV has numerous "news" stations, I had to switch to the BBC today to learn that the worst floods in Mexican history have so far displaced over one million people. Yet, I didn't see a word of it on any U.S. news network - however, CNN did have a very important segment on tossing leftover Halloween pumpkins. Oh, and the nets were awash with Heather Mills in a crying jag of self-pity about how she's suffered living with Sir Paul McCartney -even though she's supposed to walk away with the biggest settlement in British divorce history. Meanwhile, wars rage, health care coverage evaporates, presidential candidates debate in forums most people don't bother to watch (hey, they're on opposite Dancing with the Stars, for God's sake!) and its left to fewer and fewer individuals who actually care about the state of the world to make life and death decisions for everyone.
Network's "Mad Prophet of the Airwaves" Howard Beale had it right when he advised his own audience to throw out their TV sets and shout "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" We intend to do precisely that- but first, we gotta see how this week's episode of Two and a Half Men starring comedy icon Charlie Sheen turns out!- Lee Pfeiffer