Film Score Monthly has released the original soundtrack from the terrific 1960s action adventure Dark of the Sun (released in the UK as The Mercenaries) starring Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, Jim Brown and Kenneth More. Here are the official release details:
decade would have a great score by a French composer for a violent
English film done in Hollywood style set in Africa? The 1960s, of
course -- and you can find the CD on Film Score Monthly’s Silver Age
Dark of the Sun (1968) starred Rod Taylor and Jim Brown as
mercenaries (the film is also known as “The Mercenaries”) on a mission
in war-torn Congo of the early 1960s to retrieve refugees and an
expensive cache of diamonds before they can fall into the hands of
Simba rebels. The film becomes a “Heart of Darkness”-style tale plagued
by violence, betrayal and murder—and it has a corker of a score by
French composer Jacques Loussier, famous for his “Play Bach” jazz
albums and largely French film and TV assignments such as the theme to Thierry la Fronde.
Loussier’s score to Dark of the Sun matches the offbeat
melodic invention of Ennio Morricone and the brassy inflections of John
Barry’s James Bond scores while remaining the very personal work of its
composer. The main theme consists of three layered ideas: a plucked
pulse, a jazzy, syncopated bass line for piano and harpsichord, and a
distinctly European minor-mode melody often voiced by strings. The
score expresses the tragedy and subtext behind the violence of the
on-screen images, while acknowledging the action explicitly in several
jazzy action cues.
The Dark of the Sun score somewhat defies description
except that it abounds with the kind of invention and melody that
marked 1960s film scoring (such as that of Barry, Schifrin, Legrand,
Goldsmith, Morricone and others) and has long been a favorite of
soundtrack collectors. Loussier never again scored this kind of
mainstream adventure film but he provided a winner in this premiere
FSM’s definitive CD of Dark of the Sun features the
complete score (less one brief cue which was lost) in stereo,
containing all of the music from the previous MGM Records LP (and
Chapter III CD) -- and much more -- in improved sound quality. Liner
notes are by Didier C. Deutsch, Alexander Kaplan and Lukas Kendall
incorporating new comments by the composer.
Composer Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack for the 1969 western 100 Rifles starring Jim Brown, Raquel Welch and Burt Reynolds is available as a limited edition CD from Film Score Monthly. Here is their official description of the soundtrack:
It's that time again, for us to make available our latest limited
edition soundtrack CD from the glorious "Silver Age" of film music,
roughly defined as the late 1950s through the mid-1970s. This is an
explosive Jerry Goldsmith western score from the 20th Century Fox
archives, 100 Rifles (1969), commercially unavailable -- until now!
Hopefully, longtime Goldsmith fans will be drooling at the mere mention of the title, 100 Rifles.
For the uninitiated, this is a South-of-the-Border adventure starring
Burt Reynolds, Jim Brown and Raquel Welch. The score takes Goldsmith's
western style from Rio Conchos, Bandolero! and Hour of the Gun
and elevates it to a new level of excitement and aggression, with
Goldsmith's avant garde sensibilities blending brilliantly with Mexican
Original French release poster
main title alone is a robust tune for horns counter-balanced by
mariachi rhythms and effects that ends in an audacious brass flourish.
The rest of the score maintains the energy level and should be pure ear
candy for Goldsmith aficionados: it flows with memorable melodic
nuggets at the same time as it rattles with prepared piano, unusual
percussion and even an Indian sitar. Goldsmith fans are well aware of
the composer's genius for using instruments in weird ways and in the
extremes of their ranges, especially brass; 100 Rifles is full of such bellicose outbursts.
This FSM release presents the 100 Rifles
score not once but twice: first in stereo, with all but three cues
(which were lost) newly remixed at 20th Century Fox; and then in mono
(complete) from the original mix made for the film. Yes, this sounds
silly, but if it was totally stupid we wouldn't be doing it. Each mix
has its pros and cons: the stereo mix is, obviously, stereo, but the
mono mix contains nuances and sweeteners (not to mention the three lost
cues) which are no longer unavailable. Rather than switch back and
forth between sources, we have decided to give all of the mixes to you,
to decide which you prefer. It's sort of "200 Rifles"!
not often that we say, trust us, you'll like this CD, but this is one
heaping helpin' of Mexican morsels that will fill you with delight.
It's a complete Jerry Goldsmith score (twice!) from his glory days of
the late '60s, and both mixes of the score are in excellent sound
quality. The 16-page booklet features photos from the 20th Century Fox
archives and liner notes by Jeff Bond, Doug Adams and Lukas Kendall.
Author Michael Klossner has found an unexplored niche in the realm of movie books: cavemen! The author's book Prehistoric Humans in Film and Television covers the wide gamut of caveman movies and TV series including such low budget gems as Teenage Caveman to the slightly more upscale 2001: A Space Odyssey. There's also plenty of ink given to those liberated cavewomen, who despite having to fend off dinosaurs and sexually uncontrollable guys from the 'hood, still managed to remain perfectly groomed with shaved legs, coiffed hair and abundant makeup. For an interview with the author click here.
To order this book from the Cinema Retro Amazon Movie Store click here
Veteran actor Christopher Plummer had only just completed scenes with Heath Ledger in London on a new Terry Gilliam film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Pamassus, when the ill-fated young actor returned to New York while the production company made arrangements to resume shooting in Vancouver. It was during this mini hiatus that Ledger died. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly's Steve Daly, Plummer reflects on working with the acclaimed 28-year old actor. He says it was well known on location that Ledger had been having problems sleeping, but it did not deter his energy on the set. Plummer says the film, which centers with a man's regrets about having made a deal with the devil, is now in limbo because so many scenes have still to be completed. For director Terry Gilliam, Ledger's tragic death endangers yet another high profile film from the quirky director. His Don Quixote film of years ago had been cancelled after filming began and a previous highly acclaimed film Brazil had been severely cut by its distributor. To read Christopher Plummer's comments click here
Sean Connery on location in the Bahamas for Thunderball
In an extensive article for the British newspaper The Telegraph, thriller writer Anthony Horowitz provides fascinating insights into why he believes James Bond has continued to thrive. In his opinion, it is not because of the films, it is in spite of them. Horowitz analyzes the timeless qualities of Ian Fleming's source novels and says that beginning with the later Connery films, the essence of Fleming was lost in their translation to the screen. Curiously, while being overly dismissive of the entire Roger Moore era and Licence to Kill (a bold attempt to recharge the sagging series), Horowitz does not go into much detail about the series' renaissance with Casino Royale, the most realisitic and hard-hitting entry of all the Bond movies. Nevertheless, it's a enjoyable article with the additional quality of having been written by a novelist who relates how Ian Fleming influenced his own life and career. To read click here
MGM has released a special edition of director Billy Wilder's landmark comedy/drama The Apartment which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1960. The film has long been considered one of the great romances in screen history, but it ruffled a lot of feathers among both critics and the more prudish members of the film-going public at the time of its release because of its frank depiction of predatory sex practices in big business. Prior to The Apartment, studio fare stuck rather closely to the antiquated rules of the dreaded Production Code that insured any story dealing with illicit romance would be watered down. With this film, however, Wilder pushed the envelope and presented the dirty little secrets from the world of big business - in this case, Wall Street executives who consider themselves the epitome of devoted family men even while they are carrying on sordid trysts with their female employees. The film evokes an era in which women were relegated to glorified secretarial jobs and whose modest careers often hung on how receptive they were to the overtures of the aging lotharios they worked for. Jack Lemmon plays an ambitious young junior executive who willingly lends his bachelor pad apartment to corporate executives so they can indulge in their daily "quickies" in between their three-Martini business lunches. He later finds that this Faustian deal comes at a cost to his own self-respect and love life. The film's honest depiction of the sexual aspect of office politics turned off many people at the time - undoubtedly including millions of housewives who preferred not to be reminded of the antics "dad" might have been up to when he went off to work every day.
Like most Wilder productions, the film is impeccably cast and was a breakthrough for Jack Lemmon, who proved he could enact pathos as skillfully as he could slapstick comedy. The movie also boosted Shirley MacLaine's career into orbit. She plays the non-descript elevator operator in Lemmon's workplace who is carrying on an affair with his boss, swarmy Fred MacMurray. If the role were cast today, a bombshell actress would undoubtedly be cast. However, it is precisely because MacLaine was more pixie than sexpot that the true genius of casting her remains apparent even today. She looks like someone who would be an "elevator girl" and the sensitivity and heartache that she brings to the role still impresses. Perhaps the most surprising element of the film is MacMurray's terrific performance. The picture of family values, MacMurray was already a popular star of Disney films and My Three Sons - which is precisely why Wilder wanted to show that if you scratch beneath the surface of such an image, a much harsher portrait often emerges. MacMurray's excellent work is the centerpiece of the the superb performances of Lemmon and MacLaine that bookend his character.
The special edition DVD provides an interesting audio commentary by film historian Bruce Block as well as two original documentaries. Inside The Apartment provides fascinating insights into the making of the film from an impressive array of commentators including Shirley MacLaine, Robert Osborne, Wilder friend and co-writer I.A.L. Diamond's son Paul, Chris Lemmon, son of Jack Lemmon, producer Walter Mirisch, film critic Molly Haskell, Wilder biographers and even character actor Johnny Seven, who describes how a faux punch to Lemmon on screen ended up almost knocking him out. The documentary fittingly pays tribute to the gigantic, amazing set Wilder had created on the MGM lot for the film in order to provide an Orwellian feel for modern Wall Street that made the average worker look like a small cog in an enormous wheel. The other documentary, Magic Time: The Art of Jack Lemmon provides comments from some of the same people, but depends primarily on the sentimental recollections of Chris Lemmon, who clearly idolizes his famous father. Rather surprisingly, there is no original trailer or still gallery but plenty of rare shots are included in the documentaries.
This is one Apartment you should buy, not rent. In order to do so, click here to order from the Cinema Retro Amazon Movie Store. -Lee Pfeiffer
"You light up my life" say fans of the Star Wars light sabre.
A new poll pertaining to movie fan's favorite film weapons of all time finds the Jedi light sabre at the top of the list. Two James Bond weapons placed on the list: Scaramanga's unique golden gun from The Man With the Golden Gun and Oddjob's razor-brimmed hat from Goldfinger. For the entire list click here
The cast of Bonanza shows you the exciting features of the '65 Chevy lineup!
Here's a link to a really cool, obscure promotional video for the "forthcoming" line of 1965 Chevy cars. It features Bonanza stars Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Michael Landon and Dan Blocker, Bewitch's Elizabeth Montgomery and Agnes Moorehead and Robert Vaughn star of the "new" show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. all demonstrating the exciting features on the Chevy lineup. To view click here
In defiance of recent trends that have seen many Hollywood women starving themselves to anorexic levels, Pierce Brosnan's wife, 43 year-old Keely Shaye-Smith is happily defying this craze and was proudly photographed wearing a bikini that emphasized her full figure. The photos were taken on a Hawaiian beach where the former James Bond star and his wife of seven years frolicked happily in the surf. With refreshing candor, Keely tells the press that when clothing gets too tight, she will move a button before trying to hide her figure behind baggy clothing. For his part, Brosnan seems unperturbed by his once-svelt lady love's trend toward a fuller figure. He proclaims, "I love my wife's curves!" Cinema Retro has often criticized the herd mentality of the Hollywood elite, especially among women who feel pressure to take extraordinary measures to control issues of weight and the aging process. Fighting the Battle of the Bulge is a natural part of growing older and we admire Mrs. Brosnan for taking an honest stand and not apologizing for who she is. To read the story click here
The announcement of the new title to the next James Bond film - Quantum Of Solace - was met in some fan quarters with puzzlement. The rather obscure meaning of the title refers back to Ian Fleming's short story (from the book For Your Eyes Only) and pertains to the situation James Bond finds himself in at the end of the previous film Casino Royale. The next movie will pick up where the last one left off. Star Daniel Craig defends the fact that the producers have not chosen another seemingly computer-generated title, saying "We could have gone for a
snappier title, but that sort of suggests we're insecure about what
we're trying to say. The statement is an Ian Fleming
statement. It comes from the idea that in a relationship, if you don't
have a quantum of solace left in your relationship, then give up. Where Bond is left at the end of the last movie, his heart's been broken and he doesn't have
that quantum of solace, he doesn't have that ... closure on what
happened in his life and he needs to find out. What is great about it
is it also applies to something very important in the plot." For more check the Cinema Blend site by clicking here
Writer Ken Levine has written a tribute to Suzanne Pleshette that accurately sums her appeal. Unlike most sitcom wives, Pleshette's performance on The Bob Newhart Show embodied the qualities of the 1970s liberated woman: she was witty, independent and had a not so latent smoldering sexuality. Pleshette died recently at age 70. To read the column click here
Lois Nettleton, who won two Emmy awards and gained acclaim for her performances on stage and in feature films, died on January 18 from lung cancer. She was 80 years old. She appeared in dozens of top TV shows from the 1960s through recent years and was directed by Elia Kazan on Broadway in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Her film credits include Mail Order Bride, Come Fly With Me, The Man in the Glass Booth and The Best Little Whore House in Texas. For full biography click here
These are the first official photos to be released from today's press conference at Pinewood Studios for the new James Bond film Quantum Of Solace.
Producer Michael G. Wilson, Dame Judi Dench, director Marc Forster and producer Barbara Broccoli.
Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench and director Marc Forster
Producer Michael G. Wilson, Gemma Arterton, Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko, Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Marc Forster (director) and producer Barbara Broccoli.
Mathieu Amalric, Olga Kurylenko, Daniel Craig and Gemma Arterton
Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton
(All photos copyright 2008 Danjaq, LLC, United Artists Corporation and Columbia Pictures Industries. All rights reserved.)
OFFICIAL FILM SYNOPSIS FROM SONY
QUANTUM OF SOLACE continues the high octane adventures of James Bond (DANIEL CRAIG) in CASINO ROYALE.
Betrayed by Vesper, the woman he loved, 007 fights the urge to make his
latest mission personal. Pursuing his determination to uncover the
truth, Bond and M (JUDI DENCH) interrogate Mr White (JESPER
CHRISTENSEN) who reveals the organization which blackmailed Vesper is
far more complex and dangerous than anyone had imagined.
Forensic intelligence links an Mi6 traitor to a bank account in Haiti
where a case of mistaken identity introduces Bond to the beautiful but
feisty Camille (OLGA KURYLENKO), a woman who has her own vendetta.
Camille leads Bond straight to Dominic Greene (MATHIEU AMALRIC), a
ruthless business man and major force within the mysterious
On a mission that leads him to
Austria, Italy and South America, Bond discovers that Greene,
conspiring to take total control of one of the world's most important
natural resources, is forging a deal with the exiled General Medrano
(JOAQUIN COSIO). Using his associates in the organization, and
manipulating his powerful contacts within the CIA and the British
government, Greene promises to overthrow the existing regime in a Latin
American country, giving the General control of the country in exchange
for a seemingly barren piece of land.
minefield of treachery, murder and deceit, Bond allies with old friends
in a battle to uncover the truth. As he gets closer to finding the man
responsible for the betrayal of Vesper, 007 must keep one step ahead of
the CIA, the terrorists and even M, to unravel Greene's sinister plan
and stop his organization.
Michael G. Wilson and
2nd Unit Director
Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
and Paul Haggis
Credits not final
(Cinema Retro thanks Eon Productions and Sony for providing this information)
The good folks at Monstrous Movie Music have done it again with the release of a unique soundtrack album for a cult movie classic. In this case, it's the soundtrack to the 1958 sci fi classic The Blob starring Steve McQueen (or "Steven McQueen" as he is known in the credits). The soundtrack not only provides every cue relating to the movie, including the immortal rock song composed by Burt Bacharach, but also alternative tracks and music not heard in the film. An additional bonus is material from other sci fi movies. Here is the official press write up:
The Blob (and other creepy
sounds) features the complete original Ralph Carmichael soundtrack from
the 1958 cult monster movie starring Steve McQueen. The CD features
every cue from the movie as well as music not heard in the picture,
totalling about 37 minutes -- all in original, gorgeous monophonic
sound. Of particular note is the unused “Main Title,” which was
replaced by the Burt Bacharach/Mack David novelty song. The original
orchestral cue is an outstanding piece that perfectly prepares you for
the unfolding horror of the movie – as opposed to the humorous approach
the song took. Both opening cues are included in this release.
The remainder of the CD is packed with almost 40 minutes of horror,
suspense, and atmospheric cues from the Valentino Production Music
Library, including pieces used in The Green Slime, The Brain That
Wouldn’t Die, Terror From the Year 5000, as well as in the collectible
album “Attilio Mineo Conducts Man in Space with Sounds.” Film composers
represented include such distinguished figures as Angelo Francesco
Lavagnino, Roger Roger, and Mario Nascimbene. To order click here
Suzanne Pleshette, a multi-talented star of stage, screen and TV, has died from respiratory failure at age 70. Pleshette, known for her throaty voice, was already a prominent actress when she co-starred with Bob Newhart in his long-running 1970s TV series the Bob Newhart Show. Playing the wisecracking wife to his often befuddled pyschiatrist, the two became one of the most popular TV couples of all time. Many years later, when Newhart was filming the final episode of his follow up series in which he played an innkeeper married to actress Mary Fran, Pleshette appeared in the final sequence that became one of the most famous series' finales of all time. Pleshette had starred on stage in The Miracle Worker and was often cast in hit comedies during the 1960s including The Geisha Boy with Jerry Lewis and a number of Disney films including Blackbeard's Ghost, The Shaggy D.A and The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin. However, she also excelled in dramatic roles in films such as Fate is the Hunter,Nevada Smith, A Distant Trumpet, and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. She had the lead role in A Rage to Live, an envelope-pushing 1965 drama that dealt with a woman trying desperately to cope with an uncontrollable sex drive. She also had the female lead in the hit 1960's big screen comedies Support Your Local Sheriff and If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium. More recently, Pleshette was a popular fixture on sitcoms such as 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter and Will and Grace. In 2006, she began a battle with lung cancer. She had previously been married to Troy Donohue (for less than a year) and late in life she married character actor Tom Poston, who died last year. For more click here
His face was immediately recognizable to all baby boomers, even if his name was not. Allan Melvin, one of the most in-demand TV character actors of the post-war era, has died from cancer at age 84. His first major role was as Henshaw, the right hand (con) man to Phil Silver's Sgt. Bilko before landing parts in seemngly every major sitcom of the period. He was often cast as a loudmouthed bully, characteristics he brought to the role of Sgt. Hacker in Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Melvin had so impressed the series' producer, Andy Griffith, that he also appeared in eight different guest parts in The Andy Griffith Show. He went on to play the role of Sam Franklin, the boyfriend of Alice the housekeeper in The Brady Bunch as well as Archie Bunker's best friend Barney in All in the Family and its spin-off Archie Bunker's Place. Melvin also provided the voice of the cartoon characters Magilla the Gorilla and as Bluto on the Popeye cartoons. For more on his background click here
A key filming location from the classic Michael Caine crime thriller Get Carter is set to be demolished. The Gateshead car park will be torn down to make room for a supermarket and cinema. It's part of an overall plan to demolish the Trinity Square complex that was built in the 1960s. For the BBC story click here
(Thanks to reader James for forwarding this story)
Cinema Retro issue #11 will feature major coverage of Get Carter.
Gosh, we're blushing already from the great review the Cinebeats site has given to issue #10 of Cinema Retro. Our fellow retro lovers pronounce this the best issue ever, so who are we to argue? At the risk of indulging in a bit of nauseating, mutual back-slapping, Cinebeats is the gold standard for anyone with a love of films of the 1960s, so when they speak, fans listen. (We hope!) To read the review click here, but don't stop there. The site is a treasure trove of wonderful critiques and great movie stills. If you're among the malingerers who have not subscribed to Cinema Retro yet, just click on the subscription info in the right hand column and issue #10 will be winging it's way to you along with an exclusive CD of cool radio spots from films of the era.
In the last few weeks, you may have had difficulty accessing our web site on various occasions. This was due to problems with the server, coupled with the increase in traffic we have been experiencing. The good news is that they have been corrected and things should be working better than ever. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience!
Nobody enjoys a visit to the dentist, but with the release of director John Schlesinger's Marathon Man in 1976, Laurence Olivier set back whatever slim enthusiasm there was for dentistry by patiently drilling into hapless Dustin Hoffman's chompers, taking painstaking care to hit every nerve. What made the scenario especially chilling was that Hoffman had no idea how to answer Olivier's incessent question, "Is it safe?" The mad Dr. Zell, loosely based on the real llife monster of Auschwitz, Josef Mengle, was convinced that Hoffman knew where a fortune in illicit diamonds were being secreted. The scenario recalled a favorite plot device of Alfred Hitchcock: an innocent man is mistaken for someone else and is swept up in a caper that he has virtually no understanding of. He can't cooperate with the villains even if he wants to because he can't answer their questions. Olivier made this sequence unforgettable by playing Zell as a charming, almost avuncular figure who mixes pleasant small talk with abominable torture. The performance earned him an Oscar nomination and probably resulted in an explosion of cavities for baby boomers worldwide.
From the Cinema Retro archive: a Swedish movie program for the 1959 Hammer version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The 1959 film marked the first Hammer production to be filmed in color and was meant to initiate a series of Sherlock Holmes films starring Peter Cushing as the legendary detective. The film was quite effectively done and benefited from a strong supporting cast including Christopher Lee as the seemingly cursed Sir Henry Baskerville. However, the movie was not a success. Hammer was unsure how to market the flick, and as the art on this program indicates, got cold feet about promoting it as a Holmes story. The studio opted instead to market it as a horror story, playing up the image of the hound even though the deadly canine only appears fleetingly in the climax. The result was that the film was a boxoffice failure and terminated any plans for additional Holmes films, though Cushing would later play the detective on British TV. The movie has aged very well indeed and is well worth a look.
Dean Brierly updates us on the activities of one of our favorite sex symbols
Sexy Stella has launched her own fragrance line.
When the talented and beautiful star of such retro classics as The Nutty Professor, The Silencers and The Poseidon Adventure recently emailed me regarding an update to her website, I just had to share the good news with Cinema Retro’s readers. The more retentive among you may recall my interview with Stella in July 2007 (see Interviews section), during which she discussed her participation in the John Cassavettes cult classic Too Late Blues, including a memorable reaction she provoked from co-star Bobby Darin during a scorching love scene. A visit to her website provides ample proof that one of filmdom’s all-time sirens still has it going on. I mean, what other Hollywood star whose career spans five decades can still pull off glamour shots to this day?
For confirmation, look no further than a new section on her site titled “At Home with Stella,” which harks back to her early modeling career in its presentation of exclusive, brand-new fashion photos taken at her Beverly Hills home. Each of the glossy 8x10 color photos is for sale, and on October 1 (Stella’s birthday), the entire set will be offered as a box of 5x7 greeting cards. Why send boring old Christmas cards when you can express holiday greetings with Stella Stevens bedecked in furs, diamonds and eye-catching décolletage? (That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.)
Don’t neglect to check out her other photo galleries from the 1960s to the present, consisting of vintage pin-up shots and publicity stills, plus personalized commentary from Stella herself. Your life isn’t complete until you’ve laid eyes on her eye-popping ‘60s and ‘70s photos. (“Here’s Stella with ‘The King’ when he was young and gorgeous,” she writes about promotional shots taken in Honolulu for Girls! Girls! Girls! ) More essential imagery includes her “Motorcycle Mama” series from the 1980s, and most especially her “Black Lace Teddy” set from the ‘90s, for which her caption reads: “One bending forward, one teasing with a riding crop, and one simply sitting pretty, waiting for you.” To which I can only say, please don’t spare that crop.
As if that weren’t enough, the blonde icon also offers a set of his-and-her designer fragrances called (what else?) Sexy. Stella writes: “Gold Label is a whisper-soft traditional style fragrance, elegant, alluring, rich. It fades slowly to a pale aroma reminiscent of delicate baby powder. Fun for all ages.” And for the men: “SEXY Black Label is a powerful, spicy, long-lasting scent. Its fresh, clean aroma is adored by all! Although it’s made for men, many women prefer its dynamic appeal and wear SEXY Black Label. Warning: use it at your own risk!”
In addition to being completely at ease in her eternally seductive skin, Stevens comes across on her website as a smart, independent and down-to-earth woman who retains a refreshingly optimistic outlook as she nears her sixth decade in the spotlight. She also manifests a genuine appreciation for the fans that have followed her career throughout the years. So the next time you find yourself online, click on over to Stella’s cyber pad at www.stellastevens.biz. Once you’ve spent some quality time with the triple threat actress/writer/director, we’re pretty certain it will become one of your favorite Internet destinations. And don’t neglect to leave your comments in her Private Guestbook. Say the right things, and Stella might just leave a special response in your in box, too.
Tomorrow evening at 8:PM EST, Turner Classic Movies premieres a major tribute to producer Val Lewton followed by an eight film marathon. Cinema Retro was provided with an advanced screener of the documentary, Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows and we found it to be one of the most unique and informative documentaries about a filmmaker that we've ever seen. The tribute is a collaboration between Martin Scorsese and writer/director Kent Jones. I confess to not having had much knowledge of Lewton, so the documentary was very revealing and fascinating. Lewton was assigned to churn out low budget horror films for RKO. In the utlimate "tail wagging the dog" scenario, studio hacks would assign him a title and the film he created was then based on that premise. What no one could anticipate was that Lewton, a perfectionist who took great pride in his work, would end up creating moody and atmospheric films by utilizing talented directors and writers. His first major success was Cat People, released in 1942. Although dismissed by short-sighted critics as a B horror film, the movie was an immediate boxoffice hit. Over the decades, it's been acclaimed as one of the most creative and influential horror films ever made. With RKP seeking to rival Universal's success with the horror genre, Lewton was given more leeway, though not much in the way of budget increases, to continue to develop films that would maximize profitability. If he could do it in a creative fashion, all the better. The films he produced were always hampered by childish titles that gave little evidence of the professionalism that went into every aspect of their production. Films such as I Walked with a Zombie, The Leopard Man and The Ghost Ship all bore the unmistakable mark of being Lewton productions. Lewton often contributed to writing the screenplays, though rarely took credit for his work.
I don't want to go into too many details regarding this remarkable man's life and career. It's best you let these fact unravel as you watch the documentary. Director/writer Kent Jones has worked wonders with the little material that is available on Lewton. There is no known film footage of him or even any audio recordings of his voice, thus the documentary's sub-tirle, The Man in the Shadows. The film contains interviews with Roger Corman, Lewton's son Val, Ann Carter Newton (star of Lewton's Curse of the Cat People) and archival interviews with directors Jacques Tourneur and Robert Wise, both of whom distinguished themselves by working on Lewton films. Martin Scorsese does yeoman work narrating the documentary. He is among the few directors in history (along with Hitchcock) whose voice has become immediately recognizable to movie fans and this personal touch adds immeasurably to the enjoyment of the program.
This documentary is just another example of why Turner Classic Movies remains the gold standard of cable movie networks. At one time, they had close competition from American Movie Classics but that network was taken over by the same type of hacks who Lewton had to battle for the sake of artistic integrity. AMC (it now doesn't make the pretense that there is anything "classic" about their presentations) shows chopped up films, devoid of any informative introductions - and engages in the nauseating practice of putting crass promos over the final credits. TCM stands alone in staying true to their mission of paying homage to the great filmmakers - and Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows stands as one of the network's finest achievements.
If you're among the guys who got socks and underwear from Christmas, here's something to add to your misery. Cinema Retro UK correspondent Adrian Smith was lucky enough to get the new Hammer horror DVD game tossed in among the coal in his stocking.
Now is probably a good time to reflect on
Christmas. Almost every year I hold out great hopes of getting old film-related
presents, with a particular leaning towards relatively obscure horror. I
imagine some of you will no doubt have felt my pain when you unwrap a
promising-looking present to discover something starring Ben Stiller.
However, last year I did strike it lucky
when I received the intricately structured Hammer horror-themed board game
Forbidden Terrortory. Since Hammer recently came under new ownership all sorts
of innovative methods have been employed to plunder the back catalogue. The
film rights are spread out between many different companies due to complicated
distribution deals struck at the time, so the marketing has focused instead on
the Hammer brand itself. We have had jewellery, fancy-dress costumes, poker
chips and poster reproductions, and now games. If any of you have managed to
play Forbidden Terrortory, which
involves a group of intrepid Hammer heroes including Van Helsing and Captain
Kronos, hunting down Dracula and taking on other classic Hammer monsters
including the mummy and Oliver Reed’s werewolf, please let me know. I’ve had it
for a year now and still not figured out the rules.
Anyway, back to this year. I actually
struck it lucky and got some pretty cool stuff, including the rather
promising-sounding King Kong vs. Godzilla
on DVD. Continuing the Hammer theme I received the new, thankfully simple
interactive DVD game Vampire Terrortory.
The DVD box says the game features “the voice of Countess Dracula star Ingrid Pitt”. This is somewhat ironic given
that Ingrid was dubbed in Countess Dracula by another actress! Her Polish
accent is suitably thick and gives the game that mittel-Europe feel that the
Hammer Gothics always had. The game has Van Helsing place you on a quest to
rescue the mayor’s daughter from, yes you’ve guessed it, Count Dracula. Each
round consists of viewing a clip from a Hammer movie and answering questions. I
was actually quite surprised at how difficult some of the questions are. I
consider myself somewhat knowledgeable when it comes to Hammer, and quickly
realised that if I didn’t know the answers, the family members I was playing it
with, who can not really be described as Hammer fans in the slightest, would
have no chance.
So all in all, it was a good Christmas for
me, present-wise. I also got some new socks. Vampire Terrortory is a fun game, but I would recommend that you
find other Hammer-minded friends to play it with. Fortunately the game
designers had the foresight to include a single-player option, so those lonely
old horror fans like me can play it alone. I’ll probably play it after a
viewing of King Kong vs. Godzilla,
which I’m also fairly sure I’ll be viewing unaccompanied…
So from this isolated Cinema Retro
correspondent, Happy New Year, and thank goodness that we have the Internet to
bring us together!
Cinema Retro's David Savage reports on an exciting evening for
film buffs as Keir Dullea appeared at a New York screening of Otto
Preminger's Bunny Lake is Missing.
An SRO crowd jammed Film Forum last Thursday night, January 10th for
a screening of a gorgeously restored new 35mm print of BUNNY LAKE IS
MISSING (1965), perhaps the most keenly anticipated film in the
cinema's Otto Preminger Festival (January 2-17). The 7:30pm screening
was the one not to miss as the film's male lead, Keir Dullea, was
waiting in the wings to speak afterwards with Preminger scholar and
biographer Foster Hirsch, author of OTTO PREMINGER: THE MAN WHO WOULD
BE KING (Knopf).
The anticipation was palpable in the crowd as it quickly filled up the
theater to standing room only. Film critics jostled for room alongside
Mod-devotees (lured no doubt by the film's Swinging London setting and
cameo performance by The Zombies) while NYU film students squeezed in
next to graphic designers ("the Saul Bass title sequence is to die
for.") Everyone, it seemed, was there was some particular element this
special film held for them.
The luminous new 35mm print showed off the brilliant chiaroscuro of
Denys Coop's cinematography to a startling degree, echoing the overall
duality of the plot: truth vs. lie, existence vs. fantasy, etc. And
heightening the film's atmosphere was Paul Glass's score, which begins
the film with a plaintive flute, suggesting childhood innocence and
melancholy, then building towards the end to tension-inflected, spindly
harpsichord as the famous hide-and-seek game appears to be headed to a
Preminger took 10 years to complete the screenplay, working with John
and Penelope Mortimer, and although he changed a key plot element from
Evelyn Piper's novel for his screen adaptation, his tenacious work
shines through sparkling dialogue full of wit, characters with depth
and ambiguity, and pacing that builds imperceptibly from a simple
head-scratcher to a taut thriller. Were today's laptop screenplays this
intelligent and well-wrought.
But as brilliant a director Preminger was, I think he shows off his
knack for pitch-perfect casting here even more impressively, from the
leads to the supporting players.
Not only does a very young Carol Lynley do an admirable job of
shouldering the bulk of the film on her 23 year-old shoulders (Columbia
urged Preminger to cast Ann Margret, revealed Keir Dullea), she does so
with an inscrutable facial expression that does not give away the
central mystery: whether her daughter is a delusion of her mind or is
in fact real – and missing.
Laurence Olivier's Superintendent Newhouse, the detective of the
Metropolitan Police assigned to the case, is a study in brilliant
under-acting, which Preminger championed. At the time of filming, he
was performing in Othello at the Old Vic and filmed his BUNNY LAKE
scenes at night after the stage performances, which makes it all the
more impressive. His Newhouse is unflappable, seasoned, and elegant in
his manner -- a London cop nearing retirement that seems wholly
credible. But he conveys a key lesson as a detective, one that everyone
should adopt: Never show your hand, lest they know what you're
Also leaving this viewer wanting more was the character actress Martita
Hunt as Ada Ford, the batty old founder of the children's school who
spends her days in a garret atop the school working on a book of
children's nightmares. Her scenes crackle with Olivier, and afterwards,
Dullea revealed why: She was Olivier's mentor as a young actor at the
Old Vic, and he later credited much of his most valuable dramatic
expertise to her.
After the screening during a Q&A session with Foster Hirsch, Keir
Dullea spoke bitterly about Preminger's abusive treatment of him and
others in the cast during the filming, and lapsed into a cartoonish
Nazi accent to mimick him. It did nothing to add levity to the
anecdotes. The audience seemed stunned by the venom in Dullea's
"As I watched myself in the final ten minutes of the film," Dullea
said, "I see how tense I was, and my performance seems very black and
white, and missing nuance . . . I owe that to Preminger's treatment of
me, which made me extremely nervous and self-conscious." Emotional
deliverance came in the person of director Irvin Kershner, Dullea
revealed, as he happened to be in London during the final weeks of
filming. Kershner had directed him in HOODLUM PRIEST (1961) and
director and actor had become close during the filming. When Dullea
asked Kershner how to deal with the beastly Preminger, Kersh advised:
"You can't leave this project feeling whipped. It will take an
emotional toll on you that could affect your work in the future. You're
never going to out-Preminger Preminger. You've got to find a way to
out-Dullea him, as only you can do." It was just the right advice and
Dullea said it gave him the fortitude to stand up to the director in an
ego-saving face-off near the end of the filming. But Dullea wouldn't go
into details, instead urging the audience to buy Hirsch's book to read
the full account.
Curiously, the film was ill-received by American critics when it was
released in 1965, but had the opposite effect on British critics, who,
besides lauding the actors, appreciated its grotty,
off-the-tourist-track London locations.
Movie lovers have seen him countless times, even if they didn't know his name. Johnny Grant was known as "The Honorary Mayor of Hollywood" and was a ubiquitous presence in Tinseltown as he hosted over 500 ceremonies in which actors and actresses received their stars on the Walk of Fame. Grant, who parlayed bit acting roles into being the ultimate Hollywood insider, died Wednesday at age 84 of natural causes at his apartment in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. In a town filled with backstabbing and scandal, Grant was beloved by all for his ceaseless attempts to retain the kind of grandeur the film industry was once known for. He interviewed thousands of celebrities, traveled into war zones with Bob Hope's USO tours and ultimately had his own star on the Walk of Fame. For more on his fascinating life and career click here
The Cinema Retro archive has yielded another rarity: an advert for the London premiere showings of Tony Richardson's underrated 1968 version of The Charge of the Light Brigade. Wonder if we can still get good seats?
You know we live in liberated times when porn queens write their autobiographies in the same type of breathless prose generally reserved for Hollywood legends. Yet, the porn industry has provided it's own hierarchy of royalty and one of the superstars of years gone by was Christy Canyon, who was voluptuous in an era that frowned upon store-bought bodies and the kind of plastic sex symbols that dominate the industry today. (Not that we ever watched any of her movies, of course!) Canyon's story is a familiar one: down-on-her-luck actress who fell into the industry out of desperation and emerged on top (so to speak). Her autobiography bears the witty title of Lights, Cameras, Sex! and pulls no punches in exploring the ups and downs of surviving in an industry that requires a good many ups and downs. Here is the description from Amazon:
Every which way and loose: Christy Canyon in her prime.
Christy Canyon's flamboyant debut into the world of adult video in
1984 rocked the porn industry like never before. Selling millions of
copies, her videos quickly established her as the world's leading porn
star. Take a ride on the wild side with her in this new, explosive tell
all autobiography. Loaded with juicy behind the scenes details, Canyon
describes her adventures and misadventures with other porn stars such
as Traci Lords, Ginger Lynn, Ron Jeremy and Peter North, just to name a
few. She also blows the lid off of her encounters with mainstream
Go behind the scenes in this explosive autobiography!!
CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM CINEMA RETRO'S AMAZON BOOK STORE (MAKE SURE YOU ONLY READ IT UNTIL YOU NEED GLASSES!)
Sleeve art for the forthcoming DVD special edition of Casino Royale. Tellingly, the film's status as a maverick production is indicated by the absence of any mention of "James Bond" or "007" on the sleeve.
We reported previously that Steve Rubin, author of The James Bond Films and The James Bond Encyclopedia had teamed with fellow producer Steve Mitchell to create a special deluxe edition of the 1967 James Bond spoof version of Casino Royale. Alas, bad luck and lack of respect still continues to haunt this film. Fox, which is releasing this edition under the MGM banner, has inexplicably delayed the release until June 8. It had originally been intended to be released last October.Inquiries to Fox's home video unit did not result in any reason for the delay being given. There has also been no release date set for the forthcoming special edition of the 1983 Thunderball remake, Never Say Never Again. Both films had originally been made outside the banner of Eon Productions, which has made every "official" 007 film since Dr. No. In recent years, Eon and MGM have obtained all rights to the maverick productions. Although Eon has not "buried" either title, they have never been included in promotions of the official Bond titles. Further updates forthcoming.
CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER CASINO ROYALE SPECIAL DVD EDITION FROM CINEMA RETRO'S AMAZON STORE
Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer reports on the Otto Preminger being held at the Film Forum in New York City.
Carroll O'Connor and John Wayne are among the cast of superstars in Otto Preminger's great WWII epic.
On Tuesday night, I attended a rare big screen showing of Otto Preminger's underrated 1965 WWII film In Harm's Way. The screening was part of a Preminger film festival hosted by movie scholar Foster Hirsch, author of the acclaimed new biography of the mercurial director, Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King. In planning the screening, it appeared that the invited guests were the ones who have gone in harm's way: Patricia Neal had to back out due to illness and earlier in the day, I spoke with her co-star in the film, Jill Haworth, who informed me that she was battling pneumonia and would also have to cancel her appearance. Nevertheless, your intrepid editor soldiered on in the company of Cinema Retro contributors David Savage and Tom Lisanti. For us, the film itself was enough of an attraction to merit attending. Not surprisingly, Foster Hirsch's introductory remarks were informative and entertaining, helping to deflect from the abscence of Ms. Neal and Ms. Haworth. New York City has never been John Wayne Country and trying to induce residents of Manhattan to attend a Wayne war movie would seem to be as practical as trying to sell ice cubes to an eskimo. However, the screening was well attended and Hirsch assured the audience that although he is no fan of Wayne's work in general, he believes In Harm's Way represents the actor's finest screen performance. That may seem to be an overstatement, but in watching the film again, there is no question it ranks among the top of Duke's career achievements. Refreshingly, he willingly plays a role amidst an ensemble cast in which every actor gets several big, memorable moments. Thus, this is not a typical "John Wayne movie". He plays a flawed character who makes mistakes in judgment and pays the price both mentally and physically.
May 1965: Preminger attends the 18th annual Cannes Film Festival with In Harm's Way cast members Barbara Bouchet and Hugh O'Brian, who play illicit lovers in the film.
Preminger does an amazing job of showing off the talents of an incredibly talented cast that includes top names such as Kirk Douglas, Patricia Neal, Henry Fonda, Tom Tryon (who was under contract to Preminger) and Dana Andrews with an excellent and eclectic cast of character actors such as Burgess Meredith, Brandon de Wilde, Sterling Holloway, Carroll O'Connor, Franchot Tone, Barbara Bouchet, Slim Pickens, Bruce Cabot, Hugh O'Brian and Patrick O'Neal. The film resembles From Here to Eternity in that it is primarily a sweeping tale that examines how the attack on Pearl Harbor affects the individual love lives of the main characters. Whereas Eternity culminates with the battle, Preminger's film begins with it. The screenplay by Wendell Mayes, based upon James Bassett's novel Harm's Way, captures the essence of navy life. (I know as I was brought up a navy brat.) The technical aspects of the film are superb. Preminger's opening tracking shot is one for the books, a seemingly endless sweep across as U.S. Navy gala on Honolulu with the participants happily ignorant of the devastation that is only hours away. This is one of the most glorious looking black and white films ever produced and earned the Oscar nomination it received for cinematographer Loyal Griggs. Preminger's notorious use of phony looking miniatures during the climactic naval battle does compromise the film somewhat, but never fatally. Jerry Goldsmith's unique and unsettling score is one of his best and Saul Bass' magnificent final credits were justifiably cited by Foster Hirsch as a work of art.
There was a down side to the evening, however. Although Paramount provided The Film Forum with an excellent 35mm print, I realized mid-way through the movie that at least one major scene had been inexplicably deleted: a sequence in which Paula Prentiss becomes distraught that naval officer husband Tom Tryon is being summoned back into the war zone. In a highly provocative scene in terms of its sexual content, she begs her husband to "leave me with a baby." Although the scene does not play a pivotal role in the overall narrative, it does flesh out the relationship of these two important characters. Following the screening, audience members engaged in a Film Forum tradition of lingering to discuss the movie. Foster Hirsch also noted the missing scene and film historian Bruce Eder noted that he discovered two other relatively inconsequential scenes missing. Thus, Paramount gets a mixed report card: they deserve credit for preserving an excellent print of the film, but it's inexcusable that it has been altered from Preminger's original version.
Next week at the Film Forum, Foster Hirsch will host a rare screening of Preminger's The Cardinal. The Film Forum is obtaining what is perhaps the only surviving theatrical print of the movie. For details, click here
CLICK HERE TO ORDER IN HARM'S WAY DVD FROM CINEMA RETRO'S AMAZON MOVIE STORE. tTHE DVD CONTAINS VINTAGE FEATURETTES ABOUT THE MAKING OF THE MOVIE.
It's always a treat when Cinema Retro subscriber Rory Monteith delves into his collection of vintage photos and makes a contribution to our site. This time, Rory has unearthed a wonderful photo of Times Square in June 1965. Note the billboard for director Ken Annakin's Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. On Broadway, Gwen Verdon was starring in Sweet Charity years before the film version would be made. Sammy Davis Jr. was also starring in Golden Boy. Rory advises that the theater showing Magnificent Men was the now-defunct DeMille Theater which had previously been known as The Mayfair. It was here that Frankenstein premiered in 1931. (see original ad below)
Paramount has released one of the all time great documentaries, Hearts of Darkness which critics Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel both called the best movie of 1991. The film is a detailed and brutally frank look at the debacle that occurred behind the scenes during the years in which Francis Ford Coppola worked on Apocalypse Now. Few filmmakers would be secure enough to allow a major film to be released showing them on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but Coppola has always been a maverick. His wife Eleanor went along with him to the Phillipines to film what was envisioned as a stanard behind-the-scenes publicity featurette for the big budget Vietnam War epic. However, as events spun out of control, Eleanor captured her husband at his most vulnerable moments - sometimes filming him surrpetitiously. What emerges is a fascinating look at a man trying to cope with disasters of Biblical proportions as the filming drags on from months to years. Among the crisis Coppola must deal with:
The unreliablity of the Phillipine military which had been contracted to provide helicopters and arms. As the dictator Marcos strove to hang on to power, the helicopters would be called away from the cinematic battles to fight real ones in the jungle against insurgents. Coppola is seen dealing with how to occupy an expensive cast and crew in the midst of a battle scene that cannot continue.
Coppola's decision to fire leading man Harvey Keitel shortly after filming commenced.
Replacement leading man Martin Sheen suffering a massive heart attack in the midst of filming
A typhoon destroys the entire production company's HQ and expensive sets.
Coppola, over schedule and over-budget, is forced to hock everything he has to pay for the budget increases.
Star Marlon Brando's arrival on the set- unprepared,uncooperative and grossly overweight.
All of this makes for a mesmerizing cinematic experience and is in itself a great work of art about one of the greatest films made during the 1970s. The DVD is devoid of any extras except an interesting featurette by Eleanor Coppola showing her husband directing his first film in a decade, the little-seen new art house movie Youth Without Youth. Coppola seems to know the movie stands no chance of finding a wide audience yet is enthused and energetic about bringing the story to the screen. Such passion is in rare supply today - as are filmmakers of his caliber.- Lee Pfeiffer
TO ORDER THIS DVD FROM THE CINEMA RETRO AMAZON MOVIE STORE CLICK HERE
Delugg was one of countless composers to jump on the spy craze bandwagon with his cover version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. theme.
If you never heard of Milton Delugg, don't feel bad. While movie lovers extoll the virtues of Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, John Barry, Lalo Schifrin and many other composers, ol' Milt remains the Rodney Dangerfield of 1960s pop music - he don't get no respect. However, Delugg was an eclectic and very talented man who not only composed music for hit game shows like Beat the Clock and The Newlywed Game, but also served as band leader for the 1966 season of The Tonight Show in between the Skitch Henderson and Doc Severinsen eras. In the 1960s he recorded numerous pop culture albums ranging from hot-selling cover versions of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to tunes inspired by the Boris Karloff tribute The Monster Mash. Perhaps most notably, he composed the theme songs from several abysmal children's matinee films for producer K. Gordon Murray. If Delugg never accomplished anything else, his immortal song Hooray for Santa Claus from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians would immortalize him in The Kitsch Hall of Fame. The web site for radio station WFMU provides a fascinating and in-depth look at Delugg's career complete with downloadable links to his greatest hits. To read click here
Delugg's theme for the bad movie classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians remains popular with a new generation.
Dimitri Tiomkin's score for the epic film Land of the Pharahos has been released on CD by Film Score Monthly as a 3,000 unit limited edition set. Here is the official press release:
One of the greatest epic scores of the 1950s comes to CD in complete form: Dimitri Tiomkin's Land of the Pharaohs (1955), for Howard Hawks's mammoth spectacle set in ancient Egypt.
The composer, in a press interview at the time (transcribed to illustrate his Russian accent), explained the film's story:
gung build pyramid. Needs harchitect. Harchitect say OK, I gung build
pyramid... if you sat my pippel free. Lots pippel dyink, all over the
picture... Pharaoh say OK, I sat your pippel free, you build nice cozy
pyramid. Harchitect say OK... Pharaoh don't understand why big chariots
all over the place. Pippel dyink. Harchitect a fine man. All this
hoppen long time ago."
addition, there is a delightfully campy romantic plot in which a sexpot
princess (played by a young Joan Collins) acheives her quest to become
Queen of Egypt -- but with a deliciously dark twist.
film remains a curious blend of jaw-dropping spectacle and drawing-room
scheming, with the international cast also including Jack Hawkins,
Alexis Minotis, James Robertson Justice and Sydney Chaplin. Perhaps
Hawks himself best summed up his creative dilemma in making the
picture: "I don't know how a pharaoh talks."
But the music! Tiomkin:
you think top producer spend more moneys on music for picture than for
A picture? Music can help picture. I should know. I work mostly in
medium mediocre pictures... I have spashil script. Not regular script.
Spashil script. Script don't sayink 'Close-up on Tootsie' only, scripts
I got sayink 'Close-up on Tootsie, she very sad.' That way, I can write
the good music... Work to within third of second. Third of second
important. Third of second enough time to go boom-de-boom. Boom-de-boom
Boom-de-boom only begins to describe the greatness of the Land of the Pharaohs
soundtrack. Huge choral setpieces dominate the first half of the film,
as the Egyptians perform songs to honor their dead and to accompany
their decades-long endeavor to construct the great Pyramid; in the
second, Tiomkin accompanies the romance and treachery of Collins's
villainous princess including several action scenes.
it is emblematic of Tiomkin that at the most unexpected moments -- such
as the main title -- he goes "small" instead of big, with his beautiful
melodies carried by solo instruments. In other scenes, Tiomkin seems to
be setting a musical freight train underneath dialogue, churning with
the emotional undercurrents of the drama.
The score to Land of the Pharaohs
was conceived almost like that for a silent film, in that the music
virtually never ceases. The complete score (presented over FSM's 2CD
set, with alternate and additional selections closing disc 2) has been
painstakingly assembled from the monaural mixdowns saved in the Warner
Bros. vaults. (Although recorded in stereo, the score survives only in
mono; however, the use of separate tracks for percussion, chorus and
other solos has allowed several passages to be reconstructed in stereo
-- including huge set pieces like "Pharaoh's Procession.")
MGM has announced that three major action epics starring Yul Brynner
will be released on DVD for the first time in February, 2008. The
titles are Solomon and Sheba, Taras Bulba and Kings of the Sun. The
latter two titles in particular have been on many action fan's "most
wanted" lists in terms of films that should be released on DVD. The DVDs will be available on March 25. No word yet as to what extras will be included. Here is the official MGM press releaseL
KINGS OF THE
SUN, SOLOMON AND SHEBA and TARAS
Starring Silver Screen
Legends Yul Brynner, Tony Curtis, Gina Lollobrigida, George Chakiris and
For The First Time On DVD March 25
CENTURY CITY, Calif. – Venture through time with three
enduring historical sagas - Kings Of The Sun, Solomon And
Sheba and Taras Bulba – each available for the first time
on DVD March 25,2008, from MGM Home Entertainment. Part of the
United Artists catalog, these epic classics are being released as part of the
larger United Artists 90th Anniversary campaign, an 18-month global
celebration leading up to the 90th anniversary of the studio in
Starring Oscarâ winner Yul Brynner* (The King And
I, The Ten Commandments) and Oscarâ winner George Chakiris** (West Side
Story), the 1963 film Kings Of The Sunis set in Mesoamerica
and follows the intense battle between the immigrant Mayans and the native
Indian tribes over territory. The 1959 Biblical epic Solomon And
Sheba stars Yul Brynner, Gina Lollobrigida (Beat The Devil,
“Falcon Crest”) and Oscarâ winner George Sanders*** (All About
Eve, The Quiller Memorandum). Set in ancient Israel, Solomon And Sheba follows
two brothers as they struggle to succeed their father, King David, to the
throne; however, one finds the temptation of a woman may lead him astray.
Based on the 1835 short historical novel
by the Russian author Nikolai Gogol, Taras Bulba is the
sentimental, adventure tale of a Ukrainian Cossack and his two sons as they set
out and battle the Polish nobles in Ukraine. Directed by J. Lee Thompson, the 1962
film stars Yul Brynner and Oscarâ nominee Tony Curtis**** (The Defiant
Ones, Some Like It Hot).
Perfect for film collectors and
enthusiasts alike, eachDVDwill be available for
the suggested retail price of $19.98 U.S. / $25.98 Canada.
KINGS OF THE SUN
Yul Brenner (The Ten
Commandments) and George Chakiris (West Side Story) shine as the
kings of two clashing cultures forced to form an alliance against a mutual
threat in this gripping historical saga. Packed with intense action and
thrilling drama, Kings of the Sun is “a breath-taker” (Greater
Amusements)! After a terrible battle leaves young Balam (Chakiris) king of
his Mayan tribe, he leads his people out of Mexico to escape the
rival clan still hunting them. But upon reaching their new home, a hostile
Native American tribe attacks and the Mayans manage to capture Black Eagle
(Brynner), the Native American leader. While held prisoner, Black Eagle manages
to earn Balam’s respect and the kings agree to peace. But when Balam’s old
rivals arrive looking for a fight, the newly allied kings must take up arms and
stand together in order to repel the invading force and save their people.
In this glorious biblical epic
scripted by Anthony Veiller, Paul Dudley and George Bruce, director King Vidor
(War and Peace) cinematically explores the evils of flesh and pagan
worship, creating “an eye-compelling film which...should entertain millions”
(Variety). Shot in Spain, the picture chronicles the exploits of its
larger-than-life characters. Yul Brynner is a strong and idealistic Solomon. And
the sensual Gina Lollobrigida is magnificent as the sultry and seductive
clash between King Solomon and his brother is further complicated when the Queen
of Sheba seduces Solomon in an attempt to bring about Israel’s downfall. The
film is a spectacular and humbling statement –
beautiful to watch and worthwhile to remember.
Four centuries ago, in a barbaric
age ruled by violence, vast armies clashed in desperate battles and fierce men
struggled to regain their freedom. This is the world of Taras Bulba, a
breathtaking epic that engulfs the screen with high adventure. Set in the
the 16th century, Taras Bulba stars Yul Brynner in one of his most
colorful roles as a powerful Cossack chieftain determined to regain his land
from treacherous Polish invaders. Despite bitter dissension in the ranks, he is
soon leading his soldiers into savage warfare. But further conflict erupts when
his headstrong son Andrei (Tony Curtis) falls deeply in love with a Polish girl.
Spectacular battle scenes highlight the nonstop action, arriving at a shattering
climax in which father and son must ultimately confront the rift between them.
With sharp direction by J. Lee Thompson and a strong supporting cast that
includes Christine Kaufmann, Sam Wanamaker and George Macready, Taras Bulba
recreates a long-vanished era with a splendor and excitement that enthralls
from beginning to end.
"Hey there, Darthy boy!" : Star Wars meets The Honeymooners as Art Carney makes a guest appearance on the TV special.
While most people find the holidays a time of intoxicating joy, others are thrust into the bowels of deep depression. One major cause may be memories of The Star Wars Holiday Special , an unintentionally hilarious, misguided 1978 TV show that probably explains why George Lucas has insisted upon having dictatorial control over the franchise in the ensuing years. I don't know about you, but when I think of Star Wars, three names pop into my mind: Art Carney, Jefferson Starship and Bea Arthur. All appear on the special, along with embarrassed cast members from the film. It's the My Mother the Car of TV specials, and Lucas has tried to bury it deeper than Jimmy Hoffa's remains. Nevertheless, bootleg prints have been making the rounds for decades and the good folks at the cool web site Detour have put together a five minute condensation of the show. We even get to meet Chewbacca's wife and kids and there is a touching scene between Han Solo and his furry friend that comes mighty close to a Brokeback Mountain moment. Seeing is believing so click here to enjoy.- Lee Pfeiffer
Cinema Retro's Bill Duelly recently visited the sites of legendary British movie studios. His report is a sobering reminder of how unchecked development is endangering cultural heritage.
Suburban sprawl: rising real estate prices; loss of historic sites. It’s not just a phenomenon in the United States. It is the world over. One place where this is taking a toll on our cinematic history is n the town of Elstree and Borehamwood, England. And it’s happening to the places the Cinema Retro fans hold dear as some of their favorite films have come out of this small, friendly and very talented area: 2001; The Dirty Dozen; The Shining; The Star Wars Trilogy (the real one); Indiana Jones Trilogy, etc.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of a tour of the area by Bob Redman and Ben Simon of Elstree Screen Heritage, a group made up of volunteers committed to their unique local film and television heritage. With them, I saw first hand how the landscape of an area rich in England’s film history is rapidly changing (to clarify from the start, Elstree Screen Heritage is concerned with aspects of ALL the studios that have called this area their home, not just Elstree Film Studios).
We didn’t need to go any farther than when we stepped off the train, to see that the site across from the station was under construction for new apartments. This was the original site of Gate Studios, opened in 1928 for production of silent films. Being so close to the trains, sound became a problem shortly thereafter. Their solution? To put someone on the roof and signal when a train was coming so the noise wouldn’t ruin a take. Now, no trace of the studio remains.
Artist and designer Saul Bass was one of the most influential forces (along with Maurice Binder) in the field of designing main titles for movies. Prior to Bass, most main titles were pedantic and unimaginative. Bass, however, brought an element of modern art into his work. The images were often minimalist but always powerful. Bass also designed many classic film posters including such films as Anatomy of a Murder,West Side Story, Exodus and In Harm's Way. The poster for the latter was particularly off-beat considering it was a big budget war movie top-lining John Wayne and Kirk Douglas. However, instead of taking the obvious road and showing depictions of these two great stars, Bass opted to use a simply white outline of an admiral's sleeve pointing ominously in an easterly direction.
Similarly, Bass minimalist design of a dead body for Anatomy of a Murder was so compelling that Spike Lee "borrowed" virtually the exact same design for his film Clockers. When the media noticed the similarity, Lee called it a tribute to Bass while Bass himself said it was a rip-off of his work. Among Bass' greatest triumphs was the extended main title sequence for It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The brilliantly designed cartoon went on long enough to qualify as a short film and remains one of the most memorable aspects of the 1963 hit. The web site Not Coming to a Theater Near You presents a superb collection of in-depth essays and illustrations pertaining to all of the movies Bass designed the titles for. To read click here
Intrada has released composer Jerry Fielding's score for the Charles Bronson western Chato's Land on CD. The release is limited to only 1500 units. This is the first soundtrack to be made available from the 1972 film directed by Michael Winner. Here is the official press info:
World premiere release of complete Jerry Fielding 1972 original
soundtrack from Michael Winner pursuit & revenge western with
Charles Bronson, Jack Palance. Fielding responds to savage tale with
intense strings, blazing brass, harrowing percussion. Blistering
landscape of story inspires plethora of subtle percussion figures,
demanding woodwind solos while fierce violence incites vicious brass
motifs, dollops of thundering snare, bass drum. Fielding divides time
between imposing flamenco-ish main melody & ever-winding secondary
menace melody. Two themes jockey for supremacy throughout score like
movie's on-screen adversaries. In stroke of brilliance, Fielding
declares landscape the final winner, closes not with either melody but
with ferocious display of percussion instead. Impressive highlight:
"Titles" bookends with florid trumpet statement of main theme,
spotlights twisting woodwind variants in between. Another rousing
highlight: Building rhythm of "Indian Rodeo" becomes wild display for
virtuoso French horn, trombone & trumpet. Entire score presented
for first time from MGM master elements in stereo. Dynamic recording
made by Richard Lewzey at CTS Studios in London. Colorful graphics,
notes from Winner/Fielding authority Nick Redman complete package.
Jerry Fielding conducts. Special Collection release limited to 1500
copies! - Douglass Fake, Intrada producer
1. Titles (4:38)
2. Peeping Tom in the Bushes (0:42)
3. Mind Your Ma; Whiskey and Hot Sun (1:26)
4. Coop Falls (1:22)
5. Pain in the Water Bags; Burning Rancheros 1 & 2 (4:44)
6. Peeping Tom on the Ridge; First Stampede (3:01)
7. Indian Convention (1:32)
8. The Snake Bite (1:18)
9. Chato Comes Home (1:50)
10. Indian Rodeo; Chato Bags Horse (2:18)
11. Junior Blows the Whistle (0:39)
12. Fire and Stampede; Joan of Arc at Stake (3:52)
13. Mr. & Mrs. Chato Split; Massas in the Cold Cold Ground (1:24)
14. Hot Pants (2:43)
15. Rainbow on the Range (0:55)
16. Ride Like Hell (0:48)
17. Big Stare Job; Here-There-Everywhere (2:16)
18. Attack in Gorge (1:51)
19. One Big Pain in the Neck (2:33)
20. Lansing Scalped (1:43)
21. Elias Gets the Snake; Malechie Gets Shot; Finis (5:02)
French poster for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The film was a critical and box-office flop in 1962, but is now regarded as John Ford's final masterpiece.
Director Peter Yates'classic 1968 thriller Bullitt starring Steve McQueen and Robert Vaughn and John Ford's dark, revisionist 1962 western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance are among the 25 films chosen by the Library of Congress for 2007's list of movies entered into the National Film Registry. Inclusion on the list insures these films will be preserved for generations to come. It also precludes TV stations that air them from editing the films. Some of the films included are rather obscure silent titles while others are more offbeat such as The House I Live In , a 1945 short film starring Frank Sinatra in a plea for racial tolerance. Among the more puzzling entries is Back to the Future - certainly an entertaining film, but hardly in the league of many of the others chosen. For the full list click here