Hang on to your panties, ladies- that dashing lady's man Liberace will be the subject of a big screen bio pic.
In a daring career decision, macho actor Michael Douglas has agreed to play Liberace in director Steven Soderbergh's forthcoming biopic of the flamboyant showbiz legend. The decision is a gutsy one, guaranteed to either jump start Douglas' rather dormant career or seriously erode it further. As for Soderbergh, he continues to resist cutting his 4 and half hour film bio of Che Guevara - despite poor reviews at the last Cannes Film Festival. IFC will release the pic in a handful of theaters in order to qualify for Oscar award nominations, but it will then go direct to video. Maybe studios aren't entirely lacking in common sense. At one time, having another Soderbergh box-office bomb on their slate would have been considered to be "prestigious". However, the prospects of luring people into theaters with an endless tribute to a Commununist icon is a bit of a stretch even by Hollywood standards. Besides, there are still sore wounds open from Fox's ill-fated 1969 bomb Che! starring Omar Sharif. For more click here
of fantasy films and think of the 1950s, 60s and 70s and one name looms very
large – that of Ray Harryhausen, the legendary stop motion animator. Over a
forty-year career, Harryhausen created such iconic images as :
thrilling battle with seven living, sword-wielding skeletons in JASON AND THE
horde of dinosaurs menacing Raquel Welch in a fur bikini in ONE MILLION YEARS
terrifying encounter with the slithering half-snake Medusa in CLASH OF THE
Harryhausen is now the subject of a major three-volume book published in the United States
by Archive Editions, RAY HARRYHAUSEN - MASTER OF THE MAJICKS, the first volume
of which will be out in September. British author Mike Hankin, a longtime fan
and friend of Harryhausen, has had access to information and visual material
never seen before. As a big Harryhausen fan myself, I was keen to find out more
about this tantalising project and I interviewed Hankin in June, 2008.
understand the book will be in three volumes. Why is that?
Originally it was going to be a normal, single volume but over time we found we
had such a mass of information that it kept getting bigger and bigger. And we
were thinking ‘We’re going to have cut some of this out’. But we didn’t want to
cut anything! There was so much good material that we didn’t want to discard
anything. Volume 2 has ended up being 404 pages alone! So, a decision was made
to break the book up into three volumes. Thus—
Volume 1 will start at the beginning: Ray’s birth, through his early life and
up to around 1947, with a slight overlap into the 1950s, during which time he
started his first professional work on George Pal’s Puppetoons, and also his
own series of 16mm Fairy Tales.
Volume 2 covers the feature films MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, THE BEAST FROM 20,000
FATHOMS, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA, THE ANIMAL WORLD, 20 MILLION MILES TO
EARTH and Ray’s final American feature film, THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD in 1958.
Volume 3 continues at the point when Ray moved to England for various reasons
and covers THE THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, JASON AND THE
ARGONAUTS, FIRST MEN ’IN’ THE MOON, ONE MILLION YEARS BC, THE VALLEY OF GWANGI,
THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER, and CLASH OF THE
I’ve heard that the first volume to be published will be Volume 2. Isn’t that
going to confuse people?
Several people who read early versions of the manuscript for fact-checking
purposes all said that even though the first chapters are full of all sorts of
fascinating material, they just couldn’t wait to get to “the good stuff” —the
feature films. It’s the feature films that most people are really interested
in. So we’re starting off with a bang with Volume 2 and MIGHTY JOE YOUNG in
1949, the film that won an Oscar® for special effects. Volume 3 will
follow, because again, this will cover the classic films including JASON AND
THE ARGONAUTS and VALLEY
OF GWANGI and the others.
And then finally Volume 1.
When will the follow-up volumes be published?
Volume 3 should be out at the end of this year, and Volume 1 will come out the
early part of next year. The best way to obtain them is through the publisher,
Archive Editions. There is plenty of information about the books on the website
(www.archive-editions.com) and one can sign up
on the mailing list to be kept up-to-date via e-mail announcements.
Before I ask you about the book in more detail, perhaps you could tell us how
you first got interested in Harryhausen’s films.
The first film of Ray’s that I saw was MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, released in England in
1962. Like most kids, I’d always been interested in fantasy films. I saw the
trailers for MYSTERIOUS ISLAND and it looked like a great adventure film full
of monsters, plus it was on a double-bill with a pirate film, PIRATES OF BLOOD
RIVER! When it opened, I went to the first showing. I arrived at the cinema at
one o’clock in the afternoon and didn’t leave the cinema until 11 o’clock that
evening! That got me into trouble with my parents, but I just wanted to see the
film over and over again. Despite the ticking off from my parents, I went again
the following day, and I went every day that week, watching it at least twice
Of course in those days, I had no
idea how all the effects were done. The jungle, the giant crab, the bees —to me
it was all wonderful stuff. And my interest in music started there, too. I had
no idea that it was by Bernard Herrmann, but I knew that I liked it. I was age
13, exactly the same age that Ray was when he first saw KING KONG, which hugely
influenced him. So 13 must be the key age in terms of films having a big effect