A unique new independent film titled Kreating Karloff is winning raves with its DVD release. The film is an homage to the legendary Boris Karloff and tells of a young actor's obsession with playing the role of the iconic star in a new film biography. The movie is described as being made by Karloff fans for Karloff fans. To watch the trailer and learn more click here
Michael Russnow of The Huffington Post doesn't consider himself a huge fan of Clint Eastwood's acting, saying most of his performances have been non-distinguished. However, Russnow is gushing over Eastwood's work in Gran Torino, calling it a superb achievement and comparing this late career role to that of Rooster Cogburn, the role that won John Wayne his only Oscar. For more click here
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented a special 30th anniversary screening of "Days of Heaven" on Wednesday, November 12, 2008, at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Pictured here following the panel discussion are (left to right) Academy Special Events Programmer Ellen Harrington, casting director Dianne Crittenden, Oscar®-nominated sound mixer Barry Dean Thomas, actress Brooke Adams, set decorator Robert Gould, film editor Billy Weber and cinematographer Haskell Wexler
of Heaven,” director Terrence Malick’s second feature, signified the perfection of his stylistic vision and unique approach to filmmaking wherein the movie is drastically reshaped in the post-production process. While his
astonishing debut, “Badlands,” marked the arrival of a singular new talent, it
was a conventionally structured film, loosely based on the Charles Starkweather
killing spree and very much in the tradition of “You Only Live Once,” and
“Thieves Like Us” and “Gun Crazy.” What made “Badlands” so original is that
Malick‘s dispassionate approach to his two main characters, neither of whom had
an ounce of self-awareness. There were no moral judgments about them or blaming
a society gone wrong, the two misguided lovers simply followed their dim,
uncomprehending natures and played out their murderous passion play until they
were finally captured. No last minute revelations or deathbed histrionics for
these two, just a flat acceptance of their fate. And the film is pretty much all
there on the pages of the script.
with "Days of Heaven” Malick perfected his unique style that he would develop
further with “The Thin Red Line” by taking years in the editing room to shape
and resturcturing the film, adding a voice-over (or in “Line’s” case multiple voice
overs that gave the audience a kind of omniscient, God-like view of the
proceedings). With the flat, sometimes absurd voice-over by a young girl in her
teens, echoing Sissy Spacek’s in “Badlands,” Malick’s characters are all
strangers in a strange world, unable to fully describe the complexities of our
strange existence. Terrence Malick is the poet laureate of what Van Morrison
has called the inarticulate speech of the heart. Reading the script of "Days of
Heaven'' is a revelation, it gives absolutely no indication of the nuances and
emotional power of the finished film, in fact, the script reads like an edition
of the Farmer’s Almanac. It shows how crucial the post-production process in
Malick’s films. And one of the most important components of the film’s power was
supplied by Ennio Morricone’s haunting musical score, which gives voice to the feelings that the
characters are unable to express. It is Linda Manz’s flat, unemotional New York
accented delivery juxtaposed against the majestic cinematography of Nestor
Almendros and Haskell Wexler that creates an internal friction between image and
sound. And though the film is invariably called “most beautiful film of all
time,” the remarkable sound design is frequently given short shrift. Sounds rise
and fall, drifting in and out of the majestic score and was quite revolutionary
at the time, though now its pioneering mix has been copied and become more
was so astonishing about "Days of Heaven'' when it was first released in 1978
was its near complete jettisoning of plot in favor of mood, an insistence of
visual poetry over narrative and character, mood over meaning. I once conducted an
interview with Martin Scorsese for a DVD commentary and during a break we
discussed Malick’s films, and he pointed out that what Malick was really doing
was going back to the silent era, using visuals to tell the story and embracing
a lost art form - that of a cinematic lyricism that was pioneered by Griffith
and many of the other cinematic pioneers, notably the films of Russian
director Alexander Dovzhenko. As the Academy’s recent screening of Douglas
Fairbanks “The Gaucho” demonstrated, even action films in the silent era had a
spiritual component sadly lacking in contemporary films.
slender story begins outside Chicago when Richard Gere’s character gets in a
fight with a steel mill foreman and kills him, fleeing to Texas where he and
his sister (Linda Manz) and girlfriend (Brooke Adams) get jobs as day laborers
on a vast wheat farm. The farm’s owner, (a magnificent performance by
playwright Sam Shepard in his film debut), falls in love with Abby, Gere’s
girlfriend, and asks her to stay after the harvest is over. Bill overhears a
conversation between the farmer and a doctor, and learns that the farmer has
perhaps a year to live. Thinking that the farmer will soon die, Gere and Abby
pretend to be brother and sister, and that soon he and Abby will at last have
money enough to live happily. But Shepard does not die and after catching Gere
and Adams in an intimate scene begins to suspect something is amiss. He
confronts Gere, who then leaves the farm. while Abby, the farmer and the young
sister live happily for a year. Just as Gere returns at harvest time a plague of
grasshoppers invade the farm. While fighting the plague, Gere kills Shepard and
he and the two girls flee. Gere is killed in a shootout with police and Manz and
Adams go their separate ways.
the Wednesday Nov. 12th screening of the film at the Academy, the panel of
actress Brooke Adams, cinematographer Haskell Wexler, sound designer Barry
Thomas, editor Billy Weber, casting director Dianne Crittendenm and set
decorator revealed some fascinating stories about the creation of this modern
masterpiece. One revelation was that the film’s three leads might have been John
Travolta, Genevieve Bujold and Tommy Lee Jones had not Travolta (Malick’s
original choice for Gere’s role) been unable to break free from “Welcome Back,
Kotter.” Bujold quit the film after forming a dislike for one of her co-stars
and although Tommy Lee Jones had been strongly considered for the dying farm
owner until Malick met Shepard and offered him the role on the spot. Wexler
spoke of his often overlooked role as “additional” cinematographer, he has
always maintained he shot half the film when the shooting schedule ran long and
Almendros had to leave for a prior commitment to Truffaut. But Wexler graciously
pointed put that he shot very much in the style Almendros had created and their
footage blended together seamlessly. Wexler also pointed out Malick’s
fascination with animals, is essential to Malick’s recurring theme - the role of
man in nature, forever trying (and failing) to transcend his physical being
while dreaming of a better, more spritual existence.
Adams spoke of Malick’s unorthodox direction of his actors and editor Billy
Weber spoke of the long post-production process where the film was arduously
shaped and created. Because so much of the film’s elegiac tone is created by the
numerous inserts, Weber gave credit was given to 2nd unit cameraman Paul Ryan
who shot so many of the cutaways of animals. In fact several shots were filmed a
year after the film had wrapped including the shot of Gere’s face splashing into
the river which was shot in production designer Jack Fisk’s aquarium, as was my
own personal favorite insert, a close up of a drinking glass at the bottom of a
stream. And sound mixer Thomas praise Malick’s use of time during the shoot with
the surprising anecdote that Linda Manz’s narration was recorded in a car while
driving to a Canadian location!
Moderator Ellen Harrington was a superb interviewer, drawing out
illuminating stories from the panelists with her gracious presence and
penetrating questioning. The panelists were in agreement that Terence Malick is
a genius and working on "Days of Heaven'' was a unique and transformative
experience in their careers. The only disappointment was that the new print
supplied by Paramount lacked the visual splendor of the previous prints I'd
seen. Since so much of the film had been shot at dusk, the blue shadows of the
magic hour has been muted, turned into a dark ebony and the rich, vibrant colors
of the pastoral landscape had been reduced to a near monochrome in certain
scenes. A friend who had never seen the film before was puzzled by the film’s
reputation as one of the most beautiful of all time and had I never viewed it
before I would have been forced to agree.
is a disturbing trend that seems to be taking place at the major studios -
desaturating the color, sharpening the contrast so that areas that could
previously be seen are now darkened into a silhouette and pumping up the volume
of the soundtrack to please contemporary tastes - these are things that I have
witnessed in new prints of classic films like “North by Northwest,” “The
Searchers,” “The Sand Pebbles.” Movies, as my old film professor Manny Farber
used to tirelessly impress upon his students, is a visual art just as much as
painting and the image is as crucial to the aesthetic experience of film as
plot, acting or dialogue. Hopefully, the powers that be will soon realize that
their mission should be to preserve the original film’s intentions not alter
them to suit modern fads. That "Days of Heaven'' would be selected by the
National FIlm Registry of the Library of Congress in 2007 should be proof enough
that Terence Malick’s majestic carnival of the animals deserves to be seen by
future generations as it was intended for it is a film for the ages. Having
dwelt in these “Days of Heaven” once is to have entered the gates of cinematic
Playwright William Gibson has died at age 94. He was the author of the acclaimed play The Miracle Worker which told the incredible and inspiring story of Helen Keller. The play was made into an Oscar-winning film and has continued to be produced on the stage in productions all around the world. Gibson's other notable works include Two For the Seesaw and Golden Boy. For more click here
Kim Cattrall (center) looking as good as her younger counterparts. (Photo copyright Tom Hunter)
More evidence that middle-aged women still have what it takes: Kim Cattrall of Sex and the City posed for photographer Tom Hunter amid some nubile twenty-somethings as part of a high profile plan to save an art masterpiece. No wonder MILF has entered the universal lexicon! For details click here
We're second-to-none in our love of John Wayne movies - even his clinkers. Of the latter, none is more hilarious than his 1950s epic The Conqueror which was produced by Howard Hughes. As you probably know, Wayne played Genghis Khan and uttered that immortal romantic line to slave girl Susan Hayward, "Yer beeootiful in yer wrath!" To commemorate Thanksgiving, we reproduce a collectible from this turkey: the original Dell comic book tie in, courtesy of the web site All John Wayne.
John Michael Hayes, who was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's suspense classic Rear Window passed away on November 19. He was 89 years old. Hayes also wrote the screenplays for Hitchcock's The Trouble With Harry, To Catch a Thief and the director's remake of his own film, The Man Who Knew Too Much. (Hitchcock forbade Hayes from seeing the earlier version of the movie to ensure he brought a fresh approach to the concept.) Hayes was also Oscar-nominated for Peyton Place. His other prominent film credits include The Carpetbaggers, The Children's Hour, Butterfield 8 and Nevada Smith. For more click here
Entertainment Weekly reporter Dave Karger has seen Gran Torino and thinks that, although the film is a long-shot for a Best Picture Oscar nod, he thinks Clint Eastwood's swan-song acting performance is impressive enough to merit a nomination. For more click here
Edwin Booth, founder of the Players, was the most prominent American actor of the 19th century. His bedroom at the club has been preserved intact since the night of his death in 1893. Here, John Martello displays the room's most famous artifact to Sir Roger and Lady Moore: the famous skull used by Booth in his productions of Hamlet. (Photo copyright Tom Stroud, all rights reserved.)
On November 9, Sir Roger Moore was inducted into the legendary New York City club for the arts, The Players. The evening was organized by Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer and John Martello, Executive Director of The Players. The club has a rich history dating back to 1888 when it was founded by actor Edwin Booth. Over the decades, notable members have included Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, James Cagney, Mark Twain, General Sherman, Gregory Peck and many others. A sold-out crowd attended the black tie festivities and the New York Times covered the evening. Sir Roger arrived with his wife, Christina and personal assistant Gareth Owen to for a private tour of the club given by John Martello. Following this, the group mixed with the crowd at an informal cocktail party at which Sir Roger received a pleasant surprise when he was reunited with his Moonraker co-star Lois Chiles. A gourmet dinner followed, after which New York Post theater critic Michael Reidel gave a heartfelt tribute to Sir Roger and recalled being intrigued by the Moore mystique ever since seeing him as James Bond as a child. This was followed by an extensive film clip montage that highlighted Rape of the Sabine Women, Gold, The Wild Geese, Bed and Breakfast, ffolkes, Sherlock Holmes in New York, The Sea Wolves, The Man Who Haunted Himself. The Saint and, of course, the Bond films. Other clips showed Roger as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Sir Roger was then interviewed on stage by Lee Pfeiffer and had the audience laughing at his anecdotes about his interaction with many screen legends including Lana Turner, George Sanders and Rex Harrison. He also discussed the introspective process of writing his best-selling autobiography, My Word is My Bond. Speaking of Bond, Sir Roger confessed he hadn't seen Casino Royale until he bought the DVD - and said he felt both the film and Daniel Craig were superb. Following the festivities, Sir Roger chatted with attendees before departing on another whirlwind, globe-trotting trip to other nations for more book promotion activities. (For more on The Players, click here)
FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES COVERAGE OF THIS EVENT CLICK HERE
Sir Roger and Lady Christina pose with (L to R) Janet Pfeiffer, Matt Link, Bill Kanas, Lee Pfeiffer, Tom Stroud, George Ann and Paul Scrabo and Mark Yuknevitch in front of the famed fireplace designed by Stanford White. (Photo copyright Kim Markowski, all rights reserved)
Unlike many contemporary stars who use every good deed as a self-serving photo op, Steve McQueen chose to perform acts of kindness without any fanfare whatsoever. It is only now that the true extent of this man's charitable works is emerging. While shooting The Sand Pebbles in Taiwan in 1966, he became the patron of a local orphanage. He had a weakness for kids in trouble because he could identify with his own troubled youth. Throughout his adult life, he gave generous charitable donations to various causes, and backed it up with unpublicized personal appearances to boost the spirits of children who were sick or impoverished. Near the end of his life, he visited a dying teenager's mother and promised to make good on her wish that her daughter receive a good education. McQueen and his wife Barbara insured that the girl was sent to an expensive boarding school where she received a top notch education. For more on McQueen's charitable works, click here.
Entertainment Weekly has put together a list of the 20 most appalling TV shows ever. It says a lot about our society that virtually all of them have aired of the last few years and each one is a so-called "reality" show (assuming your life is filled with Botoxed, plastic-boobed, brain-dead women and beefy men whose combined I.Q doesn't equal their shirt collar size). It's hard to argue with the list, though we confess to not having seen all of them. The shows are so awful that Jerry Springer barely eeks onto the list at #20. In between we have shows dedicated to cheating on your significant other, shows in which stupid women pretend to be even more stupid than they really are to convince stupid viewers they aren't acting stupid, O.J. Simpson taking time off from tracking down his wife's killers to allow himself to be filmed in jail during his latest stint behind bars, dating shows for little people, Kid Nation in which CBS abuses children in ways William Golding never imagined possible when he wrote Lord of the Flies, a show devoted to the daily activities of the new Marilyn Monroe-Anna Nicole Smith (minus the looks or talent), a show called wife swap that is so intellectually dishonest it doesn't even involve sex but rater, trashy women kvetching at red neck guys who wear baseball hats backwards, and a show in which normal looking women are gently educated that their lives are worthless unless they increase the size of their tits and undergo massive makeovers, etc, etc. However, we can now say that we've reached a point in popular culture in which My Mother, the Car and Hee-Haw now look like the works of John Ford. - Lee Pfeiffer For the list click here
UA executives once imagined a beauty contest built around David McCallum's death scene in The Great Escape.
On a recent broadcast of The Great Escape on Turner Classic Movies, host Robert Osborne informed the audience that the absence of women in the film was not originally intended. As all movie fans know, the film has one of the most testosterone-driven casts in history, headed by Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. Initially, United Artists executives felt that scenes should be filmed showing some of the women intermingling with German women at various points of their daring escape. However, director John Sturges vetoed the plan because the script was already too long. Some UA execs then put forth this idea: in the scene where David McCallum's character is shot to death at the train station, the dying man was to be cradled in the arms of a buxom woman who tries to comfort him. The sole reason for this was to have theater owners stage local contests for "Miss Prison Camp" beauties. The winner would have presumably had the bit role in the movie. Fortunately, Sturges vetoed that idea as well. We hear the same executives later suggested the Last Tango in Paris discounted matinees for children.
(For an interview with David McCallum about the making of The Great Escape, see Cinema Retro issue #8)
Film critic Stephen Whitty perceptively names the hand-to-hand battle in From Russia With Love between Bond and Red Grant (Robert Shaw) as the best fight scene in the series.
Newark Star Ledger film critic Stephen Whitty offers his choices for the best aspects of James Bond films in a number of key categories. Whitty knows his stuff: he credits Diana Rigg as the Best Bond Woman, John Barry's score for OHMSS as the best of the series and praises Timothy Dalton's work as severely under-rated. See if you agree by clicking here
Most people's perception of secret agent Matt Helm was derived from the four 1960s big screen feature films starring Dean Martin as a thinly-veiled Hugh Hefner, mixing sexual escapes, hi tech gadgets and puns that qualify as guilty pleasures. However, those films were always a thorn in the side of purists who were dedicated to the real Matt Helm, whose adventures they enjoyed in the pages of the novels written by Donald Hamilton, who passed away in 2006. Matt Helm: The Unofficial Homepage offers interesting insights and articles pertaining to the literary aspect of the Sixties superspy - and he's a far cry from Dino's interpretation. Hamilton created his hero as a serious persona who engaged in gritty espionage work with nary a Slaygirl in sight. To visit the site, click here.
Sean Connery takes in the action from the other side of the lens on location in Morocco for John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King in 1974. For Roger Ebert's 1975 interview with John Huston, click here
Clint Eastwood scholars already have a shelf-bending number of volumes in their collections and will want to add the latest temptation as well: Clint Eastwood: A Life in Pictures (Chronicle Books). This is an English language translation of a book originally printed in France. It is not so much written as compiled by Pierre-Henri Verlhac, who has amassed an impressive collection of intriguing photographs, all presented in deluxe, coffe-table book format. The bulk of the photos are candid and include some early career beefcake photos taken for fan magazines when Eastwood was starring in Rawhide.
It's rather amusing to see how Eastwood, the ultimate symbol of male heterosexuality, was coerced to follow the trends of the time to pose for photos that seem not so subliminally designed for gay audiences. We see shirtless Clint lifting weights and forced into making silly poses in photos that will be new to even the most ardent Eastwood collectors.There are also rare shots of Eastwood "relaxing" with his first wife Maggie at an amusement park and at home in their pool. There is photo representation of most of Eastwood's films, though some are relegated to only a single photo. The bulk of the content pertains to candid and behind-the-scenes shots, all reproduced in top notch quality. Anyone wishing to learn new insights into Eastwood's career will not find them here, though there is an enjoyable biographical essay by Peter Bogdanovich that includes comments from a 2005 interview he conducted with the legendary star. (Curiously, Bogdanovich- who is known as one of the industry's top film scholars- lumps the spy thriller
The Eiger Sanction in with Eastwood's war movies!) The lack of text should not disappoint - that why the book is called A Life in Pictures.This is not a feast for the mind, but for the eye - and as such, deserves a place in any Eastwood collection.
The TV Party web site has a great chronology of John Wayne's appearances on TV from the 1950s through the 1960s including clips of him clowning on The Dean Martin Show, appearing in sketches with Lucille Ball and someo of the promos he did to raise funds to fight cancer. It's a gold mine for fans of the Duke. To view the articles and clips, click here
Ken Adam's design for the Atlantis set in The Spy Who Loved Me.
Steve Rose of the The Guardian offers a unique perspective on the James Bond films, giving insights into the impact of the architectural designs found in the series. Rose says the buildings seen in Quantum Of Solace qualify as the most impressive architecture in any of the films. Click here to read
The Magnificent Seven is among the MGM films you can now watch on Youtube.
MGM has entered an agreement with Youtube to allow the web site to begin broadcasting full length films from the studio. They will be uncut but a side panel of advertisements will be visible to viewers. For more click here
Writer (and Cinema Retro supporter) Matt Link takes you on an armchair tour of James Bond's top travel destinations on the Concierge.com web site. Matt is a world traveler and shares some interesting tips on how to live like Bond (assuming you have his expense account!) Click here to view
Italian 45 rpm of Dionne Warwick's hit single of the theme from Valley of the Dolls. American releases were more prudish at the time and would not have allowed this image of Sharon Tate, clad provocatively in a bra, about to engage in a bout of drug abuse.
The thing we miss about vinyl LPs and 45 rpm soundtrack records is the fact that they were often graced by terrific cover images, usually photos or unique artwork from the film. As every country put out its own version of each record, cover images varied widely. We've uncovered a fun site that pays tribute to the great old soundtrack sleeves of yesteryear. To view click here
We love looking through old pressbooks that studios would send to movie theaters with innovative suggestions about how to publicize specific motion pictures. We came across a bizarre one relating to John Huston's 1960 western The Unforgiven starring Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn. Given the fact that the film was an adult drama centering on racism, repressed inter-family sexual relations and a violent Indian assault on a family trapped in their cabin, we can't think of any other subject more appropriate for a kid's coloring contest! "Hey kids, choose sides then help color in the slaughter! Make sure you have a sturdy red Crayola handy!"
In 1979, the Mego toy company licensed the rights to produce items based on the new James Bond movie Moonraker. Although the film was a huge hit, the Mego line of tie-ins was haphazardly marketed. The most common item was the 12" action figure of Roger Moore in a space suit. However, figures based on Michael Lonsdale as Drax, Lois Chiles as Holly Goodhead and Richard Kiel as Jaws were poorly distributed and quickly escalated in value, with the Jaws figure now selling for a small fortune on the collector's circuit. Additionally, Mego created a deluxe version of the Bond astronaut doll that can now pull in up to $1,000.
The Mego Museum website, dedicated to the history of the toy company, also shows us fascinating prototypes of designs for Moonraker items that never went into production despite being illustrated in their catalog. To view, click here.
Here's one fans of Clint Eastwood's Kelly's Heroes won't be able to live without. Artist Dave Avenell has created a commemorative print of Donald Sutherland as Oddball. Get it if you want to minimize the negative waves in your life. Avenell also has some other cool pieces of concept art based on popular films. For more click here
Writer David Cairns extolls the virtues of Billy Wilder's ill-fated, but remarkably entertaining The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by focusing on a very brief, but memorable sequence that most viewers would overlook. The master detective would have been proud! To view click here
Author and Ian Fleming biographer Andrew Lycett offers a highly entertaining look at the books, newspapers and other literary influences favored by the creator of James Bond. Specifically, Fleming had a fondness for the Times Literary Supplement, finding it far superior to "the
mushy infant food of the American newspapers and magazines that had been my
daily fare since arriving in America." To read the article click the image below
We've all been in the presence of those snooty, ascot-wearing, pseudo-intellectuals who are always compelled to tell you that the book was better than the movie. However, in some cases, the book actually is better than the movie. Entertainment Weekly takes a look at some of the more notable examples. Click here to read.
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, circa early 1960s. In an industry in which most marriage licenses come with expiration dates, theirs was the exception - having lasted more than half-a-century. The Newmans' real life love store eclipsed any fictional romances they appeared in.
Documentary photographer George Zimbel was in the
right place at the right time the night a subway vent and a white dress
conspired to immortalize Marilyn Monroe’s considerable physical
By Dean Brierly
Marilyn in classic mode in Zimbel's photo titled "The Flower" (Photo copyright George Zimbel. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission)
When Marilyn Monroe stood atop a New York City subway
grating—her white dress billowing above her waist as co-star Tom Ewell looked on
with lecherous intent in director Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year
Itch—she was already established as the era’s most potent sex
symbol. But the film, and the subway imagery in particular, forever enshrined
her as the screen’s quintessential love
goddess.The scene was originally filmed during the early morning
hours of September 15, 1954, at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street.
Heavily publicized beforehand, it attracted a thousand or more spectators like
iron filings to a magnet. Also on hand were Monroe’s husband, Joe Dimaggio,
scores of photographers, and a sizeable contingent of New York’s finest called
in to maintain order. Under Wilder’s relaxed but firm direction, the lead actors
undertook repeated takes exiting the famous Trans-Lux Theater and exchanging
flirtatious banter until the magic moment when Monroe’s dress is blown
heavenward, revealing her million dollar legs and—scandalously for the era—white
underpants.The scene’s repercussions were immediate and enduring. The
combination of Monroe’s exhibitionism and the crowd’s loudly libidinous response
resulted in reams of publicity for the film, helping to make it the biggest box
office hit of 1955. But it also spelled the end of Monroe’s brief marriage to
Dimaggio, who was more than unhappy at what he perceived as a public
transgression of the bounds of decency and decorum. The scene was eventually
re-shot under controlled studio conditions (ostensibly because crowd noise
rendered the location footage unusable) and toned down, with Monroe’s dress
never rising much above her knees. However, the overtly sexual nature of the
original shoot lived on in the film’s promotional ads and in photos reproduced
around the world.
Among the photographers gathered to record the
history-making scene was a 25-year-old stringer for the PIX photo agency named
George Zimbel. Although not a particular fan of Monroe, Wilder or the ensuing
film, he jumped at the chance to cover the event. His memories of that night
remain undimmed by the intervening decades. Zimbel was especially struck by the
charged atmosphere generated by the crowd’s anticipation, even though he was
under no illusions about the underlying reason for the shoot. “I hate the term
‘photo-op,’ but this was certainly the most important photo-op ever staged,
notwithstanding George W. Bush landing on a battleship,” he says.
But such considerations vanished when Monroe arrived
round about midnight in that famous white dress. (A dress that Zimbel says did
“wondrous things as she moved.”) Initially, Wilder ran Monroe through a number
of warm-up poses over the grating until he was satisfied she had the physical
aspects of the scene nailed. It was during these warm-ups that the 20 or so
photographers (among them Garry Winogrand and Elliott Erwitt) were allowed to
take pictures. Monroe played to the onlookers as much as the cameras, and Zimbel
recalls their shocked delight each time her dress flew up and revealed more of
her than the public was used to seeing.
Marilyn and Billy Wilder (Photo copyright George Zimbel. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission)
Though they came early in his career, Zimbel’s images
of the event already demonstrated his hallmark combination of cinematic flair
and emotional depth. Referring to these dual (but not incompatible) impulses,
Zimbel says, “It is the way I see. I have the greatest respect for filmmakers.
They are magical image-makers. I am not magic. I try to be real.”
Zimbel’s photographs (particularly the sequence on page 85)
graphically celebrate Monroe’s indelible physical charms while also revealing
additional contextual layers—her joy in performance, her awareness of being
sexually commodified, and her complicity in and control of that process. Even
after getting kicked off the set for photographing during a take, Zimbel
continued to make evocative images from behind the police line. His astute use
of a silhouetted foreground figure in “Serious Marilyn” subverts the actress’
public image by suggesting the vulnerability and isolation that often dominated
her off-screen life.
Born in Woburn, Massachusetts in 1929, Zimbel began
his photographic career at 14, was published in Life
magazine at 19, and joined PIX at 20. He also studied that year at the New York
Photo League with John Ebstel, who proved to be a pivotal early influence.
“Ebstel let the honest man out of me photographically, and that man is
compassionate and respectful of his subjects, a hallmark of the Photo League
philosophy,” Zimbel says. “Respect is not a valuable commodity these days,
exploitation is more popular, but that is who I am.”
The Monroe series represents but one chapter in a
career inclusive of numerous photo essays for major publications and
corporations; solo exhibitions in the United States, Canada and Spain; life
membership in ASMP; and induction into the Royal Canadian Academy of Art. Now
79, Zimbel and his wife Elaine live in Montreal, Quebec. He still feels a
connection to the images he made on Lexington Avenue back in 1954, and has no
regrets about not trying to capitalize on them at the time. “They are now in
nine major museum collections and have been in many exhibitions as well as
private collections,” he says. “That makes me
This article previously appeared in the September 2008 issue of
Black and White magazine. For purchase information on
Zimbel’s Monroe pictures, contact John Cleary Gallery, Houston, TX. Phone:
713-524-5070; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sir Roger Moore amidst the fleet of Bond vehicles. (Photo copyright 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. All rights reserved.)
On October 17, Sir Roger Moore was flown by helicopter to Bletchley Park, the famed British mansion enshrined in history as the spy HQ where the German code was broken during WWII. Sir Roger's mission: to meet with press from around the world to promote the new release of Fox's Blu-ray editions of Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Die Another Day, For Your Eyes Only, Live and Let Die and Thunderball. Cinema Retro publishers Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer were also hired by Fox to meet with the press and share their knowledge of Bond lore with international TV stations. Adding to the fun was the display of classic Aston Martins and other vehicles brought by Peter Nelson, owner of the Cars of the Stars Museum. The press sessions lasted for hours and featured appearances by some of real espionage heroes : the surviving code breakers.
The mansion at Bletchley Park that housed top secret British Intelligence operations in WWII. Note the Bond vehicles from the Cars of the Stars Museum. (Photo copyright 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. All rights reserved.)
Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer (left) and Dave Worrall among the extensive Bond decorations. (Photo copyright Cinema Retro)
Live and Let Ride on a vintage wetbike a la The Spy Who Loved Me. (Photo copyright 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. All rights reserved.)
Cinema Retro contributing writer Tom Santopietro has a terrific new book out about the film career of Frank Sinatra, an aspect of the Chairman's life that is generally glossed over in other biographies. ABC News film critic Bill Diehl has an insightful interview with Tom. To listen click here
Here's what Kirkus reviews has to say:
The king of the saloon singers was a top-notch actor when he cared to
be. So argues Santopietro (Considering Doris Day, 2007, etc.), who
proves an ideal guide to Ol' Blue Eyes' spotty career as a screen
actor. Combining a fan's ardor and enthusiasm with keen critical
insight, he convincingly makes the case for Sinatra as a major acting
talent while taking the famously mercurial entertainer to task for
wasting his prodigious gifts on frivolous projects. In conversational
prose, Santopietro covers Sinatra's family life, romances and recording
career as they relate to his picture making, demonstrating an
encyclopedic knowledge of every theatrical and television film's
production details. The author analyzes each movie, often
scene-by-scene, wittily explaining what works, what doesn't and why.
Clunkers like The Kissing Bandit receive the same close attention as
triumphs like On the Town and The Man with the Golden Arm, the better
to fully explicate the evolution of Sinatra's craft and attitude toward
the medium. Santopietro is engagingly thoughtful about the sources of
the Sinatra mystique. He draws intriguing parallels between the
singer's storied insistence on "one take" and his neurotic drive to
banish boredom and loneliness. The author relates Sinatra's
distinctively snappy way with a line of dialogue to his masterly
phrasing of lyrics as a singer. Readers less inclined to this sort of
Actors Studio musing will content themselves with irresistible gossip
about Sinatra and various Hollywood legends, plus an authoritative
accounts of the glory days of the MGM musicals that cemented Sinatra's
screen stardom. Film buffs will find much to savor as well. The section
on The Manchurian Candidate, for example, illuminates the greatness of
that strange film and of Sinatra's performance. The Rat Pack, the
Mafia, the washouts and comebacks every aspect of the legend is
intelligently addressed, but Santopietro's interest is in Sinatra's
work. In the final analysis, that's what fascinates.A terrifically
lucid and entertaining look at an undervalued area of Sinatra's
TO ORDER THE BOOK DISCOUNTED FROM AMAZON CLICK HERE
The British-based James Bond magazine MI6 Declassified reveals that a key sequence intended for Quantum Of Solace was cut at the last minute. Here are details:
"Director Marc Forster recently revealed that he cut the final scene from the new James Bond film "Quantum of Solace".
MI6 Declassified magazine has exclusive detail on what was left on the cutting room floor. In the latest issue, the magazine reveals Mr White's ultimate fate and the identity of his superior.
Mentioned in the film as one of the Prime Minister's closest advisors, Guy Haines is also a senior member of the shadowy oganisation 'Quantum'. 007 discovers his presence during the Tosca opera scene where Dominic Greene holds a meeting of Quantum members.
The movie was originally intended to end with a one-minute sequence where 007 introduces himself to Mr Haines at his estate, setting up the next movie. The gun-barrel sequence, uniquely positioned at the end of "Quantum of Solace", would have appeared after Bond dispatches Mr White for good.
Shot over one day on location in London on April 14th 2008, MI6 Declassified scored a still from the cut scene. It can be found on page 6 of issue #4 - now available to order from www.mi6magazine.com"
Writer Mike Feeney of Boston.com takes a look back at The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and celebrates the coolest spy show of the 1960s- as well as provides some top-secret facts. (Did you know David McCallum received more fan mail than any star in MGM history?) To read click here
Click here to order the complete U.N.C.L.E. DVD collection from Amazon
The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, one of the most requested entries from Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, is coming to DVD on November 11 as a limited edition collector's set. The 1964 three-episode series starred Patrick McGoohan as Dr. Syn, a benevolent parson in 18th century England who moonlights as a notorious smuggler who divides his proceeds among the poor while simultaneously dressed incognito as his alter-ego, The Scarecrow. The show has never been released on home video, though a version of the feature film derived from the three episodes was available on VHS many years ago and today commands sky-high prices on the collector's market. Disney's 2 DVD set is pure joy for fans of the outstanding series. It contains remastered widescreen versions of the three episodes, Walt Disney's original introductions (including unseen versions in widescreen) , the feature film derived from the episodes and a new documentary that includes an interview with Patrick McGoohan. Not to be missed!
We love director Joe Dante's funky retro site Trailers from Hell which features prominent filmmakers commenting on their favorite old movie trailers. Here, Joe introduces the Universal monsters flick The Ghost of Frankenstein starring Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney. Click here to view
Best-selling novelist Michael Crichton has died at age 66 from cancer. The multi-talented Crichton was also a successful screenwriter and director who adapted several of his novels to the screen, including The Andromeda Strain, Rising Sun, and The Great Train Robbery. Steven Spielberg directed the screen version of Crichton's Jurassic Park in 1993 and turned it into a box-office triumph that spawned sequels. Crichton also created the hit TV series ER. For more click here
To commemorate the DVD release of The Wild, Wild West 27 disc mega collector's set, actor Robert Conrad reflects on his years playing the 19th century's version of James Bond. To read about his experiences on the show as well as what he's been up to lately, click here.
Planet of the Apes fans will want to check out several
new videos available on the www.PotaMediaArchive.com site. They
include ‘Roddy McDowall’s Home Movies’ taken behind the scenes during the
filming of PLANET; the ‘Original Screen Test’ from 1965 with Edward G. Robinson
as Dr. Zaius and the Beneath preview film for the National Associations of
Theater Owners. The ‘Beneath NATO film’ features extended versions of several
scenes such as General Ursus’ speech and the Turkish bath scene. To view all the
videos click here: http://www.potamediaarchive.com/Videos.htm
The outstanding British retro web site www.zani.co.uk has some excellent essays about films of the 1960s. Check out Spencer Hawken's review of the 1962 "kitchen sink" drama The L-Shaped Room starring Leslie Caron as a down-and-out-young woman trying to survive in London amidst a social circle of fellow misfits. The film caused a sensation in its day with its candid views of sexuality. To read click here
In case you've been lying awake sleepless at night pondering whatever happened to the bus Clint Eastwood drove in his 1977 film The Gauntlet, you can now put your mind to rest. The bus has had a history that is far more interesting than the movie it appeared in (arguably the worst of Eastwood's career, though The Rookie might also be worthy of the dubious honor). In the film's most absurd sequence, Eastwood, playing a renegade cop, drives the bus through a gauntlet of heavily armed police offers who pour thousands of rounds of ammo into it. Eastwood and Sandra Locke emerge unscathed due to a Rube Goldberg-like home made armour protection system he has installed. The film never explains why intelligent police officers would shoot through the bus with every epectation that rounds would kill their fellow officers on the other side. Nevertheless, we digress. The bus had been purchased by a couple who spent over $60,000 repairing it and taking out the bullet holes so they could use it as a recreational vehicle. They have now doated it to the Salvation Army, which in turn auctioned it to another man for $10,000. He intends to use it as an RV and also as a guest home named Gauntlet's Ghost. (We don't envy the tenants who have to rely on one of those dreadful bus toilets in which to relieve themselves!)
Hunky Robert Wagner in the 1960 film All the Fine Young Cannibals (hey, remember that short-lived rock band from the 1980s that took their name from this title?). Lovely Susan Kohner tries to keep her mind on business.