The New York Times reports that the era of watching your favorite TV series for free on your computer may be coming to an end. Cable TV services have been hit hard by the recession and the movement of young people away from TV to on-line entertainment. Instead of giving away shows for free, cable TV stations are approaching networks to create a scenario wherein the only people allowed to watch series for free on their computers will be those who have a subscription to a cable TV service. For more click here
Lee Pfeiffer reports on Cinema Retro's fourth and final day at the festival.
Although the film festival was to conclude the following day with widescreen showings of The Electric Horseman and Year of the Dragon, this would be the last day Dave Worrall and I could attend. As such, we had to devote a good deal of time to business meetings and schmoozing with friends and colleagues. However, in the morning we attended Cineramacana, a fun potpourri of weird short films, odd reels and (inexplicably) a trailer for Yentl which only serves to remind us that middle-aged Barbra Streisand posing as a teenage boy was the least convincing casting since Duke Wayne played Ghengis Khan in The Conqueror. Oy vey! Couldn't someone have stopped this ludicrous vanity piece from going into production? This segment of the festival also presented a lovely nature film sans narration that was produced on a budget of fifty pounds! That's probably what gets budgeted every day on Brad Pitt's hair mousse. There was also a bizarre but oddly hypnotic film that was comprised entirely of every page of various international editions of the Bible photographed at high speed and projected over the course of four minutes. (And you thought you had a lot of extra time on your hands!)
Following the Cineramacana event, audience members were invited to participate in the annual ritual of posing for a group photo. (Photo: www.in70mm.com)
This was followed by the museum's artistic director Tony Earnshaw's outstanding tribute to Richard Burton. Titled Lion of the Welsh, Earnshaw gave a highly personalized overview of the great actor's life, confessing he was his boyhood idol since seeing him in The Wild Geese. Earnshaw did not stint on criticizing Burton for often trashing his own talent in search of a fast paycheck and the next drink, but also reminded us of the incredible work he did on screen and on stage. As Earnshaw pointed out, Burton was only 58 years-old when he died and was doing fine work again, as evidenced by his final performance in 1984. That the Academy never recognized his talents with an Oscar remains a blight on Hollywood history. Earnshaw's tribute was followed by a 70mm screening of Becket, but this proved a disappointment because the only print available (from the Czech Republic) was mostly red and devoid of color. This didn't compromise the outstanding dialogue and performances, but - having seen the fully restored 35mm version in New York last year- it was too painful to see the film's deteroriated 70mm version and we opted to leave early. We didn't attend the screening of Carousel, but the latter got high marks from those who did see the restored print in its original CinemaScope 55 format.
Tony Earnshaw's tribute to Richard Burton (Photo: www.in70mm.com)
Film historian Tom March generously sponsored the screening of Khartoum. (Photo: www.in70mm.com)
We returned in the evening for the screening of Khartoum, one of the great underrated epics of the 1960s. Fortunately, this was a magnificent, fully restored print. As I had only seen it on the "big screen" at a drive-in theater as a kid (on a double bill with the hillbilly hit Forty Acre Feud!), I was especially thrilled to view it under these conditions. Prior to the screening, I had given projectionist Duncan McGregor a rare original production featurette that no one seemed to have seen before. It detailed the horse stunts done in the film. Duncan opted to project it on the big screen and it made for an interesting feature prior to the main event. The screening of Khartoum was sponsored by film historian Tom March, who earned kudos from one and all for his generosity. The print itself was terrific, even if the studio placed the intermission in the wrong place! The film holds up very well indeed, and I believe this to be Charlton Heston's finest work on screen. For us, it was a fitting end to a wonderful weekend - one filled with more laughs than most people probably experience in a year. As for Bradford and Cinema Retro - well, as someone once said, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." We'll be back next year- and we hope many of you will join us.
A DVD was recently released of Jarre conducting his scores for the films of David Lean.
By Lee Pfeiffer
One of the few remaining symbols of the golden age of film scores has passed away. Maurice Jarre has died at his California home. He was 84. Jarre was a three-time Oscar winner for his scores for director David Lean's films Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia and A Passage to India. Indeed, the scores for Zhivago and Lawrence are among the most recognizable film compositions in history. Jarre won acclaim for his other great scores including Grand Prix, The Train, The Longest Day, Villa Rides, 5 Card Stud, The Damned, The Man Who Would Be King and Witness. He also composed the score for Lean's ill-fated epic love story Ryan's Daughter. Although the film was not a success, Jarre reaped acclaim for his work. In 1966, he composed his first score for a western for director Richard Brooks' The Professionals and emerged with one of the most exciting film compositions of 60s cinema. In February, Jarre- who was also an accomplished conductor in the theater - accepted a lifetime achievement award at The Berlin Film Festival.
Click here to read review of the Maurice Jarre DVD of David Lean scores
If you wonder why there is a current sexual craze over middle-aged women, wonder no more...check out this photo of 43 year-old Cindy Crawford lathering up in the April issue of Allure magazine. This issue is sure to make the magazine's circulation rise...along with certain other things. For more click here
Cinema Retro columnist Tom Lisanti has paired with actress Gail Gerber to write her fascinating autobiography that details her experiences in Hollywood as a young starlet in the 1960s as well as her career as a writer and Terry Southern's longtime companion. The book, Trippin' With Terry Southern, is due out in June. Here is an excerpt:
summer of 1964.I had been living in California
for almost a year now and still felt like a fish out of water.Growing up in Canada where I studied ballet
from the time I was a small child, Los Angeles was mystifying to me with its
palm trees, bright sunlight forever contrasting with the deep shade, and its
superficial inhabitants.But I readily
admit I was sort of a snob myself and didn’t know much about the actors or
directors I came in contact with. Petite blondes like Sandra Dee were the
reigning young actresses of the time but I couldn’t tell a Sandra Dee from a
Tuesday Weld from a Connie Stevens.They
were all one big yellow-haired blur to me.And forget about pop music—the minute The Beach Boys or Connie Francis
would come on the radio I’d reach for the dial in a mad rush so as not to hear
their insipid songs.The dance and jazz
worlds were where my interests and background lay.
in town with my unwarranted bias and without knowing a soul, I had done pretty
well for myself, or so I thought, in a short period of time.I had a leading role in a play, two featured
movie roles albeit in teenage B-movies, and had done a few guest TV shots.I knew it wasn’t solely my acting talent that
was landing me roles.I was a pretty
blonde with a shapely figure that looked good in a bikini and wasn’t afraid to
show it off, which helped me tremendously.It didn’t bother me in the bit, unlike actresses who I regularly came in
contact with, that wanted to be known for their talent rather than their looks.
August 1964 I found myself back on the MGM lot, after working there previously
in the Elvis Presley musical Girl Happy,
auditioning for a cameo role as an airport information girl in a big major
production.I was very excited.The movie was The Loved One based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh and directed by
Tony Richardson who was the hot
director at this time.Part of that
British “New Wave” of directors in the late Fifties, Richardson directed such
well-received movies as Look Back in
Anger (1958), A Taste of Honey
(1961), The Loneliness of the Long
Distance Runner (1962) and the hit bawdy comedy Tom Jones (1963).The Loved One was his second U.S.
interviewed with associate producer Neil Hartley, the boyfriend of Richardson
who was bi-sexual though married to actress Vanessa Redgrave since 1962.Folks in Hollywood used to joke that Tony
only wed Vanessa because he could fit into her clothes.It seemed that every aspiring young actress
auditioned for the part but they gave it to platinum blonde bombshell Jayne
Mansfield whose career was on the down slope.This didn’t help as her scene was left on the cutting room floor and
didn’t make it into the final print.As
a sort of consolation for not getting that role, I was hired to appear as one
of the decorative background cosmeticians working at the funeral parlor with
the film’s leading lady, Anjanette Comer. Little did I know that this would forever
change my life.
The Loved One
starred Robert Morse, who looked adorable with his shaggy Beatles haircut, as
the young British poet named Dennis Barlow newly arrived in Hollywood to visit his
upper crust uncle (John Gielgud) who shortly thereafter commits suicide when he
is unceremoniously fired from the movie studio he has worked at for over thirty
years.Barlow then is given the
responsibility of the burial arrangements and is led by his uncle’s pompous
friend (Robert Morley) to the ornate Whispering Glades funeral parlor foundered
by the Blessed Reverned Glenworthy (Jonanthan Winters).He falls in love with one of the cosmeticians
named Aimee Thanatogenos (Comer) a strange girl who fantasizes about death and
lives in a condemned house on stilts in the Hollywood Hills.But their blossoming romance is complicated
by head embalmer Mr. Joyboy (Rod Steiger), a rival for the charms of Miss
Thanatogenous and Barlow’s humiliating job at a pet cemetery, which he tries to
keep a secret. When all the men in Aimee’s life let her down—Barlow’s
occupation is revealed, Joyboy deserts her, Glenworthy proves to be a lecherous
phony, and the Guru Brahmin (Lionel Stander), whom she writes to for advice
turns out to be a drunkard—she commits suicide by embalming herself.
number of actors make cameo appearances including James Coburn as a customs
inspector, Tab Hunter as a tour guide, Roddy McDowall as a movie studio
executive, Liberace as a coffin salesman, and most hilariously Milton Berle and
Margaret Leighton as a battling Beverly Hills couple whose dog has died.
scenes were set at Whispering Glades Funeral Parlor, which took weeks to shoot,
and were filmed on location in the extensive gardens and interiors of a lavish
estate called Greystone located on Sunset Boulevard.It was the former residence of
multimillionaire Edward Laurence Doheny II.I worked mainly with Anjanette Comer, Rod Steiger, and Pamela
Curran.Anjanette never spoke to me or
any of the other girls playing small roles.Since she had the leading role, I think she thought we were beneath her
and not worth her time. She was also busy learning her lines.
remember hanging around doing nothing my first day on the set.On the second day it seemed it was going to
be a repeat of the day before.I was
sitting around earning more money than I ever did as a ballet dancer so I
really couldn’t complain.There was a
whole bunch of us getting paid just to show up.I was all decked out in the same costume as Anjanette, a tight
form-fitting white dress with a matching veil, but with absolutely nothing to
do but to just sit there and wait in the hot August sun.I spotted a nice shady chair in a quiet spot
and made a beeline for it, thinking I could pass the time over there.A crew guy saw my lightning move and said,
“That one’s a dancer.”Terry Southern overheard
and saw me.He came over and introduced
himself as the film’s screenwriter.He
was very slim at this time and was wearing his trademark dark sunglasses with a
cup of coffee in one hand and his script in the other.I thought, “Oh, great. Another old guy is
hitting on me.”
Wayne rehearses in the presence of John Ford, a visitor to the film set.
Famed film historian and preservationist Robert A. Harris has publicly announced his ambitious plans to restore John Wayne's The Alamo to its original glory. The task will not be an easy one, as the original film materials have deteriorated drastically. Over $1,000,000 needs to be raised for the drive, with private donors being offered the opportunity to receive screen credit on the restored print. The goal is to have the project completed in time for a 2010 "re-premiere" in San Antonio. The full story appears on the Digital Bits web site. To read, click here
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert says he is ruling out any future surgeries to try to restore his voice, which had been lost as a result of a previous surgical procedure. Ebert says three prior attempts to restore his ability to speak almost resulted in his death and that he intends to quit while he is ahead. For more click here
Lee Pfeiffer reports on the Bradford International Film Festival -Day 3
Today's events began at 10:00 AM with a crowd gathering in the Pictureville Cinema for Cinerama Ventures, a festival of documentaries hosted by Dave Strohmaier and Randy Gitsch, producers of the acclaimed documentary Cinerama Adventure. The presentation included new featurettes about the making of How the West Was Won that were frustratingly dropped from the recent deluxe DVD release. One documentary looked at the film's return engagement in the 1990s at the Arclight Hollywood Cinerama Theatre and featured moving interviews with attendees who spoke about how much the film meant to them. Another fascinating documentary centered on the film's legendary run at the small Neon Theatre in Dayton, Ohio. The theater was specially fixed to conform with Cinerama projection standards and How the West Was Won was intended to run for a matter of weeks...instead it ran for years, as fans descended on the theater from all over the world. The documentary centered on the efforts of projectionist John Harvey who personally ran every performance of the movie at the theater during its run. In doing so, Harvey - who had also reconstructed a Cinerama print from diverse reels from various sources - managed to perform duties that originally required five men to handle the complex Cinerama projection system. The documentary was funny, informal and, in the end, very touching as it examined how one man's dream of keeping Cinerama alive has paid dividends in the ensuing years. There was also a terrific documentary in which Cinerama fan Tom March visited the main locations of How the West Was Won and photographed them as they are today. The images were brilliantly overlayed on film clips from the original movie. Sadly, Warner Home Video did not include this featurette on the recent DVD release.
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Dave Strohmaier introduces various short films pertaining to Cinerama. (Photo: www.in70mm.com)
A true highlight of the morning's presentations was the surprise unveiling by Dave and Randy of a reel of film from the long-missing feature Russian Adventure. The film was a bizarre attempt by the Soviets to emulate the American 3-strip Cinerama process. It was ultimately released in the USA in 1966 with narration by Bing Crosby! Perhaps due to Cold War tensions at the time, not even Der Bingle could persuade audiences to attend the showings and the film ultimately lost more than $15 million. It was thought to be missing for decades but, acting on a tip, Dave Strohmaier found the complete feature stored in a trailer in Los Angeles. As he prepared to remove it, a local artist challenged him, saying he had permission to spray paint the reels and dangle them from the ceiling of his art exhibition. Using innovative Sherlockian thinking, Dave said that the film represented a "Hazmat" situation because the stock was highly flammable and that the artist was risking interfering with public safety. Humiliated and chastized, the artist stood silently as Dave loaded the last known print of this film into a pickup truck, thus ensuring it's preserved for future generations. Seeing the sample reel was a treat for all in the audience. Forget the fact that the travelogue was little more than a ludicrous Soviet propaganda film that implied the average Russian was living it up by taking drives in the country in their sports cars. (Both sports cars in the country were probably requisitioned for this film.) It offered a fascinating time capsule of a bygone era - and left the audience hungry for more. Dave and Randy are looking into what the next steps will be in terms of preserving and exhibiting the print, which has suffered from the dreaded "vinegar syndrome" that ultimately destroys film.
The curtains draw closed on the magnificent digital presentation of How the West Was Won on the giant Cinerama screen. (Photo: www.in70mm.com)
Following this presentation, came the main event: the big screen premiere of Warner Brothers' new digitally remastered version of How the West Was Won. This was the same master that was used for the recent DVD release. The film had to be especially formatted on the Cinerama screen because the dimensions didn't exactly conform. However, miracle worker projectionist Duncan McGregor managed this feat with a bare minimal amount of cropping. As the famed overture of Alfred Newman's magnificent score resonated through the audience, the anticipation built steadily. When the curtains parted, the MGM lion roared as the famous main title theme thundered through the theater. The digital version was stunning - and benefited from the fact that the "join lines" had been painstakingly eliminated. I found this was a welcome development, though Cinerama purists might argue that anything other than the original presentation is a bastardization. However, if there were complaints from the audience, they were not obvious. Everyone was thrilled to see the film looking better than ever. Kudos to Warner Home Video for making the substantial investment in preserving an American classic. From an artistic standpoint, this is brilliant filmmaking - taking a sweeping, epic tale and personalizing it through the eyes of the members of one family. I was also reminded of how diminished today's star system is. With 24 Hollywood legends in How the West Was Won, one can only ponder how a remake of the film could feature even a fraction of such personalities. Adam Sandler would probably be cast as General Grant.
The fishbowl effect on the projection booth of the Pictureville Theatre allows attendees to see the crew at work. (Photo: Lee Pfeiffer/Cinema Retro)
The next main event was an afternoon presentation of Fox's 1966 epic The Bible...In the Beginning. I have only seen bits and pieces of the film over the years and was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to view the recently restored print. However, it was explained that - unbelievably- Fox made a poor print from the restored elements and oversaturated the Adam and Eve opening sequence, which was considered quite erotic in its day. It was hoped that a corrected print had been sent, but after a few minutes, it became obvious that Fox had sent the problematic print. Indeed, the magnificent cinematography in this opening reel made it look like you were glimpsing images in an inkwell, with every nighttime sequence virtually indistinguishable. There were other problems, as well - namely, the quality of the movie itself. Although both Dave Worrall and I find the holy books that the major religions are based on to be as believable and inspiring as Dr. Seuss books, we were prepared to view the film objectively. After all, we have admiration for such religious-based films as Ben-Hur and The Greatest Story Ever Told. However, The Bible shapes up as a massive ego trip by John Huston, who directs, narrates (as the voice of God, no less) and stars as Noah. The film quickly lapses into ham-handed acting, laughable narration (with God talking to Adam like a schoolmaster chastising an unruly pupil) and cornball dialogue that would have been the envy of Ed Wood. I confess that I became very amused by the fact that there are people in this world who literally believe the cause of our woes is the fact that a guy and his girlfriend ate a golden apple offered to them by a serpent -and these are some of the same people who still complain that the old Batman TV series was too "over-the-top"! However, even the unintentional laughs generated by The Bible couldn't convince us to sit through more than the first half hour. Life itself is just too precious to have given another two hours to reviewing the film. As I wrote of The Silver Chalice, "You may not have been an atheist going into the theater, but you probably emerged as one."
The evening offered a well-received presentation of West Side Story, but by this point, our weary arses needed a break so it was off to dinner, the pub (for another late night) and looking forward to Sunday's highly-anticipated big screen showing of Khartoum.
(Click here to visit Dave Strohmaier's definitive Cinerama history web site)
A 20 page document that contained composer Bernard Hermann's original score for Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho failed to reach the reserve amount of $44,000 at a London auction. Hermann's string-based score is cited by film historians as being one of the eeriest aspects of Hitchcock's best-known chiller. For more click here
Legendary actor and director Richard Attenborough has been recovering in a British hospital for a fall he experienced last December. The repercussions of the accident found the Oscar-winner in a coma for a time, but he is now on the road to recovery and has vowed to fulfill his commitment to star in the historical film Ironclad later this year. For more click here
Cinema Retro publishers Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall attended the Bradford International Film Festival in Bradford, England last week. Here is Lee Pfeiffer's second report:
They don't make movies like Where Eagles Dare any more - in fact, they don't make movie POSTERS like the one for this film.
On our first full day of the Bradford International Film Festival, we learned there aren't many slouchers when it comes to maximizing the screenings of classic movies. The first screening was at 10:00 AM - and we had been up half the night socializing with other attendees at the pub of the Midland Hotel. Still, even the temptation of crawling back under the covers could not override the opportunity to see This is Cinerama presented on the big screen in its original three panel format. I had only seen one film in true Cinerama since I originally viewed How the West Was Won at age 6. That additional opportunity came in the late 1990s when I drove to Dayton, Ohio to see the same movie presented at the Neon Theater during it's extended run in Cinerama. There are precious few venues left in which to see this wonderful process and Bradford's National Media Museum's Pictureville Cinema provides one of the most inviting settings. A sizeable crowd enthusiastically awaited the introductory comments by Dave Strohmaier and Randy Gitsch, creators of the documentary Cinerama Adventure, itself a masterpiece of filmmaking. This is Cinerama was released in 1952 and was intended as a test film for the Cinerama format. There is no narrative storyline. Instead, the film is a disconnected series of thrill ride footage, travelogues and filmed stage presentations. The format still thrills, but it must have been a sensation when witnessed during its early premiere engagements, when audiences were primarily used to black and white TV shows as a primary means of entertainment. In fact, Cinerama was an attempt by the motion picture industry to fight off the perceived threat of television by providing audiences with the type of thrill they couldn't possibly experience in their living rooms. The film has a slapped-together look that is part of its charm. It opens with a prolonged, one-panel flat screen introduction by Lowell Thomas that is intentionally mundane so that when the screen expands to three panels and reveals the Coney Island rollercoast footage, the effect is thrilling. For a film dedicated to big screen action, there are some bizarre segments that are as dull as they are claustrophobic. For example, a seemingly endless sequence features nothing but a choir singing in a cathedral. Another segment features the spectacular finale of Aida in a mammoth stage production, but a snippet of the sequence would have sufficed. I confess that when I attended a production of the play in Rome as a college student, I couldn't last through the entire affair, as even the abundance of gyrating slave girls in skimpy outfits wears thin quickly. However, the second part of the film picks up considerably with extensive travelogue segments showing spectacular aerial views of natural wonders. In what might have been one of the first instances of product placement, most of the second half of the film is shot in Cypress Gardens, a Florida tourist attraction that features water-based stunt shows. The few attempts at humor featuring the performers are as corny as they are quaint. The movie was "directed" by Merian C. Cooper and Michael Todd, but it's really the cameramen who were the creative forces. The main interest in the film is as a historical curiosity, but it's a most welcome one - especially in three panel Cinerama.
Original Japanese souvenir program for This is Cinerama. (Photo: Cinema Retro archive)
The film was followed by a 70mm showing of Franco Zeffirelli's 1966 production of The Taming of the Shrew starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, along with a fine supporting cast including Michael Hordern and young Michael York. I had never seen this film, as I thought the emphasis on pure Shakespearean dialogue might be too heavy for a kid from Jersey City. However, I found it to be delightful and very entertaining - proof, once again, that not all of Liz and Dick's screen pairings were meaningless vanity pieces. Taylor's heaving bosom tests the limits of a wide screen and Burton is very amusing as her drunken suitor, determined to win the tempermental temptresses' hand - and her dowry. Unfortunately, the print was quite red - an indication of how studio's have allowed their libraries to deteriorate.
Festival programmer Thomas Hauerslev with Derren Nesbitt and chief projectionist Duncan McGregor. (Photo:www.in70mm.com)
Cinema Retro publishers Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall introduce Where Eagles Dare. (Photo: www.in70mm.com)
We returned in the evening for the festival's sell-out 70mm presentation of Where Eagles Dare. The only 70mm print known to exist was imported from Sweden, thus it contained Swedish sub-titles, though they did not prove to be too distracting. Fortunately, while the print was "warm", it had not turned as red as many feared. Cinema Retro sponsored this screening, and it was quite an honor to see the magazine's logo on the screen shot of sponsors that included Dolby and Eon Productions. Prior to the screening, the museum's Artistic Director Tony Earnshaw had an on-stage interview with actor Derren Nesbitt, who portrayed the villain Major Von Hapen in the film. Nesbitt, a distringuished actor of stage and screen, brought the house down with hilarious anecdotes about making the film, praising director Brian G. Hutton and co-stars Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. He also related amusing stories about the less-than-pleasant circumstances involving the filming of The Naked Runner, though he had nothing but good things to say about star Frank Sinatra. Charmingly self-deprecating, Nesbitt kept the audience in stitches.
(Photo: Jim Moran)
Following Nesbitt's appearance, Dave Worrall and I introduced the film and gave some background on the strange career of Brian G. Hutton, who retired from show business at the height of his success to pursue real estate investments. We also showed some samples of Retro's forthcoming special edition tribute to Where Eagles Dare. I had never seen the film on the big screen, a rarity for me in terms of Clint Eastwood's early movies. Seeing it in 70mm with a magnificent soundtrack was quite a thrill. The movie also contained the original intermission, which was not included on general release prints in America. The degree of fanaticism among movie fans for this film is extraordinary. Some attendees told me they had flown in from other countries primarily to see Where Eagles Dare. Suffice it to say, you haven't lived until you've seen it on the big screen.
The post-screening celebration of Where Eagles Dare continued back at the Midland Hotel. (L to R: Dave Worrall, Neil Thompson, a contributor to Retro's special edition tribute to the film, actor Derren Nesbitt, author Sheldon Hall and Lee Pfeiffer). (Photo: Cinema Retro).
At the end of the evening, many of the attendees followed what would be the nightly ritual of returning to the pub at the Midland Hotel. Everyone was pumped to talk about the events of the day and the evening only became more enjoyable when I ran into Darren Nesbitt and his charming wife at the bar and they enthusiastically joined our party. He regaled us with hilarious stories about his long career in show business and gave us candid assessments of the legends he worked with. (He loved Sinatra, deplored Patrick McGoohan with whom he had co-starred as #2 in an episode of The Prisoner.) Finally, the day's activities and ample ingestions of lager took their toll and the party broke up shortly before 3:00 AM. We all needed our strength for round three the following day.
(For festival organizer Thomas Hauerslev's report, visit his site www.in70mm.com)
The Hollywood Reporter has unveiled news that will certainly get this middle-aged arse into a theater seat...MGM has picked up the rights to the Farrelly Brothers' long-planned big screen feature based on The Three Stooges. Sean Penn has committed to play Larry Fine and Jim Carrey is expected to sign to play Curly. It's rumored that Benecio del Toro is being wooed to play Moe. (We're not making this up, folks). After all, del Toro just got his comedy street cred by playing that other pop culture laugh riot, Che Guevara. The pic has bounced for years from Columbia to Warners before MGM picked up the property. It's expected to go into production this fall. The movie won't be a biopic, but a slapstick comedy updated to the present day. This is a perilous road the participants are following, given how beloved The Stooges remain, especially with American audiences. No truth to the rumor that James Earl Jones is being pursued to play Shemp. To read more click here
Cinema Retro publishers Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall attended the Bradford International Film Festival in Bradford, England last week. Here is Lee Pfeiffer's first report:
For many years, we had heard about the exciting events that take place at the annual Bradford International Film Festival. The festival is held at the National Media Museum, which is a state-of-the-art showcase for the history of British film, TV, photography and new media. Over the last fifteen years, the festival has hosted world premieres, classic film screenings and internationally acclaimed interview sessions with actors and filmmakers. Although the festival has proven to be a popular attraction, Bradford's distance from London (several hours north) has kept many movie fans from attending. As most of our dealings are generally in London, we fall into that category ourselves.However, we learned that passing up on this festival is a major faux pas on
behalf of any serious movie lover. This year, we opted to attend one of the festival's most popular events, the Widescreen Weekend during which classic movies are screened in their original 70mm and Cinerama versions on the giant curved screen. The bait that lured us to attend was the fact that Cinema Retro had been asked to sponsor a rare 70mm screening of Where Eagles Dare. Since our readers know we're preparing a special edition of the magazine devoted exclusively to this Richard Burton-Clint Eastwood classic, it was an offer we couldn't refuse. For many years we had heard about this wonderful gathering of dedicated movie lovers and we had to wonder why it took until the 15th anniversary of the festival to finally attend.
I took a red-eye flight from Newark and landed in Heathrow last Thursday morning. It took over four hours for us to drive up to Bradford and settle in at The Midland Hotel, an old world venue that was rich in atmosphere. The hotel is a sponsor of the festival and we soon learned that the majority of attendees stay here so they can socialize at the pub and discuss the events of the day. This notion was reinforced when, after checking in, we stopped at the hotel pub for the first pint of the day, only to be introduced to David Strohmaier and Randy Gitsch the two most noted scholars on the Cinerama process and the creators of the fantastic documentary Cinerama Adventure. This is truly one of the greatest documentaries about classic filmmaking that has ever been conceived - an exhaustive and highly entertaining look at the short-lived but wonderful Cinerama process. Their documentary appears on MGM's recent deluxe DVD edition of How the West Was Won. Dave and Randy were with Tom March, who had scouted and documented the locations for that film as they appear today. (More about that later). Tom was also personally sponsoring the festival's big screen showing of Khartoum. (Talk about a true humanitarian!).We immediately fell into a prolonged discussion of classic filmmaking - a past-time that would be repeated every evening during our stay in Bradford.
Although the Widescreen Weekend had officially kicked off this day with a screening of The King and I, our first and only event on the day was to attend a separate event: producer Michael G. Wilson's "Master Class" on the making of James Bond movies which was held - appropriately enough - in the Museum's Cubby Broccoli Theatre. Wilson and Eon Productions have long been patrons of the Museum and the film festival, but this was his first participation in an actual event. Tony Earnshaw, the Artistic Director of the Museum, had tried for years to convince Wilson to sit down for a one-on-one interview, but the typically modest Wilson had to be convinced there was actually interest among the movie-going public to hear a discussion about the inner-workings of the Bond films. The rapt attention of the audience would immediately nullify those concerns.
Michael G. Wilson interviewed by Tony Earnshaw. (Photo copyright Jim Moran)
Earnshaw proved to be a most adept interviewer: every question was appropriate and intelligent (something I wish I could say for many chat show hosts on TV and radio). The program began with an amusing montage of all the cameo appearances Wilson has made in the Bond films over the decades. The Hitchcockian touch is considered a good luck charm by the cast and crew. Wilson is not known for being overly-verbose and tonight was no exception. However, he was comfortable, relaxed and in good spirits - and he spoke about the making of the Bond films with refreshing candor. Wilson related how he had been happily pursuing a career in law when the increasing legal difficulties between his stepfather Cubby Broccoli and his production partner necessitated his move into the Eon offices in order to work on legal matters. After Broccoli and Saltzman split, Cubby convinced Wilson to stay on and groomed him in the fine art of movie producing. He also noted that Wilson had a creative streak when it came to coming up with concepts for specific sequences in the films. Before long, Wilson was co-authoring scripts with long-time franchise screenwriter Richard Maibaum.Wilson related some amusing and occasionally harrowing stories from his early days on the series. He had seen a liquor ad with stuntman Rick Sylvester skiing off the face of a mountain and felt it should be used as the pre-credits sequence for The Spy Who Loved Me. It was only after Sylvester had been formally hired and the stunt budgeted and planned for, that Wilson learned the ski stunt never happened - it was all done with trick photography. Nevertheless, Sylvester assured Wilson that he could indeed do the stunt, if the crew were to film in a remote mountainous region of Canada where conditions were appropriate. The led to near disaster, as the cost of bringing a full crew to such an inhospitable area caused the budget to soar. The weather had to be perfect to enact the stunt, but nature wouldn't cooperate and the crew burned up $250,000 (a huge sum in 1976) with nary a single frame of film to show for it. Nervous United Artists executives demanded the unit return home - which probably would have put an end to Wilson's fledgling career as a future producer. However, in dramatic Hollywood fashion, there was a brief break in the weather and Sylvester managed to carry off the stunt. The idea of adding the Union Jack to Bond's parachute was literally done at the last minute to bring some levity to the sequence. Wilson revealed that, to this day, such late-in-the-day brainstorms are often incorporated into the films.
Wilson acknowledged that the production of each film is a frantic period and that Eon delivers the finished movie to the studio with relatively little wiggle room to make changes. He said this actually works in Eon's favor because it precludes studio brass from ordering wide-ranging alterations to the films, as there simply isn't enough time to enact them. On the other side of the coin, he expressed frustration that the tight deadlines have compromised Eon's influence over the title song. He said that in the past, the composer of the song worked in consultation with the filmmaking team. In recent years, however, Eon had little or no say over the song, which has been delivered so late in the process that the producers have to accept whatever is delivered. (Although Wilson did not mention any specific song titles, one would not be going out on a limb to assume it includes the dreadful Another Way to Die from Quantum Of Solace.) Wilson also explained why Eon tends to use writers and technicians who are veterans of the series. He said it is very time consuming to bring on new talent and wait for them to assimilate into understanding Eon's methods, as well as comprehend the company's philosophies of how the Bond character should be presented. He also said that he doesn't let fan or media bias deter his creative instincts. He acknowledged it was frustrating to read the widespread campaign against Daniel Craig after he was signed as Bond, but never wavered in his belief that the end result would be that the public and critics would embrace him. At the end of the session, Wilson took questions from the audience - which is often a recipe for disaster at fan events because seemingly every eccentric within ten miles is drawn to the microphone like a moth to a flame. However, in our first indication that Bradford draws serious and mature film fans, every question asked was appropriate and interesting. One in particular hit the mark when someone asked Wilson why he allowed the action sequences in Quantum to be edited with so many fast cuts that it robbed the scenes of any suspense. Wilson acknowledged that they were attempting to please modern audiences who are used to that style of editing but did not outwardly endorse the style. He said that Eon always experiments with different filmmaking styles that the director may favor - and that by the time the first edit is done, there is precious little time to make radical changes.The only news Wilson broke about the next Bond film is that there is no news at all. He said there had been no significant work done on the next entry.
At the end of the session, Wilson graciously stayed on to chat informally with fans and sign autographs. Although we've known Michael for many years on a personal basis, this was an enjoyable and rare opportunity for us to hear him discuss aspects of his career that we had not been aware of. More importantly, this highly enjoyable evening served as a teaser for the great weekend events that were to follow.
Congratulations to Hollywood's biggest villain (literally!): Richard Kiel's Jaws has been named in a poll as James Bond fan's favorite all-around character. The steel-toothed giant appeared in two Bond films, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Read Richard's personal hilarious account of his early days in Hollywood in Cinema Retro issue #1. For more on the poll, click here
UPDATE: In our original posting, we indicated these DVDs could be shipped internationally. This was due to the fact that the Warner Archive site provides information about shipments outside the USA. However, some very fine print has been drawn to our attention that says DVDs can only be shipped to US addresses. Apparently, other merchandise offered on the site, such as clothing and toys, can be shipped to international addresses.
By Lee Pfeiffer
If you've ever wondered why some of your favorite movies have never been released on home video, the answer might be that studios don't feel certain titles merit the investment to produce a traditional DVD edition. Shelf space in stores is becoming increasingly tight and the cost of manufacturing each title is often prohibitively expensive. Thus, many movies languish in studio vaults, much to the frustration of fans. Now Warner Brothers Home Video has answered the prayers of movie lovers by launching an innovative service that allows consumers to order on-demand editions of their favorite films. You simply order the film you want (at $19.95 per title) and it will ship to you in two business days. Each film has been beautifully mastered in its original aspect ratio and is shipped in a standard DVD case with graphics from the film - exactly like those you find in retail shops. None of the titles available at the Warner Archive is available through any other commercial outlet. Among the gems you'll find on the site:
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze
A Distant Trumpet
I Was an American Spy
Edison the Man
Captain Nemo and the Underwater City
Abe Lincoln in Illinois
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing
and many other classic and cult films
You can also opt to purchase each film for download on your computer. For U.S orders over $60, shipping is free. Hats off to Warner Brothers for being the first major studio to make this service available. If a long revered Hollywood tradition holds true, look for every other major studio in town to follow their lead. Now if we can only get those Girl From U.N.C.L.E. episodes in the Warners pipeline! To order click here
This year is the 60th anniversary of The Third Man. In Vienna, where the
film is set, there is In The Footsteps Of A Movie Classic. a tour run by Dr
Brigitte Timmermann, who is acknowledged as the world's leading expert on
the film's locations. Details on her web site - www.thethirdman.net
There is also
another tour - The Third Man Walking Tour, which follows the trail of Harry
Lime to original locations in the Old Town, such as Josephsplatz and
Molkerbastel. This tour also takes you to the Riesenrad - the giant ferris
wheel - where Harry Lime makes his dramatic appearance - www.viennawalks.com A third separate tour
is The Third Man Sewer tour which takes visitors down to the 'underworld' of
the Vienna sewers immortalised in the pursuit of Harry Lime. The Burg Kino Cinema on Opernring (www.burgkino.at)
shows The Third Man every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. There is also a
Third Man Museum that has props from the film and photos and objects from
the post-Second World War era. Anton Kara's zither, which he played for the
film's now famous theme, is displayed there, too. - Dave Worrall
The great retro blogspot Starlight Showcase has a fun tribute to the miniskirt - complete with some vintage clips of some hot girls dancing to rock music. Among the photos is this rare one of Honor Blackman showing off her gams in her pre-Pussy Galore days. To view the site click here
Jackie Gleason was the ultimate comedic genius. One of the earliest superstars of television, Gleason's 1950s variety show became one of the first "must-see TV" series. His 39 episode spin-off of his sketches based on The Honeymooners remains arguably the funniest sitcom ever created. Yet, many people forget The Great One's film career. He could be a consummate dramatic actor - and if you doubt it, just watch his brief performance in The Hustler which earned him an Oscar nomination despite being onscreen for about ten minutes. Also check out his heartbreaking, Willy Lohman-like character in his final film Nothing in Common opposite Tom Hanks.
Here's a gem of a segment from The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson: imagine the famous coffee house scene from When Harry Met Sally - only with Sean Connery and Michael Caine playing the Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan roles! It's hilarious - especially when "Connery" feigns the orgasms! Click here to view
The legendary tailor shop entrance to U.N.C.L.E. HQ made the top five list.
By Lee Pfeiffer
The terrific new website Spy Vibe asked me to submit a list of my five favorite spy movie sets. Granted, I only had time to write down what immediately sprang to mind, but unsurprisingly, four of the five are from James Bond movies - though one inclusion relating to 007 may surprise you. To read the list click here
Dick Cavett has an amusing column in The New York Times in which the acclaimed former talk show host recalls some of the best bon mots uttered by comedians and writers. Case in point: upon leaving a party, Groucho Marx once said to the hostess, "I had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it". Click here to read
Mike Nelson, the star of the great TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000, has teamed with fellows humorists Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy to launch RiffTrax, a unique site that allows movie fans to download specially-made hilarious commentary tracks they can synch up with their favorite movies. By using this procedure, RiffTrax sidesteps the virtually impossible scenario in which they would be able to release their own versions of the films on DVD. On the TV series, this was generally possible because the films that were being mocked were generally in the public domain. However, on Rifftrax, you can get our favorite cynics poking fun at such "legit" classics as Star Wars and Jaws. Click here to here to find out more and to sample some hilarious clips.
Emboldened by the success of Iron Man, Marvel has announced an ambitious slate of new super hero flicks that will be released over the next three years. Among them: Spiderman 4, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America. All will launch during the first week of May beginning with Iron Man 2 in 2010. Marvel has confirmed that, after prolonged negotiations, Mickey Rourke will star in this flick. No other casting has been announced. Curiously, no additional adventures of The Fantastic Four seem to be in the cards for the near future. For more click here
The web site The Bad & Ugly has the first photos we've seen of Clint Eastwood directing the Nelson Mandela pic The Human Factor. The film stars Morgan Freeman as the iconic South African leader. The plot centers on how the nation's 1995 rugby team helped unite both blacks and whites in the tense days following the end of apartheid. For more click here
It will be a groovy summer for rock music fans when Warner Home Video releases a new special edition of the landmark documentary Woodstock. There will be two releases with the Blu-ray edition having some unique extras. Most exciting is the fact that the studio has unearthed a full two hours of previously unseen footage - a find that Warners says it probably unique in terms of film history. It's generally a major event if even a few minutes of a classic movie are unearthed, but to locate missing footage that equals the running time of most movies is unprecedented. For more click here
It's hard to believe it was thirty-two years ago that Jacqueline Bisset caused a sensation with her appearance in the opening sequence of The Deep. All Jackie had to do was don a regular white T shirt, jump into the surf and let nature take its course. By the way, isn't it time for Sony to finally create a deluxe DVD of this terrific film, which co-starred Robert Shaw, Nick Nolte, Eli Wallach and Louis Gosset Jr.?
The mammoth complete DVD collection of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. contains ten hours of extras.
The Wall Street Journal reports that sales are booming for vintage TV series released as complete collections. Get Smart and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. have performed particularly well. In other cases, however, the studio's decision to release some series by season or half-season has drawn the ire of fans- especially when sales don't merit the release of future episodes, thus leaving collectors "stranded". The article also talks about the rise of the web site Hulu, where fans can stream entire episodes of their favorite shows. For more click here
The ultra-rare 1938 first edition of Action Comics has fetched $317,000 at auction. The comic is an iconic part of American pop culture because it marked the first appearance of Superman. Only 100 copies are known to exist and they rarely come up for auction. The owner had purchased the second hand issue for 35 cents in the 1950s. For more click here
Mary Tyler Moore and best friend Bernadette Peters with Mary's forthcoming book "Growing Up Again". (Photo copyright Lee Pfeiffer/Cinema Retro)
The comedy genius, 95 year-old Prof. Irwin Corey drops by our table to inform us that he's just learned that his blood type is now extinct. Irwin's fellow conspiracy theorists will be happy to know that his political paranoia didn't end with the Bush administration - he's now convinced Obama is also up to no good. ("Even though I voted for him!") (Photo copyright: Lee Pfeiffer/Cinema Retro)
By Lee Pfeiffer
Last Sunday, Mary Tyler Moore was honored with a special ceremony at The Players, the legendary club for the arts at New York's Gramercy Park. Miss Moore, who looked as stunning as ever, was obviously delighted to be among her friends and colleagues at the black tie event. She mingled during the cocktail hour, then laughed during the post-dinner on-stage tributes from Elaine Stritch, Bernadette Peters (who sang an impromptu song about her friendship with Moore) and sitcom director and writer Bill Persky (who wrote some of the best episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show.) Persky pointed out that he had admired Moore long before he even knew what she looked like, as she was the sexy "legs" protruding from a dancing pack of cigarettes in a TV commercial. Persky also related that Moore had tested for the part of Danny Thomas' daughter in his sitcom, but Thomas turned her down because no one would believe the cute actress with the button nose could have been the off-spring of a man with a protuding schnozzola. A couple of years later, when casting for the role of Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show, Thomas, who was producing the series, remembered Moore and said "Get me the girl without the nose!"
Dick Cavett chats with friends in the club's Great Hall. (Photo copyright: Lee Pfeiffer/Cinema Retro)
Haunted by his past: Tony Bennett is reminded of his role in The Oscar by Cinema Retro editor-in-chief Lee Pfeiffer. (Photo copyright: Barbara Sciangula/Cinema Retro)
Following a gourmet dinner, Miss Moore was treated to a remarkable compilation of video clips from her career. The club's executive director John Martello, who created the video tribute, correctly observed that Moore's Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the first "liberated" woman on TV - and became a role model for a generation of young girls.The clips also included Moore guest starring opposite Steve McQueen in Wanted: Dead or Alive and her extraordinary, Oscar-nominated performance in Robert Redford's Ordinary People.In her remarks on stage, Miss Moore spoke about her long battle against diabetes and announced her forthcoming book, which was written to help others cope with the disease. At the conclusion of the event, many attendees retired to the famous Grill Room where once the likes of Cagney and Sinatra held court. I was introduced to the seemingly ageless Tony Bennett and couldn't help but remind him of his performance as the immortal "Hymie Kelly" in the 1966 guilty pleasure The Oscar. "Oh God!", he exclaimed, "Why would anyone want to remember that!" I did assure him that, compared to Stephen Boyd's over-the-top performance, he came across looking like Olivier, which elicited a big laugh.Also in attendance was the great TV talk show host Dick Cavett, whose 1970s chat show won critical acclaim but fell victim to Johnny Carson's ratings juggernaut. When I told Cavett I used to watch the program regularly he joked, "So you were the one!"
In all, another memorable night on the town in good old Gotham.
Movie fans line up outside The Directors Guild Theater. (Photo: copyright Lee Pfeiffer/Cinema Retro)
Alumni of a classic reunite: (L to R) John Barry, David V. Picker, Sylvia Miles, Jerome Hellman, Ann Roth and Adam Holender. (Photo: copyright Lee Pfeiffer/Cinema Retro)
By Lee Pfeiffer
Last night New York City became Hollywood-on-the-Hudson when The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hosted a 40th anniversary screening of Midnight Cowboy at The Directors Guild Theater. It was an extraordinary evening on every level. The program is part of the Monday Nights with Oscar series, which was created by Patrick Harrison of A.M.P.A.S. For years, Harrison has presented some of the most unique and memorable classic movie events the city has seen - and last evening was no exception. For the Midnight Cowboy tribute, some key members of the creative production team were reunited for an on-stage discussion hosted by David V. Picker, the legendary producer and former United Artists executive who oversaw the studio during its glory days of the 1960s and 1970s. Arriving at the theater, it was clear this was to be the hottest movie in town. Fans lined up for more than an hour with a separate line formed for a wait-list of movie lovers who were desperate to obtain a ticket - a scenario almost unheard of for a film that was first released in 1969. Prior to the movie, I was invited for a "meet-and-greet" with the participants immediately prior to the screening. Attendees were David Picker, producer Jerome Hellman, actress Sylvia Miles, cinematographer Adam Holender, costume designer Ann Roth and music supervisor John Barry. Unfortunately, Barry could not stay for the panel discussion after the film but he seemed delighted to be among his colleagues from Midnight Cowboy. We did chat a few minutes about our respect for our mutual friend Cubby Broccoli, who Barry said he missed tremendously.
Sylvia Miles, still a mainstay of New York's social scene. (Photo: copyright Lee Pfeiffer/Cinema Retro)
We then walked into the theater, where A.M.P.A.S. had been showing a superb slide program of rare stills from the film, set to the original soundtrack. David Picker made some brief introductory remarks and advised the audience there would be a discussion about the making of the film after the screening. The print shown was the restored version done for the 25th anniversary of the film. If you haven't seen Midnight Cowboy on the big screen, you can't truly appreciate the artistry behind it. I've always had a fondness for films that reflect the seamier side of New York and this movie captured Gotham during a period of extensive decline that began in the mid 1960s and lasted through the early 1990s. It now seems like a different world, but Adam Holender's brilliant cinematography provides us with a time capsule of this bygone era of grind house theaters, male hustlers strutting their wares on 42nd street, grimy luncheonettes, ancient arcades and foreboding subway stations. To paraphrase Woody Allen, the era was horrible, upsetting and very frightening - and it was all over much too quickly. Each time I see the film, I learn to appreciate a new aspect. In this case, I looked beyond the superb performances of Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight and appreciated the quality of the supporting actors, the most underrated being John McGiver's brief but classic turn as a religious fanatic who Joe Buck is hoodwinked into believing is actually the owner of a male escort service. The sequence manages to be as unnerving as it is hilarious.The use of rock music along with John Barry's immortal original themes also resonated more impressively than ever. As David Picker points out, in a properly made film, every nuance of every scene is the result of painstaking planning and debating.
John Barry had a long and rich history with United Artists prior to his superb work on Midnight Cowboy. (Photo: copyright Lee Pfeiffer/Cinema Retro)
Following the screening, the members of the panel discussion were greeted with rapturous applause as they walked on stage. Picker moderated the discussion, which unveiled a wealth of fascinating anecdotes. For the record, it should be said that, had it not been for Picker, the film would never had been made. During his tenure at United Artists, Picker and his uncle Arnold prided themselves on supporting filmmakers who had offbeat scenarios for motion pictures. Although modest by nature, Picker was the man who urged UA to produce the James Bond series, release the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood Dollars trilogy in America and sign The Beatles for A Hard Day's Night. We won't get into other "minor" achievements such as giving approval for The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. As hard as it is to believe in this era of studio micro-management, once UA gave the green light to a film, they never interfered with the creative process. Indeed, Picker said the first time UA brass saw any footage from Midnight Cowboy was at a screening when the finished film was presented. He said that Arnold Picker, who was an admittedly tough man to please, sat quietly with the rest of the brass in total silence at the end of the film, as director John Schlesinger and Jerome Hellman nervously awaited his response. Arnold simply stood up and said, "It's a masterpiece. Let's go to lunch."
The panel discussion proved to be contentious at times as participant's had different memories of certain events. Sylvia Miles, ever the gadfly, told an entire story about how she won the part in the film - only to have Jerome Hellman (who had hired her) tell her that her story was so far off from what had really happened, that it appeared they were on two different continents. Hellman also challenged Adam Holender about certain recollections of the production, but Picker diffused these minor quibbles with deft, statesman-like abilities that would have made Henry Kissinger envious. Picker also had to humorously contend with Miles' attempts to monopolize the discussion and remind everyone that she was nominated for a Supporting Actress Oscar although only on screen for six minutes. It's safe to say that this woman loves the spotlight so much, she probably strikes a pose every time she opens the refrigerator door. Still, her quirkiness brought a great deal of laughter to the evening. Costume designer Ann Roth downplayed her own contributions, saying no one is ever interested in the costume design - a misstatement challenged by the audience. She went to say how there was great debate over aspects of Jon Voight's cowboy duds - and he had to be convinced to wear a black hat instead of a white one.
Much of the discussion centered on John Schlesinger, about whom nary a negative word was said. It was clear he was a most extraordinary man. Hellman explained that Schlesinger had agreed to do a film with him when he was red-hot following the release of Billy Liar and Darling. However, Schlesinger's big budget MGM production of Far From the Madding Crowd had bombed and suddenly the offers dried up. Schlesinger was determined to prove he had another winner in him and it was he who suggested to Hellman that they adapt James Leo Herlihy's novel Midnight Cowboy to the screen. The script went through several unsuccessful incarnations before Waldo Salt submitted an unsolicited script. Salt was a writer on the fringe of suicide and this was his last attempt to get a meaningful story to the screen. With Hellman and Picker's backing, Midnight Cowboy not only saved his career, but his life. Hellman also related that he had cast Dustin Hoffman as Ratso after seeing him in a one-man off-Broadway production in which he simply darted around the stage pushing a broom! Hoffman was completely unknown, but by the time Midnight Cowboy went into production, he was already a hot property due to The Graduate - a film he was reluctant to test for out of fear it might conflict with Hellman's production.
David Picker also afforded the audience a surprise treat by showing vintage clips from the 1970 Academy Awards ceremony in which the film was awarded Oscars for Best Picture, director and screenplay. Watching these clips from so long ago was a movie lover's delight. Schlesinger was not able to attend the ceremony because he was shooting Sunday, Bloody Sunday and Voight accepted his Oscar. What struck me was how low-key the Oscar ceremonies used to be and how brief and gracious the acceptance speeches were, as opposed to today when you would think the winners were getting paid by minute. Many people have pondered how Dustin Hoffman failed to get the Best Actor award. My own theory is that he had to compete with fellow nominee Jon Voight, so they probably cut into each other's votes. Not helping matters was that, after forty years in the business, John Wayne gave the performance of his career in True Grit and was the popular and sentimental favorite.
In all, it was remarkable to witness these talented individuals recall the making of a masterpiece. If you've never seen Midnight Cowboy, I almost envy you for having that experience to look forward to. It was film made by giants both in front of and behind the cameras. As Norma Desmond might point out, there are still great movies being made today - it's just the people who make them who seem smaller.
(Thanks to Christina Colon, Harvey Bolgla and Matthew Calderone for their assistance in coverage of this event).
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Actor Ron Silver has died at age 62 following a prolonged battle with cancer. Silver had won acclaim in films, on stage and in TV series. He won the Tony for his performance on Broadway in David Mamet's Speed-the-Plough and on the big screen, he was acclaimed for his role as lawyer Alan Dershowitz in Reversal of Fortune. He also had a recurring role in the TV series The West Wing. Silver had partnered with liberal actors such as Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon to form The Creative Coalition. However, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, his political philosophies swung to the right. He became a political activist in support of President Bush's policies, which made him a somewhat unique voice in the entertainment industry, though TV host Geraldo Rivera and Dennis Miller followed a similar tract. Silver maintained that his political conversion cost him jobs in an industry dominated by liberals and complained his once-hot acting career began to run cold. Still, he continued to put his energies into political activism and hosted his own radio program on satellite radio. His other films include Enemies: A Love Story, Silkwood, Mr. Saturday Night and Ali. For more click here
Alan W. Livingston has passed away at age 91. Never heard of him? Neither had we - but any baby boomer owes him a great debt for a multifaceted career that played a vital role in how popular culture was defined in the last half of the twentieth century. Check out this list of credentials, as published in The Hollywood Reporter:
"Alan W. Livingston, who created the character of Bozo the Clown and
signed the Beatles to a contract at Capitol Records during a long and
multifaceted show business career, died Friday in Los Angeles. He was
Livingston, who was married to actresses Betty Hutton and Nancy
Olson, also produced NBC's "Bonanza"; wrote the 1951 pop hit "I Tawt I
Taw a Puddy Tat" for Mel Blanc's Tweety Pie; signed and paired Frank
Sinatra with bandleader Nelson Riddle during a low point in Sinatra's
career; and served as president of the entertainment group at 20th
Century Fox." For the full article click here
The screenwriting web site Mystery Man on Film provides a fascinating look at the original 1978 story conference between George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan - complete with concept art and a link to a 125 page PDF file that provides details of the meeting. To read click here
The music of James Bond has topped the charts around the world, as evidenced by this rare Japanese 45 RPM release of John Barry's famous theme song.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Last Friday's tribute to the music of James Bond at Carnegie Hall was a magnificent evening of entertainment. The New York Pops, under the direction of conductor Carl Davis, did justice to the canon of great film themes that have characterized the 007 movies. To the relief of Bond fans, the Pops did nothing to "soup up" the arrangements of the familiar songs, opting instead to perform the traditional arrangements. The two hour-plus event managed to incorporate almost all of the main title themes which were played more or less in sequential order, and it was especially rewarding to hear Burt Bacharach's The Look of Love included, despite the fact that it derived from the mostly-detested 1967 slapstick version of Casino Royale. Carl Davis proved to be an amiable and entertaining emcee, as well as conductor, providing fun anecdotes in between every song. He did make one minor mistake however, by claiming that the first Bond song to hit the charts in America was A View to a Kill. Of course, almost all of the previous songs had charted to some degree and several were smash hits, with three earning Oscar nominations. Davis was aided and abetted by two superb talents who alternated singing the title themes: Mary Carewe and Simon Bowman. Both brought passion and excitement to their renderings of the songs, and I confess that even the weaker ones (i.e The Man With the Golden Gun) seemed to resonate better than they do in the actual films. Happily, Davis provided some much-appreciated "bonus" tracks including John Barry's Dawn Raid on Ft. Knox from Goldfinger and Marvin Hamlisch's Journey to Atlantis from The Spy Who Loved Me. The Pops' performance of the latter made me appreciate this particular theme more than I had in the past. Most intriguingly, Davis opted to perform an extended musical sequence from perhaps the least-popular score of the series, GoldenEye. Curiously, Eric Serra was the only composer not acknowledged by Davis in his introductions. (Could it be because it's been said that the music from this sequence- the tank chase- was actually inserted into the film by uncredited composers?)There were some omissions that were disappointing: Davis included We Have All the Time in the World from On Her Majesty's Secret Service but unfortunately did not include John Barry's brilliant main title theme for that film, which is arguably the best of the series.While Bond fans were probably grateful the Pops skipped Die Another Day, one wishes they had included Barry's beautiful theme song for Octopussy (All Time High). Similarly, the decision to close the show with the dreadful Quantum Of Solace theme proved that all the Pops' women and all the Pops' men couldn't make this sound like anything but the wail of a banshee. (The "composer" Jack White bragged that he came up with the song in twenty minutes, which makes one wonder what took him so long.) Among the encore tracks was a most-welcome performance of k.d lang's Surrender, the closing song from Tomorrow Never Dies. Davis correctly pointed out that this was to be the film's opening song until it was bumped by Sheryl Crowe's composition (of which it can be said that I seem to be the only person on earth who expresses admiration for her contribution to the series.)
The Maestro: Carl Davis
I was a bit dubious that the Carnegie Hall regulars and season ticket holders wpuld be very responsive to the Bond tribute, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Three elderly women in front of me said it was one of the best evenings of entertainment they had witnessed in the legendary venue. I concur - and I will also say that it's one of the few times I was able to enjoy a major James Bond event without having to fly to London.
(For more on the New York Pops, click here to access the official web site)
Amy Adams follows her Oscar-nominated performance in Doubt with the starring role in Sunshine Cleaning.
is dignity in all work.” True enough, whoever penned that famous phrase, even
if he never had to meet Perez Hilton. What would make an interesting addendum,
though, is that finding that dignity
is a story worth telling. Example: Whatever happened to the former high school
cheerleading captain who dated the quarterback? You remember Rose? She’s now a
single mom working as a housecleaner and having an affair with a married cop.
is the jumping-off point for Sunshine Cleaning,
a new dramatic comedy starring Amy Adams (Doubt,
Junebug) as Rose Lorkowski and Emily
Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) as her
tells herself the maid work is just a transitional phase while she gets her
real estate license. Norah is still living at home with their father, Joe (Alan
Arkin), a salesman with a long history of ill-fated get-rich schemes.
to get her troubled son into a better school, Rose persuades Norah to partner
with her in the more lucrative niche market of crime scene clean-up. After
passing the gag-test initiation rite of their first rookie job (a finger shot
off in a domestic dispute case) the sisters find themselves elbow-deep in the
gory aftermath of suicides, murders and other forensic horror-scenes.
her new business Sunshine Cleaning and tackling it with the same, cheery zeal
as her former cheerleader self, Rose quickly learns the rules and ropes of her
unlikely new market. (For instance, there are products out there specially
formulated for cleaning up a “decomp.”) Norah dutifully labors alongside her
sister, not exactly grateful for the new job, but not exactly complaining
the sisters realize a reparative bond is forming between them, they also
realize that they are approaching this traditionally macho,
are-you-tough-enough job in a radical new way: as women. Screenwriter Megan
Holley (in her first produced screenplay) drives the point home in one touching
scene in which the sisters are called to the home of an elderly woman whose
husband has just committed suicide. Rose, sensing the newly widowed woman’s
shock and confusion, sits with her on her front porch, silently holding her
hand. She won’t allow herself to cry, even as the widow allows herself finally
to break down.
odd new life is building to a personal epiphany, and when it comes, it occurs
in the one place she had hoped to redeem herself on the most superficial of
levels – at a baby shower attended by her former high school classmates. It’s
one of the film’s best scenes, and also shows off the impressive depth of
understanding Amy Adams brings to her roles.
also really could identify with wanting to be more than you are,” said Adams of her role, “in a different place that you were
born into, to sort of elevate your status in the world. That’s something I
think a lot of people identify with.”
in the arid, chain store landscape of Albuquerque,
(although the screenwriter originally placed the story in Baltimore), director Christine Jeffs makes
the most of the Southwestern city’s locations, aided by cinematographer John
from a few too many nakedly sentimental subplots cued with emotive, acoustic
guitar (a tiresome indie convention) which, if cut, might have kept the story
leaner and more on its true, emotional track, Sunshine Cleaning is a welcome take on a real, “purpose-driven
Sunshine Cleaning opens in theaters
on March 27th.
Vaughn earned a BAFTA nomination for his performance in Bullitt- a film he tried to talk Steve McQueen out of doing!
Robert Vaughn is back in London to promote his autobiography, A Fortunate Life and to film the new season of the hit caper show Hustle. In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper, Vaughn recalls two of his best films, both coincidentally starring Steve McQueen: The Magnificent Seven and Bullitt. Of the former, Vaughn concedes that, not only did the cast not believe they were working on a classic, but, in fact, felt the film would be a turkey. The script was being rewritten only hours before each day's shooting would proceed and the feeling was that the movie might derail the up-and-coming careers of it's young stars. By the time Bullitt went into production, both Vaughn and McQueen were major international stars - but Vaughn repeatedly turned down McQueen's pleas for him to play his antagonist in the movie. Vaughn relates he tried to talk McQueen out of the project because the script was too confusing - but after McQueen kept raising his salary, Vaughn joked that it suddenly all made perfect sense. For more click here
Chaplin and Streisand in rehearsals for Funny Girl (Photo courtesy of Graham Rye archive)
Sydney Chaplin, the son of legendary comic genius Charles Chaplin, has died at age 82. Chaplin was an accomplished actor, but he never earned fame and fortune in his own right, perhaps because of the long shadow cast by his father's legend. Sydney Chaplin hit the peak of his career with his Tony Award as Best Actor for the 1957 Broadway hit The Bells Are Ringing. He also starred opposite Barbra Streisand in the stage version of Funny Girl. However, when both plays were brought to the screen, Chaplin was replaced by Dean Martin and Omar Sharif, respectively, because of their box-office appeal. Sydney appeared in two of his father's films: the bittersweet 1952 drama Limelight and Charles Chaplin's ill-fated late career directorial effort, the 1967 comedy A Countess From Hong Kong. It was on the latter that Marlon Brando observed what he termed Charles' tendency to routinely ridicule and berate his son in front of the cast and crew. It led to Brando terming the elder Chaplin as one of the cruelest people he ever worked with. While Sydney never reached top stardom as an actor, he was a popular restauranteur as owner of Chaplin's, which drew the rich and famous on a nightly basis. For more click here
Welcome back to my visit with producer Robert E.
Relyea, who continues to share with us some more anecdotes from his remarkable
career. If you remember from part one, the principal wooded exterior location
for the Elvis Presley picture Kid Galahad
(1962), was the small mountain community of Idyllwild, California, near Palm
Springs. Relyea had kept the location in mind for his next film, The Great Escape (1963). As hard as it is to believe, director John Sturges and United Artists
were all set to shoot right there in sunny southern California, building the POW camp in the California hills with only some second unit shots done on location in Germany. This strategy would have obviously ensured that the movie was shot on a relatively low budget. Relyea told
Sturges “It’s not exactly the Black Forest, but it does have a few trees”.Relyea advised Sturges they could hire locals
to play the large number of POWs – all they would need is a waiver from the
Screen Extra’s Guild.In this
pre-production stage, their best-laid plans fell apart.The Guild insisted they bring out the
hundreds of union extras each day from Los Angeles.With a prohibitive cost like that, Germany
suddenly seemed rather appealing and a lot simpler.
Troubled icon: McQueen in The Great Escape
This revelation gives you a sense of how Hollywood
studio brass thinks and acts, which is not always in the interest of art over
commerce. However, in this case, we have to thank the Screen Extras Guild, long
since merged into the Screen Actors Guild, for unexpectedly playing a role in
the creation of a classic. Thanks to the Guild, The Great Escape benefited from the kind of authenticity that you
could only get from shooting in Germany itself. The unit shot at the Bavaria Studios in
Geiselgasteig near Munich, with the camp set and railway station stunningly
constructed in a real forest setting right behind the studio lot. As assistant to John Sturges, Relyea got the
necessary government permission to clear some 400 trees and the permission from
the German railways to shoot those crucial scenes.In addition to personally helping Sturges,
Relyea also was second-unit director and even performed one of the film’s most
dangerous stunts. Remember when the German plane James Garner and Donald Pleasence
escape in crashes into the trees short of the Swiss border? The regular stunt
pilot did not want to deliberately crash the single engine, two-seater vintage
Bucker Bu 181. Having a license to fly and not wanting to hold up production,
Relyea simply went ahead and did it himself. It is quite a story that Relyea relates
in detail in his recent autobiography Not So Quiet
On The Set.The crash caused him some considerable
pain, but like a true professional, he did not allow it to interfere with
getting the picture made. Speaking of stunts, the famous iconic jump was indeed
performed by Steve McQueen over that barbed-wire fence – only not in the film. McQueen
was frustrated that the insurance company wouldn’t allow him to do the stunt on
film – so he secretly did it on his own time in secret just to prove he was up
to the task. Still -as every devoted fan knows- on screen, it was his close friend and motorcycle
enthusiast, Bud Ekins who performed the classic stunt. McQueen still performed
all the other bike sequences, even - through the magic and skills of editing -
chasing himself dressed as a German soldier. Relyea directed the actual jump,
not Sturges, and even though on screen it was only a very few celluloid seconds,
it would go on to become an iconic sequence in film history. Another
interesting fact is that, because Sturges refused to work at night, the task of
filming the actual escape from the tunnel sequence fell to Relyea.Sturges simply told him, “Don’t shoot it like
I would –surprise me!”
Horton Foote, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Mercies and The Trip to Bountiful, passed away during the week at age 92. The quiet dignity Foote evoked through his writing made him a modern legend in literary circles. Foote was primarily known for the many acclaimed plays he authored, many of which are being performed throughout the world at any given time. Click here to read a tribute to him.
Rare behind the scenes footage from the making of John Wayne's epic film The Alamo has surfaced and has been placed on the web site for the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. The clips are in b&w and are silent, but show some interesting scenes including John Wayne (fully attired at Davy Crockett) receiving some sort of proclamation. There are also scenes of "Mexican soldiers" socializing with the Texan defenders. The scenes also show prominent cast members clowning around between takes. To view click here
If you can name all the people depicted on the Sgt. Pepper's album cover, you might be on the path for a master's degree in Beatles history.
Liverpool Hope University is justifiably proud of the city's affiliation with The Beatles - and have now integrated the group's musical legacy into their higher education programs by offering a master's degree in Beatles musical history. We love The Beatles as much as anyone, but given the time and expense involved in getting a master's degree, we're not certain that knowledge of The Fab Four is the hottest job growth prospect in a world wracked by financial chaos. Click here for more info
Subscriber Frank Coronado alerts us to this exciting bit of news: British songwriter Robyn Hitchcock is preparing a stage musical based on the 1973 Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force. Frank says it shows Hitchcock never studied the film's best-remembered line: "A man's got to know his limitations." Still, since the show is obviously tongue-in-cheek, he may be on to something. We anxiously await the Celtic dance version of The Wild Bunch! For more click here
Cinema Retro contributor Robert Sellers' best selling book Hellraisers has just been published in the UK in paperback. The book explores the almost surrealistic drinking habits of Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed. Now you can join the boys in an on-line pub drinking game to see if you can match their legendary abiliities to down the lager. Click here to play. For Cinema Retro's coverage of this hilarious and fascinating book, click here
We keep getting letters from readers around the world that add interesting insights into the fact that Fox reused portions of Jerry Goldsmith's previous scores for the 1976 western The Last Hard Men.
Now comes this informative letter:
My name is Gergely Hubai. I'm a Hungarian film music
I feel that I must clarify this particular story. This is what happened:
Jerry Goldsmith never worked on The Last Hard Men
(he was working on The Omen at that time). What happened was that Andrew.
McLaglen requested an avantgarde score from composer Leonard Rosenman, which was
eventually thrown out because it turned out it wasn't what he was looking for.
Apparently he wanted to reflect the early 20th century setting by having
contemporary avantgarde music playing in the picture or something to that
effect. Eventually the studio pulled out a number of cues from previous
Goldsmith Westerns, including 100 Rifles and Stagecoach. These were done without
any consultation from the composer, so no, Jerry Goldsmith didn't reuse his own
Gergely also addresses the issue of John Barry reusing his score from Zulu for Cry the Beloved Country:
Barry doesn't reuse his own score - the common melody he reuses in both scores
were done deliberately as it is based on a native piece. The theme was used
deliberately since both pictures take place in South Africa. There are many
cases when composers use shorthand and freely quote from their previous works -
I have written whole article series on that subject! These two titles however do
not qualify for that.
The plot thickens: we're now told that Jerry Goldsmith's score for The Last Hard Men also incorporated some of his work from the 1965 spy movie Morituri!
Graham Rye's letter regarding Jerry Goldsmith's score for 100 Rifles which was recycled for The Last Hard Men, has drawn a number of comments from readers, some of whom have shed some light on the mystery of why such a revered composer might want to use a previous score in a new movie:
Well Graham is both correct and incorrect about the soundtrack for
the above. The story of The Last HardMen score is that a score by
Leonard Rosenman was rejected and, whether due to time constraints or cost, Fox
simply chose to track the movie with cues from three Jerry Goldsmith Fox westerns
(100 Rifles, Rio Conchos and the remake of Stagecoach) and also his score for
the thriller Morituri.Therefore, Jerry received the music credit even
though no original score was written for the movie by him. Hope this
clears things up?
Empire Leicester Square Theatre- London
Retro responds: Thanks, Dave...Graham was perceptive in picking up on this, as I wouldn't have noticed. You've added some context to the situation. In my view, Goldsmith was actually harmed by having his name credited on the film because movie music lovers probably thought he was just making a lazy effort, when in fact, he had no control over the situation because he was under contract at Fox at the time and studio executives called the shots on such matters. By the way, the mention of Morituri brings up yet another underrated film that Cinema Retro should turn its attention to. This compelling 1965 WWII spy thriller (shot in glorious black-and-white), featured the pairing of two legends: Marlon Brando and Yul Brynner. It's an outstanding film that bombed at the box-office in an age where the spy movie craze favored Bond movies and their knock-offs. Curiously, Fox attempted to re-marketed the film in mid-release by changing the title to the rather cumbersome The Saboteur- Code Name: Morituri. The film also features the only screen pairing of Brando and Wally Cox, his former New York City room mate when the two were struggling actors.(For info about the soundtrack to Morituri, click here)
I have just seen the latest post regarding Jerry Goldsmith, having visited the IMDB site over the years, I believe the original composer was sacked for his score on The Last Hard Men and time was running out. So you are right in saying Jerry recycled the score from 100 Rifles. There must be studio executives from who sit and twiddle their pens wondering how to sell movies to the public. If they would only go through their back catalogue, they would see people are crying out for films that have not seen the light of day on DVD.Your magazine is a godsend because you have inspired me to obtain my own copy of The Outrage with Paul Newman plus try and get the newly restored version of The Big Gundown. As Columbo would say "Just one more thing, sir..." My girlfriend and I visited New York in January where we saw Gran Torino. It received a positive reaction from the audience. Last Friday, I gave the movie a second viewing in my own town. Strong applause drowned out Jamie Cullen's song at the end. So keep up the good work!
Retro Responds: Ian, you're correct on The Last Hard Men, as Dave Norris notes above. Thanks for your kind support of Retro. We really appreciate the fact we're having such an impact on popular opinion when it comes to sharing news of classic and underrated films. I'm also delighted that Gran Torino is being well received in the UK, as indicated by your experience. In an age where great movie songs are as rare as hen's teeth, it's all the more lamentable that he and Jamie Cullen's superb end title song for the film was completely overlooked by Oscar.(Click here to listen to the song...but keep it mind, it is far more moving when heard in context with the film)
Film journalist Anita Haas and her co-author Carlos Aguilar recently attended a unique film festival in Spain. Anita filed this report report exclusively for Cinema Retro:
The lovely and talented Caroline Munro is honored on stage. (Read Caroline's columns in issues #2 and #6 of Cinema Retro) (All photos copyright Anita Haas and Carlos Aguilar. All rights reserved.)
The Festival Internacional del Cine Clásico de Granada Retroback is the perfect opportunity for nostalgia and reminiscing, for discovering, and rediscovering and all in the marvelous surroundings of one of Spain’s most beautiful and historic cities. Brainchild of its young director, David Lopez, the festival takes place in the last week of January, nicely breaking up the long, dark winter. With an explosive opening night concert by Monica Mancini (daughter of Henry Mancini), eleven retrospectives, three exhibitions, two publications, and fifteen special guests, including actors, directors and writers, this brand new festival has started life with a bang!
David Lopez, Eugenio Martin and Carlos Aguilar.
The late Audrey Hepburn was the “fairy godmother” for this first edition, represented in the festival by her sons Sean Hepburn Ferrer and Luca Dotti, who rang in the event by bringing an exhibition of the actress’s life and personal objects including international posters of her films, her two Oscars, and Givenchy’s dresses from Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Sabrina, two of the films which formed part of the retrospective.
Exhibitions were not limited to Audrey Hepburn, however. Accompanying the retrospective of Italian Fantasy films, was Graziano Marraffa's poster and lobby card collection, with the original drawing of the Italian Diabolik poster, signed by John Phillip Law himself. The display proved to be a terrifying taster before late-night screenings of 60’s genre trailers and films like Black Sunday with gothic horror queen Barbara Steele, The Secret of Dr. Hichcock, Blood and Black Lace, They’re Coming to Get You, Asylum Erotica with the disturbing couple Klaus Kinski and Margaret Lee, Footprints On the Moon, Frozen Terror, and Don’t Torture A Duckling to name a few. The Perfume of the Lady in Dark, a psychologically thriller reminiscent of Repulsion, was introduced by its director Francesco Barili. The prolific Pupi Avati also attended the festival to introduce La Casa dalle finestre che ridono, and the master of Italian horror, Dario Argento, presented Suspiria, his most emblematic piece from 1977. All three directors received placques in honour of their contribution to the seventh art.
Carlos and David with Pupi Avati
To top off the section, Quatermass, an extensive anthology of Italian Fantasy films, was launched during a round table discussion with its publisher Javier G. Romero, and ten specialists in the field from both Spain and Italy.
A tribute that was very special for both me and my husband, Carlos Aguilar, was the one in honour of our late friend, John Phillip Law and one of the highlights of the week for me, was finally meeting Caroline Munro, every bit the charming lady I was told she was. She came to introduce The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, receive an award, and help us launch our book John Phillip Law: Diabolik Angel. Thank you Caroline!
Caroline Munro joins Carlos and Anita for a discussion about their book celebrating the career of John Phillip Law.
Another special tribute for us was in honour of another good friend, the veteran Spanish director Eugenio Martin, subject of the main festival publication Eugenio Martin: Un autor por todos los generos, written by Carlos Aguilar and me. Martin, a former resident of Granada, boasts a career of over forty years in the business. As the title of our book implies, this man has made films in almost all the genres. His better-known titles include the western The Ugly Ones, starring Tomas Milian, and Horror Express with genre giants Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing as well as their acting antithesis Telly Savalas. Martin introduced his uniquely Andalusian horror film A Candle for the Devil, starring British actress Judy Geeson, and in which Martin’s wife, the Danish actress Lone Fleming, plays a lightly-clad, soon-to-be-murdered tourist in the darkly Catholic Andalusia of the Franco regime. Martin didn’t shy away from social comedy either, in his parody of the extreme left-right politics of the Spanish Civil War, the amusing Tengamos la Guerra en Paz. He also introduced his two earliest works, the semi-autobiographical Despedida de Soltero, with the unforgettable Spanish actor, Pepe Isbert, and Viaje Romantico a Granada, a 1956 art documentary (dedicated to Washington Irving); a filigree based on engravings of 19th century artists from beyond the Spanish borders who evoked the city in their pictures and writings.
Carlos Aguilar and David Lopez interview the famous director Dario Argento.
Besides several well-known Hollywood classics, Spanish cinema was also well represented by “Other Spanish Classics”. This section consisted of a group of eight little-known gems selected especially for their unjust obscurity. Fulano y Mengano by Joachim Romero Marchent, better known for his westerns, Jess Franco’s first film Tenemos 18 Años, Diferente a very camp musical from the sixties, and the weird and claustrophobic El Extraño Viaje formed part of it. On a more international level, the great Frederico Fellini was represented by five of his masterpieces (La dolce vita, Eight & Half, etc), along with George Franju, whose film Judex was introduced by French actor and scriptwriter Jacques Champreaux. Other retrospectives included the French director Jean-Pierre Melville (The Red Circle) and the Japanese director Kaneto Shindo (Kuroneko). And lastly, “Once Upon a Time”, is a section comprised of films along the decades. This year being 2009, it started with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), and finished with Woody Allen’s Manhattan from 1979, coming in just before 1980, the year the festival has chosen as its cut-off date.
And what’s in store for next year’s line-up? Rumour has it that … then again, maybe it is better to get your information straight from the horse’s mouth at www.retroback.es, because if you like Cinema Retro, you’ll like Retroback.
(Click here for John Exshaw's review of the John Phillip Law book)
Issue #4 covers the filming of 100 Rifles in our tribute Jim Brown: The First Black Action Hero. Here, big Jim gets up close and personal with Raquel Welch in their groundbreaking love scene.
Following our recent reference to the 1976 western The Last Hard Men, Graham Rye wrote to tell us that Jerry Goldsmith's score for the film was primarily lifted from his earlier work on 100 Rifles.
See if you agree with Graham's observations:
"It was more or less the same score, slightly differently arranged, but the main them was the same. I remember from when I originally saw The Last Hard Men in the cinema. As I sat watching it, I thought, "Blimey, he's used the same score from 100 Rifles (a score I particularly enjoyed in 1969) - crafty bugger!" I had a LeRoy Holmes LP that covered a number of western themes, one of which was 100 Rifles. I think I played it so often you could see through it if you held it up to the light! I also remember that The Last Hard Men was so violent that there were scenes in it that even made me wince at the time. James Coburn's character was probably one of the nastiest villains ever committed to film. Andrew V. McLaglen directed this in Peckinpah mode. With a screenplay based on a book by Death Wish writer Brian Garfield, it's no wonder it was a slow-mo blood bath of a movie.
John Barry did the same with some of his score from Zulu (1964) and he re-worked it into Cry, the Beloved Country (1995), a quite wonderful and thought-provoking film with strong performances from Richard Harris and James Earl Jones. "
Retro Responds: Thanks for those observations, Graham...quite fascinating. I have a tin ear when it comes to picking these things up, but I'll bet many of the soundtrack fans among our readers must have noticed these instances, too. With all this talk about The Last Hard Men, I now have a real desire to see it again. I hope it eventually gets an official release on DVD. By the way, our columnist John Exshaw recently conducted a major interview with Andrew V. McLaglen that will be seen in a future issue of Cinema Retro. - Lee Pfeiffer
Clint Eastwood says political correctness is not making his day. He's fed up with over-sensitized people who cry "racist!" at the drop of the hat. "I find that ridiculous. In those earlier days every friendly clique
had a 'Sam the Jew' or 'Jose the Mexican' - but we didn't think
anything of it or have a racist thought. It was just normal that we
made jokes based on our nationality or ethnicity. That was never a
problem. I don't want to be politically correct.We're all spending too much time and energy trying to be politically correct about everything", says the screen legend. In his new film, Gran Torino, Eastwod takes a swipe at political correctness in scenes in which his character consistently trades humorous ethnic insults with his barber. For more click here