A precious aspect of a historic tragedy passed into the ages with the death of Milvina Dean on Sunday. Ms. Dean, aged 97, was the last survivor of The Titanic sinking, though she was only an infant and had to rely on stories from her mother to inform her of her place in history. Ms. Dean said that she was virtually unknown until the wreck of the ship was found in 1985. Since then, she had been in demand at historic seminars and Titanic events. She escaped with her 2 year old brother, thanks to her mother's efforts. However, her 29 year old father perished in the disaster. Ms. Dean never saw the blockbuster 1997 film Titanic because it would have reminded her of her father's tragic fate. Ironically, when she ran into financial problems in the last days of her life, the stars of that film - Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet- helped promote a fund which enabled her to pay some of her medical expenses. For more click here
Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the famous comic strip Tin-Tin will bow in December 2011. The film will be shown in 3-D and Spielberg intends to make this the first of a series. Peter Jackson has agreed to direct the second entry. The film's December 2011 opening pertains only to North America. In an unusual strategy, the film will premiere in other parts of the world first, beating the North American market by as much as two months. For more click here
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was one of the high profile TV series and feature films that Mort Abrahams was associated with.
Producer and film executive Mort Abrahams has died at age 93. Abrahams' impressive resume includes producing the hit TV series Route 66 as well as numerous episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. His big screen credits include Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, The Chairman, Doctor Doolittle and The American Film Theatre feature films.
Cinema Retro reader Rory Monteith has provided the following exclusive statement which he obtained from Mr. Abrahams' daughter-in-law:
"Mort Abrahams, the retired TV and movie producer, who produced the original
"Planet of the Apes," (and, I think, two of the others) passed away in his
Studio City home on May 28, 2009. I know this because I am his
daughter-in-law, and his widow just telephoned me. He died early this
morning, with his daughter and his wife at his bedside. He had been ill for
some time, and his death was not unexpected.
As well--and more
importantly, from my point of view--as being an accomplished producer and
later a mentor to younger talent when he was at the American Film Institute,
Mort was a warm, gentle, loving man. He was patient and giving with his
grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He would play countless card games
with them, sometimes putting on funny accents. He had an endless supply of
amazing anecdotes about life in the business. His wife, his daughter, and
his son (my late husband) had all heard these stories, but my daughter and I
were always enthralled. Above all, he had a sweetness to him, a
vulnerability, that was to me his defining trait. I shall miss him so
Mr. Abrahams' body is to be cremated, and there will be no public
memorial service, as per his wishes. He is survived by his wife and
daughter, son- and daughter-in-law, two grandchildren, and two
great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son just over a
It pains us to see the virtual lack of opening movie credits in current films. There was a time when the opening title sequence might well be regarded as a work of art. Watch this opening to Otto Preminger's Exodus with titles by the great Saul Bass - and realize that if studios made the film today, there would likely be no opening credits at all.
An ultra rare stamp featuring the likeness of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys has sold to a private collector for $94,000. The stamp had been created as a tribute to the iconic actress by the German government. However, Hepburn's son refused to grant copyright permission to use his mother's image and the stamps were ordered destroyed. Only five stamps are believed to remain in existence. Ironically, the search for a rare, valuable stamp is the central plotline of Hepburn's 1963 hit Charade. For more click here
Thanks to Sharon Stone for giving us another opportunity to run this photo from Basic Instinct 2.
We always love to report on the latest doings of our favorite Hollywood anti-intellectual, Sharon Stone. Yes, she's still a head-turner, but the most admirable thing about her is her ability to continue to get public appearance fees despite the fact she hasn't had a box-office hit since Bill Clinton was presidential timber. Stone was among a group of celebs imported into Turkey to make appearances at the opening of a new resort. The Turks realized they had gotten a real turkey when Stone couldn't pronounce "Azerbaijan", despite having a teleprompter and then began chanting Chaka Khan!" without explanation. For more, read Page Six's account by clicking here
One-time hairdresser, now movie producer Jon Peters has responded to the leaks of his outline for an autobiography titled Studio Head by canceling his contract with Harper Collins. As reported last week, the leaked outline indicated that Peters intended to spill the beans on his sexual escapades with former lovers, including Barbra Streisand. It takes a lot to motivate people to sympathize with Babs, but the fact is that Peters would probably still be putting rollers in the hair of Beverly Hills women if it were not for his romance with her in the 1970s, which was instrumental in getting him into film production. After reading the outrage in about the proposed book, Peters is trying to put on the best possible face. While he has canceled the deal with Harper Collins, he makes it clear that he intends to write the book anyway - only he promises this will be a "celebration" of the people in his life. Uh-huh. With a "friend" like Peters, they'd better have their lawyer's numbers handy on their Rolodex For more click here
The Film Society of Lincoln Center's week long tribute to Steve McQueen concluded last night with a big screen showing of Bullitt. Sadly, director Peter Yates, who was scheduled to introduce the film, was sidelined by an illness. However, party-hearty New Yorkers didn't let that interfere with enjoying the cocktail party held in his honor prior to the screening. The print provided was in very good condition and the audience responded with the enthusiasm of seeing the movie for the first time. It did occur to me, however, that given what a cash cow Bullitt has been for Warner Brothers since 1968, that it hasn't merited a full restoration. Let's hope the studio does justice to this film by making this a priority. Kudos to the Film Society for a job well done and an exciting week of superb entertainment.
The great cartoonist Pete Emslie reminds us that today is Christopher Lee's birthday. Pete provides another priceless piece of art, this time commemorating Christopher's performance as Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man With the Golden Gun. Cinema Retro readers know that Christopher is a frequent contributor to our magazine - and we wish the legendary star all the best. Christopher is busier than ever, with several film projects in the works. By the way, Pete notifies us of some interesting trivia: Christopher shares his birthday with his old friend and fellow film legend Vincent Price - and the previous day is the birthday of his frequent co-star Peter Cushing. Visit Pete Emslie's site, The Cartoon Cave by clicking here.
Despite her image as a teenage nymph, Brooke Shields was 22 years old before something finally got between her and her Calvin Klein jeans.
Anyone who was of age in the 1970s remembers the controversy surrounding the emergence of young Brooke Shields as a sex object, seen in suggestive Calvin Klein TV ads and playing a pre-pubescent temptress in Louis Malle's Pretty Baby. During her adult years, however, Shields managed to overcome the fate of most child stars who faded into obscurity. She managed to retain her star status, as well as a sense of dignity. In a new interview, however, Shields does confess that she was sexually naive and that she regrets staying a virgin until age 22. For more click here
La-La Land Records has released Elmer Bernstein's immortal score for the classic comedy hit Airplane! The CD comes complete with a 20 page collectible booklet containing comments from the filmmakers. Click here for more details and to hear sample tracks - and don't call me Shirley!
Actress Ingrid Pitt, best known for her horror flicks, posted her evaluation of the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service - and finds it to be a terrific entry in the series. Ingrid confesses that, like most people who haven't seen the film in ages, she was prejudiced by critics who lambasted George Lazenby simply because he had the nerve to take over from Sean Connery. Despite a personal, unpleasant encounter with Lazenby, she admits he's very good in the role and the film deserves the praise it has reaped in recent years. Click here to read.
Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer (L) and contributing writer Todd Garbarini with Robert Vaughn, who is holding both his recently-published memoir and an ultra-rare promotional brochure for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Photo copyright: Mark Yuknevitch)
By Lee Pfeiffer
On Saturday May 23, actor Robert Vaughn appeared at The Film Society of Lincoln Center's tribute to Steve McQueen, introducing a screening of John Sturges' 1960 classic The Magnificent Seven. Hundreds of classic movie lovers gave Vaughn an enthusiastic greeting, as he reflected on the making of the film in his introduction. He quipped that he got the gig by default because he's the last remaining member of the legendary "Seven". Vaughn recalled how Sturges cast him after seeing the 27 year-old actor's Oscar-nominated performance in The Young Philadelphians.Sturges then asked him if he knew a "Gary Cooper-type" to play the part of Britt, the knife-thrower. Vaughn instantly recommended his college buddy James Coburn, who was then destitute and living in New York. Coburn had to borrow the plane fare from his parents to meet with Sturges, but he and Vaughn remained lifelong friends - and Coburn was always grateful that Vaughn jump-started his big screen career. Vaughn said he recently ran into the other major surviving cast member, Eli Wallach, who played the bandit leader Calvera. The two remembered an amusing aspect of the filming: the presence on the set of a well-known Mexican film director who was employed to do translating to the crew and supporting actors. He said the man's career had only been marginally impacted by the fact that, after a Mexican film critic gave a pan review to one of his films, he killed the critic! Vaughn said that, even from an actor's standpoint, that reaction was a bit extreme for a critic. Following the introduction, Vaughn sat next to Neile McQueen, Steve's first wife, to view the movie on the big screen for the first time since 1960. The print was the best I have seen on a theater screen and the appreciative audience applauded at virtually every name on the opening credits. (You know you are in a sophisticated crowd when composer Elmer Bernstein's name gets as much applause as the stars!).
Since our web traffic is going swimmingly, Cinema Retro feels entitled to take a little detour outside of mainstream movie news by linking to The Huffington Post's "Guess the Celebrity Breast Implants" slideshow contest. This way, we feel we're still keeping readers abreast of the news, even though the only "booby prize" you'll win is the pleasure of viewing the photos. Click here to immerse yourself.
Take a great trip down Retro Lane through the superb movie poster and lobby card reproductions available from the good folks at the Femme Fatales and Fantasies Movie Poster site. Here's a teaser: the original Hammer Films one sheet poster for Ursula Andress as She. Click here to visit the site
Film critic Scott Mendelson provides some thoughts on seeing a blockbuster film in the IMAX mode- and addresses the on-going controversy that not all IMAX theaters are created equal, as some screens are notably smaller than others. Mendelson says there is far more to the merits of the experience than simply the size of a particular screen. Click here to read the article.
Producer Michael G. Wilson has revealed that preliminary work has begun on the 23rd James Bond film produced by Eon Productions. Wilson wouldn't specify any details, but said that star Daniel Craig was eager to get back into the role. He also said that Welsh singer Duffy and Amy Winehouse would be considered to sing the next title song. Craig has said recently that he would like to re-introduce Moneypenny in the series, but make her an in-depth character with an interesting past, instead of merely being the straight woman for Bond's puns. It stands to be a busy year for Eon Productions. The company is producing a non-Bond thriller as well as a remake of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. For more click here
The copies of Cinema Retro arrived. You did a beautiful layout and
Raymond Benson wrote a magnificent and compelling article. The photos
and words match perfectly. I read the article out loud to my wife Holly
and she said, "Raymond captured your whole life." I am deeply grateful
to be in your splendid film magazine. I feel very moved. What an honor
to be in Cinema Retro!
With gratitude &
Retro Responds: Harry, it is we who are honored. We've admired your performances for many years and appreciate you sharing your insights on working with heavyweights such as Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme and Steve McQueen.Keep up the great work -we're sure the best is yet to come.
(Acclaimed actor and poet Harry Northup is interviewed in issue #14 of Cinema Retro. He shares fascinating insights about co-starring in such films as Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and Tom Horn.)
If you were talking about the devil back in 1973, chances
are you’d be referring to a notorious Christmas present that Warner Brothers
was about to unleash: The Exorcist.
In fact, 1973 was chock-full of presents from Hollywood.The
Sting had dominated most of the box-office that year and would go on to
steal most of the Academy Awards including best picture. A new up -and-coming
director named George Lucas had left a lasting impression with American Graffiti. Clint Eastwood was riding
high both as the High Plains Drifter
and the cop with the big gun in Magnum
Force, whilst legendary director Fred Zinnemann hit his target artistically
(if not at the box-office) with his classic thriller The Day of the Jackal.
Then you have that “other” devil that everyone was
talking about, The Devil in Miss Jones.Now -to give the devil his due, The Exorcist did go on to gross over
$400 million, but dollar for dollar, with a much, much lower budget and the
star herself cooking the meals for the whole cast and crew, The Devil in Miss Jones was the film
that was the real blockbuster. Director
Gerard Damiano’s follow-up to his previous smash Deep Throat, retains its status as an adult film classic. In porn
terms, Damiano was one of a dozen or so auteur filmmakers who at least
attempted to interject an artistic approach to what were, up until that time,
basic “stag” films. The buzzword of the day was “porn-chic”, everyone was
talking about the “dirty” movies that were cleaning-up at the box-office.From Richard Nixon to Johnny Carson, the
spotlight was focused on the rapidly emerging skin-flick business, which was
primarily dominated by organized crime from the very start.Not that -Hollywood, didn’t have its mob
connections, but in porn the goal was to use films to launder
money rather than actually make it.Vast
drug, gambling and prostitution profits had to be washed through the
neighborhood adult bookstores and theaters in order to re-invest it in “cleaner”
enterprises.Damiano, a streetwise guy
who once ran a New York beauty salon, knew that when the mob bankers offered to
buy out his stake in the Deep Throat cash
cow for a mere $25,000, he had little choice but to – well, swallow it and
Double bills of Deep Throat and The Devil in Miss Jones played in the same theaters for years - and the protesters only increased box-office revenues.
Meanwhile –out of stage left, a self-described
“ultra-liberal, Broadway gypsy-cum-flower child” was about to enter the
picture. Living in a commune or work co-operative, hungry and seeking a job,
Chele Graham, who once was the understudy to Shirley MacLaine in The Pajama Game, had gone
underground.She was now using a
theatrical pseudonym, Georgina Spelvin. In the porn world, no one used their
real name.Having just made an X-rated
underground movie with a porn star known as Marc “Mr. Ten and a Half-Inches” Stevens,
Georgina was encouraged to audition for Gerard Damiano for a new film he was
casting.On calling the number, she spoke
on the phone to the co-star of Deep
Throat Harry Reems, who would go on to become a male legend in the porn
business. On the basis of that conversation, she was referred to Gerard
Damiano, who strangely seemed more interested in her abilities in the kitchen
than the boudoir. Upon being hired, Spelvin found she was not only expected to
be “cooking” in the scenes onscreen, but was literally obligated to do the
cooking for the crew during breaks!
Quentin Tarantino's high profile re-imagining of Italian director Enzo G. Castellari's 1978 original is boosting the B movie director's career and putting him back in the spotlight. Castellari is in Cannes, where Tarantino will be premiering his version of the WWII actioner starring Brad Pitt. Castellari was given a cameo in the new film and is now making the rounds promoting his next film, Caribbean Basterds. (The misspelling of "bastards" is obviously a new vogue). For more on the Odd Couple of Cannes, click here
It was a very special opening night of The Film Society of Lincoln Center's week-long tribute to the films and career of Steve McQueen. Fox provided a stunning, newly restored 35mm print of director Robert Wise's 1966 epic The Sand Pebbles, which garnered McQueen his only Oscar nomination. Experiencing the film on the big screen with a superb sound system proved to be a wonderful experience - because if you haven't seen The Sand Pebbles in a theater, you haven't seen it at all. The evening kicked off with an introduction by Candice Bergen, who related that she was a rather nervous 19 year-old in the largely all-male company of heavyweights. She recalled how filming on Taiwan for many months was an arduous - and simultaneously boring - experience. In 1965, the island was largely devoid of any modern conveniences and newspapers and telephones were almost impossible to find. While the men had each other to pal around with, Bergen was largely left on her own - except for times when McQueen would take her on impromptu, wild motorcycle rides. She said the iconic star would often zip off on his cycle, causing director Wise to worry whether he would ever see him again. She said that it was more pleasurable filming back at the Fox Ranch in California, where the massive set for the China Light mission was constructed for the climactic sequence. She said she still remains impressed by the work of the production design team. Ms. Bergen also said that director Wise was very politically-oriented and that the film was an intentional metaphor for the on-going Vietnam conflict.
Cinema Retro subscribers have already been devouring our 8 page celebration of Jack Cardiff's cult film Girl on a Motorcycle starring Marianne Faithfull and Alain Delon. Great minds must think alike because our friend Kimberly Linberg's groovy retro blog Cinebeats simultaneously launched an on-line tribute to the film, complete with rare stills and international movie posters. Click here to check out the Cinebeats site.
We told you that Guy Ritchie's revisionist version of Sherlock Holmes would be unlike any other version of the famed detective you've ever seen. Now comes the teaser trailer to prove it. Holmes carries a virtual utility belt of equipment, is adept at using his fists, doesn't hesitate to utilize firearms and has a weakness for the ladies that was barely evidenced in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series. The verdict is still out as to whether Ritchie's version is just a gimmicky bastardization of a great literary hero or a genuinely fresh attempt to launch a new tentpole series. Judge for yourself by clicking here
Actress Victoria Principal (of Dallasand Earthquake) fame is being sued by a former maid who accuses her of threatening her life with a gun after she was fired for taking too long to walk Principal's dog! When the maid had demanded her final paycheck, the lawsuit says, Principal went ballistic, grabbed a gun and threatened her life. The suit seeks unspecified damages. We don't know Principal's response, but if true, it could open up the "Who shot J.R." case with a brand new suspect. Based on the photographic evidence, it would appear Principal generally has both barrels loaded. For more click here
The coroner has weighed in on the cause of death for one time porn film legend Marilyn Chambers. The verdict is that she died from natural causes, even though she was only 56 years old. The coroner said she died from a hemorrhage and aneurysm related to heart disease. For more click here
Denise Richards (left) with Sophie Marceau in the 1999 007 hit The World is Not Enough.
By Lee Pfeiffer
If you thought it was a stretch accepting Denise Richards as a scientist in the 1999 James Bond film The World is Not Enough, wait until you hear her impersonate a singer. Richards was given the privilege of singing the national anthem at a recent Chicago Cubs baseball game - and while the practice is designed to be fun by having non-professional singers take a crack at the song, Richards went beyond the pale. The woman couldn't carry a tune if it had handles. What on earth was she thinking? Not since Roseanne Barr's notorious rendition of the anthem (followed by a crotch grab when the crowd started to boo her), has American dignity been so offended. Let's get a Congressional bill passed quickly that prevents Richards from singing again. To view the crime against our nation, click here.
The glory days of Saturday Night Live are long since gone. While the show generally offers a great opening sketch, you might has well turn it off after that and concentrate on your butterfly decoupage project. However, when some of the old guard returns, there is still an inkling of the clever routines that once made SNL "must-see" TV. This weekend, for example, Will Ferrell returned for one of his Celebrity Jeopardy tournaments, portraying the show's host, Alex Trebek. For non-American readers, Jeopardy is generally praised for being one of the few remaining game shows that rewards intellect over theatrics. However, when the program occasionally invites celebrities on, it is mocked for having to dumb-down the questions. In the SNL routine, Tom Hanks appears as himself in a self-deprecating manner and squares off against Darrell Hammond's hilarious, sex-obsessed Sean Connery. Norm McDonald also returns to do his impeccable Burt Reynolds impersonation. To view click here
The Warner Archive, which offers a treasure trove of burn-to-order DVDs for consumers, has made available Soldier in the Rain, the 1963 comedy starring the oddball pairing of Steve McQueen and Jackie Gleason as two U.S. Army con men who live the easy life on a military base by swindling virtually everyone they encounter. Gleason is the top sergeant and the brains of the operation, while McQueen, playing against type, is his doofy Gomer Pyle-like right hand man. The two manage to connive their way out of doing any heavy lifting during their work day, and in the evening find ways to seduce impressionable women. The film was not well-reviewed in its day and was considered rather racy, with its abundance of sex jokes. However, I've always found it very enjoyable, even though McQueen is miscast. The centerpiece of the film is really Gleason, who is in top form as the crooked sergeant who knows all the angles. Critics complained about the climax of the film, which suddenly deviates from a comedy to a violent action sequence that still shocks in terms of its brutality. For my money, it's one of the screen's best brawl sequences, rivaling even that great pool room scene in Clint Eastwood's Coogan's Bluff. The film also benefits from a good supporting cast that includes Tony Bill, Tuesday Weld, Tom Poston and Adam West. Click here to order - and check out the latest batch of movies available only through the Warner Archive.
Severin Films is noted for releasing deluxe DVD editions of cult European horror and sexploitation films such as the Emmanuelle movies and the recently-reviewed Sinful Dwarf. Thus, when I received a screener from Severin of their newly released French import The Hairdresser's Husband (Le mari de la coiffeuse), my natural inclination was to assume that this, too, had a tinge of the grotesque to it. However, the first clues that this would not be the kind of film generally appreciated by overweight, middle-aged men who live in their mother's basements was the fact that the DVD sleeve boasted a rave from Roger Ebert and the notation that the 1990 film was nominated for 7 Cesar Awards (the French equivilent of the Oscars) - a legacy that somehow escaped The Sinful Dwarf. I watched the film without even reading the synopsis and was quickly hypnotized by this strange, but fascinating love story. There is nary a murder or ill-tempered dwarf in sight, but you are never certain until the last frame what direction the story might move in. The film centers on Antoine (Jean Rochefort), a rather mundane middle-aged man who lives a relatively non-descript life. He reflects back on his childhood and his first love: the local hairdresser who would cut his hair. She was a plump, buxom woman who served as little Antoine's first sexual obsession. He became obsessed with her breasts and would use every available opportunity to get a haircut- much to his mother's bewilderment. It was from these early encounters that Antoine decided he had but one goal in life: to marry a hairdresser. The story shifts to the recent past, as Antoine recalls how he managed to fulfill his dream by marrying a beautiful, much younger woman who ran a hair salon.
Talk about perseverance! Like Don Quixote, he will be attempting to fulfill his seemingly impossible dream of bringing to the screen a movie about...Don Quixote. Nine years ago, his much-anticipated The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was aborted during production due to a number of reasons. Gilliam made some lemonade out of the lemon with his documentary about the fiasco, Lost in La Mancha. Now, however, comes word he will be attempting to revive the film once again - and this time he might not be tilting at windmills. For more click here
(For our previous report on the aborted film, click here)
Lewis starred in and directed his acclaimed 1963 comedy The Nutty Professor.
Jerry Lewis will star in Max Rose, a dramatic look at an elderly man who reflects on the key moments and people in his life. The film will shoot later this year in Los Angeles. For Lewis, returning to the screen in a starring role is a personal triumph, given the long history of health problems he has had to overcome. The notion of Lewis starring in a drama is not far-fetched. The legendary comic won rave reviews opposite Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorsese's woefully under-rated The King of Comedy in which Lewis played the dramatic lead. For more click here
Deadline Hollywood's Nikke Finke has broken the news that Universal will release a biopic of Frank Sinatra to be directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Phil Alden Robinson. Peter Guber will produce the film - a project he has championed for many years. The Sinatra family gave approval and Tina Sinatra will serve as executive producer - a fact that is sure to open up criticism that the script might sugarcoat some of the more controversial aspects of the legendary crooner's life. Sinatra remains as popular in death as he was in life. Those who crossed him, however, always said he bore bitter and longterm resentments. Among the more delicate aspects of the script will be how to handle Sinatra's alleged ties to organized crime. His foes always said he was a glorified mobster, while his defenders pointed out that it was virtually impossible to work in the venues Sinatra did without having some cursory friendships with gangsters. Despite Sinatra's volatile temper, he was known for countless acts of kindness, from paying hospital bills for down-and-out colleagues to building wings of hospitals to care for sick children. The biggest obstacle facing the new film project is who will play the larger-than-life legend. For more click here
Even if you've never heard of Jack Taylor, if you've seen a movie since the 1940s, you're familiar with his work. Taylor is - ironically- a tailor. More precisely, he's the probably the most famous tailor in the world, having been a fixture in Beverly Hills for decades. He's the man who started a modest clothing business in New York and wound up being the last word on style when it came to the personal clothing preferences for Hollywood legends ranging from Jackie Gleason to Frank Sinatra, and most notably, Cary Grant - the man who is regarded as the epitome of male glamour. All of these artists entrusted their sartorial matters to Taylor, a cantankerous, out-spoken, quick-witted and no-nonsense perfectionism who rules over his shop like a benign dictator. Most amazingly, he continues to do so even though he's in his 90s. His long-suffering, but adoring major domo is his charming wife Bonnie, who has been his inseparable partner for over 60 years. Jack and Bonnie are the subject of a wonderful documentary titled Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills. It's a first-time movie effort by novice filmmaker Cecile Leroy Beaulieu, an Italian who was raised watching classic Hollywood movies. She fell in love with the sense of style stars once had and while in Beverly Hills with her husband, accompanied him to Jack's store in the naive belief they would have a seersucker suit custom-made. Jack Taylor was appalled by the notion and flat-out refused to comply with their request, despite the fact that the job would have netted him a hefty sum. Beaulieu was so intrigued by this man of principle that she decided to make a documentary about his remarkable career.The result is Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills,which has won acclaim at film festivals and which has now been released on DVD through Indiepix. Considering the fact that it represents Beaulieu's first attempt at making a film, it's a rather remarkable achievement.
Our favorite cartoonist Pete Emslie of The Cartoon Cave honors the immortal crooner Bobby Darin on his birthday. Darin, who died in 1973 at age 36, would have been 73 years old today. While everyone is aware of his status as a chart-topping singer, Darin also enjoyed a brief film career in movies such as Too Late Blues, Come September, Pressure Point, Hell is For Heroes and Captain Newman, M.D. for which he received a supporting actor Oscar nomination. Darin is Kevin Spacey's favorite singer, and the Oscar winner portrayed him in the biopic Beyond the Sea. Visit Pete Emslie's web site by clicking here for more great cartoon art.
PlanetZMan's Cougar Hall of Fame celebrates legendary and sexy actresses such as Raquel Welch.
Gone are the days when the image of middle-aged women was relegated to that of June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver. Suddenly, older is hotter -though Hollywood still didn't get the memo and continues to under-employ some of our favorite actresses. Our friend Tommy Z, who runs the PlanetZMan web site celebrates legendary female stars with his new Cougar Hall of Fame. This new feature follows in the politically incorrect style of the rest of the web site (which gives tips on the best cigars and fine whiskeys, extols the virtues of large breasts and provides "The 10 Things Ladies Should NEVER Say to Guys".) The testosterone levels are off the chart on this site, but it's a hell of a lot of fun. Click here to view the initial inductees in the Cougar Hall of Fame - and view some pretty hot photos of why they were included.
The plague of remakes has even extended to Hollywood shlockmeister supreme William Castle, who proudly specialized in Grade A promotions for Grade C horror movies. Producer Joel Silver has a remake in the works of the 1965 Castle chiller I Saw What You Did and I Know Who You Are (How would like to have been the guy who had to put that on the theater marquee while balancing on a ladder?) The film starred Joan Crawford in a tale about two teenagers whose prank phone calls result in them being stalked by a murderer. The less-than-stellar grosses for the 1999 remake of Castle's B horror classic House on Haunted Hill didn't set the world on fire, but creativity in Hollywood is in short supply so even William Castle's catalog of movies is fair game. For more click here
Paramount has released a 2 disc special edition of the 1968 comedy classic The Odd Couple as part of the studio's Centennial Collection. The film retains all of its initial appeal, despite the fact that virtually every baby boomer has committed the scenes and dialogue to memory. Although most people regard this as the first historic pairing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, in fact, that occurred with Billy Wilder's 1965 gem The Fortune Cookie which saw Matthau winning the Oscar for supporting actor. The genius behind the story, of course, is Neil Simon, who adapted his smash hit Broadway play for the film. The part of Felix Unger was originally played on Broadway by the great Art Carney, but Lemmon was a much hotter box-office property and got the role in the feature film. The film is creative in the ways it opens up beyond the confines of a Broadway play, and affords some great views of New York City in the late 1960s. The DVD release boasts a widescreen edition of the film that is glorious to behold. In addition to a commentary track by the star's sons, actor Chris Lemmon and director Charlie Matthau, there is a full disc devoted to extras. Much of this consists primarily of talking head shots of various individuals extolling the virtues of the story as well as Lemmon and Matthau, who were regarded as all-around great guys to work with. Among those interviewed are the film's director Gene Saks, Carole Shelley (who played one of the Pigeon sisters), David Sheiner (who played the poker buddy Roy), actor Brad Garrett and even Larry King, who makes a poignant case for his belief that this is The Great American Comedy. Robert Evans, who ran Paramount during that era, is also interviewed and says that Lemmon's salary of $1 million equaled the cost of the rest of the budget. The extras are broken down into mini featurettes that cover most aspects of the film, but concentrate primarily on the Lemmon/Matthau relationship, as the two were best friends throughout most of their careers. (Almost poetically, they died within a year of each other). The segments in which Chris Lemmon and Charlie Matthau express their adoration of their fathers is quite touching and often amusing.
Those Brits who subscribe to Cinema Retro can stop gloating over already having the latest issue of the magazine. We can now report that issue #14 arrived in the USA and was shipped immediately to all subscribers in North America. For those of you who have still not taken the plunge and subscribed, try resisting this:
OUR 8 PAGE FILM IN FOCUS: DIRECTOR JACK CARDIFF'S CULT HIT GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE STARRING ALAIN DELON AND MARIANNE FAITHFULL - THE FULL BEHIND-THE-SCENES STORY WITH DOZENS OF RARE, SEXY PHOTOS
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: OSCAR NOMINEE JAMES CAAN RECALLS HIS EARLY DAYS IN THE FILM INDUSTRY AS WELL AS MAKING EL DORADO WITH JOHN WAYNE, ROBERT MITCHUM AND HOWARD HAWKS.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: OSCAR WINNER ERNEST BORGNINE RECALLS MAKING THE WILD BUNCH, WILLARD AND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: KAREN BLACK ON WORKING WITH ALFRED HITCHCOCK ON FAMILY PLOT
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: SCREENWRITER GERRY WILSON ON THE MAKING OF THE WESTERNS LAWMAN STARRING BURT LANCASTER AND CHATO'S LAND STARRING CHARLES BRONSON
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: CHARACTER ACTOR HARRY NORTHUP REMEMBERS HIS FRIEND STEVE MCQUEEN AND WORKING WITH SCORSESE ON TAXI DRIVER
THE ESPIONAGE FILMS OF ALISTAIR MACLEAN PT 2 COVERS FEAR IS THE KEY, PUPPET ON A CHAIN AND WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL.
THE STORY BEHIND DIRECTOR MICHAEL WINNER'S KINKY HORROR FLICK THE SENTINEL
MORE NEVER-BEFORE-PUBLISHED PHOTOS FROM THE JAMES BOND CLASSIC ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE
RAY HARRYHAUSEN INVITES CINEMA RETRO TO VIEW HIS PRIVATE PROP COLLECTION
STRANGE LOVE: ANALYZING THREE OFF-BEAT CLINT EASTWOOD FILMS: THE BEGUILED, PLAY MISTY FOR ME AND BREEZY.
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. FEATURE FILM COVERAGE CONTINUES WITH THE KARATE KILLERS
MICHAEL CAINE SIGNS ON FOR A NEW DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE ITALIAN JOB
RAYMOND BENSON'S TOP TEN FILMS OF 1973
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Mickey Carroll, one of the beloved actors who played a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz, has passed away at age 89. Carroll played multliple parts in the 1939 classic, for which he was paid $125 a week. He later bypassed a movie career in favor of radio performances and used his celebrity to raise funds for charity. He also ran a cemetery monument business until 1996. In 2007, Carroll - along with other surviving Munchkin actors- finally got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For more click here
With the creative cycle of much of the film industry set permanently on "rewind", it hardly comes as a surprise as yet another ill-fated remake is in the works. Just when you managed to digest the news that an Americanized remake of Sam Peckinpah's classic Straw Dogs is about to be filmed, comes word that another vibrant action film from 1971 is also about to be massacred. This time, it's Michael Winner's The Mechanic which memorably dealt with a ruthless killer for hire who trains a young protege, with some disturbing complications arising. Winner's film was not a work of art, but it was top-flight entertainment sustained by the chemistry between Bronson and Jan Michael Vincent. The producers of the original are the culprits behind this version which will be directed by Simon West and star Jason Statham in the Bronson role. Statham is the star of the critically maligned Transporter films and is all of 36 years-old. Since the crux of the original story centered on the dynamics between two men of distinctly different ages, we guess they are culling the ranks of day care centers to find someone to play the younger assassin. For more click here.
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber may be picking at the low hanging fruit by returning to his most successful musical, Phantom of the Opera, for a sequel. However, the planned opening for this fall has been delayed due to problems with the score. It is now anticipated the show will open in 2010, a development sure to cause distress in theaters that had been planning to book the potential blockbuster. At least Webber has changed the title from the dreadful Phantom of the Opera II to the somewhat less anemic Love Never Dies - but it still sounds like the title of one of those George Hamilton vampire spoofs from the 1970s. Now, if only they can persuade old Herbert Lom to put on the mask and play the title role...For more click here
There have been many books written about the charismatic
‘King of Kung Fu’ Bruce Lee since his untimely death in 1973.None, however, have captured his passion for
filmmaking quite like Bruce Lee:Legends of the Dragon by Steve Kerridge.This three volume pictorial history of the
making of his third Hong Kong action film, Way
of the Dragon, follows ‘The little Dragon’ through true timeline from April
to August 1972 in Italy and Hong Kong.Each
book is lavishly illustrated with several rare and unseen photos that have come
from the Bruce Lee Estate archive and the personal collection of Bruce’s
friends and colleagues.Many of those
who were involved in the film, such as Bruce’s business partner Raymond Chow,
actor and American Karate Champion Chuck Norris, leading Lady Nora Miao and
production manager Chaplin Chang, share their stories.A foreword by Bruce’s daughter Shannon Lee,
now the president of the Bruce Lee Foundation (www.bruceleefoundation.com) is also included.
Presented here is an overview of the first two
volumes that were published in 2008, and an exclusive sneak preview of volume
three, which will be available in November 2009.
Volume One kicks off with photos of Bruce dining out with his
son Brandon and his former Wing Chun instructor Yip Man (portrayed by Donnie
Yen in the 2008 film Ip Man).These are followed by various hand-written script notes and fabulous shots
of Bruce and Hollywood screenwriter Stirling Silliphant - responsible for
writing the script for The Towering
Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure
and for featuring Bruce in four episodes of the TV series Longstreet starring James Franciscus – at Kai Tak airport.However, a substantial part of the book is
relegated to the many b/w and colour photographs of the cast and crew on
location in Rome, Italy.Bruce had yet
to reach international stardom and was therefore able to visit many places
without being recognised; candid shots of Bruce and the team bargain hunting at
the Porta Potese flea market is proof of this. Other highlights include Bruce and his
co-stars, Chuck Norris and Bob Wall, appearing on the Hong Kong variety show
‘Enjoy Yourself’.The guys also make a
surprise visit to the set of Hapkido and
meet with Angela Mao Ying, a top Chinese female action star and martial artist
who would later be cast as Bruce’s sister in Enter the Dragon.
Bruce Lee's hand-written script notes.
Volume Two focuses on the team returning to Hong Kong to film
the interior scenes at the Golden Harvest studios and exterior shots at the New
Territories.Bruce is also photographed
with his wife Linda and son Brandon backstage at the HK-TVB studios.He was there to give his support for a live
fund- raising event that was held in aid of the victims of a devastating
landslide that happened the week before.Ample attention is given to the infamous showdown at the Roman coliseum between
Bruce and Chuck Norris, which resulted in one of the greatest fight scenes ever
Volume Three includes fantastic never-before-seen photos from a
deleted scene involving Bruce and the beautiful Nora Miao.Our hero can be seen demonstrating his nunchaku
skills against the hoodlums down the back alley of the restaurant he’s been
sent to protect.Fans will undoubtedly
be enthralled to see Bruce making frequent visits to the studio of Golden
Harvest’s rival the Shaw brothers and choreographing fights scenes for the kung fu
flick Fist of Unicorn.This was done as a favour for his childhood
friend, and the leading actor, Unicorn Chan.Bruce became enraged when he learned that his name and image were being
exploited by the company Starsea to promote the film.The friendship between Bruce and Unicorn was
not affected by this incident as many believe; Bruce’s grievance was only with
Inspired by our recent publication of the near cat-fight between Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield (click here), The MovieQuest Archive sent this doozy of a photo depicting a similar situation between Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe. Mrs. Bogie, Lauren Bacall looks suitably amused, but we wouldn't have wanted to be in Bogart's shoes when the party was over!
Dario Argento and Sir Christopher Frayling at the Sergio Leone tribute in London.(Photo: Mark Mawston)
In honour of what would have been Sergio Leone’s 80th
birthday, Sir Christopher Frayling, the late director’s internationally
acclaimed biographer, hosted a celebration of the legenary filmmaker’s work at
the Italian Cultural Institute in London on Wednesday evening.
Sir Christopher, who has penned the foreword to Dave
Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer’s upcoming book ‘The Westerns of Clint Eastwood’,
invited Dave, along with Cinema Retro contributors, and authors in their own
right, Matthew Field and Howard Hughes, and photographer Mark Mawston to this
Posters from Sergio Leone’s movies adorned the walls,
providing a fitting backdrop to the evening, which began with a talk on Leone’s
career by Frayling (illustrated with a slideshow) followed by an on-stage
interview with famed Italian director Dario Argento, who collaborated with
Leone on the screenplay for Once Upon A
Time in the West.
Dario Argento and Cinema Retro's Dave Worrall. (Photo: Paul Lawton)
After an entertaining Q&A with an audience that
included actor Robert Rietty (who did voice-over work for Leone) and production
designer Sir Ken Adam, the guests were treated to a live performance of music
from Leone’s movies by Paolo Castelluccia. His arrangements were amazing,
especially as he and his partner were limited to the use of a piano, keyboards
and trumpet, the highlight being from Once
Upon A Time in America, which had the 150+ audience captivated.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from the publishers of MI6 Declassified magazine:
It is my pleasure to inform you that issue #5 of MI6 Declassified is nowavailable to order!
"Quantum of Solace" divided some fans and critics over its
style and substance, but one fact is undeniable: 007 was back at the
box-office in record-breaking form. With opening weekend tallies smashing
historical highs almost everywhere he went, Bond Fever was rampant once
again. MI6 Declassified #5 looks at how the 22nd film thrilled cities around
the world and speaks to some of the creative talent behind the movie... and
keep an eye out for an exclusive cut scene still!
The fifth issue
includes: o Premiere Bond - Coverage from Leicester Square for the "Quantum
of Solace" debut o Around The World With 007 - Following the worldwide
launch of the latest James Bond adventure o Box Office Bond - Bond
Fever hits at cinemas as records are smashed o In Their Own Words - Cast
and crew discuss making "Quantum of Solace" o Making Another Way To Die -
Jack White and Alicia Keys talk about the title song o John Gardner A
Life In Literature - A tribute to the late continuation author including his
last in-depth interview o Giving Bond His Booms, Bangs & Beeps -
Interview with Oscar-winning sound editor Norman Wanstall o Zig Zag
Comics - Uncovering the rare '60s series from South America o The Bond
Connection - A unique look at the world through Fleming's eyes in Thrilling
Cities o The Last Word - Mya Harrison on singing and starring in Everything
Seems everyone has an opinion regarding our recent editorial about Julia Roberts' use of expletives in her Lincoln Center tribute to Tom Hanks. Reader Doug Gerbino now weighs in:
I have just read the reply to your article on Julia Roberts language, and I think your reader is off the mark in her rebuttal of your first article. It is not what Ms. Roberts said, it is where she it. There is a time and a place for everything, and that award ceremony was not it. Your comments on the dumbing down of society are so true. As a school teacher, I see the daily sad effects of this trend. Forget Swine Flu...the Cultural Illiteracy is the real panedmic. As the Marschallin in Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier says, "In the 'how'...there lays the difference."
- Doug Gerbino
Retro Responds: Doug, you took the words write out of my mouth. I don't know how many times I've used Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier to illustrate a point! Not that I want to contribute to the cultural illiteracy that we both agree is a plague on society, but isn't Der Rosenkavalier the German release title for Don Knotts' The Ghost and Mr. Chicken?
Well, it's midnight and I've just returned from attending the world's first showing of the new Star Trek film in IMAX format in New York City at the Loews Lincoln Center. When Paramount sent me the invitation, I confess I thought twice about attending. The reason is that I'm probably the only baby boomer who grew up in the 1960s and managed to emerge knowing almost nothing about Star Trek. Although I have seen some of the first feature films based on the show, I have never seen a complete episode of the original series. Nor have I seen any of the sequels, prequels or spin-offs. Wait - it gets better. Some years ago, I was introduced to Leonard Nimoy and only chatted briefly about films he directed, with nary a mention of his pointy-eared alter-ego (I think he was grateful, actually). Finally, back in 1990s, I was in L.A. to appear on a TV program and found myself backstage in the green room with a wonderfully witty gentleman whose face looked familiar, but whose name I couldn't place. After talking for about an hour about WWII history and the injuries he sustained in the war, I asked him what he did for a living. "I'm an actor", he said. "My name is James Doohan and you probably know me from Star Trek". Doohan was kind enough to say that my ignorance was refreshing, as it afforded him a rare opportunity to discuss something unrelated to the series, but I justifiably felt like an idiot. I tell you all of this because it is important for you to know that when I attended the Star Trek premiere, I had little interest in the film, and was far more intrigued by the prospect of simply enjoying the IMAX experience. Two hours later, I emerged from the theater a full-fledged Trek enthusiast, now determined to catch up with what others had the foresight to appreciate nearly a half century ago. The new Star Trek is a modern sci-fi classic and a personal triumph for director J.J. Abrams, who has reinvigorated the series in the way that both James Bond and Batman have been revitalized. This is your father's Star Trek - and that's meant as a compliment.
This is a movie so filled with energy, creativity and surprises that I will refrain from spilling most of the specifics here. Suffice it to say, you don't have to be a Trekker to appreciate its merits. While I am generally pretty grumpy about the overuse of CGI in films, this is a case where it is obviously merited - and they are the best CGI effects I have ever seen onscreen. However, Abrams- working with a literate and witty script by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman - has not lost sight of the fact that the series was about the human element (or Vulcan element, as the case may be.) The story tells how all the aspects of the original series came into being. I have no idea whether these plot developments have been explored previously in various Trek films and series, but they were new to me, including the surprising revelation that Kirk and Spock started their relationship as adversaries. The film traces how Kirk progressed from a brilliant but rebellious troublemaker into commander of the Enterprise - and how he assembled the now legendary crew. No one envies actors who take over legendary characters played by other beloved actors, but the most exciting revelation about the new movie is the brilliant casting. Virtually every role is a gem and is played by actors with extraordinary talent and charisma. Topping the list, of course, are Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, playing Kirk and Spock respectively. Both were unknown to me, though I understand Quinto is one of the stars of Heroes. (Since I haven't watched episodic TV since Mr. Ed was ratings gold, I was unfamiliar with his work.) Both actors generate the kind of chemistry enjoyed by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in the original series. Amusingly, now freed by the constraints of TV censorship of the 1960s, Kirk's horndog instincts are on full display in funny sequences in which he tries to seduce the fetching Uhura (Zoe Saldana).We also get fascinating insights into Spock's motivations and background, extending to his early years on the planet Vulcan. The script hits all the right notes and Pine and Quinto (along with the rest of the cast), pay homage to their predecessors by invoking just enough familiar mannerisms without delving into cheap imitation.
Paul Scrabo, who introduced the film, displays Peter Falk's cabby hat from the film- part of his remarkable Mad World collection. (Photo: Cinema Retro)
By Lee Pfeiffer
In recent years, New Jersey has become Seventh Heaven for classic movie lovers, with numerous old-time theaters giving first class presentations of great films. April 29 saw a special screening of Stanley Kramer's 1963 comedy classic It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World at the Cedar Lane Theaters in Teaneck, New Jersey. Droves of fans came from far and wide to attend the show. A very nice 35mm print was screened to the delight of one and all. Theater owner Nelson Page is no stranger to movie fans. He's been sponsoring his program of Big Screen Classics for years and providing yeoman showmanship in the process. At the Cedar Lane, audiences were treated to a wonderful pre-show old time organ recital that included the film's main theme. The theater is also a treasure trove of old-time vestiges of an era when going to a movie theater was something special. There's a vintage theater box-office inside the theater lobby, as well as some eye-catching original movie posters. For Mad World, Paul Scrabo, one of the world's great experts on the film and the man who was instrumental in putting together the tribute documentary released by MGM Home Video in the 1990s, displayed rare posters and original artwork from the film. Scrabo also introduced the film and provided some fascinating insights into the behind-the-scenes stories. Scrabo also astutely pointed out that, while some people find the film to be overblown and unfunny, the criticism that the actors are overshadowed by the stunts is completely untrue. He correctly informed the audience that the script allows each of the many actors to play a fully developed character and lets their unique comedic abilities shine.Scrabo also said that many of the stars of the film were primarily known to audiences through black-and-white TV series. Thus, the opportunity to see all these legendary comics on the wide screen and in color was quite a thrill in 1963. The fact that the film has such a loyal and enthusiastic following after all these decades is all the proof you need that Stanley Kramer succeeded in his vision of creating a comedy that is a true classic.
Click here to visit Paul Scrabo's website which has extensive coverage of Mad World.
Click here for more information on the Big Screen Classics series.
Daniel Craig says he's happy playing James Bond and will continue to do so as long as he's wanted in the role. This must be music to the producer's ears, as previous Bond actors have eventually proved contentious over issues of salary, typecasting, etc. Although Craig complains that the role of Bond has not produced any exciting roles for him outside of the series (he says he continues to be offered "crap"), it has elevated him to England's highest paid actor. For more click here
Reader Michele Rice takes issue with Lee Pfeiffer's recent article criticizing Julia Roberts for using foul language at the Lincoln Center tribute to Tom Hanks:
Without making any comment on the acceptance of crass language at an Lincoln
Center Event, I just want to quote the wonderful man & legendary talk show
host Mike Douglas who said,
"The color of a woman's speech isn't what makes her a lady. It's how she lives
her life and what she stands for." He was talking about "a lady named Carole
He continues: "Everybody I've ever spoken to who knew her
agrees she was a great comedienne. But I also gathered that there were many who
would not call an actress with a working vocabulary like Carole's, a 'lady'. She
could have given a language course in Advanced Obscenity to the crew of the ship
that bore her name. The color of a woman's speech isn't what makes her a lady.
It's how she lives her life and what she stands for. How she does her job and
how she relates to her fellow workers. It's integrity! Gallantry!"
either accept foul language or are offended by it. That's their prerogative. But
we can't look back on the past with rose-colored glasses and dismiss everything
about today as crap. So while I definitely couldn't imagine Princess
Grace making such foul remarks to Cary Grant, I do realize that the idea of
a homogenized Hollywood "Class" of the Golden Age is probably more image than
reality and that a potty mouth isn't necessarily an important factor in judging
Retro Responds: You raise a valid point, Michele and certainly state it convincingly. For the record, I'm not casting any criticism at what people do in private, nor am I a hypocrite. Cinema Retro rarely passes up an opportunity to run a provocative photo. I also count among my friends women whose ability to tell a dirty joke would make a longshoreman blush. However, my point was about the place and context in which public figures use such language. Actors are no different than anyone else- we all generally say things in private that we wouldn't say in polite company. However, the line has been blurred in recent years, not just among actors, but with virtually all celebrities. I've noticed a trend even among notable writers and columnists to prove they are hip by including an abundance of crass language in their columns. I believe that when Mike Douglas referred to Carole Lombard, he was obviously referring to her behavior among friends and colleagues - not at the Academy Awards. The dumbing down and slumming down of society extends to everyday people as well, which is why one must endure drunks and boors at baseball games, concerts and every other conceivable public event. My criticism of Julia Roberts has nothing to do with her worth as a person. I don't know her personally (much to my chagrin), and her language would be perfectly appropriate in places I frequent such as the Friar's Club where no one claims to have virgin ears. However, I still think it crosses the line to engage in such behavior at a venue like Lincoln Center. Thus, out of principle, I am publicly declaring my refusal to co-star with Julia Roberts as her leading man at any point in the future. Please, no letter-writing campaigns - my mind is made up! - Lee Pfeiffer