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At the risk of imitating Alfred Hitchcock's classic tag-line "The Birds is coming!" , we can now say "The Eagles has landed!" The Cinema Retro Movie Classics special edition tribute to Where Eagles Dare has arrived in our U.S. office. If you pre-ordered the issue, it's winging its way to you right now. If you have a copy on reserve, please send in your payment right away. We want to thank our readers worldwide for their extraordinary response to our first Movie Classics edition, which is shaping up to be our fastest-selling issue ever. If you haven't ordered yet, please don't hesitate...supplies are rapidly dwindling and this is certain to be a valuable collector's item. Spend a night with Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood and Mary Ure with the most in-depth celebration of this classic film ever produced.
(Click here for payment details and information about this issue).
The forthcoming remake of The Wolfman starring Benecio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins seems to have been in production since Lon Chaney Jr. was a toddler. The $85 million flick was deemed to need some work in terms of new action sequences, so the production has been filming at England's famed Pinewood Studios under the supervision of top second unit director Vic Armstrong. Meanwhile, Universal has postponed the premiere for the third time, saying it will open early next year. For full details, along with a video update from Comic Con, click here.
These alien props are among tens of thousands of others being auctioned off due to the downturn in film production.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Although Hollywood is bucking the economic trend and enjoying a good year at the box-office, the picture is far from rosy for the average person trying to eek out a living in the film business. Studios have cut back on location shooting by as much as 50%, with far more productions relegated to studio settings. This means a major negative impact for people in the transportation and catering business. Also hard-hit is the prop rental business, as evidenced by a major company being forced to sell almost 100,000 classic movie props that were rented out to other film productions. Actors who work as extras and in supporting roles also express real concern over the fact that roles are drying up rapidly, leading one pundit to quip that the waiters and waitresses you see in Hollywood suddenly look a lot more glamorous. For more click here
Does Hollywood's love affair with comebacks extend the man behind the blacklist, Sen. Joseph McCarthy?
By Lee Pfeiffer
The dreaded days of Senator Joseph McCarthy's crusade against "anti-Americans" in the film business represents a dark chapter of Hollywood history. However, according to British journalist Michael Freedland, the movie industry is presently in the midst of another defacto blacklist - this one based on ostracizing those who dare to express messages that don't conform to political correctness. Freedland cites examples of a monolithic approach to presenting minorities in films and on TV as almost always virtuous characters for fear of offending someone. Similar sentiments have been raised by members of the gay community, that homosexual characters are generally relegated to being the eccentric, over-the-top next door neighbor but are rarely seen as complex individuals. Ironically, some liberal actors also have cited being affected. In his later years, ultra liberal Gregory Peck complained of being shut out of films because, to the new Hollywood, even he was too mainstream.
Whether a new blacklist exists or not remains to be debated. What is clear is that, from a political standpoint, both liberals and conservatives chronically whine that they can't get their message out and that "the media" is stacked against them. For the liberals, the rant rings hollow, as Democrats control the Presidency, the Congress and the Senate. For conservatives, the premise that they can't get their message out because of a media conspiracy is equally nutty: the top cable news network is right-leaning Fox News and right wing hosts have a virtual monopoly on talk radio. Whether the notion of a new Hollywood blacklist is legitimate or just another symptom of America's obsession with "victimization" is up to the reader to decide. Click here to read
One of our favorite films of the 1950s is John Ford's The Horse Soldiers, released in 1959. Starring John Wayne, who is sent with his command to lead a secret- and potentially suicidal mission - to destroy the infrastructure behind Southern lines. William Holden is the company doctor who Wayne detests more than the enemy. The film has a great script, wonderful music and cinematography and a superb cast, including many old favorites from Ford's stock company. Sadly, the film was a tragic experience for all - a stuntman died during production after Ford reluctantly let him carry out a horse fall. It clouded the rest of the film and Ford never forgave himself. Click here to view the original trailer.
One of the services Cinema Retro readers appreciate most is our dedication to making the public aware of niche market books, videos and soundtracks that don't benefit from major marketing campaigns. The latest worthy effort to arrive in our mailbox is author John C. Fredriksen's Honey West, the ultimate tribute to the 60s one season, cult series. Anne Francis starred as the judo-chopping sexpot detective with John Ericson as her handsome and able Guy Friday. Although the series was not a hit when it first ran on ABC-TV, it has always maintained a loyal following. I had never seen the show during its original airing, but when the series was released on DVD last year, I was hooked. Fredriksen has done a very commendable job of outlining virtually every aspect of the series, from its origins as a paperback novel to what the stars are doing today. He has both recent and vintage interviews with Francis and Ericson, as well as their addresses for fans to write to them at. The book, published by Bear Manor Media, has modest production values but does contain a wealth of excellent photographs. It's probably the closest you'll get to curling up and spending the night with a sexy female detective, so make a date with Hioney West and make sure you add this to your retro library.
Let's hope that TCM's decision to expand into films of the 80s never results in the awkward site of Robert Osborne having to discuss the virtues of Porky's.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Laurie Broder of About.Com reports that Turner Classic Movies is now expanding the number of films they telecast by introducing titles from the 1980s. We can just hear the hissing now among retro purists who consider the 70s to be the last great age of Hollywood. However, we have to give TCM a break...if they never expand beyond their current range, the number of titles repeated frequently will ultimately dilute their value. 'lest you think the 80s was comprised strictly of Cheech and Chong movies, consider that it also includes Raging Bull. If you're not feeling old already, then consider that for Gen Xers, The Karate Kid is as ancient to them as Casablanca is to you. For more click here
The Cafe de Paris, the Rome restaurant immortalized in Fellini's La Dolce Vita, has been raided by Italian police, who claim the cafe's owner - a nondescript barber- is actually a front man for the Mafia. The cafe was seen in Fellini's landmark film as the favorite hangout of the rich and famous, including the paparazzi. It's colorful past has included being bombed by terrorists in 1985- but in typical Roman style, it reopened for business the next day. Too bad Fellini isn't still with us...he'd make the tale into a great movie. For more click here
The teaser posters for Guy Ritchie's forthcoming version of Sherlock Holmes have been unveiled showing Robert Downey Jr. as the famed detective, Jude Law as Dr. Watson and Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, the only woman who seem to catch the fancy of Holmes due to her incredible intellect. Downey's Holmes is depicted as disappointingly ordinary and resembles the guy who might be standing next to you at any bar in London's Soho district. Still, we're optimistic because he is an incredibly skilled actor, and any plan to bring Holmes back to the screen deserves credit. The film opens on Christmas Day. Click here to view
With the Cinema Retro special edition tribute to Where Eagles Dare now shipping in the UK and Europe - and is expected to arrive any time in the USA- you can indulge in celebrating the Clint Eastwood/Richard Burton WWII classic by watching the original trailer. More proof they don't make 'em like this anymore! To view click here
Polanski wasted no time moving out of the more repressive artistic environment
of Iron Curtain Poland after the success of his first feature film (Knife in the Water, 1962—released in the
West in ’63).The director went to the
U.K., where he made his first English language picture, the 1965 classic horror
film Repulsion.It is surely one of the creepiest—if not the
scariest—movies ever made.A young
Catherine Deneuve stars as a mentally disturbed woman staying alone in her
sister’s apartment for the weekend.Needless to say, her imagination runs loose and gets the better of her.Before long, she’s murdering anyone who comes
to the door and dumping bodies in the bathtub.
the subtext here is sexual child abuse.It’s not blatant, but the clues are there—Deneuve’s character is frigid,
shrinks away from any thought of sex or even intimacy with the man who is
supposed to be her boyfriend, and hallucinates being assaulted by a shadowy
older man who seems to invade her bedroom from a secret door in the wall.When released in 1965, the UK slammed it with
an “X” certificate. The U.S. ad campaign warned that the film was strictly for
mature audiences.They were correct in
doing so…this is heavy, scary stuff.Harrowing and frightening, Repulsion
established Polanski as a visionary director of the macabre; it’s easily
one of his best pictures.Some films
merely scare you—this one haunts you for a long time after viewing it.
Repulsion has been released by dubious studios
over the years on VHS and DVD, and none of these earlier editions are much
good.The video quality has always been
sub-par and the audio no better.The red
carpet label Criterion Collection finally acquired the rights and restored the
film to a crisp, clear, and magnificent high definition black and white
splendor (approved by Polanski)—it’s as if you’re seeing the picture for the
first time (it’s a must-purchase item for this reason alone).Additionally, the audio no longer sounds
muddy as it did on previous releases.In
short, Criterion’s new edition is near-perfect.Extras include a commentary by Polanski and Deneuve; a documentary on
the making of the film featuring interviews with the director and others; a
vintage documentary from 1964 on the set of the film; original theatrical
trailers; and a multi-page booklet.
in both DVD and Blu-Ray.Highly
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE TRAILER AND TO ORDER DISCOUNTED DVD EDITION FROM AMAZON
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The original gold plated James Bond Aston Martin produced by Corgi in 1965 after the world-wide success of Goldfinger. The car can sell for hundreds of dollars if in the original box.
A BBC report sent James Bond toy collector Stuart McKell to a British memorabilia fair where plenty of Bond collectibles and other movie and TV tie-ins were on display. The piece offers some tantalizing glimpses of Star Wars and Thunderbirds memorabilia and features McKell horse-trading with dealers over Corgi Aston Martin vehicles. Refreshingly, the piece plays it straight and doesn't seek out weirdos dressed like Darth Vader to represent the average collector. Click here to view.
1970, the charismatic actor Christopher Jones (then starring in David Lean’s
epic Ryan’s Daughter) turned his back on movie stardom to lead a life of almost
total anonymity. Today, Jones is a working artist who specializes in paintings
with a classical antiquity theme and in portraits of Hollywood legends such as
James Dean – to whom Jones once bore a striking resemblance.
studied at the Actors Studio and perfected his craft on episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Naked City, the extraordinarily handsome,
Tennessee-born actor moved steadily up the Hollywood ladder through the late
sixties. He starred in The Legend of
Jesse James – a TV western that lasted through the 1965-66 season – and
threeB-pictures: the love
story Chubasco (in which he
appeared with then-wife Susan Strasberg); the sex romp Three in the Attic; and the cult movie satire Wild in the Streets, in which Jones
plays Max Frost, the youngest-ever President of the United States, consigning
over-30s to psychedelic concentration camps.
Jones photographed in 2008 by Greg Bryan.
then traveled to Europe to star in three ‘A’ pictures – the rarely seen romance
Brief Season; the spy thriller The Looking Glass War; and Ryan’s Daughter, in which he delivers
a haunting performance as a shell-shocked English major posted to Ireland
during the Troubles in 1915. And then, on the cusp of superstardom, Jones
disappeared from movie screens. He didn’t make another film for 26 years. In
1996, Jones turned up in a cameo as a cool gangster wearing Ray-Bans in the
black comedy Trigger Happy
(also released as Mad Dog Time).
Jones agreed to appear in the film as a
favor to his old friend and Wild in the Streets co-star, actor-director Larry
“It was no big deal, just something to do,” according to
Jones, who – although he was quite memorable in his three-minute scene as a
stylish hit man – hasn’t appeared in a film since. Not that he could
have even if he’d wanted to, while slowly recovering from a serious health
challenge. In November 1997, Jones suffered an almost fatal attack of
perforated ulcers – similar to what killed his idol Rudolph Valentino.
what is Jones, who is now 67, up to almost 40 years after his vanishing act?
is doing great,” says his business manager Sherry Dodd. “He is not going to
have an operation (elective surgery to
correct slight complications caused by the ulcer – Ed.). His vitality
is up and he's feeling fine. He spends a lot of time with his children at
his beach house. When he's in Hollywood, he stays with me in our place near the
Sunset Strip and we are the closest of friends. He reads scripts when he's here
and he says they are of interest, but he still contends he has no desire to
return to acting. Directing maybe, if the right project comes along that he
believes in. Chris is still an artist at heart, whether it's doing portraits or
the Hollywood Legends series. We will be selling on eBay again soon or if we
decide to do a new website. Chris is constantly getting requests for interviews
and now he will only do them for money.”
Jones will always remain a fascinating footnote in Hollywood history… the actor
who effortlessly achieved success in the film industry at a young age, whose
Max Frost is the emblematic counterculture hero of the sixties – and then who opted
for obscurity instead, choosing to give up showbiz and make his living as an
artist. The reasons for his avoiding the limelight are the cause of endless
speculation, much of it rather gloomy and sordid, but it could very well be
that the man simply valued his privacy over stardom. It happens.
(Chris Jones invites comments from his fans. Write to him at ChrisJonesInc@aol.com)
Did Seven Days in May foreshadow a military conspiracy that resulted in JFK's assassination?
Gadfly director Oliver Stone is still obsessed with the "unsolved" murder of President John F. Kennedy. Stone is a chief conspiracy theorist who refuses to accept the official conclusion that the president was assassinated solely by Lee Harvey Oswald. His controversial film JFK was a major hit but was criticized by academics for blatantly inventing and fictionalizing key elements of the investigation into the president's death. Now Stone is citing a new book as proof that Kennedy was actually murdered as part of a scheme by disgruntled members of the "military intelligence community". Stone says that President Kennedy was concerned about rebellion in the U.S. military because he refused to heed to the advice of hawkish generals to engage the Soviet Union in armed combat. According to Stone, JFK had been particularly affected by Fletcher Knebel's best-selling novel Seven Days in May, which was made into an acclaimed film in 1963 by director John Frankenheimer. In the film, Burt Lancaster plays a charismatic general who orchestrates an attempted military coup of the U.S. government because he believes the president's determination to pursue detente will lead to Soviet world domination. For more click here
Van Williams and Bruce Lee in the 1960s TV version of The Green Hornet.
The long-delayed big screen version of The Green Hornet is finally taking flight, with production scheduled to begin in the fall. Seth Rogen will star as the legendary hero with word that Nicholas Cage is vying for the role as the villain. Cameron Diaz is also said to be interested in playing the love interest. For more click here
In the wake of criticism about Amazon's handling of a copyright problem involving digital versions of George Orwell's novels 1984 and Animal House, Amazon CEO JEff Bezos apologized for the problem saying, "Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles." Amazon had electronically deleted the novel from customer's Kindle reading devices when it became clear that the books had been sold in violation of copyrights.
The legendary Bruce Lee will be the subject of a three-film biography done with the co-operation of the late martial arts master's family. The Asian film production is set to have the first entry in the trilogy released in November 2010 to coincide with what would have been Lee's 70th birthday. No casting has been set for the title role. For more click here
Great Scot: old Sean still makes movie fans swoon.
Who's the hottest older dude in show business? According to The Huffington Post's poll, the top vote getter is Sean Connery- with fellow honorees Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood and Hugh Hefner chalking up support as well. (If only Walter Brennan was still alive!) Vote for your favorite by clicking here.
Alcatraz is hot this week, at least when it comes to movie lore. Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief is hosting an invitation-only screening of Clint Eastwood's Escape from Alcatraz tonight in New York City and our next issue will feature writer Bruce R. Marshall's exclusive interview with the movie's screenwriter Richard Tuggle. There is also a fascinating look at the cinematic history of the legendary prison, courtesy of Open Road TV. Click here to clear up the myth from reality.
The Colonial Theater, where Blobfest is held annually, is featured prominently in the classic sci-fi film. (Photo: Hank Reinke)
By Hank Reineke
In similar fashion
to the spectral forces that compelled Richard Dreyfuss to the base of Devil’s
Tower in Close Encounters of the Third
Kind, each July I’m similarly drawn to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania to celebrate
the Colonial Theatre’s annual Blobfest.As some of you may remember, the Colonial found
itself under attack in the closing reel of the classic sci-fi film The Blob (Paramount, 1958) and today, more than fifty
years on, the theater remains under siege.With roots in the local community (the film was shot in and around
Phoenixville, Downington, and Chester
Springs, PA), The Blob remains,
without doubt, the uncontested star of the weekend’s ghoulish activities.But the gelatinous creature generously shares
his annual turn in the spotlight with fellow ne’er-do-well monsters of galactic
and science-gone-awry origin.Though I
enjoy Citizen Kane as much as the
next guy, Blobfest is more my kind of
cinematic event and I’m grateful that there are still movie-houses that offer
repertory programming beyond the usual mélange of classics sanctioned by the American
Film Institute.Though born in the
shadow of the EmpireStateBuilding,
my yearly return to comparatively rural Phoenixville feels something of a
homecoming.Coming of age in the 1960s
and early 1970s, a too great percentage of my Saturday nights were misspent in
front of the family television watching ghoulish broadcasts of Chiller Theatre on WPIX and Creature Features on WNEW out of New York City.Similarly, weeknights, weekends, and recesses
were reserved for study of the gloomy stills featured in the pages of Famous Monsters of Filmland - and, when
you could find it on the newsstand, the far less celebrated Monster Times.
Entertainment columnist Kim Morgan has an extended essay on why Martin Scorsese's 1973 film Mean Streets is one of the most seminal movies of her life. Find out why by clicking here. Click here to order the DVD special edition from Amazon.
The controversial decision by A.M.P.A.S. to expand the category for Best Picture Oscar nominees from five to ten films will not be emulated by the Bafta Awards. The British version of Oscar will continue to have five films nominated for Best Picture. A.M.P.A.S. hopes that by doubling the number of nominated films, there will be an improvement in TV ratings for the Oscar broadcast, which have been in decline in recent years. For more click here
They say that in politics, if you want a friend, get a dog. The same must be true in the TV industry. Walter Cronkite, beloved legendary newsman, has only been dead a matter of days and there is a battle royale brewing over a book proposal from his ex-chef. She claims Cronkite was a nasty piece of work who was despised by his own family. Friends and colleagues of Cronkite are outraged and are trying to throw cold water on the proposal by the chef, who somehow managed to work with this alleged monster for ten years. It's peculiar how so many people don't find working for a celebrity to be a terrible fate when they are alive and well, yet make it sound like they have survived the Bataan Death March after their employer passes away. For more click here
It's a case steeped in irony: author George Orwell railed against big government making draconian decisions against the helpless masses. Yet, it was his classic books Animal Farm and 1984 that Amazon has removed without warning from its Kindle electronic book service that allows consumers who own the device to download "permanent" copies of the works. It seems Amazon hadn't properly vetted the copyright clearances on the books, so they not only removed them from their sales catalogs, but also retracted the versions from consumer's Kindles devices. The action has consumers steamed, as they point out that if Amazon had sent out print editions of the works, they would not be able to retrieve them from people's homes - yet the company feels comfortable doing so with the digital versions. In one case, a reader complained that he had made notes on a manuscript for a research project - only to find the entire document has vanished from his Kindle. For more click here
Gordon Waller (right) with partner Peter Asher in the 1960s.
Gordon Waller of Peter and Gordon, one of the top bands of the 1960s British rock groups, died from cardiovascular disease over the weekend. He was 64 years old. In the 1960s, he and Peter Asher were among the most prominent of the British Invasion groups to take America by storm. With their gentle style of warbling love songs, the duo made an immediate hit. Several of their top songs, including their signature tune A World Without Love, had been written for them by Paul McCartney. The duo broke up in 1968 but the parting was amicable and Peter and Gordon were in the midst of their latest reunion concert tour when Waller passed away. For vintage video click here
The erasure of NASA's original videos of the moon landing reinforces what conspiracy nuts already knew: there WAS no moon landing, and the entire hoax was the brainchild of Hal Holbrook!
By Lee Pfeiffer
If you find it shameful that most of the kinescopes of early TV classics were taped over to save money, you'll really be outraged by the news that NASA has admitted that some brainiac at the space agency deliberately erased all of the original videos of the first landing on the moon - in order to save a few bucks. NASA discovered the scandal in 2006, but has not identified who came up with the great idea or when it occurred. Fortunately, saner heads turned over the broadcast tapes (which were substantially lower in quality) to Lowry Digital, the company that specializes in restoring Hollywood classics. The results are significantly better and bring out details the average person has never seen. The downside of this is that NASA admits that those conspiracy nuts who think Capricorn One is a documentary, are now citing this as further proof that man didn't land on the moon. They should hold a convention with fellow tin-foil hat-wearers who ardently believe that President Obama isn't an American citizen. For more click here
Call it Death of a Salesman - Not! Despite having passed away several weeks ago, iconic American household pitchman Billy Mays will still be part of the cable TV world with a new ad ready to premiere. The company he worked for gives the cliched reason ("This is what he would have wanted") to justify running the new commercial. Maybe that's true, but the real reason is that Mays was unsurpassed in his ability to get consumers to buy a wide range of household cleansers and other home products an dhe still remains a major profit center. Additionally, Mays employers are still running his previous ads, though they won't say for how long. For my part, it seems a bit ghoulish and exploitive to keep the promotions running. What's next? The ghost of Ed McMahon showing up at your door to tell you that you won the latest Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes? Pretty soon, they're going to have to employ George Romero to direct these ads. For more click here
The lovably flaky Cloris Leachman has figured out a way to get into the spotlight again. She's posed in a bathing suit (suitably tasteful) for In Touch Weekly - and displays a figure that women of any age would admire. (Of course, we don't know to what degree the publishing industry's penchant for photo retouching may have been involved.) Leachman 'fesses up to having a Botox treatment at one time but says the results were creepy - and thinks the procedures are ridiculous. She attributes staying in shape to being a vegetarian and prescribes a unique way to keep your appetite under control: brush your teeth frequently during the day. As we all know, the taste of toothpaste kind of diminishes the thought of eating anything else for a while. It's almost enough to make me feel guilty about my next visit to White Castle....almost. For more click here
Hollywood hellcat: columnist Nikki Finke instills fear in the hearts of movie studio executives.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Regular readers of Cinema Retro know that we frequently link to the Deadline Hollywood Daily column for industry scuttlebutt and analysis of weekend box-office grosses. The brainchild behind the site is columnist Nikki Finke, who left mainstream journalism to start her entertainment blog. Her blog took off during the Writer's Guild strike several years ago when she gave second-by-second updates on developments, largely in sympathy with the Writer's Guild of America. Since then, she has become a modern Hedda Hopper - instilling fear in industry executives, even as they try to court her favor. Unlike Hopper, who gleefully played the Hollywood party scene circuit, Finke stays largely reclusive, a one-woman powerhouse who drives herself to the point of exhaustion by handling every aspect of her web site herself. There is only one known photograph of her and she explains her refusal to socialize with industry types by saying it would compromise her ability to report objectively. In fact, Deadline Hollywood is too "inside baseball" for average readers - but it attracts the people who matter in the entertainment industry and even her enemies give kudos to Finke for unveiling top-secret information before some of those directly affected even know about it.
Click here to read a New York Times profile of her.
Walter Cronkite, the most beloved newsman in the history of America TV broadcasting, has died after a long illness. He was 92. Cronkite hosted The CBS Evening News for many years - much to the frustration of rival networks NBC and ABC, who could never make a dent in his sky-high ratings. He was known as "The Most Trusted Man in America" during an era that preceded 24 hour cable news cycles. For decades, Americans pulled their dinner trays near the TV set to listen to Cronkite's half-hour reporting on the day's events, always ending the broadcast with his signature line "And that's the way it is." Cronkite covered the seminal events of his time including, most famously, the assassination of President Kennedy. It was he who first reported the president's death, barely containing his tears. Cronkite was also had a fervent interest in the U.S. space program and became almost giddy reporting on America's triumphs in the space race against the Soviet Union. He was an integral part of CBS' covering of the moon landing - an event that happened almost 40 years previous to the day of his death.
Cronkite came of age in the news business when it was still considered untoward for an anchorman to inform the audience of his personal feelings. Cronkite broke that practice in 1968 after making a fact-finding trip to Vietnam to cover the war. Upon his return, he informed his audience of his opinion that America was in an quagmire and that the war could not be won on the battlefield. So powerful was Cronkite's broadcast that President Johnson said of it, "If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost middle America." Ironically, Cronkite was forced out of the anchorman spot and into retirement at age 65 by CBS, which wanted the more youthful Dan Rather to take over from him. Cronkite was deeply hurt by this decision, but as a good trooper, wished Rather well and went gracefully into retirement, though he would occasionally contribute to news specials over the years.For more on Cronkite's remarkable career, click here.
Universal's UK office has decided to perform a celluloid circumcision on the hit comedy Bruno, trimming 110 seconds of particularly raunchy bits involving sex acts. The plan is to get a "15" rating that will allow younger audiences to flock to the film. The original version of the film carries an "18" rating and will remain in theaters simultaneously with the re-rated version - the first time this has happened in British cinema history. For more click here
Ursula Andress' iconic entrance as the first James Bond girl in Dr. No ranks high in the poll.
Yesterday, we linked to the men's iconic swmsuit poll on the Huffington Post. Today, legendary women's swimsuit scenes from the silver screen are being voted on. Click here to view the top vote-getters.
Here's a shocker for Duke Wayne fans: contrary to what we all thought, his final screen performance wasn't in the 1976 classic The Shootist. It turns out Wayne had filmed a segment for a nondescript low-budget sci-fi western titled Thunder Riders of the Golden West. Why would Wayne deem to appear in such a film? Because it was made by his old friend Dave Burleson, who appeared in bit roles in some of the Duke's films. Despite the presence of the world's most legendary movie star, Burleson's film has languished since the 1970s. Now, however, he is preparing to release it straight to DVD and the curiosity value alone should make for some great publicity. For more click here
Film Buff, a new American video-on-demand service that reaches millions of households, will offer an eclectic selection of independent films plus cult and classic movies for fees ranging from $2.99- $9.99 per rental. Among the titles being offered are The Life and Times of Harvey Milk and the original Inglorious Bastards. Click here for more
Western cinema may, if they’re lucky, achieve fame for a recurring role in a
particular series of films. Basil Rathbone remains for many the definitive
Sherlock Holmes. Sean Connery will always be Bond, James Bond. And Dirty Harry
is still Clint Eastwood’s most indelible screen incarnation. But such
career-defining roles generally come around only once in a Hollywood film
Not so in
Japanese cinema, especially during the 1960s and 1970s, when it was common for
an actor to be associated with multiple iconic screen characters. Indeed, for
some performers, it was almost the norm. The amazingly prolific Shintaro Katsu
not only played the blind swordsman-samaritan Zatoichi in 27 films and a
long-running TV series, he also starred in the 16-film Akumyo (or Bad Reputation) series, as well as the Hanzo the Razor trilogy. Action stars
Ken Takakura and Sonny Chiba were similarly renowned for playing more than one
phenomena wasn’t limited to men. Matching her contemporary male peers in serial
stardom was Japan’s greatest female action icon, Meiko Kaji, who starred in
four Female Convict Scorpion films,
two Lady Snowblood films, five Stray Cat Rock films, and two Wandering Ginza Butterfly films. Kaji’s
screen persona was perfectly suited to such movies. Although not physically
imposing, she projected a tensile inner strength that lent credibility to the
strong, independent heroines she portrayed. She could dole out violent
retribution with style and fury, but her characters were never overtly
cruel—and they always adhered to a rigid moral code that included compassion
for the weak and disadvantaged. Despite her astonishing beauty, Kaji (much like
the French actor Alain Delon) never traded on her looks, exuding an emotional
aloofness that seemed to preclude any interest in conventional notions of
screen romance. This enigmatic reserve hinted at a dark sensibility, which,
coupled with her unique combination of femininity and fearlessness, proved
beguiling to film audiences during her heyday, and helps account for the
widespread cult admiration she enjoys to this day.
Wandering Ginza Butterfly (1971)
already made a name for herself with several Stray Cat Rock movies for Nikkatsu, but when that studio shifted to
soft-core production in 1971, she immediately switched to Toei. Her first film
for her new studio was Wandering Ginza
Butterfly (1971), in which she plays Nami, a beautiful gambler and ex-girl
gang leader just out of prison after serving time for the murder of a yakuza
kingpin. Back on the streets, she returns to her old haunts in Tokyo’s Ginza
section, where she forms a fast friendship with a charismatic pimp named Ryuji,
gets her a job as a hostess at a posh nightclub, and has a family reunion of
sorts with her uncle, who agrees to let her live in his billiard hall. Nami is
determined to go straight, but eventually finds her good intentions unraveling
in Ginza’s decadent, crime-ridden milieu.
The recent A.M.P.A.S. screening of Harold and Maude in Los Angeles proved to be one of those completely unforgettable evenings for anyone fortunate enough to be in attendance. It was a night of intense drama as we entered, for it was
taking place just hours after the announcement of the death of Michael Jackson,
and a day after the thunderbolt announcement of the Academy’s decision to
expand the Best Picture nominations to ten, a practice that had been abandoned in
1943. But most of all it was the beginning of a tribute to the late, great Hal
Ashby, a director who, along with Robert Altman, typified the the best of
American cinema in the 1970s and “Harold and Maude” may well be the best-loved
film of his remarkable, but too brief career. But let us start at the
Like many, I got into “Harold & Maude”
through its music. While listening to Radio Station KGB in San Diego, the
announcer played a great Cat Stevens song called, “Maybe You’re Right“ and
announced that the song, along with several other Cat Stevens songs were among
the many joys to be sampled in a wonderfully eccentric film of forbidden love
called “Harold & Maude,” playing at the leading revival house in town, the
Ken Theatre. Any
movie with a Cat Stevens score sounded pretty good to me and the DJs gushing endorsement
clinched the deal, I caught it the very next night. As it turned out, “Maybe
You’re Right” wasn’t in the film but there were a host of other the Catman’s
tunes running through the it, and unlike the cynically placed pop songs injected
in a film today for marketing purposes, these songs were woven into its fabric—
it was impossible to imagine "Harold & Maude" without “Trouble,”
or “Don’t be Shy,” or “If You Want to SIng Out, Sing Out.” The movie had
come and gone like a shooting star a few months earlier but had left a trail of
goodwill in its wake, and as I watched it that night in the ratty, torn seats
of the Ken, it was one of those epoch-defining films that summarized the best
of that era - a zest for life over death, a celebration of one person’s
individuality over mob conformity, an anti-war sentiment that virtually every
film at the time embraced, and a rejection of the mindless consumerism that
would soon be the legacy of the Me Generation 1980s, just a few years away. But
most of all, “Harold and Maude,” was a celebration of love, in all
its pain and glorious redemption, and it remains one of the grandest
expressions of the healing power of that scary emotion ever put on celluloid.
had made an immediate impact on me, and a year later when the occasion arose
for me to make my first student film, I wrote a script that was a tip of the
hat to “H&M” wherein an alienated philosophy student who reads Camus’
famous dictum in “The Myth of Sisyphus” that the only philosophical question is
whether or not kill oneself decides to end it by jumping off the nearby cliffs
overlooking the Pacific. Just as he is about to hurl himself off the precipice
a beautiful woman calls to him to help her photograph the sunset. He looks down
at the water and then at the girl and figures he can jump later. He snaps the
picture of the young maiden, and she invites him back to her apartment. After
leaving the next morning, full of love for life, he realizes as he approaches
his car that he has left his glasses at her apartment. He turns to go back and
get them and gets run over by a truck. OK, so “Harold and Maude” it wasn’t, but
it does provide a clue to the film’s huge impact upon my delicate
sensibilities. But as the
counterculture faded and disco gave way to big-haired British synth bands and
angry hip-hop gangsta acts, I relegated “Harold and Maude” to those quaint 70s
relics that were best left back with tie-dyed T-shirts and patched Levis and
the oeuvre of Seals & Crofts or the Captain and Tennille. I hadn’t seen the
film since that night in 1972, and because it was such a perfect film-going
experience, so tied to the time, I was afraid that maybe it wouldn’t hold up
after those cold intervening years, or maybe I was afraid that I had been so changed
by time that I would no longer be open to the film’s magic. There
was certainly an electricity in the air as I walked into the Academy foyer.
person I saw was Haskell Wexler, a friend since 1982 when he was a guest in a
film series I was running at the San Diego Museum of Art. Then I chanced
upon fellow San Diego expatriate Cameron Crowe, Curtis
Hanson, Variety critic Todd McCarthy, Academy director Bruce Davis and the
lovely Diablo Cody who chatted about her upcoming film, “Jennifer’s Body,” a
horror film, a genre that she confessed no longer held the same attraction for
her it once did: “I think I’ve got that out of my system.” Jon Voight
said he was looking forward to discussing working with Ashby on the
the lights dimmed, Academy president Sid Ganis took the occasion to note the
passing of the King of Pop, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon (it is amazing, how
the old “it always comes in 3s” folklore does seem to come true), and then the
lights went down and out stepped Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf, to perform
the two original songs, “Don’t be Shy” and “If You Want to Sing Out,” from the
movie. It was one of the most remarkable performances I’ve ever witnessed, so
simple and unadorned, yet riveting in its power and intensity and as dramatic
an opening to the evening as one who hope for.
that was a panel discussion moderated by Cameron Crowe that was comprised of
Judd Apatow, Diablo Cody, Peter Bart, Seth Rogen, Peter Bart, Haskell Wexler
and Jon Voight. It was enjoyable, but the problem was that when there are so
many people on a panel, time only permitted the briefest of answers and only
Bart, Wexler and Voight actually worked with Ashby, so there wasn’t the
opportunity to really delve into the man at length. But the unspoken question
that hung in the air was - how would the film hold up? The answer - it played
being some precious hippie relic from a distant, tie-dyed past, “Harold and
Maude” seems even more astonishing now than it did then. In an age of
“Transformers,” to see a studio film like this seems like a miracle. And one of
my favorite moments - there are so many - was the brief shot of the
concentration camp tatoo on Maude’s arm. Blink and you miss it, Ashby
practically throws it away, but by making the audience work and pay
attention, when you catch it, it adds such a tremendous emotional subtext to
film, a layer revealed only to fellow initiates. It is a kind of cinematic
subtlety that has vanished along with bell bottoms and floral ties.
D.C. Comics' The Green Lantern is the latest superhero to make it on to the silver screen. Ryan Reynolds will star as the hero with the "ring of power". James Bond director Martin Campbell is set to helm the film. For more click here
Sean Connery and Zena Marshall on the set of Dr. No in 1962.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Actress Zena Marshall, who played the deceitful bad girl Miss Taro in the first James Bond film Dr. No, has died at age 83. Marshall's character was the first prominent villainess in a Bond movie, playing a sexy seductress who tries to set Sean Connery's 007 up for murder. Bond turns the tables - but not before he enjoys an evening in bed with her. Marshall, who was born in Kenya, appeared in many British films and TV series in the 1950s and 1960s, but like many of the Bond actresses, left the profession to concentrate on domestic life. She enjoyed a renaissance of popularity in recent years, appearing at autograph shows and Bond-related events, most of which were organized by the British based web site Bond Stars. (Click here for recent photo of her at the Bond Stars site)
In one of the most off-beat film projects of recent years, it has been announced that Jodie Foster will co-star with Mel Gibson in a film titled The Beaver. Foster will also direct the tale of a married man who copes with depression by wearing a beaver hand puppet. Gibson will play the beaver-obsessed guy and Foster will play his wife. The project has been around since the 1990s when Foster suggested it to Gibson when they were co-starring in Maverick. No studio is attached yet, nor has financing been finalized for the modestly budgeted ($19 million) film. For more click here
Just to say I have just received my copy of the "Where Eagles Dare" special edition and have to say what a fantastic Magazine you have all produced . It covers everything you always wanted to know about WED . Absolutely brilliant !!! The amount of detail and the great pics are all you could ask for.
Now to dig out the DVD !
My congratulations to all involved . Regards,
Mike Davis Gravesend, Kent England RETRO RESPONDS: Many thanks, Mike...Looks like this issue is going over far beyond our expectations. We greatly appreciate the extraordinary support from our readers for this first Cinema Retro Movie Classics edition...the best is yet to come!
Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity ranks high in the sexy swimsuit guys poll.
For those of you who feel that Cinema Retro concentrates on lop-sided coverage of sexy women, here's a story to level the playing field. Check out the Huffington Post's Men's Iconic Swimsuit photo poll - and vote for your favorite. Click here to view
The next time you think your love life is complicated, just compare it to that of Oscar winner Morgan Freeman. According to the National Enquirer, the 72 year old actor is planning to marry a 27 year-old woman. May/December romances among the Hollywood elite are old hat, but Freeman is really pushing the envelope with this one: his betrothed is his step-granddaughter. She is the grand-daughter of his first wife, but was raised from childhood by Freeman and his second wife, who he is the process of divorcing. Got all that? Good, then please explain it to us...Freeman hasn't verified the story, and the Enquirer attributes the rumor to an unnamed close family source so you may want to hold off on tying tin cans to his car. If true, however, we bet that Freeman and his new bride will be spending lots of time with the Woody Allens. For more click here
Thunderball: the 1965 Bond blockbuster is still the top grossing movie in the series in terms of the number of tickets sold.
The chart that adjusts grosses for inflation is indeed a valuable tool to rank box office success. However, it still ignores several factors. For one, the US population is twice what it was in 1939. On the other hand, films from that era had no competition from television.
I like the Hollywood Reporter approach which ranks the top five films in a year. When
people talk about how the James Bond films are more popular than ever I
point out the facts regarding Thunderball that you mentioned and this
bit of info: The last 007 flic to be ranked in the top five films
for the year was Diamonds Are Forever. The others are from From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball. So Sean is still the king. Sorry, Daniel
(Bruce Marshall wrote the article about the restoration of Lee Van Cleef's The Big Gundown in Cinema Retro issue #13. Look for his interview with Escape From Alcatraz screenwriter Richard Tuggle in issue #15)
Retro Responds: All valid points, Bruce, but I think you have to also factor that in the early days of the Bond movies, the series was new and ground-breaking in many ways. Bond has had to endure decades of competition from countless films that wouldn't exist if it weren't for the 007 franchise. They've also had to survive their own artistic missteps (remember two appearances by Sheriff Pepper???), six different actors in the role and the challenge of remaining relevant to young audiences. The fact that the Bond films even exist almost fifty years later is remarkable, not to mention that they still pull in over a half billion dollars in worldwide grosses each - and that doesn't count home video sales.
In a virtually unprecedented move in the modern film industry, Sony canceled the Brad Pitt/Steven Soderbergh baseball flick Moneyball last month just days before filming was to commence. The action set industry tongues wagging. If these two Hollywood heavyweights weren't invulnerable to having their projects re-evaluated, who was? The action on the part of Sony, which felt Soderbergh's rewrites of the script made the concept too uncommercial, illustrates that star power isn't what it once was in Tinsel Town. Given the fact that millions has been spent on developing Moneyball, Sony is trying to make lemonade out of lemon. They have hired writer Aaron Sorkin to come on board and rework the script. They are also wooing producer Scott Rudin to join the project. While the retooled team may enable Sony to get Moneyball before the cameras in the fall, one would presume that Steven Soderbergh can't be too happy about the loss of creative control. For more click here
I'm sending three different photos showing marquees in Houston, Texas. The first is from the Loews Sharpstown drive-in theatre, the
date February 28, 1958. The next photo is the ABC Interstate Majestic
theatre built in 1923 and closed in 1971. The theatre was was located in
downtown Houston on the corner of Walker at Rusk Ave. The date of the
photo is September 15, 1968. The third photo is General Cinema Gulfgate 1
and 2, located across the street from Gulfgate Mall. The theatre opened March 17, 1965 along with the sister theatres Northline and Meyerland Cinema which opened the same day. The Gulfgate closed in 1996, the Meyerland in November 1994 and Northline in 1996. The photo from Gulfgate
is dated June 15, 1968. Hope you can use these photos . Many thanks
Retro Responds: Many thanks to you, Bill. These photos are just reminders of the special theaters we all treasured when we grew up. I'd do anything to go back in time to see Deadfall, Firecreek and Madigan in theaters again! By the way, the B western Hell's Crossroads marked the first major screen role for Robert Vaughn.- Lee Pfeiffer
Karen Black, looking as sultry and sexy as ever, is prominently featured in singer Cass McComb's new music video Dreams Come True Girl. Not only is great seeing Karen strutting her stuff, the song is a winner as well. Click here to view
(For David Savage's exclusive interview with Karen Black, see Cinema Retro issues #13 and #14)
When it comes to
making cameo appearances in movies, Alfred Hitchcock really was the Master.
However, Cinema Retro magazine is hot on his heels after making its television
debut in the new hit BBC television show, “Psychoville”, a seven-part series
currently airing in Britain.
Written by and
starring Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, best known for being part of
“The League of Gentlemen” team, “Psychoville” is a dark character comedy
mystery featuring characters from all over the UK, who each receive a
mysterious letter. The production values are high, the writing excellent, and
Shearsmith and Pemberton prove once again just how extraordinary their acting
talents are, playing not only the leads, but subsidiary roles too. What makes
this series stand out from others is the writing skills of this duo, who are
both self-confessed movie fanatics, and have woven references to many movie murder
mystery classics in the series.
In episode 4,
which aired on july 8th, the creative team paid homage to
Hitchcock’s “Rope”, with the first 20 minutes or so being totally filmed in one
shot as the camera tracks around the actors in an apartment after just
murdering a man and putting him in a trunk in the centre of the room. It is just
brilliant, and a must-see for movie lovers.
So, where do we
come in? Well, throughout the whole show, a copy of Cinema Retro issue 2 lies
on top of the trunk holding the body! Now we know the guys are fans of the
magazine, as you can see from our news item in issue #14, when they met our
reporter Adrian Smith. However, whilst this is our first claim to product
placement, we can assure you no payment was made, although we do hear that Shearsmith and Pemberton are now making perverted sexual demands of our reporters.
Click here for
Adrian’s on-line interview with the team, and catch up with “Psychoville” now –
you will not be disappointed. The show’s web site is at www.bbc.co.uk/psychoville