Disney has made a mega $4 billion deal to acquire Marvel Entertainment, thus gaining control of over 5,000 individual comic book characters, many of whom have proven to be a goldmine on the silver screen. The modest comic book company that spun into high gear in the 1960s under the TLC of editor Stan Lee and the late artist Jack Kirby has not only made the realm of comics respectable, but the stuff of business empires as well . Marvel stock soared on the announcement. For more click here
Hollywood's obsession with youth has now reached a comical level as evidenced by the American Cinematheque's announcement that it will award its next lifetime achievement award to Matt Damon - despite the fact he is only 38 years-old. Let me say up front that the absurdity of this decision isn't a reflection on Damon, who remains a popular and talented actor. He has been associated with a number of high profile films from Saving Private Ryan and the Oceans Eleven series to his popular Bourne spy movies. He also copped an Oscar for co-writing Good Will Hunting. However, many of his other films have been received with a mediocre response by both critics and the public. There was a time when such awards were granted to elder statesmen and women of the industry - true giants in their fields. However, in recent years, the dearth of such living legends, combined with the mania for obtaining TV ratings, has seen lifetime achievement awards granted to people who are still very much in their prime. When Paul Newman received an honorary Oscar for his life's work in 1984, he joked that he didn't feel like he was ready to move into Forest Lawn Cemetery yet. He was 61 years old at the time and many people thought that was too young for an actor still making films on a regular basis. Indeed, some of Newman's best work was still ahead of him, as evidenced by the fact that he won a competitive Oscar for Best Actor the very next year.
Lovable kook Sharon Stone has finally found a way for us to....er....stand up and take notice: she's posed topless at age 51 for Paris Match. It's only when Stone speaks that the unintentional laughs result. The magazine cover may prove to either inspire or depress women of similar age - and it proves once again that when it comes to popular culture, no one has more fun than the uninhibited French. While Americans suffer through indistinguishable magazine covers all featuring reality show morons and mean-spirited "scandals" about actresses who suffer from cellulite, the French stick to real glamor. Let's just hope People magazine doesn't try to jump on the bandwagon by having Rosie O'Donnell in a similar pose.
Columnist Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn provides his take of the greatest movies to feature dining as a central theme to the plot - and, yes, he does include Night of the Living Dead and Soylent Green! Click here to read
Our London correspondent Adrian Smith meets film director and former Python Terry Gilliam. Gilliam was appearing at the BFI to discuss his career and his upcoming release The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus... Cinema Retro has seen footage and the film looks breath-taking. We can't say we're unhappy about the specific magazine that Terry chose to hold for the photo. He's obviously a man of good taste, as evidenced by his reading habits.
"Move along, folks...there's nothing here to see..."
The British Ministry of Defence has declassified certain key reports on international sightings and incidents involving UFOs. While certain cases remain intriguing and unsolved, the report says that - unsurprisingly- sightings increase dramatically after high profile films and TV series about aliens are released. For example, the biggest year ever for UFO sightings was 1978 - shortly after Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released. Makes us think maybe we were mistaken about that shark we saw in our bathtub after seeing Jaws. For more click here
What do Jack Nicholson, actor John Goodman, the Dalai Lama, Kirk Douglas as Spartacus and President Obama have in common? They have all been subjects of Philadelphia artist Alex Queral's impressive project to "sculpt" their likenesses from discarded phone books. The amazing portraits are painstakingly carved into the books using a scalpel and razor blades. For more click here
Citing concerns about the economy, Paramount has made the decision to postpone Martin Scorsese's highly-anticipated thriller Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio from an October opening to February 2010. The studio obviously feels that the current recession would impact the potential gross of the film. Still, the decision is puzzling, as there is no indication the economy will be substantially better by February - and the postponement eliminates any chance of the movie capitalizing on Oscar nominations. For more click here
Cinema Retro readers are a talented lot...take Patrick Humphries, who just received the green light on his long-planned radio documentary on the history of film trailers. Radio 4 in the UK will be backing his project and Patrick is looking for input from people who worked on film trailers in the 1950s and 1960s. Here is his letter:
Will anyone who worked for National Screen Service making film
trailers for showing in cinemas during the 1950s and 60s please contact Patrick
Humphries, who is working on a BBC Radio 4 programme which will be
transmitted during 2010.
Writer Caroline White of The Times of London gives us her list of the ten most historically inaccurate movies of all time. Granted, the list could easily be expanded to hundreds, but White's article is interesting because she avoids most of the obvious choices. For example, she cites the 2000 WWII film U-571 as the most egregious example of historical revisionism: the screenplay was changed to show the Americans, not the British, capturing the first German Enigma code machine. The rationale of the screenwriter was simply that America had a bigger movie-going audience! Others in the Hall of Shame include three films by Mel Gibson, including his Oscar winning Braveheart. Click here to read
We've editorialized repeatedly about the moronic behavior of people who seem intent on ruining the experience of movie-going for fellow audience members. From refusing to turn off mobile phones, to bringing screaming toddlers to the theater, to shouting advice to the characters on screen (as though it will influence them), these idiots have turned art house cinemas into the only safe venues for movie lovers. At least in these theaters, the biggest annoyance is having to overhear the pretentious analysis of film scholars on line in front of you - a fate suffered by Woody Allen's Alvy Singer in Annie Hall. Newspaper columnist Mark Jones is the latest to take a crack at fighting back against the neanderthals who populate local movie theaters. Click here to read his article. Click here for Cinema Retro related editorial.
Bond Girls Forever: Shirley Eaton, Jan Williams and Martine Beswicke reunited at Pinewood.(Photo: Marc Pearce. All rights reserved)
Over the weekend, Cinema Retro columnist Gareth Owen and his BondStars.com partner Andy Boyle organized yet another of their magnificent James Bond events at Pinewood Studios. This time the emphasis was on From Russia With Love and included a screening of the new digital print of the film. Cast and crew members from many Bond films mingled with fans from around the world, and Cinema Retro publisher Dave Worrall gave everyone a guided tour of the legendary film studio. Among those in attendance: Caroline Munro, Martine Beswicke, Honor Blackman, Tania Mallet, Shirley Eaton, John Glen, Lewis Gilbert, Eunice Gayson and many others. For a full report and exclusive photos click here
Cinema Retro London
correspondent Mark Mawston recently covered the London tribute to John Landis'
classic horror flick An American Werewolf in London. (Click
here to read). Mark also got an advance look at the forthcoming documentary
Beware the Moon which will be the centerpiece of the forthcoming Blu-ray
special DVD edition. He recently sat down with the man behind the project, Paul
Davis for an inside look at how he overcame great odds to make his tribute to American
Werewolf a reality.
Hair of the werewolf that bit him: John Landis at a recent London tribute to his classic horror film. (Photo: Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.)
Mark Mawston: Paul, it's wonderful that
something made by a fan for a fan has made it onto such an A list title. Why
did you decide to target AWIL? Was it out of love or that fact that you
simply thought there was a more comprehensive story to be told?
Paul Davis: An American Werewolf in
London was the first monster movie I ever saw. I must've been about 3
years-old when I watched it. I was a big fan of Michael Jackson and had ‘The
Making of Thriller’ on video, and through that I learned about Werewolf,
John Landis, Rick Baker etc. Because it showed you the ins and outs of
creating a film, and more importantly a monster, I was able to grasp at an
early age that movies were works of fiction. So from then on I could watch
anything and pretty much did. Fast forward some twenty odd years later and I
found myself writing a 25th Anniversary retrospective article on the film and
it just struck me that, while there are so many documentaries out there for
classic horror movies, this had nothing! I spoke to my partner Romy Alford and
she agreed to produce it with me, and I then got in touch with an
acquaintance who I knew was nifty behind a camera and was also an
editor, Anthony Bueno. So that's kind of where it came from. The three of
us just went out there and did it.
MM: John Landis said he couldn't believe
you'd pursued this without any real backing from him or Universal. Yet, he was
so pleased with what you'd compiled he decided to back you and pushed the
powers that be. That's a rare thing these days, but do you think it helped that
John was such a fan boy himself?
PD: The great thing about John is that
he is incredibly encouraging toward toward young filmmakers to just
go out there and make their movies - after all he did the same thing when
he was 21 with his first film Schlock. It must have been very weird
for him to have this kid from England making a movie about one of
his fondest films, and at the same time worrying because while John does
nurture new talent, he knew that it was going to be a large task for us to get
anywhere with the finished product. The film is owned by Universal and the
chances of a non entity making something and being taken seriously by a major
motion picture studio, as you said, rarely happens. There's a lot of risk
involved and a lot of strenuous legal work to clear before anything can
see the light of day. As soon as John knew that we were taking the
project very seriously and we had secured interviews with a lot of
cast and crew, that's when he really went to bat for us, and it literally
would not have seen the light of day were it not for John's bullying of
Universal to release it.
The folks at Cult Trailers have a wealth of irresistible trailers from our favorite films of the 1960s and 1970s. Click here to watch the original trailer for The Pink Panther starring Peter Sellers, David Niven and Capucine.
Warner Home Video is suing a California-based company called IWMB for not only failing to destroy hundreds of thousands of excess DVD product, but also for secretly selling the titles to third parties at cut-rate prices. The studio says the end result was a flood of DVDs being sold for prices far below market value. Warners is seeking $10 million in damages from the company. In fact, Warners did not hire IWMB to destroy the product - the company was subcontracted by DVD replicator Cinram, which apparently was unaware of the alleged scheme. According to the suit, IWMB provided Cinram with false documentation indicating that the DVDs had been destroyed when, in fact, they had been sold to other parties who retailed them to the public. Warners estimates that at least 750,000 DVDs were illegally sold into the marketplace. The suit does not name the third parties who allegedly bought them. Warners is seeking a jury trial. Home Video Magazine reports that IWMB president Cal Jones, who is personally named in the suit, has not responded to requests for comments.
At her peak, she was arguably the most glamorous film star of her era. However, a lifetime of personal tragedies compromised the artistic successes of Elizabeth Taylor. Journalist Maria Ciaccia celebrates the life and career of the legendary actress on About.Com film critic Laurie Broder's site. Click here to read
Here's a surprising development: German critics are ecstatic over Quentin Tarantino's revisionist WWII epic Inglourious Basterds, saying the director's off-the-charts re-invention of history presents Nazi terror in precisely the proper format. Germany has always grappled with its tortured past, and while condemning Hitler and his regime, has often been sensitive about filmmakers painting all Germans as evil. Apparently, Tarantino has hit the mark with German critics. For more click here
The announcement that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is scaling back their weekend classic film program has resulted in predictable protests from prominent people in the industry who are decrying the loss of a great program dedicated to an American art form. However, writer Tom Gregory astutely points out one of Hollywood's dirty little secrets: there is scant financial support for such programs from the richest members of the film community. True, some specific films have been championed by certain directors and have been fully restored. However, in many other cases, the contribution of millionaire actors and filmmakers to controversial cuts in arts programs are generally limited to writing letters to the Los Angeles Times. Gregory points out that people in the industry have got to become more supportive of their heritage- and that requires opening their wallets. For more click here
Denzel Washington: a $16 million paycheck is beneath his dignity.
By Lee Pfeiffer
The New York Times has an insightful piece regarding the concern among Hollywood agents and studios about the lack of drawing power exhibited by top movie stars this year. Under-performers include Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Will Ferrell and Johnny Depp. The consensus is that these actors have not delivered audiences in numbers great enough to justify their paychecks. (The article cites Eddie Murphy among the non-performers, but apparently only Hollywood executives didn't get the message that Murphy hasn't been hot since Bill Clinton was in the White House). Consequently, studios are cutting back on paychecks - and actors aren't happy. Denzel Washington refused to take "only" $16 million for his next movie - despite the fact that his recent films have all performed softly. Reasons given for the falling star power is everything from distraction by other forms of entertainment to poor marketing. Here's another one: many new films are simply lousy - and in the current recession, it now seems to cost a king's ransom to have a night out at the movies. For more
Martin Scorsese is among the prominent filmmakers and critics voicing opposition to the Museum's shuttering of its classic film screening program.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is virtually eliminating its highly regarded classic movie screening program, claiming it was not profitable. The decision has outraged classic movie lovers and prominent critics and filmmakers (including Martin Scorsese), leading them to plead with the Museum to reconsider its decision. The program has been in existence for 40 years. The Museum says it will still show films, but only on an occasional basis and they will not generally be cinematic classics. To read more click here - it includes a hyperlink of Scorsese's open letter to the Museum.
The Duke drops by, July 1972. President Richard M. Nixon was a major fan of John Wayne's films. Some opponents of the President tried to find a nefarious connection between Wayne's movies and Nixon's actions. Perhaps the most absurd of these accusations came when some of the more creative critics attributed Nixon's military intrusion into Cambodia to the fact that he had recently praised Wayne's new Western Chisum.
One of the coolest things about being President of the United States is that you can invite your favorite entertainers to The White House - and virtually no one can refuse your invitation. Here is a slide show of some of the more prominent celebs to visit The White House since John F. Kennedy invited Marilyn Monroe to drop by. (And we all know how that worked out!) Click here to view
Robert Downey Jr. has revealed that director Guy Ritchie's new take on the legend of Sherlock Holmes will not only feature a hunky version of the great detective (played by Downey) but also an equally sexy Dr. Watson, played by Jude Law. So far, so good...but emergency rooms across the world better be prepared for an onslaught of members from the Baker Street Irregulars fan society when the film opens on Christmas Day. The reason? According to Downey,there will be a definite homo-erotic quality to the Holmes/Watson relationship. They share a bed and like to wrestle a lot...Ritchie is taking a calculated risk in tampering with the legend of Holmes, but there have been well-received revisionist spins on the yarns released in the past, on screen and in print. Well, at least we get to see two sex symbols doing the groping - the mind reels at the thought of Basil Rathbone chasing Nigel Bruce around. I guess the real clue is if Holmes says "Alimentary, my dear Watson!" For more click here
Quantity over quality: "More to Love" is the worst threat to the dignity of fat people since the invention of the Twinkie.
By Lee Pfeiffer
More bad news for the major networks: virtually every new show of the summer season has bombed. Despite expensive production costs and promotions, audiences are increasingly tuning out to the sludge being offered up in prime time. Not only are the shows not resonating, our guess is that audiences are probably turned off by the outrageous number of commercials during any given program. Networks have virtually eliminated opening and closing credits to squeeze in more promos and you can jog around the block during a commercial break and not miss a single scene of the program. It says something about both the networks and audience when the only shows that have attracted even a semblance of interest are dating programs centered on fat people and others who grope each other in the dark. We've said it before: the networks should just admit defeat. They don't have the taste or talent to produce good programming. They should buy back the syndication rights of classic TV shows from the 50s and 60s and just run the likes of The Addams Family and Bonanza during prime time. For more click here
Just a month after the death of Walter Cronkite, CBS News mourned the passing of another of its key figures: Don Hewitt has died at age 86. Hewitt joined the network in the early days of TV, back in 1948. He produced the ground-breaking first televised presidential debate between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy. The debate was a watershed moment in political history. Those who heard the debate on the radio felt Nixon had won, but the TV audience was enthralled with Kennedy's dashing appearance and good looks, which contrasted with Nixon's bland appearance. Since then, politics has been as much about grooming as it has been about political positions. Hewitt introduced the format of a weekly news magazine with "60 Minutes" in 1968. He produced the show through 2003, when he was rather unceremoniously shoved out by CBS, which wanted a more youth-oriented aspect to the show. Yet "60 Minutes" remains Hewitt's personal triumph, as the show routinely dominates the ratings on Sunday nights. For more click here
The somewhat tortured trail of DreamWorks Studios has taken yet another, perhaps happier, turn. DreamWorks split from its alliance with Paramount, then separated from its animation division which was spun off as a separate company. Now the company headed by Steven Spielberg and his partners have finalized a $800 million+ financing deal with an Indian investment firm. Production is expected to begin shortly on a slate of films, including a remake of James Stewart's classic comedy Harvey.Spielberg also wants to bring the life story of Martin Luther King Jr
to the big screen, but the project has been hampered by the usual
in-fighting over money within the King family. Disney will distribute
the new slate of films worldwide, except for within India. For more click here
Cinema Retro London correspondent Mark Mawston recently caught up with director John Landis to discuss his classic horror film.
26th June 09 was a sad day for many as they woke up to the news of
Michael Jackson’s untimely passing. Although tributes were many and were
omnipresent on TV and radio, the image that seemed to represent the high point
in the singer’s career and resonate with fans and general public alike was his epic
‘Thriller’ video. Probably the most famous and influential music video ever,
the landmark film was directed by the incomparable John Landis. On the day of Jackson’s
death, Landis was in London to attend the Curzon Soho’s ‘Midnight Movies’
tribute to him with a rare screening of An
American Werewolf In London. As usual, the Curzon staff had made a splendid
effort, this time creating a theme at the cinema’s bar around the Slaughtered
Lamb pub which features in the film, as well as dressing as having characters
from the film on hand, too. The ticket-holding
attendees again showed that an Englishman (or woman) never need to be asked
twice to dress up, as several of the films most memorable creations seemed to
be present and correct. There was even a fully blown lycanthrope that appeared
to be stalking the aisles and dancing to the house band in the foyer as the ‘Nightmare
Demon’ in full trench coat (on one of the warmest nights ofrecent years) prowled the bar looking for
American tourists with backpacks (see Mike Strick’s sitejust to see how much
goes into the creation of these monsterpieces).
John Landis and fiends raise a glass to the legacy of American Werewolf. (Photo: Mark Mawston. All rights reserved)
the band played, Landis signed a limited amount of copies of the new book
detailing his career, which includes essays on such cinematic gems as Animal House, Kentucky Fried Movie, The Blues
Brothers, Trading Places, the
hugely underrated Into the Night and
the aforementioned ‘Thriller’. Kim Newman was on hand to ask the questions in
his own inimitable manner, and we were also graced by the presence of John’s
wife Deborah and the ever-glamorous Jenny Agutter, who was the female lead in American Werewolf. One of the high
points on the night for this writer occurred when Agutter turned up to the
strains of ‘Moondance’ by Van Morrison, still looking as though she had just
slipped out of the nurse’s costume that many hold so close to their heart. Despite
John Landis’ enormous success as a director, it’s wonderful to see that he is still a fan
boy at heart. He was just as enthused about my story in Cinema
Retro #14 regarding clearing Ray Harryhausen’s garage as he was about answering
the questions about movies he’d made.
course, it was the stories behind his wonderful films that we were all
interested in and it was a fascinating experience delving into the Landis
treasure trove of iconic cinematic moments. He confirmed that it felt surreal
to be sitting in The Curzon which borders Piccadilly in the heart of London
where the famous finale to American
Werewolf in London had taken place (Ironically, the musical of Michael Jackson’s
‘Thriller’ plays a few doors down). He said he had very fond memories of the
area, especially the sequence from the film that was shot in a nearby cinema in
which the decomposing Jack visits his friend David as the wonderful parody of a
British 70’s porn movie plays (it’s title See
You Next Wednesday is a trademark of Landis which appears in most of his films).
Landis told me, “I spent a great deal of time at that cinema when I was over
here as one of the fourteen or so writers on The Spy Who Loved Me. I would disappear and head for that cinema as
they showed a lot of Tex Avery cartoons, which I’m a big fan of. Cubby thought
I was insane!”
Cinema Retro recently received a copy of the new digest-sized comic book Star Babes, a glorious throw-back to the counter-culture comics of the 1960s - and it even features a tribute to Raquel Welch. Here's the official press release.
Independent creator Mike Fisher of Goofa Man Productions has produced a
brand new independent book that takes a look at those charismatic
curvaceous creatures from the cosmos... STAR BABES in "3-D Pete's Star
Babe Invasion Special!"!
From “Devil Girl from Mars” to Jane
Fonda as “Barbarella,” Star Babes have been a part of our pop culture
consciousness for decades. Fisher — and his cartoon buddy, 3-D Pete —
takes a look at some of the more noteworthy Star Babes from television
In a recent interview, Fisher said, “In these trying
times, our nation can’t afford to ignore voluptuous women from the
stars in skimpy outfits.” “And another thing,” Fisher went on to
rant, “I know that we’re all moving to pixels and away from comics
printed with ink on paper, but that’s just the way I wanted to do it!”
I invested a lot of time and money in a dying medium,” Fisher whined.
“WAAAHHH!,” he cried, as he ran up the stairs in tears.
produces cartoons for “Animation Magazine” as well as web sites such as
strangehorizons.com. He was a contributor to Starlog magazine for over
In addition, he is a producer of award-winning
independent short animations. His short animations have shown at film
festivals across the country. Many have shown at the San Diego
Comic-Con Short Film Festival.
“3-D Pete’s Star Babe Invasion Special!” is a 24-page digest-sized book with a full-color cover and a fabulous full-color center spread of a Star Babe on vacation... in a BIKINI! Aren’t we naughty? If you’d like a copy, send $5 to:
Star Babe Invasion 510 Enchanted Way San Antonio, Texas 78260
London's Daily Mirror says that Brad Pitt has arrived in Old Blighty to begin filming scenes for director Guy Ritchie's new Sherlock Holmes film starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. However, Us magazine disputes this and cites a studio source as categorically denying that Pitt has anything to do with the film. Click here for more.
Director Terry Gilliam has confirmed to Empire On Line that Johnny Depp won't be in his reshoot of his aborted film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Depp had starred in the original version before the production was shut down due to factors beyond Gillliam's control. The debacle resulted in the acclaimed documentary Lost in La Mancha. Gilliam is sticking to the old adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." He will be re-shooting the entire film with a new leading man, as Depp is scheduled to do back-to-back movies next year including Dark Shadows and The Lone Ranger. (Yikes...how many people remember the immortal Klinton Spilsbury, the last man to play that role on screen???) For more click here
Cinema Retro London correspondent Adrian Smith gives us an advance view of the new Tarantino film.
By Adrian Smith
Back in 1995, I
thought Quentin Tarantino could do no wrong. After the quadruple whammy of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, True Romance
and Natural Born Killers, it seemed
as though he was just about the coolest man on the planet. He even polished the
Crimson Tide script, causing Denzel
Washington to wax lyrical about the Silver Surfer.
However, I managed
to miss Jackie Brown and had no
interest at all in the Kill Bills.
Earlier this year I finally tried Death
Proof, but gave up after half an hour out of sheer boredom. Perhaps I’d
outgrown Tarantino. His constant recycling of older, better movies and juvenile
glee in violence just weren’t for me any more.
Or so I thought.
This evening I
attended a preview of Inglourious
Basterds, as part of the Empire Movie-Con II, held at the BFI in London. No
doubt many of you are aware that there also exists an Italian war film from
1978 of the same name. QT has stated that he only used the title and basic idea
(essentially a re-working of The Dirty
Dozen), and the script was all original. The plot follows the exploits of a
group of American Jewish soldiers in Nazi-occupied France. As you are no doubt
expecting, in true QT style there is a lot of talk. A LOT of talk. The opening
scene is a conversation between two people which lasts twenty minutes. There is
a barroom scene featuring Nazi drinking games which easily lasts half an hour.
QT certainly likes his characters to chat. It was this propensity which I felt
killed Death Proof before it even got
going. Here however these scenes work brilliantly. This has to be down to the
fantastic performances, most notably from Brad Pitt as Lieutenant Aldo “the
Apache” Raine, and Christoph Waltz as his nemesis, the Colonel Hans Landa,
known as “The Jew Hunter”. Waltz in particular is a mesmerising actor. He
manages to turn what could have been a cardboard movie villain into a complex,
nuanced, basically human character, and also provides much of the film’s
humour. Did I mention it’s a comedy? There are scenes of action and violence,
but there is also a lot of comedy in this film. This is essentially an
irreverent take on the WWII film, and it is easy to see why it will upset many
people. It is another example of Hollywood
re-writing history to show that the American’s won the war. However I would
argue not to take it so seriously. The film begins with the caption “Once upon
a time…”, and if you treat it as a fairy tale, albeit a gruesome, often
sadistic one, with more twists and turns than a roller coaster, you will find
yourself going with it.
Inglourious Basterds has certainly restored my faith in Tarantino as a
filmmaker. His personal video introduction this evening reminded me that he is
still quite twitchy and irritating, but he does deserve for this film to be a
success. In his version of events it is cinema itself that triumphs over evil,
and the closing line of the film is “I think this could be my masterpiece.” He
could be right.
Sir Christopher Lee once told me an amusing tale about having filmed the James Bond movie The Man With the Golden Gun on the island of Phuket, back when it was so remote and isolated that the cast and crew feared attacks by local pirates. Many years later, he brought his wife to the island, after warning her that she might find the sense of isolation to be threatening. When he got there, he was shocked to find the place had become a major tourist attraction - with local bars offering 007 cocktails. Such is the impact that a hit film can have on a location. The result is often a mixed blessing. The local economy booms, but the tranquility is lost. The Greek island of Skopelos is suffering a similar fate since the release of the hit movie Mamma Mia! The intoxicating scenery in the film is luring many thousands of tourists - and both the locals and the visitors are finding that the island is woefully inappropriate for the madding crowds. For more click here
Good news for movie lovers: a new premium American TV cable channel will be premiering in October. Epix will showcase many films from major studios -with a cool caveat: subscribers will have access to streaming films from the archives on their home computers. When watching a film, viewers will be able to readily access bonus extras such as trailers and production information. No word yet on how the selection of films will be skewed, but suffice it to say that retro movie lovers will be delighted if Turner Classic Movies didn't have to shoulder the entire weight of broadcasting classic movies in an informative manner. For more click here
Don't expect the new Matt Helm to be the wise-cracking playboy of the Dean Martin films, as depicted here in Murderer's Row.
Steven Spielberg has long dreamed of making a series of serious spy movies from novelist Donald Hamilton's 27 Matt Helm books. However, when Spielberg and Dreamworks left Paramount, the studio retained control of the project and hired screenwriter Paul Attanasio to develop the project. Attanasio has delivered a script, which finally seems to put the project on the fast track after years of rumors that Helm would be returning to the screen. Dean Martin played the playboy sleuth in four films during the spy craze of the 1960s. However, while these films were commercial hits, Hamilton's fans were appalled at the comedic, over-the-top aspects of the films, which didn't resemble the novels at all. It is said that the new project would be in the vein of the Bourne films. Variety reports that Spielberg may still be involved in the project as either producer or director. Click here to read
Click here to read Matthew Bradley's article Mr. Helm Goes to Hollywood, tracing the history of the novels and Dean Martin films.
Poitier with fellow honorees Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland and civil rights leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Sidney Poitier was among the 16 recipients of this year's Medal of Freedom Award. The ceremonies took place at The White House on August 12 and, as is the tradition, honored an eclectic group of world scholars, political leaders, scientists and entertainers, each of whom has made outstanding contributions to their respective fields. President Obama personally presented each award after extolling the virtues of the recipients. For Poitier, who fought an often lonely fight to bring racial equality to Hollywood, the moment must have been particularly poignant, since he was given the award by the nation's first African-American president. Now, if someone can just lure this legendary actor back to the big screen...
Food for thought: Gordon Ramsay is pondering how to save his cash-strapped chain of international restaurants.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Gordon Ramsay, the abrasive British master chef who built his restaurant into an empire, is getting the kind of just desserts that will make his foes smile with satisfaction. His worldwide chain of restaurants has been hit hard by the international recession, as cash-strapped consumers are no longer willing to drop mega-bucks on Ramsay's well-reviewed, but (some say) outrageously over-priced menus. He is laying off workers even as he begins to sell some personal assets. According to The Wall Street Journal, the foul-mouthed chef is taking all sorts of drastic measures to try to save his business interests, which he co-owns with his father-in-law. Unlike most celebrities, Ramsay chose not to be paid a fee to lend his name and image to the restaurants, opting instead to own them outright. In good years, this drastically increased his profits. However, the strategy has come to haunt him as it has also increased his risk in during the current recession. For more click here
He is Legend: Will Smith is virtually the only actor with enough box-office clout to get the super-sized paychecks that were once standard in the industry.
By Lee Pfeiffer
While you might not see major Hollywood stars taking advantage of the Cash for Clunkers car rebate program, there is no doubt the glory days are over for some of the industry's most over-paid stars. Cinema Retro has repeatedly pointed out there are precious few stars with the drawing power to justify their enormous paychecks and production deals - and now studios seem to agree. They have sliced the salaries of some famous actors and actresses and cut back on the perks, as well. The only one immune from the cost-savings measures is Will Smith, who remains the closest thing Hollywood has to a genuine superstar. For more click here
Anna Nicole Smith is still making headlines from beyond the grave.
Author and TV correspondent Rita Cosby has big trouble ahead: a judge has approved a jury trial for a libel case relating to a book Cosby authored in 2007 about Anna Nicole Smith. Cosby's book Blonde Ambition made a number of sensational allegations relating to the late actress and her lovers Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead (who is the father of Smith's daughter). Stern's suit claims that Cosby used information she knew or suspected was false in order to rush out a book about the actress, whose bizarre life and death became a media sensation. According to Cosby, Stern pimped out the drug addicted Smith to as many as 50 men a year. She also claims that Smith had a videotape of her rival lovers, Stern and Birkhead, having sex with each other. No tape has materialized and both men strongly deny the allegation. Cosby made a frantic trip to the Bahamas in order to talk with Smith's daughter's nannies, who she alleged also watched the video. The plan backfired when Cosby ended up meeting with a representative of one of the nannys and offered to pay money in return for her signing an affidavit verifying she saw the sex tape. The conversation was recorded. The judge ruled that Cosby may well have used unsubstantiated stories in an attempt to rush out the book, which became a best-seller. Cosby had been a high profile fixture with her own program on Fox News before she was let go by the network. She is now a correspondent for the syndicated program Inside Edition. For more click here
1964 the BBC, as part of their regular “Wednesday Play” series, produced a 90-
minute drama based on the assassination attempt on Hitler in 1944. John Carson
played Col. Claus Schenk Count von Stauffenberg, now best known for being
played by Tom Cruise in Valkyrie. I’ve not seen that, so I can’t compare
them, although I imagine there are a vast number of differences. As a TV play,
as opposed to a filmed drama, this is quite stagey, with a limited number of
studio sets, and some filmed inserts. There is also an awful lot of talking.
However, it is still an excellent production, which benefitted not only from
some outstanding performances, but also a talented director in the German
Rudolph Cartier. He was incredibly experienced in British television, having shot
a number of well known shows including the original live The Quatermass
Experiment a decade earlier.
is being screened at the BFI in two weeks as part of its “Missing, Believed
Wiped” segment. I was fortunate enough to be at a screening two weeks ago as
part of a John Carson tribute at the Cine Lumiere in London. John himself was
in attendance, and it was exciting to think that nobody, including him, had
seen it for over 40 years.
surprisingly, during the opening credits we follow von Stauffenberg and his
briefcase containing the bomb through the various levels of security until he
places it besides Hitler. We follow the action immediately afterwards, as his
co-conspirators wait for confirmation of Hitler’s death and begin to roll out
their plans for the takeover of the military and the police. It is tense stuff,
despite the fact that we know Hitler was no more than scratched, due to someone
else in the room moving the bomb behind a table leg. It is so frustrating to
think that this really happened. If this was a Hollywood movie the plot would
have worked and the war would have been over. The play rather poignantly
reminds the audience of how many more people died in that final year of the war
after von Stauffenberg and his comrades are caught and executed. It’s a
sobering thought, and leaves you feeling some of the frustration they no doubt
felt when they realised it was all over.
Cinema Retro London correspondent Adrian Smith with John Carson, star of The July Plot
can book tickets to see The July Plot
for yourself at the BFI Southbank in London on the 22nd August by clicking here.It’s highly recommended, and it can only be
hoped that following its rediscovery and restoration the BBC will make this
important piece of work available on DVD.
Barbra Streisand will make a one night appearance at New York's Village Vanguard next month to sing songs from her new CD Love is the Answer. Streisand last performed there in 1961 as the opening act for Miles Davis. Fans can enter a free sweepstakes to win tickets to the event. For details click here
The literary father of James Bond died on this date in 1964. He was only 56 years old. Fleming possessed the sarcastic wit of his good friend Noel Coward, as evidenced by our favorite quote: "Older women are best because they think they may be doing it for the last time." R.I.P., Mr. Fleming.
The planned remake of Jane Fonda's iconic 1968 pop culture hit Barbarella hit a snag when director Robert Rodriguez and Universal could not agree on key elements of the production. Rodriguez walked away from the project, which had a screenplay by James Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. The aborted project has now been revived, sans Rodriguez, Purvis and Wade. Writer Joe Gazzam is working on a new script and the film will be directed by Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde). For more click here
Warner Independent Pictures has hired producer Bruce Sutter to oversee a planned updated remake of Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon. Titled Awaken the Dragon, Sutter is wooing Korean martial arts star Rain to top-line the film. For more click here
In a recent interview, Paul McCartney discusses some long-debated ambiguity in a line from his James Bond title song Live and Let Die. McCartney says he actually doesn't remember what the real line is - but our own columnist Craig Henderson has solved the mystery. Click here to read
With the success of the Twilight books and movies and the hit HBO series True Blood,
vampires are all the rage these days. Former '60s actress, the still
beautiful Celeste Yarnall, will find time from promoting her new book Holistic Cat Care to be a special guest star at this year's Vampire's Confrom August 14-16th in Hollywood where they will screen her cult horror movie The Velvet Vampire
(1971). According to Celeste, the only known master print is part of
Quentin Tarantino's private collection and he is graciously lending it
for the occasion. Below Celeste remembers the making of the movie.
In 1971's The Velvet Vampire (whose great tag line
proclaimed, "She’s waiting to love you--to death!") Celeste
plays the mysterious beauty Diana who after meeting married couple
Susan and Lee Ritter (Sherry Miles and Michael Blodgett) at an art
gallery lures them into staying the weekend at her Mojave Desert home.
Soon both husband and wife find themselves sexually drawn to their
mysterious host who suffers from a rare blood disease. Unlike vampires
of lore, Diana was able to journey out into the sunlight as long as she
is covered up. In the course of twenty-four hours, Diana feasts on a
mechanic, his girlfriend, and a servant. After making love with Diana,
Lee wants to depart but Susan is fascinated with the charming Diana and
wants to stay. Their delay in leaving costs Lee his life while Diana
meets her gruesome end at the hands of a cult hippie gang. "I dyed my
hair black for this role," says Celeste. "Though the part was a bit
corny, I got into playing a vampire. The film had an interesting
script by Charles S. Swartz, which explained Diana’s condition very
well. This was one of the first films released by Roger Corman’s new
production company [New World] and was more original than some of
Roger’s other films, which were rip-offs of other movies. I became
good friends with Roger and have a lot of respect for his talent."
Celeste accepted the role of Diana despite the nude scenes ("I had
my daughter Cami to support.") after turning down previous parts that
required nudity including a role in Winning with Paul
Newman. "Though I was only semi-nude, it still bothered me, Charles
Swartz also produced the film and his wife Stephanie Rothman directed
it. They both were very nice and one of the ways that they persuaded
me into doing the nude scene with Michael Blodgett was by making it an
absolutely closed set. After it was lit, everyone left except the
cinematographer, Stephanie, and her husband. The cinematographer’s
name was Daniel Lacambre and he was brilliant. He lit and shot the
Amongst the hoopla surrounding the recent passing of Michael
Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, Karl Malden,and a few others, one
death sadly slipped under the radar. Actor Don Edmonds died on May 29,
2009 from cancer. I interviewed him for my book, Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969.
He was a great guy and we stayed in email contact for awhile. I had
the pleasure to finally meet him in person at a Chiller Convention in
New Jersey. Don was very humble regarding his acting and directing
careers and enjoyed talking with fans. Below is my tribute to him from
Actor Don Edmonds was born in Kansas City, Missouri. His father
relocated the family to Long Beach, California in the thirties and got
work as a timekeeper at the shipyards. Soon the elder Edmond’s
entrepreneurial son began offering to shine shoes for military men at
the Pike an amusement park in Long Beach earning more money than his
father. The cute-looking youngster also had a talent for singing and
appeared in local USO shows singing "Mammy" in black face.
As a teenager Edmonds spent his time hanging out on the beach.
"The first surfboard I ever saw was in 1950 when my friend Terry
McGelrand who was this wild guy brought one back from Hawaii. This
board must have been fifty feet long and it had no fin on it. We
loaded it up on his Woodie and took it down to the beach. We had
always been belly floppers before that. He took it out into the water
and stood up on it. We gasped, ‘Whoa, check that out!’"
“We all began surfing after that," continues Don. "A couple of
legends came from our group. Hobie Alter had this shack out there
where he was experimenting with different kinds of weights and woods.
He began designing surfboards. Later he was famous for the Hobie Cat.
The other guy who I really grew up with was about three or four years
younger than us and he'd plead, ‘Can I hang around with you guys?’
We'd say, ‘No, go away! We're going to look for girls.’ He was always
the kid we'd chase away. His name was Bruce Brown who went on to make The Endless Summer."
After graduating high school, Don Edmonds joined the service and
became a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne. While stationed at Fort
Bragg in North Carolina he joined the Spielhaus Players and appeared in
works by such renowned playwrights as Tennessee Williams and William
Inge. Returning to Long Beach, the lanky sandy-blonde hair surfer boy
was cast in several local theatrical productions before joining the
Estelle Harmon Actor’s Workshop where his classmates included BarBara
Luna, Bill Bixby, Millie Perkins and Ty Hardin. From there Edmonds was
able to finagle an agent to represent him and began landing work on
television most notably in five episodes of Playhouse 90.
While working on Playhouse 90, Edmonds became fascinated
with directing. "I'd sit and just watch the director. I just knew I
wanted to direct. I never just hung out in my dressing room. Instead
I would come out on the set and observe gentlemen like Ralph Nelson and
John Frankenheimer work. They were young guys back then making their
bones too. This was the only schooling that I had. I was just so
interested in the directing process."
The Sexuality and Spirituality of a Porn Priestess
By Graham Hill
Having already paid tribute to Georgina Spelvin and
Juliet Anderson, I now complete my Cinema Retro porn legends trilogy by introducing you to another sexual superstar
from the “Golden Era” – Kay Taylor Parker. Naturally, as you might expect, all three
ladies have moved on from those bygone days of love and lust on the big screen.And just as Georgina and Juliet are so different
and fascinating, so is Kay.In fact, Kay is completely different in that her status as a porn star is just one
of many lives that the now sixty-five year old beauty has experienced.I will
not attempt to explain each and every
one of them, but I will acquaint you with her body and soul.
It may be a taboo subject for some, but Taboo (1980) is the movie that Kay Parker is best remembered for.You could say that she was one of the first
to launch the mature woman/ younger man trend that is so prevalent today.Once upon a time, before
X-rated movies became totally obsessed with Botoxed beauties sporting
store-bought breasts and pre-pubescent genitalia, the actresses in the industry
relied on their natural assets – including Kay, whose 38-DD bust line made her
an instant superstar in the X rated film business.Entering the adult scene at age 33, she
exuded not just maturity, but a sense of warmth and charm that elevated any scene
she was in. Kay was born in Birmingham,
England in 1944.The middle child of a typical
working class British family, with her father being a sailor in the Royal Navy,
she unfortunately didn’t have many fond childhood memories.She recalls her father being a harsh
disciplinarian who oftenaccused her of “acting
up.”To say that Kay is a believer in
re-incarnation and the metaphysical world is an understatement for someone who believes she has lived 182
lives.She is totally and completely
convinced of having been born in Atlantis 48,000 years ago.For a better understanding, I refer you to
her book Taboo –Sacred Don’t Touch or
to her website.Kay is not your
usual porn-star profile, she’s very much her own person and is extremely beautiful, highly intelligent
and ultra compassionate.
The lyrics to one of the famous songs in the Oscar winning film Oliver! state, "consider yourself one of the family." The star of the movie, Mark Lester, is taking the advice literally, at least when it comes to his possible biological affiliation to Michael Jackson's daughter.
By Lee Pfeiffer
We've studiously attempted to stay away from all Michael Jackson news for the last month, but every time we think we're out, the Jackson clans pulls us back in. The latest bizarre development even has a dotted line relationship to a classic movie. British former child actor Mark Lester, who played the title role in the Oscar-winning 1968 musical Oliver!, suspects he is the father of Michael Jackson's daughter Paris. According to Lester, " I gave Michael my sperm so that he could have kids — and I believe Paris is my daughter." He gave Michael his sperm??? No wonder they were close friends. However, Lester says the transfer of his bodily fluid was done in a more mundane manner than may have been the case with some of Jackson's visitors to Graceland. He donated to a sperm at a London clinic when Michael was married to Debbie Rowe, who he assumes had the sperm implanted. Lester says he sees a resemblance between Paris and his own 15 year-old daughter. For more click here
Movie lovers have always taken a shining to the deceased twins from Stanley Kubrick's only horror flick.
The fun folks at the addictive web site www.onlygoodmovies.com have an amusing homage to the creepiest kids to ever appear in movies. (No, it doesn't cover home movies, so don't look for your siblings here.) Click here to read