Blackdog and Leventhal publishers have released a soft cover version of author Jenny M. Jones' outstanding book, The Annotated Godfather. One critic described the book as akin to "seeing the movie all over again, but with Francis Ford Coppola sitting next to you on the couch." Indeed, Coppola participated in the book, adding insights into the making of the 1972 crime classic. There have been some unauthorized Godfather books produced over the years, but this one is officially licensed
through Paramount. Thus, the book not only boasts the original
screenplay with annotations, but a wealth of jaw-dropping photos, many
of which will be new to even the most fanatical followers of the film.
The reproduction of these photos is superb, and the addition of
little-known anecdotes about the filming make this book an offer you
Actor and stuntman Dick Durock has passed away at age 72. Durock was primarily known for playing the title role in the Swamp Thing feature films and TV series. For details about his life and career, click here
A Steady Rain starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman had its official New York opening last night. Among the celebs attending: Jerry Seinfeld, Matthew Broderick and Harvey Weinstein. Click here for coverage
Cinema Retro is very proud to welcome the lovely and talented actress Ingrid Pitt to our ranks of regular columnists. If you're a retro movie lover, Ingrid needs no introduction, thanks to her iconic appearances in films like The Wicker Man, The Vampire Lovers, Countess Dracula, Where Eagles Dare and The House That Dripped Blood. Ingrid will be sharing her stories about the making of her films, as well as essays about movies she loves. In her debut column, Ingrid puts the spotlight on the long-neglected Boston Blackie series.
By Ingrid Pitt
to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend’
With a strap like that it is a
wonder that anyone turned out in the middle of World War 2 to watch the antics
of the leading man, Chester Morris, in the Boston Blackie series of films
produced between 1942 and 1949. The films were short, dark and in yer face.
Subtlety wasn’t a requirement.Nor was
variety. The story lines were simple and repetitive. A crime is committed.
Naturally the police blame Boston Blackie. Inspector Farraday is forced to
arrest Blackie. Blackie wins his freedom in some slick way or other and solves
In spite of the narrow scope of
succeeding plot lines there was still something that drew me to the films and I
think I can claim to have seen all those with Chester Morris playing the lead.
Perhaps that was the secret. Chester Morris! He wasn’t exactly the prototype
leading man. To be honest he was a bit on the tubby side. He couldn’t even lay
claim to an aquiline nose and a strong determined jaw. And that slicked back
Brylcreemed hair may have look sexy on Denis Compton but it was lost on
Chester. But he did have a cute smile and knowing eyes and that ticked the
boxes with the fifteen year old me. Sitting there in the fusty old cinema that
hadn’t seen a lick of paint or had a thorough clean since Hitler retired to his
bunker and relieved the world of a tyrant, it was easy to escape into Blackie’s
world of excitement in the virtual New York projected onto the screen in grainy
While Europe erupted in a holocaust
of shrapnel, mud and blood, in 1914, Jack Boyle penned his first Boston Blackie
story for The American Magazine. It was called The Price of Principle and featured a jewel thief with a heart of
gold. He followed this up in Cosmopolitan and published a novelette, Boston
Blackie’s Mary, in 1917. He soon had a strong reader base and was able to bring
out the collected stories based on the leading character, Boston Blackie, in
1919. The film business at this time was still very much hit and miss but the
Boyle stories were good enough to find a producer willing to run some film
stock between the sprockets and there were, (arguably), nine Blackie silent
films produced between 1918 and 1927. It is amazing that a character could be
waltzed by so many companies in the silent era of movie making. Boston Blackie’s Little Pal was the
first, made by Metro in 1918. Universal took on The Silk-Lined Burglar in 1919 and the Famous Players-Lasky,
Cosmopolitan, Fox and others carried the name through until the Talkies caught
up with them in 1927 when Chadwick Productions bowed out with the misplace hope
of The Return of Boston Blackie.
Chester Morris never had any doubts
that some day he would make it big-time. At 17 he billed himself as the
“youngest leading man in the country”. 17 was his lucky number. In 1917 he
landed a part in An Amateur Orphan and
only rarely looked back. By the time he was offered the lead in the ‘B’ movie
series, Boston Blackie, he was a well known face even if few people could put a
name to it.It was Columbia that put the
rug back under his feet. Meet Boston
Blackie (1941) was just supposed to be an amusing aside to Columbia’s
regular output. At 58 minutes it was hardly long enough to be a second feature
in a flea-pit. Columbia did well by it. They gave it a halfway decent budget
and a director, Robert Florey, who knew how to frame a scene and the production
company suddenly found it had a minor success on its hands. So the directors of
the company did what any self-respecting producer would do in the circumstances
and whistled up another story and later that year brought out Confessions of Boston Blackie.
Already the spadework was beginning
to turn up some truffles. Blackie’s character had migrated a little from Boyles
original concept. Blackie now had a regular mate called Runt (George E Stone)
and he had developed an intriguing hot and cold running relationship with
Inspector Farraday played by Richard Lane. The plays had an easy flowing character
with snappy one liners and comedy mixed in with the intrigue.The foil for the comedy was often Sgt.
Matthews, Farraday’s slap-happy assistant, played with increasingly comedic
virtuosity by a succession of actors including Walter Sande and Lyle Latell.
Finally the role went to a comedian, Frank Sully, but by this time Sgt.
Matthews was a boil on the face of the screenplay. Fortunately Blackie’s
character developed in a more acceptable way. Although still having his
jewel-thief CV propping up his back story he developed into a Private Eye in
all but name. He wore snappy suits, seemed to live in a bubble of people only
interested, for good or evil, in what he was doing and had a ‘broad’ for every
Another person associated with the Beatles has died a tragic death at an early age. Lucy Vodden, 46, who passed away this week from lupus, was the inspiration for the group's classic song Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds - even though none of the band members had ever met her. The title came about when John Lennon was creating material for the Sgt. Pepper album. His son Julian, then only 4 years old, came home from school with a drawing of Vodden. He told his dad it represented Lucy in the sky with diamonds. Lennon was so taken by the phrase that he titled a song after it, and in the ensuing years, tried to dispel the urban legend that it stood for LSD. In recent years, Julian got back in touch with Lucy and tried to comfort her as her health declined. For more click here
Watch out, Sham Wow guy- CNN's Anderson Cooper may be auditioning for your job!
By Lee Pfeiffer
It's bad enough that CNN forces its anchors into those God-awful, cookie-cutter Ken and Barbie teams to co-host broadcasts. There is also no shortage of celebrity stories disguised as genuine news, stories about cute animals and star anchor Anderson Cooper's nightly cringe-inducing funny photo caption contest. Now comes a new low: CNN has introduced a new application for I Phones that allows consumers to get some pretty amazing updates. However, the network is too stingy to use its commercial breaks to promote the new app, because it would mean bumping out paid advertisers. Thus, the anchors have been forced to shill for the new application, with significant segments of news broadcasts devoted to having the hosts demonstrate how it works. The low point came tonight when Cooper, bringing boot-licking to a new level, threw in an enthusiastic remark that, at only $1.99, consumers couldn't afford not to have the new CNN application! Deceased cable pitch man Billy Mays has nothing
on the CNN team when it comes to shilling. What next? Maybe Cooper will
have to start using a CNN-brand Sham Wow to clean his desk while
delivering the news. When you wonder why the golden age of broadcast
news has passed us by, try to imagine what Walter Cronkite's reaction
would have been if someone tried to get him to shill for a product
while delivering stories. Mind you, there are still some excellent
reporters at the network, some of whom risk their lives to bring vital
segments to the air while Cooper and company keep the world informed of
the latest developments on Jon & Kate Plus 8. The network also still retains the services of top flight show host Howard Kurtz, who often uses his Sunday morning program Reliable Sources to criticize his own network. The
efforts of these genuine reporters are undermined by their employer's trivialization of the
news. CNN should just admit what its call letters stand for: Commercial
News Network. (Gotta run: Cooper just announced the next segment - something about "the world's fastest nudist." Sadly, I kid you not.)
The blockbuster pairing of Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in the Broadway production of A Steady Rain has audiences riveted and the play looks to be one of the top-grossers of the season. This is no mean feat, as Broadway success is generally relegated to big budget musicals. James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, who is also one of the producers of the play, is said to have purchased film rights to the show. For more click here
We regret to say that due to wide demand, the tribute book to John Wayne's The Alamo by Cinema Retro publishers Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall
is now sold out. We will accept names for a waiting list in case we
succeed in obtaining more copies, but please do not forward any
payments at this time. If interested in being on the waiting list,
please send an E mail to:email@example.com For details on the book, see the back cover of issue #15.
Warner Home Video continues to astound with its creative releases of classic MGM titles. The much-anticipated Wizard of Oz Blu-ray edition commemorates the film's 70th anniversary and packs a
tremendous amount of goodies into a boxed set that will have classic
movie lovers agog. In addition to the finest home video version ever
released of the beloved 1939 film, the set also contains 16 hours of
bonus extras, four of which are new to this release. They include:
Documentaries about the life of L. Frank Baum and the early origins of Oz
Early screen adaptations of the book
An original Baum silent film The Patchwork Girl of Oz
A documentary about director Victor Fleming
The TV movie The Dreamer of Oz starring John Ritter as Baum
The Hollywood Walk of Fame 2007 salute to the Munchkins
If that doesn't get you clicking your ruby slippers, consider the wealth of cool collectibles contained in the box, which weighs in like the Manhattan Yellow Pages:
A limited edition wristwatch with genuine crystals in commemorative case
A reproduction of the film's original pressbook, which will be of special interest to Cinema Retro readers as if affords some truly rare insights into the marketing of the film.
A replica of the original movie budget sheet
A hardback 52 page book
Even if you are still in Kansas, you'll want to add this release to your collection. Click here to order from Amazon- and save $33! You also get an exclusive Amazon set of 8x10 character stills from the film and free shipping. You can also view a promotional trailer for the set. Click here to order the same set in standard DVD format.
Rhino Records, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, is facing hard times. Due to decreasing sales in the music industry, the company, which specializes in acclaimed reissues of classic tunes, has been struggling to survive. The company laid off dozens of staffers last week and hopes to evolve into a more competitive entity. For more click here
Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman were performing their hit play A Steady Rain in New York the other night when an audience member's mobile phone went off. The play is a searing, two-man drama and the disruption clearly interrupted the actor's thought processes. When the phone went off a second time, the two macho men took on the culprit, while still staying in character. To view click here
Bardot is her prime. She walked away from show business in favor of advocating for animal rights.
It's hard to believe, but sex goddesses Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot both turn 75 this year. The web site Breitbart examines the similarities and diversities in their lives and careers. Click here to read
Writer Tom Doctoroff provides a compelling report on the serious problem with the illegal DVD trade in China and why studios are fighting a hopeless battle to control the situation. The first aspect of the problem is the fact that, as with all totalitarian nations, even the "new, improved" China still has draconian limits on what types of information and entertainment people can access. This was far easier to enforce in the pre-Internet age when it was possible to restrict the flow of information. However, despite China's best efforts, the population has been exposed to the tidal wave of technological advances that has swept the world, and in the process has gained even greater access to Western entertainment such as music and movies. The result has been an insatiable appetite on the part of the public for illegal CDs and DVDs. This has had a devastating impact on potential profits in the music and film industries. China has been sanctioned by the World Trade Organization for making half-hearted, anemic attempts at controlling piracy. In fact, the nation relies on the revenues that piracy brings into local economies. Secondly, as Tom Doctoroff points out, this isn't just a matter of the public being able to buy bootlegs for a cheaper price. Under China's autocratic policies, the types of Western movies and music that are all the rage would never be allowed to be sold legally because they are officially considered to be deviant or subversive.
Doctoroff makes the argument that a partial solution would be for the studios to radically reduce prices on legal distribution of videos and music in order to put a dent in the wallets of pirates. If people can buy a pristine, professional version of a movie or song, then they are more likely to pay a modest premium for it. This would benefit non-controversial entertainment but still wouldn't solve the situation pertaining to government censorship. Doctoroff also points out the fact that there is an inherent benefit to even pirated entertainment: it helps spread Western values to totalitarian nations. This won't mean much to corporate bean-counters, but may ultimately result in important political changes. For the article click here
Law enforcement agencies like to say that you can run, but you can't hide when it comes to snaring fugitives from justice. The long arm of the law has just reached Oscar winning director Roman Polanski, who was arrested in Switzerland, where he planned to attend a commemoration of his career at the Zurich Film Festival. Polanski has been living in France since fleeing the United States in 1978, following his arrest for having sex with an underage girl. The messy legal battle has gone on ever since, with even the victim in the case calling for the charges to be dropped against Polanski, who had endured the horror of having his wife Sharon Tate and his unborn baby massacred by the Manson Family in 1969. Polanski has carefully planned his travels since fleeing the USA, avoiding countries with extradition treaties with America for the crime he committed. It's unclear why he made this potentially drastic misstep by visiting Switzerland. In recent years, Polanski has unsuccessfully tried to get the charges dropped, but prosecutors say he would have to appear in court to personally make the plea- and Polanski feared arrest if his strategy didn't work. A recent major documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, revealed that Polanski had reason to believe he was betrayed by a judge who arguably double-crossed him after Polanski agreed to serve a period of incarceration. The judge, acting under apparent pressure from others, seemed poised to break his word and sentence Polanski to additional prison time, thus leading the famed director to flea the country. The present status of his situation is unclear, and it is not known when or if Swiss authorities will turn him over to US law enforcement officials.For more click here
A barn in Jackson, Wyoming that was the site of the knock-down brawl between Clint Eastwood and William Smith in the 1980 comedy Any Which Way You Can is being dismantled -even though it was supposed to be protected as a historic landmark. A bureaucratic error resulted in a contractor beginning to demolish the barn. The destruction was temporarily halted and there are plans to relocate the barn to another location. For more click here
While filming Funeral in Berlin, Michael Caine met with George Segal, who was shooting his own memorable spy thriller, The Quiller Memorandum.
The Harry Palmer Web Site offers this fascinating look at the making of Guy Hamilton's 1967 thriller Funeral in Berlin, the second Palmer film starring Michael Caine as the reluctant spy. To view click here
In an appearance on ABC TV's Good Morning America, director Michael Moore was interviewed about his latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story. In the course of the interview with Chris Cuomo, Moore chastised ABC for indulging in exploitive labor practices that are now all the rage across America- namely classifying long-term employees as temporary workers so they don't receive health care benefits. To watch the interview click here
MGM is reported to be in the worst financial crisis it has experienced in decades. Deadline Hollywood Daily reports that bondholders are balking at the prospect of giving the studio money to finance future films and may look to bankruptcy in order to recoup as much as they can. If the studio does go into bankruptcy, it would free Eon Productions to bring the lucrative James Bond franchise to a different studio. MGM says it doubts it can survive without Bond, the one sure thing it has when it comes to an assured blockbuster film franchise. For more click here
The biggest pianist in show biz will be the subject of a major biopic.
This one is shaping up as a "must-see". Matt Damon has been signed by director Steven Soderbergh to play the lover of Liberace in the biopic starring Michael Douglas as the flamboyant master of cheesy entertainment. The fact that two of Hollywood's most notable straight guys will be paired in as gay lovers is sure to increase interest in the film...though the image of Liberace making love to anybody has to be a sobering experience for both gay and straight audiences. For more click here
Video Business reports that studios are cutting the prices on Blu-ray DVD releases but retailers are complaining that the prices are still far too high to attract many consumers beyond the die-hard movie fans. With Wal Mart shoving an increasing number of major films of recent vintage into $5 bargain bins, the average consumer simply doesn't see the value of paying up to five times that amount to own the same movie in Blu-ray format -especially when they have to buy a new player as well. Even with recent price decreases, the average Blu-ray release of a new film is $23. Catalog (or vintage) titles average $17 per unit. In challenging economic times like these, studios seem out of touch with consumer needs. Until the recession kicked in, America had the worst personal savings rate in the world: an average of 0% (that's not a joke- Americans spent literally every penny of income they earned). Now, with hard times present, there has been an abrupt turn-around and America's personal savings rate has soared to 7%. While this new emphasis on personal responsibility is encouraging, it means consumers are allocating far fewer dollars for unnecessary expenditures. With jobs hanging by a thread, health care costs soaring and unemployment extensions running out, it doesn't seem like many people just absolutely have to have the latest Eddie Murphy bomb in Blu-ray. For more click here
If you believe Mackenzie Phillips, her father- legendary Mamas and Papas rocker John Phillips- was dreamin' about a lot more than just California. In a new book, the perpetually troubled actress says she had a decade long sexual relationship with Papa John - and even had an abortion because she feared it may have been his baby. Her stepmother, Michelle Phillips, says the claim is bogus and that Mackenzie's veracity is in question due to her long history of drug abuse. She accuses her of peddling a lie in order to sell books. However, Mackenzie's half-sister Chynna says she believes her. For more click here
If David Carradine ever referred to coming out of the closet, he meant it literally. In an interview that will appear on a new cable series titled Celebrity Ghost Stories, the late Kung Fu star will say he felt his closet was haunted by the ghost of his wife's first husband. Carradine says on one occasion, the ghost sent a message to him by using one of his old ties with a Grateful Dead logo on it. We're not making this up, folks...The series will also feature first hand ghost stories related by Joan Rivers and Scott Baio. Aren't these people scary enough without having to relate such stories? The show promises to be absurd, stupid and insulting to anyone's intelligence. The American public will love it. For more click here
Cinema Retro writer Craig Henderson reminds us that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. premiered 45 years ago tonight- a fact sure to send baby boomers into the depths of depression as they cry in futility, "It couldn't have been that long ago!" Indeed, it was. The show debuted to mediocre reviews and dismal ratings, but as young people caught on to how hip it was, word spread quickly and the show became a major hit, running for four seasons. It would have run longer, but NBC foolishly chose to keep moving its night and time slot, putting it against powerhouse favorites on other networks. Still, the show has had a remarkable legacy considering it has not been widely seen in re-runs in recent years. A tip of the green hat (inside joke for fans of the show) to Craig Henderson for his remarkable issue-by-issue coverage of the feature films derived from two-part episodes of the series that have appeared in Cinema Retro. We also congratulate our friends Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, who have both contributed greatly to our magazine.
Gelbart contests Dustin Hoffman's statements that he was the driving force behind the success of Tootsie.
Larry Gelbart, the late great comedy writer, gave what turned out to be his final interview to Vanity Fair. In it, there are some refreshingly candid admissions: he came to detest his TV series M*A*S*H because CBS insisted upon using a laugh track over his objections. Regarding the smash big screen comedy Tootsie, it's clear that Gelbart had no love for Dustin Hoffman, who he accused of trying to hog the credit for the film's success. Click here to read.
John Hartl of the Seattle Times goes against the grain and says the best year for movies was not 1939, but 1959. He cites as evidence the release of such films as Anatomy of a Murder, Porgy and Bess, North by Northwest, Some Like It Hot, Ben-Hur Rio Bravo and On the Beach. See if you agree by clicking here to read
The Chicago Tribune has a fascinating piece in which they explore the origins of three famous classic movie lines from the Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact, Paul Newman's Cool Hand Luke and Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump. Click here to read
I thought I would
just drop your website a line that somehow the death of TV and Movie Actor Paul
Burke on September 13th was overlooked.
He joined the cast
of the 1958-63 TV series NAKED CITY as Detective Adam Flint and received two
Emmy nominations for his performance in that series. He also took over the starring
role in the 12 O'CLOCK HIGH TV series after actor Robert Lansing was fired by
the show's producer in 1965. Later TV series appearances include regular
roles in DYNASTY and SANTA BARBARA. His film credits include VALLEY
OF THE DOLLS and THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR.
There is a
comprehensive obituary written by Margalit Fox that appeared in THE NEW YORK
TIMES on September 16th.
Retro Responds: Thanks, Bill- this one eluded us even though we were admirers of Mr. Burke's work.
Taking advantage of the mania for theatrical 3-D movies, Sony has announced it will begin to market televisions capable of telecasting 3-D programming next year. With sales of present high-end TVs leveling off, the industry is looking for the next big thing to excite consumers. Sony says the TVs will be be designed to accommodate popular video game technology as well as Blu-ray players. The caveat is that, once again, there are two competing formats. If the industry doesn't learn its lesson this time and agree on on industry standard, we could see a replay of battling formats that led to the disastrous "wars" between Betamax and VHS and HD and Blu-ray DVDs. For more click here
Fox's boxed set release of the Planet of the Apes series received the coveted DVD Critics Award in the category of Best Blu-ray release of 2008. The awards are sponsored by Home Media Magazine, one of the leading journals of the home entertainment industry. The boxed set is truly the ultimate tribute to the legendary series and boasts many hours of extras, including rare deleted footage. Cinema Retro publishers Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall wrote the accompanying hard-cover book that is included in the set. It covers the history of each film with candid assessments of how they were received by both critics and the public. The book also features a wealth of never-before-published design sketches, publicity stills and behind the scenes photos. Cinema Retro congratulates our friends at Fox. We are proud to be part of the team that helped make this long-awaited release a reality.
Click here for Home Media Magazine's original review of the set
The web site Movie Poster Forum has a discussion string on the worst movie posters of all time. Hands down, the winners are all from Ghana, which employs local artists to "immortalize" the stars of movies. Witness our favorite: Roger Moore and Barbara Bach in the 1977 James Bond flick The Spy Who Loved Me. The artist must have thought that Richard Kiel's Jaws was the female lead. Not even a mother could love spies who look like this! Check out the web site by clicking here.
Here's a review of the latest issue of Cinema Retro (#15) from Home Cinema Choice. We're really proud to present Steve Mori's unpublished interview with Lee Marvin as the centerpiece of this issue...click here for review.
If you came of age during the Sixties,
you may well remember the name Lada Edmund, Jr. who was one of the
original gyrating, mini-skirted go-go girls who danced in a cage on NBC-TV’s
music program, Hullabaloo 1965-66. Similar to ABC’s Shindig,
Hullabaloo featured a different celebrity host each week to introduce
some of the most popular musical performers of the day. However, the show
received most of its press not for the rock groups or vocalists that guest
starred but for Lada and fellow dancers who bumped, grinded and twisted their
way into the homes of teenagers every week. So popular was she that she
landed on the cover of TV Guide magazine.
Before she found TV fame, Lada began
her career dancing on Broadway. She was one of the original dancers in the 1960
Tony Award winning musical Bye Bye Birdie with Dick Van Dyke, Chita
Rivera and Paul Lynde. When rock star Conrad Birdie is drafted, his manager
randomly selects high schooler Kim MacAfee from Sweet Apple, Ohio for Conrad to
give his final goodbye kiss to on The Ed Sullivan Show before he goes
off to the military. Lada played Penelope Ann, one of Kim’s friends and one of
the many hysterical fans of the singing idol. With the first Broadway
revival of Bye Bye Birdie starring John Stamos and Gina Gershon
scheduled to open in October, Lada has been invited to return to Sweet Apple,
Ohio as a special guest and will be visiting backstage soon.
Besides dancing on stage (including
productions of West Side Story and Promises, Promises) and TV,
Lada shimmied across the big screen in the beach flick For Those Who Think
Young (1964) starring James Darren, Pamela Tiffin and Nancy Sinatra. She
then went dramatic in the moonshine movie The Devil’s 8 (1968) and the
coming-of-age drama Out of It (1969) starring Jon Voight in his first starring role, though it was released after he found fame in Midnight Cowboy. During the
Seventies, she became a stuntwoman in
Hollywood and performed death defying feats in
films including Smokey and the Bandit (1977) starring Burt Reynolds
and Sally Field, and classic TV shows such as Charlie's Angels and
Starsky and Hutch.
With Jon Voight in Out of It
Out of the spotlight for years working as a personal trainer
in New Jersey (I tried to locate her for my Glamour Girls of Sixties
Hollywood book without any luck), Lada (now known as Lada St. Edmund) has
re-surfaced and has launched a comeback. She is available for interviews
through her publicist Walter Newkirk @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisanti has co-written with former 60s actress Gail Gerber her memoir Trippin’
with Terry Southern: What I Think I Remember. Visit his website www.sixtiescinema.com
for more information.
Clint Eastwood, who recently directed Matt Damon in the forthcoming Invictus, will team again with the actor for Hereafter, the first supernatural-themed film that Eastwood has done. The Oscar winner will produce (along with Steven Spielberg) and direct the flick, but will not appear in it. For more click here
Henry Gibson, who delivered witty and sarcastic poems on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, has died from cancer at age 73. Gibson had a long career after the show, appearing in such films as The Long Goodbye, Nashville and - more recently- Wedding Crashers. He also had a recurring role on the hit TV series Boston Legal. For more click here
The music world lost another icon with the passing of Mary Travers of the folk group Peter, Paul & Mary. Travers was 72 and died from complications from leukemia. She had continued to perform with her partners Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow throughout the years, playing to sold-out audiences. To read Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey's comments on the group's official web site click here
Hollywood studios and French police are using surveillance techniques right out Clouseau's training manual to try to catch an elusive video pirate.
By Lee Pfeiffer
An anonymous French film pirate known only as THX Fuck is proving to be as elusive as any master criminal of the silver screen. The culprit has managed to repeatedly use a video camera to film current movies, then post them right away on a pirate web site for downloads. Studios have been able to trace the source of the piracy to a cinema in a small village in northern France, but despite a wide range of tactics, their efforts have been thwarted. The bargain basement Blofeld has eluded attempts by agents to spy on the theater audience for days - and in one case, an agent was posted behind a cardboard cut out of John Travolta! (One can only imagine Peter Sellers as Clouseau enacting a similar strategy.) Still, the resourceful villain managed to film even under this close scrutiny. For more click here
Relive every unforgettable round in high definition with the BD premieres of Rocky II-V
along with an exclusive bonus disc featuring over two hours of
documentaries, interviews, behind-the scenes footage and an all-new
“Feeling Strong Now” trivia game. The Rocky: The Undisputed Collection
winning Rocky franchise has won over audiences as well as critics and,
over 30 years after the original film, Rocky continues to be recognized
as a film icon, sports legend and American hero.
packs a punch as a seven BD set for the suggested retail price of $99.99 U.S./$139.99 Canada. Prebook is October 7.
Rocky (Stallone) is a Philadelphia club fighter who seems to be going
nowhere. But when a stroke of fate puts him in a ring with the world
heavyweight champion, Rocky knows that it’s his one shot at the big
time -- a once in a lifetime opportunity to “go the distance” and come
out a winner!
Rocky II After club fighter Rocky Balboa (Stallone)
goes the distance with the world heavyweight champion, boxing fans
clamor for a rematch. But Rocky, having sustained massive injuries in
the bout, announces his retirement. Though he tries to make a new life
for himself, Rocky realizes that he can’t escape his true calling. The
ring beckons once more, and the “Italian Stallion” must prepare for the
fight of his life.
Rocky III As Rocky Balboa (Stallone) fights his way
into the hearts of millions, life couldn’t be better. He scores ten
consecutive wins, lands lucrative endorsement contracts and becomes
famous throughout the world. But when Clubber Lang (Mr. T) K.O.s Rocky
in a humiliating defeat, it becomes apparent that the “Italian
Stallion” has lost his edge. Considering hanging up his gloves, Rocky
receives encouragement from an unlikely ally: his old nemesis, Apollo
Creed (Weathers). With Creed’s help, Rocky strives to regain the “eye
of the tiger” before confronting Lang in a grueling rematch for the
world heavyweight championship.
Rocky IV Rocky (Stallone) proudly holds the world
heavyweight boxing championship, but a new challenger has stepped
forward: Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a six-foot, six-inch, 240-pound
fighter who has the backing of the Soviet Union. This time, Rocky’s
training regimen takes him to icy Siberia, where he prepares for a
globally-televised match in the heart of Moscow. But nothing can truly
prepare him for what he’s about to face -- a powerfully charged fight
to the finish in which he must defend not only himself, but also the
honor of his country!
Rocky V Upon returning home from his latest triumph,
Rocky (Stallone) learns that all of his money has been lost by an
unscrupulous financial advisor. To make matters worse, his
fight-related injuries force his retirement from the ring. So Rocky,
his wife Adrian (Shire) and his son Rocky Jr. (Sage Stallone) move to
their old low-rent neighborhood in South Philadelphia. There, the
fighter must resolve the deep-rooted resentment held by his son, a
bitterness that grows when Rocky trains Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison), a
young boxer who soon rises to national prominence. When Tommy turns
against his mentor and publicly taunts him, Rocky knows he must fight
30 years after the clang of the first bell, Rocky Balboa dons his gloves for the last time…and delivers “a knockout” (US Weekly)! Armed with a highly credible, heart-wrenching story, Sylvester Stallone leaps “back in the ring with a champ” (Rolling Stone): this “triumphant final chapter for one of the most iconic characters in the history of motion pictures” (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)!
Since retiring, Rocky Balboa reminisces about his glory days for the
locals at his Philly diner, Adrian’s. But his quiet world is suddenly
rocked when the current reigning champ (Antonio Tarver) – after losing
to a virtual, in-his-prime Rocky in a computer-simulated match --
challenges the “out-to-pasture” stallion to the real thing! Not one to
back down, Rocky commits to the unthinkable: He agrees to the fight of
his life…and pushes himself to the breaking point to go the distance
one last time.
Maimed? Plans are afoot to remake the Rosalind Russell classic as a rock 'n roll comedy.
Actress Tilda Swinton and Italian director Luca Guadagnino, who recently collaborated on the film I Am Love, have their hearts set on a contemporary remake of Auntie Mame. The pair hope to remake the famed comedy with a rock 'n roll setting (don't send those protest letters to us!). Guadagnino tells Variety,"This is an SOS for Warner Bros. to give us the rights for this remake, which only Tilda could do justice to". Guadagnino also has plans to remake Dario Argento's cult thriller Suspiria. For more click here
The nation's long nightmare is finally over: after seemingly endless promotions, Jay Leno's new nightly prime-time show debuted on NBC. For my money, Leno is still the best of the comedic chat show hosts, barring Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. NBC made a major blunder by forcing him into retirement despite the fact he was still the ratings king of the late night talk show circuit. The experiment to replace him with Conan O'Brien may turn out to be a major faux pas, as The Tonight Show is now lagging in ratings behind David Letterman - something that rarely happened during Leno's reign. Leno had the last laugh, however, by negotiating a new contract that has him on the 10:00 PM time slot five nights a week. Three months after he hosted his final Tonight Show, the affable Leno premiered his new show - and the only remarkable thing about it was how unremarkable it was.
The show felt like any old edition of The Tonight Show. Leno entered to rapturous applause, high-fived the audience and gave a boiler plate monologue about current events. The laughs were adequate, but it was clear the writers didn't work up much extra sweat to make this monologue special in any way. The usual zany filmed sketches were peppered through the show. One featuring an unsuspecting young woman who is lured into a car wash where the staff perform extravagant musical numbers was clever for the first few minutes, but it dragged on far too long and the non-responsive demeanor of the "victim" did nothing to add to the laughs. There was a mildly funny homo-erotic sketch featuring band leader Kevin Eubanks and a Leno look-alike. More successful was Leno's dusting off of the tried-and-true gimmick of re-editing a legitimate news interview in a comedic vein. In this case, President Obama's 60 Minutes interview was tailored to make it appear as though he was giving absurd answers to questions posed by Leno.
Ed with the Duke behind the scenes on The Green Berets (1968)
Actor and Cinema Retro reader Ed Faulkner has just launched an official web site that will be of special interest to John Wayne fans. Ed was a close friend of The Duke's and co-starred with him in McLintock!, The Green Berets, Chisum, The Undefeated and Rio Lobo. Ed also worked with other legends including Elvis Presley and James Stewart. Ed's site offers a variety of rare photos of him with John Wayne, each of which can be personally autographed. To visit his site, click here
Patrick Swayze has finally lost his long, brave battle against cancer. The star of Dirty Dancing and Ghost passed away peacefully at age 57, in the presence of his family. Until recently, Swayze managed to act in the action TV series The Beast. For more click here
A Life in the Day, a biopic of Brian Epstein, the man who discovered The Beatles and guided them to their first record deal, will be brought to the big screen. Epstein managed the band through most of their glory days before dying of a drug overdose in 1967. He was only 32 years-old. For all his success, Epstein lead a somewhat tortured life due to his homosexuality, which was accepted by The Beatles, but hidden from the public because gay sex was illegal in Great Britain until September 1967. For more click here
Leslie Caron was once the toast of Hollywood, but for the last fifteen years she has been operating her own bed and breakfast in France. She will be returning to the Paris stage in an English language production of A Little Night Music and will finally publish her memoirs later this year. In a recent interview, she also discusses how she helped bring her greatest triumph Gigi to the screen. Click here to read
Young Babs with Sidney Chaplin in rehearsals for Funny Girl.
In 1959, Barry Dennen met Barbra Streisand when they were both struggling cast members in a long-forgotten off-Broadway play. Before long, they became lovers and shared an apartment together. During this time, Dennen said he encouraged and coached Streisand, having been highly impressed by her singing ability. In fact, he had the foresight to make audio recordings of her performances, which were done in their apartment. After they broke up, Streisand asked for the tapes but Dennen said he would keep them as the only enduring aspect of their "collaboration". Now Dennen is attempting to auction the tapes for a million dollars - and Babs appears ready to take legal action. For more click here
Beware of The Blob remake...slithering to a theater near you.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Rob Zombie, who apparently has to base even his home movies on other people's concepts, has announced his latest remake: the 1958 schlock horror classic The Blob, which afforded Steve McQueen an early starring role. Zombie told Variety, ""My intention is not to have a big red blobby thing -- that's the first
thing I want to change...That gigantic Jello-looking
thing might have been scary to audiences in the 1950s, but people would
laugh now." The fact that Zombie doesn't realize that having "a gigantic Jello-looking thing" is the entire point behind the film's enduring legacy doesn't bode well for the remake. Does Zombie really think that after a half-century of being regarded as a bad movie classic, he can get anyone to take the concept seriously? Zombie, who is the "creative" force behind the recent Halloween remakes, isn't even the first to revisit The Blob. Actor Larry Hagman directed a tongue-in-cheek 1972 sequel Beware! The Blob and there was a 1988 big screen remake of the original. So, Zombie is planning a remake of a remake of a film for which a sequel was already made. For more click here
Writer Steve Vertlieb informs us of the following tribute to a classic TV series:
October, 2009, marks the fiftieth anniversary of Rod Serling's immortal
fantasy television series "The Twilight Zone," which premiered over the CBS
Television network on October 2nd, 1959. I've been asked by Roger Hall
at Film Music Review to write a special look back at this landmark imaginative
series. For this unique retrospective the popular sci-fi web magazine,
The Thunder Child, has also asked to participate in the celebration by lending
their own graphics and individual layout design to my original text.
Both versions of this affectionate tribute to Rod Serling and
his legendary creation can be accessed by clicking onto the
links below. It is our hope that these somewhat ethereal recollections
will rekindle cherished memories of the finest fantasy/science
fiction series in television history.
We used to pride ourselves in being equal opportunity exploiters of sexy photos, providing ample material to salivate over for men and women, straight and gay. Lately, we've fall off the wagon by neglecting the male of the species and concentrating on some of our better-endowed actresses. Thus, in addition to the mea culpa, we'll also provide this glamour shot of Sal Mineo in the 1950s. Before you ask, we don't know if anyone was in there with him when he dropped the soap.
Hair today and gone tomorrow- producers of the Broadway revival of the famed play have avoided using any reference to the 1979 movie version.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Variety writer Robert Hofler presents a fascinating article about the trials and tribulations of bringing hit stage musicals to the silver screen. In some cases, the creative teams behind the stage production oppose changes made for the film version - but history has proven that very often the movie version emerges as the definitive piece. This is particularly true with West Side Story, for which many key changes were made. Although
the play's writer Arthur Laurents still bemoans the fact that his
original stage version is never performed, most people would feel that
the changes made for Robert Wise's Oscar-winning 1961 screen version
improved the product substantially. In contrast, the producers of the
new revival of Hair loathe Milos Forman's 1979 screen version
and have studiously avoided using any elements of it. Instead, they
have morphed together various aspects of stage productions from over
the years to emerge with the "ultimate" production of hippie era hit. Click here for the article