Cinema Retro's plea for studios to release worthwhile films on DVD.
Here's one of those glorious 007 spoofs from the mid 1960s. A Man Called Dagger starred Paul Mantee, Terry Moore, Sue Ane Langdon, Jan Murray (!) and our old pal Richard Kiel, in his pre-Jaws mode.Click here to watch the trailer. If you have any suggestions for films you'd like to see on DVD, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ok, I'm a bit confused about this new Universal Wolfman film. The posters say "coming soon" and give a date of 12/2/10. Are we seeing trailers and promos for a film with a release date that is actually more than a year away??? That's some sort of pre-release publicity record in my book.
Retro responds: Bill, it's long been said that Americans and Brits are two peoples separated by a common language. You can extend that to how we designate dates on the calendar, as well. The posters in question were designed for the British market, which puts the day first, followed by month, then year. Thus, the anticipated release date is 12 February 2010. Universal executives would have heart palpitations if they were to carry this expensive film through the end of 2010 before releasing it. The movie seems to have been in production since Lon Chaney Jr. originally played the role...- Lee Pfeiffer
VCI Entertainment, which has traditionally specialized in quality video releases of public domain films, is aggressively moving into the realm of Blu-ray with some prestigious releases. The top of the list is the Blu-ray debut of the 1951 version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim in what is considered to
be the definitive screen interpretation of Scrooge. It's hard to argue
with that assessment, but I would give equal rank to George C. Scott's
superb performance in the 1980s TV movie. VCI has pulled out all the
stops with this release, offering the best print I've seen to date.
After decades of being shown in TV syndication, many of the prints
we've literally grown up with look as milky as Marley's ghost. This
digitally remastered print was struck "from a new 1080p, 24fps high
definition transfer master produced from the 35mm negative and fie
grain." The resulting release isn't flawless...some nitpickers have pointed out there are visible defects in certain aspects of the print, but the average person won't be a humbug and will applaud VCI for its efforts.
An erotic photo of Sharon Tate and husband Roman Polanski is set to be auctioned on December 7 and is expected to fetch up to $12,000. The photo was taken by David Bailey shortly before Tate's notorious murder by the Manson gang. For more click here
Thanks for the identification of Claudia Cardinale in the masthead. I've always wondered about the guy on the left. Who is it? I sometimes think it looks like Sean Connery, but I can only think of one Western he was in. Any help appreciated!
Retro responds: Right you are, Martin- it's Connery in the title role of the 1968 Western Shalako. Thanks for asking- it's gives us an excuse to reproduce the movie's cool original U.S. one sheet. For an interview with producer Euan Lloyd about the trials and tribulations of bringing this Louis L'Amour story to the screen, see Cinema Retro issue #2. Before anyone asks, the actor to the left of Clint Eastwood is Robert Vaughn in the Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature film The Spy With My Face.
Unlike the invaders in Independence Day and Superman II, reality show stars don't require space ships or ray guns to infiltrate the White House. Their weapons of choice are gowns, tuxedos and chutzpah.
By Lee Pfeiffer
No sooner had I partly recovered from TV's endless coverage of the ludicrous "Balloon Boy" story, then another scandal arose, caused by a couple whose mad desire to gain a reality show made them the center of international attention. The couple in question (whose names I refuse to promote), somehow managed to crash a White House state dinner and gain personal access to President Obama, Vice-President Biden and other dignitaries. They might have gotten away with it had they not bragged about their scam on their Facebook page (The two were so clueless that they misspelled White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's name as "Ron Emanuel"!) Aside from exposing a serious breach of procedure in the Secret Service, the incident just points out how far people will now go to gain even a modicum of media coverage. They look like real people, smell like real people, but like the pods in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, they are driven solely by a inherent need for self-preservation and lack any empathy for others. Ultimately, it's up to the public to put a stake through the hearts of these mad men and women by simply shutting off "reality shows". Like the character of Henry Hill states in Goodfellas, the worst fate for some people is just to be an ordinary schmuck. Read actor/comedian Harry Shearer's hilarious take on the invasion of the reality shows stars ("Sign Us Up Before We Kill Again!) by clicking here.
Of all the bizarre stories pertaining to Star Trek fandom, this one takes the cake. A father admits he spoke only Klingon to his son for the first three years of his life. However, before you lump him in with middle-aged guys in too-tight Trek T shirts who still live in their parent's basements, this fellow isn't even a die-hard fan of the show. Rather, he's a professional linguist who decided to use his kid as a guinea pig for a bizarre sociological experiment. Fortunately, he abandoned the experiment when the boy seemed to resent speaking a language no one else recognized. We hear dad's moving on and hoping to teach the lad how to defend himself by using the Vulcan death grip...For more click here
Variety critic Todd McCarthy gives thumbs up for the Clint Eastwood film Invictus starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The review says the movie succeeds on all major levels and that Eastwood continues to surprise audiences with off-beat topics. The film will have it's Hollywood premiere on December 3 at A.M.P.A.S. Eastwood, Freeman and Damon will attend. To read click here
All similarities to the contrary, this is NOT Steve McQueen...
Love your website, although I have one question regarding your
banner. Who is the guy pointing the gun (the guy between Raquel Welch
and Christopher Lee)? I used to think it was Dr. Cornelius from
Planet of the Apes... Is it McQueen? If it is McQueen it's a very
unflattering picture... It's driving me crazy.
Other than that, your website is great.
Retro responds: First, thank you for your kind words and for being a loyal reader. In fact, the image of the guy pointing the gun in our masthead graphic is indeed Steve McQueen, as depicted on a European release poster for Bullitt. Now, Romulo, we will admit it might not be the most life-like portrait of the iconic star...and we can understand confusing the image with that of another actor--but frickin' Cornelius from Planet of the Apes?????? The only time McQueen might have sported that much facial hair was in the depths of his deprivations as Papillon or in the little-seen An Enemy of the People. Besides, Cornelius was a devout pacifist who loathed using guns. Our advice is stop being sidetracked by such inconsequential distractions as your family, friends, career and the world situation and concentrate on what really matters: useless trivia about 1960s films. We hereby sentence you to read Cinema Retro's in-depth history of the Apes films, a book that is conveniently bundled with Fox's Blu-ray collection. (How's that for using a legitimate letter from an innocent reader as a cheesy promotional plug?)- Lee Pfeiffer
Update: Eagle-eye reader Bob Collins points out another case of mistaken identity that I had overlooked in Romulo's letter- the woman in our masthead is not Raquel Welch, but Claudia Cardinale...
If you haven't checked out MGM's library of free films to screen on YouTube, you should do so. There are dozens of titles available for immediate viewing with no gimmicks attached - except they have inserted periodic ads that you can't fast forward through. Most of the films are obscure, B movies of recent vintage, but there are some gems including the Eastwood/Leone Dollars trilogy, the 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale and the acclaimed film Peeping Tom. Click here to access the library.
Broadway's latest casualty, Shrek the Musical: the green didn't extend to box-office grosses.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Noel Coward once asked rhetorically, "Why must the show go on?" It's a question investors might well have been asking over the decades. It's a well known fact that, if you want a good return on your investment, stay far away from Broadway shows. Generally, investors are motivated by the glitz and glamor of being part of a major production - but relatively few pay off big and most don't even return the backer's initial investment. The cost of producing a play on Broadway is now so great that a show often has to run for years just to break even. However, investors are benefiting from a source of income generally looked upon with disdain by the lifted pinky crowd in New York City: stock company productions. As Variety reports, shows that bomb spectacularly on Broadway can end up turning major profits over a period of years in out-of-town productions that even include high school performances. Unburdened by massive salaries and production costs, local stage productions can pack in "regular folks" at reasonable prices, even as Broadway's $125+ seats remain empty. For more click here
Is Eyes Wide Shut really one of the worst movies of all time?
By Lee Pfeiffer
MSNBC has listed reader's choices for the biggest film turkeys of all time - and the list itself is the biggest turkey of all. Sure, there are the undeniable bombs that one would expect to find in any sane list of worst movies: Showgirls, Ishtar and Battlefield Earth. However, these readers must have been into the cooking sherry a bit too early to include Pulp Fiction (too much profanity), The Blair Witch Project (the camera was too shaky) and Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which is regarded, at worst, as a noble failure but certainly not an outright turkey. Even the innocuous Mr. Bean is not spared. The readers must be of the same school of film criticism as the friend who once accompanied me to a screening of Lawrence of Arabia. At the conclusion of David Lean's masterpiece, I asked him for his reaction and his sole comment was, "Too much sand." To read the entire list, click here
The Huffington Post features an opportunity to vote for your favorite Thanksgiving-themed movies of all time, and generously provides the original trailers. It's hard to top John Hughes' Planes, Trains and Automobiles, but there is some stiff competition. Click here to view
Kenneth Branagh, director of the forthcoming Marvel Comics big screen adaptation of Thor, has announced additional major parts have been cast to join stars Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman. Click here for details
I'd just like to voice my disappointment that you chose to publish Graham Hill's "review" of Executive Action
on your otherwise informative and entertaining site. I put "review" in
quotes because the article was more to do with the writer's beliefs in
real life conspiracy theories than with the merits of the film itself.
I won't list my specific problems (and there are many) with the article
as I'm already corresponding via email with Mr. Hill himself.
Others have recently complained about the recent
trend in writers on the site adding their own political commentary to
the subject matter the site is ostensibly devoted to. The irony is that
more often than not I agree with a lot of the commentary and have even enjoyed reading a lot of it, but that is sort of beside the point. I object to it in principle simply because it has nothing to do with the site's supposed raison d'être. I'd have just as big a problem with it if you decided to start writing articles about the weather or sports. The Executive Action
article however was the straw that broke my personal camel's back, as
it were. I'm not saying the subject of politics needs to be totally off
limits. For example the red scare of the fifties and how it affected
Hollywood in later decades, or say the network's battle with The
Smothers Brothers are all fair game, in my opinion.
The evening's surprise guest star David McCallum joins Robert Vaughn in acceding to Cinema Retro editor-in-chief Lee Pfeiffer's humorous demand that they sign his grade school Man From U.N.C.L.E. lunchbox. (Photo copyright: Tom Stroud)
By Lee Pfeiffer
Last evening, The Players club at Gramercy Park in New York City, in conjunction with Cinema Retro magazine, hosted a gala tribute dinner for member Robert Vaughn. The club dates back to 1888, when it was founded by actor Edwin Booth along with such luminaries as Mark Twain and General Sherman. The rich heritage continued with last evening's event. As Editor-in-Chief of Cinema Retro and a member of The Players, I had long wanted to hold an event in honor of Vaughn's career. Club Executive Director John Martello and I began planning the evening months ago, working around Vaughn's schedule for filming his hit TV series Hustle in England. The catalyst was the recent publication of Vaughn's acclaimed autobiography A Fortunate Life. Vaughn chose November 22 because of the date's significance in his life: it was his 77th birthday, the anniversary of the assassination of his political idol John F. Kennedy and also the date production began on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 46 years ago.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect was the remarkable compilation of video clips assembled by John Martello and his editor. Rare videos from the Cinema Retro archive were contributed, but there were still key clips that seemed be impossible to find: Vaughn playing young Teddy Roosevelt in an obscure Western TV episode called Law of the Plainsman, his performance as Harry S. Truman in the 1974 TV special The Man From Independence and his Emmy-winning role as the political hatchet man in the 1977 mini-series Washington: Behind Closed Doors. With Vaughn's personal assistance, clips were obtained from fans, TV networks and museums. The resulting 25 minute compilation gave ample evidence of Vaughn's diverse talents.
Remember the Bizarro Superman characters from the comic books? In Bizarro world, everything is a mirror opposite of how it is on earth. The same can be said about the way Grade D direct-to-video films are marketed in foreign countries. The Hollywood Reporter's Risky Business has an amusing article that explores the attempts to capitalize on "superstars" such as Dolph Lundgren, Robin Givens and Rob Schneider through aggressive ad campaigns that often contain nonsensical tag lines and misspellings. To read click here
Doreen Kern "casts" Clint Eastwood in his latest role: as model for a surprise sculpture in 1977. (Photo copyright: Doreen Kern)
By Spencer Lloyd Peet
In 1977, Clint Eastwood was cast as himself; not in
a Hollywood blockbuster movie but as a life-size portrait sculpture.Renowned sculptor, Doreen Kern, immortalised Eastwood
in bronze on the request of his then wife Maggie Johnson who asked for it to be
made as a surprise gift for the Hollywood superstar.During her stay at the Eastwood’s home, Kern
vigilantly studied Eastwood’s face and expressions making notes as he went
about his daily business.Eastwood
suspected nothing as the ladies chatted amongst themselves.
Kern first met Johnson, a former swim-wear model,
in 1974 when she came to London. Because
Johnson didn’t really know anybody in London, but a mutual friend of theirs, Connie
De Nave, who was in the music business working in New York at the time,
suggested the two ladies should get together.“I spoke to Connie on the phone,” remembers Kern, “and she said ‘A
friend of mine, Maggie Eastwood, is coming to London and I think it would be
nice for you to meet up with her.You
know, Maggie Eastwood, Clint Eastwood’s wife.’ I hope it doesn’t sound
detrimental, but I really didn’t know who Clint Eastwood was back then.When I told my children they said, ‘Oh,
mother, what planet are you on?’Anyway,”
continues Kern, “I spent some time with Maggie and took her to the theater.We had a really enjoyable time together.”Eastwood was directing The Eiger Sanction, at that time and he also played the main
character, Dr. Jonathan Hemlock, a former professor of art and an assassin who
is forced out of retirement to track down the killer of an old friend.Much
of the filming - in which Eastwood performed his own stunts - took place on
snow-covered mountains and involved some risky mountaineering.During her visit, Johnson told Kern that
Eastwood was extremely upset by the death of David Knowles, a stunt-climber
who, within a few days of shooting, was killed instantly after being hit on the
head by a falling bolder. Eastwood wanted to quit production but was persuaded to
carry on filming by the other professional mountaineers who were working on the
On the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Cinema Retro columnist Graham Hill addresses the debate over the most famous murder of the 20th century - and how the 1973 film Executive Action dared to suggest a conspiracy.
by Graham Hill
When the very subject of conspiracy is brought up in
polite conversation these days, it’s usually aimed at the policies and
administration of whoever happens to be in power.And since Vietnam, Watergate, 9-11 and the
whole Iraq War issue, conspiracy in itself is not as far-fetched and
dismissible as an Elvis or UFO sighting would be.Almost a half-century after the event, over 70% of Americans still believe there
was a conspiracy in the death of President John F. Kennedy. Those who dismiss the conspiracy theory, in essence, believe:
·the official Warren Commission report
conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President John
·that the single “magic” bullet did all the
damage and was found pristine on the hospital stretcher
·that the bullet could have only come from
the Texas Schoolbook Depository to the rear, when so many witnesses and the
infamous Zapruder film show indicate Kennedy being fatally hit from the front
·that an ex-marine, who just so happens to
speak fluent Russian and who also monitored the U-2’s over Russia and knew all
classified codes and call signs for NORAD, could afford to fly to the Soviet
Union and receive a precious visa to enter the country, then renounce his U.S.
citizenship; then marry a KGB colonel’s daughter and be allowed to return to
·that the Dallas police department could issue
an APB under Oswald’s name, coupled with a full description, less than fifteen minutes after the
·that when Oswald was captured, the police
kept no transcript or record of his time
·that so many material witnesses could
coincidentally suffer fatal accidents
Whether you believe conspiracy one way or another, the
1973 movie Executive Action makes a
case for one, or at the very least the possibility for one –and it makes it
beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty.
Nicholas Cage, humiliated by public revelation of his disastrous personal financial situation, is suing his accountant Samuel Levin, who he claims is responsible for his problems because of gross incompetence. Levin is counter-suing, saying he repeatedly advised Cage to cut back on his massive spending but was routinely ignored by the star. "Instead of listening to Levin, cross-defendant Coppola spent most of
his free time shopping for high ticket purchases, and wound up with 15
personal residences, most of which were bought against Levin's advice,"
Levin's complaint said. "Likewise, Levin advised Coppola against buying
a Gulfstream jet, against buying and owning a flotilla of yachts,
against buying and owning a squadron of Rolls Royces, against buying
millions of dollars in jewelry and art." Levin also said that Cage was aware of every expenditure because he personally signed the checks to pay for them. For more click here
Better not invite director Barry Levinson and New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley to the same cocktail party. Levinson is livid about Stanley's negative review of his new documentary Poliwood, which documents the often uncomfortable crossing of celebrities into the world of politics. Levinson says he doesn't begrudge the fact that Stanley doesn't like his movie. However, he eviscerates her professional credentials in an op-ed on The Huffington Post in which he accuses her of using misleading information in her review. For good measure, Levinson also digs up Stanley's negative assessment of Walter Cronkite and his coverage of the JFK assassination! Click here to read
In the debate over whether it was a wise decision for A.M.P.A.S. to have doubled the number of Best Picture nominees to ten films, put Variety editor Timothy Gray squarely on the side of supporting the measure. In a column, Gray advocates the reasons why he feels the new rule will give recognition to fine films that would otherwise be denied the honor. He also lists the top reasons why many in the industry disagree with him. Click here to read
First, let me say what a great
magazine. CR covers the time period in film and television that I think
is the greatest and most interesting.
I grew up in the 60's with Famous
Monsters, Monster World, Castle of
Frankenstein among other magazines. I am currently also a big fan of FilmFax but yours is by
far the best.
Hope you will be doing some more articles on
HammerFilms as well as exploitation films
such as the king David F. Friedman (Bloodfeast-Ilsa,She Wolf of the SS) and others like Charles B. Pierce (Legend
of Boggy Creek).
RETRO RESPONDS: Thanks for your support and kind words, Jamey. Over the last five years, we've received many requests to amp-up our coverage of horror films, specifically Hammer. We've heeded the calls and will grace the cover of issue #16 with a shocking but erotic photo from the lesbian-themed Hammer film Lust for a Vampire. We'll be posting an advanced look shortly. Meanwhile, as a reminder to our subscribers, issue #16 marks the beginning of our new season and will be out in December/January. If you haven't renewed your subscription, do so today so you don't miss an issue!- Lee and Dave
Cinema Retro has received the following press release that will be of interest to all Disney fans:
(November 1, 2009) Disney
Theme Park Merchandise releases in November, the second in a series of
DVDs highlighting the creation and enhancement of the Disney Theme Parks and
Attractions as told from the perspective of the Walt Disney’s
Imagineers. The DVD will be available for sale throughout the Disney Parks in
California and Florida .
DVD, “Imagineering the Magic-Magic
Kingdom”, hosted by Imagineer Diego Parras, details through
historical and rare film footage, the inspiration for the creation of Walt
Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida and the early beginnings of the Magic
Kingdom theme park.
DVD focuses on the Walt Disney’s efforts to build on the success of
Disneyland in Anaheim , California and to take that creativity and experience
eastward . The challenges of building in Florida ’s swamplands and the
high expectations of the guests for a world bigger and better are told from
personal recollections by Walt Disney Ambassador and Chief Imagineer, Marty
the many notables joining Marty for these development stories and Imagineer
recollections include Tom Fitzgerald, Tony Baxter, Kathy Rogers, Eric
Jacobson and Kevin Rafferty.
Imagineering the Magic-Disneyland DVD has been one of most successful park
DVDs,” commented Betsy Singer, Product Developer for Disney Theme Park
Merchandise. “Our guests enjoy the behind the magic stories and
inspiration that the Imagineers bring to these videos and we hope they will
enjoy Imagineering the Magic of Magic Kingdom as much as they have our first
DVD shows the incredible team of men and women Walt Disney brought around him
to create experiences and attractions that entertain and bring families
the Magic-Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney
World® Resort” can also be ordered from Disney Theme
Park Merchandise mail order at 407-363-6200 407-363-6200 . The
"Imagineering the Magic" DVD series was created by Richard Skillman
of richsmedia.com and co-produced by
Richard with Cameron Roberts ,Greg Jones and Mark Rhodes of D7, a Disney production partner.
been 60 years since the Marx Brothers – Groucho, Chico, Harpo – officially
appeared together in their last feature film, Love Happy. Although fans have
little “love” for it and the brothers were not “happy” making it, the film did
provide some enjoyable moments showcasing Harpo’s silent talents.
with brothers Zeppo and Gummo, the five Marx Brothers grew up in New York.
Gummo dropped out of the act and the four brothers traveled the country as
stage performers before taking Hollywood by storm, starting with Cocoanuts in
1929.Straight man Zeppo eventually
bailed too, and the three remaining brothers went on to become arguably the
greatest comedy team ever.
them, the five brothers raised a dozen children and a few went into the
entertainment business. Now 72, Bill Marx (one of Harpo’s four children; see
www.sonofharpospeaks.com) had a successful career as a musician, composer,
comic, speaker, and writer. He talks at length about life with Harpo and his
brothers, concluding the interview by paraphrasing his Uncle Groucho’s biting
recently published a book, “Son of Harpo Speaks!” What’s it about?
not really a book about the Marx Brothers. It chronicles my relationship with
my dad and our working together for 12 years.My stories have never been told before and I guess I’m one of the last
people left who actually worked with the Marx Brothers first hand. I’m just
finishing up an audio book of Son of Harpo Speaks! that should be available
soon. It contains material that nobody’s heard before.
us about your career.
what you’d call a sit down - stand up -sit down - stand up comic! I sit down,
play the piano, then stand up and tell stories, then sit down again and so on.
Then I do Q&A sessions. I’ve been a composer and jazz pianist most of my
life - doing film scores, symphonic writing, and arranging. I’ve played with
many of the great jazz artists of the twentieth century.
Harpo influence your musical career?
When I was 2 years old, he recognized my musical ability, but he never forced
anything on me. I was not a disciplined young musician - I hated scales and
lessons. I wanted to play baseball!
two of you worked together, correct?
When I was 16, I wound up as his personal arranger and conductor. We did two
albums together for Mercury Records. When he appeared on TV programs like The
Lucy Show, he often played the harp and I did all the musical arrangements for
him. I was only in my late teens then, so he helped validate me as a composer
you play the harp?
Dad used to say “one harpist in the family is enough!”I have written a couple of concertos for the
harp and did all the pop arrangements for my dad later in his career.
Harpo play the harp at home for the family much?
really, he’d play to practice. He loved to practice; he’d do it for 2-3 hours a
day whether he was working or not. He just loved the harp – its feeling, its
sensuality, the vibrations, and the harmony and sounds of the chords. The harps
you see in the films were his personal instruments.
happened to his harps? They would be priceless Hollywood memorabilia today.
he passed away, my mother and I went to Israel and donated them to the Rubin
Academy of Music [now the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance]. Students are
still playing them, which is wonderful.
about his other old movie props, have they been saved?
have a lot of stuff – his prop chest, his coat, his hat, wigs. I’m looking for
a place to have it all displayed. I turned down the Smithsonian because I don’t
want it stored in a vault. These are pieces of American film history and they
need to be on permanent display somewhere.
happed to his famous walking stick with the honker?
sister has that. But it doesn’t work any more because the bulb has worn out
over the years.
you have a favorite Marx Brothers film?
Go West, only because I thought dad was phenomenal in it. It was written by a
great friend, Irving Brecher who just passed away. He was one of the funniest
guys ever. I recommend reading his book, The Wicked Wit of the West, which is
full of delightful stories. I also love Monkey Business and A Night in
Casablanca. The Big Store was the first Marx Brothers movie I saw when I was 4
or 5. I love the scene where dad is playing the instruments in front of the
mirrors. It’s very charming.
Corman in London, photographed by Cinema Retro's Mark Mawston.
Entertainment Weekly columnist Chris Nashawaty has done yeoman work in soliciting comments from some top-name directors, actors and writers who recall their memories of working for producer Roger Corman. The B movie king is finally being shown the respect he deserves, culminating with a special Oscar being bestowed on him for his remarkable achievements in film. Corman gave crucial first breaks to many directors and actors who went on to have great careers. In this article, homage is paid to Corman by Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Joe Dante, Jonathan Demme, Sylvester Stallone, Dennis Hopper, William Shatner, Richard Matheson and others. Click here to read
As our regular readers know, Cinema Retro likes to help publicize innovative independent films relating to those glorious by-gone years of the 60s and 70s. Thus, when we were contacted by Darrett Sanders, one of the producers of the new 60s spy spoof Scream of the Bikini, we were immediately hooked. The film has been winning accolades on the festival circuits and is playing limited engagements in theaters. The official web site is worthy of a visit, as it is chock-full of sexy production stills and retro posters like the one above that perfectly emulates those wonderful old door panels that used to grace movie theater lobby doors. Good luck, guys - we're looking forward to seeing the film. Click here for the official web site
Actor Dennis Cole has passed away at age 69. He guest-starred on countless hit TV series since he made his mark as one of the stars of the 60s crime show Felony Squad. He also co-starred with Rod Taylor in the short-lived 1970s series Bearcats. Cole, who was once married to Charlie's Angel star Jaclyn Smith, refused to appear in any show involving violence following the 1991 murder of his son in a home invasion. For more click here
It was in 1964 that Sean Connery starred as James Bond in Goldfinger and Shirley Bassey belted out the classic title song. Now Connery and Bassey are reuniting for another film project: Sir Billi, animated movie set in the Scottish highlands. Connery, who is producing the film, will provide the voice of an elderly, skate-boarding veterinarian who comes to the aid of a beaver. (No jokes, please!) Bassey will sing the title song, Guardian of the Highlands, which was written with her in mind. The film, which has been in production for years, marks Connery's emergence from self-imposed retirement, though it is uncertain whether he intends to pursue more cinematic ventures. For more click here
National Treasure isn't just the title of a film series Nicholas Cage stars in: it also reflects the type of budget required to keep him in the lifestyle in which has become accustomed.
Even by the shameless spending habits of Hollywood stars, Nicholas Cage crossed the line. The Oscar winner is in major financial problems, owing the IRS $6 million. He has blamed the bulk of his dilemma on the alleged inefficiencies of his business manager. However, in a scathing report on the Daily Beast site, reporter Jacob Bernstein unveils plenty of evidence that Cage is responsible for his own dilemma. Bernstein outlines a mind-bending history of personal excess on Cage's part, as evidenced by the kind of spending that made Michael Jackson look like a miser. Cage's child-like spending habits saw him by the world's most expensive sports cars on a whim, throw parties that would embarrass the emperor Nero for their tastelessness, and indulge himself in every luxury in the belief the good times would roll forever. Cage also gave generously to charities, even as his own clout at the box-office began to seriously wane. He is now desperately trying to sell off his assets for far less than he paid for them. Click here to read the eye-opening report.
The new Star Trek DVD sleeve: far from out of this world.
By Lee Pfeiffer
We long ago gave up on seeing dynamic artwork on most DVD releases from major studios. Before you blame the studios, however, keep in mind that one studio executive told me in confidence that the sleeve designs are basically dictated by the buyers at Wal-Mart, who believe consumers can only relate to very simple, basic graphics. Thus, most major releases feature horrid scanned-in head shots of the movie's stars...often super-imposed on other actor's bodies. (See some of the James Bond releases). Once in a while, a studio will actually use original poster graphics on older, catalog titles and independent labels generally have visually creative sleeves for DVDs. However, the low point has to be the new DVD release of Paramount's Star Trek film. Director J.J. Abram's has not only reinvigorated the flaccid series, but enthused people like myself who were not major fans of the original films. However, the DVD sleeve is a boring, graphic-free piece of work that simply spells out the name of the title and doesn't convey a bit of the film's excitement or the acclaimed cast members. Granted, Star Trek doesn't need traditional marketing to make it succeed, but it would have been nice if someone in the home video department had put more than two minutes thought into the packaging of such a prestigious release. Come on, guys, you can do better...On the up side, the Blu-ray release promises to be a 3-DVD doozy. Click here to order from Amazon.
The cut-throat competition between Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target and other
major on-line retailers has resulted in cut-throat pricing reductions
pertaining to pre-orders of DVDs slated for holiday release. Many major
titles including the new Star Trek film can be ordered for as little as $10. However, the deals are only good until the titles "street" (i.e, actually hit store shelves.) Studios are generally not happy about these tactics, fearing they reduce the inherent value of DVDs to the general public. For more click here
There are probably good uses for Twitter, which limits the user's message to 140 characters or less. However, it's largely been defined by people who bore their friends by sharing their frustrations over what type of lettuce to buy as they peruse the grocery aisles of their supermarkets. Then there are the doofy elected officials who are desperate to prove they are hip by shooting out impromptu observations that generally have to be explained by their long-suffering staffers who spin like whirling dervishes to mitigate their true meaning. The Huffington Post site has some fun with the Twitter rage, however, by offering readers to offer up summaries of classic books in 140 characters or less. The results are inspired and very funny. Here is one reader's synopsis of Lolita: "Erudite horndog marries a cougar so that he can get his hands on her
hot underage daughter, who doesn't end up aging well. Kills a guy, too." For more click here
Producer and Cinema Retro contributor Steven J. Rubin has partnered with Beyond the Sea producer Arthur E. Friedman to bring the life story of Audie Murphy to the big screen. Murphy, one of the nation's most decorated soldiers, gained international fame for his daring exploits in WWII. He eventually had a successful acting career that was cut short when he perished in a plane crash in 1971. Murphy played himself in the hit 1955 WWII pic To Hell and Back. Rubin and Friedman plan to adapt the Don Graham biography of Murphy, No Name on the Bullet, for the screen. Murphy's son Terry is participating in the project. For more click here.
(For Steven J. Rubin's article on the making of The Great Escape, see Cinema Retro issue #1)
The original Disney version of the classic Jules Verne tale starred Kirk Douglas and James Mason.
Disney has temporarily shelved plans for a much-vaunted remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, although the studio is committed to ultimately making it. Apparently the director, McG, has withdrawn from the project, which was slated to begin shooting in February, even though no casting has been announced. By the way, what's with the name of the director? We don't mind great historical figures being referred to by one name, but McG hardly qualifies for the honor alongside Picasso and Rembrandt. In fact, his qualifications seem somewhat less impressive than those that earned Liberace a one-name monicker. For more click here
Almost twenty years since he played Dick Tracy, Warren Beatty is embroiled in a court battle over who owns the rights to the legendary comic strip character. The Tribune Company claims rights to Tracy reverted to the company because Beatty never launched another film project based on the character. In court documents, however, Beatty indicated he is working on a TV special with Turner Classic Movies. For the full story click here
Director Paul Wendkos has died at age 84 from cancer. He directed the original Gidget film in 1959, as well as two sequels. The WWII veteran also directed The Mephisto Waltz, Battle of the Coral Sea, Attack on the Iron Coast, Hell Boats and Guns of the Magnificent Seven, the final entry in the long-running Western series. For more click here
Actor Edward Woodward has passed away at age 79. The acclaimed star of stage and screen had appeared in many high-profile films including Breaker Morant, The Final Option, Young Winston and - more recently- the hit British comedy Hot Fuzz. He also starred in the popular British TV series Callan. However, Woodward will always be associated with the classic cult horror film The Wicker Man in which he plays a police inspector whose search for a missing girl leads him to interact with a bizarre society that mingles sex, murder and the occult. The film's long and pained history has been the subject of books and documentaries, but suffice it to say that it became a far bigger hit in the years after its initial release. Woodward co-starred in it with Sir Christopher Lee. In the 1980s, Woodward became a popular household name in America through his Emmy-nominated role as The Equalizer on TV. For more click here
Lady love or Lady MacBeth? Randy Quaid's wife Evi is at the center of the controversies that have sidetracked their personal and professional lives.
People magazine has an interesting article that provides insights into the bad press attached to actor Randy Quaid. He and his wife Evi have recently been accused of defrauding creditors and skipping court hearings. The result was their arrest and extradition to California where their increasingly strange behavior seems to have tarnished Quaid's reputation as a lovable, funny character actor. The common theme through the People story is the insinuation that Evi has led Quaid down the path of self-destruction by alienating friends and engaging in antics that saw Quaid's career harmed. Judge for yourself by clicking here to read
In the 1970s, legendary photographer Helmut Newton took an erotic photo of actress Charlotte Rampling that quickly became a sensation. Now actress Eva Green (of Casino Royale fame), in conjunction with photographer Ricardo Tinelli, has recreated the photo shoot for the UK magazine Tatler.
Optimum Releasing, which controls the rights to the British Film Archive, has teamed with Pinewood Studios for increased efforts to preserve classic British films that are currently stored at the legendary studio. New archival facilities will be built to provide cold storage for 1400 titles. Some specific titles such as Peeping Tom and The Dam Busters will be re-issued to theaters and then released on Blu-ray DVD. We will wish Hollywood studios would show the same interest in preserving and reissuing classic American titles. The UK film industry deserves praise for their efforts. For more click here
The Samuel Goldwyn Company has acquired the rights to the British crime thriller Harry Brown,which debuts this weekend in the UK. The Michael Caine-starrer has been generating major buzz with some comparing it to his landmark 1971 crime classic Get Carter. The film will be released in the US next year, but no firm date has been announced. For more click here
The honors continue to roll in for Clint Eastwood, who is filming his supernatural thriller Hereafter in Europe. Eastwood was inducted as a commander in the French Legion of Honor. The recognition was awarded to Eastwood by French president Nicholas Sarkozy, who joked with the 79 year-old Oscar winner that he resented the fact that he was in better physical condition than the 54 year-old Sarkozy is. Eastwood expressed his respect for France and the French people, saying, "It is just a great pleasure for me. I really love France. I love
movies, and I love the appreciation that the French people have for
movies." For more click here
As readership continues to grow for Cinema Retro, the magazine's web site set a new record in the month of October. Over 1.1 million pages of pur articles were read by classic movie fans around the world. A special thanks to our talented contributors who continue to provide us with some of the best writing pertaining to retro cinema. Thanks also to everyone who contributed to the print edition of Cinema Retro. As we begin to enter our 6th year of publishing, we also set a new record for readers of the magazine as well. Our first special edition issue, paying homage to Where Eagles Dare, was a major success. Our next special edition will be an in-depth look at the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone Dollars trilogy. In 2010, we will initiate the first of Cinema Retro's film location tours in the UK. (Click here for details) We appreciate everyone who continues to support us in our quest to celebrate a true golden age of filmmaking - the 60s and 70s...
Scorsese with Robert DeNiro on the set of Taxi Driver
Director Martin Scorsese will receive the coveted Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at the next Golden Globes ceremony on January 17. Scorsese previously received competitive Golden Globes for his direction of Gangs of New York and The Departed. For more click here
It's always a pleasure to receive the latest issue of Little Shoppe of Horrors, the publication dedicated entirely to the history and legacy of the classic Hammer horror films. Over the years, publisher Dick Klemensen and his writers have provided a priceless history of these movies, incorporating insightful writing with interviews pertaining to the people who made them. The latest issue, #23, continues these high standards of quality. Contents include:
Archival interviews with Hammer legends Michael Ripper, John Gilling, Michael Carreras and Michael Gough
Bruce Hallenbeck's tributes to the unsung Hammer gem Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile
rare photos of the last days of Hammer film productions at Bray Studios
a tribute to character actor Andre Morell
interview with actors John Carson and Jacqueline Pearce
the latest Hammer news and reviews of genre books, CDs and videos you might not otherwise be aware of.
There are also dozens of the usual eye-popping, rare photos and poster designs peppered throughout this creatively-designed magazine. Put this issue on your "must have" list. (Note: like many other niche publications, Little Shoppe of Horrors has been impacted by recent changes in the magazine distribution business. You may not be able to find this issue at your local store, so the best way to support the magazine is by ordering it through their web site by clicking here.)
At the prompting of a group that protests marketing campaigns designed to get infants weened on watching TV, Disney has admitted that its hugely popular line of Baby Einstein DVDs are virtually worthless as educational tools. The company had promoted the line as being relevant to stimulating baby's intellectual capabilities. In fact, there is evidence to suggest the opposite: getting infants hooked on watching TV can actually cause learning problems. Disney is now offering refunds to consumers who want to return the DVDs. This can prove to be a costly program: it's estimated that one third of American families with babies have at least one of the videos. For more click here