The Beatles in a feature film of The Lord of the Rings? John Travolta as Forrest Gump? Al Pacino as Han Solo? Nicholas Cage as Superman? Incredibly, these were all actors seriously considered for these classic roles before studios came to their senses. However, a hilarious animated short film shows us what could have been. Click here to view
Jane Fonda sprang to screen stardom in the 1960s by playing up the image of a sex kitten. Within a few years, however, she would be a controversial political activist and women's lib proponent.
Jane Fonda knows a thing or two about the struggle of women in the world of film. Despite being the daughter of a screen legend (Henry Fonda) and the brother of an in-demand young star (Peter Fonda), Jane Fonda's early roles rarely extended beyond playing sex kittens. When her politics became radicalized in the late 60s, she began to fight for equality for women in all aspects of society. She continues the battle through the Women's Media Center, which she co-founded. The center seeks to increase opportunities for women in film. Unfortunately, despite the fact that there is finally a woman up for a Best Director Oscar this year (Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker), Fonda reports that the percentage of women directors is actually falling. To read more click here
No strike-outs for these guys: new film to trace true life Yankee wife-swappers.
Ben Affleck will direct- and possibly star in- The Trade, a true life big screen story about a sex scandal that kept New York Yankees baseball fans riveted in the 1970s. Team mates Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich brazenly admitted that they had fallen in love with each other's spouse. They decided to literally wife swap. The story caused a sensation at the time and has been percolating as a possible big screen production for a number of years. It's possible that Matt Damon may also become involved with the project. For more click here
Warner Home Video has released John Wayne's The Green Beretson Blu-ray. Wayne stirred up a hornet's nest among his political opponents when he released the film in 1968 at the height of the protest movement against the Vietnam War. After his 1966 visit to Vietnam to bolster the spirits of American troops, the Duke wanted to make a statement in support of the U.S. involvement in the war. He felt so strongly about the subject that he directed the movie as well as starred in it. (Ray Kellogg directed most of the major action scenes.)
The film remains one of only two films the Duke directed, the other being his 1960 epic The Alamo. Predictably, the movie caused a firestorm of protest, as it was released just when calls for withdrawing from the conflict were picking up steam. Most critics wrote the film off as hopelessly inept from an artistic standpoint. Indeed, Wayne employed every cliche imaginable and the script seemed to have been left on a shelf since the WWII era. There is the lovable company scrounger (Jim Hutton) who unofficially adopts a doe-eyed orphan kid and other key characters are actually named Kowalski and Muldoon.Wayne does address the political controversies of the era, but the opposing viewpoint of the war is seen through diatribes of another cliched character, a liberal reporter played by David Janssen. Wayne's simplistic outlook on the conflict is represented by his answer to Janssen's complaint that due process of law is not being followed. Wayne's Colonel Kirby tells him, "Out here, due process is a bullet."
This great character played important roles in Psycho, The Sand Pebbles and Bullitt. His name: Simon Oakland
All movie fans have suffered the frustration of recognizing a familiar character actor but not being able to come up with his or her name. Now there is a web site that provides thumbnail photos of these great thespians, identifies them and provides a link to their IMDB film credits. Click here to view
Leslie Howard and Bette Davis in The Petrified Forest.
The folks at the Neatorama web site have unveiled a hidden Hollywood treasure: a Warner Brothers reel of bloopers from films of 1936. The reel was obviously intended for private use among industry insiders, as it features some well-known actors cursing when they blow their lines. There are no hilarious knee-slappers here, but it is fascinating to see behind the scenes footage of legends such as James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Leslie Howard and Bette Davis. Click here to view
The Viceland web site has a hilarious history of the worst action figures of all time. There's George Lucas, described only as "The Director" to avoid legal problems. There are dumbed down versions of superheroes (Spiderman as a baseball player!), political figures designed to inflame both the left and right (President Obama, Sarah Palin), a pregnant Wonder Woman, and flash-in-the-pan pop culture kooks (Joe the Plumber). My personal favor is the meat from Rocky. Remember the scene where Rocky gets in shape by pummeling frozen slabs of meat? Well, some genius actually packaged it as an accessory kit for the Rocky action figure. (Maybe they should have used "Hey kids, now you can beat the meat whenever you want!" as the tag line) To read click here
Rosemary's Baby, released in 1968, made Polanski a hot property in the American film world - but tragedy and scandal were to follow in ensuing years.
With his latest film The Ghost Writer having recently premiered in Europe, Roman Polanski is back in the news - and this time, it's relating to his work, not his on-going legal problems stemming from his infamous sex-charged scandal from the 1970s. In an article in the New York Times, writer Dennis Lim analyzes Polanski's films- and comes to the conclusion that, perhaps, no one truly knows what makes the controversial director tick. Click here to read
RETRO ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM CINEMA RETRO'S ARCHIVE
P.B. HURST, AUTHOR OF THE NEW BOOK THE MOST SAVAGE FILM: SOLDIER BLUE, CINEMATIC VIOLENCE AND THE HORRORS OF WAR (McFarland) LOOKS BACK AT WHAT IS PERHAPS THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL WESTERN OF ALL TIME.
number of critics in 1970 believed that Soldier Blue had set a new mark
in cinematic violence, as a result of its graphic scenes of Cheyenne women and
children being slaughtered, and had thus lived up – or down – to its U.S.
poster boast that it was “The Most Savage Film in History.”
hit in Great Britain and
much of the rest of the world, Soldier Blue was, in the words of its
maverick director, Ralph Nelson, “not a popular success” in the United States.This probably had less to do with the
picture’s groundbreaking violence, and more to do with the fact that it was the
U.S. Cavalry who were breaking new ground.For Nelson’s portrayal of the boys in blue as blood crazed
maniacs, who blow children’s brains out and behead women, shattered for ever
one of America’s most enduring movie myths – that of the cavalry as good guys
riding to the rescue – and rendered Soldier Blue one of the most radical
films in the history of American cinema.The film’s failure in its homeland might also have had something to do
with the perception in some quarters – prompted by production company publicity
material – that it was a deliberate Vietnam allegory.
unaware of most of this in 1971 when, as a nervous fifteen-year-old English
schoolboy, I read about the film’s horrors in newspapers, and heard lurid
accounts of the cutting off of breasts from my classmates, who had illegally
seen the film at a cinema that wasn’t too bothered about the age of the patrons
(all of whom should have been at least eighteen to view what was then an X
managed to survive several Hammer horrors – Scars of Dracula, Lust
for a Vampire and Countess Dracula spring readily to mind – at the
very same cinema when I was underage.But
having been scared witless by the mutilation scene in Hush, Hush Sweet
Charlotte, when that gripping movie had played on TV several months
earlier, I wisely realised that any of the various cuts inflicted on the
Indians by the cavalry in Soldier Blue represented a mutilation too far
in terms of my well being.So I waited
for the picture to turn up on television (as it takes considerably more guts to
walk out of a packed cinema than to hide behind the sofa!).Waited and waited as it turned out.
viewed the picture, which stars Candice Bergen, Peter Strauss and Donald Pleasence, when ITV
transmitted it in 1980.However, there
was a small problem: the notorious massacre sequence, which is the picture’s
reason for being, had been removed virtually in its entirety (seemingly more
cuts had been inflicted on the film than had been perpetrated on the American
Indians!), as it was deemed too horrific for television.(It took another twenty-two years for the
film to be shown on British terrestrial television in something resembling its
theatrical release form!)So I still
hadn’t viewed the notorious scenes that had sparked, in conjunction with films
such as The Devils, Straw Dogs and A Clockwork Orange, the
screen violence inferno that engulfed Britain in the 1970s.
Hollywood may finally have a method of profiting from its next flop like Heaven's Gate: bet against the film succeeding.
By Lee Pfeiffer
The good folks at Wall Street investment firms who guarded your money so well in the recent financial meltdown now have a new ideal for sapping what's left from your piggy banks: gambling on the financial fate of major films. The firm Cantor Fitzgerald is seeking permission to launch a complex plan whereby investors would bet on whether specific films in production will soar or tank upon their release. From the firm's standpoint, the idea is brilliant. Everyday people are always looking for ways to be associated with the glamor of show biz, even if it is on a dotted line basis.The problem is that, what most of them know about the movie industry is limited to what they see on Entertainment Tonight. As Mother Jones magazine, which reports on this story points out, the deck would be stacked among industry insiders who could see a flop in the making and bet on a film's failure. To ensure the bet pays off, they could manipulate marketing strategies and use other techniques to make good on their investments. The investment firm promises that they would hold "boot camps" for potential investors to teach them the ins-and-outs of the film business. (I'm not making this up, folks.). If nothing else, this would give them the chance to wring even more money out of the suckers who attend these Camp Run-a-muck's for attention-starved investors.
Among the gems recently released by Paramount as part of the studio's Centennial special editions DVDs is John Ford's 1962 classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.Count me among those who consider the film a masterpiece, but upon its initial release, the movie was dismissed as morose and claustrophobic by short-sighted critics who couldn't see beyond Ford's penchant for filming in the great outdoors. The plot finds James Stewart as Ransom Stoddard, a tenderfoot lawyer who goes west in the naive belief the populace will welcome his offer to bring civility and legal representation to the residents of a small town. Before he even gets to his destination, his stagecoach is robbed by the vicious bandit Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), who takes special delight in beating and humiliating the lawyer. Stoddard is nursed back to health by sympathetic townspeople, primarily Hallie (Vera Miles) and her cynical, macho boyfriend Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). Tom sizes up Stoddard's abilities to fend for himself and advises him to leave town immediately. However, Stoddard is determined to bring the rule of law to the town and stubbornly stays on - until Valance challenges him to a gun duel from which only one man will emerge alive.
The cover art for the Blu-ray release of the 1981 Italian thriller The New York Ripper screams "The most controversial horror film ever made!" Although the hyperbole may be true, I'll confess that I had never even heard of the movie until viewing the screener copy from Blue Underground. Apparently, the film does have a long history of being censored and the original version is still banned in the UK. Research shows there have been numerous international versions of film, many of which have been compromised by edits ranging from minor to the exclusion of entire key sequences. Blue Underground's release is the complete 93 minute version of director Lucio Fulci's vision of the film.As you might imagine, the movie isn't for everyone. A strong stomach and penchant for kinky sex scenes might well be advised.
The film was shot on location in New York City (with interiors shot in Rome) in 1981. The Big Apple was in the midst of its decline during this period and movie makers exploited the public misery to the fullest extent. Big studio releases like Taxi Driver and Death Wish were seen as legitimate social commentaries, while other smaller budget movies just seemed to exploit the explosion in crime. Viewing The New York Ripper today, one has to force oneself to remember those bad old days in Gotham. With the city now having undergone an amazing renaissance that has resulted in the lowest crime statistics on record, it might be difficult for those who did not grow up in or near the city to recall how accurately films reflected this era. Fulci's film centers on a psychopath who menaces New York by murdering numerous women in the most horrendous manners. Bizarrely, he uses the voice of Donald Duck in taunting phone calls to the police. Nominally, the film would seem to be based on a modern version of London's Jack the Ripper, but more likely Fulci was inspired by the Son of Sam murders that gripped the city in the summer of 1977.
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVES
Nehemiah Persoff: From Jerusalem to Hollywood – and Beyond
By Herb Shadrak
Born in Jerusalem in 1919, Nehemiah Persoff went on to
become one of the busiest character actors in Hollywood. His face is familiar
to millions of boomers across North America from his numerous guest appearances
on just about every TV series that aired from the 1950s through the 1990s.
Persoff’s name may have been unfamiliar to many of these TV viewers, but his
face was instantly recognizable. Filmspot.com describes Persoff as a
“short, dark and stocky-framed actor who specialized in playing ethnic-type
villains, although he frequently essayed sympathetic roles as well.” (Witness
his heartbreaking moments with Maria Schell in Voyage of the Damned.) Yet he excelled as gangland figures like
Johnny Torrio, mentor to Al Capone in
the 1959 biopic, or mobster Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik – a recurring role on The Untouchables.
Persoff’s childhood was poverty-stricken, but there was constant
singing, dancing and music in his home. He was a very creative and imaginative
youngster, who always visited the circus when it came to the Holy City. “There
was a large field in Jerusalem where the circus used to set up,” Persoff
recalls. “It was a very small one-ring circus, but I loved it. Outside the circus
was an Arab with a box on a stand with peepholes in it, and he had a small
monkey on a chain with a hat. This was enough to make me stand there for hours
watching. One day, the Arab let me look through the peepholes. There I saw a
funny man with a derby and cane. He had a funny walk. It was Charlie Chaplin!
Little did I know that 20 years later I would meet that man face-to-face!”
Persoff found himself drawn to the cinema at an early age.
“Two outdoor moviehouses were opened on Zion Square: one was called Eden. It
had a circle of bulbs that would light up one after the other. I used to walk
down there barefoot and watch the cinema from a post on the street. From that
height I could see the top of the screen for free. I think the other outdoor
moviehouse was called Aviv. For its grand opening they showed Ben Hur
with Ramon Novarro. There were pennants hung all over… I guess that was our
version of a Hollywood opening.
“I find that at age 88 my mind goes back to my early
childhood more and more. Jerusalem in the late twenties was a place like no
other. I cannot imagine a 10-year-old more attached to his birthplace than I
was. I was keenly aware of the love that people had for each other, the feeling
that we were all tied to the same cause. The pioneers came with nothing but
enthusiasm and a love for life and our native land. Their attitude was ‘to hell
with worldly goods, that's not what's important in our lives.’”
And yet Persoff’s father, a silversmith and painter, felt he had no career
prospects in Palestine. So the young Persoff emigrated with his family to the
United States in 1929, just in time for the Stock Market Crash and the Great
Depression. Persoff spent several years working as an electrician on the New
York subway system, gradually taking an interest in acting in the 1940's.
“When I started acting, I was working in the subway and
there was a rule that subway workers were not allowed to have any other job,”
Persoff remembers. “So on the program of the play, I used the name Nick Perry.
My reviews were great but no one knew it was me, so I got none of the glory.
After that I always used ‘Nehemiah Persoff’.”
After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Persoff started
seriously pursuing an acting career in the New York theatre. In 1947, Persoff’s
big break came along, one that would lead to steady work in films and
television for the next 52 years.
“My friend (actor) Lou Gilbert told me that if I wanted to
audition for the Actors Studio, he would arrange it. I jumped at the chance.
Elia Kazan was one of the busiest directors around, and to study with him and
be in his pool of actors was every actor's dream. I was in summer stock playing
the lead role in George Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple. I knew that
Kazan was with the Group Theatre along with writer Clifford Odets. I thought of
doing something from an Odets play but then reasoned that perhaps a more
classic approach might work better for me, so I did a monologue from Shaw. Two
weeks later, I received an invitation to come to the first meeting of the
Actors Studio. I took my seat on a bench and slowly looked around. There were
John Garfield, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Montgomery Clift, Kim Hunter and
Maureen Stapleton, among others. Kazan began to speak and told us his aim was
to create a group of actors who work as he does, who speak his language, and
that the people assembled in this room were the cream of the talent available.
This was heady stuff for a nearly starving young actor. I studied with Lee
Strasberg. He was brilliant and helped me find myself as an actor… I owe him
much. Among other scenes, I did a Noel Coward piece with Kim Stanley.”
After the Actors Studio, Persoff never looked back. His film credits include Kazan’s On the
Waterfront, The Harder They Fall (Humphrey
Bogart’s last film), Alfred Hitchcock’s The
Wrong Man, Never Steal Anything Small
(with James Cagney), René Clément’s This
Angry Age (shot in Thailand), Green
Mansions (with Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins), The Hook (with
Kirk Douglas), A Global Affair (with
Bob Hope), Ray Danton’s frightfest Psychic
Killer, Barbra Streisand’s Yentl and
Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of
Persoff also guest starred on about 400 TV shows, including The Twilight
Zone (playing a Nazi U-Boat captain in the classic episode "Judgment
Night"!), Route 66, Ben Casey, Wagon
Train, Rawhide, Mr. Novak, Burke’s Law, Honey West, Dan August, The High
Chaparal, The Big Valley, The Legend of Jesse James, The Wild Wild West, Gilligan’s
Island, Hawaii Five-O, Tarzan, It Takes a Thief, Land of the Giants
and The Time Tunnel.
In the mid-1980s, Persoff began to pursue painting. Now retired from
acting, he devotes full time to this avocation he has always loved.
Cinema Retro spoke to
Persoff from his home in Cambria, California.
Scorpion Releasing has made possible the DVD debut of the 1973 cult horror film Doctor Death, Seeker of Souls. The special edition release is top-notch in all respects. The movie was the brainchild of Eddie Saeta, a lifelong member of the movie community who started out as Harry Cohn's messenger boy and later became a well-respected assistant director. (He worked on a number of the Three Stooges shorts at Columbia and several Man From U.N.C.L.E. episodes that were turned into feature films.) Doctor Death was a rare opportunity for Saeta to fulfill his dream of directing a feature film. The low-budget horror opus was shot in 12 days - a remarkable achievement, given the film's ambitious special effects and varying sets and locations. The movie is played primarily for laughs, with John Considine cast as the titular villain, a charismatic practitioner of black magic who has secured the secret to eternal life. When the present body he inhabits is on the verge of death, he is able to transfer his soul into a recently-deceased person. The fly-in-the-ointment is that, if a suitable cadaver is not available, the good doctor secures one through murder. In contemporary times, he turns his art into a for-profit venture by charging distraught people huge sums to bring their loved ones back from the grave by transposing their souls into another body. The script follows one such grieving victim, Fred Saunders (Barry Coe), who cannot accept the fact that his beautiful young wife Laura (Jo Morrow) has died from an illness. He hires Doctor Death to bring her soul back to life - and it doesn't ruin any plot device to inform the reader that certain unexpected complications occur.
Sean Connery rehearsing the pre-credits sequence for Thunderball in France.
Way back in 1965, the pre-credits sequence of Thunderball amazed audiences with the scene in which James Bond makes a getaway via use of a personal jetpack. Unlike many of the cutting-edge gadgets seen in the Bond films, however, this one took quite some time to make it to consumers - 45 years, to be precise. Nevertheless, a company is now marketing the first jetpack available for sale to consumers, so your dreams of traveling like 007 can finally be fulfilled- as long as the trip lasts about 30 minutes, you're not afraid of heights and you have a spare $75,000 to spare. Click here for more
A number of readers have written to publicly request that Universal release The Nude Bomb on DVD. It will therefore come as a shock to those readers to discover that the film has been out on DVD for quite some time. Universal wisely released it to coincide with with the 2008 premiere of the Get Smart feature film starring Steve Carrell. Fans could be forgiven for not noticing, as Universal used scant resources to make the film's availability known. There is good reason for this: the 1980 big screen Get Smart feature film disappoints on all levels. The hit TV series ran from 1965 to 1970, with CBS having picked it up after NBC canceled the show. A decade later, Universal brought Don Adams to the big screen in a full length motion picture. At first glance, The Nude Bomb seemed promising: writers Bill Dana, Arne Sultan and Leonard B. Sultan were brought on board from the original series. However, Barbara Feldon, who played "99" chose not to appear and Edward Platt, who had the pivotal role of Chief had passed away years before. Thus, the scenario Adams found himself in was comparable to a Three Stooges reunion minus Larry and Moe.
HBO is negotiating with Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman to star in a TV series titled Luck in which the 72 year-old actor would play a compulsive gambler. This would be Hoffman's first venture into episodic TV. Dennis Farina has been signed to the cast and Michael Mann is producing and directing the pilot. For more click here
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Warner Home Video:
Burbank, Calif., March 15, 2010 – Warner Home Video (WHV) today
announced that it is bringing back “the shack” on June 8 on Blu-ray DiscTM.
Just in time for Father’s Day, tour the grounds of the exclusive Bushwood
Country Club like never before, as the screen’s most notorious gopher chews its
way onto stunning Blu-ray for the first time ever.
30 years ago, the game of golf was redefined when Chevy Chase, Rodney
Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Ted Knight took to the fairways of Bushwood
Country Club. When Caddyshackhits
Blu-ray, fans will see the riotous hole-in-one comedy like never before. The fairways
will be greener. The golf balls whiter. The gopher…err…fuzzier. The Blu-ray
will contain an all new, feature-length Bio documentary, Caddyshack: The
Inside Story (90 min), which includes new interviews with producers and
stars about the making of Caddyshack.
The Blu-ray will also include all of the special features from the original standard
definition version: Caddyshack: The 19th
Hole (37 min), a retrospective documentary featuring hilarious outtakes,
rare footage and interviews with stars Chevy Chase and Cindy Morgan, producers
Jon Peters and Mark Canton, and director Harold Ramis, along with other cast
and creative team members recalling their on-set experiences; and the theatrical
definition DVD has been updated
with new 5.1 audio and contains special features: Caddyshack: The 19th
Hole and the theatrical trailer. The film will also be available day and
date on Video on Demand from cable and satellite providers and for electronic
download from online retailers.
Among AFI’s Top 100 for “Funniest and Best Quotes”
and Top 10 for “Best Sports Movies,” the inspiration for the madcap milieu of Caddyshack
is the boyhood experiences of writer Brian Doyle-Murray and his kid brother
Bill Murray. Brian was a caddy at Indian Hills, outside Chicago, and Bill was
an assistant groundskeeper for the Evanston Country Club in Indiana.
I recently discovered Cinema Retro Magazine, and I just wanted to tell
you how happy I am to find a publication devoted to classic films. Not
only am I a big fan of retro movies, I am something of mash-up editor
with a penchant for retro sensibilities... Please check out some of my
mash-ups if you get the chance. I think you folks will enjoy them.
Here's a link to my Youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/whoiseyevan
up the great work!
Retro responds: Excellent work, Ivan...our readers will really enjoy your clever mixing of original film trailers with new concepts. I especially like the way you turned Gone With the Wind into a vampire flick!- Lee Pfeiffer
Sir Christopher Lee in the original classic version of The Wicker Man.
Director Robin Hardy's long-awaited re-imagining of the horror cult classic The Wicker Man is in post-production. The original film was a box-office bomb when it opened in the 1970s but has since grown in stature and acclaim. Sir Christopher Lee will reprise his role as the mysterious and evil Lord Summerisle. Lee describes the film as "erotic, romantic, comic and horrific enough to loosen the bowels of a bronze statue". You don't read that kind of endorsement every day! The film has got the blogosphere in a flutter with fans impatient to hear more. Click here for Empire's coverage.
In the 1980s, The Cosby Show was "must-see" TV in most American households. Now two of Cosby's TV "daughters" are all grown up. Check out Keshia Knight Pulliam and Raven Symone, who played cute kids Rudy and Olivia, as they appeared at an NAACP awards ceremony. For more click here
Empire reports that producer Paul Maslansky intends to re-launch the critically-reviled but popular Police Academy series. Steve Guttenberg, who starred in the films between 1984-1994, has expressed interest in appearing in the new series, which has yet to have a firm start date or director announced. However, it appears that Maslansky intends to start the premise from scratch. For more click here
Those Roger Corman film adaptations of the works of Edgar Allan Poe may not stuck close to the master's original stories, but they were a great deal of fun. One of our favorites is The Pit and the Pendulum with Vincent Price and Barbara Steele, both in top form. Click here to view the original trailer
Click here to order double feature DVD of Pit and the Pendulum and The Fall of the House of Usher.
Director Joe Dante's web site Trailers from Hell is a habit-forming delight, presenting trailers from cult movies along with narration by directors and film historians. Click here to view the original trailer for the 1970s buddy cop comedy Freebie and Bean starring James Caan and Alan Arkin.
Imagine my surprise, on perusing last week’s Sunday Times, to discover that none other than the great Kevin Brownlow, Mr. Silent Cinema himself, was scheduled to appear, if not “at a cinema near you”, then at least at a rambling country estate not a million miles from me. Hot damn! I thought, and I’m sure you’ll agree it was warranted. For anyone with even a sliver of interest in the history of cinema, Brownlow is a positively Olympian figure, the man who, trusty two-reel tape recorder in hand, assiduously stalked the retirement homes of the Hollywood Hills to capture the last flickering memories of a time when the movies moved, later collected in his classic 1968 book, The Parade’s Gone By . . . The man who, together with his collaborator, the late David Gill, rescued and restored such great films as Rex Ingram’s The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and Abel Gance’s monumental Napoléon (1927), before returning them to the world, with scores by Carl Davis, in the manner in which they were meant to be seen. And the man behind a series of definitive documentaries on such luminaries as Griffith, Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd. Hot damn, indeed.
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVES
One of my favorite comedies of the 1960s is The Ghost and Mr. Chicken starring Don Knotts, in typical nervous guy persona, as Luther Heggs, a nerd who is annointed a local hero because he survived a night alone in a supposedly haunted house. This results in his worst nightmare: having to address the local Chamber of Commerce picnic. As can only happen to Knotts, he's nervous enough even with his speech written, out but when a freak gust of wind blows it away, the mayhem begins. - Lee Pfeiffer
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
With two of the finest British
actresses of this or any other generation in the main roles and a cast of
instantly recognisable homegrown talent, Mary Queen Of Scots is a long lost
classic costume drama on an epic scale.
Mystifyingly unavailable since its
original theatrical release almost 40 years ago, it is at last set to make its
DVD courtesy of Second Sight on 1 February 2010.
Nominated for five Oscars this
outstanding costume drama stars two of the greatest British actresses; Vanessa Redgrave (Julia) in the title role and Glenda
Jackson (Woman In Love) as Queen
Elizabeth I, along with a stellar cast including Ian Holm, Trevor Howard,
Patrick McGoohan and Timothy Dalton. It also boasts a score
by John Barry.
Originally released in 1971, this lavish
Tudor power play tells the story of Queen Mary, the last Catholic ruler of Scotland who
faces religious prejudice, from the Protestant community and, in particular,
her half-brother James Stuart (McGoohan) leader of the Protestant faction. Throughout her reign she is faced with a fierce
adversary, her cousin the Queen of England Elizabeth I.
Mary Queen Of Scots is a passionate and
energetic costume drama with an outstanding cast that makes for powerful
features include: Isolated John Barry music track with commentary by film
historians Nick Redman and Jon Burlingame, Overture and intermission music,
Cinema Retro's London photographer Mark Mawston is one of the best freelancers in the business and consequently gets invited to attend all the A list events. Here are some exclusive photos Mark took at last month's BAFTA awards. (All photos copyright Mark Mawston, all rights reserved)
Thank you for your preview of The
restoration and release on DVD and Blu-ray. Now I can finally sell my
version. The questions that have perplexed me are why have the rights to
African Queen changed hands, how did Paramount acquire it and why the
delay in releasing this title on DVD? Hollywood is an industry that
to double and triple-dip movie releases on DVD and someone has lost a
this classic which should have been released over 10 years ago.
Retro responds: Doug, the film has a long and convoluted history in terms of ownership. This goes back to the fact that the film's producer, Sam Spiegel had some complicated financing deals in place in order to produce it. The movie was considered a major failure in terms of artistry - right up until it actually premiered and was highly acclaimed. Over the decades, the rights to the movie changed hands. Some of this background is discussed in the documentary on the new DVD. Ron Smith, who headed the restoration team, said it took years for Paramount to secure the video rights. Incidentally, we just conducted an in-depth interview with Ron about the restoration which we'll be presenting in the near future.
Actress Carol Marsh has died at age 80. Marsh's screen career was rather limited, but she did have major roles in several pivotal British film classics. She gained her first big break by winning the female lead role opposite Richard Attenborough in the 1947 crime classic Brighton Rock (aka Young Scarface). She played an impressionable young woman who has the misfortune of falling in love and marrying a ruthless young gang leader. She also played the key role of Lucy in the 1958 Hammer Films version of Dracula (aka Horror of Dracula) opposite Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Marsh played the title role in the 1949 version of Alice in Wonderland. She also appeared in the classic Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol (aka Scrooge). Marsh had not made a feature film since 1959 but did continue to act on British television until the mid 1970s.
Like most classic movie fans, I have have viewed The African Queen countless times. However, I had never truly seen The African Queen until I attended a special digital screening of the restored version. Cinema Retro was among a select number of publications to be invited by Paramount for the unveiling of the restored version of director John Huston's classic adventure. The screening took place at Viacom headquarters in Times Square (Viacom is the parent company of Paramount). Following a reception attended by Ron Smith, the man who headed up the restoration process, we were escorted into the screening room where a new documentary was shown detailing the painstaking efforts to preserve the film. When the movie itself was shown in digital format, the result was literally breathtaking. The film looks better than Huston could have ever hoped for.
If you were a baby boomer growing up in the New York City area, WABC was the AM radio station you were glued to for the best rock 'n roll and British invasion songs, all brought to you by legendary DJ's Cousin Bruce, Harry Harrison and Ron Lundy. Yesterday, Lundy died from a heart attack in Mississippi. He had a career that spanned almost thirty years, bringing classics to listeners when the songs were new, then becoming a popular retro DJ. His famous signature greeting was, "Hello, Luv!" He also had a famous movie cameo, though he was not seen on screen: his familiar voice is heard by Jon Voight's Joe Buck on his transistor radio as he begins his ominous entrance into New York City in Midnight Cowboy. For more click here
Christopher Reeve in the blockbuster 1978 screen version of Superman.
Warner Brothers has decided to bring Superman back to the big screen, and they've brought director Chris Nolan on board to oversee the project as a consultant. Nolan's involvement is sure to please Supey's fans, as he gained great respect for his reverent treatment of Batman in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. There is no indication Nolan will direct the film. The last Superman big screen epic, Superman Returns, was directed by Bryan Singer and earned good reviews and decent box-office. However, it was deemed somewhat of a disappointment in the profit department, as it had soared far over budget. No casting has been set for the new film. For more click here
Robert Vaughn, the last surviving member of The Magnificent Seven, has been confirmed to star with Sean Bean in The Magnificent Eleven - a big screen comedy about an amateur UK soccer team that comes to the aid of a tandoori restaurant owner who is being menaced by thugs. For details click here
With few exceptions, contemporary TV game shows seem to choose contestants on the basis of providing unintentional laughter. Most of the participants seem happily oblivious to that fact, as evidenced by this video collection of the stupidest game show answers of all time. It must have been a Herculean task to cull these clips from such a rich treasure trove, but one of our favorites is the dumb blonde who thinks Europe is country and France isn't. Running a close second is the contestant on Wheel of Fortune who guessed the mystery phrase to be "self-potato"! And don't overlook the Family Feud show in which two entire family teams could not come up with the name of a single country that starts with the letter "A" except America. Doubtless, these folks have promising careers as television script writers. To view click here
Peter Graves, who became an icon of 1960s TV as the star of Mission:Impossible, collapsed and died at his house from an apparent heart attack yesterday. He was 83 years old. Graves toiled for years as a supporting actor in feature films, having made an impression as a German.spy among American POWS in the 1953 classic Stalag 17. Graves was the star of the popular 1950s TV western series Fury. Both he and his younger brother James Arness, who starred in Gunsmoke, found major success on CBS. Graves played agent Jim Phelps in the hit 1960s spy show Mission: Impossible and the opening of every episode, in which a tape self-destructs after reading him his assignment, remains an iconic aspect of TV history.The role won him a Golden Globe award. Graves was generally cast as stalwart heroic types, but in the 1980 big screen comedy Airplane! he displayed a deft flair for comedy as the macho airline pilot with a penchant for little boys and gladiators. Graves worked consistently over the decades, also hosting the popular Biography TV series for years. For more click here
The Peter Graves article is not 100% accurate.
the mainstay of the series had the mission given on tape and the
self-destructing, there were plenty of episodes without the taped
briefing and also where Phelps would destroy the tape by hand.
responds: That's interesting...I haven't seen the show in so many
years, I must be getting rusty. I never recall Phelps destroying the
tapes manually, but I know better than to argue with a guy who has a
virtual PHD in spy movie culture of the 60s! Thanks for the correction. -
Michael Douglas is slated to play Liberace in a big screen bio pic. Ironically, if an openly gay actor were to be cast, his career might be ruined.
By Lee Pfeiffer
In an article for the Times of London, writer Tim Teeman exposes the blatant hypocrisy in Hollywood when it comes to gay rights. The film capital teems with liberal thinkers who pride themselves on wearing red ribbons, raising funds to battle AIDS and giving the world lectures about being tolerant and open-minded about minorities. Yet, as the article points out, those few homosexual actors who have come out of the closet have mostly seen their careers nose-dive. Although studios don't expect anyone to believe that straight actors who play action heroes are really the same as their on-screen persona, when it comes to gay actors Hollywood apparently thinks the audience will confuse their personal and professional lives. The situation is somewhat arguably somewhat different for lesbians, but only because straight males find female-to-female love scenes to be erotic. Meanwhile, gay males in the industry often regret coming out of the closet and have to tolerate the irony of the fact that their straight counterpoints often win kudos and awards for playing gay characters. For the article click here
James Cameron has been studiously investigating the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 as the subject of what may be his next film. However, he planned to base the work on the soon-to-be-published book The Last Train From Hiroshima by his friend and sometimes collaborator Charles Pellegrino. However, the publisher has just suspended the title and will not be printing it despite good word-of-mouth and hefty advance sales. The reason for this is one that has plagued high profile books in recent years: fraud. Pellegrino interviewed people who claim they witnessed the bombing and the aftermath, but it now turns out that at least some of those individuals lied to him, thus throwing the entire value of the work into question. For more, click here
Robert De Niro is developing a sequel to his hit 1988 comedy Midnight Run, which cast him as a bounty hunter in pursuit of charismatic con man Charles Grodin. However, since Grodin stole the lion's share of the reviews and will not appear in the sequel, we wonder if there is much of a point to the project. For more click here
Andrew Lloyd Webber's long-awaited sequel to his blockbuster The Phantom of the Opera premiered in London and was greeted by mixed reviews. Perhaps Webber could never have lived up to expectations. The musical has been subjected to a grass roots campaign by Phantom purists to denounce the new work even before they have seen it. Critics cited the opinion that audience members who are not very conversant in the storyline of the original will be hopelessly lost. Webber did get some good notices, but in the end, reviews may not matter, as his shows are generally critic-proof. For more click here
We must be doing something right at Cinema Retro. London correspondent Adrian Smith alerted us to this clever spoof of our Where Eagles Dare special edition issue that appears on the web site of the British film magazine Empire. The montage, titled Where Beagles Dare, is credited to someone known as "Rickochet" and is part of a regular forum in which fans create their own satirical movie posters. Too bad Rickochet doesn't have a job designing real movie posters, which continue the trend of being uncreative and bland. To view more spoof posters click here
At age 79, Clint Eastwood remains one of the most active of all directors. He's just wrapped the supernatural thriller Hereafter with Matt Damon and will next delve into the life of F.B.I. director J.Edgar Hoover, whose seemingly endless reign over the agency was ensured by the dirt he threatened to use against politicians of both parties. Hoover, who is widely believed to have been gay, ran the agency in a totalitarian manner, often using legally questionable methods to get incriminating information on celebrities and political opponents. For more click here
Fox has bumped the opening of Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps back to September 24. The sequel to Michael Douglas' 1987 Oscar winner was supposed to premiere on April 23. Generally, when a studio pushes back the release date of a film it indicates behind-the-scenes problems. However, in the case of Shutter Island, the delay may have enhanced the movie's box-office appeal. Although Fox has yet to officially comment on the move, there are rumors that the film has been delayed in order to premiere it at Cannes. For more click here
Variety, the legendary but cash-strapped entertainment publication, is cutting costs again - but this time, they may have gone too far. Variety fired popular and trusted film critic Todd McCarthy, who has been with the publication for thirty-one years. Think about how long that is: it was the year Apocalypse Now premiered. However, experience means nothing to the hacks who run today's corporations. McCarthy is just the latest in a long string of revered film critics who have been put out to pasture in recent years due to cost-cutting and an insane obsession with appealing to the youth market. It's not a coincidence that, as the number of films worth watching has declined, so has meaningful film criticism. McCarthy and his peers look almost quaint in an era in which many younger film reviewers feel compelled to punctuate every other sentence with expletives. The Wrap reports that a grass roots Facebook movement is underway by disgusted Variety readers who are trying to find a new employer for McCarthy by signing a pledge they would be willing to pay a fee to read his work. Incidentally, Variety also fired their long-time theater critic David Rooney, among others. For more click here Click here for L.A. Times editorial
Merlin Olsen, who terrified opponents on the football field when he played with the Los Angeles Rams only to play gentle giants on-screen, died yesterday of cancer at age 69. Olsen was best known as an actor for appearing in the TV series Little House on the Prairie and Father Brown. He also made several feature films including The Undefeated with John Wayne and Rock Hudson and Something Big with Dean Martin. For more click here
Seinfeld always said that his legendary sitcom was a show about "nothing". However, it was as complex as the works of Ingmar Bergman compared to The Marriage Ref.
By Lee Pfeiffer
I rarely watch episodic TV simply because I'm generally working on a project and don't have the time to actually sit in front of the boob tube. Besides, there hasn't been anything worth watching since the Clinton administration - and even when there is an exception, the mind-numbing amount of commercials make me feel like I've just undergone a lobotomy. Thus, I've grown addicted to political debate shows because I can pump up the volume and not have to actually watch the TV. However, tonight I made an exception and periodically got up to see a show that came on NBC called The Marriage Ref. The only reason I had any interest at all is because it was produced by the great Jerry Seinfeld and the opening episode featured that show's co-creator Larry David along with Ricky Gervais and Madonna. As I watched slack-jawed, Larry David said "This has to be the most uncomfortable hour I've ever spent." This was at the half hour mark, but he could be forgiven for thinking it seemed like an hour. It must rank as some kind of grand achievement to take three ultra talented people and put them into a situation that was less amusing than those old high school health films about preventing venereal disease.
Joyce Randolph is interviewed by ABC Radio film critic Bill Diehl at the Players club.
On Thursday March 4, Cinema Retro hosted a tribute to actress Joyce Randolph at the legendary Players club in New York City. Joyce is the last living cast members of the classic 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners, in which she starred with Jackie Gleason, Art Carney and Audrey Meadows. The show began as a sketch on Gleason's variety program in the early 1950s before expanding to a half hour sitcom.The series centered on the trials and tribulations of Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden (Gleason) and his long-suffering wife Alice (Meadows), who must patiently endure his crackpot get-rich-quick schemes as well as his tendency to engage in temperamental outbursts. Art Carney played Ralph's best friend and upstairs neighbor, a dim-witted by lovable sewer worker named Ed Norton. Joyce Randolph was Norton's wife Trixie.Gleason resisted the cliche of giving the Kramden's children, the absence of which allowed the scripts to center on the comedic talents of the four principals.
Despite being a major success, Gleason- who exercised dictatorial control over his TV shows - decided to end the series after just one season because he was concerned he couldn't maintain the high quality of the scripts. Although only 39 episodes of the weekly series were ever produced, you'd be hard-pressed to find an American of any background who hasn't grown up quoting dialogue from these classic shows. Joyce attended the club's monthly cocktail party and posed for countless photos. Although world-famous celebrities are regulars at the club, Joyce seems to have brought out the rare fan instinct in members. Following dinner, Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief got plenty of laughs when he donned the traditional uniform of Ralph Kramden's lodge, The Raccoons (complete with coonskin Davy Crockett hat) and introduced Joyce to the stage, where she kept the audience laughing consistently with her anecdotes. Following this, two episodes of the series were shown on the big screen and most people were astonished at how little Joyce has changed over the ensuing years. At the end of this very special evening, Pfeiffer embraced Joyce and belted out Gleason's signature line that closed many episodes of The Honeymooners: "Baby, you're the greatest!"
Continue reading for ABC Radio's film critic Bill Diehl's take on the evening.
There are films that look reminiscent of a particular time period, and films that look as though they were actually shot in the time period in which they are set.Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970; available on DVD from Paramount Home Video) takes place in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, yet cinematographer Vittorio Storaro managed to make this film look as though it could have been filmed during these respective decades.Likewise, Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, filmed in 1976 and released in 1978, takes place circa 1916 and the resulting imagery is like stepping back in time.
Bill, played by a 27 year-old Richard Gere, is a day laborer in a Chicago steel mill (filmed in Los Angeles) who has an argument with one of the bosses and inadvertently kills him, causing him to flee to the wheat fields of the Texas Panhandle (Alberta, Canada doubling as Texas) with his out-of-wedlock lover Abby (Brooke Adams) and his younger sister Linda (Linda Manz).With Linda’s help, Bill and Abby present themselves as brother and sister and are hired as seasonal workers on a farm owned by a wealthy farmer (playwright Sam Shepard) who is ill and who may or may not live much longer.Since Bill has been poor his whole life and has never known an existence that was not arduous, he encourages Abby to respond to the farmer’s affections and marry him in the hopes of inheriting his farm and money when he dies.Abby agrees, and initially the plan works as Bill, Abby and Linda enjoy life as they have never known it, experiencing the film’s title by relaxing and playing games, and living a life free of toil, worry and physical labor.At some point, however, their masquerade becomes apparent and things take a turn for the worse when several tragedies transpire and their lives are forever altered.
Eastwood still gunning for top slot as America's favorite actor.
It's an incredible record of longevity- Clint Eastwood, who was among the American public's top ten movie stars in the 1960s, has topped the list this year. Equally remarkable is his fellow Western legend John Wayne, who also appears on the Harris Poll list. Wayne has been on the list consistently since 1994, making him the only star to achieve that honor (and the only star to ever appear who was not alive!). For the entire list click here