My introduction to Ralph Bakshi’s animation came in November 1978 when I turned ten.My father had been a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series and, after having seen Rankin and Bass’ The Hobbit cartoon the year before, I was eager to see the new large-screen treatment of Tolkien’s beloved adventure.Up until this point, all of the cartoons that I had seen theatrically were made by Walt Disney, with the exception of Charlotte’s Web (1973), Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure and The Mouse and His Child, both from 1977.So, along with Watership Down, it was unusual to see a cartoon aimed at adults and rated PG.
To my young eyes, The Lord of the Rings did not disappoint. I loved the music (I still have the 8-track!) and the visual style (including the rotoscoped scenes wherein the animators drew over live-action, which invoked much consternation from others with whom I debated the film’s merits).It was not until some years later that I became more aware of Mr. Bakshi’s previous filmography which included the very-adult-oriented Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, and Wizards, the latter of which played frequently as a midnight show at the Middlesex Mall cinema in South Plainfield, NJ.
Despite recalling the ads for American Pop, Hey Good Lookin’ and actually seeing Cool World theatrically, one film seemed to get lost in the shuffle.Although it had an August 1983 theatrically release date, Fire and Ice, a sword and sorcery epic that I caught up with on VHS in 1991, completely slipped by me.I would imagine that due to the prevalence of like-minded fare in the early 80’s (think Conan the Barbarian, The Beastmaster, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Krull, Hearts and Armour, etc.), Mr. Bakshi jumped on the bandwagon with this film, collaborating with none other than artist Frank Frazetta, the indisputable king of fantasy art.Fortunately, Blue Underground, William Lustig’s wonderful DVD and Blu Ray company, has released this film in both formats.
News reports indicate that Hollywood legend Tony Curtis has died at age 85. According to the MSNBC news show Morning Joe, the actor's daughter Jamie Lee Curtis has confirmed the rumor. Entertainment Tonight says that Curtis died of a heart attack in his Nevada home. The actor, who was born Bernard Schwartz,was one of the last symbols of Hollywood's golden era. He emerged as a star almost immediately. It was a far cry from his upbringing in the Bronx, where he and his brother Julius were temporarily placed in an orphanage because their parents could not provide adequate care for them. Curtis served in the U.S. Navy during WWII, having enlisted because he was impressed by seeing Cary Grant in Destination Tokyo. After the War, Curtis found stardom in Hollywood through a contract with Universal. He ended up becoming one of the top sex symbols of the 1950s and 60s. His ability to play light comedy as well as intense drama made him a major box-office draw for many years. He earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Stanley Kramer's The Defiant Ones, but the Academy didn't recognize his most memorable performance in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot, wherein he uses a dead-on impersonation of Cary Grant to try to seduce Marilyn Monroe. He also gave a brilliant performance in Sweet Smell of Success opposite Burt Lancaster. As his big screen career waned in the 70s, Curtis moved to television. In 1972, he starred opposite Roger Moore in The Persuaders. Although the show was not a hit in the USA, it was enormously popular internationally and a big screen version is being planned.
Curtis' active love life included six marriages, including one to Janet Leigh. He also married his 17 year-old Taras Bulba co-star Christine Kaufmann. In recent years, Curtis concentrated on writing his autobiography and immersing himself in painting. He had long ago acquired a reputation as an artist of considerable talent. Curtis' volatile personality and shoot-from-the-hip tendency to say whatever crossed his mind resulted in some minor scandals even in his later years, but he lived to see his career re-evaluated by Hollywood historians who had often dismissed his talents. Among his other major films: Trapeze, Spartacus, The Boston Strangler, Operation Petticoat, The Vikings, Sex and the Single Girl and The Great Race. For more click here
John Huston's 1948 screen adaptation of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre has been released by Warner Home Video on Blu-ray. The presentation is stunning and the crisp black-and-white cinematography has never looked so entrancing. The film is regarded as one of the great triumphs of American cinema, but was a box-office flop at the time, despite winning Oscars for Huston and his father, Walter. Apparently, audiences didn't want to see Humphrey Bogart stray so far from his image as a lovable crook or detective. Yet, Bogart gives the greatest performance of his career in this film, though he was criminally denied a Best Actor nomination. The story of three men who virtually sell their souls in the quest to find gold in the mountains of Mexico is the ultimate cautionary tale. When they are impoverished, they would give their lives for one another. However, after striking it rich, greed and jealously lead inevitably to tragedy. The story behind the film is almost as engrossing. Huston insisted on shooting much of the movie on location in the wilds of Mexico, which was quite innovative at the time. The resulting budget increase made the film a costly venture for Warner Brothers. Additionally, Huston's attempts to meet with the book's author, the legendarily mysterious B. Traven, caused endless speculation. The man on the set during production who claimed to represent the elusive Traven may well have been the author himself, and books have been written debating this possibility.
DVD rental behemoth Netflix had a rare instance of misguided public relations when the company launched its Canadian service. Seems a group of particularly enthuasiastic movie fans were actually actors who were given scripts that extolled the virtues of Netflix. Click here for more
Penn consults with Bonnie and Clyde stars Warren Beatty and Alexandra Stewart on the set of Mickey One. (Photo: Sam Falk/ NY Times)
By Lee Pfeiffer
Arthur Penn, the acclaimed director of stage, TV and screen, has died at age 88. A low-key man not prone to publicity or bombast, Penn quietly changed the course of cinematic history with his direction of the ground-breaking 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, which ushered in a New Wave of American cinema. Penn had already gained acclaimed through his work in the early days of TV. He directed the television adaptation of The Miracle Worker, as well as both the hit Broadway and big screen versions of the story. Penn also played a key role in American political history by advising John F. Kennedy how to prepare for his presidential debate against Richard Nixon in 1960. Most audiences who heard the debate on radio thought Nixon was the winner, but Penn shrewdly played up JFK's charisma and good looks for the TV audience. The result was that JFK won a narrow margin in the election.
Penn's work on the troubled Bonnie and Clyde is the stuff of legend. The film opened to anemic reviews and business before young audiences transformed it into a pop culture phenomenon that changed international cinema forever. Penn never replicated its success, though even his misfires have since built up cult status. Among his other films: The Left-Handed Gun, The Chase, Night Moves, Alice's Restaurant, Little Big Man and The Missouri Breaks. (Cinema Retro was fortunate to get an exclusive interview with Arthur Penn that will run in a future issue). Click here for New Times obituary by film critic David Kehr.
Going...Going...Gone! The premiere issue of Cinema Retro's Movie Classics special editions has now sold out.
The premiere issue of Cinema Retro's Movie Classics special editions, which was dedicated entirely to Where Eagles Dare, is now sold out. As this was a limited edition, it will never be reprinted. If you have a copy, treat it with kid gloves, as the value is sure to soar very quickly. Some back issues of Cinema Retro that are sold out have been selling for up to $100 each. Thank you to the many readers who supported this venture- and to all the talented writers and collaborators who made it possible. We are especially proud of the fact that the film's producer, Elliott Kastner, who recently passed away, had told us that the issue was the definitive story of how this great 1969 WWII epic was made. If you haven't purchased our follow up Movie Classics edition about the Clint Eastwood-Sergio Leone "Dollars" films, please be aware that sales of that issue are far outpacing those for Where Eagles Dare. Although we had an increased print run for this issue, sales are far ahead of our projections. So if you didn't add this to your collection, do so today. Click here for details
need not enter the fanciful but occasionally dangerous TIME MACHINE of H.G.
Wells to travel to the past.A far more
agreeable option, especially for horror movie fans weaned on the 1960s and
1970s films of such genre legends as Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter
Cushing, is a road trip to George Reis’s DRIVE-IN SUPER MONSTER-RAMA.This year’s MONSTER-RAMA was held, as always,
at the Riverside Drive-In Theatre in Vandergrift, PA, forty miles east of
Pittsburgh, on the Friday and Saturday following Labor Day weekend.This year’s event was the fourth annual
meeting of monster-movie fans and drive-in theatre devotees and, by most
accounts, was the best MONSTER-RAMA yet.Things got started around 8 PM each night, and went well beyond the
witching hour, usually ending somewhere between 4 and 4:30 AM.Each evening four full length feature films were
screened in their original 35mm and the stacked program also offered a
seemingly endless parade of devilishly entertaining vintage trailers, as well
as timeless drive-in concession ads that promoted everything from snack bar
treats (including “Chilly Dilly” pickles) to PIC anti-mosquito coils to a
“Drizzle-Guard” canopy that would enable one to enjoy drive-in films in the
rain.Unfortunately, we could have used
the latter item during Saturday night’s program, but the MONSTER-RAMA, without
question, attracted the steeliest of the hardcore fans.Only a relative few allowed the steady
drizzle to dampen their enthusiasm of the event.If anything, the MONSTER-RAMA offers too much
of a good thing, turning a pleasant night of movie-going into a test of
endurance as one must fight off the cold night air and cyclical bouts of
physical and mental fatigue as the clock hand spins well beyond 3 AM.Personally, I had succumbed to a number of
nostalgic pangs – and a few late-night stifled yawns - throughout the
weekend.As the family and I watched
Friday night’s fourth and closing film THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN through struggling,
sleepy eyes, I was suddenly twelve years old again, remembering (with odd fondness)
all the times I had forced myself to stay awake beyond 3 AM so I could catch
such tantalizingly titled old monster movies as SLAUGHTER OF THE VAMPIRES (1962)
or DR. BLOOD’S COFFIN (1961) on late night television.The DRIVE-IN SUPER MONSTER-RAMA offers, and delivers,
that sort of retro-experience.In
Actress Gloria Stuart, who epitomized the late career Hollywood comeback, has died at age 100. Stuart toiled for decades in films opposite major stars such as Boris Karloff and James Cagney, but never managed to land a star-making role. At one point she quit the industry altogether in favor of sailing to exotic places around the globe. However, when James Cameron cast her in Titanic in 1997, Stuart not only achieved stardom but became the oldest actress ever to receive an Oscar nomination. Click here for more
Comedy king Jerry Lewis admits that Lindsay Lohan's antics make him nutty with frustration.
Comedy legend Jerry Lewis has some choice words for wild girl Lindsay Lohan, saying he would find it worthwhile getting arrested for the opportunity to slap her in the mouth and possibly spank her if she didn't modify her self-destructive behavior. We don't know if any psychologists would recommend this cure, but we would sure love it if Jerry and Lindsay agreed to create the scene on screen! For more click here
Riding the crest of good, if not remarkable, reviews, Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps topped the weekend boxoffice with $19 million. That figure would be anemic for most movies but it represents a high gross for director Oliver Stone. The fact that the original movie came out in 1987 made the lingering interest in the character of Gordon Gekko even more impressive. Stone made the rounds promoting the film, and for once kept his trap shut when it came to making provocative statements. Fox obviously wanted him to sell a concept both liberals and conservatives could agree on: hatred for Wall Street crooks and manipulators. The film represents a much-needed commercial hit for Stone, whose last movie was the much-ridiculed "documentary" South of the Border, a celluloid wet kiss to crackpot Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. For more click here
Although the porn industry is notoriously shadowy and highly competitive, it's still a business like any other in that its success hinges on copyright protection. Some of the biggest companies in the porn industry are uniting to stave off their greatest threat to survival: the proliferation of peer-to-peer sites that allow illegal downloads. The companies have already begun suing individuals for illegally downloading copyrighted materials and are moving against the the legions of Youtube-like porn sites that have sprung up recently that allow viewers to access thousands of porn films and clips for free. The result has been a massive drop-off in paid subscriptions to legit sites that own the material. While some of this material is posted by amateur exhibitionists, there are also thousands of clips that are derived from copyrighted videos. The companies will have a pretty difficult job controlling these sites as they can reappear rather quickly. Click here for more
The Capitol Theater in New York City, 1968. (Photo: Rory Monteith collection)
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM CINEMA RETRO'S ARCHIVES
Cinema Retro subscriber Rory Monteith kindly sent us this vintage photo from the New York engagement of 2001 - along with an original newspaper advertisement. Rory fills us in on the details:
That's the Capitol Theatre, which was a huge movie palace on Broadway &
51st Street, built in 1919. In the 30s and 40s it was the flagship
movie palace for MGM. Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz opened
there among many others (you already have a photo on your site of when
The Dirty Dozen was there). I think it originally sat some five
thousand people. In 1959 it was converted to a Cinerma showplace (known
as "Loew's Capitol") with a screen that was 90' wide and over 30' high, but
unfortunately that necessitated the reduction in the number of seats to a
little over 1500 so everyone would have a good view of the screen. Planet of the Apes had its world premiere there on February 8, 1968 and 2001
followed on April 3. (The theatre was demolished in September 1968. A real
New York newspaper ad for advance ticket sales. (Photo: Rory Monteith collection)
Here's a link to a short piece showing Kubrick at the
The famed Hollywood Reporter, like its arch rival Variety, has been struggling to survive in the internet age. Studios are no longer cash cows providing revenue through trade ads and many movie fans get their daily dose of news and opinions through their favorite web sites and blogs. The Hollywood Reporter is about to get a daring makeover by ceasing publication as a daily magazine and becoming a revamped, glossy weekly. It's a bold attempt to attract a younger, hipper readership - but some are skeptical it will work. Click here for more
President Reagan used his comedic abilities to often disarm even his political foes.
If Ronald Reagan hadn't become President, he could always have successfully resumed his career in show business. We've had some witty presidents before, including the current commander-in-chief. However, no President ever had the comedic ability of Ronald Reagan. In between serving as governor of California and his election to the Oval Office, The Gipper often appeared on Dean Martin's celebrity roasts. Click here to view the future President roasting George Burns - with a few funny insults aimed in the direction of Dino himself. These were more genteel times when a politician didn't have to worry about such clips being used out of context in opponent's political ads!
John Williams represents a vanishing trend in motion pictures: the era in which the composer was regarded as an integral part of the creative team. Williams is still going strong, composing scores for major films. Over the decades he has built up an enthusiastic base of followers and admirers. They can satiate their quest for knowledge of all things pertaining to the Oscar winner by visiting the John Williams Fan Network. Click here for access
Classic vintage shows such as Get Smart get virtually no exposure on cable networks any longer. The networks are spending enormous sums to build their own branded identities through original programming.
By Lee Pfeiffer
There was a time when cable TV networks would pay big dollars for episodes of just about any retro TV series with name recognition. Nowadays, however, the cable channels are flush with cash and are intent on developing their own series, such as AMC's highly-lauded Mad Men. These cable networks are creating a persona of their own, so to speak, and are therefore far more selective about what series they show as re-runs. Some networks such as TBS stress comedy, so don't look there for many urban dramas. Conversely, sister network TNT does specialize in action series and courtroom dramas. These cable niches are leaving the major networks in a bind because the cash cow from the traditionally lucrative re-run market is rapidly being drained. For lovers of classic TV series, it's also bad news. There is little appetite on the cable networks to give prime air time to shows from the 50s and 60s - and when they are shown, they are cut to pieces to make room for more commercials. For more click here
The Huffington Post has a fun slide show of funny or embarrassing moments from Star Trek. However, it is a bit dishonest. The article refers to the photos as "stills" when in fact they are mostly frame grabs from DVDs...under that scenario, even frames from Citizen Kane could be made to look ridiculous. Click here to view
In a revealing interview conducted before he was diagnosed with the cancer that now threatens his life, Michael Douglas gave a candid interview with Men's Journal in which he blames himself for putting his career before his duties as a father.(His son Cameron was sentenced to jail for drug dealing.) Douglas says he made the same mistake his father, legendary actor Kirk Douglas, did when it came to providing a good role model as a father. Due to their preoccupation with making films back-to-back, they were largely absent from their families. For more click here
In a harsh review, New York Times film critic Joe Nocera takes on director Oliver Stone for bunting when he could have swung for a home run with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Nocera says the mercurial director missed an opporunity to take on the financial crisis head-on and instead concentrated on personal dramas with the crisis only serving as a backdrop. Stone says he had to compromise or else alienate his audience by making the film too tecnhical for mass audiences. Click here to read
Singer Eddie Fisher has died from complications from hip surgery. He was 82. Fisher was once a national singing sensation in the 1950s. He wed Debbie Reynolds and seemed poised for a successful acting career as well. However, the storybook marriage fell apart. Henceforth, Fisher would be known primarily for the more scandalous aspects of his love life. When his best friend Mike Todd was killed in a plane crash in 1958, Fisher not only comforted his widow Elizabeth Taylor, but ended up marrying her shortly thereafter- much to the horror of an outraged public that was then used to sanitized stories about the purity of entertainer's lives.In an instance of bitter irony, Fisher lost Taylor to actor Richard Burton, when the two co-starred in the 1963 epic Cleopatra. The romantic scandal was so torrid that it became front page news all over the world and made Fisher the butt of comic's jokes as the unwitting cuckolded husband. Fisher later married another sex symbol, Connie Stevens, but that marriage also ended in divorce. Fisher would remarry two more times. He attempted a comeback in the 1980s but the effort failed. He wrote two autobiographies that outraged his family and children by painting his ex-wives in unflattering ways and divulging embarrassing pillow talk. He is the father of actresses Carrie and Joely Fisher. For more click here
Screenwriter Irving Ravetch, who worked in partnership with his wife Harriet Frank Jr, has died at age 89. The couple were Oscar nominated and their screenplays included such gems as The Long Hot Summer, Hud, Hombre, and Norma Rae . Click here for NY Times obituary
Blockbuster, the video rental store chain founded in 1985, has formally filed for bankruptcy protection, a move widely anticipated by financial analysts. Once seemingly impervious to competition, Blockbuster has seen its business damaged by mail order DVD company Netflix as well as the proliferation of DVD rental machines located in supermarkets and other retail chains. The company expects to be keep stores operating while they seek approval for a plan to reorganize. Click here for more
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from 20th Century Fox concerning Michael Mann's superb version of The Last of the Mohicans:
Century Fox Home Entertainment today announced that THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
will debut on Blu-ray Disc Tuesday, Oct. 5, featuring an all-new director’s
definitive cut by acclaimed director Michael Mann (Public Enemies, Heat,
Manhunter) and new interviews with two-time Academy Award®-winning
actor Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood).
on the literary classic by James Fennimore Cooper, THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
takes place in the majestic mountains and awe-inspiring forests of war-torn
Colonial America. In the midst of a bloody battle between British, the French
and Native American allies, Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe, Twelve Monkeys, We
Were Soldiers), the aristocratic daughter of a British Colonel and her
party are captured by a group of Huron warriors. Fortunately, a group of three
Mohican trappers, including Hawkeye (Day-Lewis), a rugged frontiersman and the
adopted son of the Mohicans comes to their rescue. A passionate romance soon
blossoms between Cora and Hawkeye, but many forces test their love as they
continue to journey through the Frontier.
Last of the Mohicans release is just one
aspect of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s yearlong campaign to honor
the studio’s 75th birthday. This year the division will debut
several select fan-favorites on Blu-ray for the first time ever including Alien
Anthology, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet,
Moulin Rouge!, and The Sound of Music.
Widescreen Director’s Definitive Cut
Director Michael Mann
The Making Of
The Last of the Mohicans featuring new interviews with Daniel Day-Lewis
Days of Bondage: Connery on the set of Goldfinger in 1964
In an exclusive interview with Scotland's Daily Record, Sir Sean Connery is surprisingly verbose, discussing his life and career. He says he has been battling some minor health problems recently, but the old vim and vigor are returning- though he says his acting days are definitely over. His favorite Bond film? From Russia With Love, though the film he enjoyed making most was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Click here to read
The organization Taping for the Blind has added Playboy to the periodicals it transcribes for the visually impaired people who subscribe to the service, thus giving credence to Hugh Hefner's oft-stated opinion that the magazine has significant cultural worth. Indeed, over the decades, Playboy set the high-water mark when it came to providing some of the best literary minds through original articles and book adaptations. The magazine's legendary interviews often became news stories in the mainstream media. The new narrated version of Playboy transcribes specific articles and also describes the visual attributes of the Playmates. As Hef reads Cinema Retro, I wonder if I can pull a few strings and get a job examining the Playmates so I can accurately describe them for subscribers....
Good news for all movie fans who value serious film criticism. Roger Ebert and his wife Chaz will be producing a new movie criticism show for public TV that is set to debut in January. The show will feature dueling critics Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and Elvis Mitchell, formerly film critic of the New York Times and now with National Public Radio. Ebert will be contributing film critiques himself in special segments called "Roger's Office". Although medical problems have robbed him of the ability to speak, he will use voice enhancement technologies to share his views on current films. Best of all the famed "Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down" pioneered by Ebert and the late Gene Siskel will also be utilized. Click here for more
You've probably already heard about this, but it might be a nice
news item for the website:...
The TCM (Turner Classic Movies) cable channel will be offering Hammer
Horror classics in October. One of the best movie channels anywhere is
showing a series of Hammer films every Friday night during the Halloween
month starting October 1st with the Draculas - HORROR OF DRACULA (1958),
BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960), DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) and DRACULA
HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968). October 8th brings on THE PLAGUE OF THE
ZOMBIES (1966), THE DEVIL'S
BRIDE (1968). THE REPTILE (1966) and THE GORGON (1964). October 15th ties things up in Mummy
wrappings with the entire Hammer
Mummy series - THE MUMMY (1959), THE CURSE OF THE MOMMY'S TOMB (1964),
THE MUMMY'S SHROUD (1967) and BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1971) which
includes Cinema Retro's recent cover girl, Valerie Leon. October 22nd brings in Hammer Sci-Fi
with X - THE UNKNOWN (1956), FIVE
MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (1968), THESE ARE THE DAMNED (1963) and a non
Sci-Fi choice, THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY (1960). Finally, October 29th features the
Frankensteins - THE CURSE OF
FRANKENSTEIN (1957), THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958), FRANKENSTEIN
CREATED WOMAN (1967) and FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969). Each Friday evening session hosted by TCM's
Robert Osborne begins at
7:00pm(CST) with no commercial
interruptions. Considering TCM's track
record, all of the film prints will likely be in top notch shape and all
will be presented in their original aspect ratios where possible. What's
surprising about this news is how rarely (probably not at all) any of
these films are shown together in groups because the rights rest with
different U.S. studios, but TCM has made the hurdle. These should be fun
to see together. Hope this is good news for all 50's,
60's and even 70's Retro fans!
Retro Responds: Thanks for the head's up, Bill...we heard this was coming and were planning to promote the event on our site. Seems our readers really appreciate being alerted to great retro movie showings like these. - Lee Pfeiffer
James Bacon wrote about Hollywood legends for so many years that he became a legend himself. The well-liked and highly trusted columnist used inventive tactics to get the big gossip scoops but always treated the stars with dignity and respect. Consequently, he enjoyed a level of trust with his subjects that would be almost unimaginable today. Bacon counted Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and many other superstars among his closest friends. Bacon, who died this week at age 96, was still actively writing about the Hollywood scene almost until the end of his life. Click here for more
Heygate housing estate, a notorious south London apartment complex built in 1974, is to be demolished later this year. The projects once housed 700 residents but only 50 people now reside there. The drab Soviet-style design has been used by countless filmmakers to shoot movies and TV series there. Most recently, Michael Caine's Harry Brown presented Heygate as a virtual hell-on-earth. Clint Eastwood also filmed his new movie Hereafter at Heygate. Although the fees from filmmakers for using the property were welcomed by residents, few are saddened by the demise of the dreary estate. For more click here
Among mythical monsters, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man may come and go, but vampires are eternal. The public fascination with the fanged fiends has long been analyzed and linked to psycho-sexual desires. Writer Tory Burch looks back on famous vampires in pop culture history and celebrates their staying power. Click here to read
Noted character actor Harold Gould, who was a familiar face on TV and in major films, has died at age 86. Among his screen credits: The Sting, Harper, Love and Death and regular appearances on the TV series Rhoda and The Golden Girls. Click here for details
The bizarre public behavior of Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix has made him the center of speculation that the actor may be suffering from a mental disease or has been under the influence of drugs. Phoenix has appeared with dark glasses, a ragged beard and on the David Letterman program, was so incoherent that that the audience and host didn't know whether to laugh or call 911. Phoenix is the subject of a new critically- reviled documentary by his long time friend, actor Casey Affleck, which purports to shed light on Phoenix' behavior and the reasons behind it. The only problem is that Affleck now confesses that the film and his friend's behavior has all been a put-on and was never intended to be taken seriously. So, presumably the good news for Phoenix is that he isn't nuts. The bad news is that movie fans now resent him for participating in what may have been an elaborate hoax. Click here for more
Add New York Post TV critic Phil Mushnick to the chorus of movie fans who deplore network's editing of films they broadcast. Specifically, Mushnick hates the recent trend to all but eliminate closing credits by squeezing them into a box so tacky promotions for other shows can be shown. Adding insult to injury, the credits are also run at hyper-speed, making them virtually impossible to read. Mushnick wrote in a recent column:
"When’s the last time you read a book without knowing the author? Or attended an art exhibit, artists not identified?
Then why must we watch movies that don’t include the closing credits?
elimination or squeezing of post-movie credits — a move that years ago
began as a crass, insulting way to include stay-tuned network promotions
— has become the standard. Now even a network named the Independent
Film Channel — so artsy, so above the commercial fray — sees fit to make
the films’ credits unreadable, shrinking them to make room for IFC
played that secondary character? Who was responsible for special
effects? Wasn’t that bit part played by a young Richard Dreyfus? Who
scored the movie? Look it up on the Internet."
We're with you, Phil. However, we wonder who even watches movies on broadcast TV anymore. They are cut, bleeped, shown in pan-and-scan format and contain endless blocks of TV commercials. Recently my wife was channel surfing and came across Steve Martin's Father of the Bride, a film she likes very much. When the movie went into commercials, we counted 21 ads during the break....that's right, 21 ads. Like any sane people, we turned to another network. However, the vast majority of people are far less discriminating. I recently visiting someone who was in the midst of of watching an action movie on TBS or TNT (is there really any difference?). When I noted that the movie had been cut and censored, he simply shrugged and said, "That's okay- I don't know the name of it or who's in it, anyway." As long as this line of thinking represents public attitude, TV will be a wasteland for classic movie lovers. (TCM being the glorious exception, of course.)
Generally, the media likes to stir up fear of sharks every summer in order to spike news ratings. The "crisis" is almost always exaggerated but in one particularly tragic case, it is all too real. A boater and his friends were off the coast of Nassau when their craft developed engine problems. Two men decided to swim to shore but were not seen again. When a tiger shark was caught soon after, the remains of one of the men were found inside. Adding irony to tragedy, it all occurred off of "Jaws Beach", so-called because the 1987 film Jaws: The Revenge was filmed there. For more click here
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Tomahawk Press in London:
At last - the definitive biography of Charles Hawtrey!
From Wes Butters, Sony award winning broadcaster and author of "Kenneth
Williams Unseen", comes an extensively researched and compelling book
almost fifteen years in the making, featuring scores of exclusive interviews,
including Hawtrey's inner circle and surviving descendents, never-before-seen
photographs, and private documents and correspondence. The result is the first
definitive account of a life Hawtrey himself was keen to see evaporate into the
mist of history. Years before, Hawtrey started out as a child actor in silent
films, he was England's leading boy soprano and worked alongside a positive
who's who of the thirties and forties. He had directed films and produced West
End shows, starred in three hit TV series and was a prolific radio actor for
the BBC. Yet he was never content and spent his life desperately searching for
stardom and success, which, in his own deluded way of thinking, always failed
to live up to expectations. Like the character we see on the screen, Hawtrey
never grew up. Egged on by his mentally-ill mother, he disowned the rest of his
family, embarrassed by a background that included workhouses and illegitimacy.
Instead, he declared himself the son of Sir Charles Hawtrey, an illustrious
theatrical actor and Noel Coward's mentor. By the time the Carry Ons got going,
Hawtrey was well and truly typecast as a 'funny fella with glasses' and his bid
to be taken seriously was over. He wasn't the least bit interested in his
reputation or leaving a legacy, growing old disgracefully in Deal, the Kent
seaside town he lived in for the last twenty years of his life: collapsing in
pubs; swearing at autograph-hunting children; and, taking home teenage rent
boys (one of whom set fire to Hawtrey's cottage, with Hawtrey still inside it).
In 1988, doctors gave him a life or death choice to amputate both his legs.
Hawtrey refused, believing a transplant of pig's veins would save him, but he
died a month later. Nine people were at his funeral. Wes Butters' Radio 4
documentary on Charles Hawtrey will air in May. This long-awaited book gives
the whole story!
For those of you who have been kept awake nights trying to think of film titles that include the name of the elements, you can rest easy. Writers Nick Thomas and Dina Taarea, both academics at Auburn University in Alabama, have published an essay that incorporates those elements you used to dread studying in high school with their correlation to the movie industry. Click here to read- and be educated!
Something did get between Brooke Shields and her Calvins: college. The brainy beauty's thesis statement can be read on-line.
Reader Alan Wood alerts us about the web site he is affiliated with, www.onlinecolleges.net. Alan draws our attention to a rather unusual aspect of celebrity cultures: thesis statements written by celebrities. That's right, folks, not every Hollywood personality thinks that Pearl Harbor was a lounge singer. Click here to read some of the more memorable thesis statements.
Our final issue of Season 6 has now been mailed to subscribers worldwide, and the general feeling is that it's one of our best yet.
Giblin offers an extensive, in-depth tribute to Alfred Hitchcock's
Psycho to commemorate the film's 50th anniversary. He shares
little-known facts about the movie and also examines its legacy,
including the sequels.
Matthew Field offers part one of his
recent interview with director Lewis Gilbert, who discusses his war
movies such as Sink the Bismarck! and The 7th Dawn.
Dean Brierly's ass-kicking interview with ass-kicking Blaxploitation legend Fred ("The Hammer") Williamson
of Cinema Retro's Movie Magic Tour of England: Richard Johnson joins us
at the mansion seen in The Haunting and we catch up with Sir Roger
Moore, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Richard Kiel and George Lazenby at a
major London James Bond event.
Howard Hughes' special tribute to the life and career of Lee Van Cleef
Gareth Owen's unpublished interview with screen legend Sir John Mills
Ian Brown interviews Roger Corman and analyzes his film adaptations of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe that starred Vincent Price
Tom Lisanti celebrates the cult B movie Once You Kiss and Stranger and star Carol Lynley shares her memories of the film.
Lee Pfeiffer looks back at the British film noir crime movie Never Let Go starring Peter Sellers in a rare dramatic role.
Dave Worrall tracks down the film locations from the British serials based on the Famous Five stories
Raymond Benson reveals his choices for the best films of 1977
Rare unpublished photos from the Suzy Kendall/Dudley Moore groovy comedy hit "30 is a dangerous age, Cynthia..."
plus the usual extensive reviews of soundtracks, DVDs and movie books.
All subscriptions to Cinema Retro begin and end with the same issue. This is the last issue of season #6. If you would like to subscribe, click here for information or click here to subscribe directly through our affiliate store on Ebay.You will receive issues 16, 17 and 18 with free postage in the USA, Canada and the UK.
If you are a current subscriber, you will receive a renewal notice with issue #18. Please renew your subscription ASAP so you won't miss any of the excitement in season 7.
It's one of those rare occasions where we feel justified to briefly deviate from legitimate news about the world of entertainment to bring you something out of left field. You may have seen this video, which has gone viral and made an obscure politician the butt of international jokes. A man named Phil Davison was seeking the Republican nomination for Treasurer of Stark County, Ohio. Normally, this would not have been of any interest to anyone, including most people who live in Stark County, Ohio. Davison followed procedure by showing up before a board of commissioners to plead his case for why he should be the nominee. What followed will rank alongside speeches give by JFK and Churchill, at least in terms of getting wide exposure. (It received prominent coverage in London's Daily Mail!) From the moment Davison begins speaking, he is practically frothing at the mouth and soon he is nervously darting around the room while screaming his qualifications for office. You would be forgiven if you thought it was Chris Farley in one those old Saturday Night Live sketches in which he played an over-the-top motivational speaker. The video is so hilarious that it's been carried as a news story on main stream network broadcasts. If you're a Republican who wants to fight back against criticisms that your party is increasingly catering to the tin foil hat crowd, you can take heart from the fact that Davison did not get the nomination. However, if they ever decide to make Paddy Chayefsky's Network into a TV series, we think we have a pretty good case for casting Davison as Howard Beale. Click here to revel in his glorious speech.
Roger Craig, a contestant on the quiz show Jeopardy!, won a record one day sum of $77,000 when he answered a question pertaining to a classic movie. The show remains about the only quiz program left that honors brains and knowledge in an era in which even some political candidates have launched successful careers by celebrating their personal ignorance of history and world affairs. Click here for details
The fabled Mansion House at Pinewood houses administrative offices and dining rooms and a legendary pub. It was also seen as SPECTRE HQ in the 007 classic From Russia With Love.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Pinewood Studios, the legendary home base of the James Bond movies, is planning a massive expansion project that would virtually double the size of the studio. The plan has been in the works for years and has run into local opposition from groups that claim the expansion would devastate the countryside area the studio resides in on the outskirts of London. Because it is a relatively small country, England has always been sensitive about preserving its landscapes and historical heritage. Major construction projects are far more difficult to get approval for than they are in the USA. Pinewood is awaiting a key decision as to whether their plans will finally be approved. The studio argues that the expansion will be an economic boom to the country as more Hollywood studios and production companies will have inducements to film there. Click here to read The Hollywood Reporter's interview with Pinewood Shepperton CEO Ivan Dunleavy.
A view to a thrill may result in an infected PC thanks to a new insidious worm.
The BBC reports that a malicious worm has been incorporated into a scam E mail that promises the recipient access to free on-line sex films. Sophisticated readers realize that any such E mail has as much validity as those "exclusive" offers from African princes to give you a map to a hidden fortune in return for your banking information. However, millions of people routinely fall for these scams and this one manages to replicate itself by using addresses from the victim's E mail address book. We can't prove it, but we'll bet this problem is probably especially rampant on the computers of elected officials. Click here for more
The superb classic movies web site www.in70mm.com presents film music historian Jeffrey Dane's comprehensive look at the life and career of Dimitri Tiomkin, who scores enhanced such films as The High and the Mighty, The Guns of Navarone and John Wayne's The Alamo. Click here to read
Kevin McCarthy, the distinguished actor who starred in director Don Siegel's 1950s sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, has died at age 96. McCarthy was, until recently, still a regular present at film industry events. With his white hair and dignified manner of speech, he often played men of great stature. However, Body Snatchers afforded him screen screen immortality as the courageous small town doctor who tries to combat aliens who are taking over the bodies of earthlings. McCarthy also had a memorable cameo in Philip Kaufman's excellent 1978 remake of the film. For more on his remarkable career, click here. (See Cinema Retro issue #4 for coverage of McCarthy and Clint Eastwood's joint appearance at a Don Siegel tribute)
Entertainment writer Laurie Boeder alerts us to the fact that the New York City apartment that Katharine Hepburn kept for 60 years is now available for rent - assuming you have a spare $27,500 every month. (They had been asking $30,000 per month, but hey, times are tough and they're just going to have to tighten their belts a bit.) For more click here
Years before Eastwood played a spy in The Eiger Sanction, he was offered the role of James Bond by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.
Clint Eastwood says he was offered the role of James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service after Sean Connery departed the series. However, he declined because he felt the role was too associated with Connery. George Lazenby took the part for the film. In 1978, Eastwood was also offered the role of Superman, which ultimately went to Christopher Reeve after he declined. Proof once again that Eastwood, like Dirty Harry, adheres to the adage that "a man's got to know his limitations." For more click here
The esteemed French film director Claude Chabrol has died at age 80. A contemporary of Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Eric Rohmer, Chabrol began his career as a film critic and movie publicist before becoming one of the pioneers in the New Wave of European cinema in the 50s and 60s. He worked continuously until his death. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Chabrol “was a great cineaste and showed humor and truculence, both in his films and in his life.” Click here to read New York Times critic David Kehr's overview of his career.
Clint Eastwood is unveiling his new supernatural drama Hereafter at the Toronto and New York Film Festivals. The film stars Matt Damon as a psychic who comes to resent his gift to see into the afterlife. Click here to watch trailer.
Last Sunday night I had the pleasure of attending The Big Picture- A Celebration of 75 Years
of 20th Century Fox at the famed Hollywood Bowl. Turner Classic
Movies host Robert Osborne did the honors, introducing us to various clips from
Fox’s great library.The LA Philharmonic
conductor David Newman, son of the legendary music composer Alfred Newman and a
noted composer himself, re-lived the magic of the great Fox film scores,
delighting the 15,000 or so fans that attended the two-hour event.There were plenty of screens constructed to
allow the audience to enjoy the film segments, though each clip was badly cued
with a blank screen and an anxious orchestra was forced to poise for an anxious
30 seconds in between scenes.I thought
the opening well-edited montage of some 175 movie clips was by far the best
part of the evening.
I can well imagine the pride David Newman must have
felt when conducting from the same music sheets his father had once
utilized.The scores ranged from was
from such classics as Zorro, How Green
Was My Valley, Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing to the world famous Fox
fanfare itself. There were also scores
of David Raksin for Laura, Jerry
Goldsmith’s Planet Of The Apes and
James Horner’s themes for Avatar.It was quite a treat to see a live orchestra
play such memorable music. Surprisingly, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s extensive
Fox legacy was mentioned only briefly in the concluding Sound Of Music salute.Fifteen minutes was devoted solely to the climax of Avatar, making for a not particularly well-proportioned sampling of
the Fox studio sound.In the aggregate,
my main complaint was that the evening should have been longer to accommodate
so many great Fox scores that were left unrepresented.
There were a number of ironies about the evening. No
one from Fox officially attended (or at least was publicly introduced).
Likewise, no former Fox celebrities or veteran employees were present to lend a
hand in toasting a studio that gave Hollywood its very voice through the
invention of sound-on film, otherwise known as Movietone.It would have made the evening far more
special if it had been arranged for someone from Fox to address the audience. One
of the other ironies is that the evening was indirectly sponsored through
Warner Brothers, which owns Turner Classic Movies, rather strange since Warner’s
own sound system Vitaphone was replaced by that of Fox. The Warners-Fox
relationship had another historic precedent when the two studios collaborated
on producing Irwin Allen’s 1974 blockbuster The
Towering Inferno, which marked the first production to be co-produced by
rival studios.On behalf of all retro
movie lovers, I’ll offer a “Here’s looking at you” salute to TCM for making the
effort to commemorate the 75th anniversary of this great studio.
We were saddened to hear that our friends at Movie Grooves, one of the UK's best sources for rare film soundtracks, is going out of business. There are precious few companies that specialize in film scores and Movie Grooves proved to be a terrific source for retro film fans worldwide. We wish them the best. Here is the statement sent by E mail from Movie Grooves:
We're sorry to announce that Movie Grooves will shortly
be closing down - for ever.
IMPORTANT: All pending
orders will be fulfilled before we close.
Please don't cancel any pending
orders or payments. We know that some of you are waiting for Tootsie and Outland
(and items you may have ordered whilst ordering those) and they WILL be sent to
you in due course. Tootsie and Outland are being held by our overseas supplier
and will be shipped to us shortly.
We will no longer be stocking or
taking pre-orders on any new or forthcoming releases or back catalogue items and
we are no longer selling any items full stop (or period, as
they say in the USA).
Movie Grooves is closing because I feel that it's
time for me to move on and do something different with my life. The business has
changed slightly to when I started out and, of course, the global financial
situation - whilst not being a direct reason for closing down - has affected
trading conditions and contributed to me making the decision to close. Yes,
there's a sadness at closing, but I know it's the right decision so I also have
an excitement at what possibilities the future holds (schmaltzy, but
I've had a great eight years or so running Movie Grooves. Movie
Grooves was something that had its gestation years and years ago with my love of
60s and 70s horror, cult and b-movies which then got me into the soundtracks
from those movies which then developed into a successful business during which
time I had the pleasure to meet some great people, gain some new friends and
also attend some fantastic related events. I even had a crack at DJing a few
times in clubs and also on the radio (thanks Jonny!) which was so much fun. I
also had the experience of running a successful business selling products I
loved and that provided a service to many like-minded and friendly people all
around the world.
I hope that I offered a good level of service -
something that was high on my list of priorities when starting out. And I hope
that every customer took pleasure from the CDs and LPs (and DVDs) that they
purchased from Movie Grooves over the years.
Many thanks to each and
every customer for your business and especially to the loyal band of regulars
(you know who you are!) - thanks!
All that's left to say is that as a
final send-off I'll be playing a selection of my favourite soundtrack/library
tracks on Jonny Trunk's 'OST' Radio show on Resonance FM on Saturday 25th
September from 4.30pm - 6.30pm UK time. I may be having a few drinks throughout,
hopefully lots of laughs and perhaps at points even crying like a small child so
it could be quite a funny/harrowing/interesting listen.
If you live in
London you can listen on 104.4 FM or if you live elsewhere on the planet and
have an internet connection you can listen live at http://resonancefm.com/listen - put it in your diary
For old times sake I'll probably be running a silly competition so
you could even win a few CDs, LPs or DVDs.