Paul Hogan, the affable Australian star of the mega-hit 1986 comedy Crocodile Dundee, has been barred from leaving Australia by government officials who say he owes tax money on his earnings from the film. Hogan has been disputing charges for years that he used off-shore bank accounts to illegally hide his profits from the film. Although Hogan has largely faded from view in America, the 70 year-old remains an iconic personality in Australia. For more click here
Critic Scott Mendelson argues that, in retrospect, Chuck Norris' films don't seem that impressive any more. Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer argues that they didn't seem that impress way-back-when, either.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Film critic Scott Mendelson argues that the action movies our youth are often glorified in our minds. As Mendelson obviously came of age in the 1980s, the examples he cites refer to the likes of Arnold, Stallone and Chuck Norris. He makes a poignant case that, viewed without nostalgia, these films aren't nearly as good as many thought they were during their initial release. He's right- but for those of us who grew up prior to that decade, I can say without gloating that they didn't look that good to us even at the time of their initial release. I enjoyed these grunt-and-groan action films in the day, but I was always completely aware that The Delta Force was no Dirty Dozen. Mendelson generalizes that most older action films haven't aged well, but his frame of reference seems to start and stop with the 1980s. I politely suggest he watch some of the WWII and tough cop movies of the 1960s and 1970s, for example, and he will see that many of these hold up as well as ever. For more click here
In the course of editing Cinema Retro magazine, I've met countless actors and filmmakers- many of them true legends. While each encounter is a memorable and cherished moment, one does get a bit jaded over time and you tend to adapt an attitude that "it's all in a day's work." However, while in London for Cinema Retro's recent Movie Magic Tour of British film locations, Dave Worrall and I were invited back stage at the London Film Museum to meet Ray Harryhausen. The special effects genius and his friend and biographer Tony Dalton were about to engage in an interview before a packed auditorium. Although Ray has been a contributor to Cinema Retro and allowed us access to his personal archives of priceless film props, I had never met the man. Making the occasion even more special was his impromptu reunion with actresses Caroline Munro and Honor Blackman. I was fully aware I was observing a wonderful bit of movie history. Blackman played the Greek goddess Hera in Harryhausen's landmark 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts. As we all chatted, I recalled seeing the movie for the first time and the lasting impression it has had on me. Jason was not particularly successful at the box-office compared to Harryhausen's trademark monster movies, but it has grown in stature and seems to have inspired an entire generation of younger movie directors and special effects experts.
Sony has finally done justice to the movie with a superb Blu-ray release. Harryhausen, who is now 90 but as spry as ever, is all over the special edition in both new and previously-released bonus features. Harryhausen's mastery of stop-motion animation required the kind of patience and skill that few could imagine in this era of overblown CGI-stuffed action film monstrosities. While there is no denying today's animated features are wonderful in their own unique way, there is nothing comparable to Harryhausen's achievements. If you don't understand why, the special features on the Blu-ray will illuminate the subject for you. In essence, every second of film required dozens of minor movements of the model figures Harryhausen created. It's a craft that still exists today, but barely. The film itself impresses more today than it did in 1963, with virtually every scene transfixed in one's memory from the playful attitudes of the gods, who use humans are pawns in their games, to the extravagant action sequences highlighted by the legendary battle with the skeleton army. If there is a weak aspect to the movie it is the casting of Todd Armstrong as Jason. Although physically appropriate for the role, Armstrong is the victim of some bad dubbing that distracts from his performance. On the other side of the coin, Nigel Green is wonderful as Hercules, playing the part in a far more down-to-earth manner than previous screen incarnations.