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