released to tie-in with the new big Hollywood 2011 version of The Green Hornet, this soundtrack CD
released by Harkit Records in England
features the music from the original Sixties TV show starring Van Williams and
Bruce Lee. The series, which was produced by William Dozier, the man behind the
hit show Batman, was originally
intended to fill a one-hour time slot, but was eventually aired by Fox as 26
half-hour episodes. Made with the same flair and quality as Batman, The Green Hornet failed to grab the audience’s attention in the
same way the caped crusader did. This was due, in part, to the fact that it
wasn’t so “comic bookish” in its approach, and didn’t have such crazy villains
as its predecessor. That said, the show boasted ‘Black Beauty’, the Hornet’s gadget-laden
car designed by Dean Jeffries, some excellent plot lines, and the talents of
the then unknown martial arts expert, Bruce Lee. Although not a hit back in
1966, the show has a cult following today.
‘Big Band’ jazz-inspired score was by Billy May, who was also responsible for
the TV shows The Mod Squad, Emergency! and C.H.I.P.S. May worked closely with Al Hirt, the renowned trumpeter,
adapting the Rimsky-Korsakov piece ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ as the Green
Hornet’s theme. This album, which has been available before, comes with sixteen
vibrant musical tracks and now includes an excerpt from the original 1940’s
“Hit and Run” episode from ‘The Green Hornet’ radio show, and a complete
specially adapted episode: “The Canine Culprit”, narrated by Jackson Beck.
is a nice addition to those who love TV shows of the era. Good to see Retro’s
very own Martin Gainsford responsible for writing the very informative liner
An iconic long barreled air pistol that was used to promote the James Bond film From Russia With Love sold for $439,000 at a Christies auction in London. Ironically, the gun was never used in the film. Legend has it that when Sean Connery arrived for the photo shoot, it was discovered that no one brought a prop Walther that was to be utilized. Instead, the air gun was substituted and went on to become featured in the film's ad campaign. The photos have been seen countless times over the decades. In other Chrities auction news, an original Darth Vader costume failed to sell. For more click here
Not even Dr. Octopus could have contrived this many problems for Spiderman. At the Sunday opening of the long-awaited $65 million Spidey musical, technical problems plagued the production and it had to be halted five times - and at one point the web-spinning super hero was left dangling helplessly above the stage! For more click here
Irvin Kershner, who directed The Empire Strikes Back, has died at age 87. Many Star Wars fans consider this to be the high point of the series and bemoan the fact that Kershner never directed another film in the franchise. Kershner, who also dabbled in acting, made relatively few films for a man with a resume extending back to the 1950s. Among his movies: Up the Sandbox, The Eyes of Laura Mars, Robocop 2, Return of a Man Called Horse, A Fine Madness, The Luck of Ginger Coffee and The Flim-Flam Man. In 1983 he also directed the troubled James Bond remake of Thunderball titled Never Say Never Again which brought Sean Connery back to the role of 007 for one last time after a 12 year absence. For more and to view trailers for NSNA and Empire, as well as a link to a recent Vanity Fair interview with Kershner, click here
Oscar winner Adrien Brody has sued the producers of the 2008 European thriller Giallo in order to collect $2 million he has yet to be paid for starring in film. A judge has issued an injunction banning Brody's image from being used to promote the DVD sales of the film until he receives the compensation he is entitled to. Brody said he filed the lawsuit reluctantly but feels he has been taken advantage of. Click here for more
Actor Leslie Nielsen, who improbably morphed from B-level dramatic leading man to a comedy acting legend, has died from complications with pneumonia at age 84. A native Canadian, Nielson was the nephew of silent screen star Jean Hersholt, for whom the honorary Oscar award was named. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Nielsen said, "I did learn very early that when I would mention my uncle, people would look at me as if I were the biggest liar in the world. Then I would take them home and show them 8-by-10 glossies, and things changed quite drastically. So I began to think that maybe this acting business was not a bad idea, much as I was very shy about it and certainly without courage regarding it. My uncle died not too long after I was in a position to know him. I regret that I had not a chance to know him better." He dabbled with being a disc jockey before moving to New York to attend The Actor's Studio. He made his TV debut in a 1948 drama opposite Charlton Heston, who was also a star on the rise.
With his distinguished good looks and baritone voice, Nielsen found work regularly on TV and in feature films. He starred in the Disney mini series Swamp Fox. His most prestigious role as a leading man early in his career was as the star of the MGM sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet. He seemed destined to be a supporting player in B-level movies, though he did land parts in quality productions such as The Poseidon Adventure and Nuts. Nielsen had the good fortune to be cast as a key player in the 1980 disaster film spoof Airplane! The film was a blockbuster, and like fellow dramatic actors who were in the cast such as Robert Stack and Lloyd Bridges, Nielsen soon found himself a popular favorite in comedies. His 1982 TV series Police Squad was far ahead of its time. Although canceled after only six episodes, it is regarded as a cult classic today. More importantly, it inspired the series of Naked Gun films that made Nielsen a bonafide leading man with box-office clout. In the ensuing years, Nielsen never equaled the success of those films, but worked consistently, generally in outrageous comedies. He wrote a fictional, comedic "autobiography", The Naked Truth. He was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada's Walk of Fame. For more click here
Once again an absurd and amusing story inspires us to deviate from our core news coverage of the entertainment world. Check out this San Diego newscast's opening minute. It's only 60 seconds, but the number of mishaps and gaffes would make you think the show was produced by Will Ferrell and Jerry Lewis! Click here to view
If you want your inner Man With No Name to finally come out of the closet, trying a shopping spree at Spaghetti Western Replicas, which offers an endless array of facsimile clothing, hats, gun belts and other essentials based on your favorite Western movies. (Half-chewed, cheap stogie cigars are not yet available, however) Click here to access.
Brosnan as James Bond in the 2002 film Die Another Day
Pierce Brosnan has partnered with Sony to develop a TV series based on a private investigator who is often called upon to solve international crimes. Brosnan will executive producer the series and will play a supporting role, but not the lead character. Click here for more
Vegas legend Wayne Newton and his wife are contemplating turning their lavish home into a Graceland style museum that is open to the public. Newton envisions he will even perform on certain days to entertain the paid visitors. Many of the Newton's neighbors are not saying "Danke Schoen", however. They fear that the serenity of their community will be disrupted by a carnival-like atmosphere. Newton's penchant for high living is legendary, even if his taste sometimes makes Liberace look like Cary Grant. Newton's plans are also thought of as tasteless by many due to the fact that he has been accused of dodging debts to everyone from small businessmen to the IRS. Newton claims many of these accusations are false. Click here for details
It's been quite a few years since the legendary swashbuckler The Scarlet Pimpernel graced the big screen. Most memorably, he was played by Leslie Howard in the 1934 film version of Baroness Orczy's classic novel. The Pimpernel is the mysterious alter-ego of 18th century English nobleman Sir Percy Blakeney, who pretends to be a cowardly elitist by day to cover his nighttime activities as a heroic fighter for justice. Inspired the recent success of Sherlock Holmes on the screen, the producers hope to make the Pimpernel equally relevant to modern audiences. The film will boast many major stars in cameo roles. Click here for more
The new retro-themed book Let's Bring Back pays tribute to the people and things that evoke a bygone era of class and style. Included is a section on screen icon Marlene Dietrich, who defied Hitler to become an even greater international star beyond Germany's borders. Click here for some interesting facts about her from the book.
That was the famously economical answer the great Italian
neo-realist screenwriter, Suso Cecchi d’Amico, gave when asked what advice she
had for those aspiring to write films. Pay attention to the way people speak
and act, and write it down, she seemed to be suggesting. It’s not in our
daydreams where we’re going to find that convincing bit of dialogue or key to a
character’s motivation. It’s in daily life, which holds more rich material than
any of us could ever use.
The Bicycle Thief (‘48), Rocco and His Brothers (‘60) The Leopard
(‘63), Senso (‘54), Violent Summer (‘59) and Jesus of Nazareth
(TV, ‘77) are only a handful of the powerful films she wrote or contributed to,
among more than 100 carrying her name.
Most cited for her career-long collaboration with director
and close friend Luchino Visconti, with whom she worked on five films,
including 1963’s The Leopard starring Burt Lancaster, she also held her
own alongside such powerful directorial egos as Antonioni, De Sica, Monicelli
“Scrivere Il Cinema,” (Writing Film), is a six-day tribute
to Cecchi d’Amico, organized by Richard Peña, director of the Film Society of
Lincoln Center, which kicks off November 26th and runs through December 1st at
The Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center.
I spoke recently to Peña about the significance of Suso
Cecchi d’Amico’s contributions to cinema and the relative rarity of a tribute
organized around a screenwriter:
Cinema Retro: A tribute organized around a screenwriter
is fairly rare. Why did you choose this specific screenwriter for a tribute?
Richard Pena: Perhaps, but Suso was an
extraordinarily special screenwriter. Having recently done a lot of work on
Italian cinema, I was startled to see how often her name figured in the credits
of so many masterworks. She was an extraordinary talent, and her passing is a
loss for all who love film.
CR: Do you think her career was overshadowed by her
collaboration with such auteurist names in Italian cinema, such as Visconti,
Monicelli, et al? It seems as though a woman would have a hard time holding her
own against such huge egos?
RP: My sense is that this had as much
to do with the contemporary lionization of film directors as it did plain old
sexism. From what I've heard about her, she held her own with the boys.
CR: Can you identify a common thread or characteristic
style that belongs to Cecchi d’Amico’s dialogue or characterizations?
RP:With over 100
screenplays to her credit, that becomes difficult; moreover, I've seen at best
50% of them. I think she often likes to focus on a character who takes a
decisive action and then study the consequences of that action on those around
Since retiring from the role of James Bond following his second film as 007, Licence to Kill in 1989, Timothy Dalton has kept a relatively low profile, rarely discussing the series or his successors. Now Dalton has opened up and given his candid assement of the new Bond era- and some of the missteps that prevented him from bringing a harder edge to the character. Click here to read
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVES
By Lee Pfeiffer
If you haven't caught up with Michael Caine as Harry Brown yet, the Sony DVD release will allow you to do so. It's time well spent. At an age where most thespians are comfortably retired, Caine is not only a viable leading man, but a viable leading man in action films. Harry Brown was released in the UK last year and generated decent reviews and business, but it received a blink-and-you'll-miss-it run in the USA early this year. The film consciously (some might say pretentiously) strives to bring Caine back to the turf of one of his greatest films: the gritty 1971 crime classic Get Carter. This film isn't of that caliber, but it represents Caine's strongest role in years. He plays a quiet pensioner eeking out an existence in a London housing project that is beset with violence and terrorized by omnipresent street gangs. In the early part of the film, Harry's beloved wife of many years dies from an illness. Then his best friend is murdered by the thugs. You don't have to be the Amazing Kreskin to predict what happens next. Caine takes it upon himself to avenge his friend's death and utilizes his training as a Royal Marine (he fought in Korea) to reawaken his savage instincts. Slowly and methodically, he hunts down the main culprits and dispenses his own brand of justice.
If this sounds like a geriatric Death Wish, it is. However, the film is very moving on certain levels, as we watch this likeable man of peace's world crumble around him. His trail of vengeance is presented logically and he doesn't become a superman in the process. The film is ably directed by Daniel Barber, who makes the most of the locations at London's notoriously dreary Heygate Estate, which has since been scheduled for demolition. Caine is aided by a fine supporting cast, with Emily Mortner especially good as a detective who is assigned to stop the vigilante killings. She suspects Caine is the killer, but can't help sympathizing with him. The DVD features a commentary track with Caine and Barber, as well as a selection of deleted scenes.
It's rare that the film industry affords an actor Caine's age a major leading role. Harry Brown may not be a classic, but it's good enough to rise above virtually every other contemporary action movie.
Charlton Heston and Kim Hunter in Planet of the Apes: among poll responders choices for films that are superior to the source novel.
In answer to the old cliche that virtually every movie is inferior to the source novel it is based on, The Huffington Post is conducting a poll of readers to find out what movies are actually better than the books they are derived from. Click here for the full list and see if you agree
Here's a real-life mystery with Hollywood sci-fi overtones. In 1980, a team of U.S. Air Force men were sent into wooded areas near an American airbase in Britain to investigate reports of strange lights. Newly-released tapes recorded by the airmen reveal they witnessed the lights as well as inexplicable damage to the forest - and felt that whatever was causing the lights was moving toward them, as the forest became deathly still. The Telegraph of Britain reported the following regarding analysis of the tapes:
It is clear that they thought they were witnessing some type of phenomena, with descriptions of "strange" lights in sky and odd damage to pine trees 15ft to 18ft off the ground.
One of the Americans is heard to say: "I hear very strange sounds of farmers - barnyard animals. They're very, very active, making a lot of noise.
"Straight ahead. There it is again. Straight ahead. What is it? A strange small red light.
"It looks maybe half a mile further ahead. Go back to the edge of the clearing, see if we can get a look at it... the animals have gone quiet now... It is deathly calm."
He adds in hushed tones: "There is no doubt about it - it is a strange flashing red light ahead.
"I saw a yellow tinge in it too. Weird. It's coming this way. It's definitely coming this way.
"There is no doubt about it. This is weird."
The mystery has never been solved. For the full article click here
Actress Ingrid Pitt, whose dramatic life eclipsed any adventure she played on screen, has died at age 73. Ingrid was in frail health in recent years, but was so devoted to her fans that she collapsed and died on a London street while attempting to attend a dinner being held in her honor. Ingrid's life may seem like Hollywood fiction, but it was all too real. Born in Nazi occupied Poland, Ingrid and her parents were interred in a concentration camp. She was only five years old but managed to survive the war, despite the Nazi practice of generally exterminating young children. After the war, Ingrid rebelled against a new repression: the Communist government which took power in Eastern Europe. On the very night she was to make her stage debut, she seized a daring opportunity to flee the country to England. She almost drowned in the process, but managed to make London her new home. Over the decades, she successfully developed her acting career, appearing in such films as Where Eagles Dare, The Wicker Man and several Hammer horror film cult classics.
Always pleasant and chatty, Ingrid was a popular fixture on the autograph show circuit and developed a loyal fan base across the world. She also wrote an autobiography and helped author Bobb Cott with his just-released book, Ingrid Pitt: Queen of Horror- The Complete Career. On a personal note, Cinema Retro staffers mourn Ingrid's passing. Although we were not close friends, she was a major supporter of the magazine and had recently begun submitting articles for what would have become a regular column for our web site. As recently as two weeks ago, I received an E mail from her about future articles she wanted to contribute. Dave Worrall and I would often have chance meetings with her on the social circuit in London and her wonderful sense of humor and wit never failed to endear her to us all the more. We join movie fans worldwide in mourning her passing. For more click here
Found a poster dated 1967- the double bill Hammer Films' The Projected Man and Island of Terror- great artwork. When these two films where released in the U.S. it was through Universal Pictures. Hope you can use the image.
- William Burge
Retro Update:- I admit I also thought these were Hammer productions, but several readers- including the esteemed Joe Dante- have been kind enough to point out that the films were not from Hammer. Some of us automatically equate any horror film with Cushing from that era as a Hammer production, so thanks to all for setting us straight. Lee Pfeiffer
The U.N.C.L.E. film project may no longer be "up in the air" with George Clooney now in talks to star as Napoleon Solo.
As reported previously, director Steven Soderbergh is trying to break the curse that has thwarted every attempt to bring The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to the big screen. The project is heating up with the BBC reporting that George Clooney, Soderbergh's frequent collaborator, is in talks to star as Napoleon Solo, the role made famous by Robert Vaughn. Even better is the news that Soderbergh intends to keep the setting during the Cold War period of the 1960s. For more click here
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 1 has smashed the North American opening weekend gross for the series, bringing in $125 million. It also made claim to being the sixth biggest opening weekend in North American film history. Click here for more
I know you're always looking for images of vintage movie marquees,
well here's something a little different. Several weeks ago I came across
on my satellite guide the 1972 movie The
Honkers on the Encore Westerns Channel. I'd never seen it
before but knew it was one of three "rodeo"
westerns that came out in '72, the others being J.W. Coop and Junior Bonner
-- must have been something in the air back then -- and since it starred
James Coburn, I had to check it out. I recorded it on my DVR. In
the movie, which was shot in late summer/early fall 1971 in Carlsbad, NM,
Coburn's character drives to the local Bijou to look for his girlfriend who
works there, arriving too late to pick her up. Anyway, they must have
simply shot at Carlsbad's local cinema, recording whatever was playing there at
the time, which you'll see from this screen capture was the 1971 Oliver
Reed/Candice Bergen bomb The Hunting
Party, but what's cool is check out the 1-sheet poster seen in front of
Retro Responds: Great catch, Rory. I hate to say it but this is one Coburn film I've never seen, so I'll have to track it down. You bring up a good point about the inexplicable abundance of films in 1972 about aging rodeo riders. They all received good reviews but died at the box-office probably because they flooded the market- and the leading men, who were known for their action films, were cast as somber, realistic characters. By the way, most Clint Eastwood fans realize that you can see the marquee with Play Misty For Me on it in the sequence in Dirty Harry in which Eastwood thwarts the bank robbers. -Lee Pfeiffer
With the 25th anniversary DVD of Back to the Future in release through Universal, actress Lea Thompson spoke to the New York Times about her role in the original film and its sequels, playing the goody-two-shoes 1950s teenager who confronts her own offspring before he is born.
With the recent revelation that actor Eric Stoltz had originally been cast in Forrest Gump only to be replaced by Tom Hanks, the Huffington Post was inspired to create a fantasy universe in which Stoltz was replaced in other prominent films. Click here to view
It’s hard to believe the now world-famous British television show The Avengers is 50 years old. To celebrate this event Titan Books have published a book as a tribute to the show that defined Sixties television and raised the bar for other British shows to follow. Written by Marcus Hearn (The Art Of Hammer, Hammer Glamour and The Hammer Story – the latter with Alan Barnes), with a foreword by Steed himself – the legendary Patrick Macnee, this large format hardback book is packed with newly discovered photographs and exclusive memories from the cast and crew. Although 50 years old, the show was so unique that it has yet to be rivaled for its wit, adventure and style. It became a worldwide sensation, its theme tune as familiar today as ever, and was syndicated to 90 countries, including America, where it was a prime time hit. The shows are today as original as they were when first transmitted, and The Avengers has become a cult status icon of the days when TV shows were not just good, but great. As one would expect from Titan, both the design and the quality of the printing is outstanding. A must-have for fans of the show - and for those who want to be reminded just how good British TV used to be.
Film critic Nathan Rabin of the AV Club examines 15 high profile films that were critical and commercial failures, but which he thinks were deserving of a better fate. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who has a soft spot for the wonderful retro super hero flick The Rocketeer as well as Michael Cimino's overblown, over-budget, but fascinating Heaven's Gate. Click here to read
Something far more frightening than a witch is threatening Dorothy: Warners is planning a big screen remake of The Wizard of Oz.
Fans of The Wizard of Oz will hope that the Wicked Witch of the West will drop a house on Warner Brothers studio executives who are mounting a live action remake of the 1939 MGM classic. Robert Zemeckis is said to be on board as director. The plan is to follow the original script, which will lead to the inevitable questions of why a perfect film would have to be remade if there isn't a new angle. The answer is profit. The studio obviously feels that the effects-obsessed director can utilize today's CGI technology to improve on the original. Purists will be outraged, but the film will inevitably make a fortune. Click here for more
The recent discovery of a scrapbook kept by a resident of Port St. Lucie, Florida in the 1970s sheds some details on the filming of the speedboat chase in Moonraker, in which a local river "doubled" as the Amazon. Click here for details
One of special effects animation wizard George Pal's least-known films is also one of his most impressive. The Power, a 1968 MGM release, finds George Hamilton as a scientist who heads a panel investigating how much pain the human body can withstand. Ostensibly, it's for research concerning safety for astronauts, but in short order the experiments unveil a disturbing truth. Someone on the investigative team seems to have managed to harness an almost supernatural ability to thwart the experiments by killing off the scientists one-by-one. This person has found a way to manipulate the minds and thoughts of his peers and is intent on using his power for evil purposes. Hamilton finds himself in a Hitchcock-like position of being an innocent man framed for the murders. He goes on the lam with help from g.f Suzanne Pleshette as he dodges death at every turn to unravel the real killer's identity.
Unlike most George Pal productions which emphasize special effects, The Power (based on Frank M. Robinson's novel) is a literate, down-to-earth thriller with only a modicum of stop-animation work. The film is consistently engrossing and well-directed by Pal collaborator Byron Haskin. The impressive supporting cast features a wealth of familiar faces, all giving impressive performances: Michael Rennie, Arthur O'Connell, Aldo Ray, Earl Holliman, Ken Murray, Barbara Nichols, Nehemiah Persoff and Yvonne De Carlo. The movie has an increasingly eerie tone that at times suggests the atmosphere of both John Frankenheimer's Seven Days in May and Basil Dearden's The Man Who Haunted Himself. Hamilton, who was all-too-often cast as a pretty boy, does well playing a man suffering from both physical and psychological torture in his quest to clear his name. There's also plenty of retro-chic sex appeal from a wealth of glamor girls cast in supporting roles (including a bizarre screen credit that reads "Miss Beverly Hills"!). The movie also boasts an excellent score by the legendary Miklos Rosza. This one is an under-rated gem on all counts.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER DVD OR DIGITAL DOWNLOAD FROM WARNER ARCHIVE
Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh is the latest person said to be negotiating for the rights to bring a feature length film of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to be the big screen. Soderbergh isn't the first person to try to adapt the classic show which starred Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Leo G. Carroll. There have been starts and stops dating back to the 1970s. There was a 1983 reunion film done for CBS TV, Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. but all efforts since then to revive the show have failed. Complicating matters in recent years was a legal battle between an independent producer who claimed to have the vjdeo and merchandising rights to the series and Warner Home Video, which prevailed in the case and released the entire four seasons of the show on DVD. Scriptwriter Scott Z. Burns is said to be negotiating to be the screenwriter on the project, though it's unclear whether he is working in conjunction with Soderbergh. For more click here
The Hulk made his first appearance as a Marvel Comics character in 1962.
CBS and Marvel Comics are planning to return The Hulk as a weekly series. A previous incarnation of the show ran on CBS between 1978-1982. The Not-So-Jolly Green Giant has also been the subject of big budget feature films and TV movies. The project is in the early stages and no talent has been officially announced as being associated with the new show. For more click here
Al Pacino has been signed to play legendary record producer Phil Spector in an HBO feature to be written and directed by David Mamet. Spector was the musical genius who was instrumental in helping some of the best known acts of the 1960s find fame through his famous "Wall of Sound" techniques. The 70 year old Spector, who was always known as much for his eccentric behavior as his talent, is serving a prison sentence for shooting actress Lana Clarkson. Click here for more
"Jack Lord, we hardly knew ye..." The current version of Hawaii 5-0 may be a ratings hit but it has nothing in common with the classic TV series of the 60s and 70s.
Click here for The Huffington Post's slideshow of the most unnecessary TV remakes of all time, ranging from Get Smart (remember that debacle starring the appropriately-named Andy Dick?) to the current incarnation of Hawaii 5-0.
John Wayne in director John Sturges' excellent 1974 detective film McQ.
Just got the new issue - as far as I'm concerned, you can double the subscription rate and publish monthly! Without a doubt, Cinema Retro is the coolest film magazine ever. I should know because I have about 10,000 of them. Here is a "Wish List" of films I'd love to read about in Cinema Retro - and you guys are probably the only ones who would consider them for articles:
The Devil's Brigade
The Dirty Harry series
Rolling Thunder (what a finale!)
March or Die
A Study in Terror and Murder By Decree - both have Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper
Keep up the good work!- Vincent Conserva
Retro responds: Vince, thanks for the kind words, but we'll refrain from doubling our subscription rate. In fact, we haven't raised the price even for postage increases since we began publishing six years ago. I have to agree, this list would appeal to virtually any of our readers. We did cover the Dirty Harry films in issue #9, but its a series we will undoubtedly revisit in the future. We are planning on features about John Wayne's two cop films, McQ and Brannigan, both of which were quite different in tone and style, but equally entertaining. Your suggestion for March or Die is particularly inspiring. Not many people have seen this marvelous French Foreign Legion adventure with Gene Hackman, Terence Hill, Max Von Sydow and Catherine Deneuve. It died back in 1977 and only had a very limited home video release. It features a climactic battle in the desert that is truly superb. Keep the suggestions coming!- Lee Pfeiffer
Former James Bond George Lazenby has finally fulfilled his plans to write his autobiography. The book, titled The Other Fella, will be released in hardback in 2012 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 007 film series. It should be quite a read. Lazenby is not known for being delicate when it comes to his relationship with legendary Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, for whom he made his only 007 film On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969. Over the decades, Lazenby has used public appearances to counter a lot of urban myths about his brief stint as Bond, including the notion that he was fired. In fact, he quit the series before the movie was even released, thinking Bond wouldn't last into the 70s. Lazenby has seen public and critical appreciation of the movie increase dramatically and, despite the awkward relationship between him and Eon Productions, which makes the Bond movies, Lazenby did accept their invitation to attend the royal premiere of Die Another Day in 2002. The event marked the 40th anniversary of the series and Lazenby joined fellow Bond actors Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton at the Albert Hall for the festivities and each actor was personally introduced to Queen Elizabeth. He told me at the after party that he was very pleased and moved by how graciously the Broccoli family treated him. Whether that new-found cordiality remains will have much to do with the contents of Lazenby's book. For more click here
The DVD label Cult Epics has compiled some rare erotica in the form of French lesbian short films from the years 1920-1960. Here is the description:
"Vintage Lesbian Erotica from 1920-1960, is a compilation of erotic films
with women only. Shot in opium dens, parks, brothels and outdoor.
Subject to spanking, flagellation, body painting, and burlesque,
sometimes surreal but always playful. A look behind the erotic curtain
of our grandmothers." The DVD is all region, which means it will play on any DVD system in the world. Also, since this retro compilation features all women, we'll be spared looking at those guys with Snidley Whiplash mustaches, wearing black socks and garters.
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVES
The Big Book of Biker Flicks by John Wooley and Michael H. Price is a long over-due tribute to the good, the bad and the ugly entries in this genre that came of age in the 1960s, though its roots can be traced back to Brando's early Fifties cult classic The Wild One. The book concentrates on 40 specific films and analyzes their merits and faults. the image of the biker chick on the cover is worth the price alone! Here is the description from Booklist:
"Wooley and Price consider the canon of the chopper epic
enthusiastically and thoroughly, mixing stills and promotional graphics
with dead-on thumbnail plot summaries, not to mention pithily noting
particular films' peculiar distinctions. Less revered and studied than
blaxploitation and smut, biker movies appeared, often at drive-ins,
throughout America in the 1960s and 1970s, inspiring one of the most
iconic sixties-culture films, Easy Rider, many of whose actors and plot wrinkles figured earlier in the likes of Hell's Angels on Wheels, The Trip and Angels Hard as They Come,
all of which Wooley and Price hail here. Besides production notes,
other, less easily accessed biker-movie information Wooley and Price
provide include such things as the names of the biker gangs and their
leaders in each movie. That Chino (Dennis Hooper) and his gang, the
Black Souls, rumbled with Darryl (Jody McCrea) and the Stompers in The Glory Stompers is the kind of niche information American culture collections shouldn't be without. Now they don't have to be. Mike Tribby"
New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis pays tribute to director Arthur Penn, who died recently but whose legacy seems assured among those who treasure classic movies. The article sheds new light on a man whose achievements were often underrated, perhaps due to his shy nature and aversion to personal publicity. From The Left Handed Gun to Bonnie and Clyde and Night Moves, Penn was as diversified as he was talented. Click here to read
Fox, in association with Tim Burton, have landed the rights to the novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, in which Honest Abe is transformed into a revenge-obsessed vigilante who hunts down the vampires who killed his mother. We're not making this up, folks. Burton will produce the pic, which had been the object of intense bidding among studios. We're saving our money to bid on the rights to Herbert Hoover: Male Prostitute. For more click here
For those of you familiar with the British television series Doctor Who, which was rebooted by the BBC and writer Russell T. Davies back in 2004, you will, no doubt, be aware of the huge contribution the music made to the series success. Composed by Murray Gold and ably assisted by conductor Ben Foster and the services of The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the score to the show has raised the bar in what one expects to hear on a TV show today. To say that Gold’s compositions are good, and perfectly suited to the show, is simply an inadequate description. His music is superb, and far superior to some of the music scores of big Hollywood productions seen on the big screen today.
Previously, Silva Screen Records have released in conjunction with the BBC, four CD’s encompassing the four series made up until 2009, with a fifth – series five – due next. However, this new release features music from the Doctor Who ‘Specials’: ‘The Next Doctor’, ‘Planet of the Dead’, ‘Waters From Mars’ and ‘The End of Time’. And, unlike the single releases, this is a 2-CD set - for the price of one. Well done Silva! There is some wonderful and masterly music on this set, with the tracks ‘Vale’, ‘The Greats of Past Time’, ‘Gallifrey’, ‘Song For Ten (reprise)’ standing out, in what is a brilliant selection of music from these shows. The music is both powerful and moving, can bring a shiver to your spine and a tear to your eyes. Gold really is a terrific and gifted composer. I wonder how long it will be before he gets the call to the big screen and the BBC won’t be able to afford his talents anymore. On a selfish note, I hope not for a long time.
Doctor Who Series 4: The Specials is currently available direct from www.silvascreen.com and Amazon and other good retail outlets.
Note: Silva have also released Series One (with ‘Rose’s Theme’ and the amazing ‘Doomsday’) and Two (which includes tracks from the specials; ‘The Christmas Invasion’ and ‘The Runaway Bride’) on a double-CD set, plus Series Three and Series Four (which includes the brilliant ‘Song of Freedom’ and ‘The Doctor’s Theme’) as single CD releases. All are highly recommended.
Actor Butch Patrick who gained fame in the 1960s by playing young Eddie Munster on The Munsters TV series, has entered rehab for what his agent termed a lifetime of substance abuse. Patrick is one of many child actors who found it difficult to cope when they fell out of favor with producers. Patrick recently moved to Philadelphia to take up with a woman who was a die-hard fan, but the relationshp broke up recently. For more click here
My first introduction to Hammer wasn’t seeing of one of their films (I wasn’t old enough), but looking at the wonderful posters that adorned the hoardings close to my home. The eye-catching posters – all painted by wonderfully skilled artists – with images of scantily-clad women and vampires and such-like monsters bursting forth were enough to both terrorize and tantalize the public. And that is exactly what they did. Audiences in their millions flocked to see these films during the Sixties and early Seventies, and it was the publicity material that was responsible in creating this horror phenomenon. The British quad poster for Hammer’s One Million Years B.C. is now an iconic image of the Sixties, and probably the most well-known film poster of all-time. It made millions for the studio and Raquel Welch became an overnight star. Hammer were the pioneers of film promotion - something only the James Bond films can claim to come close to – just.
Since I came of age to be allowed to see the Hammer films, I have been a major admirer of them. My attic is full of posters and stills, and when I was nineteen, I was lucky enough to be invited to their offices by Michael Carreras and meet Peter Cushing and Stephanie Beacham on the set of what was eventually to be released as Dracula A.D. 1972.
So it was with great pleasure when earlier in the year acclaimed Hammer historian Marcus Hearn (author of the recent best-seller Hammer Glamour) told me about his latest venture – again with Titan Books – a book devoted to the poster art of Hammer Film Productions. And what a book it is. Like his previous tome, this is large format, in hardback and beautifully designed and printed. Marcus has drawn, with the assistance of the Hammer archives and private collectors, a selection of nearly 300 examples of Hammer poster art at its best. From the Fifties through to the Seventies, a superb selection of all genres – vampires, sci-fi, drama and comedy, are represented here.
I have always been a fan of the British quad size poster, especially those designed and painted by the genius of all poster artists, Tom Chantrell. I have some in my own collection, but there are many here that are incredibly rare and some that I have never seen before. Apart from being purchased by Hammer fans and movie lovers, this book will find itself onto the shelves of advertising agencies, publicity departments and designers the world over as the quintessential reference guide to the days when the world of film poster advertising was supreme. We will never see the likes of it again.
If you only buy one film book this year, buy this.
Director Michael Mann did justice to James Fenimore Cooper's classic adventure The Last of the Mohicans through his superb 1992 film version. Mann, who specializes in contemporary crime dramas, seemed an odd choice to bring the definitive version of this story to the screen, but his passion was whetted when seeing the 1936 version as a child. That he succeeded magnificently is an understatement, yet the film has curiously never received the type of accolades it deserves. True, it was well-received by critics and was an unlikely box-office hit, but the movie was snubbed by the Oscars (it won in the only category for which it was nominated: sound.) The film should have been nominated for major awards and the fact that it was not even recognized for costume, makeup, production design or musical score is as puzzling as it is inexcusable. Fox has released the movie on Blu-ray and the transfer is simply terrific. The gorgeous cinematography of Dante Spinotti rivals Kubrick's Barry Lyndon in making every frame look like a work of art. Most impressive are the performances, with even the most minor role played to perfection. Daniel Day-Lewis, an unlikely action star, excels as the protagonist Hawkeye, a white man raised by Indians during the trying times of the French and Indian Wars. Lewis is superb, as are the supporting cast: Madeline Stowe, Wes Studi, Steven Waddington, Patrice Chereau (as a charming but deceitful Montcalm), Native American activist Russell Means and Maurice Roeves, particularly impressive as a stubborn commanding officer of a doomed British fort.
The film is set in upstate New York but was filmed in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. A new three-part making-of documentary features many of the main actors and production crew who detail the enormous task of bringing this genuine epic to the screen. Mann insisted on adherence to period detail and even had a full sized fort erected with the lumber that was cleared for filming purposes. Natural lighting was used as much as possible to replicate the look of the era. The result is a virtual walk back in time. The documentary also includes rare footage of Lewis going through military survival courses in order to enhance the authenticity of his performance. The love story is intriguing, but never slows the pace of the story and the battle sequences are magnificently staged. All of this is set to one of the great film scores of the era, courtesy of composers Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman. The Blu-ray also features a commentary track by Mann, who has incorporated sequences not seen in his original cut of the film. Some have complained that these somehow leave the movie unbalanced, but I didn't find this to be the case at all. The only criticism is a minor one: the original Fox press release said the Blu-ray would contain trailers for the film, but they don't appear to be on the finished product. In all, a great presentation of a truly great movie- one that would certainly never be brought to the screen today.
Entertainment Weekly reports that, although MGM's financial problems may be on the brink of being resolved, it will be some time before work can begin on the next James Bond film. EW says that star Daniel Craig's list of film projects will probably preclude him from working on a new 007 flick until 2014. Our opinion is: don't believe it. Although Craig has confirmed starring in three Girl With the Dragon Tattoo films, there is no indication that he is obligated to do them back-to-back. The workaholic actor would almost certainly prioritize playing Bond, as he has publicly said he is quite eager to resume the role. Our bet: no one will want to miss having a new Bond film on the market during 2012, the year that marks the 50th anniversary of the movie series - and a time that Eon Productions is sure to launch major international celebrations of the franchise. For more click here
For a more optimistic outlook on the Bond franchise, click here to read film critic Scott Mendelson's take.
Playboy is unlocking its vault of over 20 million photos. Many iconic shots from the archive will be auctioned at Christies including rare photos of Bardot and Marilyn Monroe. Many of the photos include Hugh Hefner's editorial remarks and instructions. Click here for slideshow and details.