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.
Dino De Laurentiis, whose remarkable career spanned from the glory days of post-war Italian cinema through relatively recent Hollywood blockbusters, has died at age 91. De Laurentiis' work was perhaps the most diverse of all producers, ranging from the early Fellini classics such as La Strada to film adaptations of the Hannibal Lecter thrillers. A bold visonary, De Laurentiis had many high profile hits and flops and he came close to losing his fortune through ill-advised business ventures that had nothing to do with the film industry. However, his losing streak never lasted long and he retained his status as one of the industry's most revered names. Among his films: Death Wish, King Kong (1976), Red Dragon, Nights of Cabiria, Manhunter, Ulysses, Barbarella, Mandingo, Blue Velvet and The Shootist. Click here for NY Times obituary
A&E Home Entertainment has released the entire landmark British documentary series from the 1970s The World at War as a Blu-ray set. The release contains all 26 hour-long episodes plus a vast quantity of bonus materials including outtake footage and "making of" programs. The entire set provides over 37 hours of material, though it's modestly packaged in a fairly standard DVD clamshell. The London Sunday Times once referred to the show as "Perhaps the finest historical series ever produced." Those words have not diminished with time, even in the era of Ken Burns documentaries. The program is a riveting look at all aspects of WWII from the Pacific campaign to Europe, beginning with Hitler's rise to power and the end of the Weimar Republic. It's truly amazing how the producers and writers manage to intertwine these vast historical happenings in riveting episodes that are self-contained. Each segment is brilliantly narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier and the footage containted therein continues to impress. The show is not tainted by propaganda, but provides a balanced look at how many good, or naive, people ended up supporting the most evil leaders in history - and brought about the destruction of their own nations in the process. It's a timeless lesson that all people should remain aware of.
The Blu-ray editions are impressively remastered and provide yet another reason for every person who cares about history to add this collection to their library- and more importantly, insist that young people are exposed to this magnificent achievement. In America, the Military Channel frequently shows some episodes from The World at War - but don't let that dissuade you from buying the set. Like most broadcasts of older shows, the series has been chopped and edited to the point that the opening credits are truncated (Olivier doesn't even have his name appear!) and the end credits have been eliminated entirely. Why should we expect a network called The Military Channel to put the needs of a masterful series like this above the desire to squeeze in more ads for household gadgets?
Heart stopper: Harvey Weinstein is battling the MPAA over the rating for Blue Valentine starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.
By Lee Pfeiffer
The Motion Picture Association of America implemented the voluntary movie ratings system in 1968 to avoid the government establishing an officer of censorship similar to those in other countries. Although the system has precluded government interference in marketing of films, it's been controversial since day one with studios and directors complaining about double standards. Mogul Harvey Weinstein has enlisted high profile legal help to battle the MPAA's NC-17 rating for the new movie Blue Valentine. Even though newspapers, magazines and TV stations sell sexual imagery continuously, many still refuse to advertise films with the NC-17 rating - in essence lumping these adult dramas in with porn films. The rating is therefore the kiss of death on studio marketing efforts. Weinstein is appealing the ruling, arguing that the MPAA is holding to a double standard in which love scenes are treated more severely than grotesque violence. He said, “How did Piranha 3D get an R and Blue Valentine gets an NC-17?” he asks, citing the August horror film released by TWC’s own Dimension label (run by his brother, Bob Weinstein). “If [Piranha 3D] got an NC-17, I’d be the first going, ‘All right, we gotta cut some of that stuff.’ It’s ridiculous — a penis got coughed up in the movie by a piranha! They show more in four scenes [in that movie] than we do in [all of Blue Valentine]! And ours is a serious love story. I don’t understand it.” Click here for more
Warner Archive has released the 1966 thriller Eye of the Devil on a burn-to-order basis. The MGM movie, directed by J. Lee Thompson, is one of the last major B&W studio releases. The film had a troubled production history. The female lead had been Kim Novak, but when she was injured during filming, Deborah Kerr took over and had to reshoot all of her scenes - a costly and troublesome process. However, this meant that Kerr was reunited with her Separate Tables co-star David Niven (the pair would be seen on screen again the following year in Casino Royale). Eye of the Devil is an atmospheric thriller with supernatural overtones. Niven plays the heir to a massive French vineyard, though he keeps his distance from the massive rural chateau, preferring to be with wife Kerr and their two young children in an urban setting. An emissary from the vineyard summons him back to the chateau, presumably because the harvest is failing, but Niven's emotional turmoil indicates that there are other factors dictating why he is reluctant to return. When Kerr and the children show up, things deteriorate quickly. Kerr finds the locals to be frightened and unfriendly. Inside the chateau, the staff and Niven appear to be collaborating on hiding information from her. Additionally, a strange brother and sister team (Sharon Tate in her first major role and David Hemmings) are an omnipresent and threatening presence. Kerr ultimate suspects that the presence of a local priest (Donald Pleasence) is inciting people to dabble in witchcraft and the black mass. All of this leads to the prequisite sequences in which a helpless woman is tempted to poke about dark castle corridors and crypts to find the facts.
The film is disturbing from minute one, largely because it is devoid of any humor whatsoever. Every minute exudes a sense of menace. The cinematography adds greatly to the tension and the cast is highly watchable, even if no one attempts to hide their full-throated British accents while playing French characters. (The exteriors were shot in France, the interiors were filmed at MGM's Borehamwood Studios). The movie is consistently engrossing, even if it never reaches the level one might expect, given the sterling cast. Tate makes a significant visual impression, but it should be noted that her immaculate British accent was dubbed. One quibble: Turner Classic Movies often shows an original production featurette from the film. One wishes it was included with this release, which is devoid of even a trailer. However, spending any time with Niven and Kerr is time well-spent.
Director David Lean's 1957 Oscar-winning masterpiece comes to Blu-ray in a deluxe set from Sony that also includes a standard definition DVD. You would probably have to go back in a time machine in order to experience the film looking better than it does in this restored version. The timeless story of a war of wills between a stubborn British POW officer (Alec Guiness) and his Japanese prison commandant (Sessue Hayakawa) is as emotionally riveting as ever. Sony has pulled out all the stops for this edition and included extras that have been previously released along with some new features that are available on the Blu-ray only. Among the bonus features are the outstanding documentary about the making of the film, a vintage production featurette, a fascinating still gallery that includes painstakingly cultivated posters and lobby cards from around the globe, original and reissue trailers and a wonderful commemoration segment in which director John Milius justifiably compares Kwai to Citizen Kane in terms of cinematic perfection. New bonus features for Blu-ray include audio of William Holden narrating the London premiere,which drew such luminaries as Jack Lemmon, Charlton Heston and Bing Crosby (all seen in rare photos). Holden also pops up in an educational short about the making of the movie that was produced by the University of Southern California. Most intriguing is a recently-discovered segment from the old Steve Allen Show that purports to show Allen speaking live with Holden and Guiness from the set of the film in Ceylon. It's fairly apparent, however, that Allen seems to be simply asking questions, with the actors having previously recorded their answers. The best bit comes when Holden invites Allen's audience to follow him over while he films a scene. The sequence then cuts to Holden instantly in another costume in a scene that was already filmed, finalized and edited. Seconds later and presto! Holden is back out of costume. This bizarre segment is only one of the more alluring features of this release. There is also a Blu-ray factoid feature that allows you to watch the entire film with benefit of pop up boxes that provide information about every sequence. Adding to the "must have" nature of the set is the inclusion of 12 mini lobby card reproductions and the fact that the packaging opens into a hardback book, complete with extensive information about the film and dozens of rare production photos. The only complaint is a minor one: the Blu-ray menu is a bit clunky to navigate. The film itself is simply terrific- and so is this Blu-ray tribute.
James Stewart once referred to films as "pieces of time". To illustrate the point, check out this rare short film shot by Thomas Edison in 1899 on a BMT train that used to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Edison shot the footage from the train bound from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Click here to view
Filmmaker Christian Marclay has fashioned an amazing film that runs 24 hours and consists of snippets from movies in which there is a reference to every minute of the day. The film is showing through November 13 at the White Cube gallery in London, where you can watch it 24 hours a day. It will then begin touring England. Click here for the amazing details. (Thanks to James Page for the head's up)
In renewing my subscription, I'd like to say you gentlemen are doing an absolutely fantastic job and I look forward to each and every issue of this literary masterpiece!
- Bob Luckiewicz
Retro responds: "Literary masterpiece"??? Thanks for the acclaim, Bob - we just hope it finally gets people to stop reading those other "masterpieces" by such literary hacks and also-rans with names like Tolstoy, Twain and Shakespeare!
Can't you consider reprinting some of the earlier issues of Cinema Retro? I only learned about the magazine last year and there are still some issues I needed to complete my collection. I can't find most of them anywhere- and the few times I do see them offered, I have to practically take out a bank loan to afford them.
- Al Rogers
Retro responds: Sorry, Al, but it simply isn't practical or fair to reprint earlier issues. In addition to it being cost-prohibitive, we do advertise every issue as a limited edition collectible. However, there may be a solution on the horizon. We are exploring the possibility of making back issues available as digital downloads you can read on your computer. Stay tuned for further announcements about this. Meanwhile, as we often say ad nauseum, the best way to avoid missing any future issues is to simply subscribe. Postage is free in North America and the UK and you'll never have to search for an elusive back issue again. - Lee Pfeiffer
The Warner Archive Collection released six rare Lon Chaney, Sr. films on October 26 -- five silents and one talkie (his one and only talkie). The films are He Who Gets Slapped (1924); The Monster and The Unholy Three (both 1925); Mr. Wu and Mockery (both 1927); and The Unholy 3 (1930), the sound remake of the 1925 film with a numerical title and a different ending. Lon Chaney, Sr. was a fascinating actor. It's a shame that he is pigeon-holed as a horror star. This is due to the over-availability of two of his most famous films: Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and Phantom of the Opera (1925/29). The fact that these two films are public domain has made them the most widely available of his movies. Within recent years, Warner Home Video has been releasing some of Chaney's MGM films. In 2003, Warner Home Video and TCM released The Lon Chaney Collection, which contained three films: The Aces of Hearts, Laugh, Clown, Laugh and The Unknown. Great stuff, but it left you wanting more.
Now WHV, through its Warner Archive Collection has just released six Chaney rarities on a burn-to-order basis. These films, while not digitally remastered, look fine considering their age -- as fine as when TCM shows them on their network. In chronological order we start with 1924's He Who Gets Slappe, which co-stars Norma Shearer and John Gilbert and holds the distinction of being the very first film completely made and released by the newly formed studio, MGM. Chaney plays a mad doctor in the "comedy" film, The Monster where he wears surprisingly little make-up (and looks surprisingly like Boris Karloff, one of his successors in the horror genre of the following decade). The 1925 silent version of The Unholy Three is a classic directed by Tod Browning, with whom Chaney had a most productive, if strangely symbiotic relationship. His co-stars are Mae Busch (before she became "ever popular" playing opposite Laurel & Hardy) and Victor McLaglen. Chaney plays two Asian characters in Mr. Wu a lurid tale of paternal revenge. Ironically, we do have Anna Mae Wong in the cast, but Chaney's daughter is played by Renee Adoree! Mockery is set during the Russian revolution of 1918. Chaney plays a Russian peasant who risks his life to help a Russian Countess (Barbara Bedford) escape to safety. She repays Chaney by making him a servant in her household. Here, she forgets who he is, while remembering that she loves Ricardo Cortez and carrying on with him while Chaney suffers (which no one did better than Lon Chaney, Sr. during the silent era).
Lastly we come to The Unholy 3, the 1930 talkie remake of the 1925 silent The Unholy Three (notice the title change). At MGM, two stars held out in making their talkie debuts. One was Greta Garbo, and the other was Lon Chaney, Sr. MGM was a little worried about Garbo and her accent. They had nothing to worry about with Chaney and this frustrating film proves it -- frustrating in that we get a glimpse of what might have been when hearing his wonderful voice. Chaney died seven weeks after the film was released, thus making it the only talkie he ever did. Chaney -- the man of a thousand voices as well as a thousand faces...ah, well. How eerily ironic at the film's end to see a friend give Chaney a carton of cigarettes, now knowing that he died of throat cancer at the age of 47 less than two months later.
As of this writing, these films are being offered on the Warner Home Video website on a mail-order basis under the Warner Archives Collection. Warner Archives'' DVDs are only for sale in the United States; you can get all six films for $71.82, but they are limiting the package to one per customer. I guess WHV has noticed all the folks who had been ordering up a storm and reselling internationally on eBay and Amazon.com. When you got a good thing people want it, and if you like the films of one of the greatest cinema actors of the 1920s, you will want these Lon Chaneyfilms. Get your "one-per-customer" package today.
If Pretty Maids All in a Row were made today exactly the same way as it was made forty years ago, there would be an enormous outcry against the film’s cavalier attitude towards mentor/student sex.Such scenarios parodied in Roger Vadim’s 1971 film version of Francis Pollini’s novel of the same name are today the stuff of headlines as middle-aged teachers, both male and female, have been caught engaging in extracurricular activities with their young students that go far beyond anything that an educational institution would ever have in mind.To put Pretty Maids All in a Row into proper perspective, it is necessary to understand the era in which the film was shot.The sexual revolution was in full swing, Playboy and Penthouse magazines were enjoying unprecedented success, and Masters and Johnson were studying the sexual mores of many couples.A film about a vice principal/guidance counselor nicknamed “Tiger” bedding underage female students didn’t seem to ruffle too many feathers. Whether one chooses to look at the film as social commentary or the satire its director intended it to be is a matter of personal choice, though given the aloof handling of the murders that ensue it is impossible to regard the film as anything other than black comedy.Aside from this, it also doubles as a time capsule of attitudes and fashions from the early Seventies.
Actress Jill Clayburgh has died at age 66 after losing a 21 year battle with leukemia. Clayburgh was credited with being one of the important actresses to usher in a new era of quality roles for women in the 1970s. She received two Oscar nominations: for the 1978 film An Unmarried Woman and the 1979 comedy Starting Over. Clayburgh was married to Tony winning playwright David Rabe. Her connections to the theater extended back to her childhood - her mother was secretary to legendary Broadway showman David Merrick. Clayburgh's elite upbringing (her father was vice-president of two major corporations) did not spare her from a troubled youth. Her rebelious ways led her to psychiatric care at the tender age of 9. Once immersed in the acting profession, however, she thrived on screen, stage and TV. Among her major feature films: Semi-Tough, Silver Streak, Gable and Lombard and Bertolucci's Luna. She also appeared in many major TV series over the decades. Her final film Love and Other Drugs has not yet been released. For more click here
Mystery novelist Jeffrey Deaver is the latest author to take a crack at writing a James Bond novel. He'll be debuting his attempt at doing so next year. However, Deaver has told USA Today that he will contemporize the character of Bond, making him a young veteran of the Afghanistan war. Reports in some media sources that this could mean the end of Daniel Craig's involvement with the Bond film series are as absurd as they are ill-informed. None of the authors who wrote Bond novels in the post-Fleming era have seen their interpretations of the character brought to the screen and there is no indication that Deaver's work will be an exception. For more click here
Cher in her glory days. The diva says she hates the aging process because it's slowing her down.
In a new, profanity-laced interview with Vanity Fair, Cher shows she still possesses the ability to be controversial, sounding off on everything from her anger at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, her late husband Sonny, Sarah Palin, the aging process and coping with her daughter's recent sex change operation. She seems angry even at the people she likes. Referring to Meryl Streep's ability to age with style and grace, she calls the Oscar winner a "stupid bitch", though this may be Cher's way of expressing affection! Click here to read her outspoken comments.
Cruise in the original 1995 Mission Impossible film.
Looks like Tom Cruise not only portrays fearless men of action on screen, but also possesses guts in real life. For his next Mission:Impossible film, Cruise dangled sans stuntman 2700 feet from the ground atop a skyscraper in Dubai, as the nervous film crew recorded the action. Click here for coverage and photos.
Don Knotts' kids classic The Incredible Mr. Limpet had this tie-in comic adaptation released in conjunction with the film in 1964.
Remember those wonderful days when the latest movies spawned a tie-in comic book, generally published by Dell or Gold Key? Look for an homage to these traditions of a by-gone era in a future issue of Cinema Retro.
Anita Ekberg, who made screen history with her romp in the Fountain of Trevi in Fellini's La Dolce Vita, attended the 50th anniversary re-premiere of the film in Rome, where a restored print was unveiled. Also in attendance: Martin Scorsese. Click here for story
Shane Rimmer, the Canadian actor who made a career out of playing Americans in British films, has released his autobiography. Titled From Thunderbirds to Pterodactys, Rimmer reflects on his long relationship with Gerry Anderson (who provides the foreword) on the legendary Thunderbirds series. He also discusses working on Dr. Strangelove, Out of Africa, Batman Returns and three James Bond films. Rimmer is universally regarded as one of the film industry's true gentlemen and his stories provide anecdotes that are as illuminating as they are amusing. Read more about the book on the MI6 web site.
One quip about an electric car being sarcastically referred to as "gay" in the new Ron Howard comedy The Dilemma is causing a major flap in the film industry. The gay rights group GLAAD persuaded Universal to cut the line from its trailer for the movie, saying it reflects negatively on a minority. However, Ron Howard has refused to go a step further and remove the line from the actual film. Howard is an unlikely target for such criticisms, as his liberal leanings are well-known. He says in no way endorses gay-bashing but draws the line at bending to censorship from activist groups, saying that doing so would lead to a slippery slope with major implications for filmmakers. GLAAD says it isn't being thin-skinned, but is trying to make audiences more sensitive to gay rights in the wake of several high profile crimes against homosexuals. Is Howard being insensitive or is GLAAD making a mountain out of a molehill? Judge for yourself by clicking here to read the full story.
Reader Eddie Love advises us that Blake Edwards' Gunn, a big screen adaptation of the TV series Peter Gunn starring Craig Stevens, is now available on Netflix as a digital download - albeit as a "pan-and-scan" print with French titles! Better than nothing, but we wonder if this title will ever get a "proper" DVD or digital download release.
Entertainment are continuing their quest to bring a mixture of sought after and
totally obscure titles to DVD with generous extras here in the UK.
Goodbye Gemini (1970) stars
Martin Potter and Judy Geeson as twins in a complicated and suspiciously
incestuous relationship. They are 20 years old but they roam and play in their
large Chelsea townhouse like children, and what begins as childish pranks
escalate into something seriously disturbed. At that time Potter was fresh from
his success in Fellini’s Satyricon (1969)
whilst Geeson had made a big impression as a promiscuous schoolgirl in To Sir With Love (1967), and in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1968),
espousing free love whilst skinny-dipping in a lake. Goodbye Gemini was directed by Alan Gibson shortly before he made
two Dracula films for Hammer. With his name attached, along with a supporting
cast including former Frankenstein’s monster Freddie Jones one might expect the
film to be a horror, but it’s not as easy to pigeonhole as that. The film could
more accurately be described as a psychological thriller, set in the tail-end
of the 1960s where post-Altamont and Charles Manson, the hippy dream has well
and truly gone sour. It’s a fascinating and terrifying film that crosses sexual
boundaries and pushes relationships over the edge. When we spoke to Martin
Potter he remembered the film well: “As an actor I was trained to tell truth. In
Goodbye Gemini there was this awful
scene where I was about to gas myself, having done something truly awful. There
was Hammer horror, where as an audience you didn’t expect Christopher Lee or
anyone else to explain what they were doing. It was just a genre of film. But I
do recall with Goodbye Gemini trying,
probably incredibly naively, to explain what this person was doing. I took it
all terribly seriously. I was trying to make it real for me. Whereas the
director was doing the film to pay off his mortgage!”
Goodbye Gemini is
based on the 1964 novel Ask Agamemnon and features a great period soundtrack by
first time composer Christopher Gunning, who would go on to score dozens of TV
series and films, including the recent Oscar-winning La Vie En Rose (2007). There would appear to be very little
commercial appeal in this story of a brother and sister who love and kill
together, but thankfully this was a time of risk-taking and experimentation in
the British industry. They were even able to bring Sir Michael Redgrave on
board in a significant role as a politician who spends his evenings attending
the wrong kind of parties.
Broadway is mourning the death of 11 year-old Shannon Tavarez, who starred in the stage production of Disney's The Lion King. Shannon desperately needed a bone marrow transplant but a donor could not be found in time to save her life. Click here for more
You may have seen this already, as it went viral a couple of weeks ago- but it bears watching again because it's so damned funny! A Texas weatherman solemnly gives the latest forecast without the slightest hint that he's aware of the fact that the storm graphics he's designed look like storyboards for a 70s Johnny Wadd porn film! In an unrelated story, the Texas TV station involved reports an inexplicable surge in popularity for the weather segment in demographics for women and gay guys. Click here to watch
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Peter Morgan is royalty in terms of screenwriters. He penned the acclaimed scripts for films like The Queen, Frost/Nixon and Hereafter. He also contributed to the script of the next James Bond film which has been indefinitely delayed due to MGM's financial woes. In a frank interview, Morgan says he tried to take Bond beyond his traditional status as a British secret agent who constantly saves the world. His plan was to make Bond even more realistic than the (relatively) realistic aspects that have appeared in the Daniel Craig Bond films. However, due to the MGM debacle, Morgan fears that his contributions won't ever make it on to the screen and that the producers will ultimately start the project from scratch. Click here for more
The latest news releases from George Lucas will do little to diminish criticisms that he keeps finding new ways to recycle old properties. In the wake of news that he'll convert all six Star Wars movies to 3-D comes word that he'll do the same with the four Indiana Jones films. One can only wish that Lucas might spend some of his time trying to create a "down-to-earth" movie as good as his 1973 classic American Graffiti. Then again, Lucas is probably trying to figure out to how expolit that film as a 3-D event. Click here for more