In case you've been staying awake nights wondering whether New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will ever grant a pardon to Billy the Kid, at least you now have an answer: no. Believe it or not, there has been a movement to pressure Richardson to grant the pardon on the basis of speculation that the Kid had been double-crossed by a New Mexico official who may have promised him a pardon in return for testifying at a murder trial. The Kid did testify but was never granted the pardon. Richardson ruled the historical data was too sketchy to prove the facts of the case. The family of Sheriff Pat Garrett has been lobbying not to grant the pardon on the basis that doing so might undermine Garrett's reputation as the man who brought Billy the Kid to justice by killing him.
The legendary gunman has been the subject of countless films and has been played by such diverse talents as Paul Newman and Bob Dylan. Click here for more
There has been some fanfare about the "discovery" of 17 minutes of footage cut by Stanley Kubrick from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The missing scenes were alleged to have been found in a salt mine storage facility owned by Warner Brothers (Studios routinely keep valuable footage and photographs in salt mines to prevent deterioration.) However, Warner Brothers says the studio has always been aware the footage has been in its vaults so it isn't really a new discovery. Moreover, WB says it has no plans to utilize the footage in any future release of the classic film. Kubrick was known to exercise dictatorial control over his films and was loathe to add footage after he decided on a final cut. Since his death, his family has continued to prevent additional footage from being released as extras on DVDs. Some years ago, I co-wrote and produced the special DVD edition of Dr. Strangelove for Sony. My partner on the project, David Naylor, tracked down the legendary pie fight sequence that Kubrick cut from the climax of the film. Despite high level appeals to the Kubrick family, Sony could not win approval from them to include the footage -even though Sony arguably controlled the rights. The studio did not want the stigma of going against the Kubricks' wishes. Thus, we respected the decision and were only able to use still photos from the sequence in our documentary about the making of the film. For more about the 2001 footage, click here
The endless onslaught of movie remakes continues with news that plans are afoot to redo the 1984 screen adaptation of Stephen King's Firestarter. The original movie starred young Drew Barrymore as a child with the power to use telepathy to ignite people and objects into flames. For more click here
The Library of Congress has named their choice for the latest American movies to be named to the National Film Registry. The typically eclectic list of influential movies includes John Huston's landmark WWII documentary Let There Be Light, Saturday Night Fever, The Exorcist, Airplane!, The Empire Strikes Back and much more esoteric classic fare. TV network executives across the nation are probably collectively grinding their teeth as films named in the registry are prohibited from being edited for broadcast - and many of these movies are routinely butchered when shown on television. Click here for more.
Feeing blue: Fox executives have to cope with the fact that illegal downloads of Avatar have amounted to over 16 million to date.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Avatar has another distinction aside from being the highest grossing (and most over-rated) film of all time. Seems that the 2009 release is also the most pirated film of 2010, with over 16 million illegal downloads of James Cameron's sci-fi epic to date. Click here for the full list of other most-pirated films during 2010.
It's been quite a week for premature death reports. First rumors circulated that Morgan Freeman had died, which was news to Mr. Freeman. Then came reports that Harrison Ford had publicly stated he was fed up with playing Indiana Jones and wanted the character to be killed off in the next installment of the series. Problem is that the story must have been reported by the same ace journalist who broke the Freeman death "scoop". Reps for Ford categorically deny he has any plans to terminate Jones with extreme prejudice. Click here for more
Members of the conservative party in England are proposing that internet porn sites be automatically blocked from computers. Their stated purpose is to make it more difficult for children to access inappropriate content. Adults would still be able to view X-rated sites, but would actually have to "opt-in" to do so. (Yikes, there go all those excuses about how you had no idea why those certain images and pages popped up on the ol' PC!) The proposal has generated controversy with liberals arguing that the law would provide a slippery slope that would allow government officials to designate exactly what constitutes inappropriate content and that mainstream sites could end up being part of the ban. "Protecting the children" has long been a mantra of politicians who want to pass controversial legislation that might have political implications. It's not certain the law will be passed, probably because elected officials who frequent such sites would be reluctant to go on the record and "opt in" to view sites they probably view more than the average person.
Alhtough Mineo had been engaged to actress Jill Haworth, his penchant for male lovers was well-known in Hollywood's gay community.
A new biography of Sal Mineo has been optioned for the screen by actor James Franco's production company, though Franco won't appear in the film. Mineo gained fame and an Oscar nomination as a teenager in Rebel Without a Cause and earned another nomination for Exodus. However, he led a troubled personal life and had to deal with his bi-sexuality in an era in which homosexuality among leading men had to be swept under the rug. Mineo died tragically when he was murdered in a random act of violence in 1976. For more click here
Scorsese won the Best Director Oscar for his last crime flick The Departed
Here's one worth getting excited about. Martin Scorsese will direct Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci in a crime drama titled The Irishman - based on the life of an actual hitman. Click here for details.
Mike Hodges' 1971 Brit crime classic Get Carter was the cover story on Cinema Retro #11- one of our best selling issues.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Writer Jesse Kornbluth's column for The Huffington Post centers on nine off-beat films that he recommends to readers. He says no one else will recommend these, but he's obviously not a Cinema Retro reader, as two of his choices- Get Carter and McCabe and Mrs. Miller - have received considerable coverage in our magazine. However, his list certainly is eclectic and leaves me wanting to experience several titles I'm not familiar with. Click here to read and view all the original trailers.
Colin Firth, basking in acclaim for The King's Speech, is in talks to star in a remake of the 1966 caper film Gambit which starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. The Coen Brothers wrote the script, but Michael Hoffman will direct. For more click here
Once again, an article that is so hilarious compels us to deviate from our coverage of show business news. However, this is far more entertaining than the mundane world of films, stage and TV. The web site Letters of Note has unearthed original 1970s inter-office memos from Tiger Oil, an obscure Texas company run by an equally obscure man named Edward 'Tiger Mike' Davis, whose legacy has been salvaged from the ravages of time. This guy would not have been a candidate for Undercover Boss, the CBS show in which caring CEOs pose as regular employees in order to better understand their trials and tribulations. Conversely, Davis makes Captain Bligh look like Gandhi. Check out the seemingly endless original memos reproduced and relish such touches as referring to his employees as "sons-of-bitches" and ordering them to never speak to him unless spoken to first because "I want to save my throat". (We now know who was the inspiration was for Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross's methods of dealing with the "little people" who serve them.) Click here to read (Thanks to Mike King for the tip)
The Wrap web site reports on the long, steady decline of the legendary publication Variety. Once heralded as the most influential "bible" for show business types, the paper has lost many of its readers and has bungled its web site operation by charging for content. The result is that its arch rival The Hollywood Reporter seems to have eclipsed Variety in terms of influence, while web-based entertainment sites are breaking news faster and more often. Click here for more
Looks like we weren't the only ones to draw the almost exact comparisons between the script for Jaws the real-life shark attacks that have plagued an Egyptian resort. Now Time has drawn the same parallels- right down to a hapless local official being forced to take a dip in the ocean to prove to the media and the masses that the area was "shark-free" (remember Murray Hamilton as Mayor Vaughn in the film?) What has been confirmed is that at least one of the sharks that killed or maimed tourists was involved in two attacks, thus making the "rogue shark" scenario of the movie accurate (scientists initially scoffed at such a theory). Meanwhile, the local population's speculation about the cause of the attacks ranges from logical (the dumping of animal carcasses from religious rituals) to paranoid (Israeli Air Force pilots are behind it!) For more click here
The Golden Globe nominations have been announced. As usual, there is scathing criticism that the awards are simply popularity contests based on who lobbies the tiny number of international journalists who decide the nominations. (Read Nikki Finke's op-ed here). For the record, the Globes shouldn't necessarily be seen as a predictor of Oscar nominations, as there are inevitably key differences. A couple of surprises stick out: the nomination of Johnny Depp twice in the same category for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy and the major nominations afforded the art house film The King's Speech, which arrived without much fan fare. Click here for full list of nominations and NY Times report on the controversies surrounding the awards broadcast.
Acclaimed as one of the greatest documentaries of all time, director Claude Lanzmann's 1985 film Shoah is set for re-release in the United States. The crusty 85 year-old French director is pleased because he feels that, while his movie has remained in the public eye in Europe, it has virtually disappeared from sight in America. However, the outspoken director has used the occasion of the relssue of the 9 hour landmark movie that chronicles the Holocaust from the perspective of both victims and tormentors, to stir controversy about other similarly-themed movies. Most notably, Lanzmann takes aim at Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning Schindler's List, dismissing it as a sanitized look at Nazi atrocities that has a feel-good ending tacked on for audience consumption. To read the New York Times interview with Lanzmann, click here
Looks like the Stooges pic is soitenly going into production for Fox.
It looks like Fox will take over the long-planned Farrelly Brothers big screen pic The Three Stooges. This won't be a biography of the legendary comedy trio, but will have actors playing the roles of Moe, Larry and Curley in character. It's now planned to start shooting in March, unless the director gets his head caught in a vise and the producers get poked in the eye and hit over the head with anvils. Click here for more
If you are a man who grew up in easy proximity to New York City during the 1960s-1980s, there's a good chance you probably sowed some of your wild oats by frequenting the seemingly endless array of porn palaces that lined 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. Here, for a virtual pittance, you could indulge in viewing peep shows of porn flicks (a real thrill in the era prior to home video) and for slightly more, you could view completely naked performers doin' the dirty just a few feet away. During the 1990s, the city used every measure available to rid 42nd Street of these places. It's now a totally different, family friendly venue, to the delight of many and the dismay of others who bemoan the passing of the dirty good old days. Ironically, the Times Square visitor's center is now paying homage to the sordid past with an exhibit that recreates the facade of Peep-O-World, the last porn palace that existed on 42nd Street. Click here to read NY Times article
Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) finds a unique way of welcoming Queen Elizabeth to San Francisco in the first Naked Gun film.
Keith Olbermann is primarily known as one of American TV's most controversial political talk show hosts. However, the unabashed liberal commentator also has an encyclopedic knowledge of films, as well as an off-the-wall sense of humor. Olbermann devoted a segment of his show Countdown to paying tribute to the late Leslie Nielsen. He shows clips from early in the actor's career and astutely points out that his renaissance as a comedic actor was due largely to his ability to spoof his own image as a stalwart, cardboard heroic type. Olbermann rightly observes that Nielsen could never return to playing a dramatic part, but the trade-off was worth it. Click here to check out the insightful segment, along with some great clips highlighting Nielsen in Airplane, Police Squad and The Naked Gun.
You'd have to go back to 1992 when Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven generated Oscar buzz to find a western as anticipated as the Coen Brothers' forthcoming remake of True Grit. The first version won John Wayne an Oscar back in 1969- and Entertainment Weekly says Jeff Bridges, now playing the role of Rooster Cogburn, might follow in his footsteps. We're just happy to see someone bringing this great film genre back to the screen. Click here for more
In Mel Gibson's new film, he plays an emotionally disturbed man obsessed by a beaver. Please, no obvious jokes about all the guys you know who share his obsession because in this movie, we're talking literally about the kind of beavers that build dams...or at least, a furry hand puppet of the buck toothed creatures. The bizarre comedy-drama was shot on a modest budget before Gibson's latest public relations nightmare. The trailer has just been released and it's as bizarre as you might imagine, drifting from goofy comedy to gooey romance. On the up side, he does co-star with the wonderful Jodie Foster, who also directed. Whether Foster off-beat film proves to be a debacle or a quirky success remains to be seen. Judge for yourself by clicking here to watch the trailer.
The legendary Sir Christopher Lee returns to Hammer studios for The Resident.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Long-suffering Hammer horror fans must feel like the Rodney Dangerfield's of today's movie business: they just don't get no respect. For many years, Hammer has been promising to re-emerge as a viable production company. The result was Beyond the Rave, a youth-oriented low-budget horror pic that "premiered" on web sites in 2008. The studio fared better with this year's Let Me In, but the movie still under-peformed at the box-office. Hammer lovers were far more enthused about The Resident, a creepy thriller that not only attracted two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank to star, but also brought legendary Sir Christopher Lee back into the Hammer fold. Alas, this film seems cursed as well: it will receive only a cursory theatrical release before going straight to DVD in March. Click here for details.
Steve Martin photographed in London by Cinema Retro's Mark Mawston. (Photo: copyright Mark Mawston, all rights reserved)
As we reported last week, Steve Martin was the center of an awkward appearance at New York's famed 92nd Street Y. Martin was there to discuss his new novel, which is set in the world of art. When the interviewer did not ask Martin about his comedy roots, the management became anxious- especially when viewers who were watching on closed-circuit TV E mailed complaints that they were bored by the conversation. The management apologized and issued refunds. Now Martin responds with his side of the story in a New York Times opinion piece. Click here to read
Everyone remembers where they were on days of historic importance, especially if there is an element of tragedy involved. On December 8 1980, I was heading off to work and pulled my car over to buy a newspaper at a local shop. When I got back in, I turned on Howard Stern, who was then a star-on-the-rise on New York AM radio. Stern's off-the-wall humor was cutting edge at the time and his antics made my lousy morning commute tolerable. When I turned on the radio, Stern was in the middle of discussing John Lennon's murder. "This is crossing the line", I thought, feeling that Stern was making one of his usual sick jokes. I suddenly realized, however, that this was a rare occasion when the shock jock was playing it straight. The idea that someone might murder John Lennon was so mind-boggling that I couldn't think of anything else- in fact no one could. The term "loss of innocence" has been so overused that it long ago became a cornball phrase employed to describe every tragic event. However, with the death of Lennon it seemed approrpriate. Like just about everyone on the planet, my mind drifted back to all the wonderful moments in my life that his music seemed a part of: buying my first record as a kid (it was a 45 rpm of I Feel Fine by The Beatles), having my dad take me to see A Hard Day's Night at the Loews Theatre in Jersey City- and not being able to hear any dialoguge because of the girls screaming every time there was a close up of one of the Fab Four, and so many other great memories. Doubtless, so many people felt the same way, which is why tonight, fans from around the world will congregate at the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park across from Lennon's home, the Dakota.
Making this anniversary of his death so poignant is the fact that Rolling Stone reporter Jonathan Cott, who conducted the last interview with Lennon just days before his murder, has unearthed the original interview tapes and they are being published this week. Only snippets of the interview were originally used because the issue it was supposed to run in was largely devoted to his life and legacy. Cott forgot he had possession of the original tapes until he came across them while cleaning out his closet. In one portion of the interview, Lennon eeriely says he'd be more interesting if he was dead, but being a icon who dies young was an idea that appalled him. For more click here
A popular beach resort dependent on tourism dollars is terrorized by repeated shark attacks. Several people are mauled. Under economic pressure to resolve the crisis, local authorities announce they have killed the predators and reopen the beaches - only to have the attacks resume. A scenario from Jaws? Yes- but it also reflects the situation at Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt's most popular beach resort. Last week, several divers were mauled by separate shark attacks. The authorities said the rogue sharks were caught but now a German tourist has been killed in a new attack. For more click here
In an effort to crack down on pirated films, music and goods, the U.S. government's Immigrations and Customs Enforcement bureau has launched an assault on web sites that it claims is propagating illegal activity. In some cases, I.C.E. is seizing the actual web site domains and closing them down. Illegal downloads cost the entertainment industry billions of dollars every year, but it's hard to stop the pirates, who can open up new sites from territories outside the USA. In certain parts of Asia, it's almost impossible to buy a CD or DVD that isn't pirated. The New York Times reports on the crackdown, stating:
"Among the domains seized were torrent-finder.com and those of three sites that specialized in music: onsmash.com, rapgodfathers.com and dajaz1.com. TorrentFreak, a news blog about BitTorrent — a file-sharing system that has tended to elude the authorities because it is decentralized — said that at least 70 other addresses had been seized, most belonging to sites related to counterfeit clothing, DVDs and other goods."
Critics of the enforcement say innocent parties are being punished, along with the guilty. For more click here
Tom Hanks will star in director Kathryn Bigelow's first film since she won the Oscar for The Hurt Locker. The movie, titled Triple Frontier, will deal with the perilous war against crime gangs in South America. It is envisioned that the film will have an ensemble cast of big names, a la Traffic. Click here for more
Christopher Nolan has confirmed that he will make one last chapter in the Batman "Dark Knight" saga. Nolan says the exhaustive process of bringing Inception to the screen makes writing a new Batman flick seem like a pleasure. Fan reaction is sure to be mixed. Followers of the Caped Crusader's exploits will be delighted that Nolan is back in the director's chair, but are sure to be disappointed that this will mark the end of his era with the franchise. Click here for more.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Johnny Depp said his Oscar-nominated portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean would have been sent to Davy Jones' locker if it had been up to Disney executives who were distraught by the prospect he was portraying a gay hero. Click here for more
Steve Martin photographed in London by Cinema Retro's Mark Mawston. (Copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved)
New York City's 92nd Street "Y" is noted for its program of hosting intelligent, in-depth interviews with famous people in the arts. However, things went awry when Steve Martin was interviewed last night by his friend, New York Times writer Deborah Solomon. The discussion centered on Martin's knowledge of and enthusiasm for the field of fine art, which is the subject of a new novel he was promoting. Solomon and Martin thought things were going fine in front of the well-heeled audience, but backstage it was another story. E mails from people watching on close-circuit TV began to flood in, complaining that the interview should cover more mainstream topics such as Martin's comedy work in films and on TV. A note was actually delivered to Solomon on stage instructing her make the change. Solomon and Martin were stunned but Martin did comply and answered a number of questions before the evening ended. This morning, the "Y" management sent out E mails to all attendees apologizing for an event that did not live up to their standards of excellence. They also gave a full refund in the form of a $50 certificate good for future events at the "Y". Solomon expressed outrage, saying that she felt the audience would have been sophisticated enough to show interest in other aspects of Martin's career. For more click here
Deadline Hollywood Daily reports that Warner Brothers, producer Christopher Nolan and director Zack Snyder are ramping up the search for an actor to play the Man of Steel in the studio's latest attempt to relaunch the Superman franchise. Apparently, Brandon Routh, who played the role in Superman Returns, will not be considered. That film, directed by Bryan Singer, was not a bomb, but under-performed and apparently some of the blame has attached itself to Routh, even though most fans felt his performance was quite credible. Rumor has it that the studio will probably search for an unknown actor. Click here for more
All of a sudden Honest Abe Lincoln is hot in Hollywood. In addition to the bizarre graphic novel adapation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Steven Spielberg will adapt Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals as a major film titled Lincoln. Liam Neeson, who was to originally star, dropped out and Daniel Day-Lewis will assume the lead role in the film. For more click here
Here's some encouraging news for Michael Douglas fans who are cheering him on in his battle against throat cancer. Douglas and family had a fun-filled vacation over the Thanksgiving weekend at Disneyworld- and the Oscar winner sure looks pretty fit. For more click here