Cinema Retro's Graham Hill provides these photos from the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival screening of An American in Paris at the famed Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, April 28. (All photos copyright Graham Hill. All rights reserved)
TCM host Robert Osborne
Legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler
Retro movie fans gather to watch the celebs arrive
What a tangled web the producers of the Spider-man Broadway show weaved when they agreed to bring the $65 million production to reality. The show's bumpy start became fodder for cynical critics and late-night TV show hosts, as a series of high profile accidents and mishaps marred many of the performances. The show continued to sell $1 million worth of tickets every week, but that barely covered the expenses. Now the production has been put on hiatus until a May 12 re-opening- a strategy that has added another $5 million to the cost. The producers are speaking candidly about their misjudgments and their present strategy of replacing many of the key members of the creative team. Click here to read
Michael Douglas says his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones had successfully hid her battle with bipolar II disorder until the National Enquirer "outed" her recently. Jones had spent five days in a mental health clinic dealing with depression. Douglas says he had enough drama going on in his life without dealing with his wife's ailment publicly, but now that the facts are out he hopes Catherine's high profile will encourage other people with the disorder to seek help. Bipolar II is a serious mental condition that sees those afflicted having to cope with high levels of anxiety and mood swings. Douglas says times have been very trying for the couple: his oldest son is in jail, his former wife is suing him and he's been fighting cancer. On the positive side, however, he says the cancer treatments are working and he is now cancer-free. For more click here
Here's Meryl Streep in a new photo from The Iron Lady, the biopic of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Looks like another shoo-in for an Oscar nomination for the oft-nominated Streep. Click here for more
Cinema Retro London columnist Adrian Smith will discuss the Hammer film Crescendo, the 1970 thriller starring Stefanie Powers,on this Sunday's B Movie Cast podcast with host Vince Rotolo. Click here for the podcast web site-- and while you're there, browse through their remarkable archive of previous podcasts about cult movies which can be played through ITunes..
As in days past, Playboy magazine can still instigate controversy when it comes to social issues. In its heyday, the magazine was as known for it's hard-edged interviews and articles about social issue as it was for its pictorial content. In the latest German edition, actress Sila Sahin, who stars in a German soap opera, has posed nude - the first Muslim woman to do so. The Turkish immigrant to Germany's decision has unleashed a firestorm of controversy for daring to so openly defy the strict rules of behavior for women that her religion mandates. Sahin says posing for the photos was an act of liberation that should encourage Muslim women to live their lives on their own terms. For more click here
To celebrate the forthcoming release of Jeffrey Deaver's new James Bond novel Carte Blanche, the Bentley automobiles is releasing a limited edition (only 500 copies worldwide) of the book- creatively packaged inside a case in the shape of a Bentley automobile. Each book is hand-made. Bond traditionally drove a Bentley in the Ian Fleming novels until the introduction of the Aston Martin DB5 in the film series eclipsed the first vehicle. Deaver is bringing Bond's driving habits back to their roots in the new novel, in which 007 once again favors a Bentley. The new edition will set you back $1500. Click here for info
Mohammed Fayed, the controversial tycoon who recently sold Harrods, has let it be known that he is strongly considering making a cash offer to gain control over Pinewood Shepperton, the group that owns England's most prominent film studios. Fayed's interest surprised finance types the world over but he has dabbled in film investing before. Fayed believes he can bring Pinewood back to its glory days. The studio, which is now owned by a company that specializes in property investment, has seen profits surge recently due to an abundance of high profile films being shot there. Additionally, the producers of the next James Bond movie intend to shoot at 007's long-time home when their new movie goes into production later this year. Nevertheless, it's perceived by some that the studio is now run by accountant-types with green eye shades who don't have a particular interest in cinematic history. Peel Holdings, the primary investor in the studio, has been trying for years to get rural land adjoining the studio developed in the style of faux European neighborhoods from great cities. Peel says this would be part of legitimate space used for movie production but the local council has turned them down. Critics of the plan say that many of the houses would be privately owned and that it is simply a scheme to make Peel landlords. The company is appealing the decision. Fayed is not without controversy himself. He continues to maintain that the death of his son and Princess Diana might be linked to a plot by the Royal family on the basis that they objected to the two having a romantic relationship. For more click here
Oscar-nominated actor Jeremy Renner has been chosen by Universal to star in The Bourne Legacy. However, Renner will not play the character of Jason Bourne, who was portrayed by Matt Damon in three films. Instead, he will play a new character and the series will evolve into a spin-off of the original movies. Click here for more
On March 30th 2011 Cinema Retro was invited to a special screening of Karel Reisz's classic British New Wave drama Saturday Night Sunday Morning at the BFI Southbank in London. Featuring an unforgettable performance by Albert Finney as rebellious, hard-living factory worker Arthur Seaton, this gritty, vital piece of cinema, is widely agreed to be one of the best British films of all time. Originally released in 1960, Saturday Night Sunday Morning was produced by Woodfall a production company that led the wave of kitchen sink dramas which explored post-war working class issues in a serious manner for the first time.
The screening was preceded with a Q & A with actress Shirley Anne Field. In conversation with the BFI’s artistic director Eddie Berg, Field credited the whole production for successfully creating credible working class characters who she felt had previously been portrayed on screen in a very patronising way. She touched on the problems the picture faced with the British censor due to the sensitive issues it explored such as abortion. Field also fondly reminisced about working with Finney and other British legends such as Hilda Baker.
A clip from the interview is available to view on the BFI Live website:
Marie-France Pisier, the acclaimed French film star, has died at age 66. Her husband found her dead in their swimming pool. Cause of death is unknown but foul play is not suspected. Pisier began working in films at as a teenager with the legendary Francois Truffaut, with whom she had a brief affair. She and Truffaut would work together again, with Pisier playing the same character- Colette. She rode to stardom as part of the French "New Wave" cinema in the 1960s and appeared in acclaimed films like Cousin Cousin, Cousine and Phantom of Liberty. Pisier won two Cesar awards (the French Oscar) for supporting actress, but attempts to emerge a star in the American cinema were not successful. Her most prominent role was in the 1977 film The Other Side of Midnight, a big budget, sex-packed soap opera that was a hit with audiences but was disdained by critics. For more click here
It was only a matter of time before the porn industry jumped onto the 3-D bandwagon. The first attempt to blend the genre with the technology is an Asian X-rated flick titled Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstacy. The movie opened in Hong Kong and has become a sensation, outgrossing Avatar in its initial engagements. What does porn look like in 3-D? We don't know, but we are reminded of that old joke about what Adam said to Eve: "You'd better stand back- I don't know how big this thing will get!" For more click here
Elvis Mitchell has had some pretty high profile gigs. In an era in which highly paid film critics are becoming as rare as leisure suits, Mitchell has landed some major positions including reviewer for the New York Times. Mitchell left that job in 2004 and has been attached to various other positions with different venues. In most cases, he left these positions under mysterious or strange circumstances. Last January, Mitchell was announced as the chief film critic for the web site Movieline.com. However, his recent negative review of the movie Source Code opened up a mystery that would rival the plot of the thriller. Mitchell, who had been sent an early script of the movie, made reference to the character played by Jeffrey Wright smoking a pipe. Mitchell was presumed to have based his review on the final cut of the film. In fact, the director, Duncan Jones, pointed out that the character never actually smokes in a pipe in the final version of the film. Mitchell's review actually makes a sarcastic remark about the pipe scene being unrealistic. Mitchell promised to give an explanation, but the implication among skeptics is that he may not have actually attended a screening of the final cut, despite having reviewed the movie. Movieline is not commenting other than to say his employment has been terminated. Click here for more
Fox has released the first trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the studio's latest attempt to revive the legendary film franchise. Although Tim Burton's remake of the original 1967 classic made a lot of loot at the box-office, the film was universally panned by Apes fans. The new film is not a remake. It presents an entirely new storyline that details how the abused simians ultimately triumphed over mankind, a plot device that formed the basis of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Count me among the skeptics who thought this was just going to be another special-effects-laden, CGI-packed waste of time. However, the trailer presents a film that looks highly intelligent and very intriguing. If the feature itself has those qualities, this could mark an exciting new chapter for the franchise. Click here to view the trailer.
The cast members of the 70s smash hit sitcom Happy Days are suing CBS, claiming they are being denied royalties from merchandise sold over the years that was licensed by the producers. Although the series originally aired on ABC, the CBS network now holds the rights. For more click here
Samuel L. Jackson has been cast as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the acclaimed play The Mountaintop,which speculates about King's actions and thoughts as he retired to his motel room after giving the last speech of his life. He was assassinated on April 4 1968 on the balcony of the motel while in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers. Halle Berry was to co-star but had to drop out due to legal matters concerning custody of her children. The play will open on Broadway in September. Click here for more
Sarah Lane was the ballet dancer hired to double for Natalie Portman in Black Swan. That's about the only point that Lane, Portman and the filmmakers agree upon. Lane says that the star has been trying to grab the credit for doing most of the dancing in the film. She claims that such a notion would be absurd because Portman only had limited training in ballet, while she has spent a lifetime peforming the art. The battle has now exploded into gossip columns. Lane claims most of the shots on screen are actually her, though in some cases Portman's face was superimposed on her body. The filmmakers acknowledge this was done, but in very limited instances and that most of the dance footage features Portman. Click here for more
The latest worthy but unheralded film to get a second life on burn-to-order DVD is director Michael Apted's 1977 thriller The Squeeze, recently made available by the Warner Archive. It's a top-notch movie in the Get Carter tradition and is representative of the type of gritty British crime dramas that have resonated with the public over the years. It's rather puzzling why Apted's film never got a major release. Perhaps it was lack of star power. Although the cast is comprised of outstanding actors, none of them were considered box-office draws at the time.
The film improbably finds Stacey Keach cast as Jim Naboth,an ex-Scotland Yard detective who has fallen on hard times due to alcoholism. Before you scoff, Keach acquits himself quite well by covering up his American accent. He also gives one of the best performances of his career in this film. Naboth is clearly on the road to ruin when we first see him staggering through a London underground station and having to be hospitalized by the police when he tumbles down an escalator. After undergoing intense rehab for his alcholism problem, Naboth is released from the clinic and celebrates by heading to the nearest pub. His life takes an even more dramatic turn, however, when he discovers that his ex-wife, Jill (Carol White) has been kidnapped along with her young daughter by her second husband, a wealthy businessman played by Edward Fox. The gangsters behind the plot are a ruthless bunch headed by outwardly charming David Hemmings, whose apparent social graces mask a truly sadistic personality. The gang demands one million pounds from Fox, who reluctantly accepts the aid of Naboth due to his once enviable reputation as a competent detective.
Tim Hetherington, who was nominated for an Oscar for co-directing the documentary Restrepo earlier this year, has been killed covering the fighting in Libya. Chris Hendros, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated photojournalist, was also killed and two other prominent photographers were wounded. Heatherington and Hendros were covering the fighting in the city of Misrata, a rebel stronghold that has been ruthlessly bombarded by forces loyal to strongman Colonel Khadafy. In his last Tweet, Hetherington had reported that the city was being bombed indiscriminately and that there were no signs of NATO forces to help repel the attacks on the civilian population. Hetherington and Hendros were mortally wounded shortly thereafter. Hetherington's film Restrepo is a blistering look at a U.S. military platoon sent to guard a remote mountain outpost in Afghanistan. Named after a platoon medic who was killed in action, the Restrepo outpost is under constant siege from the Taliban. Hetherington and his co-director (and best-selling author) Sebastian Junger, won acclaim for their courageous filming of the platoon under fire and for personalizing the characteristics of each of the young soldiers.The film does not take a political position on the nature of the conflict, but regardless of where you stand on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, it's easy to see the futility of sending under-armed and outnumbered platoons to defend remote outposts of dubious strategic value. The U.S. military has since concurred and announced a change in strategy, saying it will be abandoning these missions in favor of concentrating forces in more populated areas. Hetherington and Hendros are the third and fourth journalists known to have been killed since the fighting in Libya began. Despite air raids launched by the U.S., France and the UK, the Libyan rebels have thus far not been able to use the Allied support to drive Khadafy from power, though he has undeniably been weakened. For more on Hetherington's death, click here. To visit the Restrepo movie web site click here
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Entertainment One:
(Port Washington, NY) – Leading independent distributor Entertainment One (eOne) has acquired North American home video and digital rights for the nationally syndicated series ELVIRA’S MOVIE MACABRE, which will arrive in its first two installments of hilariously horrifying “Double Feature DVDs” this June. Presented by Elvira: Mistress of the Dark – the world’s sexiest, most outrageous and original movie hostess – ELVIRA’S MOVIE MACABRE was re-launched on over 120 stations across the country this past fall and was instantly praised as “a dream come true for horror fans” (Fangoria).
Featuring Elvira’s signature, unflinching, tongue-in-cheek commentary of some of the “greatest” B-movies ever to unspool, eOne’s release of all-new ELVIRA’S MOVIE MACABRE “Double Feature DVDs” kicks off with the zombie-themed pairing of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead with I Eat Your Skin and a double-bill of Hammer Film’s The Satanic Rites of Dracula with The Werewolf of Washington. Future DVDs will pair such camp classics as The Terror (starring Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson) with Eegah! and Scared to Death (starring Bela Lugosi) with Manster.
When you hear the name Elvira only one person comes to mind – Halloween icon and quintessential symbol of all things spooky, the one and only Mistress of the Dark. The first horror host ever to be syndicated nationally, Elvira has seen her reign as “Queen of Halloween” span an amazing twenty-nine years, highlighted by two feature films, an IMAX film and two motion control rides. She has appeared in national ad campaigns for Pepsi and Coors, recorded five music CDs, published four books and licensed over 400 products, including two Bally pinball machines, BC Rich guitars, three comic book series, Elvira’s “Night Brew” beer, “Evil” perfume and a slot machines from IGT. Elvira also boasts the best selling female costume of all time and has just launched a new iPhone App and an online fan club at www.elvira.com.
ELVIRA’S MOVIE MACABRE is a 34D Production and is written and produced by Cassandra Peterson and Ted Biaselli. The series’ Executive Producer is Anita First.
Elvira is played by actress/writer Cassandra Peterson.
Actor Michael Sarrazin, whose star rose in the 1960s, has died after a brief battle with cancer. He was 70 years old. The charismatic and handsome Sarrazin found stardom almost as soon as he entered the film business, with a prominent co-starring role with George C. Scott in the 1967 comedy The Flim Flam Man. Other prominent roles in the 60s and 70s included The Sweet Ride, The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, For Pete's Sake, Sometimes a Great Notion, The Gumball Rally and most prominently, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Sarrazin was said to have been the first choice for the role of Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy, but Jon Voight ultimately rode to stardom in the role. Sarrazin's career went into decline by the late 1970s but he continued to work in low-budget films and on television. Click here for more
Regular readers of Cinema Retro know that we routinely promote the great soundtracks released by Screen Archives. Now the company has gone one better by securing the rights to retro film favorites that they are releasing as limited edition DVDs. Film historian and documtenary maker Nick Redman is working with Screen Archives to bring an exciting batch of titles to the market, some of which are already available. Each DVD is a limited edition. Nick provided us with the following titles and release dates:
THE KREMLIN LETTER (released March 15th)
VIOLENT SATURDAY - April 12th
FATE IS THE HUNTER - May 10th
WOMAN OBSESSED - June 14th
THE EGYPTIAN - July 12th
THE FLIM-FLAM MAN - August 9th
These are available exclusively from the Screen Archives web site. Click here to order
Industry scuttlebutt proved correct when Sony announced that it will distribute the next James Bond film starring Daniel Craig, set to be released in November 2012. Sony distributed the last two Bond blockbusters, Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace. The rights to the series reverted back to MGM, but the financially-troubled studio does not have sufficient resources to promote and distribute the film, thus the joint venture with Sony. Click here for more
MGM has released Return From the Ashes as part of its DVD-to-order lineup. It's a criminally underrated thriller directed by the criminally underrated J. Lee Thompson. The British b&w production was released in 1964 and filmed at MGM's old studios at Borehamwood. The intriguing storyline focuses on Stan (Maximilian Schell), a penniless but charismatic cad and gigolo who worms his way into being the boy toy of rich female doctor Michele Wolf (Ingrid Thulin) in Paris immediately prior to the outbreak of WWII. Michele realizes she is being manipulated but finds her wayward lover's charms irresistable. After the war breaks out and France falls to Germany, Stan performs what he describes as his one gallant action: he marries Michele despite the fact that she is Jewish. Predictably, the situation ends tragically as she is arrested within minutes of the wedding and sent to a concentration camp. At the end of the war, Michele never returns to France and Stan assumes she has died in captivity. Years later, he has successfully wooed Michele's stepdaughter Fabi (Samantha Eggar), a self-centered but sensous young woman who has grown up resenting her treatment at the hands of Michele, who ignored her and kept her shuttled between various boarding schools. Now Fabi and Stan are lovers and living a seemingly blissful, if financially strained existence.
This is the last photo taken on the last roll of Kodachrome film manufactured by Kodak. The photographer is Steve McCurry.
Back when Paul Simon had a chart-topping titled Kodachrome in 1973, few could foresee the day when the much-hailed film stock would someday become obsolete. Simon extolled its virtues by singing about its "nice bright colors" that gave us "the greens of summer" However, the format is officially now dead. Click here for a moving tribute.
Movie exhibitors learned the first time around that gimmicks like 3-D wear thin with audiences if the films themselves are not of high quality. The same pattern may be repeating itself today.
Film critic John Farr takes an insightful look at the state of the motion picture business in a year that finds box-office receipts having declined by 20%. His conclusion? Studios spend too much time and money creating spectacle rather than good movies. He predicts there will be a massive shakedown in the theater industry with only the strong surviving. Click here to read
Nicolas Cage, the man who used to be an acclaimed actor before becoming king of unspeakably bad action films, was arrested in New Orleans this morning. Cage was witnessed having a major blowup with his wife Alice. The public spectacle became so bad that the police were called. They found Cage to be allegedly very drunk and issued him a warning to go home. Not only did Cage refuse, but he twice dared cops to arrest him - which they promptly did. He has been charged with one count of domestic abuse (despite the fact that his wife refused to press charges) and one count of disturbing the peace. Cage was in the Big Easy to film what will likely be another forgettable action film, this one titled Medallion in which he plays a taxi driver looking to rescue his kidnapped daughter. (Think of a low-cal version of Taken). For more click here
Hammer Films might have a winner if the buzz lives up to expectations for The Woman in Black, an old-fashioned period ghost story that stars Daniel Radcliffe. The teaser poster is as bland as you can imagine (big picture of Radcliffe that gives no sense of what the film is about). However, there is a short, intriguing teaser trailer that has been released. It would be great to finally get a horror film that relies on tantalizing viewer's imaginations rather than providing stomach-turning special effects. Click here for more
Warner Archive has released the 1961 comedy Bachelor in Paradise which features the considerable star power of Bob Hope and Lana Turner. As with most Hope vehicles, this is a low-key affair that was designed to please his core base of fans. If the film doesn't break any new ground for Hope the actor, it at least provides plenty of yucks from his trademark wisecracks. Hope plays Adam Niles,an international playboy and best-selling author who has gotten rich by writing books about the sex lives of different nationalities and cultures. When devastating tax troubles force him to return to America, he reluctantly accepts an assignment to help offset his staggering debt to the government. Niles' publisher concocts a scheme whereby he will go undercover to research and write about the sex lives of Americans. He ends up moving to a suburban community known as Paradise, where he assumes an alias and goes about assessing the love lives of his neighbors. The presence of a single man among so many married couples causes an instant scandal, especially when Niles begins wooing neighborhood wives to his lectures about how to improve their sex lives. (This being 1961, it is unsurprising that his conclusions all revolve around what women can do to entice their men. No reciprocal protocols need apply). Before long, husbands are marching on Niles' home like the villagers storming Frankenstein's castle. His main ally is Paradise manager Rosemary Howard (Lana Turner) who puts her career on the line to defend Niles' right to live in the neighborhood, even as she rejects his heavy-handed attempts to seduce her.
Kiel as the villain Jaws in a publicity still from the 1979 film Moonraker, in which he made a return appearance following The Spy Who Loved Me.
Actor Richard Kiel will be attending a special screening of the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, May 6. Film historian Bruce Crawford will host. Tickets are $20. Click here for details
The Hangover curse continues: both Liam Neeson and Mel Gibson bounced from the sequel.
The producers of The Hangover Part II must be regretting their decision to have a high-profile cameo. The sequel to the comedy hit originally had Mel Gibson slated for the part, but Gibson's scandals caused him to be dropped from the project. Liam Neeson then filmed a cameo but it was decided that additional shooting needed to be done. However, Neeson was already filming the sequel to Clash of the Titans and couldn't comply. Thus, his role has been cut and has been recast with Nick Cassavetes. For more click here
Cinema Retro contributor and best-selling author Robert Sellers has another major book about to be released that will be of interest to all retro movie fans- right down to the groovy Flint-inspired cover. Here is the official press release for the book, which will be out in May (UK) and June (USA):
Alan Bates, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Tom Courtenay, Albert Finney, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, Robert Shaw and Terence Stamp: They are the most formidable acting generation ever to tread the boards or stare into a camera, whose anti-establishment attitude changed the cultural landscape of Britain.
This was a new breed, many culled from the working class industrial towns of Britain, and nothing like them has been seen before or since. Their raw earthy brilliance brought realism to a whole range of groundbreaking theatre from John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger to Joan Littlewood and Harold Pinter and the creation of the National Theatre. And they ripped apart the staid, middle class British film industry with kitchen sink classics like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, This Sporting Life, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, A Kind of Loving and Billy Liar before turning their sights on international stardom: Connery with James Bond, O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia, Finney with Tom Jones and Caine with Zulu.
Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down brings alive the trail-blazing period of theatre and film from 1956-1964 through the vibrant energy and exploits of this revolutionary generation of stars who bulldozed over austerity Britain and paved the way for the swinging 60s. What Peter Biskind’s ‘Easy Riders Raging Bulls’ did for American cinema writing so ‘Don’t Let the Bastards’ will do for the British cinema.
Interview subjects include: David McCallum, Rita Tushingham, Michael Anderson, Victor Spinetti, Susannah York, George Baker, Sidney J. Furie, Glyn Edwards, Derek Fowlds, Gary Raymond, Michael Cacoyannis, Robert Hardy, Cyril Frankel, David Storey, Edward Hardwicke, Gemma Jones, Monty Norman, Philip Saville, Walter Lassally and the widow of Richard Harris Elizabeth Harris.
After our recent plea to Universal to release the 1965 Charlton Heston-Richard Boone film The War Lord on DVD, several readers were kind enough to inform us that it is available in the UK through Amazon. Good news indeed. The film had been released very briefly on DVD by Universal in the States years ago but has not been available since. C'mon, Universal- give American fans of this fine film the opportunity to enjoy it once again.
British readers and Americans with multi-region DVD players can order the film through Amazon UK by clicking here
Moore with Gloria Hendry in Live and Let Die (1973), his first Bond film.
It has officially been announced that Sir Roger Moore will write a book titled Bond on Bond to be published in September 2012 by Pollinger, the company that published his best-selling autobiography. The book's release will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 007 film series. In the book, Sir Roger will share his thoughts about every aspect of the Bond phenomenon, including personal memories and his thoughts about Bond's gadgets, cars and villains. For more click here
Would you pay $30 to see an Adam Sandler movie a couple of months ahead of its DVD release?
By Lee Pfeiffer
With box-office receipts down sharply from last year, movie studios are thinking outside the box when it comes to benefiting from any new source of revenue. The latest bright idea is to make recent theatrical releases available to consumers through an on-demand basis before they are released on DVD. Sounds good, doesn't it? But wait- the studios believe you will shell out $30 for the privilege. That's the hefty price tag it will cost you to benefit from the "window" between a film's theatrical exhibition and its debut on DVD. Perhaps no one in Hollywood knows it, but the nation is hurting economically - which is why box-office is down to begin with. Millions of Americans are not only out of work, but they have lost their health insurance along with their employment. This double-barreled crisis would hardly seem to leave much of a market for an audience that wants to pay $30 for the latest Adam Sandler film. The other problem are theater chains that are protesting and threatening not to exhibit movies that are part of this marketing plan. Click here to read the L.A. Times report
The James Bond double feature of Goldfinger and Dr. No was successfully released in 1966 and again in 1969 in the USA.
What a combo! The Dirty Dozen paired with Grand Prix.
The folks at the terrific Flickhead blog have a multi-part story about the days when studios would routinely reissue hit movies as double features. Click here to read (Above photos from the Flickhead site)
Scoular was one of James Bond's bedmates in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which starred George Lazenby.
Actress Angela Scoular, who appeared in two James Bond films in the 1960s, has died at age 65. She was married to British actor Leslie Phillips. Although she had been suffering from bowel cancer, no cause of death has been announced pending an investigation. Scoular appeared in numerous TV series and movies as a rising star in the 1960s. She shared a bathtub with Sir James Bond (David Niven) in the 1967 big screen spoof of Casino Royale and appeared as Ruby, the bubble-headed sexpot in the 1969 official 007 film On Her Majesty's Secret Service with George Lazenby. Click here for more
Redford photographed in Ireland by Cinema Retro's John Exshaw.
Robert Redford is quashing rumors that his acting days are over by returning to the screen to play Branch Ricky, the famed baseball figure who made history by signing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, thus putting a stake through the heart of segregation in major league baseball. The project has been a long-time goal of Redford's, who says he still has plenty of filmmaking ambitions including a desire to finally make a thriller. Click here for more
Our friends at the highly addictive retro web site Cinebeats have a fascinating article about a 1960s Gold Key comic book series called Space Family Robinson. The premise of the story very obviously served as the inspiration of Irwin Allen's Lost in Space TV series, which debuted in 1965. However, the quirky master sci-fi producer claimed rather unconvincingly that he had never even heard of the comic book prior to putting his show into production. Lawsuits followed and the entire bizarre story is related on the Cinebeats site. Click here to read.
The plans to remake Danny Kaye's 1947 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty have been floating around Hollywood for so many years that you suspect early drafts of the script must have Charlie Chaplin's fingerprints on them. However, after Jim Carrey, Mike Myers and others dropped out of the project over the years, Ben Stiller appears to be finalizing plans to bring the story to the screen. The plot concerns a man obsessed with fantasizing about leading a life of action and adventure. Click here for more
Widely considered by many to be the best film of the 1980’s, Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull is a film that Mr. Scorsese didn’t think he could make.Mired in a self-destructive lifestyle following the box-office disappointment that was New York, New York in 1977, Raging Bull is the film that saved Mr. Scorsese’s life and career while destroying the onscreen life of its protagonist, heavy weight champion Jake LaMotta, by the latter’s own hand.
In hindsight, to think that Mr. Scorsese was anything less than completely self-assured in his direction of the film is almost unfathomable.In a maneuver that would repeat itself several more times in his career until The Departed (2006), the film lost to Robert Redford and Ordinary People at the Academy Awards for best director and best picture, respectively, although Mr. Scorsese’s personal editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, won the Oscar for best editing (she always felt that it was his Oscar since he storyboarded and planned the film shot-for-shot).It’s also difficult to overlook the irony that the 1981 Oscar presentation had to be rescheduled to March 31 due to John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of President Reagan following his obsessive viewing of Mr. Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), and his infatuation with actress Jodie Foster.
Few filmmakers have reached the heights of greatness that Mr. Scorsese has achieved, and he is arguably America’s greatest living film director.While those unfamiliar with the film might be put off about a “movie about boxing,” Raging Bull is no more a film about prize fighting than Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972) is about a weekend boinkfest between a middle-aged man and a young woman.The former is about redemption, and the latter is about need.
From its opening shots of Robert De Niro in slow motion to the strains of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana to its closing shots of Mr. De Niro hitting the stage 58 pounds heavier, Raging Bull tells the story of a man who destroys his family and almost himself by his own insecurities.What would normally be an interminable film to sit through in the hands of a lesser director is instead a masterwork of modern filmmaking with all involved working at the height of their powers.Michael Chapman’s stunning black and white photography eliciting the chiaroscuros that permeated the film’s greatest influences, among them Abraham Polonsky’s Force of Evil (1948), has become a textbook of great cinematography.The fight scenes are among the most challenging ever shot for a motion picture, LaMotta’s inner rage and self destruction complemented by the animalistic screams mixed into the soundtrack.Joe Pesci is excellent as Jake’s younger brother, Joey, as is Cathy Moriarity as Jake’s wife, who must contend with his ceaseless, if unfounded, suspicions of infidelity. The scenes of domestic life gone to hell are among the most realistic that contemporary cinema has recorded outside of a documentary.
Originally released on Blu-ray in 2009, the new MGM 30th anniversary edition adds a few new extras to the mix, including a second DVD of the film in standard definition:
- Three commentaries: Director Martin Scorsese and Editor Thelma Schooonmaker, cast and crew, storytellers
- Four new featurettes: Marty & Bobby; Raging Bull: Reflections on a Classic; Remembering Jake; Marty on Fockers
- Cathy Moriarty on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, March 27, 1981
Earl Hagen's super hip score for the classic 1960s TV series I Spy starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby spawned two soundtrack albums back in the day. Those original vinyl masters have formed the basis of a new release from Film Score Monthly which combines them both onto one deluxe CD release- complete with extensive liner notes and rare photos. Click here to order
Deadline Hollywood Daily reports that Universal has pulled out of plans of financing director Paul Greengrass' film Memphis, which centers on the final days of Martin Luther King, who was assassinated while in Memphis to support a strike by sanitation workers in 1968. No one is saying why Universal changed its mind, but Deadline Hollywood's sources say that the King family, which is known to exert tight control over King's image, objected to the script and threatened to go public with their complaints. The family is not without controversy, with some saying their activities over the years have actually put Dr. King's legacy in an unflattering light. These include demanding payment for use of his speeches and allowing the center that was opened in his memory in Atlanta to become the focal point of family in-fighting. Greengrass is now seeking new backers for his film. Click here for more
The James Bond web site MI6 HQ reports that producer Barbara Broccoli and director Sam Mendes are in South Africa scouting locations for the next 007 flick, which will begin filming later this year with Daniel Craig once again in the lead role. Click here for more
Acclaimed film director Sidney Lumet has died at age 86 from lymphoma. Lumet was nominated four times for Best Director Oscars but never won. However, he did receive an honorary Oscar for his life's work in 2005. Lumet, who started as a child actor, was - along with Woody Allen- the quintessential New York director and preferred working in Gotham whenever possible. He expressed an aversion to Hollywood early in his career. His career boasted a remarkable and diverse number of classic movies including 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, The Pawnbroker, Murder on the Orient Express, The Verdict, The Anderson Tapes, The Hill and Fail Safe. I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Lumet in his New York office and screening room some years ago when we worked on his audio commentary for the Fox DVD of The Verdict. I had met him previously at a cocktail party at Lincoln Center for Sean Connery in 1997. Lumet struck me as a quiet, unassuming man. In an industry of giant egos, he didn't even take a possessive director's credit until late in his career. I last saw him a few years ago when he was inducted into The Players club in New York City. Always soft-spoken, he had a wry sense of humor and a passionate love of film. He truly deserves to be regarded as a giant of the American cinema. Click here for more
Even if you don't get to London regularly, Beatles fans can peruse a wealth of new and vintage collectibles from the famed London Beatles Store at 233 Baker Street, right next door to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Click here to visit the website, where you can order goods worldwide.