With Rise of the Planet of the Apes about to be released, The New York Times looks at the history of the series and evaluates the individual films, finding relevance to today's social issues. Click here to read
the inevitable rollout of classic (and not so classic) movies to the latest
home video format, Fox Studios have released Conan the Barbarian as a
region-free Blu-ray in the UK, just in time to help stir up interest in the
forthcoming remake in September (although that film is being distributed by
rival studios Lionsgate).
is hard to imagine now, given Schwarzenegger's legendary status in the film
industry, that in 1982 he was a relatively unknown actor. As a former Mr
Olympia he had achieved some level of fame through the body-building
documentary Pumping Iron in 1977, where he infamously smoked marijuana.
Several years before that, his first film role had seen him take the lead,under the name Arnold Strong, in Hercules
in New York (1969). One of the funniest bad movies of all time, it did
little for his career at the time, and until Conan the Barbarian, other
film and TV roles mainly consisted of bit parts, playing heavies and body
was his starring role in Pumping Iron that brought Schwarzenegger to the
attention of Hollywood, and a property was sought out that would suit his
particular screen presence, ideally a role that needed an imposing physique and
little in the way of dialogue. The Conan Marvel comic book series, based on the
fantasy novels by Robert E. Howard, with its highly stylish depictions of this
towering, muscle-bound hero, provided the inspiration and a script was
developed. That process took four years, and included a major rewrite by Oliver
story, evidently based on Viking culture and mythology, depicts the evils
committed by a snake cult lead by the messianic Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones).
He makes the mistake of killing everyone in young Conan's village, including
his parents. Conan and the other children are put into a life of back-breaking
slavery. Young Conan grows up to be the hugely over-developed Arnold
Schwarzenegger. His muscles do not go unnoticed, as he's soon put to work as a
gladiator, stabbing, gouging and pummelling those brave or unlucky enough to be
put into the ring with him. Eventually he manages to secure his freedom, and
goes on a quest to find the cult that killed his parents. Along the way he has
sex with a witch, makes friends with foxy warrior Valeria (former dancer
Sandahl Bergman, who performed all her own stunts) and thief Subotai, and
learns that Thulsa Doom has taken the King's daughter. With the King financing
his quest, he sets off into the desert (Almeria, Spain, a location seen in
hundreds of films, but perhaps best known for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)
to confront Doom and his bloodthirsty minions.
Spradlin gave a memorable performance in his brief appearance in Apocalypse Now.
Character actor G.D. Spradlin, who portrayed gruff, no-nonsense tough guys, died last week at the age of 90. Spradlin had a a commanding screen presence and his most memorable roles include a corrupt U.S. senator in The Godfather Part II and the U.S. Army general who sends Captain Willard on his secret mission to kill Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. For more click here
Netrflix, the popular American company that rents DVDs by mail and allows streamikng of thousands of titles, has seen its once-vaunted customer service policies plummet. Netflix has done away with its most popular pricing plan, thus raising costs to customers. They have compounded the error by sending loyal customers E mail nofitications that some considered to be rudely worded. Click here for more
The label Buysoundtrax has released James Horner's score for Roger Corman's 1980 sci-fi movie Battle Beyond the Stars as a limited edition CD. The film starred Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn and George Peppard. Only 1,000 CDs have been pressed. Click here to order from Film Score Monthly,.
Several days ago, maverick director Francis Ford Coppola appeared at Comic-Con and presented clips from his new independent film TWIXT, a bizarre chiller starring Val Kilmer and Bruce Dern. Coppola is experimenting with new technology that will allow audiences to see sequences in 3-D without having to use cumbersome glasses. Click here for more
It may look like the pre-credits sequence from Octopussy, but this mini-plane is actually more closely related to The Man With the Golden Gun.
By Lee Pfeiffer
One of the few saving graces of the dreadful 1974 James Bond film The Man With the Golden Gun was the introduction of a novel concept: a flying car driven by the villain Scaramanga (Christopher Lee). It took 37 years but once again, technology has caught up with another 007-inspired invention. There is now an actual flying car that is due to be approved for both flying and street driving in the UK. The downside? It will set you back a cool £155,000, so unless your name happens to be Auric it will probably be out of your price range. Then again if petrol prices in the UK keep skyrocketing, this may actually prove to be a prudent investment to take to your local grocery market. For more click here
20th Century Fox took out this ad in the trade papers in August 1960 to advertise forthcoming major productions including John Wayne's North To Alaska, Marilyn Monroe in Let's Make Love and The Innocents. Note that at the time Fox was going to produce George Stevens' production of The Greatest Story Ever Told. However, the agreement went awry. The movie would not be made until several years later when United Artists backe the film. Also, the ad says Elizabeth Taylor has arrived in Europe to begin production on Cleopatra. Little did Fox executives realize that the film would be aborted, the footage mostly scrapped and major roles recast before resuming again- and becoming the most expensive film made until that time.
The golden age of the drive-in movie theater may be long gone, but audiences are wild about watching flicks in the great outdoors. Click here for the best places to indulge in this movie lover's pasttime.
Helen Mirren: from The Queen to the remake of Arthur.
In a column for the web site Grantland, writer Lane Brown takes some prominent actors to task for tarnishing their once-vaunted status as Oscar winners by appearing in lousy movies in return for a quick pay check. Among those in the Hall of Shame: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Frances McDormand, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks and old reliable Nicolas Cage, who bravely paved the way for trashing one's once formidible reputation. Click here for the list of cinematic crimes committed by these offenders.
Screenwriter Michael B. Gordon, who wrote the script for 300, is turning back to ancient times to bring a new version of the 1960 Kirk Douglas/Stanley Kubrick classic Spartacus to the big screen. Gordon promises this one will be "less fictionalized". Sure, but let's see him recreate those astounding epic sequences without relying on today's cheesy CGI effects. For more click here
There is a prequel to the classic sci-fi film The Thing that will be hitting theaters in December. I have an inherent prejudice that nothing will ever top John Carpenter's 1980s remake of the original 1950s film. The new film has a relatively no-name cast compared to the inspired casting for Carpenter's movie but that doesn't mean it might not be a good chiller in its own right. Click here for trailer - Lee Pfeiffer
It's enough to make you bay at the moon. Back in 1981 director Joe Dante created the classic werewolf pic The Howling, then had the good sense to move on to other things. Other directors exploited the movie and turned it into a low-rent franchise that continues to this day with The Howling: Reborn. The trailer offers no evidence that this installment will pave any new ground in terms of restoring quality to the series. Click here to view
The Dirty Harry films were covered in Cinema Retro issue #9.
The man who made Dirty Harry a household name - Clint Eastwood- has agreed to serve as Honorary Chairman for the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum, which is being built in Washington, D.C. The museum will honor law enforcement officers who have been slain in the line of duty. Eastwood remarked, "“The National Memorial and Museum are long overdue and richly deserved
tributes to the men and women in law enforcement.Thousands of real-life, sworn law enforcement officers never make it
home. They make the ultimate sacrifice. We owe those who have fallen,
and all of our nation’s law enforcement officers, a huge debt of
gratitude.” For more click here
Universal has gotten cold feet and withdrawn from Ron Howard's plans to direct a trilogy of feature films based on Stephen King's 7-part novel The Dark Tower. There have been rumors that the studio might be getting nervous about backing the big budget project, but plans seemed to be proceding and sets were constructed to begin shooting. Now Universal has dropped the project- something almost unheard of considering the high power talent involved. The studio isn't giving a reason why they have backed out but sources say the top brass is nervous about having already bankrolled action films with mega budgets. For more click here
As reported previously, Ben Stiller will star in the remake of Danny Kaye's 1947 comedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, about a shy man who lives vicariously through his fantasies of leading exciting and heroic lives. Now comes news that Stiller will also direct the project, making this his fouth directorial effort. He also intends to bring a sequel to his Zoolander comedy to the screen. For more click here
Most people think of Ursula Andress as the first on-screen James Bond girl. In fact, eight years before Andress made her memorable entrance in the 1962 007 film Dr. No, actress Linda Christian portrayed the femme fatale in the 1954 live CBS one-hour TV version of Casino Royale that starred Barry Nelson as "Card Sense" Jimmy Bond. Christian had been a contract player for MGM and was once married to screen heartthrob Tyrone Power. She passed away this week after a battle with cancer at age 87. For more click here
Twlight Time, the new DVD label from Screen Entertainment Archives, will release the oft-requested The Flim-Flam Man on August 9. The 1967 comedy features George C. Scott in a bravura performance as a charismatic con man who travels the American South during the Depression era along with young protege Michael Callan. Click here to order.
The Monkees' 1968 feature film Head features prominently in their new tour.
The Monkees have launched their latest reunion tour- as usual without the participation of Mike Nesmith who has adopted an "I Am Not Spock" attitude toward the group that brought him fame and fortune. Writer Gregory Weinkauf attended their concert at the Greek Theatre and gives the concert an unrequited rave. Click here to read and to view a clip from the Monkees' feature film Head.
Sony has released the first teaser trailer for the much-anticipated The Amazing Spider-Man. If it whets your appetite, the bad news is that you'll have to wait a full year to see the film: it opens on July 4, 2012. We're psyched....
Looks like Meryl Streep better start making room on her crowded mantle of awards if the teaser trailer for The Iron Lady is any indication of her next triumph. Streep portrays Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the high profile biopic due out in January 2012. Click here to view teaser trailer
Angela Scoular played a happy-go-lucky bed mate for James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. In fact, her later years were marred by a myriad of personal problems.
James Bond fans lovingly recall actress Angela Scoular for her performance as Ruby, the air-headed but sexually insatiable girl bedded by James Bond (George Lazenby) in the 1969 007 classic On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Scoular died in April and a British coroner has revealed that Scoular's life and death were tragic in every way. Dispelling rumors that Scoular had committed suicide, the coroner ruled that she actually died from drinking a corrosive liquid cleaning agent that scalded her throat. She was deemed to have been in mental disarray when the action occurred. Scoular was facing numerous demons in her life including alcoholism, a battle with bowel cancer, depression and financial problems. She was married to British actor Leslie Phillips. For full details click here
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Before STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA hits shelves on September 16, fans
can get a sneak peak at the 40+ hours of bonus footage on the Blu-ray
collection through the Star Wars Blu-ray: Early Access App. The App,
available for all iDevices including the iPad and iPhone will highlight a
sampling of bonus materials featured in the Blu-ray collection,
including never-before-seen content sourced from the Lucasfilm Archives
such as matte paintings and concept art; prop, maquette and costume
turnarounds; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; and more.
The Star Wars Blu-ray: Early Access App will be available for free
download at the iTunes store on July 20th for iPad and for all iDevices
For fans lucky enough to score a ticket to Comic-Con, stop by booth
#3528 to check out the App and get an even bigger sneak peek at the
Blu-ray Disc and experience one of the Saga’s most iconic moments from a
unique, in-universe vantage point!
Controversial entertainment writer Kitty Kelly, who wrote a best-selling unauthorized book about Frank Sinatra in 1986, finally gets an interview after 25 years with Nancy Gunderson, who had a passionate two-year affair with Sinatra in 1970. There are some fascinating insights into the private life of a very private man, including the feud that goes on even today between Sinatra's wife Barbara and his daughters Tina and Nancy. Click here to read
Although it's $38 million gross to date may seem like chump change in an era in which films that gross a half-billion dollars are considered to be "disappointments", Woody Allen's wonderful and quirky romance Midnight in Paris is now poised to be the biggest grossing movie of his long career. Allen has always eschewed commercial films in favor of those that appeal to urban art house crowds. The perpetually glum artiste continues to point out that his Best Picture Oscar winner of 1977- Annie Hall - is still among the lowest-grossing movies to receive the accolade. (Not that Allen even bothered to show up at the ceremony to collect his prize, opting instead to play with his jazz band at a New York night club.) Still, it's nice to know there is an audience that remains for such intelligent and uncompromising directors and their films. Click here for more - Lee Pfeiffer
(Note: Since this story was prepared, the grosses for the film have climbed to $41 million, making it indisputably Allen's biggest grossing movie to date)
A bridge that featured in a key sequence from the 1982 film First Blood, which introduced the character of John Rambo, played by Sylvester Stallone, has been torn down due to environmental concerns. Ironically, it was interest by movie fans who visited the rickety structure in the town of Hope, British Columbia, that apparently caused the bridge to weaken. Local officials tried to save the bridge but found the effort too costly. It has been torn down and replaced with a new structure. For more click here
Some unofficial on-set footage from the forthcoming Batman flick The Dark Knight Rises has hit the web. The silent sequence depicts Christian Bale chatting with Anne Hathaway, who plays Catwoman, in the midst of a faux rain storm (FX people are using hoses). There is also an imported American taxi cab in the sequence, which was shot in Nottingham, England. The scene was shot at a distance and is so hurky-jerky it appears as though it was filmed by the ghost of Don Knotts. Click here to view
Happy Days cast members Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Donny Most and Erin Moran are pressing forward with their allegations that CBS has conspired to deprive them of royalties on merchandise sold relating to the popular show that ran in the 1970s. CBS admits it has been guilty of "oversights" in payment of the royalties relating to the series, which originally aired on ABC. However, the network says the lawsuit for $10 million is much ado about nothing and is seeking to have it dismissed. Click here for more.
Johnny Depp will bring a big screen version of the 1970s TV series Kolchak:The Night Stalker to reality through his partnership with Disney. The Night Stalker began as a 1972 ABC TV "Movie of the Week" and garnered legendary ratings that led to the concept being expanded to a weekly TV series. Darren McGavin starred as a newspaper reporter on a one man crusade to expunge modern day vampires from society. The show has spawned a loyal following that continues to this day. In today's Twilight-fueled pop culture, vampires are all the rage and the Night Stalker project looks liek a sure winner.
Paul Revere: the next big screen hero?
In a startlingly different project, Depp will play American colonial patriot Paul Revere, whose legendary ride through the night to warn settlers that "The British are coming!" earned him a "revered" place in U.S. history books. The Revere project has picked up steam from an unexpected development that thrust the patriot back into the headlines. This occurred last month when former Governor Sarah Palin misstated the facts regarding Revere by saying he was riding to warn the British that the Americans would not allow them to take their guns. After being debunked by historians on both the political left and right, some of Palin's supporters temporarily changed Revere's entry on Wikipedia in an attempt to make it appear her statement was correct. From such bizarre scenarios, major motion pictures are given the green light. The Revere controversy caused countless people to re-examine his life and, presumably, made him "box-office" again for the first time in decades. I'm personally pulling for a controversy about George Washington, whose incredible life story has never been properly made into a feature film, though a 1980s TV mini series was highly acclaimed. Is it asking too much for some politician out there to screw up the facts about him so we can get the Father of Our Country back on the big screen? For more click here- Lee Pfeiffer
To the delight of Warner Brothers and the surprise of absolutely no one, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 2 has shattered international boxoffice records opening to a three day gross of $294 million. The final chapter in the blockbuster film franchise will also prove to have "legs" as it's been scoring exceptionally well with fans who feel it's one of the best in the long-running series. For more click here
Whether you love or loathe the President, there's a toy out there to suit your political leanings.
By Lee Pfeiffer
One of the indignities that every president has to endure is having his image distorted in ludicrous ways, sometimes for satirical purposes and in other cases through a misguided homage. President Obama is no exception. One action figure gives him the face of a demon from hell, while a Japanese company has him as a Star Wars-like hero, complete with samurai sword. Our favorite is the Obama line of condoms, advertised by the tag line that they represent the ultimate stimulus package for hard times! At least they didn't use the line "Between Barack and a hard place...." Click here to view
Twilight Time, the terrific new label created by film historians Nick Redman and Brian Jamieson, has released the 1954 epic The Egyptian starring Jean Simmons and Victor Mature as a very limited special edition (3,000 units) DVD and Blu-ray. Click here to order from Screen Archives Entertainment.
Two teaser posters have been released in advance of the December opening of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, with Guy Ritchie directing the sequel to the original smash hit revival of the famed detective. The posters are as uncreative and bland as one might expect by today's dismal standards: big close-ups of the main actors dominating most of the artwork. One would have thought that the Holmes legend and mystique might have inspired a more creative campaign, but they've chosen to the take the road that was, well, elementary. - Lee Pfeiffer
Arnold Schwarzenegger's big screen comeback, delayed temporarily because of scandals in his personal life, is back on track. In September he will begin filming Last Stand, described as a contemporary Western with the former Governator cast as a sheriff battling a viscious drug cartel near the Mexican border. The movie's boxoffice reception will probably dictate whether younger audiences will respond to Schwarzenegger's films. For most the better part of the last decade he has put his film career on hold while serving as governor of California. Hollywood is betting that there is still plenty of enthusiasm to see him back in action. For more click here
Your web site passes the time wonderfully until your next issue comes in. A comment. Could you have more interviews with actual stars, directors, producers, cinematographers, composers etc rather than people whining about films they don't like without being constructive?
Your review of 'Kona Coast' comes at a time when I've just picked up 'Knight without Armor' a smashing biography done of Richard Boone. The author writes it like the format of 'Citizen Kane', the facts, then interviews with various people who knew and worked with Mr Boone. Much better than something like Nick Tosche's bio of Dean Martin where I think that Mr Martin's only comment to him was 'get off my lawn, punk' and there are no quotes from Mr Martin in the book, just what Nick wants to write.
Anyway, 'Kona Coast' was meant to be a pilot for a series for CBS. CBS offered Boone the lead in 'Hawaii Five 0' which he turned down in favour of his KC series but CBS went for Jack Lord and 'H50'.
Interesting factoid in there in an interview with Andrew McLaglen who said John Wayne called him to arrange a meeting with Jim Arness to discuss playing the Sam Houston role in his 'The Alamo' film. Mr Arness agreed for a certain time, then without any word left Mr Wayne waiting. As AML was also directing 'Gunsmoke' as well as 'Have Gun Will Travel' Mr Wayne asked him 'who's that other guy you work with' and that's how Mr Boone played Houston.
Enjoyed the 'Magnificent 7' trailer but I prefer the original. Not even FSM knows who composted the song that appeared in this trailer and I recall being used on radio spots. As the film supposedly was released in Europe after a limited release in the US and one of the gun shots sound effects on the trailer sounds like the Spanish ones, maybe some Italian wrote it like the 'Mighty Sons of Hercules' themes. Any comments?
(Click below to view original trailer for The Magnificent Seven featuring theme song not heard in the film)
Retro Responds: James, thanks for the very informative letter. Regarding interviews, we feature as many as we can given limits on our time and resources. Not only does every issue of the magazine generally feature at least one major interview, but some of our columnists have provided still others specifically for the web site. Thanks for the insights into Kona Coast - they certainly explain why the movie has the look and feel of a TV show. I share your enthusiasm for Richard Boone and can highly recommend David Rothel's outstanding 2001 book A Knight Without Armor. This is the only biography of Boone I am aware of and it's a superb achievement, featuring episode guides to his shows and insights from his son. In fact, the book includes a really cool bonus CD - Johnny Western's original title theme for Have Gun Will Travel. (Click here to order book from Amazon) As for The Magnificent Seven, I can only assume that the song included in the trailer was not in the final film because it must have been pretty corny even in 1960 and certainly didn't fit the mood of the film and Elmer Bernstein's wonderful score. The same was true with theme songs recorded for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Sink the Bismarck and others. Thanks for supporting both the web site and the magazine.
Schwartz was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2008.
Producer Sherwood Schwartz has died at age 94. Schwartz started off as a writer during the Golden Age of television and graduated to developing and producing his own shows. His most notable successes were Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch. Both were disdained by critics but were popular during their initial runs and became even more so in syndication. He is survived by his wife of 70 years. Click here for more
Click here to watch a reissue trailer for The Magnificent Seven. When the film opened in 1960 most of the cast members were not known to the public, with the exception of recent Oscar winner Yul Brynner. However, within a few short years, they would all enjoy varying degrees of stardom. Eli Wallach's career would go into high gear as a leading man with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Horst Bucholz's fame broke out of his native Germany and he became an international film personality, James Coburn would become a leading man as Our Man Flint, Charles Bronson went from being a reliable character actor to full-fledged stardom in the 1970s and Robert Vaughn would become an international favorite as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Even Brad Dexter, generally the guy whose name is forgotten in trivia contests, had a successful career as supporting actor and film producer. This reissue trailer shows how famous the cast had become over the years: they need only be identified by their last names.
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM CINEMA RETRO'S ARCIVES
As someone who has written extensively about the spy craze of the 1960s, I'm ashamed to admit I'd never seen an episode of Honey West. The series premiered in 1965 but lasted a mere one season, a casualty of high ratings from its time slot rival Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Thus, I had no preconceived notions when VCI's complete series arrived for review. The 4 DVD set consists of all thirty episodes. I have not watched all of them, but I've seen enough to get a general taste of the show- and I love it. It's been said that Honey West was the first kick-ass female action hero on TV, but in fact, that honor probably goes to the character of Cathy Gale on The Avengers. Nevertheless, Honey had great influence despite the brevity of her series. In fact, its amazing how loyal the following is for the show,considering it's not been available on DVD and hasn't been syndicated.
Honey West came to life in a series of 1950s pulp novels. The character, played by Anne Francis, made her TV debut in an episode of Burke's Law and producer Aaron Spelling decided she merited her own series. Honey is a sexy private detective aided and abetted by her loyal friend/partner/employee Sam (John Ericson). She resides in a luxury penthouse with her pet ocelot and her swinging Aunt May (Irene Hervey). Honey generally dealt with solving every day crimes like murder and smuggling, but she did possess an array of James Bond-like gadgets. Her compact works as a communicator and she carries weapons in her garter belt. She's also a martial arts expert. Although the half-hour plots aren't long enough to generate much suspense or character development, the real appeal is the chemistry between Honey and Sam. Due to the concerns over censorship, virtually all male/female action teams of bygone eras had deliberately ambiguous relationships when it came to sex. There was a flirtatious quality found on shows like The Avengers, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. and The Protectors, but it's fairly obvious that Honey is not remaining totally chaste with a horndog like Sam around. Yet, it's equally clear that whatever sexual relationship they enjoy, it's of a casual nature, as both Honey and Sam aren't bothered by the other using their appeal to the opposite sex to further a case. Another refreshing aspect of the show is that Honey and Sam are all too human and prone to making mistakes. In the very first episode, they blow a high profile sting operation and have to hustle to make it up to their client. Both Francis and Ericson are extremely engaging and fun to watch. The bon mots tossed between them are also often very amusing.
VCI has done a good job of remastering the episodes, which look crisp and clean. Sadly, Ms. Francis is not interviewed on the set perhaps due to the fact that she was in fragile health at the time and has since passed away. However, the packaging is impressive and there are extensive liner notes listing prominent directors and guest-stars. Not incidentally, a highly enjoyable aspect of the set is the inclusion of an abundance of TV commercials from the 1960s. None relate to the show and most are for consumer products ranging from laundry detergent to cigarettes. One realizes how much revenue the TV industry lost when cigarette ads were banned in the early 1970s. I hadn't seen these in decades, but such was their impact on a child, that I could still recall the dialogue and tunes in certain episodes. It's amazing how smoking dominated popular culture during that era. In one ad for Sucrets throat lozenges, the ad advises you to take a tablet and feel free to smoke if you're suffering from a sore throat! There are also spots with George Burns ensdorsing the "luxury" of El Producto cigars- at least until the announcer mentions you can buy them at two for 25 cents! There are also promos for women's cosmetics, Edie Adams shilling another brand of cigars and some vintage ads for The F.B.I., A Man Called Shenandoah, The Legend of Jesse James and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. If you can't get into Honey West, these ads should be worth the price of the set alone. - Lee Pfeiffer
Filmmaker Kyle Roberts has created a terrific six minute stop action short film "starring" action figures of James Bond actors Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. Aside from some less-than-convincing American accents for the "Bonds", the film is a truly ambitious and clever parody- with a true 007-like 'sting in the tail' finale. Click here to view
Director Sam Raimi, the latest filmmaker to "re-imagine" The Wizard of Oz through his forthcoming production Oz, The Great and Powerful, may have been dealt a blow by a U.S. court decision regarding copyrights pertaining to the classic 1939 film. Although Frank Baum's original novel and its characters are in the public domain, the court has ruled that changes made specifically for the MGM film version remain under copyright. Some of the most iconic elements that audiences associate with the story derive from that film, not the source novel. The ruling could have a major effect on similar plans to capitalize on older films through remaking key elements that were not in the original books. For more click here
Any time a James Bond film is about to go into production, the rumor mill goes crazy with speculative stories about the casting. However, the New York Times is reporting it has confirmed that Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes have committed to appear in the next 007 flick starring Daniel Craig, due to be released in November 2012. The Times is not generally prone to indulging in unfounded gossip but both distributor Sony and Eon Productions are keeping to their ususal policy of not commenting on any aspect of the production at this early stage. What is certain is that Oscar winner Sam Mendes will direct. For more click here
The Huffington Post presents another of those meaningless but irresistible past-times: voting for your favorite American actors on a scale of one through ten. Among the contenders, an eclectic group including Buster Keaton, Humphrey Bogart, Sean Penn, Marlon Brando,Robert De Niro, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks. In an increasingly dumbed-down world, we're just gratified that so many old-timers even made the list. We expected to find such legendary stars as Orlando Bloom and Adam Sandler populating the choices. Click here to vote.
With a new high profile big screen version of The Great Gatsby scheduled for production, F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel is back in the news. Seems those intent on dumbing-down young readers can't resist "improving" literary masterpieces by altering them in key ways. Film critic Roger Ebert puts a new stream-lined version of Gatsby in his sites as he takes on those intent on changing novels that have been a mainstay of American culture. For more click here
Sony has released director Wolfgang Petersen's masterpiece Das Boot as a magnificent 2 disc Blu-ray special edition. The film's power has only increased over the years. The movie shows the perils of WWII submarine warfare from the viewpoint of a German crew. The special edition is packed with new footage and special edition features. Here is the official press release from Sony:
Culver City, Calif. (March 29, 2011) –
Today, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment announced that they will unleash the harrowing
1981 epic World War II film, Das Boot,
for the first time on
Blu-ray on July 5, 2011 for the SLP of $34.95.Newly
remasteredfor high definition, the director’s cut of this prized
film adds 60 nail-biting minutes to the original version, which was nominated
in 1982 for six Academy Awards® including Best Director, Best
Cinematography, Best Effects/Sound Effects Editing and Best Sound. Also
included in the two-disc set is the original theatrical version of the film and
almost three hours of all-new Blu-ray exclusive special features, including a
retrospective documentary with Director Wolfgang Petersen.
The film follows
the lives of a fearless U-Boat captain Capt.-Lt.
Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (Jurgen Prochnow, The Da Vinci Code, Air Force
One) and his inexperienced crew as they become engulfed in the "Battle of the Atlantic"
during World War II.The crew confronts
the constant and paralyzing fear of the unknown enemy above in the
claustrophobic iron belly of a German U-boat. Variety likens the experience to “a descent into the pit of
hell.”Director Wolfgang Petersen’s
close and focused shots meticulously capture the gritty reality of pursuing
rival ships from undersea in a blind environment, humid with sweat and rank
with the bitter scent of metal.
crafted by Petersen (Troy, Air Force One) and critically acclaimed
as one of the best war films of all time, Das
Boot is a masterpiece that should be part of every film enthusiast’s
collection.The two-disc Blu-ray is
tightly packed with special features including a retrospective documentary of
the making of the film, seven vignettes taking viewers on an intimate tour of a
German U-boat, two featurettes offering insights from wife and First Assistant
Director, Maria Petersen and a look into the making of the Director’s Cut,
historical material with footage detailing the evolution of submarine battles
during World War II and a director’s commentary.
At the height of WWII, a young submarine crew heads out to
sea on a top-secret mission that all but ensures most will never make it home
alive. Ordered to patrol the Atlantic and destroy an allied armada bringing
supplies to Britain,
these raw recruits must band together, bracing themselves against a depth-charge
assault from an unseen enemy.Oscar ® -
nominated director Wolfgang Petersen’s epic adventure deftly explores tension
as pressure builds to an explosive climax, packing a visceral punch few movies
Sir Christopher Lee, move over. Adam Sandler is gonna show you how Count Dracula should really be played. That's not entirely fair: Sandler has signed on to provide the voice for the legendary vampire in a 3-D animated film titled Hotel Transylvania. That sound you hear, dear reader, is that of Bram Stoker turning over in his grave. Click here for more
Warner Archive has released the 1968 thriller Kona Coast, based on the novel Bimini Gal by popular mystery writer John D. MacDonald. The modestly-budgeted production reminds one of John Ford's Donovan's Reef in the sense that one suspects both movies were primarily used as justifications for cast and crew to take a nice vacation in Hawaii. Boone plays Sam Moran, a charter boat captain living the good life in Honolulu, where he routinely indulges in drinking binges and womanizing. When his teenaged daughter falls in with a local high living drug peddler named Kryer (Steve Inhat), she is accidentally given a heroin overdose at a drug-fueled party. Rather than deal with the consequences, Kryer orders her to be murdered. When her body washes ashore, the police think it's a drowning but Sam suspects foul play from the beginning. As he begins his own investigation, he is severely beaten, his boat is destroyed and his first mate murdered. Nevertheless, he vows to soldier on and bring the killers to justice. Sam must have the same bizarre methods of investigation that O.J. Simpson had used to track down "the real killers": his path never seems to wander very far outside of seedy bars and strip clubs. For a man obsessed with avenging his daughter's death, he seems pretty open to distractions. In between downing bottles of booze, his roving eye is attracted to a sexy young bikini-clad girl (Gina Villines) and resurrecting a relationship with an old flame (Vera Miles, looking gorgeous), who - in psychological terms- is carrying more baggage than a cruise ship. There's also a testy relationship with a local businesswoman (Joan Blondell, refreshingly not cast as a bordello madam, for once). Sam interrupts the drinkin' and screwin' long enough to administer the occasional Hawaiian punch to some stock company villains, but finding his daughter's killer doesn't seem like a great priority.
The screenplay by Gilbert Ralston (who wrote the original Willard) is a tepid and under-written and the usually reliable Lamont Johnson is asleep at the wheel in terms of direction. The film lumbers from scene to scene until the painfully anemic climax in which Sam and Kryer square off in a sequence that seemed to take five full minutes to conceptualize and film. (Yes, it's even weaker than that other anemic mano-a-mano duel between hero and villain in The Man With the Golden Gun). The film is not without its modest pleasures, however. Boone is, as always, a forceful and charismatic screen presence. Although he was a TV icon, one wishes he was more selective about his big screen roles. For every good movie (The War Lord, Hombre), he would counter by appearing in several duds. His scenes with Vera Miles are well-acted but the weak dialogue can't be overlooked. There were no professional film studios in Hawaii at the time the movie was made, and indeed it would take another couple of years before the success of Hawaii 5-0 would convince Hollywood to invest in some production facilities on the islands. Consequently, most of Kona Coast utilizes actual locations and this is the film's single greatest asset. The film feels like a TV movie masquerading as theatrical feature, but one could do worse than spending 90 minutes with Richard Boone under any circumstance.