Comic book icon Stan Lee has filed suit against the makers of the new Conan the Barbarian film, saying that the rights to the character actually belong to Stan Lee Media, Inc. Lee, who was the wunderkind who brought Marvel Comics to prominence in the 1950s and 1960s, says that the rights to the remake of the 1982 hit film were illegally obtained by the producers. He is demanding 100% of the movie's revenue. The film is performing poorly at the boxoffice so Lee may not get enough to buy him a box of expensive cigars. Click here for more
For the second time since 2010, the porn industry based in Southern California has virtually shut down because an unidentified performer has been diagnosed with HIV. The industry largely self-regulates and has been quite successful in ensuring that sex performers are free of transmittable diseases. However, a similar case last year also resulted in a shut down. The case means that the sex partners of the infected person will all have to be tested, as will the sex partners of those people as well. There is a drive to get enough signatures for a ballot initiative in the state that, if passed, will mandate that actors in porn films wear condoms. In general, most don't because viewers have indicated they find the practice a turn-off. There is no precise date indicated for when filming on new porn flicks in California will resume. For more click here
It's that time of year: production has yet to start on the new James Bond film so fans are getting antsy and speculation is running wild. The latest rumor is that the new film will be titled Carte Blanche and that it might be based on the current 007 novel by Jeffrey Deaver. There is supposedly bits of circumstantial evidence that add up to this possibility. Our own view is to take all this with a grain of salt. The producers have studiously avoided adapting any novelist other than Ian Fleming's Bond stories to the big screen. Although Deaver is a big name novelist, it would seem highly unlikely that he is involved in the production- and there is no way producers would utilize his book title without him being involved. The web site Blic also says it has confirmed that Serbian cellist Jelena Mihailovic has been hired to write the "opening score" for the film, but this is also a long tradition: musical artists or their representatives float "confirmed" stories that they have been hired to score a Bond film. These turn out to be inaccurate but the artist succeeds in getting their name in the press. We don't know if that is the case here, but until Eon Productions confirms any rumor, it's just that- a rumor. Click here for more
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVES
Avalon (Todd Armstrong/ Jane), Dwayne Hickman (Craig Gamble/ Nora), Deborah
Walley (Linda Hughes), Yvonne Craig (Barbara Norris), Robert Q. Lewis (Donald
Pevney), Bobbi Shaw (Nita), Aron Kincaid (Freddie Carter), The Hondells
(Themselves) Steve Rogers (Gene), Patti Chandler (Janet), Mike Nader (Bobby),
Salli Sachse (Indian), John Boyer (Ski Boy), Mikki Jamison (Vicki), Mickey Dora
(Mickey), Bill Sampson (Arthur), Mary Hughes, Luree Holmes (Ski Girls), Sigi
Engl (Ski Instructor). Uncredited: Christopher Riordan, Ronnie Dayton, Jo
Collins, Paul Gleason, and Annette Funicello (Prof. Roberts). Guest
Stars: James Brown and the Famous Flames, and Lesley Gore.
thought I'd end my Top 5 Sixties Beach Party movies with a cold treat for these
hot summer days. A few films (i.e. Get Yourself a College Girl, Winter a-Go-Go,
Wild Wild Winter) switched the locale from the warm California seashore to the chilly
mountaintop ski slopes. The best of the crop for me was Ski Party (1965).
Avalon and Dwayne Hickman play two average college guys, who are losers when it
comes to the ladies, so they masquerade as English lasses on a ski trip to
discover why their chicks Deborah Walley and Yvonne Craig dig suave ladies man
Aron Kincaid and what they really want in a guy. Complications ensue when
the pompous Kincaid falls in love with Hickman's female incarnation. Meanwhile,
when not romping around in drag, Avalon tries to make Walley jealous by
flirting with Swedish bombshell Bobbi Shaw. The first half of the picture
unfolds quite briskly with excellent musical numbers performed by Avalon, James
Brown, and Lesley Gore though the second half bogs down a bit with a ludicrous
ski jump contest and an overlong chase sequence, standard for these AIP musical
Party stands out from the rest of the AIP beach-party movies not only because
of the change in locale but because of the superior production values.
Credit must go to producer Gene Corman and his crew. The film is
exquisitely filmed on location with some awesome ski shots. Alan Rafkin
also does a first-rate job of directing and keeps the action moving. He
brings some originality to the musical numbers as well. Having Frankie
Avalon, Deborah Walley, Dwayne Hickman, and Yvonne Craig sing "Painting
the Town" while on a sunlit sleigh ride helps elevate the song with the
beautiful shots of the foursome traveling through the snow-covered back
roads. “Lots Lots More" would just have been a standard song warbled
by Frankie Avalon with twistin’ beach babes dancing beside him if it were not
for Rafkin’s unusual camera angles capturing the curvy features of Walley,
Patti Chandler, Mikki Jamison, and Jo Collins.
musical performances by the guest stars are the standouts of any AIP beach
movie. Here it is no exception. Lesley Gore sings the catchy
"Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" on the bus ride to Sun Valley. Following the release of Ski Party, the
song became a hit and peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard charts. The
Hondells turn up on the beach and rock on "The Gasser" and the title
song. Finally, the appearance of James Brown and the Flames who come in
out of the snow to perform their Top 10 record "I Got You (I Feel
Good)" is truly one of the greatest musical moments in beach movie
Avalon and Dwayne Hickman are well paired as the wisecracking losers-in-love
Todd and Craig and are very believable and amusing as the peppery English
lasses, Jane and Nora. As the objects of their devotion, Deborah Walley
and Yvonne Craig are only okay but they look stunning in Technicolor making it
perfetly plausible to the audience why the boys would go to so much trouble to
win them over. Bobbi Shaw is engaging as a sexy Swede who decides she
prefers love, American style. It is nice to see AIP contract players
Patti Chandler and Salli Sachse given more to do here than in the Beach Party
movies. They along with Luree Holmes, Mikki Jamison, and Playboy Playmate
Jo Collins look very good in their bathing suits or tight-fitting ski
clothes. For beefcake watchers, there’s lean boyish-looking Mike Nader
and handsome, chiseled Steve Rogers. But it is the smarmy charm of Aron
Kincaid (pictured above surrounded by a bevy of beauties) as the pompous
Freddie who flips for a guy in drag who steals the movie. Usually clad in
dark sweaters and turtlenecks (which were a perfect contrast to his blonde hair
and fair features), Kincaid is striking looking and awes every girl on screen
and every girl in the audience (not to mention a boy or two).
Party is available on DVD and I heartily recommend it!
The web site B Movie Cast features a discussion of the Hammer Films version of One Million Years B.C. that made Raquel Welch a household name- and her prehistoric bikini an iconic part of movie lore. Click here to download to listen to the discussion that features Cinema Retro columnist Adrian Smith.
The U.N.C.L.E. feature film curse strikes again! George Clooney has quit director Steven Soderbergh's forthcoming big screen version of the classic TV series. Clooney has not specified his reasons for dropping out of the role of Napoleon Solo, which was immortalized by Robert Vaughn in the original show. Efforts to bring an U.N.C.L.E. feature film to the screen extend back to the 1970s and each successive attempt has been aborted for various reasons. The only project to come to fruition was the 1983 TV movie Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that reunited Vaughn and co-star David McCallum. (Click here for DVD review) In the 1960s, MGM produced eight feature films derived from two-part episodes of the TV series. For more click here
Rowan Atkinson returns as a bumbling MI6 agent in Johnny English Reborn. The original film fared poorly in the United States but was a major hit internationally. Click here to view the trailer. The film will be released in October-- and it does look pretty funny.
Anne Heche is Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake of Psycho.
The Huffington Post provides a list of nine completely unnecessary and largely unsuccessful movie remakes. We could add about 5,000 more titles to the list but this is a good starting point. Click here to read and see the trailers.
In the 1960s artist Jack Kirby and his long time friend Stan Lee revolutionized the comic book industry by taking Marvel Comics from the domain of forgettable titles to an icon of American pop culture. By co-creating the great Marvel comic book heroes, Kirby became a legend among fans. In the 1970s he and Lee had creative differences and Kirby committed the unpardonable "sin" of moving over to Marvel's long-time rival D.C. Comics. His heirs have been trying to get financial compensation from Marvel and film studios for projects derived from the characters Kirby helped create. However, to date those efforts have failed. Now the family is appealing unfavorable court decisions and have hired a prominent attorney to represent them. Click here for more
The Warner Archive has released Dirty Dingus Magee as a burn-to-order DVD. The film represents one of the last major Frank Sinatra movies to come to the DVD format and fans of the Chairman o the Board will obviously want to add it to their collections. The film itself shocked critics when it opened in 1970 due to the trivial nature of the production. Time has done nothing to enhance its reputation and one can only wonder what possessed Sinatra to star in this tepid Western comedy. In reality, Sinatra's passion for movie-making was also tepid. He always preferred to concentrate on his singing career and regarded acting as a time-consuming sideline. His penchant for rarely approving a second take became legendary. Nevertheless, he was undeniably one of the cinema's great icons. Prior to Dirty Dingus Magee, Sinatra had shown good judgment with the majority of the films he made during the mid-to-late Sixties. There were some misguided efforts but Von Ryan's Express, Tony Rome, Lady in Cement and The Detective were all quality productions in which he acquitted himself very well. All the more puzzling as to what attracted him to the MGM Western that seemed cursed from the start.
In a frank and illuminating interview in the Irish Times, Harrison Ford reflects on his life and career. With typical bluntness, he explains why he gets second billing to Daniel Craig in Cowboys & Aliens: "I'm not a leading man anymore. I'm a character actor. I've had my time." Ford's no-nonsense approach to evaluating his own career extends to clearing up myths about his early days in the industry. He was no pal of George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola: “I just worked with them a few times. I’ve only ever spent very small,
finite periods of time with any of the people I work with.” Ford also says he's no film buff. He enjoys watching movies occasionally but isn't committed to the format in the way a fan would be. It's claimed his wife, Calista Flockhart has never even seen Star Wars. For more click here
Mike Ryan of the Moviefone web site has a bone to pick with Morgan Freeman. He considers the Oscar winner to be a national treasure, which is why he's dispensing some tough love and accusing Morgan of lending his larger-than-life talents to some smaller-than-life feature films. Even though Freeman doesn't star in all of these flicks, Ryan takes him to task for providing voice-overs for sub-standard fare including The Love Guru and the new version of Conan the Barbarian. Click here to read
The Mad Max series, launched in 1979, is being revived.
Director George Miller's attempt to revive his Mad Max series of apocalyptic future movies hit a snag last year when torrential rains destroyed the sets he had built in the Australian desert. This caused the film, titled Mad Max: Fury Road, to be delayed indefinitely. However, star Tom Hardy says it now appears the production will begin again in April 2012- though it will not be filmed in the Aussie desert. Who can blame Miller for wanting to find a more hospitable location? The series' original star, Mel Gibson, won't be involved in the sequel. For more click here
The recent riots in London not only wrecked many small businesses but also heavily damaged a Sony distribution center for DVDs in the north of the city. The fire destroyed the facility and 25 million DVDs that were stored there. Most were independent titles that Sony distributes internationally. The indie labels were hard hit but were uniformly impressed by Sony's ability to use emergency contingency plans to begin re-manufacturing the lost stock. A group of teenagers have been charged with setting the fire as authorities heed Prime Minister Cameron's demands that the most egregious perpetrators be brought to justice. As of now, over 1,000 people have been arrested and formally charged for complicity in the riots. Click here to read a story dated August 11 about the Sony fire.
Hawaii Five-0's classic title sequence was the work of Reza Badiyi.
You may not know the name Reza Badiyi, but if you're a baby boomer, you grew up on his work. Badiyi was a director of many TV series but was primarily known for his classic opening title sequences for such series as Get Smart and Hawaii Five-0. The latter helped pioneer the fast cutting techniques that epitomize today's style of editing. The brilliant opening sequence, set to Morton Stevens' classic main title theme, still thrills fans of the show today. Sadly, many contemporary TV series don't even have opening title credits or ending credits, either. They've been sacrificed to squeeze in an interminable amount of advertisements. Click here for more and to view the Hawaii Five-0 title sequence. (Thanks to reader Bill Parisho for the head's up).
Sir Sean, dapper as ever, photographed by Cinema Retro's Matthew Field at the Edinburgh International Film Festival earlier this year.
Although he wasn't the screen's first James Bond (Barry Nelson had that honor), Sir Sean Connery is the man who put 007 on the map, introducing Bond on the big screen in Dr. No in 1962. Today, Sir Sean Connery celebrates his 81st birthday. He retired from acting years ago and has resisted all attempts to lure him back to the silver screen. It can be said the industry has not benefited from his steadfastness. For more on his incredible life and career click here.
In a highly unusual move, Sony Pictures Classics will bring Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris back into 1,000 American theaters this week. Generally, a film that has been out for months would already be the subject of a DVD marketing campaign. However, Allen's modestly-budgeted romantic comedy is having the kind of "legs" in theaters that is almost unheard of today. The film built slowly through fine reviews and word-of-mouth. It's grosses increased for weeks on end and it became the highest grossing film of Allen's long career. The studio feels the re-release will help pave the way for a major Oscar campaign later in the year. Don't look for Allen to show up if it wins: he passed up collecting his Annie Hall Oscar in 1978 because he opted to keep his weekly date to play the clarinet at Michael's Pub in New York. Click here for more
It's raining remakes this week. Now there is word that Will Smith may star in a remake of the 1966 sci-fi classic Fantastic Voyage about a group of scientists who are miniaturized and placed inside a man's body in order to race against time and save his life. The original film was an early showcase for Raquel Welch. James Cameron will produce the 3-D production. Click here for more
Ridley Scott is returning to his 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner and intends to bring a continuation of the story to the big screen. It isn't known whether he envisions a sequel or prequel but don't look for Harrison Ford to be part of it. Unless the iconic star has mellowed, he's always regarding the filming of the original as one of the most unhappy experiences of his career. Click here for more
Willam Holden and Ernest Borgnine on the set of the original Wild Bunch with director Sam Peckinpah in Mexico. Top Gun director Tony Scott intends to show us how good the movie could have been if only he had been around to act as mentor to Peckinpah.
There's bad news coming for classic movie lovers: another unwanted remake is in the early stages. This time, it's personal: director Tony Scott, who hates to have more than 30 seconds go by without a building or car exploding, intends to butcher director Sam Peckinpah's 1969 classic The Wild Bunch. This project has been floating around Hollywood for years but saner heads kept vetoing it. Now it looks like Scott has the film on the fast track...though there's no word whether he'll keep the story in the old West or update it to contemporary times. For more click here
Jimmy Sangster interviewed at the National Film Theatre by Hammer film scholar and author Marcus Hearn. (Photo copyright Cinema Retro)
Jimmy Sangster, who wrote some of the finest Hammer horror film classics, passed away over the weekend. He was a good friend to Cinema Retro, providing our magazine with many wonderful anecdotes about his long career. In 2008, Jimmy invited Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer, Dave Worrall and John Exshaw to a special tribute held for him at the National Film Theatre in London. Sangster was in rare form and delighted the packed house with his memories of working on so many great films. Click here to read John Exshaw's 2008 report from the event. Like all movie fans, we deeply mourn the passing of this remarkable talent.
cinema history enthusiasts, the name Jean Vigo is one of legend.His career in France was brief, brilliant,
and controversial.In the early 1930s he
made one short silent documentary, a short sound documentary, and two (later)
critically-acclaimed and important feature films.Then he died of tuberculosis.
a period when Jean Renoir was the king of French cinema, Vigo refused to play
by the rules and created—at the time—very noncommercial products that would
outlive the filmmaker and influence others, especially practitioners of the
French New Wave.Francois Truffaut, in
one of the excellent extras in this fabulous new set from The Criterion
Collection, describes how he first saw L’Atalante
(1934) as a child and his life was forever changed.He admits that much of his own work owes a
lot to Vigo and that singular work of early naturalism.
was controversial in his day for following in the surrealist footsteps of his
cronies, Luis Buñuel and Jean Cocteau, and then for daring to film a love story
that was too realistic for audiences of the time.In many ways, L’Atalante was a French slice of Italian Neo-realism that appeared
a decade earlier.
two-disk set, the first disk contains the four films:A
Propos de Nice (1930), which intercuts travelogue and daily street life of
the city with absurdist, surreal imagery; Taris
(1931), a short portrait of a champion swimmer; Zero de Conduite (Zero for
Conduct) (1933), a precursor to Lindsay Anderson’s If… in that it’s about a rebellion in a boys’ boarding school; and
the true showcase of the collection, L’Atalante,
a ultra-realistic story of an odd marriage and the honeymoon aboard a working
barge.The second disk contains a
plethora of fascinating extras, including the aforementioned vintage interview
with Truffaut, a television documentary about Vigo from the 1960s, a history of
L’Atalante’s tortured release
history, and more.And don’t forget the
usual top-notch and informative booklet full of essays.
collection is probably not for everyone, but the true film buffs out there are
going to eat this one up.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER BLU-RAY DISCOUNTED FROM AMAZON
This superior 1983 TV movie was released on DVD without fanfare by a low-budget label in 2001. The bargain-priced DVD sold out quickly and has been out of print for years. It now commands over $100 for a sealed copy on Amazon.
The film is an outstanding drama made during the heyday of great TV movies. Perhaps because there were so many great ones during this era, Murder in Coweta County didn't get much attention at the time, though it did win very good reviews. The story is based on a true-life crime book of the same name. It centers on a rural county in Georgia known as "The Kingdom" because it was controlled by local crime boss John Wallace (Andy Griffith). Wallace's outward persona is one of a folksy, kind-hearted local businessman. He openly gives money to the downtrodden and conspicuously donates generous sums to the church. In reality, he is a brutal crime kingpin who rules with an iron hand. When a sharecrop defies him, Wallace and his goons pursue him in a car chase, catch the man and beat him to death in front of witnesses. The problem for Wallace is that the crime takes place in the neighboring county- Coweta- where straight-as-an-arrow local sheriff Lamar Potts (Johnny Cash) ensures that nobody is above the law. To the astonishment of the locals, Potts and his deputies initiate an in-depth investigation of Wallace- who predictably reacts with charm and professes his innocence, even as he personally oversees the burning of the body. If there's no body found, there's no way a murder allegation can be proven- or so he thinks.
More good news for Man From U.N.C.L.E. fans: the eight feature films based on two-part episodes from the TV series have been released in one DVD set through the Warner Archive. Cinema Retro has been urging Warner Home Video VP George Feltenstein to release these for years. He promised to do so and has kept his word, much to the delight of fans. Cinema Retro writer Craig Henderson covered each of the eight films in issues #9- 16. Previously, Warners had released only one feature film- One Spy Too Many - as a bonus item on their boxed set of TV episodes. The films were made on a shoe-string and some featured a few special scenes shot specifically to spice up the sex angle. They proved to be enormously successful at the time, in some cases shattering boxoffice house records in the UK. The films included in the set are To Trap a Spy, The Spy With My Face, One Spy Too Many, One of Our Spies is Missing, The Karate Killers, The Spy in the Green Hat, How to Steal the World and The Helicopter Spies. Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Leo G. Carroll star along with a plethora of big name guest stars. To order click here
If this man sits next to you on a plane, it might be advisable to switch seats.
Sacre bleu! Legendary French actor Gerard Depardieu was involved in a bizarre scandal on a recent flight. Seems the actor had that "get up and go" feeling prior to takeoff but the airline crew couldn't allow him to use the bathroom until they had ascended from the runway. Not one to be put off, Depardieu casually relieved himself in the first class section of the plane, thus causing a two-hour delay as a cleaning crew had to mop up the mess. Click here for more
The Warner Archive has released every episode of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. on two DVDs. The show ran only one season beginning in September 1967. It starred Stefanie Powers as April Dancer, Noel Harrison as Mark Slate and Leo G. Carroll, carrying over his role of Alexander Waverly from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn guest-starred in what many consider to be the best episode of the series, the bizarre Mother Muffin Affair starring Boris Karloff in drag. To order click here
One of the most-requested titles from Cinema Retro readers finally comes to Blu-ray and DVD thanks to Olive Films, the new niche market DVD label. The 1965 adventure film has been out of circulation in the USA for many years, not even turning up on TV. The movie was the follow-up project for star Stanley Baker and writer/director Cy Endfield, who had triumphed the year before with Zulu. The plot centers on a small group of strangers in a South African airport who are frustrated when their plane is delayed for mechanical reasons. They opt to charter their own flight to Johannesburg, which mandates that they fly over the vast Kalahari Desert. A swarm of locusts disables the engine and the plane ditches in a remote area, far from civilization. The survivors are a diverse lot. There's Stanley Baker as an alcoholic who suffers a severe leg injury. Stuart Whitman is a macho All American with a passion for rifles, hunting and making sure he gets the advantage in every situation. Theodore Bikel is a timid, kindly doctor. Harry Andrews is an aging German with knowledge of the terrain and Nigel Davenport is the pilot. The lone female is (naturally) a stunner with strong sexual desires. She's played by Susannah York, one of the most beautiful British actresses to emerge during the 60s.
If you're obsessed with cars in movies, the Internet Movie Cars Database is for you. The new web site lists information and photos about cars that have appeared prominently in films throughout movie history. From James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 to the Batmobile and those Mini Coopers from The Italian Job, they're all here. Click here for more info
Will Virgin's in-flight screenings of Casablanca will now have to be preceded by a warning regarding the emotional content? Seems sensitive passengers may not be able to handle the emotional aspects of certain films.
If you think it's ludicrous that the BBC issues warnings that certain news segments contain flash photography, consider this: Virgin Atlantic will now issue warnings on its flights regarding films that might make viewers cry. According to the airline's research, some passengers are so affected by the emotional content of movies shown on board that they have to take extraordinary measures to conceal the fact that they have been moved to tears. We are not making this up, folks. Click here for more- Lee Pfeiffer
Michelle Williams is now filming My Week With Marilyn, based on Colin Clark's memoir about his experience as a young man on the set of the film The Prince and the Showgirl in which Marilyn Monroe co-starred with Laurence Olivier. The movie was shot at England's Pinewood Studios. Click here for more about the forthcoming production.
The remake craze in Hollywood has reached a level of absurdity. They're now remaking relatively recent movies. Eddie Murphy's critical flop from 2003, The Haunted Mansion, is to be remade by once-respected director Guillermo Del Toro, who will write and produce the film, which is inspired by the legendary Disney theme park attraction. The Murphy version overcame the bad reviews and did well at the boxoffice, so Disney is going back to the same well to earn some easy coin. Even worse, there are plans to reboot the Judge Dredd "franchise" which consists to date of one costly flop that helped derail Sylvester Stallone's career for years. Click here for more
Director Joel Schumacher's new thriller Trespass, about a couple terrorized in a home invasion, will premiere theatrically in November. No big news there. What is big news is the fact that it will also go the direct-to-video route on the same day. That's right- despite all that high profile talent, audiences will have little incentive to pay to see the film in theaters since it can be viewed in their own living room. Click here to read writer Drew McWeeny's analysis on HitFix web site.
A photo surreptitiously shot on the set of The Dark Knight Rises.
On The Huffington Post site, writer Kris LoPresto makes a thought-provoking argument against the proliferation of unauthorized photos and videos shot on the set of The Dark Knight Rises, saying this trend endangers the quality of future action film epics. Click here to read
The cast of The Big Lebowski reunited in Manhattan earlier this week to celebrate the cult movie's release on Blu-ray. The 1998 was a critical and boxoffice flop when it was initially released but has since cultivated an international following of enthusiastic fans. Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, T Bone Burnett and John Turturro were all in attendance at the event where they met with fans of the Coen Brothers' flick. Click here for mor.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER BLU-RAY LIMITED EDITION FROM AMAZON
Has a real life scenario from Jaws occurred in the Seychelles Islands?
A second man has been killed by a shark while swimming close to shore on a tourist beach in the Seychelles Islands, just 20 miles from where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka William and Kate) honeymooned. The latest victim was a 30 year-old British man who was also on his honeymoon. The government has prohibited swimming or snorkeling on the local beaches until the shark has been found. In a scenario out of Jaws, it is suspected that this might be the work of a "rogue shark" that is responsible for both deaths. Such scenarios are rare, but do happen. In 1916, several deaths of swimmers in New Jersey were thought to be due to one rogue shark. For more click here
early pictures by directors who went on to bigger and better things is always a
fascinating exercise. In this case, the experience is both academically
rewarding and monumentally entertaining. They are a tremendous amount of fun to
watch, yet film aficionados will certainly study the pieces and place them in
perspective with the later, betterl-known masterpieces by these two iconic artists.Are there common thematic elements?Do we see glimpses of the later Stanley
Kubrick or Roman Polanski in these early efforts?Without a doubt, The Criterion Collection’s
new releases of The Killing and Cul-de-sac display the beginning of masterful
craftsmanship from two youthful filmmakers.
The Killing package is two
bangs for a buck—not only do you get a crisply clean, picture-perfect
remastered edition of The Killing,
but on a second disk you also get the same quality remastering of Kubrick’s
earlier independent film noir, Killer’s
Kiss.What a deal!I remember the first time I saw these movies;
there were a double bill at a New York revival house, so I’ll always think of
them as a pair.
Killer’s Kiss was Kubrick’s
second feature film, released by United Artists in 1955.Kubrick made it guerilla-style on the streets
of New York—he never had permits to film at city locations, so the director quickly
shot what he needed and then skedaddled.Kubrick directed it, produced it, wrote it, shot it, edited it, and did
the post-sync work.Then he went out and
marketed it himself and sold it to a distributor.That’s impressive independent filmmaking,
especially for the early 1950s, when indy productions were not what they became
in the seventies and beyond.As an
entertainment, Killer’s Kiss is unquestionably
B-movie material, but most film noirs are.The story is passable, but the picture is so well photographed that it
doesn’t matter.Watch for the surreal
fight amongst naked mannequins in the warehouse toward the movie’s climax—it’s
Would you have enjoyed Psycho even more if you knew in advance about the shock ending?
By Lee Pfeiffer
When I was a teenager, there was a guy in our group, Joey, who would go to highly-anticipated movies with us. He had a juvenile habit of peering through the doors at the end of the movie before the next screening began. Thus, I got to know in advance that James Bond tossed a villain over the side of a ship after placing a time bomb on him in Diamonds Are Forever. I also knew that Sean Connery got shot at the end of The Anderson Tapes. Joey also peered through the doors of the Loews State Theatre on Times Square to graciously inform us that Charlton Heston had just been killed by a spear in The Omega Man. We ultimately excluded Joey from our movie-going excursions but according to researchers at The University of California, he was actually doing us a favor. According to the bizarre conclusions of their recent study, people who are exposed to shock endings in advance reported they had enjoyed a film more than those who were not aware of how the film would end. Maybe- but even after forty years, I still have no intention of seeing another movie with Joey. Click here for more
Entertainment Weekly provides first photos of Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood's forthcoming biopic. In an interview, Eastwood says he will objectively examine the pros and cons of the fabled FBI director's 48 year career. Eastwood acknowledges that the only reason Hoover stayed in power so long was because he had something on each of the 8 presidents he served. Simultaneously, he succeeded in keeping his own private life shrouded in secrecy. Eastwood says his film doesn't attempt to definitively answer the question as to whether circumstantial evidence proved Hoover was gay, so there goes those hopes of seeing Leo in a cocktail dress. Click here for more
Jonathan Demme will write, direct and produce a big screen version of Stephen King's forthcoming novel 11/22/63 which focuses on an everyday English teacher who travels back in time with the intention of preventing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on the titular date. For more click here
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM CINEMA RETRO'S ARCHIVES
It's gorgeous Caroline Munro as she appeared in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. As lovely as ever, Caroline is a contributor to Cinema Retro. You can read her memories of making The AbominableDr. Phibes with Vincent Price in issue #2 and making her screen debut at age 16 as a sexy Bond girl extra in the 1967 version of Casino Royale in issue #6.
Arthur Miller's American masterpiece Death of a Salesman will get yet another revival on Broadway next March. The Miller play is especially relevant today, even though it debuted in the 1940s.The story's protagonist Willy Loman is a tragic figure: after years of loyal service to his company, he is unceremoniously fired, thus leading to a series of tragic events. Lee J. Cobb, Dustin Hoffman and Brian Dennehy all triumphed on Broadway in the role of Loman. In the new production, Phillip Seymour Hoffman will try his hand at playing Loman. Andrew Garfield, star of the forthcoming Spiderman movie, will co-star. For more click here
Jodie Foster is among the donors who have stepped to the fore to help save a program that monitors outer space for signs of alien life. The telescopes involved were cut off from government funding but donors, including Foster, have rescued the program. Foster, who starred in the 1997 sci-fi flick Contact about the search for alien life, wrote of parallels to the film in a statement she released in support of the program. Click here for more
The original 3-D blockbuster, House of Wax at the Globe Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees, England. (William Burge Collection) (Thanks to Dr. Sheldon Hall for identifying this glorious cinema that is no longer in existence.)
As part of our attempts to review DVDs that have been on the market for a while, we thought we'd take a look at the 1965 comedy Strange Bedfellows, which existed primarily to reunite Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida, who had a box-office hit with Come September several years before. Like most of the romantic comedies of the era, there is little to separate this from a standard sitcom episode aside from the running time. Hudson plays a London-based executive on the rise who spontaneously marries a tempestuous Italian bombshell artist played by Lollobriigida. The newlyweds find their mutually insatiable sex drives are the only thing they have in common. Politically conservative Hudson is constantly at odds with his wife's liberal activism. They soon separate but after seven years, Hudson has a reason to stall the divorce proceedings he has put in place. Seems his even more conservative boss wants to promote him to be his right hand man- on the proviso that he is happily married. The contrived plot finds Hudson trying to swallow his pride and woo his wife back- despite the fact that she already has a British lover, Edward Judd.
The film ambles from one predictable, over-played scene to another, though there are some genuine laughs along the way. Hudson and Lollbrigida do have genuine chemistry on-screen and there is a very amusing supporting cast that includes Gig Young, Terry-Thomas, Arthur Haynes, Nancy Kulp, Bernard Fox and Cinema Retro's own Joe Sirola, who offers an amusing turn as a perverted sculptor. The most amusing aspect of the film is rather unintentional- the now laughably cliched presentation of life in England. In one scene, people can't get home because London is covered in a pea-soup like fog. Taxi drivers all speak with Cockney accents and call everyone 'guv. Ironically, only a small bit of second unit footage was even filmed in Old Blighty and none of the major stars, other than Judd, were even there. The city is recreated very unconvincingly on the Universal back lot. One sequence that was played for laughs has a more subtle aspect of humor to it when viewed today: Hudson reluctantly sharing a bed with Judd. Like most of these types of comedies, the finale features the entire cast coming together in a big chaotic scene. This time, it's Lollobrigida's scheme to scandalize London by riding through town as Lady Godvia. It's a mark of the movie's prudishness, however, that she is clad in neck-to-toe flesh colored body suit. Some scandal. The film's uninspired direction by Melvin Frank doesn't completely negate the fun of watching two genuine screen legends at the peak of their careers. The DVD, which has been only partially letterboxed, also contains the original trailer.
The last time the Lone Ranger was brought to the big screen was in 1981: and it was a notorious flop. Nervous about lightning striking twice, Disney has canceled the Johnny Depp Lone Ranger film.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Studios are cracking down on pet projects of big name directors by canceling some high profile productions because of budget costs. Ron Howard and Guillermo Del Toro are among the recent "victims". Now Disney has informed producer Jerry Bruckheimer and star Johnny Depp that their long-planned Lone Ranger film is being shut down. Filming was to start in October- but Disney execs got cold feet when the estimated budget hit $232 million. The studio is insisting that the film cost no more than $200. This is how insane Hollywood has become: $200 million for a movie about a guy on horse and it's considered to be too paltry of a sum. The question remains whether Bruckheimer and Depp will have their egos bruised and scale down the budget in order to make the movie. As of right now, it's officially off Disney's schedule. The underwhelming performance of Cowboys & Aliens has the studio nervous- and there are other factors as well. Disney is sinking a jaw-dropping $250 million into next year's John Carter sci-fi epic and there is also the $200 million Oz: The Great and Powerful in the pipeline. Saying "no" to Johnny Depp is almost unheard of in the industry, especially when he has brought billions into Disney's coffers through the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. However, his track record outside of that series is spotty at best and the suits at Disney aren't about to invest a king's ransom just to please him.
Consider how many great directors from years gone by are ready and willing to work but can't find some seed money to bring low-budget projects to the screen. Yet, sums that equal annual budgets of small nations are being routinely spent on films with very dubious prospects. Hollywood executives, like politicians, have devised a remarkable system in which they are handsomely rewarded even if they fail spectacularly.