The Barbican in London will present a major exhibition dedicated to the style and design aspects of the James Bond films. The exhibit will run from 6 July to 5 September, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the film series. Here is an official announcement:
With unprecedented access to EON’s archive, Designing
007 – Fifty Years of Bond Style is a multi-sensory experience
where screen icons, costumes, production design, automobiles,
gadgets, special effects, graphic design, exotic locations, weapons,
stunts and props combine to immerse the audience in the creation
and development of Bond style over its auspicious 50 year history.
Highlights include gadgets and weapons made for Bond and his
notorious adversaries by special effects experts John Stears,
Syd Cain and Chris Corbould; artwork for sets and storyboards
by production designers Sir Ken Adam and Peter Lamont and costume
designs by Bumble Dawson, Donfeld, Julie Harris, Lindy Hemming,
Ronald Patterson, Emma Porteous, and Jany Temime.
On display too will be lavish screen finery produced for the
six actors who played Bond and his sidekicks over five decades
by Hollywood costume designers and major fashion names including
Giorgio Armani, Brioni, Roberto Cavalli, Tom Ford, Hubert de
Givenchy, Gucci’s Frida Giannini, Douglas Hayward, Rifat
Ozbek, Jenny Packham, Miuccia Prada, Oscar de la Renta, Anthony
Sinclair, Philip Treacy, Emanuel Ungaro and Donatella Versace.
Lindy Hemming, costume designer says, “In our exhibition,
we intend, having explored the contents of the extensive EON
archives, to thrill visitors with an insight into some of the
design processes involved in the many different areas of making
the Bond films.”
Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and Davy Jones of The Monkees.
Singer/actor Davy Jones of the 1960s pop group The Monkees has died in Florida at age 66. Jones began his career as young actor in British TV series including Coronation Street and Z Cars. He flirted with the notion of becoming a jockey but ended up playing with Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz and Mike Nesmith as the group The Monkees, which took the world by storm in 1966 through their popular TV series. The group broke up in 1971 but has successfully reunited for tours several times since then, though Nesmith was generally not involved. Jones also continued to perform his solo act and was scheduled to hold a concert at the end of March. For more click here
Here's a nice video tribute to the A.C. Gilbert 1965 James Bond 007 Road Race Set featuring the Aston Martin DB5. The elaborately produced toy was quite expensive in the day and sold only in Sears Roebuck stores. Unfortunately, the toy contributed mightily to the financial demise of Gilbert when countless people returned the set due to mechanical defects. However, the set remains extremely valuable on the collector's circuit, often selling for well over $1,000. To view click here
Cinema Retro is always on the lookout for classic
and cult movies being screened in unique ways by film clubs and societies. We
seem to have found one that could really top them all- literally at a dead end!
I learned about The Flicker Club via the B-Movie
Podcast (www.bmoviecast.com) recently and I was intrigued. This February
they ran a short season of Hammer Films. Nothing exceptional about that, you
may say, bar the fact that they have screened rarities such as The Reptile, The Witches and the obscure
The Lost Continent. If that wasn’t
enough, in conjunction with Hammer, they screened the newly restored Dracula from 1958 with found footage
that was missing for decades.. However- wonderful though this is - it is the
location and the way in which the Flicker Club screened these gems that elevates
them beyond the norm. They chose to screen the films in the tunnels under
London’s Waterloo that were once part of the London Necropolis railway station.
I’d heard mention of this years ago and was always fascinated by it.
The London Necropolis
Railway was opened in 1854 as a reaction to severe overcrowding in the city’s
existing graveyards and cemeteries. Specifically, the rail system was used to move
as many grave sites as possible to the
newly-built Brookwood Cemetery in Brockwood
Surrey. This location was within easy travelling distance of London, but
distant enough that the dead could not pose any risk to public hygiene. It was
at one time the largest cemetery in the world.
The Station was used for many years (it even had first to third class
tickets!) until it was bombed in the war, when it was abandoned and further
demolished to make way for offices (and the usual car park). However, the
tunnel system under the railways remained intact and this is where the films
were screened- in the actual tunnel room that was used as the morgue for the
dead bodies awaiting their final trip- of their mortal remains at least. It was
chilling in more ways the one, no matter who many coffees you had! However, the
warmest reception was when Fenella Fielding of Carry On Screaming and The
Prisoner fame headed to stage to give a reading from Mary Shelly’s famous
novel. She enraptured the audience and you could hear a pin drop until one of
the trains pulling into Waterloo rumbled like thunder above. This happened on cue
as Fenella read about an oncoming storm. It was quite a moment. Frankenstein Created Women (a Martin
Scorsese favourite) was then introduced by author Alan Barnes, who co- wrote
excellent books on Hammer with Marcus Hearn (who could not be present but who
sent a very informative introduction to be read out.)
All in all this was a very memorable night and hats off to Juliette and
Clive at Flicker (www.theflickerclub.com) for putting on such a great
“underground” season! The Club will have further events and screenings and we
will keep you posted on where and
when these will happen in the future.
She's at it again. Actress and party-crasher Sean Young, star of such hits as Blade Runner and Stripes, was arrested Sunday night while allegedly attempting to crash a post-Oscars party. Young got into an altercation with a security guard who attempted to bar her entrance to the affair. Young, who was clad in a glamorous gown, denied she assaulted anyone. This is not the first time she has received unwanted attention from her antics. She has unsuccessfully attempted to crash other high profile parties in the past and engaged in bizarre stunts in a failed attempt to win the role of Catwoman (click here for video). Her career was derailed many years ago and she has been treated for substance abuse. Click here for more
Paramount has sued the estate of the late novelist Mario Puzo, claiming copyright infringement for an unauthorized sequel to Puzo's legendary bestseller The Godfather. Paramount did work with the Puzo estate to release an official sequel in novel format, The Godfather Returns in 2004. However, they said a later sequel, The Godfather's Revenge and a future book titled The Family Corleone, are unauthorized. According to Paramount, Puzo, who died in 1999, sold the rights to all future film and literary stories based on The Godfather to Paramount as part of a 1969 deal that encompassed bringing the original book to the screen. The landmark 1972 film version starring Marlon Brando once held the spot as the highest-grossing film of all-time. Paramount says that the only rights Puzo maintained pertained to reprinting his original novel. For more click here
Howard Kissel, the respected chief theater critic for the New York Daily News, has died from complications with a liver transplant at age 69. Kissel did not have the acerbic personality of some other legendary theater critics such as Frank Rich and John Simon but his influence carried considerable weight. He reviewed the Broadway scene for the Daily News for two decades. He also served as Chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle. His books included a scathing biography of the legendary show producer David Merrick, witty titled by Kissel as 'The Abominable Showman'. Kissel also appeared as Woody Allen's manager in the 1980 film Stardust Memories.Click here for more
Glam is back: Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz looking radiant.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Some random thoughts on this evening's Academy Awards ceremony: not about the films themselves, but the ceremony.
It's good to have Billy Crystal back, even though the "work" done on his face made him a bit unrecognizable. If he wasn't quite as sharp this year, his presence was a vast improvement over most hosts in the Crystal-less era. He had the usual amusing opening sequences in which he engaged in elaborate, expensive spoofs of films and nominated actors and topped it off with another clever song that took aim at both. Crystal actually got a bit better as the evening wore on and had some very amusing barbs.
The show's pace was quite good. Things never got boring and they actually managed to end on time.
Acceptance speeches were short, gracious and classy with the exception of one moron who was part of the winning documentary team. He used his few minutes of fame to utter an obscenity that had to be bleeped out.
Glamor was back in style. For the most part, the men eschewed that fad of wearing a faux tuxedo that included a straight tie. Instead, the classic tux look was back and you can see why it remains timeless.The women seem to have, refreshingly, given up on Cher's old habit of trying to make the news by wearing an outrageous gown. More traditional styles were in vogue. Most glamorous: Jennifer Lopez in a jaw-dropping number that let it all hang out. Angelina Jolie tried to go glam, but she looked a bit too goth-- like Morticia Adams in a sexy dress.
The Cirque du Soleil extravaganza tribute to the movies was magnificent on all levels- and incorporating classic film scenes was a true inspiration.
The sad state of music in the film business was demonstrated by the fact that there were only two nominees for Best Song and neither of them were deemed worthy of being performed.
Composer Ludovic Bource showed real class on his way to the podium to collect his Oscar for The Artist: he stopped in his tracks to pay personal homage to fellow nominee John Williams.
The annual tribute to departed actors and filmmakers was extremely well done, thanks to a beautiful choir rendition of Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World. As usual, the sheer number of great talents who were lost in the last twelve months was truly sobering.
It was great to see the Academy finally honor Christopher Plummer with an Oscar. He's a true actor's actor and a lingering reminder of the style and grace that once represented the film industry.
Tom Cruise hasn't aged a day in twenty years.
Will Ferrel and Zach Galifianakis were funny; Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow weren't.
The cash-strapped Hollywood & Highland Center was a perfect venue for the ceremonies. It was magnificently decorated to represent an old time movie palace.
The idea of including funky musicians leading to the commercial breaks was an inspiration. Similarly, it was nice to have those mini-interviews with celebs recounting what movies inspired them when they were young. It was funny to hear Adam Sandler recall seeing Diamonds Are Forever at age 5 and being impressed by Sean Connery's chest hair.
It was great to see Michael Douglas looking and sounding fit after his long battle with throat cancer.
Nice to see Woody Allen still doesn't show up to accept his Oscars. He's about the only one who doesn't appear rude by not doing so because, well, he's Woody Allen.
The legendary Players club for the arts in New York City is the favorite hang out of Cinema Retro scribes. Thus, we were delighted to see Mike Myers and Kevin Kline's very funny promotional short for AMPAS in which Myers creates another memorable character who forces Kline to take a course in Oscar etiquette when it is reported that he is mishandling the Best Supporting Actor award he won in 1989 for A Fish Called Wanda. The lush atmosphere of The Players is given ample display- and we can't wait to get there for the next cocktail party! Click here to view
The classic original version of The Italian Job was among many films shot at legendary Twickenham Studios.
Movie fans worldwide are mourning the closing of Britain's legendary Twickenham movie studios which has hosted acclaimed film productions that include the original versions of Alfie and The Italian Job, as well as A Hard Day's Night, Blade Runner and the recent War Horse. Tragically, the studio will close just before celebrating its centenary. The administration claims insurmountable debts. The studios are already in bankruptcy protection and will shuttered by June.Twickenham was not able to compete with the state-of-the-art facilities at nearby Pinewood Studios. For more click here
Leslie Nielsen and Raquel Welch in The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.
The Academy Awards have often been prominently featured in major movies from A Star is Born to The Bodyguard. Empire magazine takes a look back at films in which the coveted award plays a significant plot point. Most bizarre, however, the writers failed to name one of the most famous films to feature the Oscar....maybe because the title of the movie didn't give enough of a clue as to what it's about. It's called The Oscar (1966)!
The 1980 disappearance of an Australian infant in the rugged outback mesmerized the world at the time. The infant's mother, Lindy Chamberlain, was convicted of murdering the child and sentenced to life imprisonment. Her defense had been considered to be preposterous: the notion that she had seen a wild dingo carrying her child off into the woods. The trial was a media sensation and Chamberlain was deemed guilty in the court of public opinion long before the jury rendered its verdict. However, the discovery of the baby's body resulted in her conviction being overturned. Nevertheless, Chamberlain has battled endlessly to definitively prove she had nothing to do with her child's death. She has now won a fourth court hearing in which she says new evidence will finally exonerate her. Chamberlain's case bares a resemblance to the murder of six-year old American girl Jonbenet Ramsey in 1990. The public jumped to conclusions and determined her parents had murdered her, largely because it was deemed they did not appear to be sufficiently emotional in their media appearances. After an exhaustive investigation, authorities were never able to find the murderer but did exonerate the parents from any responsibility. The Chamberlain case was dramatized in the acclaimed 1988 film A Cry in the Dark in which she was played by Meryl Streep. The phrase "The dingo's got my baby!" has become enshrined in pop culture, having been utilized in many TV shows. For more click here
Director Sam Mendes has launched the first of planned blog updates on the filming of the new James Bond film Skyfall. The first 90 second installment is primarily an interview with Mendes, who says he has been a Bond fan since age ten. He also cites the 2006 Casino Royale and Daniel Craig's performance as motivating factors for wanting to try his hand at directing a 007 flick. There is precious little footage from the new movie, but you do get to see Mendes directing at Pinewood Studios and on a London street. For more click here
Here are two golden oldie lobby cards from the superb 1964 British film Zulu starring Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ulla Jacobsson. (If you're a Cinema Retro regular, we won't insult you by discussing what the main plot of the film is about!).
We love the 1970 John Wayne flick Chisum in which the Duke goes mano-a-mano with baddie Forrest Tucker. It's an intelligent, engrossing Western, ably directed by Andrew V. McLaglen. Among the film's biggest fans was President Nixon, who praised the movie after screening it at the White House. Click here to view original trailer.
While at the pinnacle of his success as a leading man, coming off of major starring roles in M*A*S*H, Kelly's Heroes and Don't Look Now, Donald Sutherland returned to his native Canada to film Alien Thunder (aka Dan Candy's Law). The story, loosely based on a true historical incident, finds Sutherland as Dan Candy, a stalwart Canadian Mountie, who patrols the wild Saskatchewan wilderness areas in the 1880s. There is a famine plaguing the area and the hardest hit are the local Indian tribes. One brave, Almighty Voice (Gordon Tootoosis) is frustrated at having to wait for meager rations from Canadian authorities while his family starves before his eyes. He slaughters a government-owned cow, an action that sets off a major legal problem. Candy and his partner are assigned to arrest Almighty Voice, who fears he will be hanged. Almighty Voice flees into the wilderness and in a confrontation with Candy's partner, shoots the Mountie dead. Candy becomes obsessed with revenge and the film takes on elements of The Searchers, as he engages in a relentless search for the fugitive. Almighty Voice not only has to avoid capture, but he must deal with the harsh elements and care for his wife and newborn child, who are with him. Almighty Voice and Candy's mano-a-mano grudge match extends over many miles and many months, which each man scoring victories and suffering losses. Almighty Voice turns the tables and attacks Candy's domain, burning his cabin to the ground. As the hunt continues, Candy develops a grudging respect for the man he is determined to bring to justice. He also objects when his strutting, martinet superior officer employs a virtual army, including field artillery, to hunt down Almighty Voice.
The film is directed and photographed by Claude Fournier, and his measured style and leisurely pace may turn off some viewers weaned on contemporary action films. In fact, Alien Thunder is more a character study than an actual adventure, although the final sequence - a battle between the authorities and Almighty Voice and his few allies- is excitingly staged and has moments of grandeur that belie the film's somewhat modest budget. Sutherland gives a fine performance as an everyday man who finds himself on an extraordinary quest for vengeance. He makes for a most vulnerable hero, making misjudgments and mistakes throughout his mission. Most of the supporting cast are little-known actors with the exception of always-watchable old pros Chief Dan George and Kevin McCarthy.
The movie is available on DVD through the Scorpion label. There are no extras except an interesting gallery of other film trailers for the company's releases. Alien Thunder is a consistently engrossing film that one can categorize as an overlooked gem.
The web site MI6-HQ pays tribute to actor Bernard Lee, who played James Bond's "M" in every 007 film from Dr No through Moonraker. Take a stroll down memory lane and relive the cinematic M's involvement in those early Bond movies, along with fascinating details about Lee's status as a superb British character actor. Click here to read
Classic movie lovers should try to restrain themselves as the remake train keeps rolling along. The latest idea is to have a redo of Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 classic Rebecca, the esteemed director's only film to be awarded a Best Picture Oscar. Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier and Judith Anderson starred in the screen adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier's 1938 gothic mystery novel. We suppose we can look forward to that stalwart cast being replaced by Adam Sandler, Cameron Diaz and Rosie O'Donnell. Click here for more
Cinema Retro's go-to London photographer Mark Mawston gets invited to the A list events. Here is a great on-line scrapbook of his exclusive photos from last week's BAFTA awards, taken on the red carpet.
(All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved)
Skyfall Bond girls Naomi Harris and Bernice Marlohe.
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVE
(This feature originally ran in 2008)
Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer chatted with Robert Osborne, the popular host of TCM's movie broadcasts. Osborne, who is also the official Oscar historian, is well known for his informative introductions and epilogues for the films that TCM broadcasts. Director Sidney Lumet once said that even if he doesn't desire to see certain films, he always tries to tune in for Osborne's introductions. Osborne is as affable offscreen as he is on the air. Witty, knowledgable and conversant in all things Hollywood-related, he has many of the attributes he ascribes to the stars he grew up idolizing. In addition to being a columnist for the Hollywood Reporter, Osborne is by all accounts America's premiere film historian.
CR: You seem to have every movie lover's dream job: to get paid to watch and analyze classic movies. How did this come about and what led to your association with the Academy?
RO: When I was first starting out as an actor, I was under contract to Lucille Ball at Desilu Studios, which was owned by Lucy and Desi Arnaz. Lucy knew I had this passion for movie history which at that time was not a normal thing. Most people weren't interested in movie history. She said, "You know, you would have a happier life as a writer than as an actor. You should be writing about movies, because nobody is." She told me that she thought being an actor would never make me happy, but writing would. She knew I was a journalism major at the University of Washington. She told me that if I took up writing as a profession, the first thing I had to do was write a book because people would look at you differently if I did. She told me it didn't even have to be a good book, but that everyone is impressed with anyone who writes a book because most people lack the discipline to do it. I knew she was telling me this for my own good, not some other agenda, so I quit being an actor and became a writer.
The thing I decided to write about was the Academy Awards because you could always find a list of who won Oscars, but you could never find a list of who was nominated. It was even hard to get one from the Academy because that was a very small organization at the time. So I wrote this book and it hit a chord with people because you couldn't get a book about the Oscars anywhere else. The cult success of that book has followed me around ever since. Years later, when they decided they wanted a history done of the Academy, they asked me to write it. (The latest edition of the book is titled 75 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards-Ed.)
Iconic British actress and Oscar winner Judi Dench says she is battling macular degeneration, which is robbing her of her sight. Dench candidly discusses how the ailment has already impacted her: she cannot read her scripts and can't clearly see the person she is dining with across a table in a restaurant. Dench will be seen later this year in her continuing role as M in the James Bond film Skyfall. For more click here
The first Disney movie that my family
owned was Dumbo (1941) on the
Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED), RCA’s long-defunct pipe dream home video
format that began production in 1981 and ended in 1986 after seventeen years in
development, an also-ran in the kiddie’s seat while the recordable VHS sat at
the grown-up’s table.The picture
quality of CED was nothing to write home about though it was arguably better
than the aforementioned recordable cassette.CED was a stepping stone, albeit in the analog realm, to a future of
home video viewing in the form of movies on a disc.While Disney offered a considerable number of
their most beloved titles on VHS, the sheer lack of decent picture quality
never sat well with me.I was beside
myself, however, when most of their best known works made their way to the
superior laserdisc (still an analog format), especially Lady and the Tramp (1955), which looked wonderful in the
letterboxed format.This image was
improved upon with the DVD releases in 1999 and 2006, but even they pale in
comparison to the new Diamond Edition Blu-ray, which is jaw-droppingly beautiful
thanks to a frame-by-frame restoration and easily worth the price of the
upgrade.Just about every detail and
every nuance can be seen in this version.
Generally overshadowed by Disney’s
other features Snow White and the Seven
Dwarves (1937) and Sleeping Beauty
(1959, in its gorgeous Technirama splendor), Lady and the Tramp, which was released theatrically on June 22,
1955 and was the first animated feature filmed in CinemaScope, is a fun film
for the whole family.Based
upon Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog by
Ward Greene, which Walt Disney read in a 1943 issue of Cosmopolitan, the story concerns Lady, a cocker spaniel who is
given to Darling Dear by her husband, Jim Dear, on Christmas morning in
1909.The center of attention until a
new baby is born, Lady trades in her digs for time with other dogs from the
neighborhood: Jock, a Scottish Terrier; Trusty, a bloodhound, and Tramp, a
mutt.When the couple leaves the baby in
the care of ailurophile Aunt Sarah (a questionable maneuver given the infant’s
age) who despises dogs, Lady gets into a tussle with her Siamese cats,
prompting Aunt Sarah to buy a muzzle for Lady.A lot of hijinks ensue: think Tom and Jerry but without the over-the-top
violence as Lady and Tramp make a run from the house to a fancy restaurant in a
scene that earned the film a place at number 95 on the American Film
Institute’s list of “100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time.”
Lady ends up the in the dog pound and discovers
that having a license is her ticket out while getting an earful about Tramp’s status
with other female dogs.Bailed out by
Aunt Sarah, Lady returns home and castigates Tramp for his checkered past.After a rat makes its way into the baby’s
crib, Tramp knocks the crib over, setting in motion a series of misinterpretations
by Aunt Sarah who has pegged Tramp as a troublemaker and sends him to the
pound.Jock and Trusty come to the
rescue, but not without Trusty nearly losing his life in attempting to save
Tramp.All’s well that ends well when at
the following Christmas Lady and Tramp are the proud parents of four puppies.
There are a good number of musical
numbers in the film, one of the most memorable being “We are Siamese if You
Please” by the titular cats, and all the animals only speak among themselves.
and the Tramp
comes in three flavors:
3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray +
DVD + Digital Copy) = $44.99 U.S./$51.99 Canada
2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD) = $39.99 U.S./$46.99 Canada
1-Disc DVD = $29.99 U.S./$35.99 Canada
Here is a listing of the features on the Blu-ray:
Blu-ray Bonus: Disney Second Screen: Inside
Walt’s Story Meetings*
Audio Commentary: Inside Walt’s Story Meetings
Diane Disney Miller: Remembering Dad
Three Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes
Never Recorded Song: “I’m Free as the Breeze”
Classic DVD Bonus:
-Lady’s Pedigree: The Making of Lady and the Tramp
-Finding Lady: The Art of the Storyboard
-Original 1943 Storyboard Version of the Film
-PuppyPedia: Going to the Dogs
-“The Siamese Cat Song,” Finding a Voice for the
-“Bella Notte” Music Video
-Excerpts from “Disneyland” TV Shows
DVD Bonus: Diane Disney Miller: Remembering
PuppyPedia: Going to the Dogs
Digital Bonus: Diane Disney Miller:
Three Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes
PuppyPedia: Going to the Dogs
Click here to order 3 disc Blu-ray special edition from Amazon
Documents pertaining to Charlie Chaplin show that the legendary screen star was the subject of a probe by the FBI and British Intelligence. The basis for the investigation was the fanatical, anti-Communist crusade orchestrated by the infamous Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s that extended for years even after McCarthy had been discredited. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had become convinced that Chapliin's left-wing sympathies may have been an indication he was a communist. The FBI fond that no one has ever been able to verify Chaplin's claim that he was born in London in 1889. Not even MI5 could find a record of his birth, and Chaplin apparently enjoyed keeping his early life a mystery. However, a recently uncovered family letter throws even more intrigue into the mix, with indications Chaplin may have been born of a Gypsy mother! For more click here
Dory Previn, who scored Oscar nominations for writing songs from the motion pictures Pepe and Two for the Seesaw, has died at age 86. She once enjoyed a prolific writing partnership with her husband, Andre Previn, with whom she wrote the hit title song from Valley of the Dolls. However, when she learned of Andre's affair with Mia Farrow, the two divorced. She had other failed marriages and bouts of mental illness but continued to write acclaimed music that included the theme song to the 1973 film Last Tango in Paris. For more click here
The beloved and acclaimed Irish character actor David Kelly has died at age 82. Among his memorable screen roles were appearances in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Waking Ned Devine, in which he rode s9ymdb:5579 through the Irish countryside naked on a motorcycle. He also appeared in countless British TV series beginning in the 1950s. For more click here
MGM's burn-to-order DVD service has released another worthy film, the 1971 comedy Cold Turkey. Written and directed by Norman Lear, the fanciful plot is set in Eagle Rock, Iowa, a struggling small town of 4600 residents in Iowa that has fallen on hard times. The town is on the verge of financial catastrophe with most of the once-thriving businesses having moved away when a local air force base was closed. Potential salvation comes in the form of a contest sponsored by a major tobacco company to award $25 million to any town that can give up smoking for a period of 30 days. In fact, the offer is a mere ploy by a cynical tobacco executive, Merwyn Wren (Bob Newhart), who assures his bosses that the contest will improve the industry's reputation without ever incurring the prospect of having to pay off. That's because every person in the town would have to sign a pledge to not smoke for 30 days. A single offense would result in disqualification for the prize. What Wren doesn't count on is the determination of Eagle Rock minister Clayton Brooks (Dick Van Dyke), a disillusioned and depressed reverend who finds renewed vigor in his determination to see his town win the contest and revitalized itself with the prize money. Brooks goes on a one-man crusade to persuade the town's population to sign the petition- not an easy task because seemingly everyone has turned to smoking in order to cope with the stress of their financial hardships.
Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's 1970 cult sci-fi series Space: 1999 will be revived and "reimagined" for television as Space: 2099. The original series starred Martin Landau and his wife Barbara Bain. For more click here
For review of the Blu-ray release of the original series click here
If die hard Star Wars fanatics are fed up with George Lucas making changes to the original series, he's fed up with them griping about it. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lucas candidly addresses the fans who have built their lives around his franchise saying, "It’s not a religious event. I hate to tell people that. It’s a movie, just a movie." Lucas explains and defends some of the changes he's made and makes an analogy to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, using it as an example of a director exercising his right to keep "improving" a film. Lucas also says he's in the early stages of working on a new Indiana Jones adventure. Click here for more
Noel Harrison was already a successful folk singer when he was tapped to sing the Oscar-winning title song from the 1968 crime caper The Thomas Crown Affair. Harrison was also an actor, co-starring in The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. TV series. He still has a loyal following and a cool unofficial fan site, appropriately titled www.thewindmillsofyourmind.com Click here to see a page dedicated to the history of the song as well as a 1969 performance of it by Harrison along with a 2011 reprise, which he performs splendidly. The site also offers rare vintage photo sleeves of the single from around the world. Click here to view
The big winners at this year's BAFTA awards were The Artist, which won seven major honors, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy which was named Best British Film. For full list of winners and nominees, click here
James Bond is back- and so is his legendary Aston Martin DB5, the car introduced way back in 1964 for Goldfinger. A DB5 with Daniel Craig and his stunt driver Ben Collins alternately behind the wheel was photographed in the Scottish countryside while filming the new 007 flick Skyfall. Click here for more
When you first saw the 1976 horror flick Carrie, based on the Stephen King bestseller, you witnessed a teenage girl humiliated at her prom by her cruel classmates. You watched as she unleashed telekinetic powers to wreak bloodshed and mass destruction on her tormentors- and you probably thought to yourself, "Hey, this would make one heck of a Broadway musical!" Incredibly, that's what some investors thought- and they lost $8 million on a legendary Broadway flop. Granted, it was no Moose Murders, the infamous comedy that closed after one performance, but it was a big enough bomb that the backers have never allowed it to be staged anywhere again. Now, some bold, dumb or courageous investors are dredging up the exiled musical and revamping it for a new stage run, albeit it with significant rewrites. Click here to read. - Lee Pfeiffer
Here's a real gem from 1965: Burt Lancaster in John Frankenheimer's The Train. Lancaster is a French Resistance fighter assigned to stopping German officer Paul Scofield from looting the nation's art treasures in the final days of WWII. Click here to order special edition DVD from Amazon
Whitney Houston, who once seemed to have an unstoppable career as a chart-topping singer and popular actress, has died at age 48. Houston's career plummeted after a destructive marriage to singer Bobby Brown characterized by the couple's high profile battles and reports of spousal abuse. Houston also found it impossible to stay away from dangerous drugs that may have contributed to her death. For more click here
I have been going through the latest issue of Cinema
Retro (Season 8 / Issue 22) and I'm overwhelmed. Before seeing it, I would have
said it couldn't be done, but you've done it. This is really the best issue of
Cinema Retro yet! All of the coverage on Cinerama is wonderful! Dark of the Sun
is a knockout. You all just keep getting better and better. Keep up the great
work. You now have another milestone issue to improve upon. Thank you!
Retro responds: Bill, thanks so much. We take pride in the fact that we're probably the only film magazine in the world to devote so much time and attention to an otherwise neglected gem like Dark of the Sun. It's proven to be one of our most popular articles ever, an indication that the general public knows a lot more about the real value of certain films than some of those "historians" who think a movie only matters if it has sub-titles. We believe we've fulfilled our initial goal of providing in-depth coverage of movies that are often neglected by the traditional critical establishment, though I have to say any number of prominent critics do contact us to tell us they agree with our sentiments about some of these titles. Returning to Dark of the Sun specifically, kudos are in order for writer Howard Hughes for providing such fascinating insights into the movie. I should mention that Dave Worrall's painstakingly-researched sidebar addressing rumors of "uncut prints" of the film has elicited numerous responses from readers. Some claim they recall seeing specific scenes in British prints in remote cinemas back in 1968. However, we have not been able to verify any of this. In England, the board of censors must give approval for any final cut to be released. The notion that a film company would risk severe financial and legal penalties to smuggle a "rogue print" of a movie to a rural cinema defies credulity. We believe that many people read the source novel decades ago and believe they saw some additional graphic sequences from the book in the film, as well. Worrall's research proved that there were sequences shot for the movie and excised before it was released. However, we still have no conclusive proof that any print other than that shown in the majority of cinemas ever existed. Sometimes movie fan's minds play tricks on them and they believe they saw sequences that never existed. I will point out an analogy. Back in the 1950s, Groucho Marx hosted the TV game show You Bet Your Life. In one famous instance, Groucho interviewed a man who said he had a very large family. Groucho asked him why he had so many children. "I like kids", the man said. To which, Groucho replied, "I like a good cigar, but even I take it out once in a while!" Countless people believe to this day that they saw that broadcast and embellish their tales with recollections of how shocked everyone was that such a sexually provocative remark could be telecast during that era. In fact, it wasn't. Groucho did indeed make that wisecrack, but the only people who actually heard it were those in the studio audience. It was never broadcast, yet it became such an urban legend that people to this day can specifically remember seeing it on TV. Such may be the case with the much-rumored, never-proven "uncut" prints of Dark of the Sun.
To order issue #22 of Cinema Retro featuring Dark of the Sun, see our back issues section or click here to order from Ebay.
Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are teaming once again for an action thriller titled The Tomb. The 1980s film icons recently completed starring together in a sequel to The Expendables. For more click here
In a continuing series of articles about working with Stanley Kubrick, Mike Kaplan, who was in charge of publicizing A Clockwork Orange, uses this segment to recall how Kubrick landed a much-valued commitment from Newsweek for a cover story. Kubrick, who was notorious for adopting a "my way or the highway" attitude in terms of his quest for perfectionism, threw a monkey wrench into the process by insisting that he shoot the cover photograph of himself. This lead to a showdown with Newsweek brass, who insisted that this unprecedented demand could not be met. Click here to read the story and gain some fascinating insights into Kubrick's uncompromising nature.
The web is ablaze with rumors that producers of Ridley Scott's "re-imagining" of his 1980s sci-fi classic Blade Runner are in talks with Harrison Ford to reprise his role as Deckard. The fact that the rumors aren't true apparently doesn't seem to matter. Now the film's producers have issued a strong denial that they are in discussions with Ford or anyone else, stating that they are so engrossed in forming the storyline with Scott that casting is the last thing on their minds. It would be doubtful that Ford would return to the Blade Runner universe: he loathed the experience of making the first film. For more click here
Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney has won a court order of protection from his stepson, who he has accused of manipulating him and holding him a virtual hostage to his demands. The 90 year-old actor says his life has been destroyed by stepson Chris Aber and Aber's sister Christina. In a long-simmering court dispute, Rooney's attorneys allege that the actor's finances were controlled by the Abers and that he was forced to do personal appearances, despite failing health. Rooney alleges that the Abers denied him vital medicine and verbally abused him. A court sided with Rooney and granted an order of protection, which temporarily prevents the Abers from being in the presence of Rooney, his wife and another stepson who lives with them. The court has appointed an attorney to look after Rooney's affairs while the legal matters are pursued.
Walt Disney's daughter Diane remembers what it was like growing up with a genius for a father. She recalls the family's "secret" apartment in Disneyland, her father's favorite rides and how he managed to be a regular dad despite his international fame. Click here to read and to enjoy a Disney family slideshow.
McQueen and Vaughn between takes on The Magnificent Seven.
Vaughn plays a rich American visiting Coronation Street in the legendary British TV series.
Robert Vaughn is acting royalty in England, as evidenced by his nine years on Hustle and his appearances on the legendary Coronation Street. In a wide-ranging interview, he discusses this new venture as well as his friendship with Steve McQueen and his enthusiasm to do a cameo in a Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature film- if it ever gets off the ground!
Zalman King, who left a successful acting career to become a triple threat director, producer and writer, has died from cancer at age 70. King is best known for specializing in high end soft-core erotica. He produced the successful 1990s cable TV series Red Shoe Diaries and also wrote and produced the kinky theatrical hit film 9 1/2 Weeks in 1986 starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. Other controversial hit films include Wild Orchid and New Moon Junction. For more click here
Does Eastwood have GOP election hopes in his sites or is the controversy much ado about nothing?
By Lee Pfeiffer
A powerful, slickly-produced Chrysler Super Bowl ad that ran during half time is stirring political controversy from unlikely sources: the Republican party, which usually embrace's the ad's star, Clint Eastwood. The two minute-spot has a gravelly voiced Eastwood walking out of the shadows to extoll the fact that the American auto industry is in the midst of making an enormously successful comeback. That might sound like something all Americans would be happy about, but in an election year, pundits on both sides see subliminal messages everywhere. GOP supporters don't deny the TV spot was highly effective, but they have a gripe with Eastwood's assurance that the auto industry's comeback was only at half-time" and the best was yet to come. Republican critics say the term half-time is a coded endorsement for a second term for President Obama. Others mock that assessment, pointing out that the "half-time" reference pertained to the fact that the spot ran during the game's half-time slot and that Eastwood has never indicated he was supporting Obama's re-election.
Republicans generally criticized President Obama's decision to make massive loans to the failing American auto industry. The presumed GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, called for the government to let the free market take its course, even if it meant the complete bankruptcy of the car industry. Romney has been modifying those remarks in the wake of the industry's success, implying that the plan proved to be successful because Obama adopted certain financial policies that Romney had long endorsed. However, GOP advisers had been concerned from the moment Romney stated his position, pointing out his words could come back to haunt him because, while Americans would detest another bailout of banks, they would probably empathize with loans to the auto industry that would save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of workers.
Some Democratic pundits are saying that the ad is completely apolitical and that GOP critics are overly-sensitive. They point out that, while Eastwood has traditionally stayed clear of commenting on national politics, the few comments he has made in the past make it clear he favored Republicans and conservatives. In fact, it was recently revealed that the first President Bush considered asking Eastwood to run with him as Vice-President in 1988. In 2008, he made a rare endorsement for a presidential candidate, backing John McCain, thus making him an unlikely supporter of Obama's campaign for re-election. That hasn't stopped high profile GOP advisers like Karl Rove from complaining that, while he is a fan of Eastwood's, the super star is willingly being used as a political tool by Democratic operatives, a notion that Eastwood dismisses. In a statement, Eastwood said he is not endorsing anyone at this time in the presidential race and that the ad was non-political. He said, "I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama. It was meant
to be a message about, just about job growth and the spirit of America. I
think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK."
Is the Eastwood spot a subliminal Obama endorsement or is it truly an apolitical, patriotic statement? Click here to view and make up your own mind?
With the success of the big screen adaptation of John Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, it's ironic that the DVD of the 1970 film version of The Looking Glass War has been allowed to go out of print. Granted, the film was not well-received at the time, but writer Kimberly Lindbergs posts a defense of the production on the Movie Morlocks web site. The movie starred Christopher Jones, Susan George and young Anthony Hopkins. Click here to read
Trolling through Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell site, we came across this: the original trailer for the marvelous 1964 sci-fi flick First Men in the Moon starring Edward Judd and Lionel Jeffries as Victorian era astronauts, with effects by Ray Harryhausen. John Landis provides the suitably enthusiastic commentary on the trailer. Click here to view
Click here to order special edition DVD from Amazon for less than $5!
John Rich (right) with producer Norman Lear, 1973.
This almost escaped us but reader Bill Parisho alerted us that Emmy winning director John Rich died on January 30 at age 86. Rich was lauded for his work on The Dick Van Dyke Show, All in the Family, Gunsmoke, Gilligan's Island, Barney Miller and other beloved programs. Rich also directed Elvis Presley in the feature films Easy Come, Easy Go. For more click here
The latest issue (#13) of the UK-based James Bond magazine MI6 Confidential is now shipping and, as usual, there's plenty of great articles and eye candy for fans. What I admire most about this slick publication is their dedication to covering all possible aspects of the Bond phenomenon. Consider the contents of this issue, which concentrates on the artistry of all things 007:
A look at the life and work of the great artist Richard Chopping, who provided those legendary covers for the early Ian Fleming British hardback novels.
An excerpt from Bond cinematographer Alan Hume's forthcoming autobiography in which he candidly recounts filming A View to a Kill.
A tribute to Russian-born artist Yaroslav Horak, who created great Bond comic strip art in the 1960s and 1970s
Interview with Kevin Walker, the artist who illustrated Charlie Higson's Young Bond book
A celebration of the career of legendary production designer Ken Adam
Art concept pieces from the Everything Or Nothing 2004 video game
A gallery of superb international artwork pertaining to rare film posters from the Sean Connery Bonds
In short, there's something for everyone. I admire the fact that, although the magazine has been around for years, they always present 100% new, original material and actual photos, not those DVD screen grabs that anyone can easily create on their own computer. (I also can never get enough of artist Robert McGinnis' eye-popping poster art for Diamonds Are Forever that illustrates the front cover.)- Lee Pfeiffer
With The Iron Lady opening in the UK, Daily Mail writer Chris Tookey acknowledges Meryl Streep's acclaimed performance as Margaret Thatcher. However, he says the film suffers from a simplified look at her actual career and accomplishments. Tookey says her most notable achievements are given brief mention while speculative or rather inconsequential aspects of her life are given prominence in the script. Tookey seems to be writing from a distinctly Tory point of view ("She
deserves to be studied because she was right about so many things, and
carried out her public duties despite hysterical abuse from most of the
political and media establishment"), so your own political leanings may influence whether you agree or disagree with his assessment. Click here to read