If you've got at least $1,000 to spare, you can purchase a ticket to a screening of the new James Bond flick Skyfall at New York's Ziegfeld Theatre on November 1. Robert DeNiro will be among the hosts for the screening that will benefit his Tribeca Film Foundation. The ticket price also includes admission to a party afterward. For more click here
There have been a number of us isolated souls who have championed Michael Cimino's 1980 legendary flop Heaven's Gate. The film's business aspects can't be defended, as the budget overruns made the film a financial disaster of monumental proportions. It almost sank a studio and ruined the big screen careers of director Cimino and star Kris Kristofferson. Nevertheless, the film is now finally being reevaluated on its artistic merits. Long and leisurely, the left-leaning Western is now gaining praise among mainstream critics. Cimino came out of hibernation to present a restored version at the Venice Film Festival and Criterion is readying an expensive, remastered Blu-ray edition. For more click here
Throughout the month of October, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City will present big screen, 35mm showings of every James Bond movie from Dr. No through Quantum Of Solace. Here is the press release:
In 1987, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the release ofDr. No(1962), producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli donated newly made 35mm prints of all 14 Broccoli-produced James Bond feature films to The Museum of Modern Art. With this extraordinary gift came a promise to provide MoMA with a new 35mm print of each subsequent Bond film. To date, this collection has grown to 22 films—all of the James Bond films produced by Eon Productions—and since his passing in 1996, “Cubby” Broccoli’s daughter Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have generously continued this tradition.
Created by novelist Ian Fleming in 1953, the iconic James Bond, 007, is among the few MI6 agents with the “00” grade—a license to kill. In addition to his deadly skills, the sophisticated, suave, and impeccably dressed Bond remains a loner, despite countless romantic encounters with stunning female spies, voluptuous assassins, provocative party-girls, and a charismatic psychopath or two. The alluring aura of danger and self-confidence he exudes is irresistible to women, but none are allowed to get too close.
Whether portrayed by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, or Daniel Craig, Bond is forever loyal to Queen and country, possessed of a martini-dry sense of humor, considerably stylish, and eternally enigmatic. When his boss, M, is in need of a formidable agent to quell a globe-spanning espionage crisis, 007 is sent into the field with his trusty Walther PPK, an array of handy spy gadgets, and an unwavering commitment to his mission.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. No and the extraordinary open-ended donation from Albert R. Broccoli, Barbara Broccoli, and Michael G. Wilson, MoMA presents all 22 films in its James Bond collection.
In honor of Brigitte Bardot's 78th birthday (which is today), click here to enjoy a photographic tribute to her life and career. Having gone into self-imposed retirement decades ago, the one-time French "sex goddess" of the silver screen has spent her later years campaigning for animal rights and political causes.
A long-neglected gem, the 1959 apocalyptic thriller The World, the Flesh and the Devil has finally been released on DVD through the Warner Archive. The movie, which was once routinely shown on TV, has all but vanished from sight in recent years. One of the first serious attempts to examine the implications of Armageddon in the nuclear age, the film was largely over-shadowed by Stanley Kramer's similarly-themed, all-star production of On the Beach. Harry Belafonte stars as Ralph Burton, a construction worker who is investigating a long-dormant underground tunnel when catastrophe strikes. He is trapped by a cave-in and when he manages to emerge from the death trap situation, he discovers the entire population of his town has fled in mass hysteria due to the outbreak of a world war. His research shows that biological weapons were used to kill seemingly everyone on earth. For the sake of dramatic license, the lethal aspects of the weapons are neutralized within a few days, thus making Burton immune from any lingering effects.
British actress Linda Hayden was only 15 years-old when she made her big screen debut in the 1968 film Baby Love. The movie cast her as a teenage vixen who uses her sexual prowess to wreak havoc on the family she is living with. The film, which has been little-seen in America, caused a sensation in the UK with some critics decrying the blatant use of such a young girl in role that was so sexually-driven. (Hope they never see Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver!) Ironically, the film was deemed so provocative that Hayden was not legally of age to see it when it opened in England. (For full report on the movie, see Cinema Retro issue #11)
The great character actor Herbert Lom has died at age 95. He was born in Czechoslovakia and emigrated to England just before the outbreak of WWII. (His beloved girlfriend was not allowed to stay in England and was deported back to Europe, where she ultimately died in a Nazi death camp.) With his imposing looks, Lom quickly became a mainstay in British films, often playing the heavy. A rare exception was his performance in the 1955 comedy classic The Ladykillers. Lom often appeared in B movies, as well as epic films such as Spartacus and El Cid. His poignant performance in the 1962 Hammer Films remake of Phantom of the Opera was largely overlooked at the time of the movie's release, but is now considered to be among his finest achievements. Lom is best known as Inspector Clouseau's long-suffering superior Dryefus in the Blake Edwards/Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies that greatly increased his name recognition. For more click here
Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell site presents director Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers with commentary by writer Josh Olson. The film rivals the 1956 original and in some ways surpasses it. Click here to view.
Click here for Cinema Retro's review of the DVD release
Click here for Cinema Retro's exclusive interview with co-star Veronica Cartwright.
MI6 Confidential, the full-colour magazine celebrating
the world of James Bond 007, returns with its seventeenth issue.
The Bond world is
buzzing. With just a few weeks to go before Skyfall
hits cinemas, we’ve seen the launch of film’s promotional campaign, the opening
of the most exhaustive exhibition of 007 design, and Activision continually
tease fans with a new look at their upcoming videogame, ‘007 Legends’.
We cover all of the
above in this issue, but the highlight must be the time we spent with stunt coordinator,
Gary Powell, who spoke exclusively to MI6 Confidential about the Skyfall pre-titles sequence. Finally, we
have just enough time to celebrate the French Bond girls of the franchise, as
Bérénice Marlohe joins their ranks this year.
Featured in this issue:
·Skyfall Action - Exclusive interview with stunt coordinator Gary Powell
·Entente Cordiale - Bérénice Marlohe joins a long list of French Bond
·All About Eve - Naomie Harris plays an MI6 field agent in Skyfall
·007 Legends - Activision lift the lid on their ambitious new videogame
·50 Years Of Bond Style At The Barbican - Take a tour of the new exhibition
·Inside The EON Archive - Exclusive interview with Archive Director Meg
·Sunspel In 007 Heaven - Recreating James Bond's iconic shorts
The 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake ofKing Kong(starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange) was one of the first scores John Barry composed after settling in Los Angeles from his native England. Although the composer was forced to write quickly due to production delays, he provided a powerful score that reflects both the film’s exotic adventure setting and the love story at its emotional center.
An unusual variety of melodic ideas to characterize Kong and a strong romantic theme endow the score with a lush sensuality and emotional poignancy that balances the harsher and more horrific elements. Barry’s music ranges from the primitive dances of island natives to the soft saxophone strains of contemporary romance without missing a beat.
FSM released the 1976 Reprise Records album master of King Kong in 2005 when no additional material was available. But now, with the cooperation of Paramount Pictures, we are able to premiere John Barry’s complete score newly mixed and mastered from the 2" 24- and 16-track masters on the first disc of this 2CD Deluxe Edition. We again present the album master on disc 2, augmenting it with several film alternates to make this the most complete possible representation of Barry’s effort.
Informative notes by John Takis, numerous film stills and dynamic original poster art comprise FSM’s colorful 20-page booklet.
If viewers of King Kong care about the hulking creature, it is in no small part because Barry makes them care. Through his art, painstakingly preserved and lovingly presented on this 2CD set, listeners are able to see past the mask of the monster to the infinitely lonely soul locked within.
Count this one among the most-requested DVDs to come from the Warner Archive. Young Cassidy is based on Irish poet Sean O'Casey's multi-volume autobiography. (O'Casey often used the pseudonym "John "O'Casey" in in these works that chronicle his life in Ireland.) The film was started by director John Ford but when the elderly director fell ill, Jack Cardiff took over. The production bears plenty of hallmarks of a Ford production, but under Cardiff's direction the it has an appropriately harder edge and less sentimentality than it probably would have had if Ford had completed the film. Rod Taylor gives another fine performance as the titular character, a charismatic, roughshod young man who resents being born into poverty under the heel of the British government with scant opportunity for upward mobility. Although Cassidy can drink and brawl with the best of them, he is an intellectual at heart. The movie traces his uphill battle to pursue a career as a playwright while digging ditches to feed his poverty-stricken family. He ultimately completes his first play and finds two influential mentors: W.B. Yeats (a wonderful performance by Michael Redgrave) and Lady Gregory (an equally marvelous Edith Evans), both of whom back him against all odds and get his controversial works produced on the stage. The story follows Cassidy as he dallies with a number of women of easy virtue (including a brief but memorable Julie Christie as a sexually liberated girl who beds him with nary a notion of a guilty conscience.) Ultimately, he falls for Nora (Maggie Smith), a rather dowdy intellectual who both inspires Cassidy's creative instincts even as she fears the inevitable fame he gains.
The film proceeds in the kind of leisurely manner that is almost unheard of today, thus allowing rich characterizations to be presented to the viewer. Cardiff displays a deft ability to wring sentiment from the story without becoming too maudlin. Ted Scaife provides the excellent cinematography (the film was shot on location in Ireland and interiors were filmed at MGM Studios in the UK). Sean O'Riada's musical score is suitably atmospheric and the screenplay by John Whiting (and approved by Sean O'Casey) provides plenty of pathos as well as humor. The performances are uniformly excellent, but it is the underrated Rod Taylor who dominates every scene. This native Australian could master any accent, though ironically he rarely played an Aussie.
Young Cassidy is an intelligent, thoroughly engrossing dramatic experience on every level.
The Warner Archive DVD also includes the original trailer.
The tinsel in Tinseltown many not be as bright as it once was. In a video report, CNN points out that there has been a dramatic reduction in film and TV production in Hollywood film studios in recent years as networks and studios are being lured to other major cities that offer tax incentives. The economy in L.A. is being hit hard, affecting technicians and support industries such as catering. Ironically, it was on the East Coast, primarily New York and New Jersey, that the motion picture industry began- and it is there that the pendulum is swinging once again. Click here to watch
Connery on the set of Diamonds Are Forever in Las Vegas (1971). Photo copyright: Terry O'Neill.
Famed celebrity photographer Terry O'Neill has a new book covering the photos he took on the sets of the early James Bond movies. A selection of the photos will also be on display at Proud Chelsea gallery in London through November 4. Click here for more.
Click here to order the book discounted from Amazon.
Children of Paradise has been called the greatest movie ever made in France, their equivalent to Gone With the Wind. Originally released
in 1945 and directed by Marcel Carné, the three-hour historical epic is big in
scope and ideas, and yet it is simplistic in its story about four men in love
with the same woman. The excellent Criterion Collection label released the
picture on DVD several years ago, but now they have given it the deluxe
treatment with Pathé’s 2011 restoration and uncompressed monaural soundtrack in
new Blu-ray and DVD editions. It looks and sounds amazing.
story of the film’s production is just as fascinating as the picture itself.
Made in Vichy France during the Nazi Occupation, Carné and his collaborator/writer
Jacques Prévert had to work in secrecy, for the Nazis acted as “studio
executives” and approved everything being made. The production designer and
music composer were Jews, and they had to keep their presence under wraps.
Allegedly many of the 1800 extras were Resistance agents using the film as
daytime cover, who, until the Liberation, had to mingle with Vichy supporters
and sympathizers imposed on the production by authorities. The production also
came under natural obstacles (some large sets were destroyed by a storm), film
stock was rationed, and principle photography had to be stopped and started
numerous times over two years. Only after Liberation in August 1944 was the
film able to be completed.
place in Paris between 1830-1848, mostly centered in the “Boulevard du Crime,”
the city’s “theatre row,” where the plays produced were typically crime
melodramas. Thus, the film is a massive period costume drama to begin with. The
protagonist is a mysterious woman named Garance (portrayed by the actress
Arletty, one of France’s most famous stars), who is a feminist long before that
word was invented. Four men vie for her attentions—notably the mime Baptiste
(the magnificent Jean-Louis Barrault), the actor Frederick, the thief Pierre,
and the aristocrat Edouard. Each have their own way of wooing the object of
their desire, and Garance, in turn, has her own ways of dealing with them. Other
minor characters complicate the proceedings by initiating their own seductions
and pursuits of the four main men.
script is extremely poetic. One might think the dialogue was written in verse,
but it wasn’t. Combined with Carné’s lush, fluid direction, the picture becomes
an exquisite, flowing piece of art. The acting is top-notch, the
black-and-white cinematography is breathtaking, and the overall power of the
epic will stay with you long after its finish. When I was in college in the
early to mid-70s, Children of Paradise was
a popular on-campus import, shown in scratchy 16mm prints. Even then I fell in
love with the picture, and now, seeing it in its restored, near-perfect glory,
it’s like manna from heaven.
take up an entire second disk. Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam provides an
insightful (and humorous) introduction to the film and cites it as one of his
favorites. A 2009 documentary on the making of the picture is extremely
enlightening. A new visual essay on the film’s design is a welcome addition
since the former release, and a vintage 1967 documentary features interviews
with Carné, Arletty, Barrault, and others. The film itself sports audio
commentaries by film scholars Brian Stonehill and Charles Affron, and a new
serious student of film history should pick up Criterion’s new edition of this
important, wonderful motion picture.
on Blu-ray and DVD simultaneously with Children
of Paradise is another Marcel Carné film from 1942, also made during the
Occupation—Les Visiteurs du Soir (aka
The Devil’s Envoys). This is a
fantasy along the lines of Bergman’s The
Seventh Seal, in which two emissaries of the Devil arrive at a medieval
castle to wreak havoc on love lives. Also starring Arletty, the picture is
definitely overshadowed by Paradise,
but it’s a little-seen gem that’s worth checking out.
In 1979, comic book writer and artist Walt Simonson teamed with fellow comic writer, editor and artist Archie Goodwin to create Alien: The Illustrated Story, a graphic novel tied into the release of Ridley Scott's new science fiction film. Graphic novel icon Frank Miller has said of this release, "Alien: The Illustrated Story might just be the only successful movie adaptation ever done in comics. It's a amazing graphic novel." Indeed, the artwork and adherence to the film remain impressive, even today. The original graphic novel has been out of print for decades despite the fact that the original Alien film has gained iconic status among sci-fi fans. Now Titan Books has reissued the graphic novel with significant enhancements: every page has been digitally remastered from original art that has been preserved in Walt Simonson's studio. The new release comes in 8x11 softcover format and glossy paper stock that does full justice to the outstanding artwork.
By 1979, the graphic novel was already pushing boundaries in ways that conventional comic books could not. For one, they were not bound by the constraints of the quaint comics code, a self-imposed censorship board that was put in place to stave off do-gooders who almost shut down the entire comic book industry in the 1950s. The artwork was also ground-breaking, adding considerably to the suspense of following the storyline. The novel does an admirable job of compacting all of the key story elements without resorting to the kinds of "artistic license" that often compromise many other comic adaptations of films. In all, it's a great concept to bring back classic comics such as this in restored editions, much the same way that great movies are routinely made available to new generations. Don't miss adding this one to your collection.
(The following review refers to the UK region 2 release)
I was young I was given a local newspaper that had been printed the day I was
born. I grew up in Wolverhampton, and the big newsa decade earlier had been the trial of Donald
Neilson, the self-styled Black Panther. He was a local who had had graduated
from house break-ins, through armed robbery and finally to kidnap and
multiple-murder. He was obsessed with the military (he had fought in Kenya as
part of the British suppression of the Mau-Mau uprising), and made his wife and
daughter act out scenes of warfare whilst he took photos. He was already a
wanted man following some botched post office robberies, but it was the
kidnapping of Lesley Whittle, a seventeen year old heiress, and the subsequent
ransom demands that really propelled him into the public eye. The Britain of
the 1970s was one of strikes, cutbacks and unemployment. Prospects were bleak,
and here was one man who had taken matters into his own hands. He was a meticulous
planner and he truly believed himself to be a master criminal. The reality was
very different. He was an inept bungler, incapable of making anything more than
a meagre haul from his robberies. If there hadn't been so much death at his
hands he would almost be a comic figure, more Pink Panther than Black Panther.
It was a devastating combination of Neilson's mishandling of events, press
interference and a West Midlands police force ill-equipped to deal with the
situation that culminated in his murdering the girl he had kidnapped and locked
up in a storm drain. Neilson was only caught two months later by coincidence
rather than a concerted effort on the part of the police.
tragic events were still very fresh in the public memory when Ian Merrick's film
The Black Panther was released in 1977. With a script by Michael
Armstrong (a director in his own right) based solely on police reports, written
statements, trial transcripts and other direct source material, the film sticks
to the facts of the case. It was shot in many of the actual locations used,
including Dudley Zoo and Bathpool Park in Kidsgrove, Stoke on Trent. This gives
the film a documentary feel, that it truly was ripped from the headlines.
Neilson was played by Donald Sumpter, known mainly for his TV work, but seen
most recently in the remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Long
sections of The Black Panther have no dialogue and it plays like a
silent film, with Sumpter communicating Neilson's emotions purely visually. It
is an incredible performance in what must have been a difficult role to embody
given his notoriety at that time. Sadly for those concerned, the public did not
take to the film. It's release was controversial and many cinemas around the UK
refused to screen it. Given the film's implicit accusation that the press were
partly to blame for Whittle's tragic death, it is perhaps unsurprising that
they took a particular dislike to it as well.
due to the continuing efforts of the British Film Institute to rescue films from
obscurity, The Black Panther has been restored and made available on
both DVD and Blu- ray for a new audience to appraise. The picture and sound are
excellent, although the package is a little light on extras. The only feature
of note is Recluse (1978), a thirty minute film also based on a true
life murder case. It stars Maurice Denham and is accompanied by some location
scouting footage. As usual with these Flipside releases, the main information
comes in a booklet crammed with essays and notes from both Ian Merrick and
Michael Armstrong amongst others.
The Black Panther is another release
from the BFI Flipside Range that comes highly recommended, and demonstrates
once again that the label is currently one of the most interesting and eclectic
today and fully deserve your support!
Despite the poor reception accorded to the Godzilla remake in 1998, plans are being made to bring the not so jolly green giant back again in another big budget revamp. The new Godzilla is set to be released in May 2014. The jury is still out on whether fan appreciation for the low-budget Japanese flicks will ever extend to major Hollywood productions. Click here for more info
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert has some heavy hitters in his corner. His recent memoir is being adapted into a major documentary by acclaimed director Steve James, with Martin Scorsese producing. Ebert, who began reviewing films in the 1960s, is internationally respected for often shining the spotlight on films that would ordinarily be ignored by the mass media. A bout with severe health problems has left him unable to speak, but Ebert has remarkably overcome that handicap and built a loyal following on his web site and social media sites where he reviews films as passionately as ever. For more click here
since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theatre, the world, and
Americans in particular, have had a fascination with conspiracy theories. One
of the earliest conspiracy films was The Man in the Barn by Jacques
Tourneur in 1937, which explores the possibility that John Wilkes Booth was not
working alone on that fateful night in 1865. The Lincoln Conspiracy from
1977 also explores similar plot lines, suggesting that Booth was not killed in
a barn ten days later but escaped, in part aided by certain men on Capitol
Hill. Some of the most explored and widely accepted conspiracy theories are
those surrounding the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963. Most
people now accept the idea that there was no lone gunman, but theories vary
widely as to what exactly did happen on that November afternoon. The official
version of events were challenged almost immediately by horror schlock-meister
Larry Buchanan in 1964 with The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald. Burt
Lancaster starred in Executive Action in 1973, a film which suggests
that the killing was planned by the CIA and big industry, and most famously of
all, Oliver Stone became forever associated with conspiracies and paranoia when
he directed JFK in 1991, a film which ensured that nobody knew who they
could trust any more.
Cinema' does not merely focus its attention on Hollywood, however. David Ray
Carter has spent literally hundreds of hours scouring the internet for the best
and the worst conspiracy films available. There are a lot of filmmakers out
there using the web to distribute their films and promulgate their theories on
dozens of fascinating subjects, such as alien abductions, the moon landings and
assassinations, including those mentioned and Martin Luther King Jr, Robert
Kennedy and (allegedly) Princess Diana. There are many fascinating films out
there dedicated to the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001,
with proposals ranging from the plausible to the preposterous. However, these
subjects are relatively small fry when compared with those films that deal with
the bigger picture: The New World Order and The Illuminati. Do you think you
are in control of your own life? If these guys are to be believed, think again.
presents the films in themed chapters with a summary and some information on
the filmmakers concerned. He also summarises the “official” version of events
alongside the main conspiracies before going into the films themselves. This
means you get a great overview of all the main ideas, and the book makes an
excellent reference to this unknown cinematic corner of the internet. Most of
the films he refers to can be found online for free, although be warned: some
of them can be up to four hours in length. Filmmaking skills vary also, with
some being little more than someone talking to the camera from the comfort of
their front room (or bunker). As professional equipment has become more
affordable some of the films have become sophisticated, using all the latest
tools available to get their messages across.
Cinema' is a fascinating read, even if you remain sceptical as to the beliefs
presented. Carter himself is sceptical of a great deal of the films he's seen.
As such he makes an entertaining and authoritative guide through the murky and
contradictory world of the conspiracy theory.
Note: this review pertains to the British Region 2 DVD edition
By Adrian Smith
best known for his work as both a writer, director and producer with Hammer
Films, Jimmy Sangster actually relocated to Hollywood during the early 1970s,
where he worked very successfully in both film and television. Whilst there he
wrote a supernatural script set in a run- down hospital in downtown Detroit.
Much to his chagrin, the script was altered to more closely resemble the Hammer
movies that were, to him at least, ancient history. Although keeping the
American protagonists, events were manipulated to allow the story instead to
take place in an English country estate featuring a collection of stereotypical
butlers, chauffeurs and curtseying maids. The film is essentially Agatha
Christie meets Dennis Wheatley through the filter of Dario Argento.
Ross is Maggie, a successful American designer who receives a mysterious
invitation to work in England. Accompanied by her handsome lover Pete (a
youthful and impressively moustachioed Sam Elliott), they jet off to a grey,
dull English world of narrow country lanes and chirpy market stall holders.
Following a minor motorcycle accident they find themselves guests of the
aristocratic Jason Mountolive, who conveniently lives in the kind of stately
home that Americans seem to think all the English live in. What they don't
realise until it becomes too late is that their arrival there was no accident.
When other guests begin to arrive, all successful in their respective fields,
it becomes clear that diabolical dealings are underway, and they may be lucky
to escape with their lives, or their souls.
The Legacy is perhaps best remembered now for
being the film that Ross and Elliott first met on, and subsequently married. It
is a peculiar film, mixing cosy drawing room talk with spectacularly violent
and gory deaths. Richard Marquand had to be influenced by Argento's Suspiria,
released just one year before. Maggie suspects she is descending into madness,
feeling that she is losing her grip on reality. And when people like The Who's
Roger Daltry and former Bond villain Charles Gray turn up only to suffer
spectacularly, she realises that she may be to blame. Could it be something to
do with a sixteenth-century witch, with whose portrait she bears an uncanny
the plot makes very little sense, The Legacy is a very entertaining film.
Ross and Elliott show genuine chemistry (perhaps unsurprisingly) as the
innocent couple around whom the sinister events unfold. The house becomes a
character itself as the camera glides around its oak-panelled hallways,
revealing hidden doors, tapestries, archaic ornaments and an increasingly
anachronistic collection of 1970s furniture. Although mostly shot on location
at Loseley Park House in Surrey, parts of it were also shot at Bray Studios,
the spiritual home of Hammer films.
The Legacy in some ways represents the end of
an era. By the tail end of the 1970s the money to make films in Britain was
running out, and companies like Hammer had gasped their last breath, and
Marquand was courted by George Lucas to direct the last part of his Star
Wars trilogy. It is well worth taking a look at, and this new DVD from
Odeon Entertainment presents an excellent widescreen print. A booklet with background information is the only
significant extra, which is a pity. It would be good to hear how Katharine Ross
and Sam Elliott look back on the film now, and perhaps a word or two from Roger
Daltrey on his dramatic, fish-based demise.
The remarkable art house movie Rapture has been released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time as a limited edition (3,000 units). The movie should have been a sensation with critics back in 1965 due to the outstanding performances and surprisingly frank examination of sexual passion. For reasons we'll never know, the movie was instead greeted with polite but underwhelming praise and even the more enlightened critics of the day, who delighted in championing offbeat films like this, ended up largely ignoring the Fox production. Stunningly filmed in B&W, Rapture is a very intense, often disturbing character study that was directed by John Guillermin, who seems an unlikely choice for the film given that he went on to earn major success directing epic action movies like The Towering Inferno, The Bridge at Remagen and the 1976 King Kong remake. Perhaps it was the commercial failure of this movie that turned Guillermin toward more mainstream projects, but he obviously had a penchant for making serious dramas that was never quite realized.
Rapture is set in Brittany on the coast of France where Agnes, a 15 year-old girl lives with her stern, humorless father Frederick (Melvyn Douglas). He's a widower who never quite got over the fact that the wife he loved so dearly never had the same passion for him. He clearly resents having to raise Agnes on his own and constantly sends less than subtle signals to her that she suffers from a mental illness. Indeed, when we first see Agnes, she is still playing with dolls and living a lonely life as a tom boy. The only other adult presence in her life is the live-in housekeeper Karen (Gunnel Lindblom), a vivacious young woman who acts as big sister to Agnes, even though her nocturnal sexual encounters with her boyfriend in her room results in passionate sounds that cause the younger girl considerable frustrations. Agnes is also haunted by the fact that the house she lives in is close to a mental asylum and she lives in fear that her father will have her committed there. The humdrum lifestyle of these three people is upended when a wounded escaped convict, Joseph (Dean Stockwell), shows up at their house. For their own selfish reasons, they decide to hide him from the police and nurse him back to health. Frederick believes the young man's assertions that he has been framed and values his intellect. Frederick is a left wing liberal former judge who still fights quixotic battles for social justice and he sees in Joseph a sympathetic audience for his writings and editorials. Karen sees Joseph as a sexual plaything and Agnes deludes herself into believing that he is a scarecrow that has come to life to be her emotional salvation and lover. The sexual friction between the two females ultimately leads to dramatic and highly disturbing scenarios.
While the three adult leads all give very fine performances, the real star of the show is young Patricia Gozzi, who gives a remarkably nuanced performance as the rag tag young girl who wants so desperately to be loved. Joseph plays the women against each other and beds both. He seems to develop a genuine affection for Agnes and tries to convince her that her alleged mental problems are easily curable- if she will just get away from her dominating father, who continues to degrade and belittle her. The ill-fated love affair between convict and teen is handled with remarkable candor for 1965, complete with bedroom scenes that leave little doubt that Joseph is engaging in sex with an underage girl. The fact that Fox backed this film speaks well for the studio, because Rapture is the kind of film that major studios rarely went near.
Twilight Time's Blu-ray doesn't boast any extras which is a bit frustrating because, if ever a film called out for a commentary track by film scholars, this is it. The movie's outstanding B&W cinematography looks great and Georges Delerue's marvelous score is a joy to listen to. Julie Kirgo's excellent liner notes explain that Patricia Gozzi sacrificed a promising film career by going into self-imposed retirement at an early age. A pity because her work in this film was Oscar-worthy and she could have had a brilliant career. Rapture is a remarkable film on many levels. Put it on your "must see" list.
James Stewart in a movie about modern witchcraft in New York City??? That unlikely premise is obviously couched in the form of a comedy in Bell, Book and Candle, a 1958 gem that hits all the right notes and boasts a remarkable cast of Hollywood heavyweights, all seen at their very best. Kim Novak is Gillian, a sensuous young, single woman who runs an esoteric shop in Gotham that sells African artifacts. She also has a bit of a secret: she is a witch. Not the kind who tries to steal ruby slippers from young girls, but a kinder, gentler witch whose worst acts involve some juvenile pranks. Bored with her love life, she decides to use her powers to seduce the first desirable man who comes into her field of vision. It turns out that the "victim" is Shep Henderson, a single, successful book publisher who happens to reside in her apartment building. Gillian works her magic and Shep is instantly smitten, though it strains the imagination to believe that any straight man would need a hex on him to become enamored with Kim Novak. Gillian discovers, much to her delight, that Shep is engaged to Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule), an old rival from their college days. Thus, the opportunity to break up their relationship seems especially delicious. The ploy works and Shep and Gillian become a couple- but, as you might imagine, witchcraft intervenes in unexpected ways that causes them to reevaluate their true feelings for each other.
This is a very witty film, directed by Richard Quine, who demonstrates a deft ability to carry off a light comedic touch. The movie reunited Stewart and Novak after they starred in Hitchcock's classic Vertigo and, although the two movies couldn't be more different, they do share an interesting relation to the supernatural. Jack Lemmon, then on the cusp of major stardom as a leading man, is very amusing as Novak's warlock brother who is frustrated that his powers never seem to be able to benefit him in any substantial ways. (He has to earn a living as a bongo player in a nightclub that caters to fellow witches and warlocks.) The great Elsa Lanchester is especially terrific as Novak's ditzy aunt (also a witch). Another wonderful comedic actress, Hermione Gingold, is wonderful in a brief role as a witch who tries to break the spell Gillian has cast on Shep. Even Howard McNear (better known as Floyd, the barber from The Andy Griffith Show) turns up as Shep's business partner. If there is a true scene-stealer, however, it's Ernie Kovacs as an alcoholic, disheveled author of a book about modern witchcraft who professes to be able to recognize witches in a way the average person could never hope to. Naturally, he never suspects the people he is dealing with are mostly witches. Kovacs, playing low-key, dominates every scene he is in- no small task, considering his talented co-stars. Stewart is at his peak here and Novak's legendary icy persona is used to wonderful effect, giving her an other-worldly quality.
The movie has one drawback: although it is set in New York City, there are precious few location scenes. The rest of the film is quite obviously shot on sound stages that could represent anywhere and don't resemble the Big Apple in any way. There is one terrific scene, however, that finds Stewart flinging his hat from atop the Flatiron Building- and cinematographer James Wong Howe captures it's fall to the ground without any cuts in the shot. It's quite an achievement and one wishes Howe's talents weren't restricted largely to studio sets on this film. The movie also boasts a fine score by George Duning that adds immeasurably to the mood and fun.
The Blu-ray looks fine overall, but some graininess can be detected on occasion. Twilight Time has included a featurette previously released in a Novak boxed DVD set from Sony in which she engages in an audio interview about her recollections of making the movie and the delights of working with Stewart, who she clearly adored. Novak says Stewart, then age 50, felt he had already passed his sell date as a viable romantic leading man and henceforth downplayed this aspect of his persona. That seems ludicrous today when leading men get the girl even into their seventies, but it apparently was a motivating factor as to why Stewart left the swooning to his co-stars in most of his later movies. The Blu-ray also includes a featurette with Novak discussing her work with Fredric March on an unrelated film about a May/December romance, Middle of the Night. An original trailer and isolated music score are included in this edition, as is Julie Kirgo's excellent liner notes. The Blu-ray is limited to only 3,000 units, so pick this one up ASAP.
Elsa Martinelli reads the article in Cinema Retro #23 about the filming of Howard Hawks' Hatari! (Photo copyright: Roland Schaefli. All rights reserved.
By Roland Schaefli
Martinelli checked out our “Hatari!” article in issue #23 of Cinema Retro while
attending the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, she enlightened us about
how she induced baby elephants to follow her around in the film. Not surprisingly,
we ended up following her everywhere. Here are a few highlights of one
of our discussions.
We did an article about the
making of “Hatari!” and how the locations look today.
Oh. They must have changed a lot.
that much. The Ngorongoro Crater (where the pre title sequence was shot) is
full of tourists, of course.
Back then, we were to first to actually go down there.
But you were very lucky to travel there nowadays. You know, we were there four
months and it wasn’t quite as comfortable as it looks today.
night, to honor you, the film festival showed your Italian movie “La Risaia”
which was produced by Carlo Ponti in 1956 – right after your first American film.
What kind of a feeling was that, to see yourself up there on the screen at the
very beginning of your international career?
Well, I’ve seen it before. It’s always something quite
particular. In a way I always look at myself like I was somebody else. And then
it happens that you say to yourself, “she could have done this” or “she could
have done it that way”. Yet mostly I say, “She was OK”. Like it was somebody
your experience as an actress now, would you play the part differently today?
I don’t think about that. What I DID think about was
the copy we got to see. We could not appreciate the scope and the beauty of the
color and so on. Because this was an old print, they obviously didn’t have the
new restored one which is much better. Too bad.
were actually one of the first fashion models to break into movies, which is
much more common now…
Well, I was really a photograph top model in New York.
With Eileen Ford, the great agency. I was just doing photos with some of their
great photographers, and they appeared in “Life” – I had two, no, three covers
in “Life”, and they appeared in “Vogue” – so it was difficult NOT to notice me (laughs).
That’s when I was approached by Kirk Douglas’ wife. He was producing this film
(“The Indian Fighter”). She was French so I was able to understand what she was
saying. And so I got started.
In his new and controversial
book “I Am Spartacus”, Kirk Douglas recounts how he cast the leading lady. He
was originally planning for you to play the part of “Varinia” but finally he
tore up your contract. What went wrong with Kirk Douglas?
Nothing went wrong. It was wonderful to work with him.
The thing was that I was getting ready to get my first baby. I just couldn’t
make it. I suppose somebody else would prefer “Spartacus” to having a baby. But
that was not my case.
from the fashion scene, it must have been something special to wear the
costumes designed by Edith Head for “Hatari!”.
Actually, all the costumes for the film were chosen by
Mr Hawks, like he always did. To him, the costumes were very important. He was always dressing the characters
accordingly. Think about Montgomery Clift in “Red River”, he stood out. He
dressed Gerard Blain the same way (in Hatari!). He had something similar in
mind for him, dressing him all in black. Unfortunately, Gerard was very
difficult, so Hawks cut a lot from his part. So, Hawks not only chose the
costumes of the females but also of the men.
Hawks was also one of the first directors to show women as self-confident in a
male group, even sexually aggressive.
But Hawks was a very sweet man, you see. He was a
strange man, a fantastic man to work with. But quite a hard man. He knew what
he wanted. So you had to be prepared: prepared to realize what he expected from
you. Usually, there was no script. But Welles also never had a script. Probably
some of the greatest stories in Hollywood films weren’t scripted to begin with.
Like some of the scenes in John Ford’s movies: you can’t script the way a horse
dies. So Hawks used to get on the set at 5 in the morning and write the lines
and tape them and as soon as you arrived he gave them to you. And you had to be
quite fast to memorize them.
you had to improvise a lot in the scenes with animals.
Actually I went there one month ahead of the others
just as the baby elephants were born. You see, the trick is to feed them right
away. That’s how you become their “mother”. So they got used to me and would
follow me everywhere. Nobody believes that’s true, but that’s it. When we came
back to Paramount to shoot the interiors, they put them in the San Diego Zoo.
And they were growing quite big. The last time I saw them one of them bumped me
in the knee.
beautiful music by Henry Mancini is still played around the world. What do you
think when you get to hear it somewhere?
The biggest surprise I got is when I went to Brazil. I
went to a very strange section of Rio to buy something. Suddenly, all these kids
came after me and sang the Baby Elephant March. Unbelievable, the way this
music travelled the world and is still so present. God knows how much music
Mancini has written. But that’s the one that sticks.
have acted with some of the great he-men of the screen: Wayne, Mitchum, Heston.
Can you even compare them to the actors of present day?
Yes, but there are some wonderful new actors. Sean
Penn is wonderful. There are so many great new actors, especially in the United
States. Don’t forget the Al Pacinos.
they’re not macho in a sense that Mitchum and Wayne were.
Of course it was different back then. John Wayne was
quite tall, much bigger than me. They were born that way. They didn’t have to
act macho. They were a special kind of people. Think of Gary Cooper, they were
all two meters tall! They were just physically built differently. I mean, they
didn’t have to go to the gym! (laughs)
was also quite different is that leading men and women were smoking in the
movies. You had your share of cigarettes on screen. We actually counted six
times you light up in “Hatari”.
In Bogart’s films, there were cigarettes all over the
place! Nowadays, there would be a sign saying “No smoking”. Look, we all smoked
back then. I myself really stopped 9 years ago, from one day to another. I just
got tired to it and said “Basta”. Of course, to smoke in a movie is a question
You’re still working in film.
What can attract you to a project?
It’s always the story, that comes first. You see, I
took many chances in cinema. I’ve made movies with directors who never did
direct before, at least five or six films with novice directors. Because
whenever I read a story I always know there is a director somewhere behind it.
That’s when I like to take risks…
like to take a chance.
Yes, because if it’s a special story I sense that
somebody special might be behind it.
(Roland Schaefli, Swiss contributor to Cinema Retro, visited the African locations seen in Hatari!. His extensive report about the locations today and the making of the film appear in Cinema Retro issue #23. Click here to purchase from our eBay store.)
60 Minutes has been on the American airwaves since 1968 and our favorite segment has nothing to do with political scandals, interviews with legends or exposing con-men. It is the 1974 report titled Last Train to Istanbul in which correspondent Morley Safer traveled on the last ride of the fabled Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul. By this point, the train had been in terrible disrepair and had degenerated from a symbol of class and status to that of a cargo train carrying migrant workers. The Cold War enters prominently when they cross the Iron Curtain and all papers must be in order. There are no services on the train that once boasted all night champagne and gourmet dining and it's depressing to see how the Express had been allowed to deteriorate. However, the happy ending, as we all know, is that years later it re-emerged under new owners and today has been restored to its original glory. The segment, broadcast in 1974 and re-aired in 1977, is brilliantly edited and incorporates plenty of coverage of how the Express figured into spy movies. There are clips with Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, the (then) newly-released Murder on the Orient Express and the classic train fight between Sean Connery and Robert Shaw in the James Bond film From Russia With Love. (By sheer coincidence, one of the steam engines is coded with the number "007"!) Most amazing if the fact that Morley Safer is still a top correspondent for 60 Minutes. We once vied for a taxi cab during a rainstorm in London...I beat him out and told him that, while I admired his work, I was taking the cab. After viewing his fine work in this segment, I feel kinda guilty. Morley, if you're reading this, next time you'll get the cab- I promise. - Lee Pfeiffer
Happier times: Connery on the set of Goldfinger (1964) before his battles with the studio and producers became the stuff of Hollywood legend.
Sir Sean Connery is still nursing a grudge against the James Bond franchise even though producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson weren't even running the series when Connery was embroiled in legal battles with Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Connery has long maintained he has never been properly compensated for his participation in the six 007 films he did for United Artists. Broccoli always maintained that he got every penny he deserved and that any problems Connery had were between him and the studio as Eon never paid him directly. Nevertheless, the two men never fully reconciled before Broccoli's death in 1996. Connery's relationship with Harry Saltzman was even more strained. The end result of all this is that Connery is choosing to sit out the worldwide international Bond 50th anniversary celebrations, which seems certain to douse fan's long-standing hopes that all six of the Bond actors would ever appear together. For more click here
Ever hear of Bob Wilkins? Neither had I until I received a review copy of The Complete Bob Wilkins Creature Features from November Fire Recordings. If you grew up in Sacramento, California or the Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s, Wilkins will be a familiar name. Many major American cities had popular local personalities who hosted retro-themed cult movie broadcasts. In some markets, it was Zacherly, the Cool Ghoul hosting horror flicks. In the New York City area, it was Officer Joe Bolton, a fictitious police officer who introduced Three Stooges shorts. Wilkins was a nondescript employee with no broadcasting experience who worked at nickel-and-dime local stations in the era in which such networks relied on old re-runs of classic TV series and cheap movies that were often in the public domain, copyright-wise. Wilkins was a baby-faced, blonde haired young man who wore thick black glasses, making him look like the winner of the local Harry Palmer look-a-like contest. His bosses asked him to host introductions to late night broadcasts of horror movies. With his low-key personality, the dapper Wilkins made an unlikely choice for the task. However, he soon won over a loyal audience of young viewers who loved his off-beat habit of mocking many of the movies he introduced. At first advertisers were appalled, but as ratings grew, Wilkins found his job secure: he would work on multiple stations doing the same shtick between 1966 and 1981, when he went into self-imposed retirement. His trademark eccentricity was often being photographed in bizarre situations, such as sleeping in a coffin or engaging in strange interviews with even stranger horror movie fans. Eventually, his fame grew and he became sought-out by well known actors and directors who wanted to publicize their latest projects. Other celebs participated just for the pure fun of it, including Jack Benny and Gov. Ronald Reagan.
The DVD includes highlights of Wilkins' intros to horror films from over his long career. There are also out of studio segments in which he visits movie theaters, graveyards and other suitable locales for his man-on-the-street interviews. The footage is cleverly presented in chronological order with a running timeline of every movie shown on his program and the dates of the telecasts. There is also an abundance of horror movie trailers, TV spots and movie poster art. Wilkins had enough influence to arrange to show George Romero's Night of the Living Dead 27 months after its initial release. It is believed to have been the first telecast of the movie on American TV. Wilkins in also seen in interviews shot shortly after his retirement (he was succeeded as host by his protege, horror movie expert and film critic John Stanley.) He makes an affable and engaging personality and is rarely seen without his trademark Churchill cigar which he routinely puffed throughout his show intros. (Wilkins passed away in 2009).
The DVD is very well-produced, given its limited production values- and is entertaining throughout. Highlights are interviews with iconic actors: a brief bit with Boris Karloff, believed to be his last filmed segment, a serious interview with Christopher Lee in which he discusses why he would never portray Dracula again, John Carradine reflecting on his long career and a wonderful segment in which John Landis, John Belushi and Donald Sutherland promote National Lampoon's Animal House. (Sutherland reveals that his son Kiefer is named after Warren Kiefer, director of Donald's first movie Castle of the Living Dead.) I also enjoyed the interview with William Marshall, who played Blacula in the hit blaxploitation films. There are also vintage TV ads ranging from a Toyota spot using an animated Wilkins look-a-like to some amusing spots promoting the Edsel as the next great American car. All in all, an irresistible tribute to a man I had never heard of, but want to see more of.
One retro movie that has not shown up on television is the 1972 screen adaptation of Philip Roth's notorious 1969 bestseller Portnoy's Complaint. The book was the subject of worldwide debate, praise and derision. The plot tells of a Jewish New Yorker's confessions to his analyst regarding his inner most fears, sexual fantasies and embarrassments. The book's content was truly shocking for its day, largely due to its unabashed depiction of young Portnoy's sexual obsessions that results in his having an erotic encounter with a piece of liver that later serves as the entree in the family dinner. The book traces Portnoy's "progression" into a series of failed relationships with women as he battles unrealistic sexual expectations, impotence and a constant sense of guilt due to his relationship with his overbearing, dominating mother. He seems to strike gold when he meets Mary Jane, a vivacious, if empty-headed young woman who is nick-named The Monkey because of her ability to carry out seemingly impossible sexual positions. Portnoy feels he has found the perfect woman: someone who lives for sex and who eschews traditional relationships. However, even this scenario turns sour when Mary Jane begins to pressure him to marry her, a quest that leads to unexpected tragedy. Roth's novel was praised universally by critics who found his ability to blend social and ethnic satire into what is essentially a penetrating look at the modern sexual psyche. Suddenly, women were being defined by their permissiveness and men were supposed to be supermen in the sack. Most of the controversy, however, stemmed from Roth's scathing dissection of how Portnoy's Jewish background becomes a virtual anchor around his neck, always haunting him with feelings of guilt despite the fact that he outrages his parents by proclaiming his atheism.
The film version of Portnoy's was met with universal scorn by both critics and the public. The main complaint about Complaint was that the brilliant screenwriter Ernest Lehman, who adapted the novel and made his directorial debut with this production, fell flat in conveying the wit of Roth's printed words onto the silver screen. It's a valid observation. Even today, Portnoy just seems like a smarmy dirty joke that goes on for an hour and a half, devoid of any real laughs or social observations. The scenes of Portnoy's obsession with masturbation as a teenager are cringe-inducing, as his family is subjected to his moans of pleasure from behind the bathroom door. (The notorious liver sequence is, fortunately, only described, not depicted.) Also, the scene in which an easy neighborhood girl's sexual encounter with young Portnoy results in his being blinded through emission of bodily fluids, is also rendered somewhat tame. However, these are about the only occasions when Lehman uses good taste. The rest of the film is a mish mosh of foul language, abusive relationships and awkwardly filmed fantasy sequences in which Portnoy is called to account by God. The film's modest storyline did not stop Warner Brothers from providing a sizable budget with locations filmed in Greece, Italy and Israel (in the latter sequence, Portnoy has a disastrous encounter with a free-spirited Israeli woman.) Curiously, the high budget didn't preclude some of the worst rear screen projection sequences seen in this era. Despite its many flaws, however, the movie has some aspects that can be recommended. Richard Benjamin has the unenviable task of playing the unlikable protagonist and he does a fine job. His ability to alternate between comedy and pathos was always his most enviable talent and the film's failures can't be laid at his doorstep. Similarly, Karen Black as Mary Jane gives one of the best performances of her career as the rough-around-the-edges woman of loose morals who pays tragically for her desire to want a fulfilling, loving relationship. The most distasteful sequences are those of Portnoy in the company of his aging, whining parents. Jack Somack is convincing as the grumpy dad whose daily battle with constipation has turned him into an ogre. However, Lee Grant is woefully miscast as the stereotypical Jewish mother. As Roger Ebert observed in his review of the film, the part cried out for Shelly Winters. Young Jill Clayburgh makes an impression as the Israeli object of Portnoy's perverted desire. Michel Legrand provides a typically lush, romantic score that seems oddly out of place in this most unromantic of movies, but there are some grace-saving scenes of Gotham in the early '70s that provide some entertaining distractions.
The Warner Archive has released Portnoy's Complaint as a burn to order title. Quality is very good on all counts, though there are no extras. The movie is the kind of curiosity that retro movie lovers will want to examine if for no other reason than to see one of the most groundbreaking films in terms of permissiveness of sexual situations and language.
III: Season of the Witch
is a strange concoction that never seemed to get a fair shake at the box office
during its original release. It's kind
of like the unwanted offspring of the Halloween
films and was originally projected to be the first in a series of yearly horror
yarns released every October that dealt with different stories surrounding the
titular holiday. The film is among the
least successful of the series, so any future franchise plans were abandoned,
which is a shame because Halloween III
is a fun little movie in its own right. In addition to being marketed
incorrectly, it has not been represented properly even on home video. DVD certainly hasn't been kind to it, having
seen no less than three incarnations in “movie only” editions released in 1998
by Good Times Home Video, and in 2003 and 2007 by Universal Home Video. This is
about to change, however, thanks to the fine folks at Shout! Factory. Their new “Scream Factory” line is releasing
a widescreen, feature-rich DVD in September (along with Halloween II from 1981) that should satisfy any passing or diehard
fan of this film. Having been erroneously
promoted as the third installment of the popular horror series at the time, it
is the only film having absolutely nothing to do with the manifestation of pure
evil, Michael Myers. Halloween III is more of a science
fiction/horror film in the tradition of Invasion
of the Body Snatchers (1956), the film the director obviously admires
Released on Friday, October 22, 1982, Halloween III was co-written and
directed by Tommy Lee Wallace whose future credits would go on to
include episodes of the of the mid-1980's revival TV series The Twilight Zone and the 1990
made-for-TV movie adaptation of It by
Stephen King. Halloween
Tom Atkins, who worked with John Carpenter on The Fog (1980) and Escape
From New York (1981) and with George A. Romero in Creepshow (1982). He is also
known for Fred Dekker's Night of the
Creeps (1986) and Richard Donner's Lethal
Weapon (1987). Mr. Atkins always
delivers a terrific performance regardless of the subject matter of the films
that he appears in, and Halloween IIIis
no exception. Here he plays Dr. Dan
Challis, who looks no more like a doctor than yours truly, and ends up playing
doctor with Ellie Grimbridge
(Stacey Nelkin), the twenty-two year-old grand-daughter of a man who died in
his care (actress Nelkin is reportedly the woman Woody Allen had an affair with
in the mid-1970s and inspired Mariel Hemingway’s character of Tracy in his 1979
film Manhattan). It turns out that a company producing
Halloween masks (courtesy of Don Post Studios) is actually a front for an evil
man named Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy) who has produced a legion of androids
in the form of well-dressed men, and is the monster behind the television
commercials for Silver Shamrock Novelties which are geared towards children. Cochran’s plan is to kill children who wear
his masks on Halloween night by activating a microchip in their masks which
contain a fragment of Stonehenge. He wants to resurrect the festival of Samhain
which he relates to witchcraft.
The story has elements of science fiction and reminds one of the
aforementioned granddaddy of social paranoia flicks. The well-dressed men remind me of the
soulless crew members of the Cygnus in The
Black Hole (1979). Some critics even
claimed that the film is a social commentary about the pitfalls of consumerism
and the power of large corporations. To
paraphrase Sigmund, sometimes a thriller is just a thriller!
III has become one of those films rescued from obscurity
thanks to the availability of home video. Were it not for the ancillary markets of cable television and video
playback devices, it is highly unlikely that so many genre gems would have ever
retained any sense of life and made it into the homes of fans around the world.
While obviously it is better to see such films on the big screen, particularly
movies such as Halloween IIIwhich
was shot in the 2.35:1 anamorphic aspect ratio, for many of us, this was the
only way to see these films at all. Network
TV airings were hit or miss.
John Carpenter and Alan Howarth provide a nifty synthesizer-driven film
score which aids in giving the film a spooky and alien feel to it. The Silver Shamrock theme is a variation of
the public domain children’s song “London Bridge is Falling Down.”
I love going to the locations where
movies are shot, and Sean Clark of Horror's Hallowed Grounds does another
excellent job of taking us on a tour of the locations for Halloween III. However, I
must say that this is about as close as you would want to get to the town of
Loleta, CA where the bulk of the film takes place. While it looks industrial and low-key in the
film, 30 years have not been kind to this location. The motel where the aforementioned tryst
occurs is dilapidated and home to people you don’t want to know.
If you're going to own Halloween III, this is the
edition to get. This special DVD comes with the following extras:
commentary with director Tommy Lee Wallace, Sean Clark of Horror's Hallowed
Grounds and Rob Galluzzo of Icons of Fright
commentary with actor Tom Atkins
Alone: The Making of Halloween III:
Season of the Witch featuring Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin,
Dick Warlock, Dean Cundey and more...
Hallowed Grounds - Revisiting the original shooting locations
MTV's web site is looking back at one James Bond film every week, leading up to the release of Skyfall. Click here to read their assessment of Roger Moore in Octopussy (1983). The review accurately points out the jumbled, complicated plot line but does acknowledge the great stunt work. (What's up with calling the terrific title theme- John Barry's All Time High - "one of the worst" songs in the series? You can also watch the original trailer and James Brolin's screen test for the role of Bond, filmed when it looked like Moore would retire from the series.
Turns out the scoop that MI6-HQ web site broke has been confirmed: Daniel Craig will return for at least two more James Bond movies. His third film, Skyfall, is due for release next month in the UK with an American opening following in November. For more click here
Nightmare Castle, released on DVD by Severin Films, is an Italian horror film from 1965 that has achieved a following largely on the basis of its star, original scream queen Barbara Steele. The story is a period piece set in the late 1800s with Steele playing a dual role. As the film opens, we find her as the unfaithful wife of an aristocratic doctor (Paul Muller) who has a penchant for dabbling in bizarre medical experiments. (A note of caution to readers: if you are contemplating having an illicit affair, it's best to reconsider if your spouse is quasi-mad scientist.) When the husband catches on to having been made a cuckold, he tortures his wife and her lover to death - only to find the mansion they inhabited has been inherited by his sister-in-law (also played by Steele). In short order, he woos and marries his wife's sister, who conveniently happens to have been recently released by a mental asylum after suffering from delusions. This sets up an antique version of Gaslight with Muller and Helga Line, who plays his mistress, trying to drive Steele insane so they can inherit the mansion.
Pretty Eddie is
a bizarre concoction, the sort of movie that they just don't make anymore, and
certainly not in the way in which this politically incorrect creation from 1974
was made. Released on DVD in 2006 with a fairly lousy and dark transfer, the
film has been issued in a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack by the fine folks at HD
Cinema Classics. Remastered in high definition by Film Chest, Inc. from a 35mm
theatrical print, Poor Pretty Eddie concerns
an African-American singer, Liz Weatherly (Leslie Uggams), who ends up stranded
in the woods after her car breaks down and encounters a bizarre group of
characters. Where is a cell phone when
you need one? Due to the presence of the
newly-built interstate (have you ever noticed how all of these characters’ ills
are attributed to government highways?), the remote southern town that she
stumbles across is on its last legs. It would be impossible to discuss this
film without making a mention of John Boorman’s Deliverance made two years prior to it, and all of the backwoods
redneck jokes that probably popped into the audiences’ minds while viewing the
Weatherly takes a room at an inn that
is home to a group of show business wannabes, most notably Bertha (the always
reliable nutcase Shelley Winters, fresh from her turns as Mrs. Armstrong, Auntie
Roo and Helen Hill), Bertha’s lover Eddie (Michael Christian) who has patterned
himself after Elvis and sees Bertha as his ticket to fame, Keno (Ted Cassidy)
the handyman, and Sheriff Orville (Slim Pickens). Dub Taylor even shows up! The Charlie Williams Pinecrest Lodge in
Athens, GA doubles as the inn (it was closed in early 2004) where 90% of the
action was filmed. The film appears to
have a look and feel that seems to almost be drug-induced, with a strange array
of characters and big colors as part of the set design. It is an unpredictable hodgepodge of weirdness
and must be seen to be believed.
Cinematographer David Worth provides a
very interesting and entertaining commentary along with cult film historian Joe
Rubin. Mr. Worth’s loquacity is matched
only by his erudition of the film business, and for a film made nearly 40 years
ago he speaks with tremendous flair and great recollection, despite his claims
to the contrary. In the early 1970s,
aspiring editors and directors generally cut their teeth in what was then known
as the porn industry (now called the “adult film industry” – it has become more
respectable I suppose!). They rarely had
their names appear in the credits of such fair. Poor Pretty Eddie was no
stranger to controversy, as it contains a rape scene involving Eddie and Liz;
the scene juxtaposes images of dogs mating in slow motion. Make of that what you will!
The transfer is in high definition,
although the print is not completely free of lines and scratches, particularly just
after the head of the reel changes. This
is a minor complaint, however.
In addition to the feature audio
commentary, the package contains the following extras:
neat postcard featuring the original poster art
I personally love HD Cinema
Classics. They package their films with
both a DVD and a Blu-ray, which gives the viewer the opportunity to see that
Blu-ray is definitely the way to go.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER POOR PRETTY EDDIE FROM AMAZON.COM
Scorpion has released the rather obscure 1969 surfing documentary Follow Me on DVD. Clearly inspired by the similarly-themed, but highly acclaimed 1966 film The Endless Summer, this is a rather slap-dash effort that was the brainchild of director/producer Gene McCabe, whose professional credits largely began and ended with this project. The film traces the exploits of three young American surfers (Mary Lou McGinnis, Claude Codgen and Bob Purvey) as they travel the globe, ostensibly on a meager budget in order to find the most challenging waves and surfing locations. I say "ostensibly" because the average back packer doesn't travel with a film crew, which makes the frequent references to their having to scrimp ring a bit hollow. It's like those contestants on Survivor who we are supposed to believe are in danger of starving to death, even with a crew of dozens filming their every move. Nevertheless, taken in the context of its era and the fact that most people were not world travelers in 1969, Follow Me does provide all-too-brief tours of exotic locations ranging including Hong Kong, Japan, Ceylon, India, Morocco and Hawaii. However, the film's short running time (a scant 79 minutes) precludes the viewer from getting anything other than a very superficial look at the locales and cultures. Similarly, the three leads are just window dressing whose individual personalities never come through.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Park Circus film distributors in the UK:
Leading international classic and repertory film distributor Park Circus is pleased to announce a stellar line-up of restorations and newly discovered classics as part of the 2012 BFI London Film Festival Treasures from the Archive strand.
Otto Preminger’s BONJOUR TRISTESSE,starring David Niven and Deborah Kerr, receives its UK premiere in a sparkling new digital restoration courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing. The film will screen on the 12th and 13th October.
Following a world premiere at Cannes, Sony Pictures’ restoration of David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA will be screened in a stunning 4K digital presentation on 20th October. This will be the first time the 4K version of the film screens in the UK. Released in 1962, the film celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a return to cinemas worldwide. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, which Park Circus is rolling out internationally, will receive a UK theatrical release from 16th November 2012.
Sony Pictures’ restoration of Sergio Solima’s THE BIG GUNDOWN will receive its international premiere in a new 4K restoration featuring the original Italian soundtrack. The screening will take place on 20th October.
An archival 35mm print of Jack Garfein’s SOMETHING WILD will receive rare screenings on the 18th and 20th October.
Robert Aldrich’s 1962 WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, starring screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, will be presented in a brand new restoration by Warner Bros. to honour the film’s 50th anniversary. Screening on the 18th and 20th October. The LFF screenings mark the start of Park Circus’ international plans for the film, including a UK release from December 14th2012.
Originally released in 1955, London will host the world premiere of the Film Foundation’s restoration of RICHARD III, directed and starring Sir Laurence Olivier, on 14th October.
The London Film Festival marks a very active season for Park Circus Films with a number of additional titles being released into the cinema market place worldwide including a US re-release of David Lean’s BRIEF ENCOUNTER and, internationally, a special Christmas re-release of GREMLINS.
and Costello Meet Frankenstein
is one of the funniest movies ever made.
It's listed at number 56 on the American Film Institute's list of top
100 comedies. I personally feel that this
ranking is unfair, as it should instead be in the top ten. No matter how many times I've seen it, it
never fails to make me laugh out loud. Jerry
Garcia of the band The Grateful Dead declared it as his favorite movie and it
is held equally in high regard among Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's most
die-hard fans. Filmed in February and March of 1948, the film was
released on Tuesday, June 15, 1948. They
really banged out films quickly in those days.
The budget was just under $800,000.
Even though it stars one of Hollywood's greatest comedy duos who succeeded
in just about every entertainment arena there was at the time - on stage, on
radio, on motion picture theater screens, and on television - there are moments
in the film that can be very frightening to young children who are unaware of
the film’s satirical tone. I was roughly
six years-old when I first saw it and it gave me nightmares. As I got older and realized that it was just
a movie, I really grew to love it. Sunday mornings were a struggle for me as my
family dragged us off to church and I would nervously check my wristwatch during
the sermon in the hopes that we would get home in time for me to see the Sunday
Morning Movie at 11:30 AM on WPIX-TV Channel 11 in New York City. They showed one of eighteen Abbott and
Costello films that they made for Universal International in the 1940s and 1950s
in constant rotation. Some were terrific and some weren't, but Sunday mornings
weren't the same without Abbott and Costello when they followed F-Troop.
The premise of the film works perfectly
because the duo and the monsters play the material straight. Lon Chaney, Jr.
sells the movie in his portrayal of Larry Talbot, a man who knows all about the
Frankenstein monster and Dracula since he himself is the Wolf Man. He attempts to stop the shipment of the
exhibits of Dracula and Frankenstein's monster to McDougal's House of Horrors fully
knowing them to be real monsters. Naturally, his attempts to convince Chick
Young (Bud Abbott) do not go according to plan. However, Wilbur Grey (Lou
Costello) begins to believe him. Wilbur's girlfriend Sandra (Lenore Aubert) initially appears innocent,
though she proves to be in on the plot to replace the Frankenstein's monster's
brain with a dim-witted one, namely Wilbur's. This sets into motion some of the
funniest antics that Abbott and Costello have ever performed on screen.
When reading about the history of the
making of this film, one comes to learn that the original script was entitled The Brain of Frankenstein. Lou Costello
was not a fan of this script, and even commented that his five-year-old
daughter could have written better. Learning this fact later on truly astonished me. The title of the film
was also changed to avoid confusion to the audience who might have assumed that
was a legitimate Universal monster movie.
Boris Karloff was approached to play
the monster but declined, his reasoning being that he didn’t feel that the
monsters should be mocked. He
reluctantly agreed to be featured in a promotional ad campaign for the film as
long as he didn't actually have to see the film!
The opening credits, created by
animator Walter Lantz of Woody Woodpecker fame, are among the film's
The film has been released on home
video many times: multiple times on VHS, three times on laserdisc, and three
times thus far on DVD. Now, as part of
Universal Films' 100th anniversary, there is a new Blu-ray edition which comes
with a DVD which replicates the 2000 DVD release, and a digital copy of the
film. If you're wondering about the
presence of the Realart Pictures logo title card that found its way onto the second
DVD release (the film was re-released in 1956 by Realart on a double bill with
1949’s Abbott and Costello Meet the
Killer, Boris Karloff), the answer is no. These discs contain the Universal International title cards, and I can
honestly say that the Blu-ray is definitely worth the upgrade. The picture is much clearer and sharper as
one would expect from such an upgrade. The
extras from the previous editions have been ported over to the Blu-ray and give
insight into the making of this classic film.
A huge highlight of the movie is Frank
Skinner's brilliant and sinister score, which is rumored to be up for a re-recording
and released as an upcoming soundtrack CD.
There are two new and interesting bonus
features available on the Blu-ray include two short promos. The first is called
100 Years of Universal: The Lot which
features sound bites from Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Ron Howard, John
Landis, Dan Aykroyd and others talking about their love of making films at
Universal on the famed back lot. This
promo runs just under ten minutes. The
second is called 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters that covers the
gamut of the classic monsters, Al Pacino's turn as SCARFACE, and BACK TO THE
FUTURE to name just a few. This runs
just over eight minutes.
1960s proved to be a transitional period for Japanese director Seijun Suzuki.
After churning out numerous yakuza films for Nikkatsu throughout the 1950s, the
director began to rebel against the creative limitations imposed by the studio.
Fed up with clichéd scenarios and adherence to stylistic conventions, Suzuki
began infiltrating subversive visual flourishes to make things more interesting
for himself and his audiences. Nineteen-sixty-three is widely regarded as the
year Suzuki fully became Suzuki, starting with Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! Although it doesn’t
scale the delirious heights of the more famous Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Branded
to Kill (1967)—whose visual and narrative anarchy got him fired from
Nikkatsu—the film still turns the yakuza genre on its head through Suzuki’s
stars as Tajima, a resourceful private eye who owns the Detective Bureau 2-3 of
the title. For reasons never clearly explained, he manifests a deep-seated and
simmering hate for the yakuza, an emotion that primes his motivational pump
throughout the film. Following a munitions theft from an American military base,
Tajima convinces the police to let him infiltrate one of two yakuza gangs
battling for control of the local gun-running trade. Posing as an ex-con, he
befriends a mid-level criminal named Manabe and gets close enough to the
underworld hierarchy to identify the major players and the location of the
guns. Even when his cover is blown, the quick-thinking detective improvises
schemes to remain useful to the competing gangs—that is, until the bad guys
lock him in an underground garage, pump gallons of motor oil into it and set it
on fire. Tajima escapes the inferno with the aid of what has to be the world’s
most powerful machinegun, then lights the fuse that ignites a battle royal
between the rival gangs—a ferocious encounter fought with guns and samurai swords—that
brings the film to a spectacularly convulsive conclusion.
Released in 1954 at the height of Marlon Brando's popularity, Desiree has the dubious distinction of being one of his least-remembered films, possibly because it was eclipsed by Kazan's On the Waterfront, released the same year. Desiree was a prestigious Fox production based on a romance novel that apparently had been so much the rage during this time that it was marketed as rivaling Gone With the Wind. The film version purports to explore the romantic relationship between Napoleon Bonaparte (Brando) and Desiree Clary (Jean Simmons), a young French girl of humble background who is employed in a shop owned by her family. When we first meet young Napoleon, he is on skids, his career and life threatened by the madness and paranoia that engulfed France in the aftermath of the Revolution. Still, he perseveres and survives the threats. He enters a playful romance with Desiree and even proposes to her. However, as his fame and power escalates, his opportunistic side shows through when he simultaneously proposes to Josephine (Merle Oberon), a high society type who Napoleon feels can help advance his ambitions. Although the film is somewhat frank for its day (there are thinly veiled references to sex and the lack of virgins in Paris), the scorned Desiree keeps her own virginity intact and marries one of France's top generals, Bernadotte (Michael Rennie). In this absurdly abridged version of tumultuous French history, Napoleon seems to become emperor and dictator virtually overnight. He and Desiree still clearly love one another but she remains loyal to her less-flashy, but more sincere husband. Crude attempts by Napoleon to seduce her inevitably fail (which waters down the steamy romance considerably), but he retains a respect for her even when she and Bernadotte become opposed to his quest for world conquest. In the film's climactic sequence, Napoleon's world has been reduced to the city of Paris where he intends to lead a quixotic, bloody battle against his encroaching enemies. Desiree makes a dramatic visit to him and, after a few choice words and admonishments, convinces the former emperor to go quietly into exile on St. Helena. Such absurdities might make you suspect that the film is one of those "so bad it's good" productions. In fact, Desiree is too good to be considered a guilty pleasure, but too unimpressive to merit status as a "must see" movie.
There is a particular challenge for actors who choose to play certain historical figures. Napoleon, like Adolf Hitler, has been satirized so consistently that a false step can turn a performance into an unintentionally amusing misfire. One of the most impressive elements of this movie is Brando's remarkably subdued portrayal of the French emperor. It's very much a supporting role compared to that of Jean Simmons, but unsurprisingly, Brando dominates every scene he is in. We never get to know the inner Bonaparte because the story views him only from the perspective of Desiree. However, the Brando cynicism and wit come through consistently. The temperamental actor got the role by default. He broke his contract to star in The Egyptian for Fox and, presumably to avoid being sued, accepted the part in Desiree to fulfill his obligation to the studio. The real star of the movie is Simmons, but her performance is undermined by script and direction that makes the character of Desiree act as though she is a contemporary young woman of the 20th century. She pouts, she giggles, she pines away for her estranged would-be lover. When Desiree discovers that Napoleon is, in fact, engaged to Josephine, her reaction is that of Annette Funicello discovering that Frankie Avalon has been canoodling with some surfer chick in a B beach movie of the 1960s. There are more impressive performances from always reliable Michael Rennie and Merle Oberon, as the strangely sympathetic Josephine, who becomes tossed on the dust heap of history because she cannot bear Napoleon a male heir. Alan Napier makes an amusing appearance as a fey choreographer of a royal wedding who is being driven to the point of insanity by Napoleon's vain, insufferable sisters.
Fox's insistence that director Henry Koster utilize the new CinemaScope process was a mistake. Although it affords Koster the opportunity to present some grand ball room sequences in impressive widescreen format, this is, overall, a claustrophobic tale with virtually no exteriors. (There is some fleeting second unit footage shot in France, but it all too apparent that the nearest the principals got to Parisian locations was lunch at a French restaurant in Beverly Hills.) The film has grandeur but no sweep and boasts some of the phoniest looking sets and matte paintings ever seen in a major studio film of the era. Alex North's sweeping romantic score is a saving grace, but the real pleasure of the film is the periodic appearances of Brando in an offbeat performance. Brando was said to loathe the film and his performance, but he presents Napoleon in a quirky, amusing way as a man of acerbic, cynical wit. For all its faults, Desiree is never dull or uninteresting.
Twilight Time has released a stunning Blu-ray edition (3,000 units) of the film that is beautiful to behold, phony sets and all. The extras include the original theatrical trailer and an informative collector's booklet with liner notes by Julie Kirgo, that are, as usual, highly readable. For example, I always thought the movie was a boxoffice bomb, but Kirgo provides evidence that it was actually considered a major financial success, easily eclipsing grosses for On the Waterfront. Brando fans will certainly want to add this flawed, but worthy curiosity to their movie libraries.
Indican Pictures has secured the theatrical distribution rights to “The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernández”, the final film of Ernest Borgnine. The Oscar winning actor died recently at age 95. In this film, he plays a vigorous patient in a nursing home who leads fellow residents in opposition to the cruel management. The film was screened earlier this year at the Newport Film Festival and Borgnine won the Outstanding Achievement in Acting award. For more click here
At Central Hall Westminster – Saturday
September the 22nd ( 10 am – 5 pm )
celebration of the quintessential James Bond film!
members of the cast and crew, reunite for a one day and one-off unique event!
over 100 sellers from four continents coming to London for the day. Selling
Goldfinger and other original James Bond film memorabilia , plus general film
memorabilia from the silents to the latest releases.
One of the worlds largest collections of James
Bond film memorabilia ever assembled up for sale!
vintage James Bond collectable retro toys and games!
special guests on the day include –
KEN ADAM HONOR BLACKMAN SHIRLEY EATON TANIA MALLETT MARGARET NOLAN
CARON GARDNER BURT KWOUK NORMAN WANSTALL
special SIR KEN ADAM retrospective with SIR CHRISTOPHER FRAYLING
An HONOR BLACKMAN retrospective show
MEMORIES – The Golden Girls “ Reflections Talk “ SHIRLEY EATON TANIA MALLETT MARGARET
NOLAN talk about their memories
of making Goldfinger and working with Sir Sean Connery and director Guy
winning sound editor NORMAN WANSTALL will talk about Bond behind the
scenes and his work with the directors Terence Young , Guy Hamilton and
editor Peter Hunt. Also demonstrate how picture and sound editing was done
on the early Bond films with the moviola.
to the special talks and retrospectives can be bought from the website.
number of tickets available are limited in numbers can now be purchased on the
free screening in the afternoon of the newly remasterd and restored “ The Edgar Wallace Mysteries “ features an
early Sean Connery performance.
We love the cheesy but fun 1966 Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature film One Spy Too Many, cobbled together from the two-part episodes of The Alexander the Greater Affair with Rip Torn as a villain of Bondian standards. The film featured some extra sexy scenes shot exclusively for the feature film. These feature Yvonne Craig and Donna Michele and feature prominently in the original trailer.
Remember when spy movies used to stress intricate plot lines and intriguing characters, as opposed to over-the-top action sequences? If you pine for the days of thrillers like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and The Quiller Memorandum, then the Warner Archives' release of the 1985 movie Code Name: Emerald should fit the bill. Never heard of the film? Neither had I until a review copy arrived from the studio. There's an inherent prejudice that most of us have regarding movies that we haven't heard of - namely, if it's obscure, then it must be bad. Emerald proves, however, that some truly fine films are merely the victim of bad marketing or audience indifference. I'm not sure if this movie ever received a theatrical release, but it's certainly a worthwhile venture.
Ed Harris (who resembles the young Robert Duvall, not only physically, but in terms of mannerisms, as well) plays a triple agent - an American working for British Intelligence who poses as a valued collaborator for the Germans, even though he's really with the Allies. Got that? (Then please explain it to me!). Harris is sent on a perilous mission to occupied Paris when a key American soldier (Eric Stoltz) is captured. Stoltz is an "Overlord", one of the few men who know the time, date and landing locations for the forthcoming D-Day invasion. If the Germans can break him, the entire invasion would be jeopardized. The Germans plant Harris as a cellmate of Stoltz in the hopes of getting the vital information. Of course, Harris reveals his identity to Stoltz and the two contrive to convince the Germans that the false information they are discussing is genuine. What makes the screenplay by Ronald Bass (based on his novel The Emerald Illusion) so compelling are the twists, turns and unexpected developments. Unlike many films, the Germans are not presented as gullible dupes. Instead, they become suspicious of Harris, thus setting in motion some genuinely suspenseful sequences.
The estate of author Mario Puzo is suing Paramount Pictures over the literary and film rights to sequels to The Godfather. Paramount claims that Puzo signed away virtually all rights to sequels and films to the studio back in 1969 as part of an overall deal to bring the original Godfather novel to the screen. The film was finally made in 1972 and for a time became the highest grossing film in cinema history. Since then, Paramount has released two sequels to the movie but has attempted to stop the Puzo's from publishing literary sequels to the original book. The estate claims it has the rights to any novels relating to the Corleone crime family and that Paramount does not get automatic film rights. The studio is standing fast by its assessments and the entire matter will have to be adjudicated in court. For more (plus an interview with Francis Ford Coppola about the making of the first film) click here.
since I saw Rick Rosenthal's Halloween II
(1981) on home video in 1983 I cannot help but associate it with The Chordette’s
1954 hit “Mr. Sandman” which plays briefly during the opening and over the end
credits. Stanley Kubrick managed to
completely alter our images and impressions of Singin’ in the Rain with A
Clockwork Orange. What use of
Halloween II is one of my favorite horror film
sequels, which is saying a lot as most of them are silly or unnecessary. It was one of the earliest movies that I ever
owned on home video on the RCA Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) system which
was an analog video disc unit in which video and audio was played back using a
stylus cartridge and a high-density groove system similar to phonograph
records. Unlike DVD or Blu-ray today,
CED presented viewers only the movie. There were no special editions, no
running commentaries, no trailers, and no additional interviews. If you were
looking for added value, you had to go to the far more expensive laser disc format
that was in full swing some ten years later which usually included a
letterboxed version of the film in addition to the aforementioned goodies. This double-disc standard DVD set will make a terrific addition to
your collection as the transfer is very crisp and clear; plus, there are a
multitude of extras that puts the original Halloween
II DVDs from Goodtimes Home Video in 1998 and Universal Home Video in 2001
to shame. Those versions provided no
extras and somewhat noisy transfers.
it is not as cinematically polished as John Carpenter's extraordinary original,
which was referred to as "an absolutely merciless thriller" by Roger
Ebert, Halloween II picks up the same
night that Halloween left off
(October 31, 1978). It breaks the
unwritten rule of sequels by using footage from Mr. Carpenter's film as a segue
into the new movie, but it doesn’t hurt the film as much as one might think. Psycho
II and Poltergeist II were both guilty
of this (the former was a very good follow-up to Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful
original whereas the latter was a poor simulacrum of the spectacular funhouse
of the Freeling’s first go-round with the alternate universe). Donald Pleasence reprises his role as the
indefatigable Dr. Loomis, spouting some of the film's best lines, such as
"You don't know what death is!" and "I shot him six times!"
He actually shot Meyers seven times
if you count the gunshots. Jamie Lee
Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, however I am not sure that I completely buy
the plot point that she is Michael Meyers's sister. This development was
written into the script and since Halloween
was being premiered on NBC on Friday, October 30, 1981 (the same night that
Halloween II was premiering
theatrically), several additional scenes were filmed and added to the Halloween network premiere to drive this
point home as well as to pad out the film's running time. Thus begins Michael Myers's reign of terror
on Haddonfield after miraculously surviving the point-blank blasts of Dr.
Loomis’s handgun. There are some genuinely scary moments in Halloween II which don’t really hold up
now as they have been mimicked to death and have become in and of themselves
clichés, seen in literally hundreds of slasher films made over the past thirty
Guest, who played the lead in 1984’s The
Last Starfighter, is very likeable as an EMT who looks after Laurie. Leo Rossi is his usual sleazy self as his
partner. Comedian Dana Carvey is seen
briefly and is listed in the credits as "Assistant." He appears
twenty-two minutes into the film wearing a blue sleeveless jacket and a blue
cap. He is pointed out on the commentary
by director Rosenthal.
Myers was primarily portrayed by Nick Castle in the original, and close-ups
were done by Tony Moran. Here, he is
portrayed by Dick Warlock, and his gait is obviously different, slightly less
menacing than the previous actors.
extras that appear on this set consist of the following bonus features:
theatrical version and the television cut with added footage not seen in the
commentary with director Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi
commentary with stunt co-ordinator/actor Dick Warlock
The Nightmare Isn't Over: The Making Of
Halloween II featuring
interviews with director Rick Rosenthal, actor & stunt coordinator Dick
Warlock, actors Lance Guest, Leo Rossi, Nancy Stephens, Ana Alicia, Tawny
Moyer, executive producer Irwin Yablans, director of photography Dean Cundey,
co-composer Alan Howarth, costume supervisor Jane Ruhm, co-editor Skip
Schoolnik, and filmmaker Tommy Lee Wallace
Horror's Hallowed Grounds: The Locations
of Halloween II – Host
Sean Clark revisits the original shooting locations of the film
scenes with optional audio commentary from director Rick Rosenthal
ending with optional audio commentary from director Rick Rosenthal
and radio spots
in all, this is the version of Halloween
II to own. Released by Shout!
Factory under their Scream Factory line, they are proving themselves as a force
to be reckoned with, releasing genre favorites in deluxe special editions with
lots of lavished extras, including new cover artwork, with the original artwork
viewable in the form of a reversible sleeve.