of the most iconic of all monster movie images is most certainly Universal
Pictures’ Creature from the Black Lagoon, as depicted by numerous actors in the
film of the same name.Although
Universal’s previous monsters – the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, The Wolf Man
and The Mummy – all had their genesis in the world of literature, the Gill Man,
as the Creature is alternatively known, is largely a cinematic concoction and his
story is no doubt patterned after the King himself, Kong.While the similarities between the largest
inhabitant of Skull Island and the Gill Man are undeniable, the method of
bringing these two nightmare-inducing monsters to the screen is not.While the former was a combination of
stop-motion animation and large-scale mechanics, the latter is the cinema’s
first depiction of a monster in a beautifully-designed, full-body suit
inhabited by an actor, most notably swimmer Ricou Browning in the underwater
scenes of not only the original film, but in two sequels.
1954, Dragon Books in the United Kingdom published the novelization, or movie
“tie-in,” of Creature from the Black
Lagoon (1954), written by John Russell Fearn under the pseudonym of Vargo
Statten.It featured colorful cover art
by artist John Richards and is very rare, commanding between $1K and $6K
dollars depending upon its condition.Now,
DreamHaven Books has reprinted this tie-in here in the United States with a
beautiful cover by Bob Eggleton.What
you will find in this beautifully designed new book, in addition to the
novelization, is an excellent introduction by David J. Schow, himself a Creature historian. He provides not only
a valuable look into the making of the film, but also the procedures that were
in place at Universal Pictures and the team of artists who were tasked with
designing, creating and building a suit that would look like a living,
breathing creature, under the supervision of make-up head Bud Westmore.The
more that I read about this, the more I wished that Creature had been filmed in color; unfortunately, Universal
wouldn’t spend the additional $100K required to do that.This is a shame as the Gill Man is a truly
Schow also illustrates the finer points of writing a movie tie-in, and how
authors of such materials were generally hired on a contractual, per-project
basis, and were based upon drafts of the script that were often changed later
on thereby making the novelization radically different than its usually far
superior cinematic counterpart.Such
books were produced within a quick timeframe, and one can only imagine the possibilities
today of utilizing a dictation software package to bang out a few of these
books on a laptop in a matter of months, technology only dreamed of fifty years
novelization of Creature goes a few
steps further than the film by not only introducing further dialog into the mix
to pad out the story and flesh out the characters, but also brings the reader
inside the Gill Man’s head and gets inside his thoughts, especially in his
captivation of Kay Lawrence, portrayed in the film by Julie Adams, and his
desire to win her over.There are also
57 beautiful behind-the-scenes shots of the making of the film and, as a bonus
each, of the book’s nine chapters is prefaced with a publicity still.
book is rounded out with a terrific afterword about author Fearn, written by
Philip Harbottle, chronicling Mr. Fearn’s early life in the cotton business,
which he abandoned after two years to pursue writing. It also covers his stint
as a motion picture theatre projectionist.
is a must-have for Creature fans and
is highly recommended for horror fans who want to broaden their knowledge of
this fascinating progenitor of many subsequent man-in-the-suit horrors, Dan
O’Bannon’s titular Alien being the
most obvious and arguably the most frightening in the cinema.
If you're a Superman fan, make sure you click here to visit the Superman Homepage, an amazing collection of reviews, facts and news pertaining to the Man of Steel's comic books, TV series and feature films.
Here's a bizarre double feature that opened in England in 1968: the would-be epic WWII movie The Battle of Anzio starring Robert Mitchum and Peter Falk on the same bill as Jerry Lewis' Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River. Note: in the USA, the Mitchum film was released under the title Anzio.
SKYFALL GOES STRAIGHT TO THE TOP OF THE UK BOX OFFICE WITH THE BEST BOND OPENING EVER
October 29th – Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Sony
Pictures Entertainment are delighted to announce that Skyfall made
history this weekend as it opened to an incredible £20.1 million at the
UK box office, making it the biggest Bond opening weekend of all time.
the 23rd James Bond adventure, continuing the longest running and most
successful franchise in film history, opened in 587 cinemas across the
UK and Ireland on Friday 26th October. It will release in the US on November 9th.
response to the #1 UK opening, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara
Broccoli said "We are absolutely overwhelmed with the reaction to
Skyfall this weekend. It is particularly thrilling as the UK is home to
James Bond and it being the 50th anniversary year."
staggering box office result clearly demonstrates that the filmmakers
behind SKYFALL, director Sam Mendes and producers Michael Wilson and
Barbara Broccoli, have delivered a film that the fans have been eagerly
awaiting,” said Gary Barber, Chairman and CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
“We are proud to be partners with EON and Sony on SKYFALL and look
forward to sharing the movie with audiences across the globe.”
Pictures is proud of its part in bringing this great film to audiences
around the world and to have Skyfall embraced at such unprecedented
levels is tremendously exciting,” said Jeff Blake, Chairman of Sony
Pictures Worldwide Marketing and Distribution.
Craig is back as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 in SKYFALL™, the 23rd
adventure in the longest-running film franchise of all time. In
SKYFALL, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt
her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the
threat, no matter how personal the cost. The film is from Albert R.
Broccoli’s EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Sony
Pictures Entertainment. Directed by Sam Mendes. Produced by Michael G.
Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
and John Logan.
Thirty years after its initial blockbuster release, Steven Spielberg's E.T. The Extraterrestrial remains one of the most beloved films of all time. Spielberg and cast members look back on the making of the movie and the Oscar-winning director recalls the delightful effect the film had on President Ronald Reagan. To read click here
MGM has released director Lewis Gilbert's 1964 film The 7th Dawn on DVD- albeit, through their new burn-to-DVD program. Gilbert discusses the movie in an exclusive interview with Matthew Field in Cinema Retro issue #18. The movie has long been on the "wanted" list of retro film fans who had to be satisfied with trying to catch it on periodic showings on Turner Classic Movies. This is a thoroughly engrossing, adult drama with an unusal setting and story background. The movie begins on the final day of WWII and centers on three disparate friends: an American named Ferris (William Holden), a French woman, Dhana (Capucine) and a Malaysianm, Ng (Tetsuro Tamba) who have led guerilla forces against the Japanese occupation in Malaya. The three close friends a jubilant in victory, after having suffered from fighting in the jungle for extended periods. At the end of the war, Ng goes off to Moscow to pursue communist political training. The apolitical Ferris stays behind, with Malaya now under British occupation. He thrives as a local rubber plantation owner, and Dhana is his lover, despite her frustration with Ferris' womanizing. The story advances to 1953, with Malayans now impatient for independence from England, which is easing toward granting their demands, but at a snail's pace. Ng returns to Malaya to try to instigate communist-inspired violent uprisings. To his sympathizers, he is a freedom fighter. To the British, he is a terrorist and the most wanted man in the nation.
As Richard Burton's star power began to decline in the early 1970s, he was chastised for appearing in too many inconsequential films and accused of simply taking any job that came along to help pay for his high-end life style. As with Marlon Brando, many of Burton's films that were initially despised by critics and ignored by the public have gained new appreciation in recent years. One such effort was Villain, a brutal British crime drama produced by Elliott Kastner, directed by the unheralded Michael Tucher and boasting script contributions than none other than character actor Al Lettieri, who made a career of playing gangsters. Clearly inspired by the reign of terror presided over by London's notorious Kray clan, the story finds Burton as Vic Dakin, an outwardly charismatic and charming man who also happens to be one of the city's most notorious crime lords. Vic is no white collar criminal. He still lives among the people he terrorizes and is a mainstay at the local pub. Vic dotes on his aging mother (Cathleen Nesbitt) and keeps his army of confederates in line through the threat of strict punishment for any violation of trust. Vic's ambitions get the better of him when he strays from neighborhood crime and plans an ambitious heist with a reluctant fellow crime lord. The plan goes horribly awry, leading Vic to fear that he will be sold out by his co-conspirator, who is severely wounded and in police custody. He becomes obsessed with gaining access to the man and silencing him before he can talk. Doggedly following his every move is a police inspector (well-played by Nigel Davenport), who engages in a game of psychological cat-and-mouse with Vic in his quest to bring the vicious criminal to justice.
Villain was denounced by British critics and movie fans at the time because of what was perceived as Burton's ill-fated attempt to master a Cockney accent. However, other aspects of his performance are admirable. Burton pretty much controls his penchant for scenery-chewing and offers a fairly restrained portrayal of a sadistic man who is nonetheless slow to reach his boiling point. Vic can be sensitive, funny and ingratiating..but when driven to anger, capable of administering much brutality himself. He also hides the fact that he is gay and his preferred sex partner is Wolfie (excellently played by Ian McShane), a good looking ladies man who one suspects is only bedding Vic out of fear of rejecting his overtures. (A sex scene between Burton and McShane was filmed but ended up on the cutting room floor.) The homosexual angle is only hinted at in the final cut of the film, but Burton had gone a bridge too far in this regard, at least as far as critics were concerned. Two years before, he had played a prissy gay man opposite Rex Harrison (as his lover) in Stanley Donen's Staircase, another fine film that was under-appreciated in its day. Burton's bold career moves would be praised today but met with scorn at the time. His face weather-beaten from years of personal excess, Burton was actually entering an interesting period of his career that saw him able to expand beyond playing hunky heart throbs. Villain affords him an interesting starring vehicle that is now being favorably compared to other classic British crime films such as Get Carter, a movie that was released the same year and also met with a mediocre response until a new generation discovered its merits. Perhaps the same will hold true for this film, which boasts an excellent supporting cast, fine direction and a literate, believable script.
The Warner Archive has released Villain as a burn-to-order DVD. Quality is fine, but sadly there are no extras.
Warner Archive has released three classic silent (or part-silent) films. The Merry Widow (1925), Don Juan (1926) and Noah's Ark (1929). These three films are among the best-remembered hits of the late silent, early sound era. First, let's start with The Merry Widow (1925, MGM). This film stars Mae Murray and John Gilbert and was directed by Erich von Stroheim. Much has been documented about von Stroheim's excesses as a director. This was his first film after the infamous debacle known as Greed. Hollywood legend has it that while going through the daily rushes of this film with MGM chief Irving Thalberg, von Stroheim showed a single 10-minute take of one the character's shoe closet. When Thalberg questioned the 10 minute shot of shoes, von Stroheim said, "This is to establish that the character has a foot fetish." Thalberg supposedly replied, "And you have a footage fetish!" Loosely based on the Lehar operetta of the same name, this film casts Mae Murray as the widow in question who is being courted by silent screen lover John Gilbert. Murray was a quirky, tempestuous silent screen star who, according to legend, was the real person Gloria Swanson's character, Norma Desmond, was based on in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950). The image quality is quite acceptable, but sadly the grand two-color Technicolor finale no longer exists (at least in this print).
The next film in this series of releases is Don Juan (1926, Warner Bros. & The Vitaphone Corp.) Starring John Barrymore, Mary Astor, and Warner Oland, this grand swashbuckler is about the greatest lover in the world. This film is a lot of fun, but it is made even more exciting (to film historians, at least) by the knowledge that this was the first movie to utilize the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system that brought the silent era to an end. Don Juan is a silent film with a synchronized music and sound effects track recorded by The New York Philharmonic Symphony. What sets it apart is the Warner’s inclusion of the short-subject program that accompanied the premiere of this movie – eight short films that were live action sound. First we have Will Hayes, the then-president of the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America (and later head of the infamous Hayes Office censure board), giving a very stiff and stilted address of welcome to Vitaphone. What follows is seven shorts devoted to some of the most famous classical musical artists of that day: Mischa Elman, Efrem Zimbalist Sr., Marion Talley, Anna Case and Giovanni Martinelli, the great tenor from the Metropolitan Opera Company. Martinelli, who took over from The Great Caruso and sings "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci, is the one who brought the house down; it was his short that all the critics wrote about in their next-day reviews. It was Martinelli – a year before Jolson – who said (in Italian) "You ain't heard nothing yet!" Still electrifying after almost 85 tears.
Last, we come to Noah's Ark. This 1929 "part-talkie" was directed by Michael Curtiz, who would later go on to have one of the most eclectic directorial careers of anyone in Hollywood. Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Casablanca (best director AND best picture of 1943), Mildred Pierce, and White Christmas are but a few of the many pictures from this Hungarian director. This film is an epic in the grandest scale. It is one of those Hollywood spectacles that used a Biblical story to tell a modern morality tale. Set in Europe at the outbreak of World War I, this film stars Delores Costello (Mrs. John Barrymore at that time), George O'Brien (of Sunrise fame) and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams. This film is infamous for causing a number of costume extras to be killed during the deluge sequence of the great flood: director Curtiz did not tell the extras what to expect because he wanted to capture true horror and surprise on their faces. He got his shot… and then some. This is one of those hybrid films that is mostly silent with a couple of talkie sequences tacked on. It is all synchronized with a Vitaphone music and sound effects score that was originally on 16-inch phonograph discs.
These films are a valuable window into our past, which give us an idea of what was happening in this tumultuous period in Hollywood when movies were learning to talk.
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVES
By Lee Pfeiffer
One of a seemingly endless number of films that tried to capitalize on the success of the 1974 "art house" softcore porn flick Emmanuelle, the 1983 Canadian movie Joy has been released to DVD by Severin Films. Emmanuelle was especially influential because it broke barriers by playing in neighborhood theaters where couples could view the film in a respectable environment and not be bothered by the raincoats-on-the-lap crowd. Joy, directed by Serge Bergon, follows in the tradition by stressing a story of romance over overt sexual acts. The movie benefits from its considerable budget and boasts some outstanding cinematography in such far-flung locations as Mexico, Paris, Montreal and New York City. It's like a National Geographic special with orgasms. Claudia Udy, a stunning Canadian actress, is more than competent as the title character, a free-spirited model who is searching for true love amidst the hectic pace of her thriving career. She seems to be attracted to suave, older men and believes she's found true love in Marc (Gerard Antoine Huart). However, the romance is on-and-off as she discovers he insists upon carrying on a simultaneous relationship with another woman (He is French, after all...) Joy also experiments with other men before returning to Marc, who expands her sexual freedoms by exposing her to group sex in a bizarre sequence that seems like an inspiration for Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.
The 1964 sci-fi film Robinson Crusoe on Mars has always eluded me until the Blu-ray release from Criterion. The fact that a company as selective about its titles as Criterion would endorse a deluxe edition of a film that was written off as kid's matinee fodder back in its day gives testimony to the movie's many merits. Directed by Byron Haskin, an old hand at classic sci-fi (War of the Worlds, The Outer Limits), Robinson Crusoe on Mars owes more than its title to Daniel Dafoe's classic adventure novel. Despite its setting in the future, the movie adheres rather closely to the basic premise of the book. Paul Mantee and Adam West are astronauts orbiting near Mars when their attempt to avoid an astroid causes them to be drawn into the planet's gravitational pull. The two men eject separately in escape pods but West is killed in a crash landing. Mantee survival seems like an even worse fate: he has only a limited amount of water and the air is too thin to breathe. He is forced to watch his oxygen tanks deplete gradually, knowing it will lead to certain death. How he overcomes these obstacles provides an intriguing aspect to the movie. It becomes obvious that, although Mantee is accompanied by a surviving NASA chimp, the film's intelligent screenplay appeals as much to adults as it does to kiddees.
For the first time in a generation the BFI will present a major project celebrating the historic output of one of Britain’s best loved and most influential studios with a two month retrospective at BFI Southbank Ealing: Light and Dark from 22 October to 30 December 2012. This is a chance to enjoy the great classics and comedies but also to discover the little known and unheralded more serious side of Ealing Studios during the 1940’s and 50’s, with its rich vein of challenging, provocative and sometimes subversive films, often surprisingly radical in their implications.
The project will include a national re-release of It Always Rains On Sunday (1947) and a new digital clean-up of the neglected They Came to a City, a major new book of essays Ealing Revisited, and special guests and events including an exhibition of Ealing posters, stills and memorabilia drawn from the BFI National Archive’s rich holdings and a new collection in the BFI Mediatheques. A parallel season celebrating director Alexander Mackendrick will feature all of his Ealing films from October 22to November 30 at BFI Southbank.
Ealing Studios has a unique place in the history of British cinema and it has become a byword for a certain type of British whimsy and eccentricity. But the studio's films boasted a surprising variety. Many of the films of Ealing rank among the undisputed classics of the period, among them Dead of Night, The Blue Lamp, The Cruel Sea, TheMan in the White Suit and Passport to Pimlico.
The theme of Ealing: Light & Dark is a rich and revealing one. Even the renowned comedies have a dark side within them: Kind Hearts and Coronets is a wittily immoral tale of a serial killer in pursuit of a dukedom;Whisky Galore! has a mischievous approach to law and order as a Scottish island population attempt to beat the Customs men to the free whisky washed ashore from a shipwreck; in The Ladykillers a sweet old lady proves more than a match for a gang of brutal bank robbers.
Part of the enduring appeal of Ealing is its witty challenging of authority in films such as Passport to Pimlico and The Lavender Hill Mob, which touched a nerve with audiences eager for social and political change faced with the austerity of the immediate post-war era.
Beyond the apparent frothy entertainment, Ealing's darker side dares to show wartime failures, imagine the threat of invasion or to contemplate the unsavoury after-effects of the war in the subtly supernatural The Ship That Died of Shame or the European noirCage of Gold, in which Jean Simmons is lured by the charms of an hommefatal. Another pan-European story, Secret People (featuring an early appearance for Audrey Hepburn), contemplates the ethics of assassination, while in Frieda, Mai Zetterling faces anti-German prejudice in a small English town.
There are treats for even the most thoroughgoing Ealing aficionados in our programme of the studio's barely known wartime propaganda shorts, many of them unseen and inaccessible for decades. BFI curators will tell the untold story of Ealing's short-lived documentary unit, overseen by the great Alberto Cavalcanti, and its importance to Ealing's feature films. Ealing was presided over by Michael Balcon, a towering figure in British cinema who was an early supporter of Alfred Hitchcock. He gathered around him a band of talented collaborators including the very influential Cavalcanti and directors Charles Crichton, Robert Hamer, Basil Dearden and Alexander McKendrick. All of these remarkable filmmakers were born within a few years of each other, around 100 years ago. The posters for Ealing Studios films feature artwork by many of the era’s greatest artists including John Piper, Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious, Edward Ardizzone and Mervyn Peake, while the acting talent is a roll-call of many of Britain’s greatest performers, among them Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Margaret Rutherford, Joan Greenwood, Dennis Price, Jean Simmons, Googie Withers, Michael Redgave, John Mills, Thora Hird, Diana Dors, James Fox, Virginia McKenna (who will introduce a screening of The Cruel Sea), Herbert Lom, Maggie Smith, Jack Warner, Alastair Sim, Will Hay and many more.
Join in the conversation at #bfiealing.
We are grateful to STUDIOCANAL for their support and collaboration across the BFI’s Ealing project. They will be releasing The Man in the White Suit and It Always Rains on Sunday on DVD and Blu-ray in December 2012.
See attachment for full film programme and further details of the BFI’s Ealing project.
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 as a combo pak, 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
Original Hirschfeld sketch of a scene from Dr. No.
Political analyst William Bradley calls the first James Bond movie, Dr. No, "a time capsule from the early Mad Men era." Click here to read his article tracing the history of the film and its impact on cinema and British society.
MGM's burn-to-order DVD program has released Billy Two Hats, a rather obscure 1974 Western starring Gregory Peck and Desi Arnaz Jr. The movie was produced by Norman Jewison and directed by Ted Kotcheff. It's one of those horse operas that was dismissed as run-of-the-mill at the time of its release but now plays like a real gem. Peck gives a fine performance as Arch Deans, an aging Scottish bank robber who is wanted for accidentally killing a man during the commission of a crime. Speaking with a broad and convincing Scottish brogue, Peck is wonderfully charismatic and appealing. Arch's accomplice in the crime is Billy Two Hats, an half-breed Indian who has led a tormented life because of his mixed race. The sullen and quiet character is played with conviction by Desi Arnaz Jr, for whom this film represented a rare starring role in a major studio production. The two men are relentlessly pursued with Javert-like determination by Sheriff Henry Gifford (Jack Warden), who is determined to see them tried and hanged. When Arch is wounded in flight, he and Billy try to make for the Mexican border with Gifford and an eccentric saloon owner (David Huddleston) in hot pursuit. Along the way, Arch and Billy seek help from a farmer, John Spencer, well played by John Pearce - a man who shakes them down for money in return for helping them seek safety. In the process, Billy has an affair with Spencer's abused wife (a wonderful turn by Sian Barbara Allen).
The film is far from a classic, but it is the type of good, solid filmmaking we used to take for granted back in the day. Director Ted Kotcheff keeps the action flowing with nary a wasted frame and the characters are richly defined and very interesting. Although the film is a tour de force for Peck, he gets solid support from Warden and Huddleston, two of the most reliable character actors of the period. Arnaz acquits himself quite well among these heavyweights, which leads to the puzzling question of why his big screen career fizzled so quickly.
The film contains the original theatrical trailer.
Cinema Retro reader and contributor Kev Wilkinson was kind enough to provide these rare photos of the British sexploitation film The Pleasure Girls playing at London theaters in 1965. For Adrian Smith's extensive articles on the British sex film industry in the 60s and 70s, see Cinema Retro issues #23 and #24.
Now that the Governator has returned to acting, he's finding a somewhat rocky road. Arnold Schwarzenegger does have his first film since leaving politics - The Last Stand- slated for release next year. However, plans to revive his most famous character for Terminator 5 appear to be falling apart. Schwarzenegger says there is no script and the director who had been hired has moved on to other things. Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger is planning to develop a sequel to his 1980s hit comedy Twins, but the original film's director, Ivan Reitman, has publicly denounced the project as being crassly commercial. For more click here
One of the great joys of going to the
movies as a child was seeing Walt Disney films in a movie theater. I saw many of the live-action variety, but there
were instances of Disney's classic cartoons being reissued on double bills with
other Disney fare. One such film was
1950’s Cinderella, a movie that my
mother had seen when she was about ten. I
recall, even as a child, having a deep appreciation for the art of animation
and, in the early 1990s, a woman who attended one of my classes in college was
buying up the Disney films on VHS. I
remember thinking how much better the films fared on laserdisc, but I never
said anything for fear of sounding like a snob.All of those previous analog technologies, which were passable at the
time, pale in comparison to the new Blu-ray of Cinderella.Disney has been
doing an extraordinary job with their animated features in terms of high definition,
sparing no expense at bringing their classic library one film at a time to home
video.If you don’t see Cinderella on Blu-ray, I can honestly
say that you really haven’t seen it, nor is it possible to fully appreciate the
artistry that went into the making of this classic film.Nuances that were never before seen in analog
format (even the high-end laserdisc editions) are now breathtakingly clear,
colorful and robust.All of this has
been made possible thanks to the folks who have given Cinderella a much-needed digital facelift and overhaul.
By now, the story of Cinderella is so familiar that it would
be difficult indeed to find anyone unfamiliar with it.The story of a young girl forced to work as a
maid for her evil stepmother and two wicked stepsisters and her turn at the
ball have become so much a part of our lexicon and culture that even those who
have not read the story or seen the film knows exactly what one is talking
about merely through reference.If you’re
one of those who have not seen the film yet, there is no better way to get acquainted
with the story than with the new Blu-ray.
The extras include:
Ever After animated short
which is a lead-in to the film (also on the DVD)
Never-Before-Seen Alternate Opening Sequence
in storybook form
Personalized Digital Storybook:
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-You – “Disney Second Screen” technology which permits viewers to experience
a virtual storybook addendum to the film on an electronic device such as a
computer, an iPod Touch, or an iPad.
Behind the Magic: A New Disney princess
Fantasyland (about 8 minutes and also on the DVD)
The Real Fairy Godmother – a 12-minute tribute
to Walt Disney’s wife
The film is available in several
a 2-disc set which is comprised of one
Blu-ray and one DVD
a 3-disc set which is comprised of one
Blu-ray and two DVDs
a 6-disc set which includes Cinderella (1950), and the
made-for-video productions Cinderella II:
Dreams Come True (2002) and Cinderella
III: Twist in Time (2007) on Blu-ray, DVD, and a Digital Copy of Cinderella. All six discs reside in a Cinderella Picture Storybook that sits inside a jewelry box.
The sound is also much improved and a
far cry from the low-fidelity, hiss-y sound that was so prevalent on the VHS
version of the film.
Cinderella has never looked like this
before.This Blu-ray is a must-own.
Cinema Retro contributor James Sherlock, James Bond star George Lazenby and long time partner and publicity assistant Jennifer Adeney next to the original On Her Majesty's Secret Service James Bond 007 Aston Martin DBS.
On the 50th anniversary of James Bond, one-time 007 On
Her Majesty's Secret Service star George Lazenby flew into Melbourne,
Australia, for the recent Armageddon Expo and a special appearance at Melbourne's
premiere picture palace The Astor Theatre followed by a special screening of On
Her Majesty's Secret Service. Another Bond guest included Die Another
Day girl Rachel Grant. For the first time since filming, George Lazenby was reunited with the original On Her Majesty's Secret
Service Aston Martin DBS used in the film, which is privately owned by a
Melbourne collector who purchased it in 1978 and restored it to pristine
condition (complete with the rifle handle and telescopic sights seen in the film, which are
still in the glove compartment of the car.) Following media appearances, the
stage show and Q&A, hosted by semi-retired cinema industry publicist, film
historian, presenter and Cinema Retro contributor James Sherlock, was a near sell-out
as Lazenby captivated the audience on his experiences as James Bond 007 in his
50th Anniversary celebration year.
1973. The Gaumont, Southampton. If someone had whispered to the boy sitting in
that cinema waiting for Roger Moore’s debut performance as James Bond to unfurl
before his excited-beyond-measure eyes, that he would one day be seeing the man
himself within the walls of that same building...well, he’d probably scarcely
have believed it. His fascination with 007 would continue and thrive throughout
the ensuing years (indeed, he would catch The
Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who
Loved Me and Moonraker at the Gaumont
during their first run).
2012. The Mayflower, Southampton (formerly The Gaumont). The years have flown
by and that little lad, now sharing his 50th year with the cinematic
incarnation of his favourite fictional spy, is spending “An Afternoon with Sir
Roger Moore”. It’s one of a small number of stage appearances (also taking in
Malvern, Kingston, Bournemouth, Bath, Basingstoke and Norwich) that give the
legendary actor an opportunity to promote his new book, “Bond on Bond”, and
share his captivating memories of over six decades working in the entertainment
pleasantly informal show is presided over by Sir Roger’s assistant and friend
(not to mention “Cinema Retro” scribe) Gareth Owen – an endearing warmth
emanates from their jovial repartee – and Sir Roger proves to be not only a
natural raconteur, but a true gentleman, as his response to a question about an
actress with whom he didn’t get along so well testifies: “If you can’t say
something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
For the next couple of hours the packed auditorium is regaled with tales – from
his early days working in Hollywood to his most famous screen roles in The Saint, The Persuaders (his impression of co-star Tony Curtis is a delight)
and, of course, the James Bond films; from his glowing opinion of Daniel Craig’s
portrayal of 007 to his collaboration with Moonraker
co-star Irka Bochenko for the anniversary tribute single “Happy Birthday, Mr
Bond”; from his gleeful ribbing of Desmond Llewelyn over Q’s complicated
dialogue in the Bond films to his harrowing, often heart-breaking experiences
as an ambassador for UNICEF. Two hours has never passed so swiftly.
hardly a startling revelation that the boy so utterly beguiled by Live and Let Die back in 1973 was this
reviewer. And I’m sure my younger incarnation would have been thrilled to know
that one day his 40 odd years older self would have the chance to extend a
personal thank you to the man whose work has given countless hours of pleasure
to him and millions of others around the globe.
Sir Roger, you are one of the few remaining true gentlemen of the silver screen
and it was an incomparable privilege to spend time in your company.
The 1970s were an unorthodox time in
American cinema. It was an era in which an actress like Jodie Foster could play
a 12-year-old prostitute one year and appear in a family comedy about switching
bodies with her mother the following year. I can honestly say that's not something you
would ever see today.
In early 1978 my parents took me to see
(1977).Before the movie started, the
trailer for the R-rated Straight Time
starring Dustin Hoffman was shown. I
distinctly recall the scene of Hoffman doing an embarrassing number on M. Emmet
Walsh and stranding him on the highway.Crazy!The experience did not detract from the fact
that Pete’s Dragon, a live-action film
mixed with animation and the most expensive that Disney made up to that point
(roughly $8M, which is about $32M today), is a charming family film that
arrives on Blu-ray with a beautiful transfer.The story of a young orphan named Pete (Sean Marshal who has since left
acting for other pursuits) and his inarticulate, grunting sidekick Elliott (an animated
and sometimes invisible dragon) set in the 1920s features Shelley Winters as
Pete’s abusive adoptive mother trying to get him back; Mickey Rooney as Lampie,
a drunken lighthouse keeper who sees Elliott and tries to convince his doubters;
Helen Reddy as Nora (Lampie’s daughter) who thinks that Elliott is just an
imaginary friend; Jim Dale as Doc Terminus, a snake oil salesman and his
sidekick Hoagy (Red Buttons); and Jim Backus as the Mayor.The action is punctuated by a good number of
musical interludes, and the film was nominated for Best Original Song (“Candle on
the Water”) and Best Original Score.It
won the Golden Globe for Best Original Score for Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn.
The mixture of animation and live
action cannot rival that of today’s computer technology, but it doesn’t detract
from the film, either.The performances
and the musical numbers are what really propel the story and make it a
fun-filled viewing until the end when it gets a tad elegiac as Elliott must
The set design is also fairly
spectacular, including a full-blown lighthouse that was built (and subsequently
torn down) for the film in San Luis Obispo, CA which doubles as the
tongue-twisting Passamaquoddy, Maine.
Disney is really getting it right by
releasing combo DVD and Blu-ray sets.I
wish that more studios would adopt a similar method of releasing films.Judging by the side-by-side comparison, it is
obvious that Blu-ray is the best method to watch the film.The clarity is far better than standard DVD,
and the sound is a lot richer than the previous VHS and DVD releases.I am hoping for a Blu-ray of One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing (1975),
which I saw at a drive-in when I was seven.
The Blu-ray features the following
Dazzle Effects: Behind Disney’s Movie Magic which illustrates the history of Disney’s mix of live-action
and animation. Narrated by Sean Marshall (Pete), the featurette runs just over
25 minutes and has a lot of nice behind-the-scenes footage during the film’s
production in 1976.It also compares the
technology of then to the computers of today.
Deleted Storyboard Sequence: “Terminus
& Hoagy Hunt Elliott” which presents a rare, demo dialogue track set to
visual storyboard sketches and runs two and-a-half minutes.
Original Song Concept: “Boo Bop Bopbop
Bop (I Love You, Too)” which is a first demo recording from 1976, with early
story sketches of Pete singing to Elliott and runs two and-a-half minutes (this
is included on the DVD).
Bye Birdie (1963) is an
exuberant, squeaky clean musical comedy from Columbia Pictures that is based
upon the 1960 Broadway musical of the same name.It is also extremely dated by today’s standards
and flat-out corny at times.Overall,
however, it is a fun ride that sports a good number of memorable musical
interludes, the title song easily giving the viewer a severe case of
earworm.Director George Sidney was no
stranger to musicals as he was also responsible for Ziegfeld Follies (1945), The
Harvey Girls (1946), Holiday in
Mexico (1946), Annie Get Your Gun
(1950), Showboat (1951) and Scaramouche (1952).Here, he brings to the screen the story of
Kim MacAfee (twenty-two year-old Ann-Margret in her breakout performance) as a high school girl who becomes the envy of her peers when she is given the opportunity to kiss teen
rock idol Conrad Birdie on the Ed Sullivan Show in front of the whole nation-
a development that leads to a rift with her boyfriend Hugo ( real-life teen idol Bobby Rydell in a
passable performance).Inspired by the military
drafting of Elvis Presley in December 1957 (he went on to co-star opposite
Ann-Margret in 1964’s Viva Las Vegas,
also directed by George Sidney), Bye Bye
Birdie possesses an infectious energy with its smile-inducing attempts to
curtail the ever overflowing zeal of female fans who cannot get enough of the
titular singer (Jesse Pearson). That fervor for Elvis would soon be eclipsed by
something even more radical: Beatlemania. Why girls would be expected to swoon
over the less-than-stellar looks of Birdie is anyone’s guess but in this film
fantasy we are also expected to believe Paul Lynde could have fathered
Ann-Margret.Lynde is actually very funny
in his role (with his quirks and mannerisms that made him literally the center
of attention on Hollywood Squares), especially
in his rendition of “Kids,” a song about annoying offspring.
The film opens with a tantalizing
rendition of the title song by Ann-Margret set against a bright blue screen,
and this illustrates that this is primarily a star-making showcase for her.Although she appeared previously in smaller
roles in Pocketful of Miracles (1961) and State Fair (1962), the vivacious actress shines in this film.The aforementioned sequence is a powerful and
memorable enough showcase to have influenced an entire episode of AMC’s fine
series Mad Men and reportedly was
shot after filming wrapped specifically to promote her.Ann-Margret’s singing bookends the film as
Albert Peterson (Dick Van Dyke, as his usual and likeable self) tries to write
a song that Birdie will sing on the TV show.Albert’s girlfriend Rosie DeLeon (Janet Leigh, in a musical performance
I would never have expected from her) wants his domineering mother (Maureen
Stapleton) to butt out of his business and marry Albert.As a Hollywood musical, everything turns out
for the best in the end, but not before the lead characters belt out a few
songs of their own.
Bye Birdie was the first
movie that I ever rented from West Coast Video in the fall of 1987 on VHS. The Columbia
Home Video tape was even produced in the old oversized clamshell box and the
picture quality was absolutely horrendous.Twilight Time’s brand-new Blu-ray blows all previous home video
incarnations of this film out of the water. Retaining the film's original
anamorphic 2.35:1 Panavision aspect ratio, the image is head and shoulders
above the Pioneer special widescreen laserdisc edition from the 1990’s and the
DVD from 1999.The Blu-ray contains an
isolated music and sound effects track and has been pressed in a limited number
of 3,000 copies, so click here to pick one up from Screen Archives
Entertainment.They also offer the
infectious soundtrack album which can be purchased here.
Subscribers/customers who pre-ordered this
new title from the UK office will be receiving their copy within the next few
days. Originally announced to be a 116-page special in the same format as the Where Eagles Dare reboot edition, this
incredibly detailed tribute to the first James Bond film is a mammoth 148 page
magazine - and at no extra cost! The Dr. No Special
tribute issue will be shipping in the US around the third week of November, and
if the exceptional pre-sales are anything to go by, should be our biggest
seller to date!
STUNT VEHICLES TO BE UNVEILED AT FREE LONDON EXHIBITION
Vehicles to be exhibited
alongside vintage James Bond artwork
•Double cab Land Rover Defender, one of the star vehicles
of new James Bond movie SKYFALL™ to feature in Jaguar Land Rover car exhibitionalongside Ms Jaguar XJ Long Wheel Base and MI6 Range Rover
•Also exhibiting original James Bond watercolour set design
artwork, cinema posters, lobby cards from as early as 1967
Jaguar Land Rover vehicles used in the upcoming James Bond
film SKYFALL will be revealed at an exhibition to mark the general
release of the latest installment of the iconic film franchise from
25-30 October at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden.
Fresh off the set and still with all the stunt bumps and bruises,
the iconic Land Rover Defender,
which features in the opening chase sequence as the brawny vehicle of
field agent Eve (played by Naomie Harris) will be on show at
The grey Defender with external driving pod will be exhibited
along side M's chauffeur driven Jaguar XJ Long Wheel Base, and the black Range Rover driven by Bill Tanner, M’s Chief of Staff.
NBC will air the pilot episode of Mockingbird Lane on October 26. The show is a reboot of the 60s sitcom The Munsters. Most of these ventures are ill-advised. We'll have to reserve judgment on this one, but just take a look at the characters-- we routinely see far stranger looking people on the New York subway system every day. Herman looks like a Wall Street stock broker and the character of Grandpa, played by Eddie Izzard, resembles Truman Capote at one of his famous dinner parties. Is this really how these characters will look throughout the series? Herman Munster with no bolts from his head? For more click here
This is the first photo released from Hitchcock showing Scarlett Johannson as Janet Leigh, filming the legendary shower murder in Psycho. The film stars Anthony Hopkins as the famed director and tells of his uphill battle to bring the the classic thriller to the screen. Click here to view trailer
(For full coverage of the making of Psycho, see Cinema Retro #18)
On tonight's broadcast of 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper takes us behind the scenes in the world of James Bond and interviews Daniel Craig, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson about the legacy of the series. Cooper also visits Pinewood Studios and sees one of the original Aston Martin DB5 cars from Goldfinger. He also visits an old friend of Cinema Retro, Eon archivist Meg Simmonds, who takes Cooper inside a top secret warehouse filled with original Bond props including Oddjob's hat and the deadly attache case. Click here for link to page that allows you to view the segment. Make sure you also view the bonus Becoming Bond segment, as well.
Cinema Retro contributor David Dorward found this interesting photo of young Steve McQueen and his wife posing with his Ferrari Lusso. The license plate number reads 007! We think this may be just a coincidence that one of real-life coolest guys on the planet had a license plate pertaining to the one of the coolest fictional characters, as the Bond phenomenon hadn't totally kicked in yet...unless McQueen was so smitten by the Ian Fleming novels and the release of Dr. No on screen that he was inspired to request "007". Either way, it makes for a fascinating photo.
I went to the media
screening of the new James Bond film SkyFall
last night at the "home" of 007 - the Odeon Leicester Square. All
1600 seats were taken, and the buzz of anticipation in the auditorium was
overwhelming. They were not disappointed, as this 23rd film in the series
unfolded in spectacular fashion.
I'm not one
forrevealing story lines, and I'm not
about to change that habit here. However, press releases have disclosed the
story (a simple one at that) of Bond being sent in pursuit of a stolen hard
drive that contains the names of secret agents around the world who have
infiltrated terrorist organizations. We soon discover the nemesis behind the
plot, which leads to a vendetta against Mi6 and 'M' - and a scenario that Bond
has to resolve.
"elements" of a big-scale James Bond film are here: stunning
locations, beautiful women, action set-pieces, grand sets, and gadgets and
gimmicks - oh, and characters from the past. This film is director Sam Mendes’
tribute to the 007 films he grew up with, and he delivers big time. For me,
after the disappointment of the lack lustre Quantum
Of Solace, it was a welcome back to the world of Bond of the past - but
only the 21st century past. You cannot compare this film to the Connery or
Moore eras; that would be ridiculous. Times have changed. Audiences have
changed - and so have expectations of a new generation of movie-goers - and
quite rightly so. Bond has changed, too, and is all the better for it.
and Wilson have brought together a brilliant team of craftsmen for this
production, and everyone delivers. From the stunning photography of Roger
Deakins (probably the best-looking Bond film ever), to the superb pacing of editor
Stuart Baird (a joy to behold after the computer game- style cutting of Quantum) and the dazzling set designs of
Dennis Gassner, this really is the "David Lean" of Bond films. Daniel
Kleinman's titles are fantastic, and the Adele title song is the best since
Tina Turner's GoldenEye. The action
set-pieces are spectacular, and handled by past "Bond veterans" Gary
Powell (stunts) Alexander Witt (2nd unit director) and Chris Corbould (special
The stellar cast is impeccable. Craig is in top form, as is Judi Dench. Javier Bardem makes for
a menacing and memorable villain, and co-supporters Ralph Fiennes, Ben Wishaw,
Naomie Harris and Rory Kinnear come together as a believable "team"
who assist Bond with his mission. Bérénice Marlohe, who looks stunning, is
under-used (when you see the film you will see why). However, that is due to
the script and not a reflection on her ability as an actress.
Which brings me
around to the script. As I said earlier, the plot is fairly simple, but the
dialogue is superb, and there are some excellent humorous one-liners that had
this audience laughing out loud. There are also some "nods to the
past" which the audience loved - with one scene getting a round of
applause and cheering. The violence is pretty full-on and dramatic. It's
definitely not a film for kids.
Are there any flaws?
Yes. But only noticeable to Bond die-hards, not a general audience of
movie-goers. Is it the best Bond film ever? No, but it's up there in the top
five. Would I see it again? I can't wait - and most Bond fans will feel the same after experiencing Skyfall.
It's doubtful that Hitchcock, the much-anticipated film about the making of Psycho, will set boxoffice records with the same audiences that flocked to see the Hangover movies. But for anyone hooked on classy, art house films this is looking to be as good as it gets, based upon some new photos released by Fox Searchlight. They depict Anthony Hopkins in the titular role, Helen Mirren, virtually unrecognizable as his wife and collaborator Alma, James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins and Scarlett Johannsson, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Janet Leigh. To view click here
Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell presents the original theatrical trailer for Clint Eastwood's moody and ominous 1973 Western High Plains Drifter. You can watch the trailer in its original format or watch it with an audio commentary from writer/director Edgar Wright, who gives his opinion of the Eastwood-directed flick. Click here to view
The new book Elizabeth Taylor: A Shining Legacy on Film pays tribute to the screen legend through publication of some rare photos highlighting her in key roles and behind the scenes on film sets. Click here to view slideshow.
The new romantic comedy ("romcom" for you hipsters) Excuse Me for Living represents the first feature film by Ric Klass, at least in terms of getting any meaningful distribution. (His prior excursion into filmmaking was the little-seen Elliott Fauman, PhD. back in 1990.) The indie movie goes into theatrical release in select theaters nationwide this week. The film traces the tangled relationships between young New Yorkers, with the emphasis focusing on Dan (Tom Pelphrey), a privileged Gen X'er who nonetheless suffers from severe depression and a penchant for self-destructive behavior. When the film opens, we find him about to leap to his death from a bridge. Saved by a cop, he is "sentenced" to a rehab clinic run by a strict, but compassionate psychiatrist (Robert Vaughn), who attempts to form a personal bond with the troubled young man. Dan agrees to join a therapy group comprised entirely of elderly men, each of whom reveals their own personal demons. Dan is accepted by the group, but his rebellious nature gets the better of him. Before long, he's being lured back to his old ways. He sneaks out to attend wild parties at the home of a snobby friend and even starts an affair with his own psychiatrist's daughter. The episodic nature of the film provides both strengths and weaknesses. On the plus side, we're introduced to some interesting characters, well played by a talented cast of largely unknown actors and actresses. Pelphrey is especially good in the lead role, but he gets able assistance from Melissa Archer and Ewa Da Cruz as the femme fatales who wreak havoc on his his troubled mind by offering a continuous string of sexual temptations. On the other hand, Klass, who also wrote the screenplay, introduces so many characters and relationships that the viewer sometimes can't follow who is doing what with whom. Klass doesn't strive for belly laughs, instead concentrates on amusing situations and poignant and often moving dramatic aspects to the storyline. Best of all, he brings together some terrific veteran actors, all seen in their largest big screen roles in years. Vaughn, in particular, makes the most of his considerable screen time, bringing grace and dignity to a complex role. It's great to see him in a lead role on the big screen again. Seinfeld almuni Jerry Stiller (playing a relatively subdued and realistic character) and Wayne Knight are also on hand, along with Christopher Lloyd, whose usual crazy guy shtick is quite amusing. There is also enough mildly kinky sex and scantily-clad women to appeal to guys who might otherwise think this is a chick flick. In fact, it's a smart, witty comedy that should have special appeal to young, urban audiences. The movie also has a rich look to the production design and is crisply photographed and impressively edited.
Excuse Me For Living makes for a fine directorial debut for Klass. Here's hoping he has a second act in the works.
Click here to visit the official web site for the film
Monster Party is
a relatively obscure stop-motion animated musical treat from 1967 that many
non-genre fans are unaware of.Aimed at
children, it is the creation of Rankin and Bass, the production team
responsible for so many holiday television specials including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus
is Comin’ to Town, The Little Drummer Boy, and The Year Without a Santa Claus.Unlike these specials, however, Mad
Monster Party made the rounds to movie theaters as a feature-length film
for Saturday and Sunday matinees.It’s the
obvious inspiration for Tim Burton's The
Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), boasting an infectious musical score that
sticks in your head long after the movie is over.
Baron Boris von Frankenstein, the lead
character who is voiced by Boris Karloff in one of his last roles, decides to
hang up his lab coat and hand his castle and duties over to his less-than-capable
nephew Felix Flankin (Allen Swift) who can’t seem to do anything right.He plans to make this announcement at a
gathering of monsters that includes a dim-witted monster of his own creation,
the monster's mate (voiced by Phyllis Diller), his lab assistant Francesca
(Gale Garnett), Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Dracula, the Werewolf, the Creature
from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the
Mummy, a King Kong-like ape, and a creepy-looking Peter Lorre look-alike.Naturally, Felix goofs up everything, which
causes the monsters to conspire to eliminate him and find out the secret that Baron
Frankenstein his unearthed.
Monster Party was
originally released on Embassy Home Entertainment in the mid-1980s and was
sourced from a dark 16mm print, much like its rare television airings.The opening credits referred to the
availability of a soundtrack album, however one was never released at the time.
It took nearly 20 years for a now-defunct
record company, Percepto Records, to finally issue the music on compact disc,
which is now long out of print but can be found if you look hard enough on eBay.Unfortunately, the film's original camera negative
was reportedly water-damaged many years ago, rendering it unusable. Whether or
not it still exists is anybody's guess, but fortunately a pristine 35mm print,
which possesses a minimal amount of dirt and scratches at the head and tail of
each reel, has survived and was used for the new Blu-ray/DVD combo release which
is now available from Lionsgate.The
Blu-ray is a revelation and the film has never looked this good before.It is framed in the 4 x 3 (1.33:1) ratio, but
on widescreen monitors and televisions the image can easily be expanded to 16 x
9 (1.78:1) without looking contorted.
Both the Blu-ray and the DVD have the
following extras that have been ported over from the Lionsgate DVD-only release
Monster Party: Making of a Cult Classic" featurette (14:47)
Sheer Animagic! Secrets of Stop-Motion Animation" featurette with Mark
Caballero and Seamus Walsh (9:35)
Ghouls: The Music of Mad Monster Party" featurette with Maury Laws (3:45)
bonus sing-along tracks for kids of all ages: "Our Time to Shine” and
"One Step Ahead"
The new Blu-ray is a worthy step up
from the standard DVD and worth the purchase.This will make a great addition to one’s collection, especially for Halloween.
Retro Screams: Terror in the New
Millennium by Christopher T. Koetting
Books, Paperback, £18,95)
Chainsaw 3D is released early next year it will simply be another film in a
long line of remakes, re-imaginings, sequels or prequels that Hollywood appears
to be churning out non-stop these days. For many this production line of
remakes represents a dearth of originality in the mainstream studios. Hollywood
has become a corporate entity afraid of anything but the safest possible bet,
turning in on itself and it's back-catalogue of recognisable titles which still
have some form of cultural recognition amongst potential audiences today.
In his new book
Christopher T. Koetting catalogues many of this recent spate of remakes,
comparing their origins and productions to those of the originals. It is
somewhat alarming to be be reminded in print form just how many remakes there
have been. Retro Screams covers eighteen different films in detail
dating back to 2003, when the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre was
released, which seemingly opened the remake floodgates. Since then we have had
classics like The Fog and Halloween (both 2005) revisited, along
with lesser-known slasher titles like Prom Night (2008) and Black
are dedicated to John Carpenter, Wes Craven and George A. Romero respectively,
whose works have been ruthlessly plundered with varying degrees of success.
Koetting documents how little or how much involvement these original directors
had this time around (Craven has acted as producer on The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
and The Last House on the Left (2009) for example). The author proposes
to demonstrate whether these new versions are justified by comparing plot
details and development information, along with extensive quotes from writers
and directors. Due to a lack of footnotes or references it is difficult to
ascertain how many of these were from interviews he conducted himself, or
whether they are simply cribbed from articles and press releases. This lack of
referencing is one of the book's most serious commissions, as it makes it
difficult to judge for oneself how seriously to take some of these quotations.
The book makes
interesting reading if you have seen either the originals or the remakes being
discussed. However, if you are a fan of these films the chances are that you
will already know most of the stories surrounding the productions, particularly
as Koetting appears to have mostly gathered this information from sources
already easily available. He also appears to sit on the fence regarding the
need for remakes, and this lack of a satisfying conclusion leaves the reader
wondering just exactly what the point of this book is.
Although the idea
of the horror film remake is not a recent phenomenon (let's not forget that the
best of the Hammer horrors were all remakes of Universal), Retro Screams
reminds us that for better or worse, Hollywood is going to keep plundering
titles with any sort of recognition, and it is a minor miracle when ideas with
any originality make it into production.
Twilight Time has released writer/director Ken Annakin's whimsical homage to the daredevils of early flight, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, as a limited edition (3,000 units) Blu-ray. Typical of Twilight Time releases, the transfer is gorgeous. The only previous attempt to do justice to this gorgeous-looking 1965 film was Fox's ancient laser disc edition. Annakin channeled his boyhood fascination with flying into something constructive: an ambitious, big-budget movie. He was not only a talented director of actors, but he could also direct traffic, too, as evidenced by his admirable work on such epic movies as The Longest Day and Battle of the Bulge. The story is set in 1910 England and finds Robert Morley as a pompous millionaire who offers a sizable sum for the first international flyer who can soar from London to Paris. The 22-mile Channel crossing is considered to be death-defying but nevertheless attracts fearless flyers from across the globe. Part of the fun in watching the film is in Annakin's good-natured tweaking of cultural stereotypes. The British are stiff traditionalists, the Frenchman is an inexhaustible lover, the manic Italian copes with Waltons-size family and nagging wife, the German is a humorless bureaucrat and the American a swaggering cowboy. Each of these daring young men has constructed his own aircraft and they make for a very erratic and often humorous sight. Yet, the claptrap creations manage to get into the air, though with decidedly mixed results. Annakin actually had these Rube Goldberg contraptions built from scratch and they actually did fly, resulting in some of the most spectacular aerial footage ever filmed. He is aided an abetted by a wonderful international cast. The leads are Stuart Whitman, James Fox and Sarah Miles, but the real fun comes from the spirited group of second bananas: Gert Frobe, Alberto Sordi, Terry-Thomas, Robert Morley, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Eric Sykes, Benny Hill and Red Skelton among them. The film boasts a marvelously catchy theme song and wonderful score by Ron Goodwin, as well as the creative titles sequence by artist Ronald Searle. The Blu-ray preserves the original intermission and provides a number of original trailers and TV spots as well as an informative commentary track by Annakin that has been salvaged from obscurity from the laser disc release. Julie Kirgo provides the informative liner notes in the accompanying, well-illustrated booklet.
They don't make aircraft like this any more and they certainly don't make enjoyable epics like this, either.
Produced by Alexandre Poncet, Co-produced by Tony Dalton
Featuring Ray Harryhausen, Tony Dalton, James Cameron, Terry Gilliam, John Landis, Nick Park, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Tim Burton,
Joe Dante, Guillermo Del Toro
Release date: At cinemas from 9th November 2012
Running time: 94 mins
“I think all of us who
are practitioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now, all
feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s
contribution to the collective dreamscape we wouldn’t be who we are.” James Cameron
remarkable career of the movie industry’s most admired and influential
special-effects auteur, the legendary Ray Harryhausen, is the subject of Gilles
Penso’s definitive documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan.
Leaving no doubt as to Harryhausen’s seminal
influence on modern-day special effects, the documentary features enlightening
and entertaining interviews with the man himself,Randy Cook, Peter Jackson, Nick Park,
Phil Tippet, Terry Gilliam, Dennis Muren,
John Landis, Guillermo Del Toro, James
Cameron, Steven Spielberg and
many more. These filmmakers, who today push the boundaries of special effects
movie-making, pay tribute to the grandfather of Stop Motion animation and films
such as ‘The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms’, ‘It Came From
Beneath The Sea’, ‘The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad’, ‘Mysterious Island’, ‘Jason
And The Argonauts’ and ‘The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad’ – the films that
enthralled them as children and inspired them to becomefilmmakers in their own right.
The interviews are combined with archival
footage and contemporary clips plus the added delight of behind-the-scenes
footage, stills and original drawings plus recently discovered unseen takes of
tests and experiments. The filmmakers were granted unprecedented
access to film all aspects of The Ray Harryhausen Collection including models,
artwork and miniatures as well as Ray's private study, where he designed most
of his creations, and his workshop where he built them.
This story of how a hobby became a profession,
from Ray’s first childhood experiments with dinosaurs made in his parents
garage, to the ground-breaking techniques he developed to intricately
interweave Stop Motion animation with live action and the birth of Dynamation
viewing for any fan of science-fiction, fantasy and adventure filmmaking.
and his movies transport us to the magical other worlds of ancient mythology in
the company of fantastical creatures such as the Talos, the Cyclops, the
Skeletons and the Kali without which the likes of Avatar, Jurassic Park, Star
Wars and The Lord Of The Rings would not even have been imagined. The
documentary reveals the painstaking detail, concentration and patience required
to do by hand, what a computer now creates artificially in seconds, and it was
all one man. A lost art, perhaps, but Ray Harryhausen’s influence will resonate
for many generations to come.
Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan
(Arrow Films) is released at cinemas
from 9th November 2012.
(1982) opened on Friday, June 11, 1982 and was considered to be a small and
personal film by director Steven Spielberg.It was also the first movie that I recall being released on multiple
screens at the same theater simultaneously and this widespread exhibition of
the film, in addition to word-of-mouth, was no doubt partially responsible for
making E.T. the top-grossing film of
Filmed under the original title of A Boy’s Life in late 1981, E.T. was written by screenwriter Melissa
Matheson of The Black Stallion (1979)
fame, and the fact that the title was changed illustrates the switching of
focus from Elliott (Henry Thomas) to the little alien creature whose plight
captured the world.A beautifully
crafted story about childhood,
loneliness and growing up was brought to life by perhaps the only filmmaker who
could have done it justice.Mr.
Spielberg had been fascinated by outer space since the night he and his father
looked up at the stars in his backyard.As a teenager, he made an ambitious, 140-minute film called Firelight (1964) about UFOs.Years later, his own Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) acted as a sort of
follow-up to it, and E.T. was
inspired by the idea of one of the aliens at the end of this film being left
behind.The product of divorced parents,
Mr. Spielberg has claimed that E.T.
is the only script he has read and wanted to make immediately without major
The performances by everyone involved
are wonderful.Mr. Spielberg always
manages to get authentic reactions from his child actors.Who can forget Barry Guiler’s (Cary Guffey) look
of wonder (accomplished by Mr. Spielberg dressing up as a rabbit off-screen) in
Close Encounters when aliens raid his
mom’s kitchen?Here, the director really shines, especially
with Elliott’s little sister Gertie, played by six year old Drew Barrymore.
E.T. has not lost any of its original charm
or wonder, nor does the film feel dated in any way.In 2002, the director made significant
changes to the original version by adding an additional scene with E.T. in the
bathtub by way of computer-generated imagery.He also removed the guns from the hands of the men seen near the film’s
end who take over Elliott's house. He replaced the guns with walkie-talkies,
thus outraging purists. Fortunately, the Blu-ray is the original 1982 version
without these changes.
The film would not have made the impact
that it had were it not for John Williams’ wonderful score.He has created a main theme for E.T. that simply makes the onscreen
action soar.The special effects team is
to be commended as well for their ability to take a rubber and mechanical
puppet and turn it into a living, breathing creature with emotions.
there is a drawback to the Blu-ray set, it is the exclusion of Harrison Ford's
role as Elliott's school principal. The
director had shot a scene where Elliott is sent to the principal’s office
following the frog dissection fiasco sequence, and Elliott’s principal (Ford) asks
him why he behaved the way he did.Since
E.T. is a film about children and how
they see the world, adults (with the exception of Dee Wallace as Elliott’s
mother) are seen in synecdoche, their faces obscured.The principal was filmed this way, but the
director cut the scene feeling it was extraneous.The only time this footage ever surfaced to
my knowledge was in the deluxe CAV laser disc edition that was produced in
limited quantities in 1996.As far as I
know, no VHS, DVD, or any other video format has ever offered up this footage,
but you can see a low resolution transfer of it here on Youtube.
Blu-ray comes with a standard DVD and a digital copy of the film in addition to
Steven Spielberg & E.T. (HD, 13 minutes)
The E.T. Journals (HD, 54 minutes)
Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 minutes)
A Look Back (SD, 38 minutes)
The Evolution and Creation of E.T. (SD, 50 minutes)
The E.T. Reunion (SD, 18 minutes)
The 20th Anniversary Premiere (SD, 18
The Music of E.T. (SD, 10 minutes)
Designs, Photographs and Marketing (SD,
Special Olympics TV Spot (SD, 1 minute)
Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 minutes)
This is clearly one of the best Blu-ray
releases this year, as the carefully orchestrated color palette of Allen
Daviau, the film’s Director of Photography, has never looked better on home
There were plenty of heavy-hitters bidding
in the James Bond charity auction at Christie's, London, last night. Organised
in conjunction with EON Productions, the event was an invite-only affair with
50 high-entry items donated by the filmmakers up for grabs. An Aston Martin DBS
from Quantum of Solace sold for
£241,250, and Bond's infamous swimming shorts from Casino Royale went for an amazing £44,450!
Props and costumes from the new film SkyFall included a signed script
(£13,750), an Omega watch worn by Daniel Craig (£157,250), a one-third scale
model of an Aston Martin DB5 (£61,250), and a suit and Dinner Jacket worn by
Craig (£30,000 and £46,850, respectively). UNICEF, Childline and Barnardo's
were amongst the charities benefitting from the proceeds of the sale.
The first unit of the Blu-ray boxed set was packaged in gold and featured a timing device to measure the hours until it arrived in London.
In September, all stops were pulled out to promote the UK release of the James Bond Blu-ray boxed set, the first unit of which traveled from Scotland to London, "escorted" along the way by various 007 dignitaries. Cinema Retro photographer Mark Mawston provides photos and coverage of its arrival at the final destination.
The Journey of the Bond 50 Blu-ray box reached its final
destination of HMV Oxford Street, London.
The ever glamorous Britt Ekland, resplendent in gold herself,
pulled up outside the London flagship store in a celebratory Bond 50 Aston
Martin holding the famed golden attache case holding the collection of 007 Blu-ray
discs. After posing on the rain-drenched street, she was interviewed inside by
many media outlets. Asked if being a Bond Girl was similar to being the President
of the United States, as both are
forever named as such, Britt said she loved being a Bond girl, with her
quintessential Bond "The tall and handsome Roger Moore". Not seeming
too impressed with Daniel Craig ("he drinks beer- sorry Heineken!")
she went on to describe how she heard she had the role of Mary Goodnight in
Roger Moore's second 1974 outing as 007, The Man With the Golden Gun: "I was really trying for the part
and got on with Cubby and Harry very well. I REALLY wanted the part as a Bond
Girl. I was on holiday when I got the call from a friend to say I got the part,
as the friend had seen a headline in the paper that had read "Swedish
Beauty gets Bond role". When I finally got it, I found out that it
referred to Maud Adams! But I still got the part I wanted in the film."
As we stood by as Britt was interviewed, the clock on the boxed set ran down to
nought, in the Bondian tradition (I thought it would have stopped at 007...), thus ending its journey which began in Scotland
with a launch from Britt's leading man and a generation’s 007, Sir Roger Moore.
(All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.)
On Global James Bond day, Eon Productions has released the first film clip from Skyfall that features a spectacular action sequence involving Daniel Craig's assault with a bulldozer on a speeding train. The scene has a nice Bondian touch: 007 adjusting his cufflinks after enduring some death-defying stunts. It reminds us of Bond calmly adjusting his necktie after the brutal battle to the death with Red Grant in From Russia With Love. Best of all, the score features strands of the James Bond Theme, which has been all-too elusive in recent 007 flicks.
2012, Manchester: Last night
saw more than 1,000 Manchester film fans experience a spectacular screening of
James Cameron’s unforgettable film, The Terminator, hosted by
Jameson Cult Film Club.
Jameson took over
Victoria Warehouse for the unique 80s-inspired film event, re-enacting the
famous nightclub scene from the film and hosting a techno rave at ‘Tech Noir’.
Guests encountered all sorts of strange scenes as they reached the warehouse,
walking past a homeless man by a fire pit and two cops searching for a man last
seen naked running in the direction of the club. Once inside guests could join
Sarah Connor for a Jameson drink at the bar, surrounded by flashing lights, red
neon, smoke and 80s music.
Guests also got the
chance to meet original cast member, Brian Thompson who played opposite Arnie as
one of the ‘Punks’ in the film. Brian – who flew in from Hollywood especially
for the event – took to the stage to introduce the film and answer fans’
questions about all things Terminator.
As guests explored
the club further they discovered the LAPD Homicide Unit’s office where the
Lieutenant and his colleague Ed were examining pictures of the various Sarah
Connors who had been executed that morning. In another corner, blue flashing
lights and smoke blew around the stage as Sarah Connor sat nervously at the bar,
eyeing the door as a strange figure dressed in a leather jacket and dark shades
stalked around the club scanning for his victim.
After the film,
guests got to attend an after party where they danced the night away to classic
80s tunes from Manchester DJ, OldBoy.
Any Manchester film
fans that missed the event this time round don’t need to worry, as Jameson Cult
Film Club WILL BE BACK (in 2013)!
Jameson Cult Film
For the uninitiated,
Jameson Cult Film Club screens cult films in unique locations across the UK,
transporting audiences into cinematic worlds of fun, fear and fantasy. From
September 2012, Jameson will tour around London, Liverpool, Manchester,
Birmingham and Newcastle – treating film fans to the best of cult film, screened
in amazing locations.
Whiskey is the UK’s No 1 selling Irish whiskey and is amongst the elite of the
fastest growing international spirit brands in the world. The success of the
Irish brand is down to its great quality and smooth taste, coupled with a
fantastic heritage, established in 1780 by the legendary John Jameson. It has
the quality credentials which allow it to be consumed straight, but is versatile
and is equally great when mixed.
Cinema Retro congratulates James Bond, Agent 007 on this milestone achievement! We look forward to the next half-century. Don't forget to celebrate Global James Bond Day- check your local news for events that may be going on in your area.
Well, they finally made another good James Bond theme song. Adele's main theme from Skyfall is a welcome throwback to the glory days of Bond music, with lush orchestral accompaniment and even hints of the James Bond theme interwoven. Kudos to all...it will help us all get over that "song" that played over the titles of Quantum Of Solace. Click here to watch a music video with song lyrics.
As Rush is now on tour in support of their Clockwork Angels album, I thought it would be fitting to have another look at their latest DVD and Blu-ray concert release, Rush: Time Machine Tour 2011 – Live in Cleveland, in addition to some truly nifty releases of their back catalog.
Rush has always been a band that never took themselves seriously, despite what their most ardent detractors have vehemently suggested. In retrospect, I still cannot understand what the music critics have been griping about all these years when it comes to Rush’s unique sound, which itself has gone through so many changes from one album to the next. As far as playing live is concerned, Rush is truly mystifying to watch as I can never quite figure out how just three people are making this music which sounds so epic and grand in scope. Yes, they have an entire group of behind-the-scenes experts making sure that the show goes smoothly, but the band sounds as though there are six people playing instead of just three.
I recall seeing Rush’s first concert video released to the masses, Exit…Stage Left, on video in 1983 and being completely wowed by the boys. Subsequent concert videos followed, but they never included the full concerts that they showcased, which was always frustrating as the tracks I really wanted to hear were invariably dropped. Thankfully, that practice has gone by the wayside, and now Rush’s concert videos are always presented in their complete form (except for the initial release of R30, which was re-issued in toto on Blu-ray).
I always wanted Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, the triumvirate that comprises Rush, to come out on stage prior to a concert’s start and have them all go to the wrong instruments by “accident” and attempt to play them, only to correct themselves and start off in their respective positions. The closest that we have gotten to seeing this happen is in the videos that appear on their most recent tour in which they do just that. Whether you watch Rush’s Time Machine Tour 2011 – Live in Cleveland on DVD or Blu-ray, you can appreciate the hard work that goes into making a show. What is really nice about this release is that this is the first time that a concert video is featuring Rush playing on U.S. soil, and they chose Cleveland as this was the city that really put them on the map in terms of radio airplay thanks to then-disc jockey Donna Halper, author of 2001’s Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting.
CELEBRATE 20 YEARS OF FILMMAKING WITH THE ULTIMATE BLU-RAY BOXSET
Includes 8 Groundbreaking Films – From Tarantino’s Debut inRESERVOIR DOGS to His Most Recent Academy Award® NominatedFilm, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS -- Arriving on November 26th in the UK
Celebrating Quentin Tarantino’s legendary filmmaking, Lionsgate and Miramax are proud to present the Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection, arriving on Blu-ray November 26th 2012.
Tarantino XX contains eight films chosen by Tarantino himself to illustrate the first 20 years of his career, featuring the films that helped define his early success, including Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Death Proof andInglourious Basterds. To complete the stunning high definition 10-disc set, the Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection also features two discs with five hours of all-new bonus material, highlighted by a critics’ retrospective on Tarantino’s groundbreaking catalogue of films and “20 Years of Filmmaking” that contains interviews with critics, stars and other masters of cinema.
Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection showcases one of the most innovative filmmakers of our time and is a must-have for serious film fans, as Tarantino’s highly-anticipated new film, Django Unchained, prepares to hit cinemas. Honouring the 20th anniversary of Reservoir Dogs – the cultural milestone that brought Tarantino to the forefront as a cinematic legend – the collection is highlighted by recurring appearances from celebrated actors including Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill), Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) and Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), and also includes starring performances from iconic actors such as Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds), Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) and Robert Forster (Jackie Brown).
Tarantino XX on Blu-ray also features striking, original artwork designed and illustrated byMONDO (www.mondotees.com). In collectible packaging, the Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection is a must have for any Tarantino or film fan!