Bob Hoskins, the acclaimed star of many British films, has passed away at age 71. Official cause of death was pneumonia, though he retired in 2012 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Hoskins was primarily a character actor who specialized in playing gritty, blue collar characters. He rarely got the lead role in major films but when he did, he excelled in movies like Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the British crime classic The Long Good Friday and the 1987 drama Mona Lisa for which he won a BAFTA and Golden Globe as Best Actor as well as an Oscar nomination. For more click here
Next Alfred Hitchcock" was how director Brian De Palma was being
celebrated by some back in 1973. It was largely in praise of his latest film,
the thriller ‘Sisters’. There is little doubt that ‘Sisters’ is not only homage
to Hitchcock’s Psycho, but also a huge nod towards Hitchcock’s entire body of
work. As the saying goes - ‘You only borrow from the best’ and of course, it
was no secret that De Palma was a huge admirer of Hitchcock’s work.
was inspired by a Life Magazine article read by De Palma, about the Russian
Siamese twins Masha and Dasha. The film begins with a model named Danielle
(played by Margot Kidder), who appears on the local TV game show, Peeping Toms (the film’s first example
of its voyeuristic theme). Danielle goes out to dinner with the winning
contestant, Phillip Wood. Her strange ex-husband Emile (De Palma regular William
Finley) follows Danielle to the restaurant and finally creates a scene. Phillip
takes Danielle back to her home in Staten Island. Emile keeps watch outside
their apartment, as Danielle and Phillip spend the night together.
next morning, Phillip is brutally killed (with a large Psycho style knife and
in graphic detail) after overhearing Danielle speak to her sister, Dominique.
The murder is seen by reporter Grace Collier (Jennifer Salt), from her own
apartment (not unlike Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’). The police are not entirely convinced
by Grace’s homicide story and they are not enamoured by her personally, perhaps
because she had recently wrote a damming story on police procedures. In true
Hitchcock style, Grace takes it upon herself to investigate and is drawn into a
bizarre story of Siamese siblings, a mysterious mental institute, and identifying
the truth behind Dominique and Danielle. It is established that Danielle never recovered
from the death of her twin Dominique. Furthermore, Dominique remains alive in
the mind of Danielle – a form of guilt lodged deep within her soul - and the
result of having been the twin to survive a surgical separation. Danielle’s sexual
experience with men (such as Philip or Emile) becomes the catalyst that awakens
Dominique and the murderous side of Danielle's damaged mind.
Palma’s film is a fascinating watch, the observations alluding to Hitchcock’s
body of work almost border on blatant, but it is spirited, and because of that,
we simply suck it in and revel in it - rather than being repelled by it. Even
the ‘Janet Leigh’ element – (the killing off of a likeable lead character so
early in the film), is carried out in ‘Sisters’ smoothly and capably. De
Palma’s own trademark feature – the use of the split screen process is also
deployed well. In particular, the murder of Phillip as witnessed by Grace uses
the process to super effect. Whilst one half of the screen illustrates
Phillip’s perspective looking from the apartment window across to Grace, the
other half focuses on Grace’s window and her POV, looking to Phillip’s window
and his eventual demise – all of which is excellent stuff. Fans of Hitchcock
may also like to know composer Bernard Herrmann provides one of his truly great
70s scores for ‘Sisters’ – and cements the homage to perfection.
has produced a delicious looking (1080p) High Definition digital master with
fine detail and just the right amount of grain. De Palma chose to shoot on 35mm
opposed to 16mm, regardless of budget restraints, which proved to be the right
choice as the difference clearly shows. De Palma was aware that blowing up a
16mm print to 35mm would have made a noticeable difference, instead he used
16mm in emphasise certain scenes, and he chose wisely. Viewing Arrow’s Blu-Ray
allows us to view the film cleanly whilst never letting us forget we are
watching a 70s movie, and as a result – a perfect balance is achieved. Adding
to the overall retro experience, the original mono audio is also retained,
leaving no room for unnecessary tinkering and tweaking and removing us from the
familiar comfort ‘zone’.
has also provided a nice collection of extras that include an excellent
documentary ‘What the Devil Hath Joined Together: Brian De Palma’s Sisters’ – A
visual essay by author Justin Humphreys. There is also a generous collection of
all new interviews with co-writer Louisa Rose, actress Jennifer Salt, editor
Paul Hirsch and unit manager Jeffrey Hayes. The De Palma Digest – A
film-by-film guide to the director’s career by critic Mike Sutton is a very
nice 30 minute retrospective guide to De Palma’s work, and proves somewhat
insightful – especially on his later films which to some degree had slipped
under the radar… There is also an archival audio interview with De Palma friend
and ‘Sisters’ co-star William Finley (Emile). The original theatrical trailer
and gallery of ‘Sisters’ promotional material from around the world, round off
the disc very nicely in deed. Whilst a check disc was provided for the purpose
of this review, Arrow’s retail version contains a reversible sleeve featuring
original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys and a Illustrated
collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Kier-La Janisse
(House of Psychotic Women) as well as Brian De Palma’s original 1973 Village
Voice essay on working with composer Bernard Herrmann and a contemporary
interview with De Palma on making ‘Sisters’, and the 1966 Life magazine article
that inspired the film.
(released on April 28th 2014) is a super addition to the Arrow catalogue and a
wonderful opportunity to enjoy De Palma’s first real taste of mainstream cinema
in the finest possible quality.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM AMAZON UK (THIS IS A REGION 2 PAL FORMAT RELEASE)
Adolf Hitler and Jesus Christ aren't generally linked together in any way, shape or form- but their names were invoked in a lawsuit regarding copyright infringement in L.A. this week. A judge has issued a summary judgment in a case against Warner Brothers and the producers of The Matrix film franchiset by a screenwriter, Thomas Althouse, who alleged that that key aspects of the movies were derived from a 1993 script he wrote. Althouse contends the lawsuit took so many years to file because he had only recently watched the films in question and came to the conclusion that references to Hitler being brought back from the dead could be traced to his script. He also maintained that Christ-like allusions could have also derived from said script. The judge dismissed the complaint saying that he could find no substantial similarities and noted that allusions to Christ can't be copyrighted, as they have been invoked in fiction throughout the centuries. I guess any would-be plaintiffs about to sue over Ben-Hur or The Greatest Story Every Told might now rethink their strategies. As for Herr Hitler, Althouse probably didn't bone up on his retro movies or he would have known that Nazi clones coming back from the dead is a concept that dates back decades in films such as The Frozen Dead (1967) and the more prestigious The Boys From Brazil (1978). For more click here
In between filming the James Bond blockbusters The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, Roger Moore starred in a largely unheralded action adventure film that afforded him one of the best roles of his career. The movie was released internationally as North Sea Hijack but was retitled "ffolkes" in the all-important U.S. market. The title referred to the character Moore played, an eccentric crank who operates a Navy Seal-like team of daredevils who are periodically enlisted by the British government to combat terrorists. ffolkes may be a cute title for a movie hero but it lead to disappointing boxoffice returns in America, where audiences found it to be rather confusing: "What the hell is a ffolkes?" Nevertheless, this is a crackling good action flick, deftly directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, who was on a roll at the time with The Wild Geese, The Sea Wolves and this film, all of which, not coincidentally, starred Roger Moore.
The film opens with ffolkes drilling his team of men in a relentless scuba-diving training sessions and casually tossing live grenades into the water as an incentive for them to complete their task within the allotted time. ffolkes is perpetually grouchy. He hates women (the result of growing up in an all-female household), a clever nod to show us that this character may be a man of action, but he's the antithesis of 007. (The script also makes a fleeting mention of the fact that ffolkes' disdain for the fairer sex is also partly due to a failed marriage, 'lest any of Moore's fans might suspect he's playing a gay man of action.) ffolkes also enjoys a more-than-occasional drink and is perpetually in the presence of a bottle of Scotch that he totes everywhere. He also hates smoking (another inside joke, as Moore was an obsessive cigar smoker at the time in real life) but has an obsession with cats. He lives in an old but imposing home on a lake, presumably in northern England or Scotland (though these scenes were actually filmed in Ireland, with interiors filmed at Pinewood Studios in Britain.), where he is comfortable eschewing the company of anyone but his team and his kitties. Topping off his eccentricities, ffolkes does his deep thinking while engaged in the art of crocheting. He's an interesting character and Moore has a field day playing him in some delightfully funny scenes in which he lambastes his men, traveling companions on a train, and lastly, top MPs and British naval brass.
Moore rehearsing a scene on location in Ireland.
The story quickly kicks into gear when a team of sophisticated criminals hijack a cargo ship that is en route to bring supplies to the two biggest oil rigs in the North Sea. The group is led by the mastermind Kramer (Anthony Perkins), who orders his men to attach mines to both of the oil rigs before taking control of the larger of the two complexes. The gang demands that a 25 million pound ransom be paid to them by the British government or they will blow up both rigs, causing incalculable damage to the world economy, not to mention the environmental disaster that would ensue. The British Prime Minister (Faith Brook, exploiting the new era of Thatcher quite amusingly) reluctantly follows the advise of her military command to use ffolkes and his small team to outwit the bad guys. ffolkes accepts the mission on the proviso that he gives all the orders. He enlists a British admiral (very well played by James Mason) and an oil company executive (Moore's old real life pal and former Felix Leiter, David Hedison) as part of the high risk plot to be held hostage on the oil rig while ffolkes and his men engineer an ingenious plot to save the day. To say any more would spoil the fun. Suffice it to say that the screenplay refreshingly makes the seemingly superhuman ffolkes all-to-human by showing him making some mistakes in judgment that have costly consequences. Most of the laughs comes from Moore verbally sparring with the female PM and anyone else who might foolishly think they can contribute in any meaningful way to his master plan. The supporting cast is very good with Perkins' sarcastic and ruthless villain a scene-stealer, Michael Parks as his top henchman and old stalwart Jack Watson, virtually unrecognizable as the Norwegian sea captain whose vessel is hijacked. It all moves at a brisk pace by director McLaglen and the flick's old style editing and cinematography is downright refreshing in this era of overblown action movies.
The DVD is devoid of extras and has plenty of grain indicating that this fine, but overlooked movie is deserving of a Blu-ray upgrade.
What a difference a few decades make. Harrison Ford says he is now intrigued by the idea of doing a sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner and would look forward to working with director Ridley Scott again, though such a project is only in its early stages. Back in the day, however, the original film was a boxoffice bomb though over the years it has come to be regarded as a classic. During filming of the original production, Ford found the filming to be a very unpleasant experience and his view of Scott at the time was far from complimentary. However, he seems to have soften his stance over the years and now says that if the script were good, he would welcome returning to the role.
The year 1979 was a good one for vampires, cinematically speaking. John Badham's version of "Dracula" premiered starring Frank Langella in the film version of his Broadway hit, George Hamilton had a surprise success with the spoof "Love At First Bite" and German director Werner Herzog unveiled his remake of the classic German silent horror movie "Nosferatu: The Vampyre". The original version by director F.W. Murnau is still regarded by many as the greatest horror movie ever made. Indeed, the mere sight of the film's star Max Schreck (who was as eerie in real life as he was on screen) is enough to give you nightmares. Herzog's version was not only the best of the vampire films released in 1979, it is a fitting homage to the Murnau classic. Working with a relatively extravagant budget, Herzog produced a film that is eerie and unsettling. He refrains from going for quick shocks, relying instead on the overall unnerving atmosphere that resonates throughout the production. Perhaps the most iconic aspect of the film is Klaus Kinski's remarkable resemblance to the character played in the original by Schreck, who embodied what is perhaps the most unnerving movie monster of all time. Kinski's appearance mirrors that of Schreck but the actor brings his own persona to the role.
The film, based on Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, opens with Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) leading an idyllic life with his beautiful young wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani). His boss, Renfield (Roland Topor), induces him to make an arduous journey to Transylvania to visit the eccentric but rich Count Dracula, who has expressed interest in buying a house in Harker's town. Harker is enthused about the mission because of the financial rewards but Lucy has a premonition that the journey will have disastrous consequences. She pleads with him not to go but to no avail. Harker sets off over mountain roads that lead through deep forests. The nearer he gets to the Count's castle the more unnerved the local peasants are. They blatantly warn him to turn back, citing eerie disappearances and deaths associated with Dracula. Harker dismisses their concerns as the superstitions of unsophisticated people. However, upon arrival at Dracula's castle he immediately has second thoughts. The Count is a corpse-like, sinewy figure with almost impossibly long fingernails who talks in a whispery voice that is more menacing than comforting. In the cold dank castle, Dracula serves Harker a meal then becomes obsessed with sucking the blood from a small cut Harker has suffered from a kitchen knife. The Count assures him that's all just a homespun way of treating the wound. Harker, increasingly unnerved, realizes he has made a mistake in visiting the castle but it's too late to escape. Dracula notices a locket with Lucy's photograph in it and makes inquiries about her, much to Harker's distress. In the morning, Harker awakens to find he has been imprisoned in the castle- and worse, he has been the victim of a vampire. Having arranged the sale of the house to Dracula, he realizes he is in a race against time to return to his village before the Count arrives there. He is desperately ill, however, and fails in his quest. Meanwhile, Dracula has stowed away inside a coffin on board a cargo ship headed towards the town of his destination. Along the way, crew members begin to die mysteriously. By the time the vessel arrives in port, it is a ghost ship, devoid of any human life with only the captain's log hinting at the horror he has witnessed. Accompanying Dracula on board the ship were thousands of rats who now run amok in the town, spreading the plague. Harker is returned to Lucy by some kindly peasants, but he is very ill and in a zombie-like condition. Lucy is then threatened by the appearance of Dracula in her own bedroom and she realizes that the town is being victimized by a vampire, though no one believes her. As the plague takes its toll on the citizenry, the town falls into chaos- and Lucy becomes determined to kill Dracula even if she must do so by herself.
Herzog, who also wrote the screenplay, has fashioned a film that oozes menace to the extent that even before the appearance of Dracula, the movie has a sense of foreboding. It is a rather cold and emotionless film, more visually interesting than moving. Herzog seems to intentionally present his protagonists in a dispassionate manner. He provides cursory details of their lives but seems to be far more interested in making almost every frame a work of art. To a great degree he succeeded. There are images in Nosferatu that will haunt the viewer, but there's no getting around the fact that there isn't anyone the audience can truly relate to. Neither Harker or Lucy are ever seen as anything more than one dimensional characters. The silly eccentric Renfield is largely wasted in the latter part of the story. He does become a servant of Dracula but this plot device is disposed of rather quickly. Prof. Van Helsing (Walter Ladengast), who is generally presented as the hero in Dracula films, is shown here to be a half-senile old fool who realizes too late that a vampire may be running amok. Herzog provides plenty of memorable moments, among which are scenes of the town's rapid decay into death and disaster because of the plague. As Lucy walks through the town square, she witnesses doomed people acting out their final fantasies, whether it is indulging in a last sumptuous feast, dancing wildly or illogically stealing furniture from vacant stores. Composer Popul Vuh provides an appropriately eerie score throughout.
Herzog's Nosferatu is a poetic experience in many ways. It's leisurely pace and low-key tone make it one of the more unusual horror films you'll ever see. However, it can be deemed a success by virtue of the fact that he and Kinski brought relevancy to this remake of what many people believe is the greatest German film ever made.
The excellent Shout! Factory Blu-ray features both the German and English language versions of the film and a commentary track by Herzog, whose soothing, rather monotonous tone becomes somewhat mesmerizing. He provides interesting insights into the making of the film and this is complimented by the inclusion of a vintage "making of" production short that shows fascinating footage of Herzog and Kinski during production, including Kinski's rather arduous daily makeup sessions. Also included is a photo gallery showing great behind the scenes shots of Herzog at work. There are also a selection of superbly designed original trailers that truly convey the menace of the titular character.
TO ORDER, DISCOUNTED FROM AMAZON, CLICK LINK BELOW.
The latest issue of Cinema Retro (#29) features my exclusive interview with Oscar-winning director William Friedkin in relation to the recent restoration of his 1977 epic adventure film Sorcerer. Regular readers of our magazine and web site know that we have been championing this great movie for years. It was a commercial and critical failure at the time of its release but its stature has grown over the decades and Friedkin told me he considers this his best film. That's quite a statement coming from the man who directed The French Connection and The Exorcist. In the interview, Friedkin discusses his painstaking efforts to finally get a proper video release of the film. An initial DVD release from Universal back in the 1990s was sub-par, to say the least. The print was less-than-stellar and Friedkin was annoyed by the fact that the movie was presented in the wrong aspect ratio. Through a long, convoluted process to determine who even owned the rights (it was co-financed by Paramount and Universal), Friedkin ended up having to sue both studios. The result was a clarification of ownership and Warner Home Video stepped forward to champion financing a restoration of the film. For Friedkin, this was the payoff in terms of finally having the film presented the way he envisioned it being seen. He personally oversaw the restoration and told Cinema Retro last month that he was thrilled with the result. He spoke very highly of Warner Home Video for their efforts in supporting this underrated classic.
Cut to: the recent release of both the Blu-ray and DVD editions of the restored version. It seems that, although the Blu-ray is right up to expectations (Friedkin told me that it looked as good as what he saw through the camera when the movie was being filmed), someone at Warners botched the DVD release and presented it in the wrong aspect ratio- a truly ironic occurrence, given Warner's reputation for accuracy in its high profile restorations.
In response to our inquiries about the issue, Friedkin E mailed us from New Zealand to say that he will personally supervise a new DVD release of the film during the first week of May and advise everyone when it is ready. He also suggests that consumers who bought the DVD demand a refund. In the E mail, Friedkin also addressed misconceptions that the movie was shot in a widescreen format as well as unauthorized DVD versions that were released internationally. Here is his response:
"There never was a wide screen version of Sorcerer. The film was shot in 35 mm in the standard 1.85 ratio. I know of no authorized wide-screen version. Possibly, someone bootlegged such a monstrosity, but I'm not aware of it. The Blu-ray is the ONLY authorized version of the film. Not a frame has been cut or changed in any way. The picture and sound, both made from the 35mm master, have of course utilized digital restoration, bringing out all the colors and nuances on the soundtrack.
There has never been a better version of Sorcerer than the Blu- ray. The DVD, old and ugly and constantly in release from Film Properties was never authorized by me and is terrible."
The interview with Friedkin includes his comments regarding the unauthorized re-editing of the film that took place in markets outside of America, something that frustrates him to this day.
(Cinema Retro #29 is currently shipping in the UK and Europe and will be sent out to subscribers in America other territories in May.)
After years of litigation, Warner Bros. has prevailed in its lawsuit against several entities it claimed violated copyright laws by producing unlicensed merchandise based on the films The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and also Tom and Jerry cartoons. The defendants had argued that the merchandise was derived from materials in the public domain, such as movie posters and images that were out of copyright. However, the judge found that the companies went beyond making exact reproductions of those materials and altered them for use in the creation of new lines of merchandise. (The companies produced collectible figurines of the actors who depicted characters in Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz). The judge ruled that the defendants have to pay $2.75 million in damages despite the fact that the defendants claim to have only derived a total of $70,000 in profits from the merchandise. A factor in the judge's ruling was his belief that the defendants did not keep accurate records. The case further muddies the waters regarding what properties fall into the public domain, which, under American law, allows certain works to be reproduced without payment of royalties if such works are out of copyright or used in a context of educational or non-profit works. Scholars have long led the battle to open up more works under the public domain argument while copyright holders have tried to put a short leash on such freedoms. Central to the case are films derived from source novels. In some cases, merchandise and products could be produced based on literary works such as The Wizard of Oz that have fallen out of copyright. However, the law does not allow imagery to be used that depicts actors from the film versions of such novels, which are still under copyright. For example, a company could produce a line of products based on the literary concepts of characters from The Wizard of Oz but would have to get a license to use the depiction of those characters associated with the legendary film version. For more click here
The provocatively - and appropriately- named Studblog presents a gallery of great old movie newspaper advertisements from regional theaters in America. This ad is from March 1972 and shows a Sean Connery double feature playing in Colorado Springs: his return as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever paired with the big budget film The Red Tent in which Connery played the legendary explorer Roald Amundsen. The Bond flick was a predictable blockbuster but The Red Tent died at the boxoffice, the victim of a talky script and a bland title that revealed nothing about the fact that the movie was about the ill-fated race to the Pole. Looking at the ad, we never realized Connery's co-star was the lovely Claudia "Capdinale".
William Castle, the legendary gentle giant of horror film producers, had become obsessed with Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? when the the film was released in 1962. Starring two aging "has-beens" - Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, who Jack Warner said he wouldn't give a "plugged nickel" for- the film became an unexpected hit with both critics and audiences and revived both women's careers. Crawford, who remained very much the diva even during the lowest points of her career, was delighted with the renewed attention. As she was nearing sixty years old, he found herself in the unlikely situation of appealing to both her traditional fans and also a younger generation. In order to achieve the latter goal, however, she realized she had to change with the times and appear in films that had broad appeal to teenagers. So the former Mildred Pearce was quite enthused when Castle approached her with his own spin on the Baby Jane bandwagon. With horror films all the rage, Castle had carved a sizable niche in the marketplace by producing "B" movies and backing them with "A" marketing campaigns that usually found him front and center in promoting the fare. Castle's dream project, however, was to finally make a film that would be seen as a legitimate horror classic. He enlisted writer Robert Bloch, then red hot as the author of the novel Psycho, to develop a script based on the premise of an aging sexpot who had turned into an ax murderess. He originally envisioned Joan Blondell for the role but an accident left the veteran actress unavailable. Castle then approached Joan Crawford, despite the fact that she was known to be virtually impossible to work with due to her endless list of demands. Nevertheless, Crawford was eager to build on her revived fame and accepted Castle's pitch to star in a film titled Strait- Jacket. The movie got off to a rocky start when the actress playing Crawford's daughter didn't live up to her expectations. Crawford had her fired and Diane Baker, who Crawford liked and had worked with previously, was hired on a minute's notice to step in. Baker had only 24 hours to study the script but was eager to reunite with Crawford.
Strait-Jacket presents Crawford as Lucy Harbin, who we see as a woman in her twenties (yes, the notion of Crawford playing a character that age is as absurd as it sounds.) Lucy is a small town girl with a checkered past. She dresses and acts like a vamp but has finally settled down and has found happiness with her younger husband, Frank (Lee Majors, uncredited, in his first feature film). Returning home from a trip a day early, however, Lucy spies Frank in their bed with an ex-girlfriend, sound asleep. Worse, Lucy and Frank's young daughter is in the next room. Outraged, she creeps into the bedroom wielding a handy ax from the woodpile and proceeds to decapitate them- all in full view of their daughter Carol. The film then jumps twenty years ahead to the present day (1964) and Carol (Diane Baker) is now an attractive, responsible young woman who is living with her aunt and uncle (Rochelle Hudson, Leif Erickson), Lucy's brother and his kind, sympathetic wife. They have raised Carol to adulthood after Lucy was sent to a mental asylum. Now they are nervously awaiting her arrival at their farmhouse. Carol is determined to make her mother feel welcome again and never bring up the past. Lucy's arrival is anything but joyous. There are some awkward sentiments displayed but it is clear that Lucy is frightened to death and consumed by guilt over the pain she has caused her loved ones. Every innocent aspect of the farm seems to bring back terrible memories, from the slaughter of chickens and hogs to everyday implements laying around that remind her of murder weapons. Not helping matters is the presence of a slovenly farmhand (a virtually unrecognizable George Kennedy), who has the demeanor of a serial killer. Nonetheless, Carol and her aunt and uncle try to ease Lucy back to a normal life, showing great patience and compassion. However, things start to go awry, as one would imagine in any William Castle movie of this nature. At Carol's urging, Lucy tries to recapture happier times by donning a wig and the same type of clothing she wore as a much younger woman. The desired effect doesn't occur, however. Instead, Lucy's personality changes to that of the sex-crazed vamp she once was and, in one of the film's most unintentionally hilarious sequences, she attempts to seduce Carol's finance, Michael (John Anthony Hayes) directly in front of the horrified Carol. More weird occurrences begin to happen, culminating in some gruesome ax murders. Lucy is the only logical suspect, but there are some neat twists to the tale that would be inexcusable to reveal here.
Strait-Jacket is an enormously entertaining flick that was a substantial hit at the boxoffice, thus consigning Ms. Crawford to more films in the shock/horror genre. Sony's burn-to-order DVD is yet another example of the company failing to capitalize on excellentspecial features that are included in this edition (or we should say, "reissued", as this content had been available on a previous DVD release.) There is an amusing promotional short that shows Crawford, William Castle and Robert Bloch in a campy promotion of the film (Bloch totes an ax!); an informative documentary, Battle Axe, about the making of the film with interesting insights from movie historians; Joan Crawford silent wardrobe tests and fascinating silent footage of Crawford's rehearsals for gruesome ax murder scenes and, rounding out the bonus items is a short TV spot. None of these features are even mentioned on the DVD sleeve. In all, highly recommended.
(In the next issue of Cinema Retro (#29), writer Don L. Stradley provides an in-depth examination of how horror movies saved the careers of aging leading ladies, including Joan Crawford, who went on to have several hit films in the genre including Strait-Jacket.)
Here's a real gem of a photo taken on the set of Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1963 chiller The Birds. Hitch was coming off a hot streak with North By Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960). The Birds would be his last hit until his late career comeback with Frenzy in 1972.
It was the oddest entry in the film career of esteemed director Arthur Penn. The 1969 film adaptation of folk singer Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant has endured as a popular cult hit. Writer Christopher Robinson provides an interesting analysis of the movie on the Rare Cult Cinema web site. Ironically, the movie is out of print on DVD. How about bringing out a special edition? Click here to read.
"More Than thea Rainbow" is director Dan Wechsler's homage to New York street photographer Matt Weber. What is a "street photographer"? He/she is someone who simply wanders around the city they reside in snapping photographs at a rapid-fire rate in the hopes of capturing some spontaneous bit of magic. Weber prowls the back streets and main drags of Manhattan, the beaches of Coney Island and anywhere else he might find everyday people engaging in interesting activities. These might include playing with children, having casual sex in an open area, frolicking at the seaside, sleeping on sidewalks or park benches or engaging in violence. Weber's photos tell the story of a city: the good, the bad and the ugly. Weber looks like an unmade bed and talks in machine-gun fire fashion to such an extent that it often becomes exhausting just listening to him. However, he has an interesting story to tell and his photographs, which are seen abundantly throughout the film, are indeed mesmerizing. Weber began driving a taxi cab during the 1970s when Scorese and De Niro immortalized the profession in their classic 1976 Taxi Driver. In those days, Gotham was a deteriorating behemoth, with crime and pollution out of control. Weber ultimately sold his cab (an action he still sometimes regrets) in order to take to it to the streets to photograph the most exciting city on the planet. He admits that he got a significant financial boost to his meager income when he accepted $500,000 to move from his apartment many years ago. (The developer ended up going bankrupt before he could renovate the building into a luxury complex.) With a degree of financial security, Weber shoots photos virtually non-stop, admitting that the most memorable photos come about unexpectedly. He asks no permission from his subjects and shoots their photos before most of them have time to react or object. He's strictly old school, shooting in B&W on 35mm film. He describes the wonders of using his darkroom equipment to see an image appear from a blank piece of paper before his eyes-- and the viewer ends up sharing in his enthusiasm. (He does acknowledge the expense and limitations of 35mm vs. digital and seems to be weakening in his refusal to work in the format.)
The movie, which is set to funky jazz music by Theolonius Monk and Keith Gurland, is a rich looking production, considering its a rather low-budget affair. Wechsler, like his subject, is also old school and has shot at least some of the film in 35mm. The movie is bit schizophrenic in terms of its content. Although Weber is clearly the main subject, Wechsler also interviews numerous colleagues of his who are also street photographers. The problem is that the film begins to treat them not only as people who comment on Weber's life and work, but also subject matters themselves. Thus, the movie often drifts from its original intention, which is to present Weber as the focus of the piece. The other photographers are an interesting lot, however. Some are likable and engaging, others are so pretentious they remind one of the types of pretentious snobs who are satirized in Woody Allen comedies. One of the photographers, Eric Kroll, seems a bit out of place here. He does offer some biting criticism of Weber's work, which is refreshing in an otherwise cinematic wet kiss to its subject, but Kroll is not a street photographer in the traditional sense. Rather, he specializes in elaborate, staged sexual fetishes and there are plenty of eye-popping examples of his work in the film. He is also inexplicably joined throughout the interview by a lovely, well-endowed young lady who is virtually silent and sits attired in a corset that presents her two main assets in an almost 3-D effect. But what is she, or Kroll for that matter, doing in the film? They seem placed there purely for purposes of titillation.
The movie is at its best when it sticks with Weber himself. He relates his transformation from taxi driver to photographer and along the way there are interviews with his wife (presumably ex-wife, as it is revealed they were in the process of getting a divorce during filming.) She is a rather unique character in her own way. She damns Weber with faint praise by listing his attributes while simultaneously telling viewers he's virtually impossible to live with. In a bizarre moment, she also assures the viewer that, not to worry, despite problems in the marriage, their sex life was satisfactory.
More Than the Rainbow's greatest attributes are Weber's photographs and director Wechsler wisely lets the pictures do the talking throughout most of the film. His cameras linger lovingly on some fascinating slice-of-life shots that are mini works of art. A homeless man with a resemblance to Van Gogh sleeps on the sidewalk under posters that promote an exhibition of the artist's works. The beginnings of a brutal fight between two men arguing in the street are caught on camera. Small children in Harlem stand outside a seedy bar in their Sunday finest on Easter. A group of young sailors give Weber a cautionary glance as they move past the porn palaces of old Times Square. Weber is clearly among those who extol the virtues of that era. Many don't. The past is always glamorized but, while the edginess and danger of New York in those days does have an appeal in retrospect and in Weber's photographs, for many of us the "new" New York, with its cleaner streets and low crime rates, is a far better place. Still, it's fun to revisit the bad old days through Weber's extraordinary photos.
More Than the Rainbow is an ambitious and highly entertaining film about a genuine New York "character" who is every bit as intriguing as the subjects he photographs.
The film opens in New York at the Quad Cinema on May 2 and in L.A. at the Arena Cinema on May 24.
Impulse Pictures continues their onslaught of releases of the retro erotic series Schoolgirl Report. The German films were all the rage in European cinemas back in the 1970s and this latest DVD edition (#12, "If Mom Only Knew...", for those who are counting) follows the standard formula. The 1978 film consists of numerous short stories linked by a thin plot device. In this case, the staff of a high school newspaper review letters written to them by fellow students outlining their sexual experiences. As each letter is read, the movie cuts to an enactment of the scenario. In the first episode, a young virgin is raised by her older brother, an airline pilot, after their parents pass away. She can barely control her sexual urges but, without a boyfriend, has no outlet for her passions. She develops an unhealthy crush on her brother, which he initially resists. ("Initially" is a key phrase in these types of movies.) Before long, she's casually walking around the house starkers and one night the unthinkable happens. The girl deludes herself into thinking she can actually establish a normal lifestyle with her brother as her lover...but she is in for a rude and tragic awakening. Another episode is a comedic one that follows the antics of a group of high school kids on a field trip to the forest with their stuffy teachers. After discovering a couple in the woods doin' what comes natural in the woods, the kids become uniformly aroused and run off to various remote locations to re-enact what they have just witnessed. As is usual in these flicks, the teachers are the victims of slapstick comedy. A grittier episode concerns a young girl who comes from a tragic background. Her brother died, her father committed suicide and her mother thinks nothing of having sex with strange men in her presence. She becomes sexually obsessed herself and is chronically pleasuring herself before moving on to becoming a drug addict and prostitute. The remaining two segments revert back to comedy. In one, a mother brings her young daughter to the family doctor for a checkup without realizing she has mixed up the dates. The doctor is out but a plumber who is doing work in the office pretends to be the physician and gives the young woman the kind of exam mom never dreamed possible. More slapstick occurs when the actual doctor returns to the office. In the final chapter, a German family agrees to take an exchange student into their home. They think it will be a girl who can act as a companion to their teenage daughter but it turns out to be a hunky male student from France...and we all know what hunky male French students like to do. In short order, despite dad's fevered attempts to keep them separated, not only is their daughter screaming "C'est magnifique!" but her friends end up sharing in the pleasure, as well.
As sordid as these scenarios sound, the Schoolgirl Report series is fairly tame by today's standards. The segments are all soft core but there is an abundance of full frontal nudity, both male and female. The films are impressive in one respect: some of the scenarios are well done and evoke some genuinely erotic images. Others, such as the comedic segments, tend to fall into the "guilty pleasure" category. The Impulse DVD features the film in original German language with optional English sub-titles, though it should be pointed out that they are entirely superfluous because the plots aren't very difficult to follow even if restricted to just the visuals. The transfers show a good degree of snap, crackle and pop from the master film source, but that only adds to the retro-based naughty fun. Click below to order:
We recently reviewed the popular 1972 TV movie The Dephi Bureau, which is the pilot for the short-lived espionage TV series starring Laurence Luckinbill. Some of our readers made us aware of the fact that the Warner Archive DVD release is actually an edited version of the broadcast version. We wrote to the Archive and received this prompt response from Matthew Patterson:
"Thanks for the heads up. It's actually good to know that this TV movie still has such fans. Unfortunately, this was a known issue going into the production process. All of the 35mm original negative and intermediate elements were all cut to the current (shorter) length. This was a very unusual case, and the only longer version we could track down that survived was in faded 16mm reference prints. Of course all this was done 40 yrs ago, and no one back then anticipated future distribution such as home video, so it was decided to go with the higher quality shorter cut for the DVD release. We're slowly trying to get the word out there as to why this was done. And as you know, we try and deliver the best possible elements for even the most obscure releases. So it is actually quite unfortunate that we were unable to track anything better down."
Sheila Exteberria and Ed Ryan in Nathan Silver's new indie film Soft in the Head.
By Don L. Stradley
There is a
startling scene in Nathan Silver’s Soft
In The Head where Natalia, a reckless woman/child who causes trouble
wherever she goes, looks at her
reflection in a cracked compact mirror. The effect of the crack distorts
her face to where she looks like one of the garish women in a Willem De Kooning
painting.It’s jolting, for we’ve
suspected Natalia is a monster of sorts, the type of young woman who is
destined to be a skid row casualty, but is still young enough to manipulate a
few men here and there. In the cracked
reflection, we get a glimpse of Natalia’s true self, or at the very least, a
peek at her grotesque future.
When we first
see Natalia she’s being smacked around by her boyfriend. She leaves him, but
intends to go back at some point because she believes the reunion will be
passionate. Love and self-destruction seem abutted in her mind. After
showing up drunk at the family home of her friend Hannah, Natalia wanders into
the night, oblivious to the catcalls from street people who mock her. She
intends to spend the night on the sidewalk, until she meets Maury, a
well-meaning fellow who has turned his home into a sanctuary for derelicts. Maury invites Natalia over for dinner where
she sits among men seemingly plucked from a touring production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Natalia isn’t intimidated, though. She’s
in her element, letting a bunch of homeless men fawn over her.
Even at her
lowest, Natalia’s able to work her way into the hearts of vulnerable males,
including Hannah’s shy brother Nathan. He’s so smitten by her that he
steals one of his mother’s necklaces for her, which sets off a major row in his
very old-fashioned Jewish household. Nathan’s parents seem a bit thick – their
son can barely dress himself or hold a conversation (Natalia describes him at
one point as “mildly autistic…like a baby…”) but they spend an entire scene badgering
him to meet a nice girl and give them some grandchildren. When he
announces that Natalia has won his heart, their shock is off the charts.
have already compared Soft In The Head
to the films of John Cassavetes, but the comparison works at only the most
superficial level. Cassavetes’ casts were headed by highly charismatic
Hollywood actors – Peter Falk, Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazzara, etc. Soft In The Head has no such glossy
veneer, being made up of unknown New York actors who often look like they’re
reaching, trying to be “real,” but also struggling to be amusing.
Silver, to his credit, allows his actors plenty of room for a kind of
realistic give and take, but his scenes can’t match one of Cassavetes’
high-wire acts. Also, Silver’s not aiming for the kind of philosophical
statements that gave Cassavetes’ films an ersatz profundity. Silver’s aiming at smaller targets, but even
so, his scenes feel self-conscience, as if he’s a bit too in love with the idea
of being a filmmaker. Silver lets the camera linger on
Natalia while she combs her hair out of her face, or sucks at her crooked teeth;
it’s rare in recent movies that a camera has so desperately adored a female
subject, as if Silver, too, is under Natalia’s spell. (Still, even with
shots that go on too long, Silver brings the movie in at a tight 75 minutes,
something Cassavetes could never do!)
Soft In The Head doesn’t remind me of Cassavetes as
much as it reminds me of certain films, novels and plays of the 1960s (i.e. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Dutchman, Tell
Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon). It was a genre with no name, but the
distinctive trait was a melting pot of disparate characters (usually one African-American,
a Jew, a war veteran, a hooker, a homosexual, an old man, and a hippie). They’d
be thrown together, usually during a power failure or a housing shortage, or they’d
be stuck in the same subway car. Tempers would flair. The stories usually ended with a murder or a
suicide, the remaining characters huddling together, waiting for the
police. Soft In The Head goes
that way, too, but not in the way you might imagine.
the usual narrative pattern we’d expect in a film like this one. He’s less
interested in developing plots than in throwing some characters together to see
what transpires. You can feel his love for these people, but this technique doesn’t
allow the characters to take charge of the story. They have altercations that feel like acting
class exercises, but nothing moves the plot forward. The sense we get is that the story is
fidgeting, chasing its own tail. More, for instance, could have been done with
Maury and his band of idiots. Where
Silver really dropped the ball was in the storyline involving Natalia and
Nathan (their names even mirror each other) are two sides of the same person.
Both are painfully immature, unable to stake out a spot in the adult world: one
is homeless; the other still lives with
his parents. Both could be described as
soft in the head. Nathan is pure,
knowing nothing of the weird games that go on between males and females, while
Natalia, dense though she may be, has mastered those games. Nathan is horrified
by Natalia’s revelation that she actually enjoys being abused, but just when
that part of the story is gaining momentum, Silver lets it trail off…
Perhaps from a
youthful flaunting of the rules, Silver shuffles the deck on us and gives us an
ending that is unexpected, but also unengaging. He might have been better served if he’d
chosen one of his plot strings and followed it to a conclusion, rather than
floating from one plot to the next. Silver has some good instincts, though, and I’ll
look forward to the day when he acquaints himself with the nuts and bolts of
storytelling. As it is, Soft In The
Head is a strangely intriguing work. It’s flawed, but unique. No one but Silver could have made it.
is believable as Natalia, bringing to the role a kind of ratty vulnerability.
There are some good turns by other actors, too, including Ed Ryan as
the enigmatic Maury, and Theodore
Bouloukos as David, the most volatile of
Maury’s guests. Carl Kranz, bless him,
has an almost thankless role as Nathan. Here’s
an isolated young guy who decorates his room with Woody Allen posters as
if he’s searching for the right nebbish to model himself after, but instead of
meeting Diane Keaton he meets Natalia. Something tells me he’ll soon tear
down Sleeper and replace it with The Blue Angel.
new releases from The Criterion Collection spotlight low-budget filmmaking in
the 1950s—American and European—and couldn’t be more stylistically and
thematically diverse. And yet, there is a personal stamp on the pictures that
is very similar. Both films also tackle social problems with brutal frankness
and feature anti-heroes as protagonists.
Riot in Cell Block
produced by longtime Hollywood independent producer Walter Wanger (he was also responsible
for two earlier Criterion releases, Stagecoach
and Foreign Correspondent) as a
hard-hitting, gritty, realistic picture depicting the inequities and
maltreatment prisoners receive in American prisons. Wanger had a personal
reason to make a film like that. He had barely missed spending some time in
one. He’d caught his wife with another man, so Wanger shot the guy, seriously wounding him. A temporary insanity defense got him only four months at an “honor farm,” which
was hardly the same as the federal penitentiary, but he was nonetheless
inspired to tell the world how things really were. Enter Don Siegel, a macho, unconventional
craftsman who would later make such classics as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Dirty Harry. Since the picture was going to be made in Folsom State Prison and featuring real inmates as extras, Wanger needed
something of a tough guy to helm the thing. Siegel was his man.
in 1954 and starring a bunch of B-movie character actors as leads (Neville
Brand, Emile Meyer, Leo Gordon, and others), Riot concerns a group of irate inmates that take over their block
and hold guards as hostages. Their demands are humane ones, and yet the
governor and the movie’s “bad guy,” the commissioner, are against giving the
cons anything and will use deadly force to stop the riot—even if it means
sacrificing the hostages. Meyer, as the prison warden, delivers a surprisingly
sympathetic performance as he sides with the convicts but still attempts to do
his job (Meyer would later appear in a small role as a priest in Stanley
Kubrick’s Paths of Glory). Brand and
Gordon (who apparently really was a scary guy on the set) run the show—and
there’s no shortage of beatings, arson, vandalism, and attempted murder (the
film was banned in the U.K. on its initial release). Interestingly, the
audience ends up rooting for the inmates, who normally should be the villains.
particularly striking is Siegel’s use of location. As in a documentary, the use
of the Folsom gives audiences a view of what it’s really like on the inside (at
the time). It’s the real thing. Siegel manages to illustrate the claustrophobic
desperation of the environment with great skill. But what’s even more profound
is that the depiction of the prison population in 1954 is very different from what
we envision the inhabitants of a prison might be today. For one thing, the
whites outnumber the blacks in Riot.
Was that realistic in 1954? It must have been, since all the extras in the
picture were indeed inmates. The place also doesn’t seem as frightening as the
gang-ridden institutions of the present. Nevertheless, Riot is honest and hard-hitting, another entry in a long line of
“social problem films” that proliferated after World War II (The Lost Weekend, Gentleman’s Agreement, All
the King’s Men, The Snake Pit,
new 2K digital restoration looks terrific. Since earlier home video versions in
the U.S. were either on VHS or bootleg DVDs, the new dual format release is a
welcome one. Film scholar Matthew H. Bernstein provides audio commentary. The
extras are a bit disappointing, though. Two audio pieces feature Siegel’s son,
Kristoffer Tabori, reading passages from his father’s autobiography and Stuart
Kaminsky’s book on the director. These are fine if one doesn’t mind being read
to for a half-hour. The other extra is all-audio as well—an excerpt from a 1953
NBC radio documentary series called The
Challenge of Our Prisons. The usual thick booklet contains an essay by
critic Chris Fujiwara, a 1954 article by Wanger, and a 1974 tribute to Siegel
by Sam Peckinpah.
Truffaut’s first feature film, The 400
Blows, released in 1959, was one of the opening salvos of the French New
Wave. Drawing on his own childhood experiences, Truffaut introduces us to his
alter-ego, Antoine Doinel, played beautifully by fourteen-year-old Jean-Pierre
Leaud, who would star as the same character in four more films, spanning two
decades—hence, we see Antoine grow up and enter adulthood before our eyes (see
Criterion’s box set The Adventures of
Antoine Doinel for the complete series).
debut Doinel chapter is the most serious of the saga—the rest are, by and
large, comedies. The 400 Blows paints
a grim portrait of a young boy who is misunderstood by his parents and
teachers, and is hence labeled a problem teen. Truffaut was particularly good
at working with children and he would continue to do so throughout his career.
The story follows Antoine’s troublesome day-to-day life until he is unfairly
expelled from school and sent to a juvenile facility. It sounds dreary, but
Truffaut manages to keep the film riveting from start to finish, and the final
freeze frame is one of cinema’s most iconic images.
seminal art film is a must-have in any serious collector’s library. With
Godard’s Breathless (reviewed here
previously), The 400 Blows exhibits
quintessential traits of the New Wave—low budget financing, hand-held cameras,
improvised action, and radical editing. It took neo-realism and made it arty.
Its legacy is without question, for it remains Truffaut’s most financially
successful picture in his native country.
has released the title a few times. The first one went out of print and became
an expensive collector’s item on eBay until the company retrieved the rights
again and re-issued a DVD of the film alone, as well as the box set of the
complete Doinel pictures. Then there was the bargain-priced “Art House
Essentials” edition. Now, a dual Blu-ray and DVD, the contents of which match
the previous release, with the same supplements (two audio commentaries,
audition footage of the actors, newsreel footage from Cannes, and two vintage
Truffaut interviews). The only difference is the magnificent restored
high-definition digital film transfer. The
400 Blows never looked so good. What is disappointing, though, is that the
second Doinel film, a thirty-minute short entitled Antoine and Colette, was not included as a supplement. It’s on the 400 Blows DVD disc that’s in the Doinel
box set. Why couldn’t it have been a Blu-ray special feature? Or is an Antoine
Doinel Blu-ray box set in the works?
Since its initial release fifty years ago, director Cy Endfield's British war epic Zulu has grown in stature. The film was understandably a hit in England but was deemed a boxoffice disappointment in the United States perhaps due to the fact that, like Khartoum (1966), the story relates to a historic battle that is well known by Brits by is virtually unknown to American audiences. What no one can dispute is that the film represents masterful movie making. Again, like Khartoum, it is a thinking man's war epic. The film relates the story of the Battle of Rorke's Drift, a tiny British outpost in southern Africa directly in the heart of the Zulu kingdom. A haunting pre-titles sequence shows the bloody aftermath of the Battle of Isandlwana, in which a British expeditionary force was massacred by Zulus in a sophisticated attack that stunned the government in London. Rorke's Drift is lightly defended by a relatively small group of British soldiers who know the Zulus are moving toward them. The officer is charge, Lt. John Chard (superbly played by Stanley Baker) is an engineer with no combat experience. His second in command is Lt. Bromhead (Michael Caine in a star-making performance) who doesn't inspire much confidence, either. He's a snobby dilettante who resents the fact that a sliver of military protocol has made Chard his superior officer. With the Zulu attack inevitable, Chard rises to the occasion and rallies his men by constructing crude fortifications and developing battle strategies. In the meantime, he must deal with a religious fanatic and his daughter (Jack Hawkins and Ula Jacobsson) who he must protect and a largely pessimistic company of soldiers who second-guess his ability to prevent them all from being slaughtered. The arrival of the Zulus is genuinely terrifying especially when Chard and his men realize how overwhelmingly they are outnumbered. Additionally, the Zulus have another unexpected edge: they have all the rifles and ammunition taken from the British soldiers they had defeated. Nevertheless, Chard manages to inspire his men and even Bromhead with his logic and courage. As with most war movies, the historical facts are considerably smudged in the interest of artistic license by that doesn't dilute the overall impact of the movie, which is thrilling.
Zulu deservedly ranks among the best British films of its era and it has lost none of its impact over the years. The battle sequences are impressively staged and, while the literate screenplay doesn't delve into the political reasons for the Zulu uprising (it was largely prompted by an arrogant English diplomat who broke treaties with the tribe), the film refreshingly doesn't present the natives as another case of "white man's burden". Instead, the Zulus and their chief are seen as noble figures who develop a mutual respect for the British, even as they are trying to kill them. The film features any number of wonderful supporting performances including Hawkins, Jacobbsson, Patrick Magee and Nigel Green and James Booth particularly impressive. Richard Burton provides the moving narration in the film's opening and closing sequences and John Barry provides what is undoubtedly one of his greatest film scores. As director, Endfield does a superb job, though he never got the acclaim he deserved. His long-delayed bu little-seen 1978 prequel to the film, Zulu Dawn, goes into much greater detail about the origins of the Zulu conflict and depicts the British defeat at Isandlwana, which rocked the entire British government.
The Twilight Time presentation is the best I've ever seen of this classic film and does full justice to the magnificent cinematography. An original trailer is included, an informative collector's booklet with notes by Julie Kirgo, an isolated track for John Barry's score and a very entertaining (and informative) commentary track by film historians Lem Dobbs and Nick Redman. There is still room for another deluxe collector's edition of Zulu (Cinema Retro's own Matthew Field produced an excellent documentary for the British release some years ago that one wishes was included on here), but for the moment, the Twilight Time Zulu is the edition of record.
The Blu-ray is region free and is limited to only 3,000 copies. We suggest you get a copy quickly as this is destined to be one of those titles you'll ultimately see on eBay selling for a small fortune.
The Warner Archive has released the TV pilot film The Delphi Bureau: The Merchant of Death Assignment as a burn to order title. The 1972 film stars Laurence Luckinbill as Glenn Garth Gregory, a mild-mannered, bookish intellectual with a photographic memory who works for a mysterious organization known as The Delphi Bureau that secretly advises the President of the United States on matters of national security. Even Gregory doesn't know anything about the Bureau and says he doesn't know whether there are thousands of other operatives or if he is the sole agent. His only contact is his superior, Sybil Van Loween (Celeste Holm) , a perpetually chirpy Washington D.C. socialite who gives him his assignments but refuses to come to assistance whenever he gets in trouble. As an agent, Gregory is completely on his own. He is unarmed and must rely on his own wits to extract himself from deadly situations, which leads one to believe that the character of MacGyver might have been somewhat influenced by this scenario. In this pilot film, Gregory is assigned to investigate the wholesale theft of surplus military equipment including fighter jets. The trail leads to a gigantic farming complex in Kansas, headed by Matthew Keller (Dean Jagger), a respected elderly philanthropist who is using his resources for experimental of growing food in order to stamp out world hunger. Gregory finds that the complex is actually a cover for the arms smuggling operation and is being run by Stokely, Keller's right hand man. As played by Cameron Mitchell, Stokely drips with phony charm and friendliness that hides the fact that he is a cold-blooded killer intent on preventing Gregory from revealing his findings. The script makes it obvious that in the pre-cell phone era, it was much easier to present scenarios in which the protagonists are completely isolated simply by the fact that they can't get to a public pay phone.
This pilot film spawned a short-lived TV series and it was created by the estimable talents of Sam Rolfe, who had also developed The Man From U.N.C.L.E. a decade previously. There are some similarities to the classic Alexander the Greater Affair two-part episodes of that series especially in a scene in which Gregory is attacked on a farm by a villain driving a tractor- a fate that befell U.N.C.L.E's Illya Kuryakin. Also, actor David Sheiner, who played a bad guy in the episodes, also turns up in the Delphi Bureau pilot flick. There is a tendency to believe that Hollywood's obsession with conspiracy movies went into high gear in the aftermath of Watergate. In fact, there were such films years prior to the 1972 break-in that brought down the Nixon administration. For example, The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May, both classic political thrillers, were produced in the early 1960s. The Delphi Bureau was in production before Watergate but aired during the same year, thus making its premise of untrustworthy government officials quite timely. The movie also bares a coincidental resemblance to director Michael Ritchie's feature film Prime Cut, also released in 1972, in that it presents a rather cynical view of the American heartland with friendly, small town characters being revealed as sadistic murderers. (A chase through a corn field appears both in The Dephi Bureau and Prime Cut).
I very much enjoyed The Dephi Bureau on many levels. The production values are quite opulent and Luckinbill is refreshing as a hero, playing an everyday guy who is rather out of his element in going up against professional killers. Not much is made out of his photographic memory angle but he does have to rely on his wits rather than gadgetry to avoid numerous death traps. The film boasts an impressive cast with Holm particularly amusing as the unlikely head of the Bureau and other deft turns provided by Bob Crane, Joanna Pettet, Bradford Dillman, Dub Taylor and Frank Marth. Given the qualities of the pilot episode, its surprising that the offspring TV series wasn't a hit. However, fans of spy movies of the era will find the DVD well worth adding to their collections.
Curly and Shemp were long gone but even in the 1960s, the "new" Three Stooges continued to gain popularity with a younger generation. The slapstick kings "starred" in a series of cartoons and even inspired a long-running comic book series published by Gold Key. The web blog 1966 My Favorite Year presents a gallery of Stooges comics covers. Click here to view.
Author and Cinema Retro columnist Raymond Benson has collaborated with bestselling author Jeffery Deaver on "Ice Cold: Tales of Mystery and Intrigue From the Cold War", a new book that presents a topic both men know well: espionage. In addition to stories by Benson and Deaver, there are contributions from many other talented writers who specialize in thrillers. The book is winning rave advance reviews (click here). Both Deaver and Benson have won acclaim for writing original James Bond novels.
Benson and Deaver, along with other noted authors, will be in New York City for a book launch event at the famed Mysterious Bookshop on April 29 at 6:00 PM. The store is located at 58 Warren Street in Tribeca.
Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer, who will be at the event, said, "We're very excited by Raymond's new project. He's been with Cinema Retro since our first issue ten years ago and his regular column in which he discusses the "Ten Best Films" of a specific year has become an integral part of our magazine. Additionally, his insightful, on-line DVD reviews have helped www.cinemaretro.com enjoy significant growth in readership over the years. Like all of his other admirers, I'm looking forward to delving into "Ice Cold" and I encourage all of our readers in the New York City area to attend the event, which should make for a fun-filled evening."
"Ice Cold" is available in many different formats from Amazon. Click below to order paperback and Kindle editions.
in the west knows the name – Gaddafi.For over 40 years he was an international
riddle, visiting world capitals yet sleeping in a bulletproof tent; a statesman
who surrounded himself with female bodyguards and, of course, a pariah scorned
by the west for acts of international terror…
Mad Dog: Inside The Secret World of
Muammar Gaddafi , a remarkable Showtime documentary premiering April 11th,
director Christopher Olgiati and his team went deep inside the late despot’s
hidden world. The resulting portrait is
chilling, horrifying and impossible not to watch.
film’s Executive Producer, Roy Ackerman spoke with Cinema Retro about putting together
this daunting and dangerous project. “Chris (Olgiati) and I had worked together before… and he came to me
about doing a film on the Lockerbie Crash and we spent a lot of time developing
that but for various reasons we came to focus on Gaddafi.”
film took three years to research and shoot in ten countries around the globe –
from the United States to the Marshall Islands. (Try even finding them on a
map!) Along the way the dictator’s
finely honed image as a Nationalist Statesman completely unravels, revealing a
desperate and perverse man who preyed on his own people.
any movie is all about challenges, but shooting inside Libya was in a whole
other league – “It was very, very dangerous.” Roy remembers, “we went in three times and there were bombs going off
and car bombs, one time we had to just leave because it was too unstable.”
Libyan footage they did get is apocalyptic and stunning – a Mad Max moonscape
of ruined buildings and burnt out interiors. They also interviewed several people who did business with the regime, including
international fugitive Frank Terpil who supplied Gaddafi’s military with
weapons. Another notable interview was
former CIA officer Valerie Plame who provides perspective on Gaddafi’s dramatic
hunt for nuclear weapons. The producers
left no biographical stone unturned, even interviewing Gaddafi’s plastic
surgeon who told a surreal tale of late night operations in an underground
bunker, the dictator refusing general anesthesia for fear of assassination.
rare archival footage, we see a dashing young Gaddafi as an army officer with a
killer smile, eager to bring his country out of its Colonial past. Gradually he becomes corrupted by his immense
power and oil wealth (one billion dollars PER WEEK), which stripped away everything
but a desire to stay in power at any cost. Outwardly a “family man”, in reality he
indulged an array of dark and repulsive desires that the documentary illustrates
in haunting detail.
final chapter of Gaddafi’s tale is ironic and tragic – Western powers were
willing to turn the page on Gaddafi’s notorious past due to the great equalizer
- oil. Only the Arab Spring, which
ripped through many countries, including Libya prevented reengagement and
ultimately cost him his life. But the
film’s Roy Ackerman felt that if there’s any lesson to be learned from Gaddafi,
it’s proceed with caution – “You do deals with these people, they’re not
stupid, they’ll get a price for it.”
Mad Dog: Inside The
Secret World of Muammar Gaddafi premieres Friday, April 11 on Showtime.
American acting icon Charlton Heston will be honored by the United States Postal Service with a commemorative stamp. The unveiling, which will be attended by Heston's family, will take place at the famed Chinese Theatre in Hollywood as part of the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival on April 11. For more about the ceremony click here
Amazon is temporarily offering a special sale on the Universal Monsters Essential Collection Blu-ray boxed set that includes Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Phantom of the Opera, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein and Creature From the Black Lagoon. The set is loaded with 12 hours of bonus materials and includes a collector's book. Click below to order.
Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell presents the teaser trailer for Paint Your Wagon, the 1969 mega flop musical starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg. This is yet another epic film that has judged by its boxoffice results instead of its artistic merits. Fortunately, Alan Spencer provides a good introduction and narration to the trailer and points out the film's attributes. The downside is that this teaser trailer itself runs only one minute but Spencer provides plenty of insightful facts into his commentary. Click here to view
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Sony:
For Immediate Release
“…one of the great shows of
television's Golden Age…”
-- The Huffington Post, Maureen Ryan
The Addictive, Emmy Award®-Winning TV Drama Starring Emmy Award®
Winners Bryan Cranston & Aaron Paul
THE COMPLETE SERIES
Newly Created 16-Disc Blu-ray™ Box Set Available June 3
Featuring Hours of Bonus Content, Including the Two-Hour Documentary “No Half Measures: Creating the Final Season of Breaking Bad”
Also Available for the First Time Ever as
a 21-Disc Complete Series DVD Set
CULVER CITY, CALIF. (April 7, 2014) – The chemistry continues on June 3 when Sony Pictures Home
Entertainment releases one of the most critically acclaimed and award-winning
shows of all time, BREAKING BAD: THE
COMPLETE SERIES, available on Blu-ray™ with newly created packaging, and, for the first time ever, as a complete series set on DVD. Just in time for Father’s Day and graduation
gift giving, the explosive saga of high school chemistry teacher-turned-meth
kingpin Walter White is available in its entirety, including all 62
uncut, uncensored episodes. The 16-disc
Blu-ray set features more than 55 hours of bonus content, including the Blu-ray
exclusive “No Half Measures: Creating the Final Season of Breaking Bad”
documentary, chronicling the
of the final season, from filming the first table read to the very last day on
set and everything in between. The 21-disc DVD set features more than 50 hours
of bonus content.
Starring three-time Emmy® winner
Bryan Cranston (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series) alongside two-time
Emmy winner Aaron Paul (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series), Sony
Pictures Television’s groundbreaking series achieved record-breaking viewership
with more than 10 million viewers in its final season. BREAKING BAD was created
by Vince Gilligan (TV’s “The X-Files”), who also served as executive producer with Academy Award® winner Mark Johnson (1988,
Best Picture, Rain Man) and Michelle
MacLaren (TV’s “The X-Files”). The
series boasts an exceptional ensemble cast, including
Anna Gunn (TV’s “Deadwood”), Dean Norris (TV’s “Under the Dome”), Betsy Brandt
(TV’s “Michael J. Fox Show”), RJ Mitte (TV’s “Switched at Birth”), Bob Odenkirk
(The Spectacular Now), Giancarlo
Esposito (TV’s “Revolution”) and Jonathan Banks (TV’s “Community”).
Synopsis: The incredible saga of high school
chemistry teacher-turned-meth kingpin Walter White is here in its entirety: all
62 uncut, uncensored episodes! Emmy® winner Bryan Cranston portrays Walter
White, a family man who turns to crime after a lung cancer diagnosis unravels
his bland but simple life. Recruiting former student and small-time drug dealer
Jesse Pinkman (Emmy® winner Aaron Paul) to be his partner in crime, Walt rises
to the top of the meth trade, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. But he
can’t keep his dogged DEA agent brother-in-law
Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) off his trail forever. Will Walt get away with it
all, or die trying? Re-live every moment of this groundbreaking original series
with riveting performances by Emmy® winner Anna Gunn, Giancarlo Esposito,
Jonathan Banks, Bob Odenkirk, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte and more. Breaking Bad was
executive produced by Vince Gilligan, Mark Johnson and Michelle MacLaren. The
complete box set is loaded with special features.
Blu-ray Exclusive Bonus
More than 55 hours of special features,
· “No Half Measures:
Creating the Final Season of Breaking Bad,” an exclusive two-hour documentary that chronicles the filming of the
final eight episodes.
· Bad Memories – Bryan
Cranston and Aaron Paul talk about the show ending and some of their favorite
· Bryan Cranston: Director – Go
on set with Bryan Cranston as he directs the first episode of The Final Season,
entitled "Blood Money."
· Scene Envy – The cast
tell us which scene they wish they could have been in.
· Shocking Moments - The
stars reveal the moments that shocked them most.
· A Look Ahead to the Final Season – The cast gives their thoughts on what an amazing final season this
is going to be!
· From Walt to Heisenberg – From
high school teacher to deadly meth dealer, watch as Walter White quickly
transforms into Heisenberg.
· How Will It End? – At
the beginning of Season 5, the cast gives their thoughts on how they think the
show will end.
· Avenging Agent: Dean Norris as Hank Schrader – A look at the character Hank Schrader and the man who played him,
· Scene Stealer: Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader – A look at the character Marie Schrader and the woman who played
her, Betsy Brandt.
· A Criminal Attorney: Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman – A look at the character Saul Goodman and the man who played
him, Bob Odenkirk.
· Jesse’s Journey: Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman – A look at the character Jesse Pinkman and the man who played
him, Aaron Paul.
· Skyler Breaks Bad: Anna Gunn on Season Four – Actress Anna Gunn and series creator Vince Gilligan explore
Skyler’s character evolution through the fourth season.
· Growing Up in the White House: RJ Mitte on Walter, Jr. – RJ Mitte, Anna Gunn, Bryan Cranston and series creator Vince
Gilligan discuss the extraordinary dynamics of the White family, and Walter,
Jr.’s unique role.
· The Ultimate Chess Match – Members
of the cast and crew discuss Walter White and Gus Fring’s extraordinary and
complicated battle of wits and their struggle for Jesse’s allegiance.
· Looking Back: A Season Four Retrospective - Season Four’s most surprising and memorable moments.
· Ted's Wipeout – In
Episode 411, “Crawl Space,” Ted Beneke suffers a head injury while trying to
escape from Saul’s goons. In this
featurette, Christopher Cousins (Ted) explains how this shocking stunt was
· The Truck Attack Storyboard Comparison – A side-by-side comparison of the Los Pollos Hermanos truck attack
and the brilliant shot-by-shot storyboards that were created for the episode
· Walt and the Challenger Storyboard Comparison – A side-by-side comparison of Walt’s joy ride in Walt Jr.’s new
Dodge Challenger and the storyboards that were developed for that sequence by
the writer and director, Peter Gould.
DVD Special Features:
More than 50 hours from Season 1
through the Final Season
Fabby, the star of the new sitcom Fabby Knows Best, introduces the creative teams from Stage 17.
The cast of Wallflowers.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Last week Cinema Retro was invited to attend a launch part at the Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York City to celebrate the on-line launch of production company Stage 17's first season of all original programming. The festivities kicked off with a fun VIP champagne party after which guests were escorted into the theater to see highlights of the programs on the big screen. The Stage 17 line-up includes an abundance of original comedy shows, reality programming and "Fan Fare", a show that is set at the world famous Sardi's restaurant that is devoted to the latest productions on Broadway.
Broadway star Kate Baldwin.
Actress Elizabeth Stanley
The festivities were attended by the network's creator David Stoller, who joined cast and production crews on stage to celebrate the launch. The ambitious venture is just another indication that industry types believe the future lies in on-demand programming that viewers can watch anytime, anywhere at their own convenience. In the early days of on-line programs, it was fairly apparent that production values were far below that of network shows. However, the Stage 17 productions are virtually indistinguishable from the big budget fare on the major networks. More importantly, the shows give exposure to talented young artists, some of whom may well become stars in the near future.
VIP kickoff party.
Fabby with David Stoller of Stage 17 productions.
To explore the lineup of Stage 17 programming, click here to visit the official web site and get ready for some binge viewing.
Ejiofor and girlfriend Sari Mercer snapped by Cinema Retro's Mark Mawston at this year's BAFTA awards in London.
We don't usually repeat rumors concerning forthcoming James Bond films because inevitably they turn out to be either inaccurate or completely untrue, at least in the very early stages. However, this one comes from a reputable source: Variety, which reports that Chiwetel Ejiofor, the Oscar-nominated leading man of "12 Years a Slave" is strongly being considered to play the villain in the next 007 flick, scheduled for release in November 2015 with Daniel Craig reprising as Bond and Skyfall director Sam Mendes also returning. Variety reports that producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were so pleased with the response to Javier Bardem's performance as the baddie in Skyfall that they want to raise the caliber of Bond villains by approaching another red-hot actor who is a star in his own right. The strategy isn't entirely new: Christopher Walken, an Oscar winner for The Deer Hunter, had appeared as the villain in the 1985 Bond film A View to a Kill opposite Roger Moore. Click here for more
MGM and James Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli feel they have their own license to kill--film projects, that is, that they allege violate their copyrights to the 007 character and series. MGM had warned Universal not to go forward with a spy movie titled Section 6 that purports to explore the fact-based origins of MI6 in the aftermath of WWI. The Bond producers and MGM stated their concerns that leaked elements of the screenplay showed plot devices that they allege are clearly inspired by the works of Ian Fleming including the fact that British agents have been assigned licenses to kill and that they carry "00" status. Both of those attributes are fictional and are directly linked to Fleming's creation. MGM has filed suit this week against Universal and screenwriter Aaron Berg alleging that Section 6 is clearly based on elements of the Bond books and films. The producers don't control the literary rights to the Bond novels but do have exclusive rights to any screen versions of 007's adventures.
The long-running Bond film series has been the subject of numerous legal battles over the decades. These include successful attempts to stop the airing of TV commercials which the producers allege violated their copyrights. There was also a long legal battle beginning in the mid-1970s to prevent producer Kevin McClory from bringing a remake of Thunderball to the big screen. (McClory had served as producer on the blockbuster 1965 version of the film). The late, legendary producer Albert R. Broccoli challenged McClory's rights for years but the film ultimately was made under the title of Never Say Never Again and released in 1983. McClory lost numerous other legal battles with Broccoli's production company, EON, however. These included launching other derivative films and TV series based on Thunderball, the one Bond novel that he had secured film rights to as the result of a legal settlement he made with Ian Fleming in the early 1960s that alleged Fleming used some of McClory's ideas to develop the novel upon which the film was based.
The Bond franchise is carefully guarded by EON for good reason. More than half a century since the first Bond film premiered, the series is more popular than ever. The latest entry, Skyfall, released in 2012, is not only the highest grossing film of the series but the top grossing British film of all time.
Our old pal Robert Vaughn is a smash in London. Vaughn is starring in the West End production of Twelve Angry Men (with Tom Conti now co-starring). The play's boxoffice results have been such a smash that the run has been extended through June. Meanwhile, in this 50th year of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Vaughn still attracts fans who line up outside the Garrick Theatre to get his autograph. Let's hope the show makes it to Broadway. Click here to visit Soloholics, the official Robert Vaughn web site, run by Tammy Hayes.
James Glickenhaus's Vigilante Classic Survives
its Dark and Controversial Past
commitment to releasing finely polished versions of cult greats appears to be
beyond question. I recently viewed their deluxe Blu-ray release of the 1980
grindhouse favourite The Exterminator. I
have some vivid memories of The Exterminator, a film that practically sucked me
from the high street and into the lobby of my local cinema some 34 years ago.
What a poster: an unidentifiable urban soldier wearing a black biker helmet and
using a flame thrower as his weapon of choice! Yep, it was an image that was always
going to get me to the box office for my ticket and of course, the latest copy
of Film Review magazine. The Exterminator was quite an extraordinary film; lame
of course by today’s standards – perhaps, but in 1980 is was really something
James Glickenhaus wastes little time in his narrative style, a huge hilltop
explosion sees a soldier flying through the air. We are undoubtedly in the
middle of a war zone – the Vietnam War. The next cut reveals we are in an enemy
camp, and an interrogation of 3 bound U.S. soldiers. Two of the captive
soldiers, John Eastland (Robert Ginty) and Michael Jefferson (Steve James)
witness the slow decapitation of their fellow marine. Both Eastland and Jefferson
manage to escape before they are killed. They manage to reach a helicopter and
escape. We dissolve into a night
helicopter shot of New York – and the opening credits roll. It’s an amazing
pre-credit sequence that manages to pull you straight into the action and
you’re hooked. It is soon established that both men have simply escaped one
hell hole to arrive back home to another. Working together in the gritty city
of New York, Eastland learns that his buddy Jefferson has been the victim of a
gang attack which has left him paralysed. Unhappy with the police and the slow
progress in apprehending the attackers, Eastland sets out to avenge his friend
and track down the gang in a one-man revenge vendetta.
Exterminator turned up the heat considerably and set the bar for an altogether
new standard of ‘Death Wish’ -type vigilante thriller. Glickenhaus presented us
with a genuine urban ugliness – the likes of which we had never witnessed
before. While it was not considered a ‘big budget’ movie – in the general sense
of the words, you can certainly see where the money shots are. The incredibly
real throat cutting and decapitation sequence still stands out, even by today’s
standards – it remains a brilliantly created special effect by the legendary
Stan Winston. Yet there is nothing overly stylised here – the action, the
atmosphere and above all, the revenge killings – arguably border on bad taste.
However, Ginty’s portrayal of a troubled survivor – an anti-hero of
circumstance rather than choice, never fails to keep the audience firmly on his
side. Whilst the moralistic side of your conscience will no doubt be screaming
out legitimate concerns, Ginty’s ‘everyman’ appeal will most certainly still
have you rooting for him by the time of the final reel.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Warner Home Video.
Burbank, Calif., March 25, 2014 – The Harry
Potter™ Wizard’s Collection, released in 2012, sold more than 30,000
sets at $499.99 SRP and is now completely sold out. To continue offering fans
access to the most successful film franchise in history, a new collection will
be available April 29 -- the Harry Potter™ Hogwarts Collection.
The collectible box set is sure to please fans who want the world of Harry
Potter™ conveniently available in one place. Included in this set areall
eight Harry Potter™ films, plus a whopping 45+ hours of previously
released bonus material that contains the complete eight-part documentary
series, ”Creating the World of Harry Potter.”
The Harry Potter™ Hogwarts Collection will be offered at
the new lower price of $249.99 SRP.
Films Included in this Collection – All on Blu-ray,
DVD and Digital HD with UltraViolet*
·Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ Theatrical Version on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet and
Extended Cut on Blu-ray
·Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets™ Theatrical Version on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet and
Extended Cut on Blu-ray
·Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban™ on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet
·Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix™ on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet
·Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince™ on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet
·Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ – Part 1 2D on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet and 3D Version on
·Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ – Part 2 2D on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD with UltraViolet and 3D Versions on
Special Features for Hours of Entertainment – everything
previously released including the eight-part documentary “Creating the World of
Harry Potter” on Blu-ray:
Creating the World of Harry Potter - Part 1:
The Magic Begins
begins. The choices, the breakthroughs, the early decisions that impacted all
the films are explored here via rare footage, cast and crew reminiscences and
more. Learn about the extensive search by producer David Heyman and director
Chris Columbus for the perfect actors to portray Harry, Ron and Hermione and
see the earliest meeting of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.
Be on the
scene as imagination and know-how combine to create a look that's distinctly
wizardly. From details tiny (what about Hermione's buckteeth?) to huge
(Quidditch, anyone?), this is the fun and fascinating opening of a whole new
portal into Harry's world. Begin the magic.
Creating the World of Harry Potter - Part 2:
really do look at the story and characters first," producer David Heyman
says. "That's the heart and that's the soul of the film." And that's
the heart and soul of this incisive, decade-spanning exploration of how the
series' actors bring the beloved Harry Potter characters to life.
Discover which parts of the J.K. Rowling books helped Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert
Grint, Emma Watson and more stars make their roles leap from page to screen.
screen tests, including Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and Jessie Cave (Lavender
Brown) working with the established stars. Learn why so many of Britain's
acting greats wanted to be part of Harry
Potter's world...and which ones became mentors to the young stars. Share
each director's vision as you watch Daniel, Rupert and Emma grow up with Harry,
Ron and Hermione. Your journey into Harry's world continues.
Creating the World of Harry Potter - Part 3:
the back of Buckbeak. Battle a Hungarian Horntail. Trace Voldemort's terrifying
transformation from grotesque infant-like creature to Dark Lord. Fascinating
footage lets you experience the Harry Potter world of creatures through
new eyes with this revealing look at a new group of wizards: the artists who
create the monsters and marvels. Roam the Harry
Potter Creature Effects workshop, where actors with a little FX magic are
turned into beasts and sketches turn into animatronic wonders. Join Daniel
Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as they share stories about acting
opposite everything from tiny computer-generated pixies to a four-ton
mechanical spider (guess which young star is really afraid of spiders).
New discoveries and new revelations all make your journeys into Harry's world
even more thrilling!
Creating the World of Harry Potter - Part 4:
Sound & Music
imagine the Yule Ball without the Potter Waltz? Quidditch without the whoooosh
of flying? Or any Harry Potter film without the iconic Hedwig's Theme?
Now, absorbing interviews and behind-the-scenes glimpses let you share the
vision of composers, sound experts and others who make the Harry Potter films
enchantment for the ears as well as the eyes. Experience sound and music that
magnify triumph and fear, joy and suspense while transporting viewers on an
emotional journey alongside the on-screen characters. Learn how specially
created musical motifs identify individual characters and places. Watch as
Foley artists use unusual techniques to replicate everyday sounds. Discover a
whole new way to look at – and listen to – Harry's world.
Creating the World of Harry Potter - Part 5:
Bolder. Darker. As the eight Harry Potter films trace Harry's journey
from innocent schoolboy to selfless hero, the series undergoes a
transformation. Evolution – packed with exclusive content – takes you
along for every exciting step of the 10-year filmmaking odyssey. Join the four
directors and key members of the crew and cast, including Daniel Radcliffe,
Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, as they explore how the creative vision for the
films evolved to maintain the integrity and increasing intensity of J.K.
Rowling's expansive literary series. From the ever-changing architecture of
Hogwarts castle and growing landscape of the wizarding world, to the darkening
palette of each successive film, to the young actors maturing along with their
characters, it is a wondrous and spectacular adventure to experience.
Creating the World of Harry Potter - Part 6:
Potter's world, portraits come to life, potions transform, time reverses,
Quidditch players soar, dragons attack and magic is everywhere. Explore the
moviemaking magic that created the wizardry and wonder of the Harry Potter
film series. Now, fascinating insights, interviews and watch-it-happen footage
let you experience the triumphs of the technical wizards who conjured up an
awe-inspiring alternate reality. Share the fun as Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert
Grint and Emma Watson negotiate the moving stairs. Marvel as an oversized water
tank transforms into the depths of the black lake for the Triwizard Tournament.
Discover which amazing sequence was filmed entirely using computer-generated
imagery. Watch as blue- and green-screen backgrounds transform into towering
structures and endless landscapes. You don't know the magic until you've seen Magical
Creating the World of Harry Potter - Part 7:
Over the course of ten years, screenwriter Steve Kloves worked
tirelessly with author J.K. Rowling to develop her seven magical books into
eight magical films. From the beginning, Kloves had to decide what to keep,
what to change and what to cut while staying true to Rowling's vision,
initially without even knowing how the series ended! Learn the story behind the
stories and see how the two collaborated and developed a friendship based on
mutual trust and respect, as they sit down together for an intimate,
free-flowing conversation. Gain new insight into J.K. Rowling's own conceptions
of her beloved characters, and hear how Kloves was able to adapt them
faithfully for the screen while maintaining the fine balance between heart,
humor and heroism that exemplifies the series.
Creating the World of Harry Potter - Part 8:
up with the world watching them. By the time the final film wrapped, the young
stars of Harry Potter had spent nearly half their lives on set. In Growing
Up, new and vintage interviews featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint,
Emma Watson and other cast and crew show how the actors have grown over the
course of the series, while behind-the-scenes footage gives an exclusive look
at their lives as actors and as children who've grown into young adults. From
early interviews shortly after being cast, to the poignant final day of filming,
watch how their ideas of acting, fame, their characters and themselves have
changed through four directors, eight films and ten years. Learn how the more
experienced actors took the younger ones under their wings and see the
friendships that only years of collaboration could create. Finally, say
farewell to the series with Daniel Radcliffe as he delivers an emotionally
charged speech to the cast and crew as the final film wraps.
·Harry Potter™ Hogwarts Collection Blu-ray Bonus Disc
More than 3 hours of features including:
§“The Harry Potters You Never Met” - Meet the stunt doubles for Daniel
Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as they demonstrate how they balanced
major stunt work while seamlessly mimicking the actors they represented.
“Designing the World of Harry Potter” - Explore how production
designer Stuart Craig and his creative team brought J.K. Rowling's
imagination to life on the screen.
Harry Left Hogwarts” (Extended Version) - Hear candid and emotional
stories about the final days on set in this extended behind-the-scenes
§ “50 Greatest Harry Potter
Moments” (Definitive Version) - Take a look back with cast members who share
their on and off-screen memories.
§ “Secrets Revealed! Quidditch” –
At last, the secrets behind the special effects required for the breathtaking
Quidditch scenes are revealed.
§ “Secrets Revealed! Hagrid”- See
the camera tricks, towering stand-in and voluminous body suits behind the
beloved Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Sony
CULVER CITY, CALIF. (March 31, 2014) –
George Clooney’s action thriller THE MONUMENTS MEN marches its way
onto Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and
Digital* May 20 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Based on the
non-fiction book of the same name by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter, the film
pays tribute to the real men and women who risked their lives to recover and
return thousands of cultural treasures stolen by the Nazis during World War II.
Blu-ray™ Combo Pack
is loaded with bonus materials, including two all-new featurettes that
highlight the making of the film. The first, “George Clooney’s Mission,”
features interviews with Clooney, as well as the rest of the cast, on the elements that went into completing THE MONUMENTS MEN. The second featurette, “Marshaling the Cast,”
features a cast discussion on the real men and women they brought to life on
screen. Exclusively available on the Blu-ray are two additional exclusive
featurettes. “In Their Own Words” is a unique piece that offers the most
comprehensive and direct insight into the hearts and minds of these heroes,
featuring an interview with Harry Ettlinger, one of the last surviving members
of the Monuments Men. “A Woman Amongst
the Monuments Men” features a discussion with
Cate Blanchett on the historic, wartime female character she plays in the film
A Smokehouse production, THE
MONUMENTS MEN is
directed by Clooney, and written by Clooney and Grant Heslov. Starring in the film is an
exceptional ensemble cast, including two-time Academy Award® winner
Clooney (Argo, Best Motion Picture of
the Year, 2012), Academy Award® winner Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, Best Writing,
Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, 1997), Bill Murray (The Grand Budapest Hotel), John Goodman
Award® winner Jean Dujardin (The
Artist, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, 2011), Bob Balaban (The Grand Budapest Hotel),
Hugh Bonneville (TV’s “Downton Abbey”) and Academy Award® winner
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, Best
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, 2013).
on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, THE
MONUMENTS MEN focuses on an unlikely
World War II platoon, whose job it was to rescue artistic masterpieces from
Nazi thieves so they could be returned to their rightful owners. In a
seemingly impossible mission, the Monuments Men, as they were called, find
themselves risking their lives in a race against time to avoid the destruction
of 1,000 years of culture.
About the Real
had decreed that if he died and the war was lost, nearly 5 million pieces of
stolen art were to be destroyed. In an effort to thwart the Nazis’ intent, President Roosevelt, with the support
of General Eisenhower, created the MFAA (Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives)
unit in 1943, and tasked them with the job of rescuing and protecting Europe’s
art masterpieces. Ultimately, more than 300 men and women worked in the MFAA
between 1943 and 1951, returning thousands of cultural items that had been looted or displaced during
NOTE: This review pertains to the Region 2 UK release.
By Mark Mawston
are some films that stick with you- films that made a real impact but were
impossible to track down after that one fleeting TV screening in pre-DVD and
streaming days. Could they be as good as you remember or were they obscure for
a reason? This was my worry when I was given my review disc of Brian De Palma’sPhantom of The Paradise,a film I’d been wanting to revisit
remember watching this in my room after college one late Monday night and
thinking it was the epitome of the term “cult movie”. I simply loved it.
I was fully aware of the huge followingThe
Rocky Horror Picture Showhad
and was shocked that this film wasn’t as famous. For years I’d asked anyone who
mentioned Richard O’Brien’s cult classic if they felt the same aboutPhantom of The Paradiseand most of the time I was met
with “Phantom Of The What?” I thought I was in a minority who loved this film
but on watching Arrow’s superb transfer of the film and its stunning extras, I
see that the film has a healthy following amongst the great and the good of
movie cultdom, including Edgar Wright, Quentin Tarantino and especially
Guillermo del Toro.
of The Paradiseis
now available from the Arrow Video label. The feature-packed disc is released
as both a Limited Edition Steel Book and deluxe Blu-ray featuring original and
newly commissioned artwork by The Red Dress. This exciting Blu-ray release also
includes an exclusive collector’s booklet featuring new writing about the film
by festival programmer Michael Blyth and an exploration of the film’s troubled
marketing history by Ari Kahan, curator of SwanArchives.org, illustrated with
original stills and promotional material.
The addictive retro-based web site Hill Place offers an extensive analysis and appreciation of John Ford's The Were Expendable, an homage to the heroic U.S. Navy men who manned the P.T. Boats in WWII. The flick starred Robert Montgomery and John Wayne and is today considered one of the best movies in the WWII genre. However, at the time of its release at the very end of the conflict, it was vastly under-appreciated by a war-weary public that just wanted to indulge in relatively lightweight fare. (The same fate befell Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, which was considered by many to be too downbeat for audiences that had just undergone years of personal suffering).
Click here to read the article about They Were Expendable and realize why it represents Ford at his best.