The Life and
Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby may not immediately come to mind when naming
the most well-known of author Charles Dickens’ novels, but it’s arguably one of
his best. Besides being a cracking good story in print, the Royal Shakespeare
Company famously produced an 8-1/2-hour long Tony Award-winning play (staged in
two parts, with a dinner break) in 1980 that was one of this reviewer’s most
treasured theatrical experiences.
motion picture, released in 2002 to positive critical acclaim but little
enthusiasm from ticket-buyers, is also a delight. Writer/director Douglas
McGrath whittled down Dickens’ massive tome to a mere 132 minutes, and yet one
doesn’t miss the extracted bits. The screenplay is an essential lesson in adaptation. Now a gorgeously
rendered Blu-ray release from Twilight Time, Nickleby can be re-evaluated and appreciated for the superb
achievement it is.
story is typical Dickens—in mid-19th Century England, the death of Mr. Nickleby
leaves Nicholas (winningly played by a young Charlie Hunnam), his sister, and
mother without a penny—so they must go to London and depend on the charity of
Uncle Ralph (Christopher Plummer), who is a characteristically cruel and greedy
Dickens villain. Nicholas is at first sent to a boarding school run by Mr.
Squeers (Jim Broadbent), who is also cruel and greedy and likes to beat the
children. There, Nicholas meets the crippled Smike (Jamie Bell) and the pair
become fast friends. Nicholas succeeds in getting Smike out of the school, but
then they run into the eccentric Vincent Crummles (Nathan Lane) and his wife
(played hilariously by Barry Humphries—yes, a man), who put the young lads in
their traveling theatrical troupe. Misadventures and calamities continue to
befall Nicholas, not withstanding his romance with Madeline (Anne Hathaway),
which Uncle Ralph is determined to quash.
one can see, the cast is amazing. Add to these principles the likes of Alan
Cumming, Timothy Spall, Tom Courtenay, Edward Fox, and several other notable
British actors, and you’ve got an ensemble piece to be reckoned with.
(perhaps best known as Woody Allen’s co-writer and Oscar nominee for Bullets Over Broadway, writer/director
of Emma, and writer of the Broadway
smash Beautiful: The Carole King Musical)
brings intelligence and a colorful visual style to the material. Why the film
wasn’t nominated, at the very least, for Production Design or Costume Design is
1080p High Definition transfer looks wonderful, and the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
also comes with an isolated score track (by Rachel Portman) and a valuable and
informative “how-I-did-it” commentary by McGrath. Other supplements include two
making-of documentaries ported over from the original DVD release, as well as a
“view from the set” multi-angle feature. The original theatrical trailer rounds
out the package.
Nicholas Nickleby most likely slipped
by you back in late 2002 when it played in theaters—here’s your chance to check
it out before the limited edition run of 3,000 copies sells out.
Back in the 1950s, before he became a legend, filmmaker
Sam Peckinpah (“The Wild Bunch,” “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia,” and
“The Killer Elite”) wrote scripts for TV westerns, including “Gunsmoke,” “The
Rifleman,” and “Tombstone Territory.” His reputation grew and in 1957 he wrote his
first screenplay entitled “The Glory Guys” which was based on Hoffman Birney’s
novel, “The Dice of God.” The book was a fictional account of Custer and the
Battle of the Little Big Horn, with all names changed. The script went unproduced for almost eight
years, and in the meantime Sam had moved on, directing features including “The
Deadly Companions” (1960), “Ride the High Country” (1962) and “Major Dundee”
You would think that with that growing resume, Peckinpah
would have been able to direct anything he wanted to, but such was far from the
case. “Bloody Sam,” as he was called, affectionately by his fans, and not so
affectionately by his critics, had a way of getting into fights with the wrong
people. Arguments and disagreements with producers and studio heads were
numerous, and he acquired a reputation as a “madman” after he ran way over
budget and schedule, shooting “Major Dundee” all over locations around Durango,
Mexico. The situation on “Dundee” was so bad star Charlton Heston put up his
own money to finish the film when the suits threatened to pull the plug. And
this, even after Heston one day on set had gotten so furious with Peckinpah he
charged him on horseback with his saber. Luckily the director was on a crane
and moved out of the way.
TV and movie producers Arthur Gardner, Arnold Laven, and
Jules Levy, who had produced “The Rifleman” series, had held on to Sam’s script
for “The Glory Guys,” and by 1964 were ready to make it as a feature film. But since
he had just gotten fired from the “The Cincinnati Kid” after another dispute
over creative disagreements, they didn’t want to take a chance on Sam directing
it. Laven decided to direct it himself. It has been reported on IMDb that
Peckinpah did some work on it, but Peckinpah historians Nick Redman, Paul
Seydor and Garner Simmons, in the audio commentary included on the Twilight
Time Blu-ray, totally dispute those reports. “The Peckinpah Posse,” as they are
by now known after having done quite a few commentaries and written books about
the director, state categorically he would not even have been able physically to
be in Mexico at that time due to other commitments.
The posse members know a thing or two about Peckinpah and
yet I was mystified when they seemed surprised at the similarities between “The
Glory Guys” and “Major Dundee.” It’s pretty obvious that in many ways, “Dundee”
is a polished, more thoughtful rewrite of “The Glory Guys” by a man who by then
had eight years of TV and movie-making experience under his belt. Seydor and
Simmons also seem dismissive of “The Glory Guys,” as nothing more than an
expanded TV show, constantly pointing to clichés in both directing and writing.
It’s a bit annoying to hear these experts spouting their opinions, which seem
more aimed at impressing viewers with their knowledge, than providing any
insight into the film. Only Nick Redman seems to actually like the film, and in
my opinion there’s a lot to like.
There are constant themes and archetypes in all of
Peckinpah’s movies, even here in this early work. The abuse of power by those
in authority, friendship, loyalty, betrayal, the clean honesty of certain men
finally revealed when the chips are down, and the sad poetry of the loser are
ideas that Peckinpah would come back to again and again in his films. As “The
Glory Guys” can be seen as an early, and not completely satisfying, draft of
“Major Dundee,” so can that film be seen as the precursor to “The Wild Bunch,”
which represents the apotheosis of all of his ideas in undoubtedly his greatest
Perhaps one reason the film compares unfavorably to
“Dundee” is the cast. Chisel-jawed Tom Tryon as the lead, Captain Demas Harrod,
is no Charlton Heston. His co-star Harve Presnell was no Richard Harris, his
counterpart in “Dundee.” Senta Berger (who would star with Charlton Heston in “Dundee”)
and James Caan, however, come off rather
well. Andrew Duggan, another overly-familiar TV face, plays General Frederick
McCabe, the vainglorious stand in for George Armstrong Custer.
Peckinpah’s take on the novel and the Little Big Horn is
typically his. Don’t expect a repeat of “They Died with Their Boots On,” with Errol
Flynn fighting to the end with his troops, surrounded by hundreds of Sioux. In
fact, his script does not even include the battle at all. We see only the
aftermath from Captain Harrod’s point of view: a body-strewn battlefield with a
white stallion standing alone in the far distance, the fictional stand in for
Comanche, the only survivor of Big Horn. It’s a powerful statement and one only
an artist like Peckinpah could make. What critics often failed to understand
about him was that even though the films he made were violent and, later on,
bloody, the violence wasn’t the point. What he really wanted to show was the
Aside from the informative, if somewhat frustrating,
commentary track, Twilight Time has included a half-hour interview with Senta
Berger, who made three films with Peckinpah (“The Glory Guys,” “Major Dundee”
and “Cross of Iron” (1977). In Mike Siegel’s documentary “Passion and the
Poetry: Sam and Senta,” the actress reveals that she first met the director at
a studio function in Europe when she was just starting her career. Sam took a
liking to her and put her in the films, adding her scenes to already finished
There are other supplements including "Promoting The Glory Guys", which features international marketing materials, the original theatrical trailer and a short film about
legendary cinematographer James Wong Howe, whose work filming the locations in
Mexico in Panavision provides one of the real pleasures of the movie. While
I thought the interior shots seemed a little on the dark side, when the cameras move outside, the film comes alive. Howe’s compositions, especially in the exterior action scenes, the way
he staged the cavalry formations, the battle scene on the river, are all
masterfully done. The release includes an illustrated booklet with insightful liner notes by Julie Kirgo.
All in all, this is a
superb release, definitely a “must have.” “The Glory Guys” may not be a
masterpiece, but it is entertaining and fascinating as an early glimpse into
the creative mind of a filmmaking genius. Just make sure you watch it before you
listen to the audio commentary to avoid spoilers.
(This is a limited edition release of 3,000 units).
The belief that the year 2016 is the worst one on record in terms of celebrity deaths will only be reinforced with the news that show business legend Debbie Reynolds has passed away at age 84 just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died from heart-related problems. Reynolds was grieving the loss of Carrie when she was hospitalized on Wednesday night due to shortness of breath. Click here for more.
CLICK HERE FOR NEW YORK TIMES OVERVIEW OF MS. REYNOLDS' REMARKABLE CAREER.
We’ve seen them at sci-fi or collectibles conventions
shows; some more so in England than the US. They man tables with stacks of
photos, offering autographs or pictures for a fee. In many cases their faces aren’t familiar, as
their characters wore heavy makeup or masks in their appearance in the original
“Star Wars” film. Still, even as you
approach them face-to-face some of these people still don’t ring a bell. Maybe it’s because their scenes were deleted
or they were an extra amongst many. Others, you discover are a familiar masked character and you are happy
to chat for a few moments with them, as that movie, and its two sequels (I
am only referring to the original trilogy starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher), had such a lasting impact on
1976” is a recent documentary that follows ten such actors
who, during the summer of 1976, played various roles while filming at Elstree
Studios in Borehamwood, England and on location in Tunisia. This cast is comprised of: David Prowse
(Darth Vader), Paul Blake (Greedo), John
Chapman (X Wing Pilot- Red 12- Drifter), Anthony Forrest (Fixer &
Sandtrooper), Laurie Goode(Stormtrooper & Cantina Creature), Garrick Hagon
(Biggs Darklighter) , Angus MacInnes (X-Wing Pilot), Derek Lyons (Medal Bearer-
Throne Room ), Pam Rose (Leesub Sirlin-
Cantina Character) and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) (Note: Bulloch appears late in this movie, as he
joined the “Star Wars” cast during “The Empire Strikes Back” a few years later.)
The first 40 minutes or so of this piece seem rather
sluggish and confusing, as we are introduced to this large group and listen to
fairly detailed life histories. Once we
start to get into the discussion of the actual filming itself, the pace picks
up considerably and it becomes a much more interesting experience. We find out
that this was basically just another job to many of these people who had just
showed up during general casting calls. England
was a busy place for film production in the 70s and 80s and there was a very
relaxed, informal atmosphere at the studios and amongst the performers. Prowse was cast due to his large physical
frame (he was a body builder) and Jeremy Bulloch went on the advice of his half-brother,
co-producer Robert Watts. The production anecdotes are very interesting
and through it all no one had any clue that what they were involved with would
be such a phenomenon that continues to this day and probably will well into the
The after-stories are often the most interesting; many of
the cast members just continued with day work in the movies or went back to
other interests. Angus MacInnes
continued acting and ended up with Harrison Ford again in 1984’s “Witness” as
one of the crooked cops (it would have been nice if this reunion of sorts was
expanded upon); David Prowse began personal appearance tours around release of “The
Empire Strikes Back” and over time found himself on the wrong side of Lucasfilm.
Prowse alleges that whenever he would publicly inquire about unpaid royalties
from “Return of the Jedi”, Lucasfilm would tell him that the movie had yet to
turn a profit. Because of his public
criticisms, Prowse is now banned from ‘official’ “Star Wars” events, such as
Disney “Star Wars” weekends and the yearly celebrations.
When the film addresses the subject of fan conventions,
the actors discuss the caste system … those who receive on screen credit and
those who are ‘extras’. The extras
generally are viewed as opportunists. How far this feeling extends into the fan base
is another story that we really don’t get the answer to.
Although “Elstree 1976”, which was directed by Jon Spira,
has many merits that will please “Star
Wars” fans, I was disappointed that there wasn’t more emphasis on
behind-the-scenes photos and footage of the actual shoot, not recreated scenes
with the interviewees. It’s probable that rights issues prevented this from
occurring. Smatterings of clips from “Star
Wars” are shown but they are all too brief. Additional visual materials would have considerably enhanced this
documentary. Also, with a title like “Elstree
1976”, I would have appreciated more detail about the legendary studio itself
and some discussions of famous films that were shot there and how the studio
has impacted the area of Borehamwood, especially in the wake of other UK-based
studios that are no longer around. There is also a missed opportunity in that
the documentary makers did not capitalize on the fact that Elstree has a
prop/mechanics shop that still houses artifacts from the original film such as
matte paintings, prop light sabers, original droid blueprints, etc. A visit to
this facility would have greatly enhanced the viewing experience.
The video release from FilmRise reviewed for this article is a special
edition Blu-ray. One
of the special features does have a few of these actors returning to the empty
Stage 7 where the Millennium Falcon was built for the hanger scenes. Lacking any compelling visuals, the tour
around an empty set rings somewhat hollow. Other special features include some
comments from the cast that were cut out from the final version of the
documentary, a trailer and a director’s commentary.
It should be noted that this is a grassroots production
funded by a Kickstarter campaign, so viewers should keep in mind that the
director had limited resources. As such, it’s an ambitious undertaking that,
despite the film’s shortcomings, provides an interesting look at aspects of the
“Star Wars” franchise that have never been explored from this particular angle.
By 1965 Sean Connery was already growing weary of the James Bond phenomenon. The money was great but he never sought to be an international idol and sex symbol and never warmed to the experience of having the press and fans follow him about wherever he went. He also feared that he would be typecast as Bond and thus sought roles in films far removed from the image of 007. His first two attempts, "Woman of Straw" and Hitchcock's "Marnie" were critical and boxoffice failures. Connery had high hopes for his next non-Bond film, "The Hill", which marked the first of several movies he would collaborate with director Sidney Lumet on. A grim, brutal but superb movie, "The Hill" was hailed at the Cannes Film Festival and received great notices. Although the movie never clicked with mainstream audiences who eagerly awaited Connery's next Bond film, "Thunderball", the 1965 production has grown in stature over the decades. Not only does it feature Connery's first brilliant cinematic performance but he is matched by an equally brilliant supporting cast: Harry Andrews, Ossie Davis, Ian Hendry, Ian Bannen, Alfred Lynch, Roy Kinnear and Michael Redgrave. This original featurette shows the movie's enthusiastic reception at Cannes and the grueling challenges of filming it in the Spanish desert.
Actress and novelist Carrie Fisher, daughter of Debbie Reynolds and the late singer Eddie Fisher, has died from complications related to a heart attack she suffered on a flight from London to Los Angeles last Tuesday. Fisher had been hospitalized in Los Angelessince and was described as being in "stable condition" as doctors worked feverishly to save her. Fisher is best known for playing the character of Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" film series. She was 60 years old.Fisher had been in London to promote her recently-published memoirs. Click here for more. For Washington Post story click here.
Even at 90 years of age Jerry Lewis can still grab a headline. When the Hollywood Reporter recently visited his home to conduct a video interview, Lewis looked as though he was facing root canal surgery. He rudely answered questions with one or two word answers, insulted the crew throughout in a not very subtle manner and for seven excruciating minutes that have since gone viral, he dissed the interviewer, who never lost his cool or the respect he showed to the comedy legend. In that regard, he showed more class than Lewis himself. This wasn't an ambush-style interview or one loaded with "gotcha" questions. The pity is that if Lewis had played ball with the interviewer, he could have provided some interesting insights from the standpoint of a man his age who is still actively performing on stage and in film. Instead Lewis acted as though he had not consented to the interview and that somehow the crew had engaged in a home invasion. By doing so, he only diminished himself. If he was that ticked off at the prospect of doing the interview, why didn't he just cancel it instead of degrading himself in this manner?
Time Life has released the retro TV comedy series "Hee Haw" as a 14-DVD boxed set. Here is the official press release:
Pickin’ and grinnin’, singin’ and spinnin’ tall tales and
corny jokes, the citizens of Kornfield Kounty landed on television in 1969 with
the arrival of HEE HAW as a summer replacement series for The Smothers Brothers
Comedy Hour. With a cast of
down-to-earth characters including Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones and Archie
Campbell, knee-slapping comedic zingers, and jaw-dropping musical performances,
the comedy-variety show, co-hosted by Buck Owens and Roy Clark, captivated the country. In 1971, after two successful years, CBS
dropped the show in an effort to “de-countrify” the network’s programming;
however, it was quickly picked up and aired for the next 21 years, making HEE
HAW the longest-running weekly syndicated original series in television
In a new-to-retail set, HEE HAW: THE COLLECTOR’S EDITION
offers 14 HEE-larious discs featuring some of the best sketches and brightest
stars from the series’ impressive 23-year history, rarely seen since
their original broadcasts. Across 21
vintage hours, viewers can sit back and be entertained by korny klassics such
as “PFFT! You Were Gone,” “Gordie’s General Store,” “Board Fence,” “Cornfield”
and “Moonshiners” -- as well as the
all-time favorites “Rindercella” and “Trigonometry.” And because HEE HAW was a favorite stop for
country music’s biggest stars and legends, THE COLLECTOR’S EDITION also
features hundreds of classic performances from Hall of Famers at the peaks of
their careers including Tammy Wynette ("Stand By Your Man"), George
Jones ("White Lightnin"), Merle Haggard (“Okie From Muskogee"), Waylon
Jennings ("Me and Bobby McGee"), Johnny Cash ("I Walk the Line”),
Jerry Lee Lewis ("Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On"), Tanya Tucker ("Delta
Dawn"), and Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty ("Louisiana Woman,
Mississippi Man") and too many others to name.
Though the last “new” episode aired in 1992, this 14-disc
collector’s edition perfectly captures the reasons why HEE HAW was one of the
longest-running and best loved television variety shows of all time!
New interviews with show regulars including Roy Clark,
Lulu Roman, George Lindsey, Charlie McCoy and Jim and John Hager
Additional bonus programming includes all-time favorite
comedy from the early years in “Hee Haw Laffs,” featuring “Board Fence,”
“Doctor Spot,” “Old Philosopher,” “Haystack,” “Schoolhouse” and other
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
(London, UK, December 12th 2016) MI6 Confidential, the
full-colour magazine celebrating the world of James Bond 007, returns with its
Bond girls are forever, but in the last two decades the
007 producers have shaken up the ‘Bond girl’ archetype significantly. Strong,
independent and critical of Bond’s actions and motives are now the norm. But
even this change hasn’t stopped Bond women from being devastatingly beautiful
and the subject of much admiration. This issue is dedicated to finding out what
it takes to be a Bond girl, with features on Bond’s comic book companions, the
surprising origins of the Bond girl label, and the role of Bond women in the
Featured in this issue:
·The Name’s Bond... - Samantha Bond’s stint as the iconicsecretary
·Bond Girls Stripped - A glimpse of Fleming’s characters in
·Bond Girl Etymology - Where did the widely-recognised
·Quick Fire Bond - Lightning Q&A with some of Bond’s
brushes through thedecades
·The Double X Factor - The feminine power of the 21st
·Gaming Girls - A catalogue of digital delights that have
crossed paths with007
Him Crazy - A cut scene from The Living Daylights revisited
·The Bond Connection - The glamorous women and the spy
films of the1960s
Dick Van Dyke, who played Bert the chimney sweep opposite Julie Andrews in the 1964 Disney classic "Mary Poppins", will appear in "Mary Poppins Returns" which stars Emily Blunt as the magical nanny along with an all-star cast that includes Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury. Van Dyke, 91, won't be reprising the role of Bert, however. Instead he will be playing a new character, the son of a greedy banker. Van Dyke, who has jokingly "apologized" for his much-criticized Cockney accent in the first film, promises to have an even worse accent in the new movie. "I intend to represent a corner of London with my accent that has not yet been invented. I'm going to have the worst accent in the history of British accents-I'm going to sound like I'm from another planet". Julie Andrews will not be part of the new film but has given the project her blessing. The movie, directed by Rob Marshall, is intended for release on Christmas day, 2018. For more click here.
Wagner is a college student trying to end the relationship with his pregnant girlfriend
in “A Kiss Before Dying,” recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber. Joanne
Woodward is Dorothy “Dorie” Kingship, the girlfriend who falls in love with
handsome Bud Corliss (Wagner). Bud is a local guy attending college on the GI
Bill while living at home with his doting widowed mother played by Mary Astor. Dorie
is deeply in love with Bud, believing they will get married and live happily
ever after. However, Bud has a more sinister view of the relationship as he is more
interested in Dorie’s inheritance than her love. His greed graduates to a plot
to murder Dorie when he realizes Dorie’s father will disinherit her upon
learning of her pregnancy.
first attempt to murder Dorie by poisoning her with chemicals he steals from
the college chemistry department is a failure. He researches the proper
chemicals in the college library and, like a bank robber, cases the locked room
where the chemicals are stored. He also writes a fake suicide note and tells
Dorie the pills are vitamins for the baby and she must take them that night.
She agrees and says goodnight to Bud, who mails the suicide note. The next day
Bud seats himself at his usual desk in class expecting to hear news about Dorie
when she walks in.
shocked Bud scrambles unsuccessfully to retrieve the suicide note, but immediately
comes up with a new plan. He tells her they are going to get married at city
hall which is everything Dorie wants to hear. Arriving early, they head for the
observation area on the roof where the film’s most dramatic sequence is set in
a foreshadowing of “Psycho” with the relationship between Bud and his mother as
well as the involvement of the intended victim’s sister. Mrs. Corliss is
oblivious to Bud’s true nature and he resents her intrusiveness. Jeffrey Hunter
is Gordon Grant, a college professor who knows Bud and Dorie and takes an
interest in mysterious matters concerning Dorie.He connects with Dorie’s sister
Ellen Kingship (Virginia Leith of “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die” fame), who is
suspicious events that transpire- and Bud in particular. I’ll not reveal the
climax, the movie comes to an entertaining and satisfying conclusion.
by Gerd Oswald and released by United Artists in 1956, the screenplay by
Lawrence Roman is based on the novel by Ira Levin. The movie is beautifully
photographed in Cinemascope by Lucien Ballard (“The Killing” and “The Wild
Bunch”) giving the film a dream-like- look and feel which is aided by the
on-location filming. The movie was made in and around Tucson, Arizona including
a copper mine south of town where the climax takes place.
is terrific as the psychopathic killer because, initially, we want to like him
and hope he will do the right thing. Jeffrey Hunter appears in the movie too
briefly, but is a welcome addition to the cast. Joanne Woodward gives a sincere
performance as the cursed Dorie with Virginia Leith, Mary Astor and George
Macready rounding out the impressive supporting cast. The Kino Lorber Blu-ray
looks beautiful and sounds great with a running time of 94 minutes. The original
trailer is the only extra on the disc. This entertaining thriller is highly
recommended for fans looking for an engaging psychological thriller.
Zsa Zsa Gabor, one of the first entertainers of whom it could be said became a mega-celebrity based on a modicum of actual achievements, has died at age 99. A Hungarian immigrant, Gabor made a splash when she arrived in Hollywood with her exotic good looks and even more exotic accent. Although she gave credible performance sin "Moulin Rouge" and "Touch of Evil", Gabor quickly became enamored of playing one character she loved- herself. In the staid early days of television, she was an oddity and audiences loved her penchant for making quips and telling outrageous stories. She called everyone "Darling" and bedazzled viewers by parading about in expensive dresses and over-the-top displays of jewelry. The first casualty of her persona was her career as a promising actress. When Gabor did appear in movies it was generally in B-level fare such as her most famous cult film, the sci-fi turkey "Queen of Outer Space". Gabor always wanted to become a legitimate princess. She married a succession of rich men before fulfilling her dream by marrying a German prince thirty years her junior in 1986, thus bestowing on her the title of "Princess". Over the decades, Gabor continued to act occasionally, on stage and in the movies where she mostly spoofed her own image in films such as "The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear" and "A Very Brady Sequel". In 1988 Gabor made headlines when she was arrested for slapping a police officer who stopped her for speeding. She was sentenced to 72 hours in jail. Gabor's personal life was the stuff of high drama. She was estranged from her daughter who died at age 67 in 2015. It is doubtful Gabor ever knew about her death because she had been in very frail health since a serious car accident in 2002. In the following years she suffered from a variety of health problems and had a partial amputation of a leg performed. Gabor had two sisters, Eva (who found success emulating Zsa Zsa in the long-running sitcom "Green Acres") and Magda, who was the least known among the public.
The National Film Registry has added 25 more titles to their list of film classics that will ensure they are preserved for generations to come. As usual, it's an appropriately eclectic mix of titles spanning from the silent era to recent years and includes some admirably quirky choices. Among them: Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" and John Boorman's "Point Blank". Click here for more (and the full list.)
NOW AT A REDUCED PRICE! ONLY $61.00 THROUGH AMAZON...ORIGINAL PRICE WAS $149.00- FREE SHIPPING FOR PRIME MEMBERS.
Time to put up your Dukes! (DVDs, that is!)
DVD COLLECTION OF 40 WARNER AND PARMOUNT FILMS IS LARGEST JOHN WAYNE BOX SET EVER
INCLUDES HOURS OF SPECIAL FEATURES AND REMARKABLE MEMORABILIA
AMAZON BUYERS GET EXCLUSIVE WAYNE BELT BUCKLE
Here is the original press release from when the set was originally made available:
commemorate one of America’s most iconic film heroes, Warner Bros. Home
Entertainment will introduce a comprehensive new DVD set -- John
Wayne: The Epic Collection-- on May 20. The spring release, just in
time for Father’s Day gift-giving, will contain 38 discs with 40
Wayne films (full list below), including The
Searchers, once called one of the most influential movies in American
history and the film for which Wayne
won his Best Actor Academy Award®, True Grit (1969). The collection comes packaged in a handsome book with
unique collectibles and hours of special features.
The coffee table book includes a
chronological presentation of Wayne films, enhanced with wonderful photographs;
the hours of special features include commentaries, documentaries, featurettes,
vintage shorts and classic cartoons; and the special John Wayne collectibles include
personal correspondence, script pages/covers, pages with Wayne’s notations and
Wayne’s legacy will also be celebrated at the 4th
annual John Wayne Film Festival in Dallas from April 24th through
the 27th. The four-day festival will feature screenings of some of
Wayne’s classic feature films, Q + A sessions with Wayne family members and
co-stars, and parties celebrating the John Wayne heritage and legacy. All the
proceeds from the festival will benefit the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.
In making the announcement of the new
collection, Jeff Baker, WHV’s Executive VP and General Manager, Theatrical
Catalog said, “Thanks to our recent strategic alliance with Paramount and their
catalog titles, we’re delighted to be able to offer this number of titles representing
such a broad range of Wayne’s work. Wayne was one of the most popular film stars
ever. For more than a quarter century he was one of the tops at the worldwide box-office.
This collection will certainly be a ‘must have’ for loyal John Wayne fans and,
hopefully, will have an equal appeal to younger folks who want to learn more
Born Marion Robert Morrison in
Winterset, Iowa, John Wayne first worked in the film business as a laborer on
the Fox lot during summer vacations from U.S.C., which he attended on a
football scholarship. He met and was befriended by John Ford,
a young director who was beginning to make a name for himself in action films,
comedies and dramas. It was Ford who recommended Wayne for his first leading
For the next nine years, Wayne worked
in a multitude of B-Westerns and serials in between bit parts in larger
features. Wayne’s big break came in 1939, when Ford cast him as the Ringo Kid
in the adventure Stagecoach. Wayne
nearly stole the picture from his more seasoned co-stars, and his career as a
box-office superstar began. During his 50 year film career, Wayne played the
lead in more than 140 movies, an as yet unsurpassed
record, and was nominated for three Academy Awards®, winning the Best
Actor award for his performance in True
Discs In John Wayne: The Epic Collection
Big Stampede/Ride Him Cowboy/Haunted Gold, 1932
Telegraph Trail/Somewhere in Sonora/Man from Monterey, 1933
Author Marcus Hearn is generally regarded as one of the world's foremost authorities on the history of Hammer horror films, those legendary British films often made with a minimum of production money by exceptionally talented actors, directors and technicians. Hearn's historical knowledge of- and passion for- all things Hammer were put to good use in his superb 2011 book "The Hammer Vault", which drew upon hundreds of rare photos and promotional materials, all gloriously bound in hardback by Titan Books. The good news is that Hearn and Titan have just issued a revised and expanded version that incorporates even more jaw-dropping goodies provided by Hammer itself along with a legion of private collectors. The result is short on text in order to do justice to the rich photographic production values. Hearn manages to convey essential information about the famed British studio that, like it's greatest moneymaker, Dracula- seems to have risen from the dead after decades of inactivity, periodically producing new feature films.
Hearn should especially be commended for covering the early days of the studio when it was primarily known for making Poverty Row-style potboilers on miniscule budgets before the company found its niche with an almost all horror production schedule. These early Hammer films were often very well made and quite entertaining and served as a valuable training ground for the people who would help elevate the studio to legendary status in the late 1950s-1970s. It was Hammer that made character actors such as Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee into screen legends. They also did the same with Raquel Welch in "One Million Years B.C." and gave prominent roles to a wealth of older actors who routinely found work in the back-to-back horror films that Hammer cranked out. The movies were certainly not all winners. With Hammer's success came the inevitable imitators, most notably Amicus Films, a British studio that shamelessly aped Hammer's style with great success- and occasionally lured away their two most prominent stars, Cushing and Lee. By the late 1960s the studio was losing its touch. With new screen freedoms in terms of censorship, an ill-advised strategy was implemented to replace intelligent scripts with an emphasis on blood, gore and tits and ass. Still, even the worst of the Hammer fare still qualifies to be included in the "Guilty Pleasure" category.
This book offers a remarkable assemblage of rare memorabilia and photographs many of which will be new to even the most hardcore Hammer collector. There also photos of storyboards, props and interesting curiosities that are all beautifully reproduced. I should take the exceptional step of acknowledging the book's designer, Peter Godbold, for his outstanding work on this volume. Many authors (including this writer) have suffered from having at least one of their books compromised by a designer who did not have a feel or appreciation of the subject matter. Gobold's layouts and choices of material elevate every aspect of the book. "The Hammer Vault" is a book you're likely to sink your teeth into (if you pardon the pun) and revisit on many occasions.
A gaggle of writers for Rolling Stone have come up with their list of the top 50 characters to appear in the "Star Wars" franchise. Such lists are largely meaningless but they do elicit a lot of passion from readers who love to argue that the writers are either geniuses or clueless in terms of their selections and rankings. This article will do the same...C-3PO didn't even crack the top ten but at least we didn't see Jar Jar Binks included. Click here to read.
Corman's work both as a director and a producer has often been characterized as
exploitation, quickly and cheaply produced product that promised some cheap
thrills – be they violence or sex – for the theater-goers' admission. It was
certainly not an accusation he would ever shy away from. But that didn't mean
that he didn't ensure that there wasn't at least a certain level of craft to be
found in his films. And sometimes, even a bit of art sneaks through the process.
is the case with “Boxcar Bertha,” the second feature from filmmaker Martin
Scorsese. Corman was looking for
something that could serve somewhat as a sequel to his recently released
“Bloody Mama” when his wife discovered the fictional account of a woman who
rode the rails of the South during the Depression. The story and resultant film
had more than a few echoes of Arthur Penn's “Bonnie And Clyde” and while Corman
has never admitted that this was the case in this instance, he has been known to
surf the wave of another film's popularity all the way to the shore.
the film's Deep South- during- the- Depression setting is a far cry from
Scorsese's Little Italy New York City upbringing, he certainly works hard to
make the film his own. Although a bit rough around the edges – the first couple
of minutes features a somewhat jarring sound effect miscue when a plane lands
in a grassy field accompanied by the sound of tires screeching on concrete and
the film boasts two different title sequences for some reason – it is easy to
see Scorsese starting to define elements that he will work with throughout his
career. The film's story is somewhat episodic, a feature of his next film,
1973's “Mean Streets.” Examining the psyches and characters of those on the
opposite side of the law is a tendency that was probably engendered in Scorsese
by the Warner Brothers crime films and socially conscious dramas of the 1930s
that he has stated his love for in the past. And the film's climactic
crucifixion certainly had to appeal to the Catholic in him, even if it the
Christ imagery isn't set up in anyway in the preceding eighty-some minutes.
(Incidentally, it was during the “Boxcar Bertha” location shoot in Arkansas
that star Barbara Hershey gave Scorsese a copy of Nikos Kazantzakis' novel “The
Last Temptation of Christ” which he adapted to some controversy in 1988.)
Australian lobby card.
course, there are the requisite exploitation elements. Gun fights break at with
the required regular intervals and a train explosively slams into a car left on
some tracks at one point. And of course there's some nudity. By all accounts,
Scorsese was irritated that some nudity had to be inserted into his first
feature, “Who's That Knocking At My Door?” (1967), in order to get a
distribution deal. Here, when both Hershey and David Carradine as her labor
leader-turned-bank robber lover lose their clothes, it feels somewhat casual,
perhaps an influence of the European cinema Scorsese is also a fan of. It
certainly doesn't live up to the expectations set by the stars who claimed in a
Playboy interview at the time of the film's release that their love making
scenes were real and not simulated.
Time's Blu-ray transfer of “Boxcar Bertha” is a solid looking 1080p
transfer. The disc doesn't come with too much else besides some rather
exuberant liner notes by film historian Julie Kirgo and an isolated score
soundtrack movie music fans should appreciate. Those who complain that modern
trailers give away too much of the film that they are advertising will be
dismayed to see that the practice was alive and well in 1972 with the “Boxcar
Bertha” trailer included here. (This release is limited to only 3,000 units.)
If you're a Beatles fanatic, chances are you already caught up with this book which was released last year to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four's second feature film "Help!". Photographer Emilio Lari gets billing on the front cover but the accompanying text inside was written by Alastair Gordon, who provides insights into the film and the filming. There is also a brief (sadly, very brief) foreword by the movie's director Richard Lester. The bulk of the book is dedicated to photos that Lari took on the set of "Help!" as unit stills photographer on the production. It should be noted that Lari only worked on the UK-based sequences, primarily at Twickenham Studios and on the major sequence shot on the Salisbury Plain where the group plays a concert amid some military war games that are going on. Thus we don't get Lari's perspective on what he would have shot for the Bahamas scenes. Nevertheless, the book provides a gold mine of rare and previously unseen photos all captured with great skill by Lari. There is a playfulness apparent in the photos as this was shot during a time period when the lads from Liverpool were still trying to come to terms with their meteoric success. We see them lounging between takes strumming on guitars, smoking cigarettes, John donning a long woman's wig, posing with soldiers, walking among fans and on-lookers and clowning with Richard Lester, who seems to also be having the time of his life. Given what we know about what was to lie before them (i.e infighting, squabbling, Yoko and the ultimate breakup of the band), it's a pleasure to look back on The Beatles during their short-lived period of innocence and wonder, when they could still just concentrate on having fun and creating musical magic. It always struck me as odd that, with the exception of Ringo Starr, the Beatles never showed any interest in pursuing a career on the big screen. (A notable exception was John Lennon's co-starring role in Lester's "How I Won the War"). Each member of the band was a natural on screen but for whatever reason, Starr was the only band member to find success in the medium of cinema. Perhaps they sensed that film would distract from their creative abilities in the field of music. "Help!" had its pleasures but didn't come close to having the enduring impact of "A Hard Day's Night". Their third feature film, the animated "Yellow Submarine", disinterested them to such a degree that they wouldn't even provide their own voices for their cartoon alter-egos and limited their involvement in the project to a brief cameo appearance. Their final film, "Let It Be", was simply a filmed version of a recording session. We'll never know what could have been had the Beatles pursued more cinematic ventures, but this book does provide some wonderful memories of what they did achieve on film.
new book release just grabbed our attention that in many ways has both
everything and nothing to do with cinema. The book is titled, The World’s Hardest Music Trivia: Rock n
Roll History, Fun Facts and Behind the Scenes Stories About the Groups and
Songs You Thought You Knew (Nautilus)but at 388 well-researched pages there is
nothing trivial about it. The book is a fun read that not only covers rock 'n roll but also delves a bit into the realm of films, as well as providing interesting facts about eras gone by. Perhaps somewhat ironically its author, John
Grantham, spent over 30 years in Hollywood in and around the movie industry as
an actor, stuntman and voice over artist. Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer caught up with him for a Q&A about his book which has a title longer than some nation's entire constitutions.
– It should be noted that this isn’t just a book listing questions &
answers about music. It’s an homage to the generations that lived and loved the
– Thanks for recognizing that. There are plenty of books that simply ask a
question and then provide you with the answer. I wanted to set a tone for the
music and provide a background for the songs and groups mentioned in the book.
– You started your sections that dealt with musical decades with an overview of
what was happening culturally, politically and financially during that period
–It was important to me that the reader experiences the questions in the
context that each generation provided. Music, perhaps more than cinema, has
always held a mirror up to society. The 1960s for example provided folk music,
anti-war music, tune in – drop out music amidst the background of a divisive
war in Vietnam that was fracturing America. There was “Black Power”, Women’s
Lib, the Eco movement and lest we forget, the introduction of terrorist
actions. For someone reading the book that wasn’t alive then or was too young
to remember, it’s helpful to set the scene if you will.
– You also included a lot of movie quotes instead of lyrics. Why is that?
– I feel like music provides the soundtrack of our lives. I tried to include
quotes from movies that highlighted the significance of music. Movies like High Fidelity and School of Rock are obvious choices. My favorite scene is from Barry
Levinson’s 1982 classic, Diner where
Daniel Sterns’ character Shrevie argues with his wife Beth, “The first time I met you? Modell’s sister’s high school graduation
party, right? 1955. And ‘Ain’t That A Shame’ was playing when I walked into the
door! It’s important”.
– You were a Hollywood actor and stuntman. Why then a book about music and not,
say, well the obvious, movies?
- (Laughs) Thank you for dignifying my career. I had more than my share of
stinkers. If my career had started a decade earlier much of my finer work would
have gone straight to the drive-in.
– Such as?
– Let’s see… Baja, Deadly Breed, Death
House… Of course therewas also Double Dragon and Master’s of the Universe… If Double
Dragon had done anything at the box office you could have an action figure of
my character, Torpedo, on your shelf!
– What would you say was your favorite role or movie?
– Hmmm. Harvey Keitel shoots me in the final scene of Get Shorty. I played Hari
Krishna #1. I doubled Peter Deluise in the TV show seaQuest DSV. There was a lot of fire and explosions on that, plus a
gnarly stunt where I had to crash through a plate glass window.
– Sounds like fun.
– Some days were better than others. The movie that was the most gratifying to
be associated with was an independent film I doubt many of your readers ever
saw called Miss Firecracker…
- …With Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins…
– That’s right. It also starred Scott Glenn, Alfrie Woodard, Mary Steenburgen
and the late Trey Wilson. I was the stunt coordinator for that. Scott Glenn came
up to me after the fight scene at the fairground and said it was the most
realistic fight he’d ever seen. It wasn’t of course, but it was kind of him to
– Your love of rock and pop is obvious from the book but what movies inspired
your career choice?
– All of them. I’d put moving pictures right next to the printing press in
terms of how it has shaped and moved society. You can’t understate its
influence. The optimistic messages of
Frank Capra’s films and the documentaries of Leni Riefenstahl, are from the same era. The 70s gave us gritty,
street level dramas like The French
Connection and Shaft . The latter
of which featured, perhaps, the best opening theme song in history.
John Grantham: Hollywood stuntman and author.
–Back to the music then…
– Oh right…My formative years were spent in Naples, Florida. My best friend’s
parents owned the only record store in town. That was our “Diner” if you will;
the place we would hang out and talk about girls and sports and movies to the
backdrop of great music. It never occurred to me that all that time spent
pouring over album covers and liner notes would someday form the foundation of
– With the success of “The World’s
Hardest Music Trivia…” can we expect to see The World’s Hardest Movie Trivia on the shelves soon?
– You’d have to ask my publisher. I’d love to do it. I am a student of
Hollywood. I couldn’t tell you who my Congressman is but I can tell you that Susan
Hart played the ghost in The Ghost in the
Invisible Bikini”, which I saw in 1966 at theYazoo Theater in Yazoo City, Mississippi. I was too young to know what
was causing that tingling sensation in my body as I watched the movie but I
knew I wanted to experience it again; and often.
– Maybe we should leave it at that.
– Probably for the best Lee. Thanks for the shout out. Rock on.
Siodmak’s The Magnetic Monster is one
of the more thoughtful – and thought provoking - science-fiction films of the
era. Produced by Ivan Tors (whom would
share screenplay credit with Siodmak), this intriguing 1953 release from United
Artists is a cerebral, worthy addition to the classic sci-fi canon. Its likely most fondly remembered among devotees
of 1950s sci-fi for whom the presence of a rubber-suited monster is not a prerequisite.
Carlson (It Came From Outer Space, The
Creature from the Black Lagoon) essays the role of Dr. Jeffrey Stewart, a
brilliant graduate of Boston’s M.I.T. now working for the OSI (Office of
Scientific Investigation). Stewart and
his assistant, the bespectacled egghead Dr. Dan Forbes (King Donovan) are
self-described “Detectives with Degrees in Science.” They’re government
“A-Men,” the “A” prefix representative of their pedigree in atomic energy
research. The two are called by an official
from the Office of Power and Light to investigate a complaint regarding strange
occurrences taking place inside a Hardware Store. It seems as though the entire establishment has
become magnetized. The assortment of display
clocks adorning the walls have all stopped working, the doors of such household
appliances as washing machines are snapping open and shut, and steam-irons are
careening across store counters. One frightened
employee is nearly run down inside the shop by a barreling rotary-blade lawn
mower. “I can’t have appliances sailing
around my store!” the distressed shopkeeper sensibly complains to the arriving investigators.
the assistance of a Geiger counter, the two scientists discover that traces of
radiation are present. Through
additional testing, they conclude the epicenter of radioactivity can be traced
to an apartment sitting directly over the shop. There they discover a corpse that has succumbed to radiation
poisoning. After checking with officials
in Washington D.C. that no government-held radioactive elements have recently gone
missing, the trail goes briefly cold. Things
heat up again when they receive reports that the radio and radar communications
systems at a local airfield have suddenly gone haywire. They’re also contacted by an exasperated cabbie
at the airport whose taxi’s engine has gone inexplicably dead - and mysteriously
magnetic. His most recent passenger, we
learn, was a somewhat distraught elderly gentleman desperately clinging to a
man with the suitcase, they soon learn, is also a scientist, Howard Denker
(Leonard Mudie). Denker, as we might
have initially suspected, is neither a foreign spy nor a Soviet saboteur. He was merely an ambitious research scientist
from Southwestern University; his cosmic creation has – much in the manner of
Frankenstein’s monster – quickly turned on him and escaped. He too is slowly dying from the ravages of
radiation poisoning. His monstrous creation
is a super-charged element with an insatiable appetite for energy. Denker cautions that his creation must be
constantly fed an electric charge or else “it will reach out with its magnetic
arms and kill anything within its reach.” The scientists arrange to have a sample of the dangerous element put in
to the Cyclotron at the State University. But the massive particle accelerator is no match for this man-made monster
of magnetism. Dr. Denker’s unstable element
is made stronger following an implosion of the Cyclotron in which two men are
killed and all energies absorbed by the creature that doubles in mass with each
A-Men finally realize what they’re up against. The element continues to aggressively feed and grow and, when starved, compensates
by swallowing all energies existing in “empty spaces.” This energy is then
converted into mass. Carlson recognizes
this chain reaction is, essentially, the same from which the universe was first
created and the planets formed. Unable
to prevent the element from continually doubling in strength and size, the
scientists warn that at such a growth rate this magnetic monster will
eventually knock the earth from its axis. When a government defense administrator suggests the creature might be disposed
of by dropping it into the ocean (ala The
Blob), he’s advised the super-heated element would likely turn the sea bed
into a blanket of steam.
only hope for mankind is, unusually, in the hands of the Canadians. Apparently, the U.S. has learned that its
neighbor to the north has built a secret nuclear energy facility some seventeen
hundred feet down a mineshaft near Nova Scotia. The Americans believe the only way to destroy the magnetic monster is to
not starve it but to overfeed it with
power generated by the facility’s Deltatron. Their plan is to allow the monster to literally
choke itself to death by pumping some 900 million volts of power into it. The Canadians aren’t too enthused with the
idea. The Deltatron’s expensive and expansive subterranean facility, its temperature
naturally regulated by surrounding sea water, has only been tested to emit some
600 million volts. The Canadians argue
that increasing the output to 900 million volts is suicidal; it would put the
infrastructure and the safety of everyone working at the facility at great
risk. More egregiously, if Dr. Stewart
is wrong in his calculation, this so-called “magnetic monster” will become so
powerful that no force on heaven or earth will ever be able to contain it.
world-famous Pinewood Studios celebrates 80 years in the film business this
year and Penguin Books have published a luxurious large-format 376-page
hardback book to commemorate the fact. Loaded with interesting stories - from
the studio's beginnings to the latest 'Star Wars' offering under the Disney
banner - it's certainly an interesting ride along the way. All of your
favourites are here: the 'Carry On', James Bond, Superman and Batman series, as
well as photos galore - many I'd not seen before (although a few captions are
incorrect) - make for an easy read without getting too bogged down with
statistics. Nice to see industry insiders being interviewed, and there are
numerous quotes from the likes of Sir Roger Moore, Barbara Broccoli, Sir Ridley
Scott, Martin Campbell, Michael G. Wilson and Michael Grade, to name but a few.
Interestingly, now that Pinewood owns the 'other' famous British studio at
Shepperton, this gets coverage, too.
Author Bob McCabe mentions first visiting
the studio in 1977 (aged 10) and seeing the American cars scattered on the
backlot following the filming of 'Superman'. Well, I was there too, Bob -
although a tad older! For those of you, like me, who have been fortunate to
visit this wonderful 'film factory', then it is worthy of a place in your
library. For those of you who will probably never pass through its portals,
then it's an even a bigger treat. Oh, and Cinema Retro gets a credit in the 'sources
of research' section! 'Pinewood: The Story of an Iconic Studio' has a cover
price of £40.00., but is currently available from Amazon UK for the bargain
price of £26.00. Now that's what I call a great Christmas present.
Released as part of "The Hollywood Collection", an independent label, "Roger Moore: A Matter of Class" is a very illuminating 1995 show that originally aired on the American cable network A&E. Running less than an hour, the show nevertheless packs considerable content into its abbreviated running time.It also benefits greatly from the participants including Sir Roger himself (though years before he earned his knighthood.) Moore provides some very funny and occasionally very moving anecdotes about growing up in WWII London where he was a rather chubby, sickly child who often bore the brunt of other kid's bullying. As a defense mechanism he adopted a philosophy of making self-deprecating jokes on the theory that no one enjoys making fun of someone who makes fun of himself. It's been a tactic that has served him well to this day. Moore also discusses his middle-class upbringing, his overly-protective parents and the trauma of existing as a child in a city that was being bombed virtually every night. Moore was also subject to the mass deportation of British children from the cities to temporary foster homes in the British countryside when the war with Germany was gearing up to full-throttle stage. In the post-war years he did a brief stint in the army before using his skills as a cartoonist to get a job in the film industry. With his almost surrealistic good looks it didn't take long for him to catch the eye of producers and Moore found his real niche in front of the cameras. Moore led a charmed life almost from the day he decided to become an actor. Things just fell into place. Even setbacks such as a short-term contract with MGM that saw him cast in forgettable films ended up luring him back to England where he enjoyed enormous success in the long-running series "The Saint". A decade later his TV series with Tony Curtis "The Persuaders" proved to be a big hit in Europe but a flop in America, leading to the show's cancellation. Here again, Moore benefited from a seemingly negative development. When the show was taken off the air, Moore was a free agent and available to accept the role of James Bond. The rest, as they say, is history.
With Tony Curtis in "The Persuaders".
Aside from providing ample film clips from Moore's films the program also shows him touring hard-hit parts of the world in his role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. For Moore this has been more than window dressing. He has worked tirelessly to raise funds for programs to help children in poverty and doubtless would like that to be the legacy he is most remembered for. The show boasts interesting insights from many of Moore's friends, family members and colleagues including his son Christian, Bond producer Michael G. Wilson, David Niven Jr, director Lewis Gilbert, Tony Curtis, Gregory Peck, actresses Maud Adams and Carroll Baker and, most poignantly, Michael Caine, who compares Moore's early years with his own hard scrabble life in East London and provides interesting insights into his friend's psyche. Although the show's technical aspects betray its age (primitive graphics and titles), its a slick and polished production. The DVD includes an extensive photo gallery of Moore's life and career though the images lack any accompanying captions, which might leave those not familiar with the nuances of his films rather frustrated. There is also a photo gallery of the show's producers in the company with many other notable people in show business and some promos for other titles in the "Hollywood Collection".
"Roger Moore: A Matter of Class" very much reflects the man himself: it's easy-going, often very funny and always engaging.
(This DVD is region-free and will play on any international system).
CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM THE CINEMA RETRO MOVIE STORE.
The web site "1966: My Favorite Year" unearthed this gem of a find: a children's record album released that year that featured Yogi Bear, the Three Stooges and a James Bond parody. Talk about something for everyone! Best of all, the site links to the entire album in audio format on YouTube. Click here to read and listen.
seemingly harmless prank by teenage girls takes a horrific turn in producer/director
William Castle’s 1965 production “I Saw What You Did”, recently released on Blu-ray by Shout!
Factory as part of their Scream! Factory line of horror titles. Libby and Kit (Andi
Garrett and Sara Lane) are baby sitting Libby’s little sister Tess when they
come up with a game taking turns choosing random phone numbers out of the phone
book and making prank calls stating, “I saw what you did, and I know who you
their first recipients is Judith Marak (Joyce Meadows). Libby asks seductively
to speak with Steve, Judith’s husband. When Judith informs Steve (John Ireland)
of the call, Steve reacts by savagely stabbing her to death. Later, he answers the
phone to hear, “I saw what you did, and I know who you are!” Steve engages the
girls and asks to meet Libby. Libby and Kit have no idea Steve has just murdered
his wife and after a few more calls agree to meet Steve still thinking they’re
engaged in a harmless game.
(Joan Crawford) is Steve’s neighbor and shows up shortly after Steve’s wife is
murdered. Apparently they’re having an affair and Steve had plans to leave his
wife and marry the wealthy widow. Amy figures out what has happened due to Steve’s
strange behavior surrounding the calls from Libby pretending to be “Suzette.”
Amy attempts to blackmail Steve into marrying her and that leads to further
dramatic deveopments. With Crawford relegated to a distinctly supporting role,
the movie relies heavily on the performances of the three young actors.
Fortunately, they come through and the sincerity of their performances gives
the film a slight edge- of -your- seat feeling, but one never gets the notion
that the girls are in any real danger. We move from prank call to concerned
parents trying to call and check on the children as we watch Steve plan his
next move. The movie features a strong supporting cast of veteran actors in
addition to Crawford and Ireland including Leif Erickson as Dave Mannering
(Libby & Tess’ father), Patricia Breslin as Ellie Mannering (their mom),
John Archer as John Austin (Kit’s father) and John Crawford as a state trooper
who comes to their inevitable rescue.
the three young actors at the center of the movie had very short careers in the
entertainment industry. Andi Garret (Libby) appeared in four episodes of “The
Wild Wild West” from 1966-68 and an episode of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” in 1976
before retiring from acting. Sarah Lane (Kit) was a regular on the TV series,
“The Virginian” from 1966-1970 appearing in 105 episodes as Elizabeth Grainger
followed by appearances in the movies “Schoolgirls in Chains” in 1973, “The
Trial of Billy Jack in 1975 and “Billy Jack Goes to Washington” in 1977 before
retiring from acting. Sharyl Locke (little sister Tess) appeared in “One Man’s
Way” and “Father Goose” in 1964 prior to “I Saw What You Did” in 1965. This was
followed by an appearance on “Burke’s Law” in 1965 and “Bonanza” in 1966 after
which she, too, retired from acting.
music by Van Alexander is entertaining, but a bit too cheerful for a thriller.
The score feels out of place and would better suite a 1960s sitcom and perhaps
it’s used as a way to underscore the innocence of the young girl’s prank. It’s
still distracting and more befitting a Haley Mills teen comedy like “The Parent
Trap” and “The Trouble with Angels” or one of the many “Beach Movies” of the
by Universal in the summer of 1965, the movie’s poster declares, “William
Castle Warns You: ‘This is a motion picture about uxoricide!’” Uxoricide is the
killing of one’s wife, but I think the word sounded more exotic than murder. This
enjoyable black & white shocker looks terrific in its widescreen
presentation with great sound and running a brief 82 minutes. Extras on the
Shout! Factory release include the cool trailer featuring producer, director
and showman William Castle informing the audience that the theater will provide
seat belts so the viewer will not be shocked out of their seat. There’s also a
photo gallery and the regular release trailer. Highly recommended for fans of
William Castle, Joan Crawford and 1960s shock thrillers.
Cinema Retro has received the following announcement from Bondstars.com in the UK:
"In 2003, the renowned American artist Jeff Marshall
(known for his James Bond work) was commissioned to create a lithograph
for Daleon Enterprises (officially sanctioned by Hammer themselves)
featuring several famous Hammer actresses - Ingrid Pitt, Caroline Munro,
Valerie Leon and Martine Beswicke.
· The first 100 of these limited edition lithographs
were signed and numbered by Jeff himself and have never been available to
· We have 006 - 100 for sale, unfortunately we
cannot accommodate requests for specific numbers.
· The lithograph measures 20" x 30" and is
printed on museum quality acid-free paper.
· The lithograph will be shipped rolled in a sturdy
“Death Valley Days” was a half-hour western anthology
series that ran for 20 years on radio starting in 1930, continued on TV for 18
seasons (1952-1970), and is still being shown on cable TV today. The series,
noted for its authentic detail and historical accuracy, was created by British
writer Ruth Woodman at the request of Pacific Coast Borax, the company that
made 20 Mule Team Borax. The company wanted a series that tied in with their detergent
product, and since Borax is principally mined in Death Valley, Woodman
suggested the series be focused on stories based on the history and geography
of that area. She made frequent trips to the borax mines and the surrounding
vicinity digging up historical tidbits that could be used as the basis for
stories. She eventually became one of the foremost experts on that period and
place in history.
For the first 11 years of its run, each episode of “Death
Valley Days” was introduced by The Old Ranger (Stanley Andrews), who would begin
by relaying some bit of historical information about Death Valley that would be
used as the basis of the story. The Old Ranger was later replaced as host by
Ronald Reagan, Robert Taylor, and Dale Robertson. These three even appeared in
some of the stories.
Timeless Media Group, a division of Shout! Factory,has
released the first season of 18 episodes from 1952 on three DVDs. The picture
quality of the episodes is astonishing, given their age. There’s no information
on the packaging to indicate if the original film elements have undergone
restoration, but all 18 episodes look brand new.
There is a variety of tales included in this first
season, and a host of familiar faces on hand from western films and TV shows of
that era. One that particularly caught my attention was an episode that would
not have aired as written in today’s politically correct world. “Swamper Ike”
features legendary stuntman/actor Jock Mahoney playing a man raised by Indians,
who wasn’t sure if he was really an Indian or a white man. The question becomes
crucial when the girl he loves, played by Margaret Field, says she won’t marry
him if he’s an Indian! She doesn’t believe a marriage between people of two
different races will work. (Margaret Field, by the way, had just married Mahoney
in real life. She already had a daughter by a previous marriage, a girl named
Sally Field.) Hired as a swamper by mule driver Hank Patterson, and given the
name Ike, Jocko is hated by Denver Pyle, his rival for Field’s affections.
There is a lot of good stunt work by Mahoney in this episode, but the
conclusion, in which, much to everyone’s great relief, Mahoney discovers that
he’s actually white and can now marry his lady love, is pretty much out of
kilter with today’s attitudes.
For its first two years on the air, “Death Valley Days”
was produced for television by Gene Autry’s Flying A Productions, which also
produced Mahoney’s Range Rider series. So, it’s no coincidence that Gail Davis,
star of Flying A’s “Annie Oakley” also appears in one of the episodes. In “The
Little Bullfrog Nugget,” she plays Mamie Jaggers, the only single woman in
Bullfrog, Nevada. All the men are vying for her attention but she can’t make up
her mind which one to marry.
“She Burns Green,” starred James Griffith and Donna
Martell as a couple prospecting for gold, but who turn to mining borax instead
when they discover rich deposits of it near them. The title is based on the
fact that you can tell if it’s borax by setting it on fire. If the flame burns
green, it’s borax.
“Self-Made Man,” starts out highlighting a rock drilling
competition among the miners, that demonstrates how they used to use hand
drills to get the borax out of the mine. But it also tells the story of a man
who loses one of his arms and thinks his life is over. As a miner, it is over,
but with the encouragement of his wife he takes up the study of law and becomes
a successful lawyer.
That’s the kind of story that the series presented most
of the time—gritty, realistic tales that showed the harshness of life in Death
Valley but which ultimately show the good guys wresting some sort of triumph
out of their hardships. Woodman’s writing may be well researched, but her plots
and characters are pretty simplistic. The acting is as good as can be expected.
“Death Valley Days” is an interesting piece of television
history. There were a total of 296 episodes filmed over 20 years, and it
remains to be seen how many more episodes will be forthcoming on DVD.
It isn't often that you might expect to read the word "delightful" in a review of a Charles Bronson movie but "From Noon Till Three" is just that: a delightful 1976 send-up of the traditional Western genre. In fact it seems like this was the year in which numerous revisionist Westerns were released. They included "Buffalo Bill and the Indians", "The Outlaw Josey Wales", "The Missouri Breaks" and John Wayne's final film, "The Shootist". By 1976 Charles Bronson was an established screen presence for about two decades.He was a familiar face to American movie-goers who liked his work as a supporting actor but it was the European market that elevated him to star status. Bronson finally began to get top-billing in Westerns and action films and became reasonably popular in America. But it was the 1974 release of his smash hit "Death Wish" that saw him soar to the level of superstar. The film was a mixed blessing. Bronson made some good films in the following years but eventually succumbed to the lure of a quick pay check, cranking out low-end urban crime movies that were often as absurd as they were over-the-top. "From Noon Till Three" allows Bronson and his real life wife and frequent co-star Jill Ireland a rare opportunity to flex their comedic muscles, which they do impressively.
Bronson plays Graham Dorsey, a member of small time gang of bandits who are riding into a one-horse town to rob the bank. The film's opening is quite eerie as the bandits become unnerved when they discover there isn't a single living soul anywhere in the town. This sets in motion a "Twilight Zone"-like beginning that is quickly explained as a nightmare Dorsey is suffering, but is none-the-less quite effective for grabbing the viewer's attention. When the gang nears the actual town, Dorsey's horse goes lame and must be shot. He rides double with another bandit until they reach the opulent mansion house of Amanda (Jill Irleand), an attractive widow who resides in the countryside with only a maid and servant as companions. When the bandits arrive on her doorstep, she is home alone and is understandably filled with anxiety being in the company of the men, who demand she give them a horse. She lies and says she doesn't have one- and Dorsey validates her story, opting to stay behind at the house while the robbery takes place. He finds Amanda very desirable but none-the-less acts like a gentleman- though as her tough facade fades, she becomes susceptible to his charm. Dorsey claims he suffers from incurable impotence, a ploy that works when Amanda finally volunteers to "cure" him. This results in the pair spending several heavenly hours together enjoying sexual adventures and falling in love. When word reaches Amanda that Dorsey's fellow bandits have been captured, she implores him to try to save them from hanging. Dorsey pretends to ride to their rescue, but instead bushwhacks a traveling con man and adopts his identity. The other man is mistaken for Dorsey and shot dead by a posse. Dorsey is ironically arrested because the man he is impersonating is also wanted by the law. Got all that? Things get really complicated when Dorsey spends a year in prison, studying (ironically) how to be a banker. He intends to return to Amanda and live their dream of moving to Boston, where he can get a job as a bank manager. When he returns to the woman he has been obsessing over for the last year, the reception he receives from her is something less than welcoming. Seems that since she believed Dorsey was dead, she set about memorializing him in a memoir titled "From Noon Till Three", a scandalous record of the hours in which they made love and fell in love. In the book, Amanda relates tall tales about Dorsey's crime exploits that he had previously bragged about...and she takes a bit of intentional creative license by describing him as an elegant, dashing man when, in fact, he looks like what he is: a saddle tramp. To say much more would spoil the fun. Suffice it to say that the film really kicks into gear when Dorsey discovers that Amanda's memoir has become an international sensation and she is idolized worldwide by both men and women. She doesn't have much incentive to now admit that Dorsey is not only alive and well but also falls considerable short of the handsome hunk the world has come to imagine.
"From Noon Till Three" is stylishly directed by Frank D. Gilroy and its based upon his novel of the same name. Gilroy had the magic touch in terms of bringing out the best in both Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland, both of whom rarely had an opportunity to demonstrate their flair for light comedy and they are both terrific. Gilroy, who also penned the screenplay, took advantage of a new era of cynicism in major films and "From Noon Till Three" proved to be far ahead of its time in predicting how the general public can be bamboozled into believing urban legends if they are marketed creatively enough. (Coincidentally, Paddy Chayefsky's "Network", released the same year, took an equally cynical view of the current day TV news industry.) The movie is a wealth of small pleasures and unexpected plot turns and boasts a fine score by Elmer Bernstein and impressive camerawork by Lucien Ballard, not to mention an impressive mansion house set by Robert Clatworthy. I don't want to overstate the merits of the film but I do want to point out that even if you're not a Bronson fan you should give this one a try.
Twilight Time has released "From Noon Till Three" as a limited edition Blu-ray of 3,000 units. It includes the original trailer, an isolated score track and an informative collector's booklet with notes by Julie Kirgo.
Writing in the Daily Beast, Wayne Curtis provides an excellent article about W.C. Fields' drinking habits on and off film sets- and how the habit not only enhanced his career but played a role in ending Prohibition.
If ever an epic deserved the Blu-ray deluxe treatment, Fox's 1970 Pearl Harbor spectacular is it. The film was a major money-loser for the studio at the time and replicated the experience of Cleopatra from a decade before in that this single production threatened to bankrupt the studio. Fox had bankrolled a number of costly bombs around this period including Doctor Doolittle, Hello, Dolly and Star! Fortunately, they also had enough hits (Patton, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, M*A*S*H, the Planet of the Apes series) to stay afloat. However, the Tora! debacle cost both Fox chairman Darryl F. Zanuck and his son, production head Richard Zanuck, their jobs. Ironically, Darryl F. Zanuck had saved the studio a decade before by finally bringing Cleopatra to a costly conclusion and off-setting losses with spectacular grosses from his 1962 D-Day blockbuster The Longest Day. By 1966, Zanuck and that film's producer Elmo Williams decided they could make lightning strike twice by using the same formula to recreate the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The project seemed jinxed from the beginning. Skyrocketing costs and logistical problems delayed filming until 1969. By then, America's outlook about war movies had changed radically due to the burgeoning anti-Vietnam movement. Zanuck and Williams also forgot one important distinction between The Longest Day and Tora! Tora! Tora!: the former was about a major Allied victory while the latter was about a tremendous defeat. Americans generally stay away from military movies that depict anything other than glorious victories and Tora! was no exception. Critics were also lukewarm and the only saving grace was that the film performed spectacularly in Japan, largely because it presented both sides of the conflict on a non-judgmental level.
of the great director Federico Fellini’s more curious motion pictures is his
1972 part-documentary/part-fictional collage that consists of “impressions” of
Rome, both past and present. In many ways, it is the middle chapter of a
trilogy that comprises Fellini Satyricon (1969)
and Amarcord (1973), although not
many film historians view them as such.
Roma is a love letter, so
to speak, to Italy’s capital city. The film takes place in three time periods—sometime
during the 1930s, the war years, and the present (i.e., 1971-72, when the movie
was made). It is also very much a product of its time, when the counter-culture
movement was still in full swing. The modern sequences of Roma are populated by “hippies” and long-haired youth, as well as
motorcyclists, intellectuals (Gore Vidal makes an appearance as himself), and
Fellini as himself. The sequences cut
back and forth from the past to the present, presenting a story-less narrative
that is jumbled and episodic; but the visuals of cartoonish decadence and
surreal settings make up a fascinating piece of celluloid.
of the faces in the film—and I do mean “faces,” because Fellini always cast the
most absurd caricatures as extras in his later pictures—are recognizable in Amarcord (easily one of the director’s
best works). Anna Magnani provides allegedly her last screen appearance at the
end of Roma, where she tells the narrator
(Fellini, presumably) to go away and leave her alone. Many Fellini-esque
hallmarks abound in the movie—feuding families, grotesque prostitutes, and irreverent
1930s-40s sequences are autobiographical. A young man arrives in Rome to be a
journalist (as Fellini did), and stays with a large family that his mother
knows. He explores the city, visits brothels, and goes to music hall
performances. The present day scenes are more documentary-like, following the
director and a film crew around the city as they shoot a traffic jam, the
excavation of an ancient Roman home, and—the highlight of the movie—a
wacked-out fashion show for priests, nuns, and bishops. Totally bizarre.
Criterion Collection presents a 2K digital restoration of the international
version of the picture (120 minutes). The long-lost original Italian cut was
seventeen minutes longer, but these deleted scenes are included as supplements
(as restored as possible). The feature comes with an uncompressed monaural
soundtrack, as well as an audio commentary by Frank Burke, author of Fellini’s Films.
supplements include new interviews with filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino on Fellini’s
influence, and poet and Fellini friend Valerio Magrelli. There’s a collection
of Felliniana (posters, artwork) from the archive of collector Don Young, and
the theatrical trailer. An essay by film scholar David Forgacs adorns the
Fellini’s Roma is a mess of a film,
to be sure, but it’s always fun to play in a mess made by Fellini. It is a
welcome addition to Criterion’s stable of excellent cinema.
The web site www.filmbuffonline.com reports that the 1984 feature film "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension" is now the subject of a law suit between MGM and the film's director W.D. Richter and screenwriter Earl Mach Rauch. Richter and Rauch claim they should have ownership of rights to the characters they created for the movie. MGM disagrees and intends to proceed with a "Buckaroo" TV project that Richter and Rauch oppose on the basis that their permission has not been sought and that they would not be financially compensated. At the heart of their argument is that the contract for the 1984 film failed to include a standard clause that would have given Rauch underlying rights to the characters especially since some were created prior to the studio having even been approached to produce the film version. MGM has responded by filing suit in the hope that the studio will receive a declarative judgment affirming their rights to proceed with the TV project. Got all that? If so, then add this into the mix: director Kevin Smith was attached to the TV project but has now publicly stated that he is dropping out because he doesn't want to be part of any effort that Richter and Rauch are not involved with. The irony is that all this back-and-forth is over a movie that was a bomb with critics and the public at the time of its initial release but which has accumulated a loyal cult following over the years. For more, check out the filmbuffonline.com article by clicking here.
Christmas 1970 on the horizon, the UK’s thrilling new sci-fi TV show UFO was
well underway. Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's first live-action series, it was set
in the future and revolved around the activities of the Supreme Headquarters
Alien Defence Organisation (SHADO), a covert agency presided over by Commander
Ed Straker (Ed Bishop) to fend off alien attacks on mankind. As a wide-eyed 8-year-old
I was hooked and I can recall wishing two things. One was that I could have one
of the Dinky Toys’ missile-firing SHADO Interceptors, which I thought then (and
still think now) was the coolest among the incredible array of vehicles that
appeared in the show; I’d not be nearly as forgiving today as I was back then
that Dinky had manufactured it in garish green, where the ‘real’ ones on TV
were white. The other wish was that I could somehow watch UFO whenever I wanted
instead of having to wait the week-long eternity between each episode. Now, the
first of these wishes had a pretty good chance of being granted, after all
Christmas was coming and if it didn't materialise then it would only be a few
months more until my birthday. The second wish was… well, frankly it was silly;
the only way to watch episodes whenever one wanted would be to own them and
that was beyond the realms of possibility, literally the stuff of dreams.
Yet here's the thing: Although I never did get that Interceptor toy, almost 20
years later, thanks to a TV run in the early hours of the morning during the
late 1980s, I got to own every episode on video. Then along came the wonders of
DVD and a spiffy Network box set release which suddenly made those
dropout-impaired, off-air VHS recordings completely redundant. It's now almost
half a century since UFO first aired on television in the UK and Christmas has
truly come early this year with Network's upgrade of the show to sparkling
the 1960s the Andersons were best known for a slew of action shows aimed at
children with marionettes as their stars – Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds
and Captain Scarlet remain among the most fondly remembered – and, aside from 1969
TV movie Doppelgänger (aka Journey to the Far Side of the Sun), UFO was their
first dalliance with live-action. It was also their first move towards
something aimed at a more mature audience, its storylines touching upon some distinctly
adult themes; not only was there the ever-present core threat of aliens
abducting humans and harvesting their organs to sustain their dying race, there
were flirtations with adultery, divorce, interracial romance and the
recreational use of hallucinogenic drugs, a facet which prevented the final
episode, “The Long Sleep”, from being screened during the series' initial run;
it eventually showed up some two years later. The very appearance of the aliens
was disconcertingly sinister, sporting eerie liquid-filled helmets, the viscous
green fluid therein enabling them to breathe. Additionally, the characters
regularly made flawed decisions and not all the stories concluded happily. There
was also a pervasive frisson of sexuality throughout the series; not only were most
of SHADO’s female personnel clad in rather provocative attire, in the first
15-minutes of the show’s pilot episode alone a woman fleeing from aliens tears her
dress and exposes her underwear, moments later there’s a protracted tracking
shot of a young woman's shapely legs as she walks across the studio forecourt, then
Gabrielle Drake performs a semi-striptease (to accompanying wah-wah organ music).
Of course, as a futuristic action series it was still going to harbour huge
appeal with a younger audience and whilst the heavier plot tropes would probably
have by-passed most kids, throwaway dialogue such as "These clouds give
about as much cover as a G-String on a belly dancer" almost certainly flew
right over their heads; at 8-years-old I doubt I even knew what a belly dancer
was, let alone a G-String!
Ed Bishop and Ayesha Brough
and co-creator (with Sylvia) of UFO, Gerry Anderson also wrote and directed the
first episode, "Identified". Other directors on the series were David
Lane (8 episodes), Ken Turner (6 episodes), Alan Perry (5 episodes), Jeremy
Summers and David Tomblin (2 episodes each), and Cyril Frankel and Ron Appleton
(a single episode each). As with any series there are great stories and
not-so-great stories, but there isn't a single entry in UFO's run that doesn't
have something intriguing going on. Among my personal favourites are Frankel's
"Timelash", in which Straker arrives at SHADO HQ and finds the entire
establishment frozen in time; Turner's "Ordeal", which finds a key
SHADO member abducted by the aliens and turned into one of their own; Lane's
"A Question of Priorities", in which Straker is torn between the
responsibility of his job and a tragedy in his personal life; and Summers'
"The Psychobombs", wherein the aliens turn several humans into living
up the cast, Ed Bishop was the only actor to participate in all 26 episodes but
there were regular appearances by a handful of others, among them Michael
Billington (as Colonel Paul Foster), George Sewell (as Colonel Alec Freeman), Dolores
Mantez (as Nina Barry), Antonia Ellis (as Joan Harrington), Vladek Sheybal (as Dr
Doug Jackson), the aforementioned Gabrielle Drake (as Lieutenant Gay Ellis), Keith
Alexander (as Lieutenant Keith Ford), Wanda Ventham (as Colonel Virginia Lake)
and Ayesha Brough (who, despite the fact she appeared in 19 episodes, was
curiously never given the courtesy of a name).
first of only three films for which Peter Fonda took up residence in the
director's chair – the others being Idaho Transfer (1973) and Wanda Nevada
(1979) – unconventional western The Hired Hand (1971)is the jewel of the triad. A
couple of fleeting outbursts of violence aside, it's heavy on gentle drama and
light on shoot-'em-up action, as such more a thinking man’s western than one whose
white hats and blackguards are clearly defined from the outset and proceed to
serve up a profusion of rapid-fire gunfights with bounteous squirts of ketchup.
an upsetting incident which prompts him to reflect on his life choices, drifter
Harry Collings (Peter Fonda) informs his travelling companions Arch Harris
(Warren Oates) and Dan Griffen (Robert Pratt) that he's decided to return home
to the wife and daughter he deserted six years earlier. Before they can part
ways Dan is shot by a man who claims he assaulted his wife, which alters Arch’s
plans; instead of riding out to the coast he accompanies Harry back to his
homestead where, unsurprisingly, they're met with some disdain by his wife
Hannah (Verna Bloom). She softens a little, however, and agrees to take on the
pair as hired hands. As time passes and the bonds of Harry and Hannah's
relationship strengthen, Arch begins to feel like a third wheel and announces
his intention to hit the trail, whereafter Harry finds himself faced with a deadly
situation that will test his loyalties to the zenith.
unequivocal critical success when it was released in 1971, it's a little perplexing
to learn that The Hired Hand passed broadly unacknowledged on the awards
circuit, not so much in respect of wins – there were none – but more in that it
received only 2 nominations; both were derived from critics' awards ceremonies
and both were for Warren Oates as ‘Best Supporting Actor’. In any event,
deserved as those nominations were, even though he was technically playing
second fiddle to Fonda, to pigeonhole Oates as the movie’s supporting actor
wasn’t exactly fair; he enjoys easily as much screen time as his co-star and,
due in part to Alan Sharp's elegant script, I'd suggest as characterisation
goes Arch Harris is far more interesting than his phlegmatic comrade and Oates
gets to overshadow Fonda in every respect. High Plains Drifter's Verna Bloom
also gives a memorable performance as the slightly dowdy yet subtly sensual Hannah
Collings, outwardly toughened by circumstance but warm and caring beneath. Meanwhile
Severn Darden, perhaps best remembered as Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’
baddie Kolp (a role he reprised in Battle for...), makes for a splendid if underused
malefactor; he’s so deliciously venomous that one hankers to see more of
picture was beautifully shot by Vilmos Zsigmond (later Oscar-winner for his cinematography
on Close Encounters of the Third Kind), with a profusion of freeze-frame transition
dissolves and exquisite chocolate-box sunsets that are joyous to behold. Folk
musician Bruce Langhorne's debut film score is evocative of the very essence of
western movies and his banjo-driven opener is nothing if not a triumphant
his success as star and co-writer on Easy Rider, Peter Fonda was in a position
to do whatever he wanted; that his directorial debut should birth The Hired
Hand – a film so accomplished, with such genuine depth of emotion and richness
of character – shows the measure of the man’s talent and one might lament that
opportunities to expand on it were to subsequently prove so scant. The aforementioned
deficit of action means it probably won't be to everyone's taste, especially
those seeking a more traditional western. But those who enjoy a thoughtful,
leisurely-paced tale of the Unforgiven ilk are likely to feel well rewarded.
of The Hired Hand should be thoroughly delighted by Arrow Academy's dual format
Blu-Ray/DVD package. The movie is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio with 1.0
mono sound and certainly looks better than it ever has. Peter Fonda provides a
feature accompanying commentary and the plentiful supplements comprise a
59-minute in-depth documentary from 2003 (which includes interviews with Fonda,
Verna Bloom, Vilmos Zsigmond and Bruce Langhorne), a second documentary from
1978 (which runs 52-minutes and focuses on a trio of Scottish screenwriters,
the pertinent one being Alan Sharp), a 2-minute to-camera piece in which Martin
Scorsese enthuses about the film, five deleted scenes (presented 4:3, with a
combined runtime of around 20-minutes, one of which features Larry Hagman and
places a different slant on Arch’s reasons for upping sticks and departing the
Collings ranch), an alternate edit of the finale, a 1971 audio recording of
Fonda and Warren Oates at the NFT, a generous selection of trailers, radio and
TV spots, and a stills gallery. The release also benefits from the now standard
(for Arrow’s releases) reversible sleeve art and souvenir booklet.
The Youtube channel for Listopedia provides a sobering look back at ten stars who died tragically on set. The inclusion of Clark Gable, however, is a bit of a stretch. While there is no doubt that Gable's exhausting activities in the making of "The Misfits" contributed to his death, he did not pass away until shooting had been completed.
The Warner Archive has released the highly enjoyable 1975 caper film Inside Out and it should appeal to fans of both The Italian Job (the good version from '69!) and Kelly's Heroes. The wisecracking cast of old pros is topped by Telly Savalas, Robert Culp and James Mason. The latter plays the commandant of a German POW camp in which Savalas was interred. He tracks Savalas down thirty years later and finds him as a high-living con-man in London whose luck has run out. He entices him to participate in an audacious scheme to infiltrate a maximum security prison in Berlin to locate its sole inhabitant: a former high ranking Nazi who has knowledge of where a stolen shipment of German army gold has been hidden for decades. The elaborate plan involves drugging the prisoner, smuggling him out of jail, convincing him he is back in WWII (complete with Hitler impersonator!), getting the necessary information and then smuggling him back inside the jail. Obviously, if logic matters tremendously to you, this isn't your kind of movie. However, if you're able to suspend belief for a few scenes, you'll find this a highly rewarding and very entertaining film. Ironically, the central absurdity- that the Allies would have an entire heavily guarded prison simply to watch over one inmate- is based on fact, as this was precisely the case with Hitler top henchman Rudolf Hess, who was the only inmate of Spandau prison. The three leads are all in top form, as is Aldo Ray, who seems to be in virtually every movie released by the Warner Archive. Director Peter Duffell gets maximum impact from locations in London, Amsterdam and Berlin. The movie moves along at breakneck pace and has some genuinely suspenseful sequences, not to mention some very amusing dialogue. A good bet for all true retro movie lovers. (The DVD is region-free).
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As he prepares to accept honors at the Kennedy Center on December 4 with President Obama and the First Lady in attendance, Al Pacino talks about his long, mostly illustrious career to Karen Heller of the Washington Post. We say "mostly illustrious" because the notoriously private Pacino admits to having built a "museum of mistakes" in relation to the roles he turned down in what turned out to be classic movies. Among them: "Taxi Driver", "Pretty Woman", "Kramer Vs. Kramer" and a little picture called "Star Wars". His first big break, playing Michael Corleone in "The Godfather", resulted in him almost being fired by the studio- and even Pacino admits he thought he was all wrong for the role. Click here to read.
Pacino says that Paramount tried to fire him three times from "The Godfather".