It's doubtful that Hitchcock, the much-anticipated film about the making of Psycho, will set boxoffice records with the same audiences that flocked to see the Hangover movies. But for anyone hooked on classy, art house films this is looking to be as good as it gets, based upon some new photos released by Fox Searchlight. They depict Anthony Hopkins in the titular role, Helen Mirren, virtually unrecognizable as his wife and collaborator Alma, James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins and Scarlett Johannsson, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Janet Leigh. To view click here
Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell presents the original theatrical trailer for Clint Eastwood's moody and ominous 1973 Western High Plains Drifter. You can watch the trailer in its original format or watch it with an audio commentary from writer/director Edgar Wright, who gives his opinion of the Eastwood-directed flick. Click here to view
The new book Elizabeth Taylor: A Shining Legacy on Film pays tribute to the screen legend through publication of some rare photos highlighting her in key roles and behind the scenes on film sets. Click here to view slideshow.
The new romantic comedy ("romcom" for you hipsters) Excuse Me for Living represents the first feature film by Ric Klass, at least in terms of getting any meaningful distribution. (His prior excursion into filmmaking was the little-seen Elliott Fauman, PhD. back in 1990.) The indie movie goes into theatrical release in select theaters nationwide this week. The film traces the tangled relationships between young New Yorkers, with the emphasis focusing on Dan (Tom Pelphrey), a privileged Gen X'er who nonetheless suffers from severe depression and a penchant for self-destructive behavior. When the film opens, we find him about to leap to his death from a bridge. Saved by a cop, he is "sentenced" to a rehab clinic run by a strict, but compassionate psychiatrist (Robert Vaughn), who attempts to form a personal bond with the troubled young man. Dan agrees to join a therapy group comprised entirely of elderly men, each of whom reveals their own personal demons. Dan is accepted by the group, but his rebellious nature gets the better of him. Before long, he's being lured back to his old ways. He sneaks out to attend wild parties at the home of a snobby friend and even starts an affair with his own psychiatrist's daughter. The episodic nature of the film provides both strengths and weaknesses. On the plus side, we're introduced to some interesting characters, well played by a talented cast of largely unknown actors and actresses. Pelphrey is especially good in the lead role, but he gets able assistance from Melissa Archer and Ewa Da Cruz as the femme fatales who wreak havoc on his his troubled mind by offering a continuous string of sexual temptations. On the other hand, Klass, who also wrote the screenplay, introduces so many characters and relationships that the viewer sometimes can't follow who is doing what with whom. Klass doesn't strive for belly laughs, instead concentrates on amusing situations and poignant and often moving dramatic aspects to the storyline. Best of all, he brings together some terrific veteran actors, all seen in their largest big screen roles in years. Vaughn, in particular, makes the most of his considerable screen time, bringing grace and dignity to a complex role. It's great to see him in a lead role on the big screen again. Seinfeld almuni Jerry Stiller (playing a relatively subdued and realistic character) and Wayne Knight are also on hand, along with Christopher Lloyd, whose usual crazy guy shtick is quite amusing. There is also enough mildly kinky sex and scantily-clad women to appeal to guys who might otherwise think this is a chick flick. In fact, it's a smart, witty comedy that should have special appeal to young, urban audiences. The movie also has a rich look to the production design and is crisply photographed and impressively edited.
Excuse Me For Living makes for a fine directorial debut for Klass. Here's hoping he has a second act in the works.
Click here to visit the official web site for the film
Monster Party is
a relatively obscure stop-motion animated musical treat from 1967 that many
non-genre fans are unaware of.Aimed at
children, it is the creation of Rankin and Bass, the production team
responsible for so many holiday television specials including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus
is Comin’ to Town, The Little Drummer Boy, and The Year Without a Santa Claus.Unlike these specials, however, Mad
Monster Party made the rounds to movie theaters as a feature-length film
for Saturday and Sunday matinees.It’s the
obvious inspiration for Tim Burton's The
Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), boasting an infectious musical score that
sticks in your head long after the movie is over.
Baron Boris von Frankenstein, the lead
character who is voiced by Boris Karloff in one of his last roles, decides to
hang up his lab coat and hand his castle and duties over to his less-than-capable
nephew Felix Flankin (Allen Swift) who can’t seem to do anything right.He plans to make this announcement at a
gathering of monsters that includes a dim-witted monster of his own creation,
the monster's mate (voiced by Phyllis Diller), his lab assistant Francesca
(Gale Garnett), Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Dracula, the Werewolf, the Creature
from the Black Lagoon, The Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the
Mummy, a King Kong-like ape, and a creepy-looking Peter Lorre look-alike.Naturally, Felix goofs up everything, which
causes the monsters to conspire to eliminate him and find out the secret that Baron
Frankenstein his unearthed.
Monster Party was
originally released on Embassy Home Entertainment in the mid-1980s and was
sourced from a dark 16mm print, much like its rare television airings.The opening credits referred to the
availability of a soundtrack album, however one was never released at the time.
It took nearly 20 years for a now-defunct
record company, Percepto Records, to finally issue the music on compact disc,
which is now long out of print but can be found if you look hard enough on eBay.Unfortunately, the film's original camera negative
was reportedly water-damaged many years ago, rendering it unusable. Whether or
not it still exists is anybody's guess, but fortunately a pristine 35mm print,
which possesses a minimal amount of dirt and scratches at the head and tail of
each reel, has survived and was used for the new Blu-ray/DVD combo release which
is now available from Lionsgate.The
Blu-ray is a revelation and the film has never looked this good before.It is framed in the 4 x 3 (1.33:1) ratio, but
on widescreen monitors and televisions the image can easily be expanded to 16 x
9 (1.78:1) without looking contorted.
Both the Blu-ray and the DVD have the
following extras that have been ported over from the Lionsgate DVD-only release
Monster Party: Making of a Cult Classic" featurette (14:47)
Sheer Animagic! Secrets of Stop-Motion Animation" featurette with Mark
Caballero and Seamus Walsh (9:35)
Ghouls: The Music of Mad Monster Party" featurette with Maury Laws (3:45)
bonus sing-along tracks for kids of all ages: "Our Time to Shine” and
"One Step Ahead"
The new Blu-ray is a worthy step up
from the standard DVD and worth the purchase.This will make a great addition to one’s collection, especially for Halloween.
Retro Screams: Terror in the New
Millennium by Christopher T. Koetting
Books, Paperback, £18,95)
Chainsaw 3D is released early next year it will simply be another film in a
long line of remakes, re-imaginings, sequels or prequels that Hollywood appears
to be churning out non-stop these days. For many this production line of
remakes represents a dearth of originality in the mainstream studios. Hollywood
has become a corporate entity afraid of anything but the safest possible bet,
turning in on itself and it's back-catalogue of recognisable titles which still
have some form of cultural recognition amongst potential audiences today.
In his new book
Christopher T. Koetting catalogues many of this recent spate of remakes,
comparing their origins and productions to those of the originals. It is
somewhat alarming to be be reminded in print form just how many remakes there
have been. Retro Screams covers eighteen different films in detail
dating back to 2003, when the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre was
released, which seemingly opened the remake floodgates. Since then we have had
classics like The Fog and Halloween (both 2005) revisited, along
with lesser-known slasher titles like Prom Night (2008) and Black
are dedicated to John Carpenter, Wes Craven and George A. Romero respectively,
whose works have been ruthlessly plundered with varying degrees of success.
Koetting documents how little or how much involvement these original directors
had this time around (Craven has acted as producer on The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
and The Last House on the Left (2009) for example). The author proposes
to demonstrate whether these new versions are justified by comparing plot
details and development information, along with extensive quotes from writers
and directors. Due to a lack of footnotes or references it is difficult to
ascertain how many of these were from interviews he conducted himself, or
whether they are simply cribbed from articles and press releases. This lack of
referencing is one of the book's most serious commissions, as it makes it
difficult to judge for oneself how seriously to take some of these quotations.
The book makes
interesting reading if you have seen either the originals or the remakes being
discussed. However, if you are a fan of these films the chances are that you
will already know most of the stories surrounding the productions, particularly
as Koetting appears to have mostly gathered this information from sources
already easily available. He also appears to sit on the fence regarding the
need for remakes, and this lack of a satisfying conclusion leaves the reader
wondering just exactly what the point of this book is.
Although the idea
of the horror film remake is not a recent phenomenon (let's not forget that the
best of the Hammer horrors were all remakes of Universal), Retro Screams
reminds us that for better or worse, Hollywood is going to keep plundering
titles with any sort of recognition, and it is a minor miracle when ideas with
any originality make it into production.
Twilight Time has released writer/director Ken Annakin's whimsical homage to the daredevils of early flight, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, as a limited edition (3,000 units) Blu-ray. Typical of Twilight Time releases, the transfer is gorgeous. The only previous attempt to do justice to this gorgeous-looking 1965 film was Fox's ancient laser disc edition. Annakin channeled his boyhood fascination with flying into something constructive: an ambitious, big-budget movie. He was not only a talented director of actors, but he could also direct traffic, too, as evidenced by his admirable work on such epic movies as The Longest Day and Battle of the Bulge. The story is set in 1910 England and finds Robert Morley as a pompous millionaire who offers a sizable sum for the first international flyer who can soar from London to Paris. The 22-mile Channel crossing is considered to be death-defying but nevertheless attracts fearless flyers from across the globe. Part of the fun in watching the film is in Annakin's good-natured tweaking of cultural stereotypes. The British are stiff traditionalists, the Frenchman is an inexhaustible lover, the manic Italian copes with Waltons-size family and nagging wife, the German is a humorless bureaucrat and the American a swaggering cowboy. Each of these daring young men has constructed his own aircraft and they make for a very erratic and often humorous sight. Yet, the claptrap creations manage to get into the air, though with decidedly mixed results. Annakin actually had these Rube Goldberg contraptions built from scratch and they actually did fly, resulting in some of the most spectacular aerial footage ever filmed. He is aided an abetted by a wonderful international cast. The leads are Stuart Whitman, James Fox and Sarah Miles, but the real fun comes from the spirited group of second bananas: Gert Frobe, Alberto Sordi, Terry-Thomas, Robert Morley, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Eric Sykes, Benny Hill and Red Skelton among them. The film boasts a marvelously catchy theme song and wonderful score by Ron Goodwin, as well as the creative titles sequence by artist Ronald Searle. The Blu-ray preserves the original intermission and provides a number of original trailers and TV spots as well as an informative commentary track by Annakin that has been salvaged from obscurity from the laser disc release. Julie Kirgo provides the informative liner notes in the accompanying, well-illustrated booklet.
They don't make aircraft like this any more and they certainly don't make enjoyable epics like this, either.
Produced by Alexandre Poncet, Co-produced by Tony Dalton
Featuring Ray Harryhausen, Tony Dalton, James Cameron, Terry Gilliam, John Landis, Nick Park, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Tim Burton,
Joe Dante, Guillermo Del Toro
Release date: At cinemas from 9th November 2012
Running time: 94 mins
“I think all of us who
are practitioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now, all
feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s
contribution to the collective dreamscape we wouldn’t be who we are.” James Cameron
remarkable career of the movie industry’s most admired and influential
special-effects auteur, the legendary Ray Harryhausen, is the subject of Gilles
Penso’s definitive documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan.
Leaving no doubt as to Harryhausen’s seminal
influence on modern-day special effects, the documentary features enlightening
and entertaining interviews with the man himself,Randy Cook, Peter Jackson, Nick Park,
Phil Tippet, Terry Gilliam, Dennis Muren,
John Landis, Guillermo Del Toro, James
Cameron, Steven Spielberg and
many more. These filmmakers, who today push the boundaries of special effects
movie-making, pay tribute to the grandfather of Stop Motion animation and films
such as ‘The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms’, ‘It Came From
Beneath The Sea’, ‘The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad’, ‘Mysterious Island’, ‘Jason
And The Argonauts’ and ‘The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad’ – the films that
enthralled them as children and inspired them to becomefilmmakers in their own right.
The interviews are combined with archival
footage and contemporary clips plus the added delight of behind-the-scenes
footage, stills and original drawings plus recently discovered unseen takes of
tests and experiments. The filmmakers were granted unprecedented
access to film all aspects of The Ray Harryhausen Collection including models,
artwork and miniatures as well as Ray's private study, where he designed most
of his creations, and his workshop where he built them.
This story of how a hobby became a profession,
from Ray’s first childhood experiments with dinosaurs made in his parents
garage, to the ground-breaking techniques he developed to intricately
interweave Stop Motion animation with live action and the birth of Dynamation
viewing for any fan of science-fiction, fantasy and adventure filmmaking.
and his movies transport us to the magical other worlds of ancient mythology in
the company of fantastical creatures such as the Talos, the Cyclops, the
Skeletons and the Kali without which the likes of Avatar, Jurassic Park, Star
Wars and The Lord Of The Rings would not even have been imagined. The
documentary reveals the painstaking detail, concentration and patience required
to do by hand, what a computer now creates artificially in seconds, and it was
all one man. A lost art, perhaps, but Ray Harryhausen’s influence will resonate
for many generations to come.
Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan
(Arrow Films) is released at cinemas
from 9th November 2012.
(1982) opened on Friday, June 11, 1982 and was considered to be a small and
personal film by director Steven Spielberg.It was also the first movie that I recall being released on multiple
screens at the same theater simultaneously and this widespread exhibition of
the film, in addition to word-of-mouth, was no doubt partially responsible for
making E.T. the top-grossing film of
Filmed under the original title of A Boy’s Life in late 1981, E.T. was written by screenwriter Melissa
Matheson of The Black Stallion (1979)
fame, and the fact that the title was changed illustrates the switching of
focus from Elliott (Henry Thomas) to the little alien creature whose plight
captured the world.A beautifully
crafted story about childhood,
loneliness and growing up was brought to life by perhaps the only filmmaker who
could have done it justice.Mr.
Spielberg had been fascinated by outer space since the night he and his father
looked up at the stars in his backyard.As a teenager, he made an ambitious, 140-minute film called Firelight (1964) about UFOs.Years later, his own Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) acted as a sort of
follow-up to it, and E.T. was
inspired by the idea of one of the aliens at the end of this film being left
behind.The product of divorced parents,
Mr. Spielberg has claimed that E.T.
is the only script he has read and wanted to make immediately without major
The performances by everyone involved
are wonderful.Mr. Spielberg always
manages to get authentic reactions from his child actors.Who can forget Barry Guiler’s (Cary Guffey) look
of wonder (accomplished by Mr. Spielberg dressing up as a rabbit off-screen) in
Close Encounters when aliens raid his
mom’s kitchen?Here, the director really shines, especially
with Elliott’s little sister Gertie, played by six year old Drew Barrymore.
E.T. has not lost any of its original charm
or wonder, nor does the film feel dated in any way.In 2002, the director made significant
changes to the original version by adding an additional scene with E.T. in the
bathtub by way of computer-generated imagery.He also removed the guns from the hands of the men seen near the film’s
end who take over Elliott's house. He replaced the guns with walkie-talkies,
thus outraging purists. Fortunately, the Blu-ray is the original 1982 version
without these changes.
The film would not have made the impact
that it had were it not for John Williams’ wonderful score.He has created a main theme for E.T. that simply makes the onscreen
action soar.The special effects team is
to be commended as well for their ability to take a rubber and mechanical
puppet and turn it into a living, breathing creature with emotions.
there is a drawback to the Blu-ray set, it is the exclusion of Harrison Ford's
role as Elliott's school principal. The
director had shot a scene where Elliott is sent to the principal’s office
following the frog dissection fiasco sequence, and Elliott’s principal (Ford) asks
him why he behaved the way he did.Since
E.T. is a film about children and how
they see the world, adults (with the exception of Dee Wallace as Elliott’s
mother) are seen in synecdoche, their faces obscured.The principal was filmed this way, but the
director cut the scene feeling it was extraneous.The only time this footage ever surfaced to
my knowledge was in the deluxe CAV laser disc edition that was produced in
limited quantities in 1996.As far as I
know, no VHS, DVD, or any other video format has ever offered up this footage,
but you can see a low resolution transfer of it here on Youtube.
Blu-ray comes with a standard DVD and a digital copy of the film in addition to
Steven Spielberg & E.T. (HD, 13 minutes)
The E.T. Journals (HD, 54 minutes)
Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 minutes)
A Look Back (SD, 38 minutes)
The Evolution and Creation of E.T. (SD, 50 minutes)
The E.T. Reunion (SD, 18 minutes)
The 20th Anniversary Premiere (SD, 18
The Music of E.T. (SD, 10 minutes)
Designs, Photographs and Marketing (SD,
Special Olympics TV Spot (SD, 1 minute)
Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 minutes)
This is clearly one of the best Blu-ray
releases this year, as the carefully orchestrated color palette of Allen
Daviau, the film’s Director of Photography, has never looked better on home
There were plenty of heavy-hitters bidding
in the James Bond charity auction at Christie's, London, last night. Organised
in conjunction with EON Productions, the event was an invite-only affair with
50 high-entry items donated by the filmmakers up for grabs. An Aston Martin DBS
from Quantum of Solace sold for
£241,250, and Bond's infamous swimming shorts from Casino Royale went for an amazing £44,450!
Props and costumes from the new film SkyFall included a signed script
(£13,750), an Omega watch worn by Daniel Craig (£157,250), a one-third scale
model of an Aston Martin DB5 (£61,250), and a suit and Dinner Jacket worn by
Craig (£30,000 and £46,850, respectively). UNICEF, Childline and Barnardo's
were amongst the charities benefitting from the proceeds of the sale.
The first unit of the Blu-ray boxed set was packaged in gold and featured a timing device to measure the hours until it arrived in London.
In September, all stops were pulled out to promote the UK release of the James Bond Blu-ray boxed set, the first unit of which traveled from Scotland to London, "escorted" along the way by various 007 dignitaries. Cinema Retro photographer Mark Mawston provides photos and coverage of its arrival at the final destination.
The Journey of the Bond 50 Blu-ray box reached its final
destination of HMV Oxford Street, London.
The ever glamorous Britt Ekland, resplendent in gold herself,
pulled up outside the London flagship store in a celebratory Bond 50 Aston
Martin holding the famed golden attache case holding the collection of 007 Blu-ray
discs. After posing on the rain-drenched street, she was interviewed inside by
many media outlets. Asked if being a Bond Girl was similar to being the President
of the United States, as both are
forever named as such, Britt said she loved being a Bond girl, with her
quintessential Bond "The tall and handsome Roger Moore". Not seeming
too impressed with Daniel Craig ("he drinks beer- sorry Heineken!")
she went on to describe how she heard she had the role of Mary Goodnight in
Roger Moore's second 1974 outing as 007, The Man With the Golden Gun: "I was really trying for the part
and got on with Cubby and Harry very well. I REALLY wanted the part as a Bond
Girl. I was on holiday when I got the call from a friend to say I got the part,
as the friend had seen a headline in the paper that had read "Swedish
Beauty gets Bond role". When I finally got it, I found out that it
referred to Maud Adams! But I still got the part I wanted in the film."
As we stood by as Britt was interviewed, the clock on the boxed set ran down to
nought, in the Bondian tradition (I thought it would have stopped at 007...), thus ending its journey which began in Scotland
with a launch from Britt's leading man and a generation’s 007, Sir Roger Moore.
(All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.)
On Global James Bond day, Eon Productions has released the first film clip from Skyfall that features a spectacular action sequence involving Daniel Craig's assault with a bulldozer on a speeding train. The scene has a nice Bondian touch: 007 adjusting his cufflinks after enduring some death-defying stunts. It reminds us of Bond calmly adjusting his necktie after the brutal battle to the death with Red Grant in From Russia With Love. Best of all, the score features strands of the James Bond Theme, which has been all-too elusive in recent 007 flicks.
2012, Manchester: Last night
saw more than 1,000 Manchester film fans experience a spectacular screening of
James Cameron’s unforgettable film, The Terminator, hosted by
Jameson Cult Film Club.
Jameson took over
Victoria Warehouse for the unique 80s-inspired film event, re-enacting the
famous nightclub scene from the film and hosting a techno rave at ‘Tech Noir’.
Guests encountered all sorts of strange scenes as they reached the warehouse,
walking past a homeless man by a fire pit and two cops searching for a man last
seen naked running in the direction of the club. Once inside guests could join
Sarah Connor for a Jameson drink at the bar, surrounded by flashing lights, red
neon, smoke and 80s music.
Guests also got the
chance to meet original cast member, Brian Thompson who played opposite Arnie as
one of the ‘Punks’ in the film. Brian – who flew in from Hollywood especially
for the event – took to the stage to introduce the film and answer fans’
questions about all things Terminator.
As guests explored
the club further they discovered the LAPD Homicide Unit’s office where the
Lieutenant and his colleague Ed were examining pictures of the various Sarah
Connors who had been executed that morning. In another corner, blue flashing
lights and smoke blew around the stage as Sarah Connor sat nervously at the bar,
eyeing the door as a strange figure dressed in a leather jacket and dark shades
stalked around the club scanning for his victim.
After the film,
guests got to attend an after party where they danced the night away to classic
80s tunes from Manchester DJ, OldBoy.
Any Manchester film
fans that missed the event this time round don’t need to worry, as Jameson Cult
Film Club WILL BE BACK (in 2013)!
Jameson Cult Film
For the uninitiated,
Jameson Cult Film Club screens cult films in unique locations across the UK,
transporting audiences into cinematic worlds of fun, fear and fantasy. From
September 2012, Jameson will tour around London, Liverpool, Manchester,
Birmingham and Newcastle – treating film fans to the best of cult film, screened
in amazing locations.
Whiskey is the UK’s No 1 selling Irish whiskey and is amongst the elite of the
fastest growing international spirit brands in the world. The success of the
Irish brand is down to its great quality and smooth taste, coupled with a
fantastic heritage, established in 1780 by the legendary John Jameson. It has
the quality credentials which allow it to be consumed straight, but is versatile
and is equally great when mixed.
Cinema Retro congratulates James Bond, Agent 007 on this milestone achievement! We look forward to the next half-century. Don't forget to celebrate Global James Bond Day- check your local news for events that may be going on in your area.
Well, they finally made another good James Bond theme song. Adele's main theme from Skyfall is a welcome throwback to the glory days of Bond music, with lush orchestral accompaniment and even hints of the James Bond theme interwoven. Kudos to all...it will help us all get over that "song" that played over the titles of Quantum Of Solace. Click here to watch a music video with song lyrics.
As Rush is now on tour in support of their Clockwork Angels album, I thought it would be fitting to have another look at their latest DVD and Blu-ray concert release, Rush: Time Machine Tour 2011 – Live in Cleveland, in addition to some truly nifty releases of their back catalog.
Rush has always been a band that never took themselves seriously, despite what their most ardent detractors have vehemently suggested. In retrospect, I still cannot understand what the music critics have been griping about all these years when it comes to Rush’s unique sound, which itself has gone through so many changes from one album to the next. As far as playing live is concerned, Rush is truly mystifying to watch as I can never quite figure out how just three people are making this music which sounds so epic and grand in scope. Yes, they have an entire group of behind-the-scenes experts making sure that the show goes smoothly, but the band sounds as though there are six people playing instead of just three.
I recall seeing Rush’s first concert video released to the masses, Exit…Stage Left, on video in 1983 and being completely wowed by the boys. Subsequent concert videos followed, but they never included the full concerts that they showcased, which was always frustrating as the tracks I really wanted to hear were invariably dropped. Thankfully, that practice has gone by the wayside, and now Rush’s concert videos are always presented in their complete form (except for the initial release of R30, which was re-issued in toto on Blu-ray).
I always wanted Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, the triumvirate that comprises Rush, to come out on stage prior to a concert’s start and have them all go to the wrong instruments by “accident” and attempt to play them, only to correct themselves and start off in their respective positions. The closest that we have gotten to seeing this happen is in the videos that appear on their most recent tour in which they do just that. Whether you watch Rush’s Time Machine Tour 2011 – Live in Cleveland on DVD or Blu-ray, you can appreciate the hard work that goes into making a show. What is really nice about this release is that this is the first time that a concert video is featuring Rush playing on U.S. soil, and they chose Cleveland as this was the city that really put them on the map in terms of radio airplay thanks to then-disc jockey Donna Halper, author of 2001’s Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting.
CELEBRATE 20 YEARS OF FILMMAKING WITH THE ULTIMATE BLU-RAY BOXSET
Includes 8 Groundbreaking Films – From Tarantino’s Debut inRESERVOIR DOGS to His Most Recent Academy Award® NominatedFilm, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS -- Arriving on November 26th in the UK
Celebrating Quentin Tarantino’s legendary filmmaking, Lionsgate and Miramax are proud to present the Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection, arriving on Blu-ray November 26th 2012.
Tarantino XX contains eight films chosen by Tarantino himself to illustrate the first 20 years of his career, featuring the films that helped define his early success, including Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Death Proof andInglourious Basterds. To complete the stunning high definition 10-disc set, the Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection also features two discs with five hours of all-new bonus material, highlighted by a critics’ retrospective on Tarantino’s groundbreaking catalogue of films and “20 Years of Filmmaking” that contains interviews with critics, stars and other masters of cinema.
Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection showcases one of the most innovative filmmakers of our time and is a must-have for serious film fans, as Tarantino’s highly-anticipated new film, Django Unchained, prepares to hit cinemas. Honouring the 20th anniversary of Reservoir Dogs – the cultural milestone that brought Tarantino to the forefront as a cinematic legend – the collection is highlighted by recurring appearances from celebrated actors including Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill), Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) and Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), and also includes starring performances from iconic actors such as Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds), Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) and Robert Forster (Jackie Brown).
Tarantino XX on Blu-ray also features striking, original artwork designed and illustrated byMONDO (www.mondotees.com). In collectible packaging, the Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection is a must have for any Tarantino or film fan!
As a political junkie, I didn't think anything would tempt me to miss last night's much-anticipated first debate between President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney, but an invitation from Eon Productions to attend the New York premiere of the acclaimed documentary Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of James Bond proved too tempting to resist. The film is a triumph for director Stevan Riley and his team, who worked for over a year and a half to put together the most unique look at the longest-running series in cinema history. The event took place at the Museum of Modern Art. The screening itself, in digital format, was enthusiastically received by all including some people who profess not to be particularly enamored of the films themselves but who felt the angle of covering the human side of the producer's stories was successful and engrossing on all levels.
Cinema Retro editor-in-chief Lee Pfeiffer with Barbara Broccoli and Hilary Saltzman.
The unique aspect of Everything or Nothing is that Riley avoids the generic, bland format of simply retelling anecdotes about how the films were made. In fact, there are virtually no such stories related. Instead, he concentrates on the stories of people whose lives were personally impacted by the films and, more specifically, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. These stories aren't told in linear fashion, as the narrative bounces back and forth through the decades, interwoven with the personal experiences of the actors who played Bond (all are interviewed except - predictably- Sean Connery, who is nevertheless represented through vintage interviews.) One must acknowledge the courage of the Broccoli and Saltzman family for refusing to sanitize the subject matter. Director Riley was given no restraints regarding the content. The result is a warts-and-all human saga of two remarkable men and their achievements and foibles. There is triumph and tragedy as the ever-escalating popularity of the series puts increased strain on all those involved. There are some revelations that will surprise Bond scholars. For one, Broccoli and Saltzman were not at odds from day one, despite their different personalities. Their differences only became increasingly acerbic with the hiring of Roger Moore, who - it is revealed- Broccoli was not keen on hiring. Saltzman's notorious penchant for bad investments and reckless gambling on dubious ventures led him to fall into severe debt. His daughter Hilary recounts how his decision to sell his half of the series to United Artists brought immediate financial devastation to the family, resulting in personal effects having to be sold to raise money. The Saltzman fall from grace is a sad chapter in the saga, especially when the Broccoli and Saltzman "kids" recount how their fathers' fractured relationship almost destroyed their relationships as well. (The families do remain close today with Hilary and her brother Steven Saltzman are often invited as honored guests to Bond-related events.) Perhaps most moving is the revelation that, once apart, Harry and Cubby truly missed each other. Cubby's gregarious decision to invite Harry to the 1981 premiere of For Your Eyes Only marked Harry's emergence from self-imposed isolation and seclusion. Hilary recounts how nervous he was to attend the event. When she recalls how the two men ended up embracing, it's enough to bring tears to your eyes. Similarly, Roger Moore's anecdote about his ill-fated attempt to heal the wounds between Broccoli and Connery is offset by Barbara Broccoli recounting a particularly touching phone call Cubby received from Connery when when the producer was virtually on his death bed. I won't ruin the impact by recounting it here, but it is moving beyond words.
Hilary Saltzman with Joseph Caroff and his wife Phyllis. The 90 year-old Caroff designed the legendary 007 logo, as well as many other classic film logos.
The film is interspersed with personal reflections from Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig. All avoid the cliched stories they have told so many times before. Moore speaks frankly about his old friend Connery's obsession with money. Dalton is far more engaging and animated than when he promoted the Bond films he starred in. (Refreshingly, Barbara Broccoli admits Dalton's films were ahead of their time and not want audiences wanted to see in the late 1980s.) Brosnan speaks candidly about the strained phone call he received from Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson in which he was told he was fired. Lazenby, in a surprisingly upbeat mood, inexplicably reinforces the notion that he was fired when he says "the producers let me go". In fact, he quit the role, much to their chagrin. There are rare film interviews with Ian Fleming, whose life and work is given significant screen time. He is recalled by his friends and colleagues, who shed some new light on the Fleming persona. A significant amount of screen time is devoted Broccoli's decades-long legal battles with producer Kevin McClory over screen rights to the character of Bond. McClory is presented as a lazy opportunist whose obsession in life was to live off the 007 legacy built by Fleming and the filmmakers. (He does have a defender, however : actress Judy Geeson).
One of the photos on display shows Pierce Brosnan (seen here with Cubby Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson) when he originally got the role of James Bond in 1986. Brosnan talks candidly about his heartbreak when a contractual clause with NBC for Remington Steele ruined his chance to be Bond, seemingly forever.
There is a candid conversation with Skyfall director Sam Mendes, who admits he thought the casting of Daniel Craig would be disastrous. Former United Artists production chief David V. Picker bluntly says that he agrees with Sean Connery that he was underpaid for his contributions. Picker recounts that, while Broccoli and Saltzman routinely renegotiated their own compensation, they never looked after Connery on the early films, meaning that he was stuck with the salary he had original contracted for. Such honesty is generally eschewed in such "tribute" documentaries, but it is what makes this one unique and refreshing. What does emerge primarily, however, is that, despite their personal flaws, both Cubby and Harry were devoted family men and loving fathers and husbands whose primary goal was to provide for their loved ones.
The film contains some tantalizing snippets of rare early behind the scenes footage and interviews that will leave Bond scholars aching to see them in their full context. I should also mention that the movie is exceptionally well-edited and photographed, beginning with a stunning opening sequence that presents the Bond actors walking into the famed gun barrel simultaneously.
After the film, I spoke with Stevan Riley, who expressed frustration that he has a tremendous amount of interview footage that couldn't be squeezed into the 90 minute film. These include comments from Prime Minister David Cameron, the head of MI 6, actors Eva Green and Richard Kiel and (full disclosure), this writer as well. However, I have to confess that the overall feature probably works better without such interviews because it concentrates on those people who lived through the emotional rollercoaster of making the Bond films, primarily Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Steven and Hilary Saltzman. Riley will attempt to use the unseen footage in a future DVD release. One non-"insider" who did make the final cut is President Bill Clinton, who not only confesses to being a life long Bond fan but also provides some interesting perspectives on Bond's role in the Cold War and post-Cold War periods. If there is one flaw with the film it is the fact that, while the narrative covers Broccoli's independent films, it never mentions Saltzman's. In fact, Saltzman was reinventing British cinema with "kitchen sink" dramas like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer. He also produced the successful Harry Palmer films and the epic Battle of Britain, none of which merit a mention here. Nevertheless, the film is the most significant effort yet to present Saltzman as a important figure instead of someone who lived in his partner's shadow.
Maud Adams and Hilary Saltzman
Following the screening, invited guests migrated to the palatial Metropolitan Club in the shadow of Central Park. As with all Eon-sponsored events, it was a party to remember. Upon entering, you were greeted by a string quartet playing themes from the Bond films. The party, which was co-sponsored by the American cable TV channel Epix and Vanity Fair (the latest issue of which features a Bond cover), was set in an ornate room that made one feel they were in the Louvre. Liquor flowed freely from tuxedo-clad bartenders and the lobby featured giant, impressive boards each featuring a Bond actor that made for tempting photographic backdrops for seemingly everyone with a camera.
During the course of the evening, I ran into some old friends including David V. Picker, the seemingly ageless Maud Adams and Robert Davi. I also introduced legendary graphic design artist Joe Caroff to both Barbara Broccoli and Hilary Saltzman, who delighted in finally meeting the man who created the 007 gun logo. In all, it was a night to remember.
Everything or Nothing is receiving a theatrical release in the UK and is being shown on the EPIX cable TV channel in America.
(All photos copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
Although we mainly stick to the golden
age of movies here at Cinema Retro, occasionally a new movie does grab our
attention. This summer saw the release of
The Expendables 2, a creaking collection of aging action stars desperate to
get one last gasp out of a tired genre. It could have at least been a comedy,
about the relevance of the muscular Eighties hero in the 21st century, but
sadly it failed on all levels. One look at The
Expendables 2 would lead you to believe that the action genre needs a
bullet in the head to put it out of its misery.Thankfully a film has come along that firmly blows away the cobwebs and
kicks those geriatrics back to the retirement home they belong in. The Raid (known as The Raid: Redemption in the US), is a film which so utterly
revitalises the action genre that you will feel like you have never actually
seen people fighting in a movie before.
Shot in Indonesia with mostly
non-professional actors, The Raid is
the first major release from Welsh director Gareth Evans. A thirty story
building is home to gangsters, murderers, drug dealers and thieves, with one
major crime lord overseeing it all. The police, armed to the teeth, are sent in
with the express purpose of clearing the building and taking him down.
Outnumbered, outgunned and double-crossed, they find themselves trapped and
almost certain no to make it out alive. The plot of the film is mainly an
excuse for some phenomenal martial arts fighting which is photographed in such
inventive, bone-crunching and frenetic style that each scene feels fresh and
exciting. At the heart of the film is Iko Uwais, playing a rookie cop desperate
to make it out alive to get back to his pregnant wife. Incredibly he has only
acted once before, and he has terrific screen presence, balancing charisma and
vulnerability with the absolute assurance in his own skills. Discovered by
Evans in a Silat martial arts class just five years ago, he is clearly going to
become a major star, and it is no exaggeration to compare him with Bruce Lee or
a young Jackie Chan.
will make you look at action cinema with raised expectations from now on, and
many films are going to struggle to make an impact in its wake. It is now
available on both DVD and Blu-ray, and is certainly worth seeing as soon as
possible. There are plenty of features which take you further into the story
behind the film, which will make you want to jump up from your armchair and get
straight to your nearest self-defense class.
(Note: Smith's review is of the UK Blu-ray release)
Click here to order the American Blu-ray special edition
October 5th, 2012 will be Global James Bond Day, marking the 50th anniversary
of the James Bond film franchise. It was Albert R. Broccoli and Harry
Saltzman who adapted Ian Fleming’s books and broughtDr Noto the screen in 1962.
The 007 franchise today is the longest running in film history with
twenty-three films produced. The latest James Bond adventure is entitledSKYFALL™ and will be released
in the UK on October 26thand
in the US on November 9th.
the UK, an auction of James Bond memorabilia is taking place at Christie’s with
all proceeds going to UNICEF and a number of charitable causes. In the
US, events for Global James Bond Day include a film retrospective at The Museum
of Modern Art in New York and a Music of Bond Night hosted by the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. In other countries
around the world, special events have been planned. In Belgium and South
Africa, offices will celebrate with Bond-themed Casual Fridays, where people
will turn up to work dressed in gowns and tuxedos. In addition,EVERYTHING OR NOTHING: The Untold
Story of 007, the feature documentary, will be released on 5thOctober through Sony Pictures
Releasing UK on an exclusive basis with Odeon Cinemas in selected
locations. Radio stations around the world are planning to play Bond
theme songs.In addition, pre-sale tickets forSkyfallwill be available in most locations on
Friday, October 5. Moviegoers may check with their local cinemas for
Craig is back as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 inSKYFALL™, the 23rd
adventure in the longest-running film franchise of all time. InSKYFALL, Bond’s loyalty to
M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under
attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the
cost. The film is from Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Studios, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Directed by Sam Mendes.
Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Written by Neal
Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan.
About Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions
Productions Limited and Danjaq LLC are wholly owned and controlled by the
Broccoli/Wilson family. Danjaq is the US based company that co-owns, with MGM,
the copyright in the existing James Bond films and controls the right to
produce future James Bond films as well as all worldwide merchandising.
EON Productions, an affiliate of Danjaq, is the UK based production
company which makes the James Bond films. The 007 franchise is the
longest running in film history with twenty-two films produced since
1962. Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli succeeded Albert R ‘Cubby’
Broccoli and have produced some of the most successful Bond films ever
including CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE. They are currently producing the
23rd film, SKYFALL.
About Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
Inc. is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and
distribution of film and television content globally. The company owns
one of the world’s deepest libraries of premium film and television
content. In addition, MGM has investments in domestic and international
television channels, including MGM-branded channels. For more information,
About Sony Pictures
Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a
subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass
motion picture production and distribution; television production and
distribution; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; a global channel
network; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio
facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and
technologies; and distribution of entertainment in 159 countries. For
additional information, go tohttp://www.sonypictures.com/
It's a long tradition for Harrods in London to dedicate their display windows to celebrate the release of the latest James Bond film. This year is no exception, as evidenced by these photos snapped by Cinema Retro's Dave Worrall. They tie in to the release of Skyfall and if you're in London, the promotion extends to the interior of the store as well with displays of high end Bond fragrances designed to bring out your inner 007.
(All photos copyright Dave Worrall/Cinema Retro. All rights reserved)
(L to R): Cinema Retro's Ajay Chowdhury, Matthew Field, Dave Worrall and Mark Mawston.
By Matthew Field
Last night Cinema Retro attended the world premiere of Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of OO7 in London. Bond alumni were out in force as many faces from in front and behind the camera attended the Leicester Square screening. The film was followed by a fascinating Q&A with Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, Steven Saltzman and Hilary Saltzman. They spoke affectionately about growing up together on the set of the early Bond movies, as well as the challenges faced by their fathers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman in bringing and keeping James Bond on the screen. They were joined by director Stevan Riley who discussed the daunting task of navigating a story through 60 years of Bond heritage.
Guests included Charles Dance, Maryam d’Abo, former EON publicist Jerry Juroe, Fiona Fullerton, Shirley Eaton, Samantha Bond, Vic Armstrong, Eunice Gayson, Madeline Smith, Martine Beswick, Caroline Munro, Shane Rimmer, John Glen, and Sir Ken Adam. Following the screening, guests relocated to The Naval and Military Club (In & Out) for a wonderful reception.
Everything Or Nothing is one of the finest documentaries ever made about James Bond. It doesn’t attempt to cover every angle, but instead Riley has focused on the human story to be found in the subject - the emotional and personal journeys of Bond creators: Ian Fleming, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Not only have EON opened up the archives to the filmmakers, they’ve bravely allowed Riley to tell the story the way he wanted – documenting both the rough with the smooth. It’s an important piece of work that will continue to inform and educate many generations to come as to how one of the 20th Century’s most popular cultural icons, came to be.
This film undoubtedly deserves a solo home entertainment release. Fingers crossed it does.
Issue #24 of Cinema Retro is being hailed by many readers as the very best in the eight years we've been publishing. What makes it so special? Consider the wide range of great films covered in this one, diverse issue:
Major celebration of The Poseidon Adventure's 40th anniversary with articles by David Savage, Tom Listanti, James Radford and Chris Poggiali. Includes many rare photos, international movie posters and interviews with Carol Lynley and Mort Kunstler, the legendary artist who created the movie poster. Kunstler also provides his original sketches for the ad campaign, reproduced in this issue for the first time.
40th anniversary tribute to Deliverance. John Exshaw visits director John Boorman at his home in Ireland for exclusive interview about working with author James Dickey on the landmark film.
Gary Giblin takes an in-depth look at another classic film celebrating its 40th anniversary: Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy, complete with rare stills from sequences that the Master cut from the final version of the movie.
Matthew R. Bradley looks at one of the screen's legendary baddies, James Bond nemesis Blofeld in both literature and cinema. The title of the article: The Importance of Being Ernst.
Remembering Ernest Borgnine: a tribute to the legendary Oscar winner.
Raymond Benson's ten best films of 1983.
Lee Pfeiffer pays tongue-in-cheek tribute to the 1976 B movie cult "classic" Grizzly starring Christopher George, Richard Jaeckel and Andrew Prine.
Gareth Owen revisits the early days of director Michael Winner's career at Pinewood Studios.
Mark Mawston's new column Desert Island Flicks covers underrated gems like John Frankenheimer's Seconds, Frank Perry's The Swimmer and Don Siegel's Coogan's Bluff.
Adrian Smith titillates readers with part two of his extensive look at the history of British sexploitation films in More Sex, Please. We're British.
Dean Brierly's Crime Wave International covers British classic crime movies of the 60s and 70s including Get Carter, Payroll, Robbery, Villain and Sitting Target.
Plus the usual reviews of the latest film books, DVDs and soundtracks.
Note to subscribers: this is the last issue of season 8. When you receive your issue, you'll find renewal information enclosed. Please renew as soon as possible for season 9 to ensure you never miss an issue.
Thanks to everyone for helping Cinema Retro reach our 9th year of publication. The best is yet to come.
CLICK HERE FOR ORDERING INFORMATION AND TO SUBSCRIBE
Like Marlon Brando, director John Huston was often considered to be a has-been during much of the 1960s into the early 1970s. He worked steadily, but- like Brando- it was assumed his glory days were behind him simply because most of his films during this period didn't generate sparks at the boxoffice. (The success of his 1975 film The Man Who Would Be King would temporarily restore his luster.) His acting career got a boost from his great performance in Chinatown, but even some of his directorial flops look far better today than they did at the time of their theatrical release. One major disappointment, artistically as well as financially, was the seemingly sure-fire hit The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, made in 1972 and starring Paul Newman fairly fresh from his triumph in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The movie is a whimsical tale that is nevertheless loaded with violence and gallows humor (literally). The story is (very) loosely based on the real Roy Bean, an outlaw who became a self-appointed judge who called himself the "only law West of the Pecos" at a time when parts of Texas were a no-man's land of thieves, murderers and swindlers. Bean became known as a hard-ass judge who dispensed lethal justice. In reality, he only sentenced two men to be hanged and one managed to escape. Nevertheless, his colorful background provides screenwriter John Milius with plenty of imaginative fodder for fictitious encounters and incidents. We first meet Bean when he ambles into a remote outpost where he is robbed and beaten mercilessly by the denizens. He returns shortly thereafter and single-handed kills them all, thus instantly making him a local legend among the peasants who live in the area. Bean becomes obsessed with studying the law and showing mercy on the poorest elements of society. He even takes a lover, a young Hispanic woman (Victoria Principal, in her screen debut). Bean appoints himself as a "judge" despite not having any legal authority to do so. He enlists a group of slovenly "deputies" to dispense justice in his courtroom, which is the bar in which he was robbed. Before long, Bean is holding kangaroo trials and routinely lynching anyone who incurs his wrath. Despite this, he gains a reputation for being fair and defending the defenseless. He adopts a bear and the movie presents some amusing sequences of Bean and his friends interacting with this over-sized "pet". The film traces his experiences over a period of years as the remote outpost becomes a bustling town. Bean is gradually sidelined as a force of influence. The death of his young wife during the birth of their daughter depresses him further and he rides off into oblivion. Twenty years later he returns to find that oil has been discovered on his property and that the corrupt mayor (Roddy McDowall) is using legally questionable methods to displace Bean's 20 year old daughter (Jacqueline Bisset) so he can control the oil on her land. Bean's reappearance causes a sensation as he rounds up his motley, aging group of former deputies to help his daughter fight for her rights. A fairly spectacular battle climaxes the film.
Bean offers many pleasures, not the least of which is a terrific supporting cast that includes cameos by Anthony Perkins, Tab Hunter (surprisingly good), Anthony Zerbe, Stacy Keach (wonderful as a crazed, albino gunslinger), Ava Gardner as the legendary Lily Langtree, the object of Bean's romantic obsession even though he never meets her, and John Huston himself in an amusing appearance as Grizzly Adams. There are also plenty of familiar faces in the supporting cast including Ned Beatty, Bill McKinney (reunited from Delliverance with happier results) Richard Farnsworth and stuntmen Dean Smith and Neil Summers. The attempt to capitalize on the success of Butch Cassidy is fairly apparent, as evidenced by a fairly sappy love song and romantic montage that is obviously meant to emulate the famed Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head sequence from the former film. Nevertheless, Bean is a consistently enjoyable, rousing Western that probably plays much better today, when we can realize just how special acting ensembles like this truly are. Maurice Jarre's fine score adds immeasurably to the the enjoyment of the experience.
The Warner Archive has released the film as a burn-to-order DVD. Extras include the original trailer and cast biographies.
If you've got at least $1,000 to spare, you can purchase a ticket to a screening of the new James Bond flick Skyfall at New York's Ziegfeld Theatre on November 1. Robert DeNiro will be among the hosts for the screening that will benefit his Tribeca Film Foundation. The ticket price also includes admission to a party afterward. For more click here
There have been a number of us isolated souls who have championed Michael Cimino's 1980 legendary flop Heaven's Gate. The film's business aspects can't be defended, as the budget overruns made the film a financial disaster of monumental proportions. It almost sank a studio and ruined the big screen careers of director Cimino and star Kris Kristofferson. Nevertheless, the film is now finally being reevaluated on its artistic merits. Long and leisurely, the left-leaning Western is now gaining praise among mainstream critics. Cimino came out of hibernation to present a restored version at the Venice Film Festival and Criterion is readying an expensive, remastered Blu-ray edition. For more click here
Throughout the month of October, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City will present big screen, 35mm showings of every James Bond movie from Dr. No through Quantum Of Solace. Here is the press release:
In 1987, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the release ofDr. No(1962), producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli donated newly made 35mm prints of all 14 Broccoli-produced James Bond feature films to The Museum of Modern Art. With this extraordinary gift came a promise to provide MoMA with a new 35mm print of each subsequent Bond film. To date, this collection has grown to 22 films—all of the James Bond films produced by Eon Productions—and since his passing in 1996, “Cubby” Broccoli’s daughter Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have generously continued this tradition.
Created by novelist Ian Fleming in 1953, the iconic James Bond, 007, is among the few MI6 agents with the “00” grade—a license to kill. In addition to his deadly skills, the sophisticated, suave, and impeccably dressed Bond remains a loner, despite countless romantic encounters with stunning female spies, voluptuous assassins, provocative party-girls, and a charismatic psychopath or two. The alluring aura of danger and self-confidence he exudes is irresistible to women, but none are allowed to get too close.
Whether portrayed by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, or Daniel Craig, Bond is forever loyal to Queen and country, possessed of a martini-dry sense of humor, considerably stylish, and eternally enigmatic. When his boss, M, is in need of a formidable agent to quell a globe-spanning espionage crisis, 007 is sent into the field with his trusty Walther PPK, an array of handy spy gadgets, and an unwavering commitment to his mission.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Dr. No and the extraordinary open-ended donation from Albert R. Broccoli, Barbara Broccoli, and Michael G. Wilson, MoMA presents all 22 films in its James Bond collection.
In honor of Brigitte Bardot's 78th birthday (which is today), click here to enjoy a photographic tribute to her life and career. Having gone into self-imposed retirement decades ago, the one-time French "sex goddess" of the silver screen has spent her later years campaigning for animal rights and political causes.
A long-neglected gem, the 1959 apocalyptic thriller The World, the Flesh and the Devil has finally been released on DVD through the Warner Archive. The movie, which was once routinely shown on TV, has all but vanished from sight in recent years. One of the first serious attempts to examine the implications of Armageddon in the nuclear age, the film was largely over-shadowed by Stanley Kramer's similarly-themed, all-star production of On the Beach. Harry Belafonte stars as Ralph Burton, a construction worker who is investigating a long-dormant underground tunnel when catastrophe strikes. He is trapped by a cave-in and when he manages to emerge from the death trap situation, he discovers the entire population of his town has fled in mass hysteria due to the outbreak of a world war. His research shows that biological weapons were used to kill seemingly everyone on earth. For the sake of dramatic license, the lethal aspects of the weapons are neutralized within a few days, thus making Burton immune from any lingering effects.
British actress Linda Hayden was only 15 years-old when she made her big screen debut in the 1968 film Baby Love. The movie cast her as a teenage vixen who uses her sexual prowess to wreak havoc on the family she is living with. The film, which has been little-seen in America, caused a sensation in the UK with some critics decrying the blatant use of such a young girl in role that was so sexually-driven. (Hope they never see Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver!) Ironically, the film was deemed so provocative that Hayden was not legally of age to see it when it opened in England. (For full report on the movie, see Cinema Retro issue #11)
The great character actor Herbert Lom has died at age 95. He was born in Czechoslovakia and emigrated to England just before the outbreak of WWII. (His beloved girlfriend was not allowed to stay in England and was deported back to Europe, where she ultimately died in a Nazi death camp.) With his imposing looks, Lom quickly became a mainstay in British films, often playing the heavy. A rare exception was his performance in the 1955 comedy classic The Ladykillers. Lom often appeared in B movies, as well as epic films such as Spartacus and El Cid. His poignant performance in the 1962 Hammer Films remake of Phantom of the Opera was largely overlooked at the time of the movie's release, but is now considered to be among his finest achievements. Lom is best known as Inspector Clouseau's long-suffering superior Dryefus in the Blake Edwards/Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies that greatly increased his name recognition. For more click here
Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell site presents director Philip Kaufman's 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers with commentary by writer Josh Olson. The film rivals the 1956 original and in some ways surpasses it. Click here to view.
Click here for Cinema Retro's review of the DVD release
Click here for Cinema Retro's exclusive interview with co-star Veronica Cartwright.
MI6 Confidential, the full-colour magazine celebrating
the world of James Bond 007, returns with its seventeenth issue.
The Bond world is
buzzing. With just a few weeks to go before Skyfall
hits cinemas, we’ve seen the launch of film’s promotional campaign, the opening
of the most exhaustive exhibition of 007 design, and Activision continually
tease fans with a new look at their upcoming videogame, ‘007 Legends’.
We cover all of the
above in this issue, but the highlight must be the time we spent with stunt coordinator,
Gary Powell, who spoke exclusively to MI6 Confidential about the Skyfall pre-titles sequence. Finally, we
have just enough time to celebrate the French Bond girls of the franchise, as
Bérénice Marlohe joins their ranks this year.
Featured in this issue:
·Skyfall Action - Exclusive interview with stunt coordinator Gary Powell
·Entente Cordiale - Bérénice Marlohe joins a long list of French Bond
·All About Eve - Naomie Harris plays an MI6 field agent in Skyfall
·007 Legends - Activision lift the lid on their ambitious new videogame
·50 Years Of Bond Style At The Barbican - Take a tour of the new exhibition
·Inside The EON Archive - Exclusive interview with Archive Director Meg
·Sunspel In 007 Heaven - Recreating James Bond's iconic shorts
The 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake ofKing Kong(starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange) was one of the first scores John Barry composed after settling in Los Angeles from his native England. Although the composer was forced to write quickly due to production delays, he provided a powerful score that reflects both the film’s exotic adventure setting and the love story at its emotional center.
An unusual variety of melodic ideas to characterize Kong and a strong romantic theme endow the score with a lush sensuality and emotional poignancy that balances the harsher and more horrific elements. Barry’s music ranges from the primitive dances of island natives to the soft saxophone strains of contemporary romance without missing a beat.
FSM released the 1976 Reprise Records album master of King Kong in 2005 when no additional material was available. But now, with the cooperation of Paramount Pictures, we are able to premiere John Barry’s complete score newly mixed and mastered from the 2" 24- and 16-track masters on the first disc of this 2CD Deluxe Edition. We again present the album master on disc 2, augmenting it with several film alternates to make this the most complete possible representation of Barry’s effort.
Informative notes by John Takis, numerous film stills and dynamic original poster art comprise FSM’s colorful 20-page booklet.
If viewers of King Kong care about the hulking creature, it is in no small part because Barry makes them care. Through his art, painstakingly preserved and lovingly presented on this 2CD set, listeners are able to see past the mask of the monster to the infinitely lonely soul locked within.
Count this one among the most-requested DVDs to come from the Warner Archive. Young Cassidy is based on Irish poet Sean O'Casey's multi-volume autobiography. (O'Casey often used the pseudonym "John "O'Casey" in in these works that chronicle his life in Ireland.) The film was started by director John Ford but when the elderly director fell ill, Jack Cardiff took over. The production bears plenty of hallmarks of a Ford production, but under Cardiff's direction the it has an appropriately harder edge and less sentimentality than it probably would have had if Ford had completed the film. Rod Taylor gives another fine performance as the titular character, a charismatic, roughshod young man who resents being born into poverty under the heel of the British government with scant opportunity for upward mobility. Although Cassidy can drink and brawl with the best of them, he is an intellectual at heart. The movie traces his uphill battle to pursue a career as a playwright while digging ditches to feed his poverty-stricken family. He ultimately completes his first play and finds two influential mentors: W.B. Yeats (a wonderful performance by Michael Redgrave) and Lady Gregory (an equally marvelous Edith Evans), both of whom back him against all odds and get his controversial works produced on the stage. The story follows Cassidy as he dallies with a number of women of easy virtue (including a brief but memorable Julie Christie as a sexually liberated girl who beds him with nary a notion of a guilty conscience.) Ultimately, he falls for Nora (Maggie Smith), a rather dowdy intellectual who both inspires Cassidy's creative instincts even as she fears the inevitable fame he gains.
The film proceeds in the kind of leisurely manner that is almost unheard of today, thus allowing rich characterizations to be presented to the viewer. Cardiff displays a deft ability to wring sentiment from the story without becoming too maudlin. Ted Scaife provides the excellent cinematography (the film was shot on location in Ireland and interiors were filmed at MGM Studios in the UK). Sean O'Riada's musical score is suitably atmospheric and the screenplay by John Whiting (and approved by Sean O'Casey) provides plenty of pathos as well as humor. The performances are uniformly excellent, but it is the underrated Rod Taylor who dominates every scene. This native Australian could master any accent, though ironically he rarely played an Aussie.
Young Cassidy is an intelligent, thoroughly engrossing dramatic experience on every level.
The Warner Archive DVD also includes the original trailer.
The tinsel in Tinseltown many not be as bright as it once was. In a video report, CNN points out that there has been a dramatic reduction in film and TV production in Hollywood film studios in recent years as networks and studios are being lured to other major cities that offer tax incentives. The economy in L.A. is being hit hard, affecting technicians and support industries such as catering. Ironically, it was on the East Coast, primarily New York and New Jersey, that the motion picture industry began- and it is there that the pendulum is swinging once again. Click here to watch
Connery on the set of Diamonds Are Forever in Las Vegas (1971). Photo copyright: Terry O'Neill.
Famed celebrity photographer Terry O'Neill has a new book covering the photos he took on the sets of the early James Bond movies. A selection of the photos will also be on display at Proud Chelsea gallery in London through November 4. Click here for more.
Click here to order the book discounted from Amazon.
Children of Paradise has been called the greatest movie ever made in France, their equivalent to Gone With the Wind. Originally released
in 1945 and directed by Marcel Carné, the three-hour historical epic is big in
scope and ideas, and yet it is simplistic in its story about four men in love
with the same woman. The excellent Criterion Collection label released the
picture on DVD several years ago, but now they have given it the deluxe
treatment with Pathé’s 2011 restoration and uncompressed monaural soundtrack in
new Blu-ray and DVD editions. It looks and sounds amazing.
story of the film’s production is just as fascinating as the picture itself.
Made in Vichy France during the Nazi Occupation, Carné and his collaborator/writer
Jacques Prévert had to work in secrecy, for the Nazis acted as “studio
executives” and approved everything being made. The production designer and
music composer were Jews, and they had to keep their presence under wraps.
Allegedly many of the 1800 extras were Resistance agents using the film as
daytime cover, who, until the Liberation, had to mingle with Vichy supporters
and sympathizers imposed on the production by authorities. The production also
came under natural obstacles (some large sets were destroyed by a storm), film
stock was rationed, and principle photography had to be stopped and started
numerous times over two years. Only after Liberation in August 1944 was the
film able to be completed.
place in Paris between 1830-1848, mostly centered in the “Boulevard du Crime,”
the city’s “theatre row,” where the plays produced were typically crime
melodramas. Thus, the film is a massive period costume drama to begin with. The
protagonist is a mysterious woman named Garance (portrayed by the actress
Arletty, one of France’s most famous stars), who is a feminist long before that
word was invented. Four men vie for her attentions—notably the mime Baptiste
(the magnificent Jean-Louis Barrault), the actor Frederick, the thief Pierre,
and the aristocrat Edouard. Each have their own way of wooing the object of
their desire, and Garance, in turn, has her own ways of dealing with them. Other
minor characters complicate the proceedings by initiating their own seductions
and pursuits of the four main men.
script is extremely poetic. One might think the dialogue was written in verse,
but it wasn’t. Combined with Carné’s lush, fluid direction, the picture becomes
an exquisite, flowing piece of art. The acting is top-notch, the
black-and-white cinematography is breathtaking, and the overall power of the
epic will stay with you long after its finish. When I was in college in the
early to mid-70s, Children of Paradise was
a popular on-campus import, shown in scratchy 16mm prints. Even then I fell in
love with the picture, and now, seeing it in its restored, near-perfect glory,
it’s like manna from heaven.
take up an entire second disk. Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam provides an
insightful (and humorous) introduction to the film and cites it as one of his
favorites. A 2009 documentary on the making of the picture is extremely
enlightening. A new visual essay on the film’s design is a welcome addition
since the former release, and a vintage 1967 documentary features interviews
with Carné, Arletty, Barrault, and others. The film itself sports audio
commentaries by film scholars Brian Stonehill and Charles Affron, and a new
serious student of film history should pick up Criterion’s new edition of this
important, wonderful motion picture.
on Blu-ray and DVD simultaneously with Children
of Paradise is another Marcel Carné film from 1942, also made during the
Occupation—Les Visiteurs du Soir (aka
The Devil’s Envoys). This is a
fantasy along the lines of Bergman’s The
Seventh Seal, in which two emissaries of the Devil arrive at a medieval
castle to wreak havoc on love lives. Also starring Arletty, the picture is
definitely overshadowed by Paradise,
but it’s a little-seen gem that’s worth checking out.
In 1979, comic book writer and artist Walt Simonson teamed with fellow comic writer, editor and artist Archie Goodwin to create Alien: The Illustrated Story, a graphic novel tied into the release of Ridley Scott's new science fiction film. Graphic novel icon Frank Miller has said of this release, "Alien: The Illustrated Story might just be the only successful movie adaptation ever done in comics. It's a amazing graphic novel." Indeed, the artwork and adherence to the film remain impressive, even today. The original graphic novel has been out of print for decades despite the fact that the original Alien film has gained iconic status among sci-fi fans. Now Titan Books has reissued the graphic novel with significant enhancements: every page has been digitally remastered from original art that has been preserved in Walt Simonson's studio. The new release comes in 8x11 softcover format and glossy paper stock that does full justice to the outstanding artwork.
By 1979, the graphic novel was already pushing boundaries in ways that conventional comic books could not. For one, they were not bound by the constraints of the quaint comics code, a self-imposed censorship board that was put in place to stave off do-gooders who almost shut down the entire comic book industry in the 1950s. The artwork was also ground-breaking, adding considerably to the suspense of following the storyline. The novel does an admirable job of compacting all of the key story elements without resorting to the kinds of "artistic license" that often compromise many other comic adaptations of films. In all, it's a great concept to bring back classic comics such as this in restored editions, much the same way that great movies are routinely made available to new generations. Don't miss adding this one to your collection.
(The following review refers to the UK region 2 release)
I was young I was given a local newspaper that had been printed the day I was
born. I grew up in Wolverhampton, and the big newsa decade earlier had been the trial of Donald
Neilson, the self-styled Black Panther. He was a local who had had graduated
from house break-ins, through armed robbery and finally to kidnap and
multiple-murder. He was obsessed with the military (he had fought in Kenya as
part of the British suppression of the Mau-Mau uprising), and made his wife and
daughter act out scenes of warfare whilst he took photos. He was already a
wanted man following some botched post office robberies, but it was the
kidnapping of Lesley Whittle, a seventeen year old heiress, and the subsequent
ransom demands that really propelled him into the public eye. The Britain of
the 1970s was one of strikes, cutbacks and unemployment. Prospects were bleak,
and here was one man who had taken matters into his own hands. He was a meticulous
planner and he truly believed himself to be a master criminal. The reality was
very different. He was an inept bungler, incapable of making anything more than
a meagre haul from his robberies. If there hadn't been so much death at his
hands he would almost be a comic figure, more Pink Panther than Black Panther.
It was a devastating combination of Neilson's mishandling of events, press
interference and a West Midlands police force ill-equipped to deal with the
situation that culminated in his murdering the girl he had kidnapped and locked
up in a storm drain. Neilson was only caught two months later by coincidence
rather than a concerted effort on the part of the police.
tragic events were still very fresh in the public memory when Ian Merrick's film
The Black Panther was released in 1977. With a script by Michael
Armstrong (a director in his own right) based solely on police reports, written
statements, trial transcripts and other direct source material, the film sticks
to the facts of the case. It was shot in many of the actual locations used,
including Dudley Zoo and Bathpool Park in Kidsgrove, Stoke on Trent. This gives
the film a documentary feel, that it truly was ripped from the headlines.
Neilson was played by Donald Sumpter, known mainly for his TV work, but seen
most recently in the remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Long
sections of The Black Panther have no dialogue and it plays like a
silent film, with Sumpter communicating Neilson's emotions purely visually. It
is an incredible performance in what must have been a difficult role to embody
given his notoriety at that time. Sadly for those concerned, the public did not
take to the film. It's release was controversial and many cinemas around the UK
refused to screen it. Given the film's implicit accusation that the press were
partly to blame for Whittle's tragic death, it is perhaps unsurprising that
they took a particular dislike to it as well.
due to the continuing efforts of the British Film Institute to rescue films from
obscurity, The Black Panther has been restored and made available on
both DVD and Blu- ray for a new audience to appraise. The picture and sound are
excellent, although the package is a little light on extras. The only feature
of note is Recluse (1978), a thirty minute film also based on a true
life murder case. It stars Maurice Denham and is accompanied by some location
scouting footage. As usual with these Flipside releases, the main information
comes in a booklet crammed with essays and notes from both Ian Merrick and
Michael Armstrong amongst others.
The Black Panther is another release
from the BFI Flipside Range that comes highly recommended, and demonstrates
once again that the label is currently one of the most interesting and eclectic
today and fully deserve your support!
Despite the poor reception accorded to the Godzilla remake in 1998, plans are being made to bring the not so jolly green giant back again in another big budget revamp. The new Godzilla is set to be released in May 2014. The jury is still out on whether fan appreciation for the low-budget Japanese flicks will ever extend to major Hollywood productions. Click here for more info
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert has some heavy hitters in his corner. His recent memoir is being adapted into a major documentary by acclaimed director Steve James, with Martin Scorsese producing. Ebert, who began reviewing films in the 1960s, is internationally respected for often shining the spotlight on films that would ordinarily be ignored by the mass media. A bout with severe health problems has left him unable to speak, but Ebert has remarkably overcome that handicap and built a loyal following on his web site and social media sites where he reviews films as passionately as ever. For more click here
since the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theatre, the world, and
Americans in particular, have had a fascination with conspiracy theories. One
of the earliest conspiracy films was The Man in the Barn by Jacques
Tourneur in 1937, which explores the possibility that John Wilkes Booth was not
working alone on that fateful night in 1865. The Lincoln Conspiracy from
1977 also explores similar plot lines, suggesting that Booth was not killed in
a barn ten days later but escaped, in part aided by certain men on Capitol
Hill. Some of the most explored and widely accepted conspiracy theories are
those surrounding the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963. Most
people now accept the idea that there was no lone gunman, but theories vary
widely as to what exactly did happen on that November afternoon. The official
version of events were challenged almost immediately by horror schlock-meister
Larry Buchanan in 1964 with The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald. Burt
Lancaster starred in Executive Action in 1973, a film which suggests
that the killing was planned by the CIA and big industry, and most famously of
all, Oliver Stone became forever associated with conspiracies and paranoia when
he directed JFK in 1991, a film which ensured that nobody knew who they
could trust any more.
Cinema' does not merely focus its attention on Hollywood, however. David Ray
Carter has spent literally hundreds of hours scouring the internet for the best
and the worst conspiracy films available. There are a lot of filmmakers out
there using the web to distribute their films and promulgate their theories on
dozens of fascinating subjects, such as alien abductions, the moon landings and
assassinations, including those mentioned and Martin Luther King Jr, Robert
Kennedy and (allegedly) Princess Diana. There are many fascinating films out
there dedicated to the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001,
with proposals ranging from the plausible to the preposterous. However, these
subjects are relatively small fry when compared with those films that deal with
the bigger picture: The New World Order and The Illuminati. Do you think you
are in control of your own life? If these guys are to be believed, think again.
presents the films in themed chapters with a summary and some information on
the filmmakers concerned. He also summarises the “official” version of events
alongside the main conspiracies before going into the films themselves. This
means you get a great overview of all the main ideas, and the book makes an
excellent reference to this unknown cinematic corner of the internet. Most of
the films he refers to can be found online for free, although be warned: some
of them can be up to four hours in length. Filmmaking skills vary also, with
some being little more than someone talking to the camera from the comfort of
their front room (or bunker). As professional equipment has become more
affordable some of the films have become sophisticated, using all the latest
tools available to get their messages across.
Cinema' is a fascinating read, even if you remain sceptical as to the beliefs
presented. Carter himself is sceptical of a great deal of the films he's seen.
As such he makes an entertaining and authoritative guide through the murky and
contradictory world of the conspiracy theory.
Note: this review pertains to the British Region 2 DVD edition
By Adrian Smith
best known for his work as both a writer, director and producer with Hammer
Films, Jimmy Sangster actually relocated to Hollywood during the early 1970s,
where he worked very successfully in both film and television. Whilst there he
wrote a supernatural script set in a run- down hospital in downtown Detroit.
Much to his chagrin, the script was altered to more closely resemble the Hammer
movies that were, to him at least, ancient history. Although keeping the
American protagonists, events were manipulated to allow the story instead to
take place in an English country estate featuring a collection of stereotypical
butlers, chauffeurs and curtseying maids. The film is essentially Agatha
Christie meets Dennis Wheatley through the filter of Dario Argento.
Ross is Maggie, a successful American designer who receives a mysterious
invitation to work in England. Accompanied by her handsome lover Pete (a
youthful and impressively moustachioed Sam Elliott), they jet off to a grey,
dull English world of narrow country lanes and chirpy market stall holders.
Following a minor motorcycle accident they find themselves guests of the
aristocratic Jason Mountolive, who conveniently lives in the kind of stately
home that Americans seem to think all the English live in. What they don't
realise until it becomes too late is that their arrival there was no accident.
When other guests begin to arrive, all successful in their respective fields,
it becomes clear that diabolical dealings are underway, and they may be lucky
to escape with their lives, or their souls.
The Legacy is perhaps best remembered now for
being the film that Ross and Elliott first met on, and subsequently married. It
is a peculiar film, mixing cosy drawing room talk with spectacularly violent
and gory deaths. Richard Marquand had to be influenced by Argento's Suspiria,
released just one year before. Maggie suspects she is descending into madness,
feeling that she is losing her grip on reality. And when people like The Who's
Roger Daltry and former Bond villain Charles Gray turn up only to suffer
spectacularly, she realises that she may be to blame. Could it be something to
do with a sixteenth-century witch, with whose portrait she bears an uncanny
the plot makes very little sense, The Legacy is a very entertaining film.
Ross and Elliott show genuine chemistry (perhaps unsurprisingly) as the
innocent couple around whom the sinister events unfold. The house becomes a
character itself as the camera glides around its oak-panelled hallways,
revealing hidden doors, tapestries, archaic ornaments and an increasingly
anachronistic collection of 1970s furniture. Although mostly shot on location
at Loseley Park House in Surrey, parts of it were also shot at Bray Studios,
the spiritual home of Hammer films.
The Legacy in some ways represents the end of
an era. By the tail end of the 1970s the money to make films in Britain was
running out, and companies like Hammer had gasped their last breath, and
Marquand was courted by George Lucas to direct the last part of his Star
Wars trilogy. It is well worth taking a look at, and this new DVD from
Odeon Entertainment presents an excellent widescreen print. A booklet with background information is the only
significant extra, which is a pity. It would be good to hear how Katharine Ross
and Sam Elliott look back on the film now, and perhaps a word or two from Roger
Daltrey on his dramatic, fish-based demise.
The remarkable art house movie Rapture has been released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time as a limited edition (3,000 units). The movie should have been a sensation with critics back in 1965 due to the outstanding performances and surprisingly frank examination of sexual passion. For reasons we'll never know, the movie was instead greeted with polite but underwhelming praise and even the more enlightened critics of the day, who delighted in championing offbeat films like this, ended up largely ignoring the Fox production. Stunningly filmed in B&W, Rapture is a very intense, often disturbing character study that was directed by John Guillermin, who seems an unlikely choice for the film given that he went on to earn major success directing epic action movies like The Towering Inferno, The Bridge at Remagen and the 1976 King Kong remake. Perhaps it was the commercial failure of this movie that turned Guillermin toward more mainstream projects, but he obviously had a penchant for making serious dramas that was never quite realized.
Rapture is set in Brittany on the coast of France where Agnes, a 15 year-old girl lives with her stern, humorless father Frederick (Melvyn Douglas). He's a widower who never quite got over the fact that the wife he loved so dearly never had the same passion for him. He clearly resents having to raise Agnes on his own and constantly sends less than subtle signals to her that she suffers from a mental illness. Indeed, when we first see Agnes, she is still playing with dolls and living a lonely life as a tom boy. The only other adult presence in her life is the live-in housekeeper Karen (Gunnel Lindblom), a vivacious young woman who acts as big sister to Agnes, even though her nocturnal sexual encounters with her boyfriend in her room results in passionate sounds that cause the younger girl considerable frustrations. Agnes is also haunted by the fact that the house she lives in is close to a mental asylum and she lives in fear that her father will have her committed there. The humdrum lifestyle of these three people is upended when a wounded escaped convict, Joseph (Dean Stockwell), shows up at their house. For their own selfish reasons, they decide to hide him from the police and nurse him back to health. Frederick believes the young man's assertions that he has been framed and values his intellect. Frederick is a left wing liberal former judge who still fights quixotic battles for social justice and he sees in Joseph a sympathetic audience for his writings and editorials. Karen sees Joseph as a sexual plaything and Agnes deludes herself into believing that he is a scarecrow that has come to life to be her emotional salvation and lover. The sexual friction between the two females ultimately leads to dramatic and highly disturbing scenarios.
While the three adult leads all give very fine performances, the real star of the show is young Patricia Gozzi, who gives a remarkably nuanced performance as the rag tag young girl who wants so desperately to be loved. Joseph plays the women against each other and beds both. He seems to develop a genuine affection for Agnes and tries to convince her that her alleged mental problems are easily curable- if she will just get away from her dominating father, who continues to degrade and belittle her. The ill-fated love affair between convict and teen is handled with remarkable candor for 1965, complete with bedroom scenes that leave little doubt that Joseph is engaging in sex with an underage girl. The fact that Fox backed this film speaks well for the studio, because Rapture is the kind of film that major studios rarely went near.
Twilight Time's Blu-ray doesn't boast any extras which is a bit frustrating because, if ever a film called out for a commentary track by film scholars, this is it. The movie's outstanding B&W cinematography looks great and Georges Delerue's marvelous score is a joy to listen to. Julie Kirgo's excellent liner notes explain that Patricia Gozzi sacrificed a promising film career by going into self-imposed retirement at an early age. A pity because her work in this film was Oscar-worthy and she could have had a brilliant career. Rapture is a remarkable film on many levels. Put it on your "must see" list.
James Stewart in a movie about modern witchcraft in New York City??? That unlikely premise is obviously couched in the form of a comedy in Bell, Book and Candle, a 1958 gem that hits all the right notes and boasts a remarkable cast of Hollywood heavyweights, all seen at their very best. Kim Novak is Gillian, a sensuous young, single woman who runs an esoteric shop in Gotham that sells African artifacts. She also has a bit of a secret: she is a witch. Not the kind who tries to steal ruby slippers from young girls, but a kinder, gentler witch whose worst acts involve some juvenile pranks. Bored with her love life, she decides to use her powers to seduce the first desirable man who comes into her field of vision. It turns out that the "victim" is Shep Henderson, a single, successful book publisher who happens to reside in her apartment building. Gillian works her magic and Shep is instantly smitten, though it strains the imagination to believe that any straight man would need a hex on him to become enamored with Kim Novak. Gillian discovers, much to her delight, that Shep is engaged to Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule), an old rival from their college days. Thus, the opportunity to break up their relationship seems especially delicious. The ploy works and Shep and Gillian become a couple- but, as you might imagine, witchcraft intervenes in unexpected ways that causes them to reevaluate their true feelings for each other.
This is a very witty film, directed by Richard Quine, who demonstrates a deft ability to carry off a light comedic touch. The movie reunited Stewart and Novak after they starred in Hitchcock's classic Vertigo and, although the two movies couldn't be more different, they do share an interesting relation to the supernatural. Jack Lemmon, then on the cusp of major stardom as a leading man, is very amusing as Novak's warlock brother who is frustrated that his powers never seem to be able to benefit him in any substantial ways. (He has to earn a living as a bongo player in a nightclub that caters to fellow witches and warlocks.) The great Elsa Lanchester is especially terrific as Novak's ditzy aunt (also a witch). Another wonderful comedic actress, Hermione Gingold, is wonderful in a brief role as a witch who tries to break the spell Gillian has cast on Shep. Even Howard McNear (better known as Floyd, the barber from The Andy Griffith Show) turns up as Shep's business partner. If there is a true scene-stealer, however, it's Ernie Kovacs as an alcoholic, disheveled author of a book about modern witchcraft who professes to be able to recognize witches in a way the average person could never hope to. Naturally, he never suspects the people he is dealing with are mostly witches. Kovacs, playing low-key, dominates every scene he is in- no small task, considering his talented co-stars. Stewart is at his peak here and Novak's legendary icy persona is used to wonderful effect, giving her an other-worldly quality.
The movie has one drawback: although it is set in New York City, there are precious few location scenes. The rest of the film is quite obviously shot on sound stages that could represent anywhere and don't resemble the Big Apple in any way. There is one terrific scene, however, that finds Stewart flinging his hat from atop the Flatiron Building- and cinematographer James Wong Howe captures it's fall to the ground without any cuts in the shot. It's quite an achievement and one wishes Howe's talents weren't restricted largely to studio sets on this film. The movie also boasts a fine score by George Duning that adds immeasurably to the mood and fun.
The Blu-ray looks fine overall, but some graininess can be detected on occasion. Twilight Time has included a featurette previously released in a Novak boxed DVD set from Sony in which she engages in an audio interview about her recollections of making the movie and the delights of working with Stewart, who she clearly adored. Novak says Stewart, then age 50, felt he had already passed his sell date as a viable romantic leading man and henceforth downplayed this aspect of his persona. That seems ludicrous today when leading men get the girl even into their seventies, but it apparently was a motivating factor as to why Stewart left the swooning to his co-stars in most of his later movies. The Blu-ray also includes a featurette with Novak discussing her work with Fredric March on an unrelated film about a May/December romance, Middle of the Night. An original trailer and isolated music score are included in this edition, as is Julie Kirgo's excellent liner notes. The Blu-ray is limited to only 3,000 units, so pick this one up ASAP.