Note: this review pertains to the British Region 2 DVD edition
By Adrian Smith
best known for his work as both a writer, director and producer with Hammer
Films, Jimmy Sangster actually relocated to Hollywood during the early 1970s,
where he worked very successfully in both film and television. Whilst there he
wrote a supernatural script set in a run- down hospital in downtown Detroit.
Much to his chagrin, the script was altered to more closely resemble the Hammer
movies that were, to him at least, ancient history. Although keeping the
American protagonists, events were manipulated to allow the story instead to
take place in an English country estate featuring a collection of stereotypical
butlers, chauffeurs and curtseying maids. The film is essentially Agatha
Christie meets Dennis Wheatley through the filter of Dario Argento.
Ross is Maggie, a successful American designer who receives a mysterious
invitation to work in England. Accompanied by her handsome lover Pete (a
youthful and impressively moustachioed Sam Elliott), they jet off to a grey,
dull English world of narrow country lanes and chirpy market stall holders.
Following a minor motorcycle accident they find themselves guests of the
aristocratic Jason Mountolive, who conveniently lives in the kind of stately
home that Americans seem to think all the English live in. What they don't
realise until it becomes too late is that their arrival there was no accident.
When other guests begin to arrive, all successful in their respective fields,
it becomes clear that diabolical dealings are underway, and they may be lucky
to escape with their lives, or their souls.
The Legacy is perhaps best remembered now for
being the film that Ross and Elliott first met on, and subsequently married. It
is a peculiar film, mixing cosy drawing room talk with spectacularly violent
and gory deaths. Richard Marquand had to be influenced by Argento's Suspiria,
released just one year before. Maggie suspects she is descending into madness,
feeling that she is losing her grip on reality. And when people like The Who's
Roger Daltry and former Bond villain Charles Gray turn up only to suffer
spectacularly, she realises that she may be to blame. Could it be something to
do with a sixteenth-century witch, with whose portrait she bears an uncanny
the plot makes very little sense, The Legacy is a very entertaining film.
Ross and Elliott show genuine chemistry (perhaps unsurprisingly) as the
innocent couple around whom the sinister events unfold. The house becomes a
character itself as the camera glides around its oak-panelled hallways,
revealing hidden doors, tapestries, archaic ornaments and an increasingly
anachronistic collection of 1970s furniture. Although mostly shot on location
at Loseley Park House in Surrey, parts of it were also shot at Bray Studios,
the spiritual home of Hammer films.
The Legacy in some ways represents the end of
an era. By the tail end of the 1970s the money to make films in Britain was
running out, and companies like Hammer had gasped their last breath, and
Marquand was courted by George Lucas to direct the last part of his Star
Wars trilogy. It is well worth taking a look at, and this new DVD from
Odeon Entertainment presents an excellent widescreen print. A booklet with background information is the only
significant extra, which is a pity. It would be good to hear how Katharine Ross
and Sam Elliott look back on the film now, and perhaps a word or two from Roger
Daltrey on his dramatic, fish-based demise.
The remarkable art house movie Rapture has been released on Blu-ray by Twilight Time as a limited edition (3,000 units). The movie should have been a sensation with critics back in 1965 due to the outstanding performances and surprisingly frank examination of sexual passion. For reasons we'll never know, the movie was instead greeted with polite but underwhelming praise and even the more enlightened critics of the day, who delighted in championing offbeat films like this, ended up largely ignoring the Fox production. Stunningly filmed in B&W, Rapture is a very intense, often disturbing character study that was directed by John Guillermin, who seems an unlikely choice for the film given that he went on to earn major success directing epic action movies like The Towering Inferno, The Bridge at Remagen and the 1976 King Kong remake. Perhaps it was the commercial failure of this movie that turned Guillermin toward more mainstream projects, but he obviously had a penchant for making serious dramas that was never quite realized.
Rapture is set in Brittany on the coast of France where Agnes, a 15 year-old girl lives with her stern, humorless father Frederick (Melvyn Douglas). He's a widower who never quite got over the fact that the wife he loved so dearly never had the same passion for him. He clearly resents having to raise Agnes on his own and constantly sends less than subtle signals to her that she suffers from a mental illness. Indeed, when we first see Agnes, she is still playing with dolls and living a lonely life as a tom boy. The only other adult presence in her life is the live-in housekeeper Karen (Gunnel Lindblom), a vivacious young woman who acts as big sister to Agnes, even though her nocturnal sexual encounters with her boyfriend in her room results in passionate sounds that cause the younger girl considerable frustrations. Agnes is also haunted by the fact that the house she lives in is close to a mental asylum and she lives in fear that her father will have her committed there. The humdrum lifestyle of these three people is upended when a wounded escaped convict, Joseph (Dean Stockwell), shows up at their house. For their own selfish reasons, they decide to hide him from the police and nurse him back to health. Frederick believes the young man's assertions that he has been framed and values his intellect. Frederick is a left wing liberal former judge who still fights quixotic battles for social justice and he sees in Joseph a sympathetic audience for his writings and editorials. Karen sees Joseph as a sexual plaything and Agnes deludes herself into believing that he is a scarecrow that has come to life to be her emotional salvation and lover. The sexual friction between the two females ultimately leads to dramatic and highly disturbing scenarios.
While the three adult leads all give very fine performances, the real star of the show is young Patricia Gozzi, who gives a remarkably nuanced performance as the rag tag young girl who wants so desperately to be loved. Joseph plays the women against each other and beds both. He seems to develop a genuine affection for Agnes and tries to convince her that her alleged mental problems are easily curable- if she will just get away from her dominating father, who continues to degrade and belittle her. The ill-fated love affair between convict and teen is handled with remarkable candor for 1965, complete with bedroom scenes that leave little doubt that Joseph is engaging in sex with an underage girl. The fact that Fox backed this film speaks well for the studio, because Rapture is the kind of film that major studios rarely went near.
Twilight Time's Blu-ray doesn't boast any extras which is a bit frustrating because, if ever a film called out for a commentary track by film scholars, this is it. The movie's outstanding B&W cinematography looks great and Georges Delerue's marvelous score is a joy to listen to. Julie Kirgo's excellent liner notes explain that Patricia Gozzi sacrificed a promising film career by going into self-imposed retirement at an early age. A pity because her work in this film was Oscar-worthy and she could have had a brilliant career. Rapture is a remarkable film on many levels. Put it on your "must see" list.
James Stewart in a movie about modern witchcraft in New York City??? That unlikely premise is obviously couched in the form of a comedy in Bell, Book and Candle, a 1958 gem that hits all the right notes and boasts a remarkable cast of Hollywood heavyweights, all seen at their very best. Kim Novak is Gillian, a sensuous young, single woman who runs an esoteric shop in Gotham that sells African artifacts. She also has a bit of a secret: she is a witch. Not the kind who tries to steal ruby slippers from young girls, but a kinder, gentler witch whose worst acts involve some juvenile pranks. Bored with her love life, she decides to use her powers to seduce the first desirable man who comes into her field of vision. It turns out that the "victim" is Shep Henderson, a single, successful book publisher who happens to reside in her apartment building. Gillian works her magic and Shep is instantly smitten, though it strains the imagination to believe that any straight man would need a hex on him to become enamored with Kim Novak. Gillian discovers, much to her delight, that Shep is engaged to Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule), an old rival from their college days. Thus, the opportunity to break up their relationship seems especially delicious. The ploy works and Shep and Gillian become a couple- but, as you might imagine, witchcraft intervenes in unexpected ways that causes them to reevaluate their true feelings for each other.
This is a very witty film, directed by Richard Quine, who demonstrates a deft ability to carry off a light comedic touch. The movie reunited Stewart and Novak after they starred in Hitchcock's classic Vertigo and, although the two movies couldn't be more different, they do share an interesting relation to the supernatural. Jack Lemmon, then on the cusp of major stardom as a leading man, is very amusing as Novak's warlock brother who is frustrated that his powers never seem to be able to benefit him in any substantial ways. (He has to earn a living as a bongo player in a nightclub that caters to fellow witches and warlocks.) The great Elsa Lanchester is especially terrific as Novak's ditzy aunt (also a witch). Another wonderful comedic actress, Hermione Gingold, is wonderful in a brief role as a witch who tries to break the spell Gillian has cast on Shep. Even Howard McNear (better known as Floyd, the barber from The Andy Griffith Show) turns up as Shep's business partner. If there is a true scene-stealer, however, it's Ernie Kovacs as an alcoholic, disheveled author of a book about modern witchcraft who professes to be able to recognize witches in a way the average person could never hope to. Naturally, he never suspects the people he is dealing with are mostly witches. Kovacs, playing low-key, dominates every scene he is in- no small task, considering his talented co-stars. Stewart is at his peak here and Novak's legendary icy persona is used to wonderful effect, giving her an other-worldly quality.
The movie has one drawback: although it is set in New York City, there are precious few location scenes. The rest of the film is quite obviously shot on sound stages that could represent anywhere and don't resemble the Big Apple in any way. There is one terrific scene, however, that finds Stewart flinging his hat from atop the Flatiron Building- and cinematographer James Wong Howe captures it's fall to the ground without any cuts in the shot. It's quite an achievement and one wishes Howe's talents weren't restricted largely to studio sets on this film. The movie also boasts a fine score by George Duning that adds immeasurably to the mood and fun.
The Blu-ray looks fine overall, but some graininess can be detected on occasion. Twilight Time has included a featurette previously released in a Novak boxed DVD set from Sony in which she engages in an audio interview about her recollections of making the movie and the delights of working with Stewart, who she clearly adored. Novak says Stewart, then age 50, felt he had already passed his sell date as a viable romantic leading man and henceforth downplayed this aspect of his persona. That seems ludicrous today when leading men get the girl even into their seventies, but it apparently was a motivating factor as to why Stewart left the swooning to his co-stars in most of his later movies. The Blu-ray also includes a featurette with Novak discussing her work with Fredric March on an unrelated film about a May/December romance, Middle of the Night. An original trailer and isolated music score are included in this edition, as is Julie Kirgo's excellent liner notes. The Blu-ray is limited to only 3,000 units, so pick this one up ASAP.
Elsa Martinelli reads the article in Cinema Retro #23 about the filming of Howard Hawks' Hatari! (Photo copyright: Roland Schaefli. All rights reserved.
By Roland Schaefli
Martinelli checked out our “Hatari!” article in issue #23 of Cinema Retro while
attending the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, she enlightened us about
how she induced baby elephants to follow her around in the film. Not surprisingly,
we ended up following her everywhere. Here are a few highlights of one
of our discussions.
We did an article about the
making of “Hatari!” and how the locations look today.
Oh. They must have changed a lot.
that much. The Ngorongoro Crater (where the pre title sequence was shot) is
full of tourists, of course.
Back then, we were to first to actually go down there.
But you were very lucky to travel there nowadays. You know, we were there four
months and it wasn’t quite as comfortable as it looks today.
night, to honor you, the film festival showed your Italian movie “La Risaia”
which was produced by Carlo Ponti in 1956 – right after your first American film.
What kind of a feeling was that, to see yourself up there on the screen at the
very beginning of your international career?
Well, I’ve seen it before. It’s always something quite
particular. In a way I always look at myself like I was somebody else. And then
it happens that you say to yourself, “she could have done this” or “she could
have done it that way”. Yet mostly I say, “She was OK”. Like it was somebody
your experience as an actress now, would you play the part differently today?
I don’t think about that. What I DID think about was
the copy we got to see. We could not appreciate the scope and the beauty of the
color and so on. Because this was an old print, they obviously didn’t have the
new restored one which is much better. Too bad.
were actually one of the first fashion models to break into movies, which is
much more common now…
Well, I was really a photograph top model in New York.
With Eileen Ford, the great agency. I was just doing photos with some of their
great photographers, and they appeared in “Life” – I had two, no, three covers
in “Life”, and they appeared in “Vogue” – so it was difficult NOT to notice me (laughs).
That’s when I was approached by Kirk Douglas’ wife. He was producing this film
(“The Indian Fighter”). She was French so I was able to understand what she was
saying. And so I got started.
In his new and controversial
book “I Am Spartacus”, Kirk Douglas recounts how he cast the leading lady. He
was originally planning for you to play the part of “Varinia” but finally he
tore up your contract. What went wrong with Kirk Douglas?
Nothing went wrong. It was wonderful to work with him.
The thing was that I was getting ready to get my first baby. I just couldn’t
make it. I suppose somebody else would prefer “Spartacus” to having a baby. But
that was not my case.
from the fashion scene, it must have been something special to wear the
costumes designed by Edith Head for “Hatari!”.
Actually, all the costumes for the film were chosen by
Mr Hawks, like he always did. To him, the costumes were very important. He was always dressing the characters
accordingly. Think about Montgomery Clift in “Red River”, he stood out. He
dressed Gerard Blain the same way (in Hatari!). He had something similar in
mind for him, dressing him all in black. Unfortunately, Gerard was very
difficult, so Hawks cut a lot from his part. So, Hawks not only chose the
costumes of the females but also of the men.
Hawks was also one of the first directors to show women as self-confident in a
male group, even sexually aggressive.
But Hawks was a very sweet man, you see. He was a
strange man, a fantastic man to work with. But quite a hard man. He knew what
he wanted. So you had to be prepared: prepared to realize what he expected from
you. Usually, there was no script. But Welles also never had a script. Probably
some of the greatest stories in Hollywood films weren’t scripted to begin with.
Like some of the scenes in John Ford’s movies: you can’t script the way a horse
dies. So Hawks used to get on the set at 5 in the morning and write the lines
and tape them and as soon as you arrived he gave them to you. And you had to be
quite fast to memorize them.
you had to improvise a lot in the scenes with animals.
Actually I went there one month ahead of the others
just as the baby elephants were born. You see, the trick is to feed them right
away. That’s how you become their “mother”. So they got used to me and would
follow me everywhere. Nobody believes that’s true, but that’s it. When we came
back to Paramount to shoot the interiors, they put them in the San Diego Zoo.
And they were growing quite big. The last time I saw them one of them bumped me
in the knee.
beautiful music by Henry Mancini is still played around the world. What do you
think when you get to hear it somewhere?
The biggest surprise I got is when I went to Brazil. I
went to a very strange section of Rio to buy something. Suddenly, all these kids
came after me and sang the Baby Elephant March. Unbelievable, the way this
music travelled the world and is still so present. God knows how much music
Mancini has written. But that’s the one that sticks.
have acted with some of the great he-men of the screen: Wayne, Mitchum, Heston.
Can you even compare them to the actors of present day?
Yes, but there are some wonderful new actors. Sean
Penn is wonderful. There are so many great new actors, especially in the United
States. Don’t forget the Al Pacinos.
they’re not macho in a sense that Mitchum and Wayne were.
Of course it was different back then. John Wayne was
quite tall, much bigger than me. They were born that way. They didn’t have to
act macho. They were a special kind of people. Think of Gary Cooper, they were
all two meters tall! They were just physically built differently. I mean, they
didn’t have to go to the gym! (laughs)
was also quite different is that leading men and women were smoking in the
movies. You had your share of cigarettes on screen. We actually counted six
times you light up in “Hatari”.
In Bogart’s films, there were cigarettes all over the
place! Nowadays, there would be a sign saying “No smoking”. Look, we all smoked
back then. I myself really stopped 9 years ago, from one day to another. I just
got tired to it and said “Basta”. Of course, to smoke in a movie is a question
You’re still working in film.
What can attract you to a project?
It’s always the story, that comes first. You see, I
took many chances in cinema. I’ve made movies with directors who never did
direct before, at least five or six films with novice directors. Because
whenever I read a story I always know there is a director somewhere behind it.
That’s when I like to take risks…
like to take a chance.
Yes, because if it’s a special story I sense that
somebody special might be behind it.
(Roland Schaefli, Swiss contributor to Cinema Retro, visited the African locations seen in Hatari!. His extensive report about the locations today and the making of the film appear in Cinema Retro issue #23. Click here to purchase from our eBay store.)
60 Minutes has been on the American airwaves since 1968 and our favorite segment has nothing to do with political scandals, interviews with legends or exposing con-men. It is the 1974 report titled Last Train to Istanbul in which correspondent Morley Safer traveled on the last ride of the fabled Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul. By this point, the train had been in terrible disrepair and had degenerated from a symbol of class and status to that of a cargo train carrying migrant workers. The Cold War enters prominently when they cross the Iron Curtain and all papers must be in order. There are no services on the train that once boasted all night champagne and gourmet dining and it's depressing to see how the Express had been allowed to deteriorate. However, the happy ending, as we all know, is that years later it re-emerged under new owners and today has been restored to its original glory. The segment, broadcast in 1974 and re-aired in 1977, is brilliantly edited and incorporates plenty of coverage of how the Express figured into spy movies. There are clips with Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, the (then) newly-released Murder on the Orient Express and the classic train fight between Sean Connery and Robert Shaw in the James Bond film From Russia With Love. (By sheer coincidence, one of the steam engines is coded with the number "007"!) Most amazing if the fact that Morley Safer is still a top correspondent for 60 Minutes. We once vied for a taxi cab during a rainstorm in London...I beat him out and told him that, while I admired his work, I was taking the cab. After viewing his fine work in this segment, I feel kinda guilty. Morley, if you're reading this, next time you'll get the cab- I promise. - Lee Pfeiffer
Happier times: Connery on the set of Goldfinger (1964) before his battles with the studio and producers became the stuff of Hollywood legend.
Sir Sean Connery is still nursing a grudge against the James Bond franchise even though producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson weren't even running the series when Connery was embroiled in legal battles with Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Connery has long maintained he has never been properly compensated for his participation in the six 007 films he did for United Artists. Broccoli always maintained that he got every penny he deserved and that any problems Connery had were between him and the studio as Eon never paid him directly. Nevertheless, the two men never fully reconciled before Broccoli's death in 1996. Connery's relationship with Harry Saltzman was even more strained. The end result of all this is that Connery is choosing to sit out the worldwide international Bond 50th anniversary celebrations, which seems certain to douse fan's long-standing hopes that all six of the Bond actors would ever appear together. For more click here
Ever hear of Bob Wilkins? Neither had I until I received a review copy of The Complete Bob Wilkins Creature Features from November Fire Recordings. If you grew up in Sacramento, California or the Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s, Wilkins will be a familiar name. Many major American cities had popular local personalities who hosted retro-themed cult movie broadcasts. In some markets, it was Zacherly, the Cool Ghoul hosting horror flicks. In the New York City area, it was Officer Joe Bolton, a fictitious police officer who introduced Three Stooges shorts. Wilkins was a nondescript employee with no broadcasting experience who worked at nickel-and-dime local stations in the era in which such networks relied on old re-runs of classic TV series and cheap movies that were often in the public domain, copyright-wise. Wilkins was a baby-faced, blonde haired young man who wore thick black glasses, making him look like the winner of the local Harry Palmer look-a-like contest. His bosses asked him to host introductions to late night broadcasts of horror movies. With his low-key personality, the dapper Wilkins made an unlikely choice for the task. However, he soon won over a loyal audience of young viewers who loved his off-beat habit of mocking many of the movies he introduced. At first advertisers were appalled, but as ratings grew, Wilkins found his job secure: he would work on multiple stations doing the same shtick between 1966 and 1981, when he went into self-imposed retirement. His trademark eccentricity was often being photographed in bizarre situations, such as sleeping in a coffin or engaging in strange interviews with even stranger horror movie fans. Eventually, his fame grew and he became sought-out by well known actors and directors who wanted to publicize their latest projects. Other celebs participated just for the pure fun of it, including Jack Benny and Gov. Ronald Reagan.
The DVD includes highlights of Wilkins' intros to horror films from over his long career. There are also out of studio segments in which he visits movie theaters, graveyards and other suitable locales for his man-on-the-street interviews. The footage is cleverly presented in chronological order with a running timeline of every movie shown on his program and the dates of the telecasts. There is also an abundance of horror movie trailers, TV spots and movie poster art. Wilkins had enough influence to arrange to show George Romero's Night of the Living Dead 27 months after its initial release. It is believed to have been the first telecast of the movie on American TV. Wilkins in also seen in interviews shot shortly after his retirement (he was succeeded as host by his protege, horror movie expert and film critic John Stanley.) He makes an affable and engaging personality and is rarely seen without his trademark Churchill cigar which he routinely puffed throughout his show intros. (Wilkins passed away in 2009).
The DVD is very well-produced, given its limited production values- and is entertaining throughout. Highlights are interviews with iconic actors: a brief bit with Boris Karloff, believed to be his last filmed segment, a serious interview with Christopher Lee in which he discusses why he would never portray Dracula again, John Carradine reflecting on his long career and a wonderful segment in which John Landis, John Belushi and Donald Sutherland promote National Lampoon's Animal House. (Sutherland reveals that his son Kiefer is named after Warren Kiefer, director of Donald's first movie Castle of the Living Dead.) I also enjoyed the interview with William Marshall, who played Blacula in the hit blaxploitation films. There are also vintage TV ads ranging from a Toyota spot using an animated Wilkins look-a-like to some amusing spots promoting the Edsel as the next great American car. All in all, an irresistible tribute to a man I had never heard of, but want to see more of.
One retro movie that has not shown up on television is the 1972 screen adaptation of Philip Roth's notorious 1969 bestseller Portnoy's Complaint. The book was the subject of worldwide debate, praise and derision. The plot tells of a Jewish New Yorker's confessions to his analyst regarding his inner most fears, sexual fantasies and embarrassments. The book's content was truly shocking for its day, largely due to its unabashed depiction of young Portnoy's sexual obsessions that results in his having an erotic encounter with a piece of liver that later serves as the entree in the family dinner. The book traces Portnoy's "progression" into a series of failed relationships with women as he battles unrealistic sexual expectations, impotence and a constant sense of guilt due to his relationship with his overbearing, dominating mother. He seems to strike gold when he meets Mary Jane, a vivacious, if empty-headed young woman who is nick-named The Monkey because of her ability to carry out seemingly impossible sexual positions. Portnoy feels he has found the perfect woman: someone who lives for sex and who eschews traditional relationships. However, even this scenario turns sour when Mary Jane begins to pressure him to marry her, a quest that leads to unexpected tragedy. Roth's novel was praised universally by critics who found his ability to blend social and ethnic satire into what is essentially a penetrating look at the modern sexual psyche. Suddenly, women were being defined by their permissiveness and men were supposed to be supermen in the sack. Most of the controversy, however, stemmed from Roth's scathing dissection of how Portnoy's Jewish background becomes a virtual anchor around his neck, always haunting him with feelings of guilt despite the fact that he outrages his parents by proclaiming his atheism.
The film version of Portnoy's was met with universal scorn by both critics and the public. The main complaint about Complaint was that the brilliant screenwriter Ernest Lehman, who adapted the novel and made his directorial debut with this production, fell flat in conveying the wit of Roth's printed words onto the silver screen. It's a valid observation. Even today, Portnoy just seems like a smarmy dirty joke that goes on for an hour and a half, devoid of any real laughs or social observations. The scenes of Portnoy's obsession with masturbation as a teenager are cringe-inducing, as his family is subjected to his moans of pleasure from behind the bathroom door. (The notorious liver sequence is, fortunately, only described, not depicted.) Also, the scene in which an easy neighborhood girl's sexual encounter with young Portnoy results in his being blinded through emission of bodily fluids, is also rendered somewhat tame. However, these are about the only occasions when Lehman uses good taste. The rest of the film is a mish mosh of foul language, abusive relationships and awkwardly filmed fantasy sequences in which Portnoy is called to account by God. The film's modest storyline did not stop Warner Brothers from providing a sizable budget with locations filmed in Greece, Italy and Israel (in the latter sequence, Portnoy has a disastrous encounter with a free-spirited Israeli woman.) Curiously, the high budget didn't preclude some of the worst rear screen projection sequences seen in this era. Despite its many flaws, however, the movie has some aspects that can be recommended. Richard Benjamin has the unenviable task of playing the unlikable protagonist and he does a fine job. His ability to alternate between comedy and pathos was always his most enviable talent and the film's failures can't be laid at his doorstep. Similarly, Karen Black as Mary Jane gives one of the best performances of her career as the rough-around-the-edges woman of loose morals who pays tragically for her desire to want a fulfilling, loving relationship. The most distasteful sequences are those of Portnoy in the company of his aging, whining parents. Jack Somack is convincing as the grumpy dad whose daily battle with constipation has turned him into an ogre. However, Lee Grant is woefully miscast as the stereotypical Jewish mother. As Roger Ebert observed in his review of the film, the part cried out for Shelly Winters. Young Jill Clayburgh makes an impression as the Israeli object of Portnoy's perverted desire. Michel Legrand provides a typically lush, romantic score that seems oddly out of place in this most unromantic of movies, but there are some grace-saving scenes of Gotham in the early '70s that provide some entertaining distractions.
The Warner Archive has released Portnoy's Complaint as a burn to order title. Quality is very good on all counts, though there are no extras. The movie is the kind of curiosity that retro movie lovers will want to examine if for no other reason than to see one of the most groundbreaking films in terms of permissiveness of sexual situations and language.
III: Season of the Witch
is a strange concoction that never seemed to get a fair shake at the box office
during its original release. It's kind
of like the unwanted offspring of the Halloween
films and was originally projected to be the first in a series of yearly horror
yarns released every October that dealt with different stories surrounding the
titular holiday. The film is among the
least successful of the series, so any future franchise plans were abandoned,
which is a shame because Halloween III
is a fun little movie in its own right. In addition to being marketed
incorrectly, it has not been represented properly even on home video. DVD certainly hasn't been kind to it, having
seen no less than three incarnations in “movie only” editions released in 1998
by Good Times Home Video, and in 2003 and 2007 by Universal Home Video. This is
about to change, however, thanks to the fine folks at Shout! Factory. Their new “Scream Factory” line is releasing
a widescreen, feature-rich DVD in September (along with Halloween II from 1981) that should satisfy any passing or diehard
fan of this film. Having been erroneously
promoted as the third installment of the popular horror series at the time, it
is the only film having absolutely nothing to do with the manifestation of pure
evil, Michael Myers. Halloween III is more of a science
fiction/horror film in the tradition of Invasion
of the Body Snatchers (1956), the film the director obviously admires
Released on Friday, October 22, 1982, Halloween III was co-written and
directed by Tommy Lee Wallace whose future credits would go on to
include episodes of the of the mid-1980's revival TV series The Twilight Zone and the 1990
made-for-TV movie adaptation of It by
Stephen King. Halloween
Tom Atkins, who worked with John Carpenter on The Fog (1980) and Escape
From New York (1981) and with George A. Romero in Creepshow (1982). He is also
known for Fred Dekker's Night of the
Creeps (1986) and Richard Donner's Lethal
Weapon (1987). Mr. Atkins always
delivers a terrific performance regardless of the subject matter of the films
that he appears in, and Halloween IIIis
no exception. Here he plays Dr. Dan
Challis, who looks no more like a doctor than yours truly, and ends up playing
doctor with Ellie Grimbridge
(Stacey Nelkin), the twenty-two year-old grand-daughter of a man who died in
his care (actress Nelkin is reportedly the woman Woody Allen had an affair with
in the mid-1970s and inspired Mariel Hemingway’s character of Tracy in his 1979
film Manhattan). It turns out that a company producing
Halloween masks (courtesy of Don Post Studios) is actually a front for an evil
man named Conal Cochran (Dan O'Herlihy) who has produced a legion of androids
in the form of well-dressed men, and is the monster behind the television
commercials for Silver Shamrock Novelties which are geared towards children. Cochran’s plan is to kill children who wear
his masks on Halloween night by activating a microchip in their masks which
contain a fragment of Stonehenge. He wants to resurrect the festival of Samhain
which he relates to witchcraft.
The story has elements of science fiction and reminds one of the
aforementioned granddaddy of social paranoia flicks. The well-dressed men remind me of the
soulless crew members of the Cygnus in The
Black Hole (1979). Some critics even
claimed that the film is a social commentary about the pitfalls of consumerism
and the power of large corporations. To
paraphrase Sigmund, sometimes a thriller is just a thriller!
III has become one of those films rescued from obscurity
thanks to the availability of home video. Were it not for the ancillary markets of cable television and video
playback devices, it is highly unlikely that so many genre gems would have ever
retained any sense of life and made it into the homes of fans around the world.
While obviously it is better to see such films on the big screen, particularly
movies such as Halloween IIIwhich
was shot in the 2.35:1 anamorphic aspect ratio, for many of us, this was the
only way to see these films at all. Network
TV airings were hit or miss.
John Carpenter and Alan Howarth provide a nifty synthesizer-driven film
score which aids in giving the film a spooky and alien feel to it. The Silver Shamrock theme is a variation of
the public domain children’s song “London Bridge is Falling Down.”
I love going to the locations where
movies are shot, and Sean Clark of Horror's Hallowed Grounds does another
excellent job of taking us on a tour of the locations for Halloween III. However, I
must say that this is about as close as you would want to get to the town of
Loleta, CA where the bulk of the film takes place. While it looks industrial and low-key in the
film, 30 years have not been kind to this location. The motel where the aforementioned tryst
occurs is dilapidated and home to people you don’t want to know.
If you're going to own Halloween III, this is the
edition to get. This special DVD comes with the following extras:
commentary with director Tommy Lee Wallace, Sean Clark of Horror's Hallowed
Grounds and Rob Galluzzo of Icons of Fright
commentary with actor Tom Atkins
Alone: The Making of Halloween III:
Season of the Witch featuring Tommy Lee Wallace, Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin,
Dick Warlock, Dean Cundey and more...
Hallowed Grounds - Revisiting the original shooting locations
MTV's web site is looking back at one James Bond film every week, leading up to the release of Skyfall. Click here to read their assessment of Roger Moore in Octopussy (1983). The review accurately points out the jumbled, complicated plot line but does acknowledge the great stunt work. (What's up with calling the terrific title theme- John Barry's All Time High - "one of the worst" songs in the series? You can also watch the original trailer and James Brolin's screen test for the role of Bond, filmed when it looked like Moore would retire from the series.
Turns out the scoop that MI6-HQ web site broke has been confirmed: Daniel Craig will return for at least two more James Bond movies. His third film, Skyfall, is due for release next month in the UK with an American opening following in November. For more click here
Nightmare Castle, released on DVD by Severin Films, is an Italian horror film from 1965 that has achieved a following largely on the basis of its star, original scream queen Barbara Steele. The story is a period piece set in the late 1800s with Steele playing a dual role. As the film opens, we find her as the unfaithful wife of an aristocratic doctor (Paul Muller) who has a penchant for dabbling in bizarre medical experiments. (A note of caution to readers: if you are contemplating having an illicit affair, it's best to reconsider if your spouse is quasi-mad scientist.) When the husband catches on to having been made a cuckold, he tortures his wife and her lover to death - only to find the mansion they inhabited has been inherited by his sister-in-law (also played by Steele). In short order, he woos and marries his wife's sister, who conveniently happens to have been recently released by a mental asylum after suffering from delusions. This sets up an antique version of Gaslight with Muller and Helga Line, who plays his mistress, trying to drive Steele insane so they can inherit the mansion.
Pretty Eddie is
a bizarre concoction, the sort of movie that they just don't make anymore, and
certainly not in the way in which this politically incorrect creation from 1974
was made. Released on DVD in 2006 with a fairly lousy and dark transfer, the
film has been issued in a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack by the fine folks at HD
Cinema Classics. Remastered in high definition by Film Chest, Inc. from a 35mm
theatrical print, Poor Pretty Eddie concerns
an African-American singer, Liz Weatherly (Leslie Uggams), who ends up stranded
in the woods after her car breaks down and encounters a bizarre group of
characters. Where is a cell phone when
you need one? Due to the presence of the
newly-built interstate (have you ever noticed how all of these characters’ ills
are attributed to government highways?), the remote southern town that she
stumbles across is on its last legs. It would be impossible to discuss this
film without making a mention of John Boorman’s Deliverance made two years prior to it, and all of the backwoods
redneck jokes that probably popped into the audiences’ minds while viewing the
Weatherly takes a room at an inn that
is home to a group of show business wannabes, most notably Bertha (the always
reliable nutcase Shelley Winters, fresh from her turns as Mrs. Armstrong, Auntie
Roo and Helen Hill), Bertha’s lover Eddie (Michael Christian) who has patterned
himself after Elvis and sees Bertha as his ticket to fame, Keno (Ted Cassidy)
the handyman, and Sheriff Orville (Slim Pickens). Dub Taylor even shows up! The Charlie Williams Pinecrest Lodge in
Athens, GA doubles as the inn (it was closed in early 2004) where 90% of the
action was filmed. The film appears to
have a look and feel that seems to almost be drug-induced, with a strange array
of characters and big colors as part of the set design. It is an unpredictable hodgepodge of weirdness
and must be seen to be believed.
Cinematographer David Worth provides a
very interesting and entertaining commentary along with cult film historian Joe
Rubin. Mr. Worth’s loquacity is matched
only by his erudition of the film business, and for a film made nearly 40 years
ago he speaks with tremendous flair and great recollection, despite his claims
to the contrary. In the early 1970s,
aspiring editors and directors generally cut their teeth in what was then known
as the porn industry (now called the “adult film industry” – it has become more
respectable I suppose!). They rarely had
their names appear in the credits of such fair. Poor Pretty Eddie was no
stranger to controversy, as it contains a rape scene involving Eddie and Liz;
the scene juxtaposes images of dogs mating in slow motion. Make of that what you will!
The transfer is in high definition,
although the print is not completely free of lines and scratches, particularly just
after the head of the reel changes. This
is a minor complaint, however.
In addition to the feature audio
commentary, the package contains the following extras:
neat postcard featuring the original poster art
I personally love HD Cinema
Classics. They package their films with
both a DVD and a Blu-ray, which gives the viewer the opportunity to see that
Blu-ray is definitely the way to go.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER POOR PRETTY EDDIE FROM AMAZON.COM
Scorpion has released the rather obscure 1969 surfing documentary Follow Me on DVD. Clearly inspired by the similarly-themed, but highly acclaimed 1966 film The Endless Summer, this is a rather slap-dash effort that was the brainchild of director/producer Gene McCabe, whose professional credits largely began and ended with this project. The film traces the exploits of three young American surfers (Mary Lou McGinnis, Claude Codgen and Bob Purvey) as they travel the globe, ostensibly on a meager budget in order to find the most challenging waves and surfing locations. I say "ostensibly" because the average back packer doesn't travel with a film crew, which makes the frequent references to their having to scrimp ring a bit hollow. It's like those contestants on Survivor who we are supposed to believe are in danger of starving to death, even with a crew of dozens filming their every move. Nevertheless, taken in the context of its era and the fact that most people were not world travelers in 1969, Follow Me does provide all-too-brief tours of exotic locations ranging including Hong Kong, Japan, Ceylon, India, Morocco and Hawaii. However, the film's short running time (a scant 79 minutes) precludes the viewer from getting anything other than a very superficial look at the locales and cultures. Similarly, the three leads are just window dressing whose individual personalities never come through.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Park Circus film distributors in the UK:
Leading international classic and repertory film distributor Park Circus is pleased to announce a stellar line-up of restorations and newly discovered classics as part of the 2012 BFI London Film Festival Treasures from the Archive strand.
Otto Preminger’s BONJOUR TRISTESSE,starring David Niven and Deborah Kerr, receives its UK premiere in a sparkling new digital restoration courtesy of Sony Pictures Releasing. The film will screen on the 12th and 13th October.
Following a world premiere at Cannes, Sony Pictures’ restoration of David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA will be screened in a stunning 4K digital presentation on 20th October. This will be the first time the 4K version of the film screens in the UK. Released in 1962, the film celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a return to cinemas worldwide. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, which Park Circus is rolling out internationally, will receive a UK theatrical release from 16th November 2012.
Sony Pictures’ restoration of Sergio Solima’s THE BIG GUNDOWN will receive its international premiere in a new 4K restoration featuring the original Italian soundtrack. The screening will take place on 20th October.
An archival 35mm print of Jack Garfein’s SOMETHING WILD will receive rare screenings on the 18th and 20th October.
Robert Aldrich’s 1962 WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, starring screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, will be presented in a brand new restoration by Warner Bros. to honour the film’s 50th anniversary. Screening on the 18th and 20th October. The LFF screenings mark the start of Park Circus’ international plans for the film, including a UK release from December 14th2012.
Originally released in 1955, London will host the world premiere of the Film Foundation’s restoration of RICHARD III, directed and starring Sir Laurence Olivier, on 14th October.
The London Film Festival marks a very active season for Park Circus Films with a number of additional titles being released into the cinema market place worldwide including a US re-release of David Lean’s BRIEF ENCOUNTER and, internationally, a special Christmas re-release of GREMLINS.
and Costello Meet Frankenstein
is one of the funniest movies ever made.
It's listed at number 56 on the American Film Institute's list of top
100 comedies. I personally feel that this
ranking is unfair, as it should instead be in the top ten. No matter how many times I've seen it, it
never fails to make me laugh out loud. Jerry
Garcia of the band The Grateful Dead declared it as his favorite movie and it
is held equally in high regard among Bud Abbott and Lou Costello's most
die-hard fans. Filmed in February and March of 1948, the film was
released on Tuesday, June 15, 1948. They
really banged out films quickly in those days.
The budget was just under $800,000.
Even though it stars one of Hollywood's greatest comedy duos who succeeded
in just about every entertainment arena there was at the time - on stage, on
radio, on motion picture theater screens, and on television - there are moments
in the film that can be very frightening to young children who are unaware of
the film’s satirical tone. I was roughly
six years-old when I first saw it and it gave me nightmares. As I got older and realized that it was just
a movie, I really grew to love it. Sunday mornings were a struggle for me as my
family dragged us off to church and I would nervously check my wristwatch during
the sermon in the hopes that we would get home in time for me to see the Sunday
Morning Movie at 11:30 AM on WPIX-TV Channel 11 in New York City. They showed one of eighteen Abbott and
Costello films that they made for Universal International in the 1940s and 1950s
in constant rotation. Some were terrific and some weren't, but Sunday mornings
weren't the same without Abbott and Costello when they followed F-Troop.
The premise of the film works perfectly
because the duo and the monsters play the material straight. Lon Chaney, Jr.
sells the movie in his portrayal of Larry Talbot, a man who knows all about the
Frankenstein monster and Dracula since he himself is the Wolf Man. He attempts to stop the shipment of the
exhibits of Dracula and Frankenstein's monster to McDougal's House of Horrors fully
knowing them to be real monsters. Naturally, his attempts to convince Chick
Young (Bud Abbott) do not go according to plan. However, Wilbur Grey (Lou
Costello) begins to believe him. Wilbur's girlfriend Sandra (Lenore Aubert) initially appears innocent,
though she proves to be in on the plot to replace the Frankenstein's monster's
brain with a dim-witted one, namely Wilbur's. This sets into motion some of the
funniest antics that Abbott and Costello have ever performed on screen.
When reading about the history of the
making of this film, one comes to learn that the original script was entitled The Brain of Frankenstein. Lou Costello
was not a fan of this script, and even commented that his five-year-old
daughter could have written better. Learning this fact later on truly astonished me. The title of the film
was also changed to avoid confusion to the audience who might have assumed that
was a legitimate Universal monster movie.
Boris Karloff was approached to play
the monster but declined, his reasoning being that he didn’t feel that the
monsters should be mocked. He
reluctantly agreed to be featured in a promotional ad campaign for the film as
long as he didn't actually have to see the film!
The opening credits, created by
animator Walter Lantz of Woody Woodpecker fame, are among the film's
The film has been released on home
video many times: multiple times on VHS, three times on laserdisc, and three
times thus far on DVD. Now, as part of
Universal Films' 100th anniversary, there is a new Blu-ray edition which comes
with a DVD which replicates the 2000 DVD release, and a digital copy of the
film. If you're wondering about the
presence of the Realart Pictures logo title card that found its way onto the second
DVD release (the film was re-released in 1956 by Realart on a double bill with
1949’s Abbott and Costello Meet the
Killer, Boris Karloff), the answer is no. These discs contain the Universal International title cards, and I can
honestly say that the Blu-ray is definitely worth the upgrade. The picture is much clearer and sharper as
one would expect from such an upgrade. The
extras from the previous editions have been ported over to the Blu-ray and give
insight into the making of this classic film.
A huge highlight of the movie is Frank
Skinner's brilliant and sinister score, which is rumored to be up for a re-recording
and released as an upcoming soundtrack CD.
There are two new and interesting bonus
features available on the Blu-ray include two short promos. The first is called
100 Years of Universal: The Lot which
features sound bites from Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Ron Howard, John
Landis, Dan Aykroyd and others talking about their love of making films at
Universal on the famed back lot. This
promo runs just under ten minutes. The
second is called 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters that covers the
gamut of the classic monsters, Al Pacino's turn as SCARFACE, and BACK TO THE
FUTURE to name just a few. This runs
just over eight minutes.
1960s proved to be a transitional period for Japanese director Seijun Suzuki.
After churning out numerous yakuza films for Nikkatsu throughout the 1950s, the
director began to rebel against the creative limitations imposed by the studio.
Fed up with clichéd scenarios and adherence to stylistic conventions, Suzuki
began infiltrating subversive visual flourishes to make things more interesting
for himself and his audiences. Nineteen-sixty-three is widely regarded as the
year Suzuki fully became Suzuki, starting with Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! Although it doesn’t
scale the delirious heights of the more famous Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Branded
to Kill (1967)—whose visual and narrative anarchy got him fired from
Nikkatsu—the film still turns the yakuza genre on its head through Suzuki’s
stars as Tajima, a resourceful private eye who owns the Detective Bureau 2-3 of
the title. For reasons never clearly explained, he manifests a deep-seated and
simmering hate for the yakuza, an emotion that primes his motivational pump
throughout the film. Following a munitions theft from an American military base,
Tajima convinces the police to let him infiltrate one of two yakuza gangs
battling for control of the local gun-running trade. Posing as an ex-con, he
befriends a mid-level criminal named Manabe and gets close enough to the
underworld hierarchy to identify the major players and the location of the
guns. Even when his cover is blown, the quick-thinking detective improvises
schemes to remain useful to the competing gangs—that is, until the bad guys
lock him in an underground garage, pump gallons of motor oil into it and set it
on fire. Tajima escapes the inferno with the aid of what has to be the world’s
most powerful machinegun, then lights the fuse that ignites a battle royal
between the rival gangs—a ferocious encounter fought with guns and samurai swords—that
brings the film to a spectacularly convulsive conclusion.
Released in 1954 at the height of Marlon Brando's popularity, Desiree has the dubious distinction of being one of his least-remembered films, possibly because it was eclipsed by Kazan's On the Waterfront, released the same year. Desiree was a prestigious Fox production based on a romance novel that apparently had been so much the rage during this time that it was marketed as rivaling Gone With the Wind. The film version purports to explore the romantic relationship between Napoleon Bonaparte (Brando) and Desiree Clary (Jean Simmons), a young French girl of humble background who is employed in a shop owned by her family. When we first meet young Napoleon, he is on skids, his career and life threatened by the madness and paranoia that engulfed France in the aftermath of the Revolution. Still, he perseveres and survives the threats. He enters a playful romance with Desiree and even proposes to her. However, as his fame and power escalates, his opportunistic side shows through when he simultaneously proposes to Josephine (Merle Oberon), a high society type who Napoleon feels can help advance his ambitions. Although the film is somewhat frank for its day (there are thinly veiled references to sex and the lack of virgins in Paris), the scorned Desiree keeps her own virginity intact and marries one of France's top generals, Bernadotte (Michael Rennie). In this absurdly abridged version of tumultuous French history, Napoleon seems to become emperor and dictator virtually overnight. He and Desiree still clearly love one another but she remains loyal to her less-flashy, but more sincere husband. Crude attempts by Napoleon to seduce her inevitably fail (which waters down the steamy romance considerably), but he retains a respect for her even when she and Bernadotte become opposed to his quest for world conquest. In the film's climactic sequence, Napoleon's world has been reduced to the city of Paris where he intends to lead a quixotic, bloody battle against his encroaching enemies. Desiree makes a dramatic visit to him and, after a few choice words and admonishments, convinces the former emperor to go quietly into exile on St. Helena. Such absurdities might make you suspect that the film is one of those "so bad it's good" productions. In fact, Desiree is too good to be considered a guilty pleasure, but too unimpressive to merit status as a "must see" movie.
There is a particular challenge for actors who choose to play certain historical figures. Napoleon, like Adolf Hitler, has been satirized so consistently that a false step can turn a performance into an unintentionally amusing misfire. One of the most impressive elements of this movie is Brando's remarkably subdued portrayal of the French emperor. It's very much a supporting role compared to that of Jean Simmons, but unsurprisingly, Brando dominates every scene he is in. We never get to know the inner Bonaparte because the story views him only from the perspective of Desiree. However, the Brando cynicism and wit come through consistently. The temperamental actor got the role by default. He broke his contract to star in The Egyptian for Fox and, presumably to avoid being sued, accepted the part in Desiree to fulfill his obligation to the studio. The real star of the movie is Simmons, but her performance is undermined by script and direction that makes the character of Desiree act as though she is a contemporary young woman of the 20th century. She pouts, she giggles, she pines away for her estranged would-be lover. When Desiree discovers that Napoleon is, in fact, engaged to Josephine, her reaction is that of Annette Funicello discovering that Frankie Avalon has been canoodling with some surfer chick in a B beach movie of the 1960s. There are more impressive performances from always reliable Michael Rennie and Merle Oberon, as the strangely sympathetic Josephine, who becomes tossed on the dust heap of history because she cannot bear Napoleon a male heir. Alan Napier makes an amusing appearance as a fey choreographer of a royal wedding who is being driven to the point of insanity by Napoleon's vain, insufferable sisters.
Fox's insistence that director Henry Koster utilize the new CinemaScope process was a mistake. Although it affords Koster the opportunity to present some grand ball room sequences in impressive widescreen format, this is, overall, a claustrophobic tale with virtually no exteriors. (There is some fleeting second unit footage shot in France, but it all too apparent that the nearest the principals got to Parisian locations was lunch at a French restaurant in Beverly Hills.) The film has grandeur but no sweep and boasts some of the phoniest looking sets and matte paintings ever seen in a major studio film of the era. Alex North's sweeping romantic score is a saving grace, but the real pleasure of the film is the periodic appearances of Brando in an offbeat performance. Brando was said to loathe the film and his performance, but he presents Napoleon in a quirky, amusing way as a man of acerbic, cynical wit. For all its faults, Desiree is never dull or uninteresting.
Twilight Time has released a stunning Blu-ray edition (3,000 units) of the film that is beautiful to behold, phony sets and all. The extras include the original theatrical trailer and an informative collector's booklet with liner notes by Julie Kirgo, that are, as usual, highly readable. For example, I always thought the movie was a boxoffice bomb, but Kirgo provides evidence that it was actually considered a major financial success, easily eclipsing grosses for On the Waterfront. Brando fans will certainly want to add this flawed, but worthy curiosity to their movie libraries.
Indican Pictures has secured the theatrical distribution rights to “The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernández”, the final film of Ernest Borgnine. The Oscar winning actor died recently at age 95. In this film, he plays a vigorous patient in a nursing home who leads fellow residents in opposition to the cruel management. The film was screened earlier this year at the Newport Film Festival and Borgnine won the Outstanding Achievement in Acting award. For more click here
At Central Hall Westminster – Saturday
September the 22nd ( 10 am – 5 pm )
celebration of the quintessential James Bond film!
members of the cast and crew, reunite for a one day and one-off unique event!
over 100 sellers from four continents coming to London for the day. Selling
Goldfinger and other original James Bond film memorabilia , plus general film
memorabilia from the silents to the latest releases.
One of the worlds largest collections of James
Bond film memorabilia ever assembled up for sale!
vintage James Bond collectable retro toys and games!
special guests on the day include –
KEN ADAM HONOR BLACKMAN SHIRLEY EATON TANIA MALLETT MARGARET NOLAN
CARON GARDNER BURT KWOUK NORMAN WANSTALL
special SIR KEN ADAM retrospective with SIR CHRISTOPHER FRAYLING
An HONOR BLACKMAN retrospective show
MEMORIES – The Golden Girls “ Reflections Talk “ SHIRLEY EATON TANIA MALLETT MARGARET
NOLAN talk about their memories
of making Goldfinger and working with Sir Sean Connery and director Guy
winning sound editor NORMAN WANSTALL will talk about Bond behind the
scenes and his work with the directors Terence Young , Guy Hamilton and
editor Peter Hunt. Also demonstrate how picture and sound editing was done
on the early Bond films with the moviola.
to the special talks and retrospectives can be bought from the website.
number of tickets available are limited in numbers can now be purchased on the
free screening in the afternoon of the newly remasterd and restored “ The Edgar Wallace Mysteries “ features an
early Sean Connery performance.
We love the cheesy but fun 1966 Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature film One Spy Too Many, cobbled together from the two-part episodes of The Alexander the Greater Affair with Rip Torn as a villain of Bondian standards. The film featured some extra sexy scenes shot exclusively for the feature film. These feature Yvonne Craig and Donna Michele and feature prominently in the original trailer.
Remember when spy movies used to stress intricate plot lines and intriguing characters, as opposed to over-the-top action sequences? If you pine for the days of thrillers like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and The Quiller Memorandum, then the Warner Archives' release of the 1985 movie Code Name: Emerald should fit the bill. Never heard of the film? Neither had I until a review copy arrived from the studio. There's an inherent prejudice that most of us have regarding movies that we haven't heard of - namely, if it's obscure, then it must be bad. Emerald proves, however, that some truly fine films are merely the victim of bad marketing or audience indifference. I'm not sure if this movie ever received a theatrical release, but it's certainly a worthwhile venture.
Ed Harris (who resembles the young Robert Duvall, not only physically, but in terms of mannerisms, as well) plays a triple agent - an American working for British Intelligence who poses as a valued collaborator for the Germans, even though he's really with the Allies. Got that? (Then please explain it to me!). Harris is sent on a perilous mission to occupied Paris when a key American soldier (Eric Stoltz) is captured. Stoltz is an "Overlord", one of the few men who know the time, date and landing locations for the forthcoming D-Day invasion. If the Germans can break him, the entire invasion would be jeopardized. The Germans plant Harris as a cellmate of Stoltz in the hopes of getting the vital information. Of course, Harris reveals his identity to Stoltz and the two contrive to convince the Germans that the false information they are discussing is genuine. What makes the screenplay by Ronald Bass (based on his novel The Emerald Illusion) so compelling are the twists, turns and unexpected developments. Unlike many films, the Germans are not presented as gullible dupes. Instead, they become suspicious of Harris, thus setting in motion some genuinely suspenseful sequences.
The estate of author Mario Puzo is suing Paramount Pictures over the literary and film rights to sequels to The Godfather. Paramount claims that Puzo signed away virtually all rights to sequels and films to the studio back in 1969 as part of an overall deal to bring the original Godfather novel to the screen. The film was finally made in 1972 and for a time became the highest grossing film in cinema history. Since then, Paramount has released two sequels to the movie but has attempted to stop the Puzo's from publishing literary sequels to the original book. The estate claims it has the rights to any novels relating to the Corleone crime family and that Paramount does not get automatic film rights. The studio is standing fast by its assessments and the entire matter will have to be adjudicated in court. For more (plus an interview with Francis Ford Coppola about the making of the first film) click here.
since I saw Rick Rosenthal's Halloween II
(1981) on home video in 1983 I cannot help but associate it with The Chordette’s
1954 hit “Mr. Sandman” which plays briefly during the opening and over the end
credits. Stanley Kubrick managed to
completely alter our images and impressions of Singin’ in the Rain with A
Clockwork Orange. What use of
Halloween II is one of my favorite horror film
sequels, which is saying a lot as most of them are silly or unnecessary. It was one of the earliest movies that I ever
owned on home video on the RCA Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) system which
was an analog video disc unit in which video and audio was played back using a
stylus cartridge and a high-density groove system similar to phonograph
records. Unlike DVD or Blu-ray today,
CED presented viewers only the movie. There were no special editions, no
running commentaries, no trailers, and no additional interviews. If you were
looking for added value, you had to go to the far more expensive laser disc format
that was in full swing some ten years later which usually included a
letterboxed version of the film in addition to the aforementioned goodies. This double-disc standard DVD set will make a terrific addition to
your collection as the transfer is very crisp and clear; plus, there are a
multitude of extras that puts the original Halloween
II DVDs from Goodtimes Home Video in 1998 and Universal Home Video in 2001
to shame. Those versions provided no
extras and somewhat noisy transfers.
it is not as cinematically polished as John Carpenter's extraordinary original,
which was referred to as "an absolutely merciless thriller" by Roger
Ebert, Halloween II picks up the same
night that Halloween left off
(October 31, 1978). It breaks the
unwritten rule of sequels by using footage from Mr. Carpenter's film as a segue
into the new movie, but it doesn’t hurt the film as much as one might think. Psycho
II and Poltergeist II were both guilty
of this (the former was a very good follow-up to Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful
original whereas the latter was a poor simulacrum of the spectacular funhouse
of the Freeling’s first go-round with the alternate universe). Donald Pleasence reprises his role as the
indefatigable Dr. Loomis, spouting some of the film's best lines, such as
"You don't know what death is!" and "I shot him six times!"
He actually shot Meyers seven times
if you count the gunshots. Jamie Lee
Curtis returns as Laurie Strode, however I am not sure that I completely buy
the plot point that she is Michael Meyers's sister. This development was
written into the script and since Halloween
was being premiered on NBC on Friday, October 30, 1981 (the same night that
Halloween II was premiering
theatrically), several additional scenes were filmed and added to the Halloween network premiere to drive this
point home as well as to pad out the film's running time. Thus begins Michael Myers's reign of terror
on Haddonfield after miraculously surviving the point-blank blasts of Dr.
Loomis’s handgun. There are some genuinely scary moments in Halloween II which don’t really hold up
now as they have been mimicked to death and have become in and of themselves
clichés, seen in literally hundreds of slasher films made over the past thirty
Guest, who played the lead in 1984’s The
Last Starfighter, is very likeable as an EMT who looks after Laurie. Leo Rossi is his usual sleazy self as his
partner. Comedian Dana Carvey is seen
briefly and is listed in the credits as "Assistant." He appears
twenty-two minutes into the film wearing a blue sleeveless jacket and a blue
cap. He is pointed out on the commentary
by director Rosenthal.
Myers was primarily portrayed by Nick Castle in the original, and close-ups
were done by Tony Moran. Here, he is
portrayed by Dick Warlock, and his gait is obviously different, slightly less
menacing than the previous actors.
extras that appear on this set consist of the following bonus features:
theatrical version and the television cut with added footage not seen in the
commentary with director Rick Rosenthal and actor Leo Rossi
commentary with stunt co-ordinator/actor Dick Warlock
The Nightmare Isn't Over: The Making Of
Halloween II featuring
interviews with director Rick Rosenthal, actor & stunt coordinator Dick
Warlock, actors Lance Guest, Leo Rossi, Nancy Stephens, Ana Alicia, Tawny
Moyer, executive producer Irwin Yablans, director of photography Dean Cundey,
co-composer Alan Howarth, costume supervisor Jane Ruhm, co-editor Skip
Schoolnik, and filmmaker Tommy Lee Wallace
Horror's Hallowed Grounds: The Locations
of Halloween II – Host
Sean Clark revisits the original shooting locations of the film
scenes with optional audio commentary from director Rick Rosenthal
ending with optional audio commentary from director Rick Rosenthal
and radio spots
in all, this is the version of Halloween
II to own. Released by Shout!
Factory under their Scream Factory line, they are proving themselves as a force
to be reckoned with, releasing genre favorites in deluxe special editions with
lots of lavished extras, including new cover artwork, with the original artwork
viewable in the form of a reversible sleeve.
Taschen, £ 44.99) Hardcover, 10.6 x
12.8 in., 276 pages, ISBN
By Adrian Smith
Taken a mere six
weeks before her untimely death, the Bert Stein photos of Marilyn Monroe have
become legendary. With an estimated 2,500 shots taken over two weekends in a
converted Bel Air hotel room, Stein attempted successfully to capture the true
Marilyn, past the glamour and the Hollywood glitz. These photos were originally
printed in Vogue and have remained in popular circulation ever since. In
1973 Pullitzer-winning author and journalist Norman Mailer was invited to write
a introductory piece on Marilyn Monroe to accompany a book of photos, including
some of those taken by Stein. Mailer had never met Monroe, and took everyone by
surprise when he returned with over 100,000 words, having watched all of her
movies, conducted interviews and more essentially, fallen in love. In death, as
in life, Marilyn Monroe has a spellbinding effect on everyone.
photos are perhaps well known for Marilyn being naked, covering herself with
chiffon scarves. As he explains in his introduction: “Vogue wanted to
dress Marilyn up... I still thought the right thing to do was to take her
clothes off. The more they added, the more I tried to think of ways to reveal
her. All she had to do was show one toe and it got me excited...”
This new book
from Taschen, previously only available as a collector's edition, has been
published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of her death. Hundreds of
the photos from Stein's shoot are reproduced alongside Mailer's text, which is
ostensibly a biography but also serves as a commentary on her life. Mailer
attempts to get under the surface of Monroe, just like Stein was with his
photos. He covers her life from her difficult childhood, her marriages, her
depression and finally her death and the various theories around what really
happened. Mailer adroitly summarises her power when he states: “She emanated
sex, a simple street girl on still another back street, emanated sex like few
girls ever did... libido seemed to ooze through her, and out of her like a dew
through the cracks in a vase.”
It is hard to
believe that it has been fifty years since Marilyn Monroe died, and in many
ways she is just as misunderstood now, an enigma, a puzzle that people still
want to solve. She was contradictory; emanating fragility and being difficult
to work with on set, yet representing a new kind of sexual confidence and
freedom that would in part pave the way towards the sexual revolution of the
1960s. This book offers a glimpse into the psyche of Marilyn. One can spend
hours simply pouring over the beautifully reproduced photos in this huge book,
or read Mailer's accompanying text and discover new insight through his unique
approach in constructing a biography. It is a book that can be dipped into
again and again for years to come.
Here's a real gem from 1966: the dancers from the teenybopper TV show Hullabaloo performing to an extended original soundtrack version of Neal Hefti's theme from the Batman TV series. Holy hole in the donut!
Gone With the Wind: the 90 year old Bonham Theater in Fairbury, Nebraska just closed its doors, a victim of the "convert or die" policy of the studios re: digital projection.
By Lee Pfeiffer
The onerous costs of converting movie theaters to digital format can be absorbed by major theater chains. However, those costs are proving deadly to small, independent movie theaters across America with the price of conversion ranging from $65,000 to $150,000. In a major article on The Wrap web site, these small theater owners lament the fact that they will probably have to close their doors. The major studios are quickly exiting the business of striking 35mm prints. Without those, theaters would not be able to show the latest movies. The Bonham Theater, for example, has been the heart of small Fairbury, Nebraska (pop. 3,942) for 90 years. The owner closed down the theater last week, unable to find the funds to convert. The studios are offering a plan whereby theaters that agree to convert will be able to ultimately share in the savings that the digital format affords studios in terms of printing 35mm film and shipping bulky canisters cross-country. However, those substantial savings (up to 70% of the conversion costs) only kick in after the theater owner has secured financing for 100% of the conversion - a dubious prospect in an age when banks are becoming increasingly selective about lending large sums to small businesses. The impact of digital conversion will hit small, rural theaters hardest worldwide. In the United States, for example, up to 20% of all movie theaters are expected to close in the near future. Art house cinemas that specialize entirely in showing vintage movies will be able to linger a while longer, but as existing 35mm prints deteriorate, it's unlikely that studios will invest in making more, with the exception of a relative handful of timeless classics. Cinema Retro has noticed a trend that smaller theaters are already utilizing in order to survive: showing DVDs on the big screen. The advantage of this is that it provides an unlimited library of potential movies to screen without incurring the costs of conversion. However, truly movie fans will certainly object because the quality suffers substantially, especially on larger size screens. The only art house cinemas that are likely to survive indefinitely are those that can also show digital format. This means popular retro theaters in L.A. and New York are safe, but it may spell the death knell for those theaters outside of major urban areas. Independent theater owners had hoped that studios would still produce a small quantity of 35mm prints of the latest films in order to help rural theaters survive, but it now appears this will not be the case. For more click here
COPPERFIELD (1911) Produced by THANHOUSER COMPANY
a terrific little gem of cinema history this is. I just viewed this wonderfully
restored DVD of a 1911 3-reel version of Charles Dickens’ DAVID COPPERFIELD.
Now, before you chuckle at the thought that a Dickens story as long as David
Copperfield can be condensed into three 10-minute reels, I am reviewing this as
a treasure from the early days of the art of cinema. This is like a “Cliff Notes”
version (or more like Classic Comics version) of DAVID COPPERFIELD.
visual quality of this transfer is very good. Films of this vintage are often
many generations away from the original elements. Aside from being a fun little
condensation of the Dickens original, it is a wonderful, charming look at how
movies were presented in the early part of the 20th century. This ambitious adaptation was filmed
in three installments. Each 10 minute reel was released over three successive
weeks, much like a chapter serial.
DVD is a joint venture of The Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. and
Museo Nazionale Del Cinema of Turino, Italy. It comes with a booklet informing
you of the history of the film and of the techniques utilized in the
preservation process. Optional English subtitles are offered, as is a commentary
track by Dickens scholar Joss Marsh. There is also a Dickens biography, image gallery
and, most impressively, Thanhouser’s 1912 2-reel version of NICHOLAS NICKLEBY.
All of this is lovingly presented by Ned Thanhouser, heir to the original
film company’s founder. This charming DVD presentation is a true work of love.
To order go to:
The Girl is based on a fascinating concept: director Alfred Hitchcock's sexual obsession with his "star in the making" "Tippi" Hedren, who he cast as the female lead in his 1963 classic The Birds as well as his next film Marnie. When Hedren rebuffed Hitchcock's advances, the result was devastating to both star and director as Hitchcock went about ensuring that Hedren would never achieve the fame and fortune he once predicted for her. Sienna Miller stars as Hedren and Toby Jones plays Hitchcock. Click here to view trailer
James Bond fans will have TWO major new 007 feature films this fall. In addition to the new Bond film Skyfall, there will also be a feature length documentary titled Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007. The film has been directed by acclaimed documentary maker Stevan Riley and will be released theatrically around the world. The documentary was made by Passion Pictures in association with Eon, Columbia Pictures, MGM and Red Box Films and will look at the development of the Bond films over the decades and feature interviews and rare archival footage. For more click here
There will be a Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood's Oscar winning 1992 Western classic Unforgiven. Eastwood's star-making role in director Sergio Leone's 1964 Western A Fistful of Dollars was an unauthorized remake of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo. Director Lee Sang-il is a die hard fan of Eastwood's film and will helm the Japanese remake, to be titled Yurusarezaru Mono. For more click here
I hadn't seen the 1972 thriller Skyjacked since its initial release in 1972. In viewing Warner Brothers' DVD edition, I was totally prepared for another cheesy Seventies disaster film - an Airport Lite, if you will. Initially, my premonitions were shaping up to come true. The script follows the tradition of presenting the quasi-all-star cast by rote, with each actor given a few precious seconds to establish their personality quirks and telegraph what their dilemma will be once the inevitable crisis unfolds. In this case, the plot is simple enough to make The Poseidon Adventure look like The Big Sleep. Rock-jawed Charlton Heston is the pilot of a commercial airliner on which the head flight attendant (or "stewardess" in the vernacular of the day) is former lover Yvette Yvette Mimieux. Shortly after the flight takes off, a message is discovered written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror. There is someone aboard who claims to have a bomb they will detonate if the plane isn't diverted to Anchorage, Alaska. It isn't giving the store away to inform you that the mad bomber is James Brolin. Not only is this revealed very shortly into the film, but you'd have to be blind, deaf and dumb to not realize he is the bad guy - especially when the other passengers consist of pregnant Mariette Hartley, folksy musician Rosie Grier and crusty U.S. Senator Walter Pidgeon. Besides, the brainiac who designed the menu for the DVD eliminates any doubt of the culprit's identity because the still photo they used on the main menu shows Brolin holding a gun on the cockpit crew.
Celebrating great entertainment and engaging a multi-generational audience to a treasure-trove of pop culture faves, Shout! Factory today announced the re-launch of its official websiteShoutFactory.com. This announcement was made today by Shout! Factory founding partners Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos. With the re-launch of ShoutFactory.com, Shout! Factory renews commitment to an aggressive multi-platform strategy for its home entertainment business. The site provides users with a dynamic media and shopping experience, and includes up-to-date news, social media interactive tools, streaming media content and digital downloads from Shout! Factory.
By offering a consumer-friendly multimedia online destination, ShoutFactory.com showcases Shout!’s expansive pop culture library, spanning superbly packaged audio and video box sets, memorable television series, fan favorite animation, comedy and cult film classics. This highly functional site is optimized to engage fans and consumers alike with immediate access to in-depth production information and previews on new releases, as well as provide forums for discussion, discovery and sharing their pop culture passions with their friends and family.
With today’s launch of ShoutFactory.com, visitors will immediately notice the fresh new look, updated design, simple navigation flow and a number of site highlights, including:
Unique e-commerce experience with detailed production information and previews
Sharing their discovery and passion through forums and social media
Digital download store: select audio and video downloads of Shout! Factory content for your computer and handheld device
Secure commercial transactions
Special offers including exclusive titles, bundled offers, limited-edition releases, and unique gift-with-purchase
ShoutFactory.com, the direct online destination for all Shout! Factory branded home entertainment properties is live today. Additional news, special offers and fan driven activities, please visit ShoutFactory.com and follow us on Twitter @ShoutFactory and Facebook.
About Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory, LLC is a diversified multi-platform entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering, preserving and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their entire careers sharing their music, television and film favorites with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD and Blu-Ray™ offerings serve up feature films, classic and contemporary TV series, animation, live music and comedy specials in lavish packages crammed with extras. Shout’s audio division boasts GRAMMY®-nominated box sets, new releases from storied artists, lovingly assembled album reissues and indispensable “best of” compilations. In addition, Shout! Factory maintains a vast digital distribution network which delivers video and audio content to all the leading digital service providers in North America. Shout! Factory also owns and operates Timeless Media Group, Biograph Records, Majordomo Records, HighTone Records and Video Time Machine. These riches are the result of a creative acquisition mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California. For more on Shout! Factory, visit shoutfactory.com
The Warner Archive has released two more volumes in their “FORBIDDEN HOLLYWOOD” series. Marijuana, Lesbians -AND-William Powell speaks Yiddish!
Forbidden Hollywood-Volumes 4 & 5 have been released by Warner Archive Collection. I have been a big fan of this series since The VHS/laser disc days. These pre-code films are a hell-of-a-lot-of-fun to watch, and no one did them better than Warner Brothers. As my cinema guru , Tom Dillon ["The Sage of Grammercy Park"] once said: “You wanna take a shower after watching a good pre-Cceighte Warner Bros. film!” These 8 films are great examples of that genre.
Volume 4-all 1932 JEWELL ROBBERY-William Powell and Kay Francis star in this story of a high society jewel thief who uses marijuana, amongst other things, to get what he wants. Directed by William Dieterle
LAWYER MAN- William Powell and Joan Blondell. Powell stars as a lawyer who workds his way up from the lower east side to Park Ave. with Joan Blondell as his secretary. Powell speaks some lines of Yiddish in this one. The Thin Mensch! Oy! Directed by William Dieterle.
MAN WANTED-Kay Francis and David Manners. Kay is the editor of a society magazine who is in a boring marriage “with arrangements.” Young David Manners needs a job...need we say more? Directed by William Dieterle
THEY CALL IT SIN-Loretta Young and George Brent. Loretta Young is an innocent, small town church organist(!) who is lured to the big city by a soon-to-be-married cad. Directed by Thorton Freeland
HARD TO HANDLE-James Cagney and Mary Brian. Jimmy is at his best as a small time promoter who has a number of smart-aleck schemes blow up in his face. It’s how Cagney gets out of these jams that makes for all the fun. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy.
LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT-Barbara Stanwyck. What a dame! Stanwyck goes to prison. Not so veiled allusions to lesbians (caged heat). Butch-looking female prisoner walks by puffing on a cigar. Another prisoner teaching “new fish”. Stanwyck the ropes says: “Watch out for that one...she likes to wrestle!” Directed by Howard Bretherton and William Keighley.
MIND READER-Warren William andConstance Cummings. William plays a travelling snake oil salesman who goes from tank town to tank town conning folks out of their dough with all different rackets until he hits on a mind reading scheme. All is working fine till one day one of his fake prediction iturns out to be true-with sobering results. Directed by Roy Del Ruth.
MISS PINKERTON-Joan Blondell and George Brent. Based on a series of popular mystery novels written by Mary Roberts Rinehart, Joan Blondell plays a nurse who helps solve a dark, old house-type mystery while falling for cop, George Brent. Directed by Lloyd Bacon.
After watching these eight fun films, you will find yourself using archaic words and phrases like, SWELL and DAMES and HEY, YOU MUGS!...WHY I OUGHTA...SCRAM!...Do your self a favor and beat it over to the Warner Home Video site and order these two volumes. Then finds yourself someone to to shower with afterwards...you’lls have a SWELL time!
Dick Van Dyke will receive the Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime Achievement award. The ceremony will be telecast on TNT in January 2013. Van Dyke has been a Hollywood icon for decades. His hit TV series include The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis Murder. He has also had a long career in feature films. His credits include Bye Bye Birdie, Divorce American Style, Mary Poppins, Cold Turkey, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and A Night at the Museum. For more click here
Latest among the seemingly endless movie remakes is The Last of Shelia, the clever 1973 murder mystery that was written by the improbable pairing of Steven Sondheim and Anthony Perkins. The original film, directed by Herbert Ross, centered on a group of Hollywood snobs who are invited by an obnoxious benefactor to take an exotic cruise on his yacht. Once aboard, he induces them to play a complicated game that ends up having deadly results. New Line will produce the remake and a writer is being sought. Only one problem- how do you top the cast of the original: James Coburn, Richard Benjamin, Dyan Cannon, Ian McShane, James Mason, Joan Hackett and Raquel Welch? For more click here
The 1961 MGM Western A Thunder of Drums has been released by Warner Archives, the company's burn-to-order service. The film was regarded as a standard oater in its day but has since built a loyal following who have been eager to have the movie available on the home video market. What sets A Thunder of Drums apart from many of the indistinguishable Westerns of the period is its downbeat storyline and intelligent script, which was clearly geared for adults as opposed to moppets. There's also the impressive cast: Richard Boone, George Hamilton, Charles Bronson, Arthur O'Connell, Richard Chamberlain and Slim Pickens among them.The film opens with a sequence that was very unsettling and shocking for its day: an Indian attack on a tranquil homestead. A little girl is forced to witness the gang rape and murders of her mother and teenage sister. The plot then shifts to the local fort where commandant Boone is overseeing an understaffed cavalry contingent that has to find and defeat the marauding tribe, which has already slaughtered numerous settlers and soldiers. The Indians are window dressing in the story: nameless, faceless adversaries who are not given any particular motivation for their savagery. (These was, remember, far less enlightened times and such conflicts were generally presented without nuance.)
Robert Vaughn will return to live theater, starring in the Pulitzer Prize-winning screwball comedy You Can't Take It With You at the Geva Theatre Center, Rochester, New York. Performances run from September 11-October 7. For more click here
Due to the emergence of "intriguing" new information, L.A. detectives have re-opened the investigation into the mysterious 1981 death of actress Natalie Wood. The cause of death has been amended from "accidental drowning" to "drowning and other causes", thus putting a more sinister aspect to the investigation. Wood disappeared from the deck of a yacht after a contentious evening on board with her husband Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Both men say there had been a lot of drinking and that when they both retired for the evening, Wood was alive and well. Speculation has been rampant about how she would have drowned, given her lifelong fear of water. Conspiracy theorists speculate that Wagner and/or Walken know more than they are saying. For more click here
All good things come to those who
wait. That being said the reason why
Blu-ray was invented is finally here. Steven
Spielberg's Jaws, arguably the first
and the greatest summer movie ever made, in addition to being one of the best
American films of all-time, has been given a complete digital 4K restoration
derived from the original camera negative. The results are magnificent. A far cry
from the MCA DiscoVision laser disc, the Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) by
RCA, the VHS tape, the 20th anniversary letterboxed laser disc, or even the
past two previous DVD incarnations (which were admittedly pretty decent), the
new Blu-ray most closely approximates what it was like to see Jaws for the first time in movie
theaters in the summer of 1975. Best of
all, the Blu-ray cover retains artist Roger Kastel’s iconic poster art.
The plot of Jaws by now is so familiar that I do not feel it warrants a
summary. Jaws is a nearly perfect
film, held together by three fine lead performances by Roy Scheider, Richard
Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw. At times humorous, playful, thrilling, terrifying,
and wildly adventurous, Jaws is one
of the best-edited motion pictures ever made. Verna Fields won a well-deserved
Oscar for fashioning a masterpiece out of all the raw footage brought to her by
Mr. Spielberg. Each subsequent viewing of Jaws
tends to reveal something new. The mafia angle which was prevalent in the novel
is somewhat alluded to in the one brief scene where Chief Brody (Roy Scheider)
is cautioned by Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) to keep the beaches open, and
that the Island needs summer dollars. This
verbal strong-arming calls to mind Tony Soprano. This conversation speaks
volumes about corporations putting stockholders interests ahead of the safety
of their workers, a comparison that can be drawn to Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) if one cares to delve into it.
Watching the film again makes one
realize just how powerful the bond is between Mr. Spielberg and John Williams, the
composer on nearly all of Mr. Spielberg’s work for the past 40 years. Equally, Jaws
is possibly the first film to have terrific and memorable one-liners that have
made their way to the American lexicon. Chief Brody, the fish out of water from
New York City who is also deathly afraid of the ocean, in the end prevails
against all odds and could quite possibly take the credit for being the model
of all of those horror film heroes that were to follow in the footsteps of Jaws. (i.e either one man or one woman
is left standing after their comrades have been massacred.) The ending is also
a metaphor for the success of the film itself, wherein one issue after another
befell this production which lasted for nearly one year. Jaws is not only grand entertainment, but the film stands as an
example of how triumph in the face of adversity can be attributed to good old
fashioned brainpower and problem-solving.
While it is understandable to groan
about double and triple dipping when it comes to movies being reissued on home video
formats, the new Blu-ray of Jaws is a
must buy. With the exception of the beautiful
60-page booklet that accompanied the 2005 DVD (hold on to that!), the Blu-ray retains
all of the previous DVD extras:
-The Making of Jaws – Laurent Bouzereau’s excellent two-hour
documentary on the making of the film which originally appeared on the 1995
laserdisc box set
scenes and outtakes
-From the Set – a report from the set of the film
photos, storyboards, marketing Jaws
and the Jaws phenomenon
In addition to these extras, the
Blu-ray sports the inclusion of the long-desired documentary about the Jaws phenomenon entitled The Shark is Still Working: The Impact and
Legacy of Jaws directed by Erik Hollander and produced by Mr. Hollander,
James Galete, Jack Grove, and J. Michael Roddy. The film runs 101 minutes.
Jaws also includes an all-new 7.1 audio
soundtrack, in addition to Spanish and French audio. Subtitles are provided in English SDH, Spanish
A standard definition DVD is also
provided and it contains the restored film, in addition to a 50-minute version
of the aforementioned documentary by Laurent Bouzereau. The inclusion of this disc and the truncated
documentary is questionable given Jaws’s
release on DVD in 2000 and 2005. I would
have liked to have seen a double Blu-ray set with even more extras. If someone doesn’t have a Blu-ray player by
now, Jaws is the reason to get
one. This minor carping aside, I am
grateful to finally have one of my favorite films in this format.
Lastly, let’s all be thankful that the
shark didn't work most of the time!
CLICK HERETO ORDER THE JAWS BLU-RAY + DVD + ULTRAVIOLET INSTANT STREAM + DIGITAL COPY FROM
FOR MY REVIEW OF JAWS: MEMORIES FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD AND INTERVIEWS WITH THE
BsykyB will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films by launching an all-007 channel in the UK commencing October 5. The entire Bond catalog will be broadcast uncut and without commercials in hi def for the first time in the UK. The deal also includes the "renegade" version of Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again. The channel promises to show loads of extra materials. For more click here
Deane was crowned Bunny of the Year in 1969 by the screen's new James Bond, George Lazenby.
The terrific retro web site Spy Vibe pays homage to the glorious mod era of London in the 60s and 70s with a special look inside the Playboy Club. Bunny Deana, who worked at the club between 1969-1972, takes a trip down memory lane. To read the interview click here
MGM's burn-to-video division is thankfully releasing the Oakmont-produced British WWII films from the late 1960s-early 1970s. These modestly-budgeted films were not designed as Oscar-bait. In fact, they seem to be specifically created to fill out the bottom of double bills as the era of that great cinema staple was rapidly coming to a close. Hell Boats was shot in 1970 and bares all the ingredients of an Oakmont production: it's intelligently written, well-acted and directed (by Paul Wendkos) and features some exotic locations, in this case Malta. As with some other Oakmont titles (The Last Escape, Attack on the Iron Coast, The Thousand Plane Raid), this rather unconvincingly shoe-horns an American leading man into what is clearly an all-British storyline, presumably to give the film some broader boxoffice appeal. In this case, James Franciscus (in full, Chuck Heston clone mode) is Jeffords, the new commander of a British torpedo boat unit. There is a brief explanation as to how an American got a job as Commander in the Royal Navy- something to do with having been born in the UK. With that sore point quickly dispensed of, we get to the main plot line. Jeffords is assigned to blow up a seemingly impregnable German gun bastion carved into a mountainside in Malta. The mission appears suicidal but Jeffords concocts a daring plan that involves scuba divers, commandos and the torpedo boats. He does have other distractions: he and his superior officer, Ashurst (Ronald Allen) despise each other. Ashurst wants to prove himself in combat, but is stuck behind a desk. He envies Jefford's courage and is further emasculated by his knowledge that Jeffords is bedding his frustrated wife Alison (Elizabeth Shepherd), who fortunately has an aversion to clothing. The soap opera elements are actually intelligently woven into the story line, creating genuine tension between the two men. Franciscus is all grit-teethed masculinity, but he makes a rather bland hero. He is humorless and all business, all the time. (He even makes his sexual dalliances look about as desirable as changing a tire.) Allen's character is far more interesting and the dissolution of his marriage before his eyes adds an interesting subplot to the military sequences.
Like most Oakmont productions, Hell Boats does a lot with very little in terms of budget. The photography is excellent and so are the production values, save for the sea battle sequences that betray the very obvious use of miniatures. Nevertheless, this is a highly entertaining adventure movie throughout- and it refreshingly sidesteps what I thought was going to be a predictable plot device leading to a somewhat unexpected conclusion.
If MGM is listening, the only Oakmont title not available on DVD is The Last Escape starring Stuart Whitman. C'mon guys, keep up the good work and get this one out there.
Here's a regrettably grainy but ultra-rare shot from the Cinema Retro archive, circa June 1966. It depicts a chance meeting of two major spy movie stars of that year, as Michael Caine bumped into George Segal on location in Berlin. Caine was reprising his Harry Palmer in Funeral in Berlin while Segal was shooting The Quiller Memorandum. Remember, every issue of our magazine edition is packed with rare photos and production ads you've never seen, so subscribe today!
In a rare in-depth interview with the Evening Standard, James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli reflects on fifty years of 007 films, her determination (against popular opinion at the time) to ensure that Daniel Craig became accepted as Bond, the delight that the Queen appeared in the Olympics 007 film short, the role of women in the Bond franchise, her frustrations on absurd internet rumors that are treated as reliable news stories and her plans to bring Chariots of Fire to the London stage. Click here to read
Click here for amusing video clips of Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, Jerry Seinfeld, Marlo Thomas, Henry Winkler, Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Diane Keaton, Betty Whitevand Whoopi Goldberg before they had gained fame and fortune in the acting field.
Looks like the Magnificent Seven remake is going ahead. The following was reported by David Thompson on his Thompson on Hollywood web site.
"Nic Pizzolatto (whose few credits include two episodes of AMC's "The Killing" and the upcoming HBO series "True Detectives" with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson) is set to pen the script for MGM's long-gestating remake (of a remake), "The Magnificent Seven." The original 1960 version was itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 masterpiece "The Seven Samurai." Tom Cruise is attached to star."
PRESENTED IN AMAZING ALAMOSCOPE: 70MM AT THE RITZ!
A Brand New Programming Series Goes Big, Including Paul Thomas Anderson’s THE MASTER
A Alamo is pleased to announce a new ongoing film series beginning August 24, titled“Presented in Amazing AlamoScope: 70mm at the Ritz!” In the world of film presentation, nothing -- digital or otherwise -- can ever match the power and glory of 70mm film. A gargantuan creation of the 1950s, 70mm quickly became the permanent benchmark of quality, transforming every title released in the format into a mind-expanding epic. The depth, the sharpness, the beauty and the history make every 70mm screening an unforgettable event for any movie fan. While movie studios and theaters dump celluloid to replace with computer files and giant TVs, the Alamo is proud to instead leap into the tremendous, triumphant arena of 70mm.
A The incredible lineup at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz in Austin, TX includes WEST SIDE STORY, CLEOPATRA, GHOSTBUSTERS, INDIANA JONES, BARAKA, PLAYTIME andPaul Thomas Anderson’s highly anticipated new film THE MASTER, all shown the way they were meant to be seen, in glorious 70mm.
"I am thrilled that Tim has helped us present the film in its intended way. This is a special format, and keeping it alive is important," said director Paul Thomas Anderson.
A “Paul Thomas Anderson has bucked the trend of digital conversion and shot his new American epic THE MASTER in glorious 70mm. As an homage to his bold ambition, we have made a long-term commitment to celebrate 70mm, both as a lead-up to the release of his new film and as an integral part of our programming for years to come,” says Tim League, founder and CEO of Alamo Drafthouse.
A Tickets to WEST SIDE STORY are on sale now. A badge providing access to all 7 films including THE MASTER is also on sale. The badge includes access to the first show on Saturday for all repertory films and the premiere screening of THE MASTER on 9/21 at 7:00pm
A THE MASTER will run exclusively in 70mm at the Ritz in Austin beginning September 21. The Ritz will continue to screen 70mm films in the years to come as part of the Alamo Drafthouse’s continued commitment to film preservation.
Pete Emslie is one of the best contemporary cartoonists around and his blog, The Cartoon Cave, is a must-read. Emslie has recently published what we will term "a guest editorial" because it captures many of Cinema Retro's criticisms of the current state of television. Unlike Emslie, we still find enough nuggets out there (some admittedly guilty pleasures) to justify keeping the old cable TV subscription. However, we can well understand why he just canceled his. Emslie concentrates on the sad state of the endless, indistinguishable crime shows that are on the air. The plots tend to be more and more over-the-top and the cast members are virtually cloned from the same mold. There is the token nod to someone over the age of 35 (Mark Harmon and David McCallum in NCIS, for example) but for the most part, crime shows always feature drop-dead gorgeous people holding pistols with two hands while shouting, "Freeze, you mother!" Every other situation has juvenile sexual innuendos and we rarely even get any cool theme songs because the average TV drama is a one hour block of commercials occasionally interrupted by content. Contrast this, as Emslie does, to the great old crime shows of old. Hawaii 5-0 (the real one, that is), didn't have Jack Lord and Kam Fong competing to get some comely new female detective in the sack. Instead, we got compelling characters, good acting and people looked like they really belonged in a police station. Imagine trying to launch a series with Peter Falk as Columbo today? A middle-aged, frumpy, cigar chomping man in the lead role? Fuggetaboutit! If they remake the series (and they eventually will), Columbo will be a Brad Pitt clone who eschews cigars for Twizzlers (more politically correct) and who uses his eccentricities to woo female suspects into confessing. In any event, click here to read Pete Emslie's take on all this (which includes a sly criticism of the fact that even all the cluttered, unimaginatively designed DVD boxed sets for these shows seem Xeroxed.) - Lee Pfeiffer