world-famous Pinewood Studios celebrates 80 years in the film business this
year and Penguin Books have published a luxurious large-format 376-page
hardback book to commemorate the fact. Loaded with interesting stories - from
the studio's beginnings to the latest 'Star Wars' offering under the Disney
banner - it's certainly an interesting ride along the way. All of your
favourites are here: the 'Carry On', James Bond, Superman and Batman series, as
well as photos galore - many I'd not seen before (although a few captions are
incorrect) - make for an easy read without getting too bogged down with
statistics. Nice to see industry insiders being interviewed, and there are
numerous quotes from the likes of Sir Roger Moore, Barbara Broccoli, Sir Ridley
Scott, Martin Campbell, Michael G. Wilson and Michael Grade, to name but a few.
Interestingly, now that Pinewood owns the 'other' famous British studio at
Shepperton, this gets coverage, too.
Author Bob McCabe mentions first visiting
the studio in 1977 (aged 10) and seeing the American cars scattered on the
backlot following the filming of 'Superman'. Well, I was there too, Bob -
although a tad older! For those of you, like me, who have been fortunate to
visit this wonderful 'film factory', then it is worthy of a place in your
library. For those of you who will probably never pass through its portals,
then it's an even a bigger treat. Oh, and Cinema Retro gets a credit in the 'sources
of research' section! 'Pinewood: The Story of an Iconic Studio' has a cover
price of £40.00., but is currently available from Amazon UK for the bargain
price of £26.00. Now that's what I call a great Christmas present.
Released as part of "The Hollywood Collection", an independent label, "Roger Moore: A Matter of Class" is a very illuminating 1995 show that originally aired on the American cable network A&E. Running less than an hour, the show nevertheless packs considerable content into its abbreviated running time.It also benefits greatly from the participants including Sir Roger himself (though years before he earned his knighthood.) Moore provides some very funny and occasionally very moving anecdotes about growing up in WWII London where he was a rather chubby, sickly child who often bore the brunt of other kid's bullying. As a defense mechanism he adopted a philosophy of making self-deprecating jokes on the theory that no one enjoys making fun of someone who makes fun of himself. It's been a tactic that has served him well to this day. Moore also discusses his middle-class upbringing, his overly-protective parents and the trauma of existing as a child in a city that was being bombed virtually every night. Moore was also subject to the mass deportation of British children from the cities to temporary foster homes in the British countryside when the war with Germany was gearing up to full-throttle stage. In the post-war years he did a brief stint in the army before using his skills as a cartoonist to get a job in the film industry. With his almost surrealistic good looks it didn't take long for him to catch the eye of producers and Moore found his real niche in front of the cameras. Moore led a charmed life almost from the day he decided to become an actor. Things just fell into place. Even setbacks such as a short-term contract with MGM that saw him cast in forgettable films ended up luring him back to England where he enjoyed enormous success in the long-running series "The Saint". A decade later his TV series with Tony Curtis "The Persuaders" proved to be a big hit in Europe but a flop in America, leading to the show's cancellation. Here again, Moore benefited from a seemingly negative development. When the show was taken off the air, Moore was a free agent and available to accept the role of James Bond. The rest, as they say, is history.
With Tony Curtis in "The Persuaders".
Aside from providing ample film clips from Moore's films the program also shows him touring hard-hit parts of the world in his role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. For Moore this has been more than window dressing. He has worked tirelessly to raise funds for programs to help children in poverty and doubtless would like that to be the legacy he is most remembered for. The show boasts interesting insights from many of Moore's friends, family members and colleagues including his son Christian, Bond producer Michael G. Wilson, David Niven Jr, director Lewis Gilbert, Tony Curtis, Gregory Peck, actresses Maud Adams and Carroll Baker and, most poignantly, Michael Caine, who compares Moore's early years with his own hard scrabble life in East London and provides interesting insights into his friend's psyche. Although the show's technical aspects betray its age (primitive graphics and titles), its a slick and polished production. The DVD includes an extensive photo gallery of Moore's life and career though the images lack any accompanying captions, which might leave those not familiar with the nuances of his films rather frustrated. There is also a photo gallery of the show's producers in the company with many other notable people in show business and some promos for other titles in the "Hollywood Collection".
"Roger Moore: A Matter of Class" very much reflects the man himself: it's easy-going, often very funny and always engaging.
(This DVD is region-free and will play on any international system).
CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM THE CINEMA RETRO MOVIE STORE.
The web site "1966: My Favorite Year" unearthed this gem of a find: a children's record album released that year that featured Yogi Bear, the Three Stooges and a James Bond parody. Talk about something for everyone! Best of all, the site links to the entire album in audio format on YouTube. Click here to read and listen.
seemingly harmless prank by teenage girls takes a horrific turn in producer/director
William Castle’s 1965 production “I Saw What You Did”, recently released on Blu-ray by Shout!
Factory as part of their Scream! Factory line of horror titles. Libby and Kit (Andi
Garrett and Sara Lane) are baby sitting Libby’s little sister Tess when they
come up with a game taking turns choosing random phone numbers out of the phone
book and making prank calls stating, “I saw what you did, and I know who you
their first recipients is Judith Marak (Joyce Meadows). Libby asks seductively
to speak with Steve, Judith’s husband. When Judith informs Steve (John Ireland)
of the call, Steve reacts by savagely stabbing her to death. Later, he answers the
phone to hear, “I saw what you did, and I know who you are!” Steve engages the
girls and asks to meet Libby. Libby and Kit have no idea Steve has just murdered
his wife and after a few more calls agree to meet Steve still thinking they’re
engaged in a harmless game.
(Joan Crawford) is Steve’s neighbor and shows up shortly after Steve’s wife is
murdered. Apparently they’re having an affair and Steve had plans to leave his
wife and marry the wealthy widow. Amy figures out what has happened due to Steve’s
strange behavior surrounding the calls from Libby pretending to be “Suzette.”
Amy attempts to blackmail Steve into marrying her and that leads to further
dramatic deveopments. With Crawford relegated to a distinctly supporting role,
the movie relies heavily on the performances of the three young actors.
Fortunately, they come through and the sincerity of their performances gives
the film a slight edge- of -your- seat feeling, but one never gets the notion
that the girls are in any real danger. We move from prank call to concerned
parents trying to call and check on the children as we watch Steve plan his
next move. The movie features a strong supporting cast of veteran actors in
addition to Crawford and Ireland including Leif Erickson as Dave Mannering
(Libby & Tess’ father), Patricia Breslin as Ellie Mannering (their mom),
John Archer as John Austin (Kit’s father) and John Crawford as a state trooper
who comes to their inevitable rescue.
the three young actors at the center of the movie had very short careers in the
entertainment industry. Andi Garret (Libby) appeared in four episodes of “The
Wild Wild West” from 1966-68 and an episode of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” in 1976
before retiring from acting. Sarah Lane (Kit) was a regular on the TV series,
“The Virginian” from 1966-1970 appearing in 105 episodes as Elizabeth Grainger
followed by appearances in the movies “Schoolgirls in Chains” in 1973, “The
Trial of Billy Jack in 1975 and “Billy Jack Goes to Washington” in 1977 before
retiring from acting. Sharyl Locke (little sister Tess) appeared in “One Man’s
Way” and “Father Goose” in 1964 prior to “I Saw What You Did” in 1965. This was
followed by an appearance on “Burke’s Law” in 1965 and “Bonanza” in 1966 after
which she, too, retired from acting.
music by Van Alexander is entertaining, but a bit too cheerful for a thriller.
The score feels out of place and would better suite a 1960s sitcom and perhaps
it’s used as a way to underscore the innocence of the young girl’s prank. It’s
still distracting and more befitting a Haley Mills teen comedy like “The Parent
Trap” and “The Trouble with Angels” or one of the many “Beach Movies” of the
by Universal in the summer of 1965, the movie’s poster declares, “William
Castle Warns You: ‘This is a motion picture about uxoricide!’” Uxoricide is the
killing of one’s wife, but I think the word sounded more exotic than murder. This
enjoyable black & white shocker looks terrific in its widescreen
presentation with great sound and running a brief 82 minutes. Extras on the
Shout! Factory release include the cool trailer featuring producer, director
and showman William Castle informing the audience that the theater will provide
seat belts so the viewer will not be shocked out of their seat. There’s also a
photo gallery and the regular release trailer. Highly recommended for fans of
William Castle, Joan Crawford and 1960s shock thrillers.
Cinema Retro has received the following announcement from Bondstars.com in the UK:
"In 2003, the renowned American artist Jeff Marshall
(known for his James Bond work) was commissioned to create a lithograph
for Daleon Enterprises (officially sanctioned by Hammer themselves)
featuring several famous Hammer actresses - Ingrid Pitt, Caroline Munro,
Valerie Leon and Martine Beswicke.
· The first 100 of these limited edition lithographs
were signed and numbered by Jeff himself and have never been available to
· We have 006 - 100 for sale, unfortunately we
cannot accommodate requests for specific numbers.
· The lithograph measures 20" x 30" and is
printed on museum quality acid-free paper.
· The lithograph will be shipped rolled in a sturdy
“Death Valley Days” was a half-hour western anthology
series that ran for 20 years on radio starting in 1930, continued on TV for 18
seasons (1952-1970), and is still being shown on cable TV today. The series,
noted for its authentic detail and historical accuracy, was created by British
writer Ruth Woodman at the request of Pacific Coast Borax, the company that
made 20 Mule Team Borax. The company wanted a series that tied in with their detergent
product, and since Borax is principally mined in Death Valley, Woodman
suggested the series be focused on stories based on the history and geography
of that area. She made frequent trips to the borax mines and the surrounding
vicinity digging up historical tidbits that could be used as the basis for
stories. She eventually became one of the foremost experts on that period and
place in history.
For the first 11 years of its run, each episode of “Death
Valley Days” was introduced by The Old Ranger (Stanley Andrews), who would begin
by relaying some bit of historical information about Death Valley that would be
used as the basis of the story. The Old Ranger was later replaced as host by
Ronald Reagan, Robert Taylor, and Dale Robertson. These three even appeared in
some of the stories.
Timeless Media Group, a division of Shout! Factory,has
released the first season of 18 episodes from 1952 on three DVDs. The picture
quality of the episodes is astonishing, given their age. There’s no information
on the packaging to indicate if the original film elements have undergone
restoration, but all 18 episodes look brand new.
There is a variety of tales included in this first
season, and a host of familiar faces on hand from western films and TV shows of
that era. One that particularly caught my attention was an episode that would
not have aired as written in today’s politically correct world. “Swamper Ike”
features legendary stuntman/actor Jock Mahoney playing a man raised by Indians,
who wasn’t sure if he was really an Indian or a white man. The question becomes
crucial when the girl he loves, played by Margaret Field, says she won’t marry
him if he’s an Indian! She doesn’t believe a marriage between people of two
different races will work. (Margaret Field, by the way, had just married Mahoney
in real life. She already had a daughter by a previous marriage, a girl named
Sally Field.) Hired as a swamper by mule driver Hank Patterson, and given the
name Ike, Jocko is hated by Denver Pyle, his rival for Field’s affections.
There is a lot of good stunt work by Mahoney in this episode, but the
conclusion, in which, much to everyone’s great relief, Mahoney discovers that
he’s actually white and can now marry his lady love, is pretty much out of
kilter with today’s attitudes.
For its first two years on the air, “Death Valley Days”
was produced for television by Gene Autry’s Flying A Productions, which also
produced Mahoney’s Range Rider series. So, it’s no coincidence that Gail Davis,
star of Flying A’s “Annie Oakley” also appears in one of the episodes. In “The
Little Bullfrog Nugget,” she plays Mamie Jaggers, the only single woman in
Bullfrog, Nevada. All the men are vying for her attention but she can’t make up
her mind which one to marry.
“She Burns Green,” starred James Griffith and Donna
Martell as a couple prospecting for gold, but who turn to mining borax instead
when they discover rich deposits of it near them. The title is based on the
fact that you can tell if it’s borax by setting it on fire. If the flame burns
green, it’s borax.
“Self-Made Man,” starts out highlighting a rock drilling
competition among the miners, that demonstrates how they used to use hand
drills to get the borax out of the mine. But it also tells the story of a man
who loses one of his arms and thinks his life is over. As a miner, it is over,
but with the encouragement of his wife he takes up the study of law and becomes
a successful lawyer.
That’s the kind of story that the series presented most
of the time—gritty, realistic tales that showed the harshness of life in Death
Valley but which ultimately show the good guys wresting some sort of triumph
out of their hardships. Woodman’s writing may be well researched, but her plots
and characters are pretty simplistic. The acting is as good as can be expected.
“Death Valley Days” is an interesting piece of television
history. There were a total of 296 episodes filmed over 20 years, and it
remains to be seen how many more episodes will be forthcoming on DVD.
It isn't often that you might expect to read the word "delightful" in a review of a Charles Bronson movie but "From Noon Till Three" is just that: a delightful 1976 send-up of the traditional Western genre. In fact it seems like this was the year in which numerous revisionist Westerns were released. They included "Buffalo Bill and the Indians", "The Outlaw Josey Wales", "The Missouri Breaks" and John Wayne's final film, "The Shootist". By 1976 Charles Bronson was an established screen presence for about two decades.He was a familiar face to American movie-goers who liked his work as a supporting actor but it was the European market that elevated him to star status. Bronson finally began to get top-billing in Westerns and action films and became reasonably popular in America. But it was the 1974 release of his smash hit "Death Wish" that saw him soar to the level of superstar. The film was a mixed blessing. Bronson made some good films in the following years but eventually succumbed to the lure of a quick pay check, cranking out low-end urban crime movies that were often as absurd as they were over-the-top. "From Noon Till Three" allows Bronson and his real life wife and frequent co-star Jill Ireland a rare opportunity to flex their comedic muscles, which they do impressively.
Bronson plays Graham Dorsey, a member of small time gang of bandits who are riding into a one-horse town to rob the bank. The film's opening is quite eerie as the bandits become unnerved when they discover there isn't a single living soul anywhere in the town. This sets in motion a "Twilight Zone"-like beginning that is quickly explained as a nightmare Dorsey is suffering, but is none-the-less quite effective for grabbing the viewer's attention. When the gang nears the actual town, Dorsey's horse goes lame and must be shot. He rides double with another bandit until they reach the opulent mansion house of Amanda (Jill Irleand), an attractive widow who resides in the countryside with only a maid and servant as companions. When the bandits arrive on her doorstep, she is home alone and is understandably filled with anxiety being in the company of the men, who demand she give them a horse. She lies and says she doesn't have one- and Dorsey validates her story, opting to stay behind at the house while the robbery takes place. He finds Amanda very desirable but none-the-less acts like a gentleman- though as her tough facade fades, she becomes susceptible to his charm. Dorsey claims he suffers from incurable impotence, a ploy that works when Amanda finally volunteers to "cure" him. This results in the pair spending several heavenly hours together enjoying sexual adventures and falling in love. When word reaches Amanda that Dorsey's fellow bandits have been captured, she implores him to try to save them from hanging. Dorsey pretends to ride to their rescue, but instead bushwhacks a traveling con man and adopts his identity. The other man is mistaken for Dorsey and shot dead by a posse. Dorsey is ironically arrested because the man he is impersonating is also wanted by the law. Got all that? Things get really complicated when Dorsey spends a year in prison, studying (ironically) how to be a banker. He intends to return to Amanda and live their dream of moving to Boston, where he can get a job as a bank manager. When he returns to the woman he has been obsessing over for the last year, the reception he receives from her is something less than welcoming. Seems that since she believed Dorsey was dead, she set about memorializing him in a memoir titled "From Noon Till Three", a scandalous record of the hours in which they made love and fell in love. In the book, Amanda relates tall tales about Dorsey's crime exploits that he had previously bragged about...and she takes a bit of intentional creative license by describing him as an elegant, dashing man when, in fact, he looks like what he is: a saddle tramp. To say much more would spoil the fun. Suffice it to say that the film really kicks into gear when Dorsey discovers that Amanda's memoir has become an international sensation and she is idolized worldwide by both men and women. She doesn't have much incentive to now admit that Dorsey is not only alive and well but also falls considerable short of the handsome hunk the world has come to imagine.
"From Noon Till Three" is stylishly directed by Frank D. Gilroy and its based upon his novel of the same name. Gilroy had the magic touch in terms of bringing out the best in both Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland, both of whom rarely had an opportunity to demonstrate their flair for light comedy and they are both terrific. Gilroy, who also penned the screenplay, took advantage of a new era of cynicism in major films and "From Noon Till Three" proved to be far ahead of its time in predicting how the general public can be bamboozled into believing urban legends if they are marketed creatively enough. (Coincidentally, Paddy Chayefsky's "Network", released the same year, took an equally cynical view of the current day TV news industry.) The movie is a wealth of small pleasures and unexpected plot turns and boasts a fine score by Elmer Bernstein and impressive camerawork by Lucien Ballard, not to mention an impressive mansion house set by Robert Clatworthy. I don't want to overstate the merits of the film but I do want to point out that even if you're not a Bronson fan you should give this one a try.
Twilight Time has released "From Noon Till Three" as a limited edition Blu-ray of 3,000 units. It includes the original trailer, an isolated score track and an informative collector's booklet with notes by Julie Kirgo.
Writing in the Daily Beast, Wayne Curtis provides an excellent article about W.C. Fields' drinking habits on and off film sets- and how the habit not only enhanced his career but played a role in ending Prohibition.
If ever an epic deserved the Blu-ray deluxe treatment, Fox's 1970 Pearl Harbor spectacular is it. The film was a major money-loser for the studio at the time and replicated the experience of Cleopatra from a decade before in that this single production threatened to bankrupt the studio. Fox had bankrolled a number of costly bombs around this period including Doctor Doolittle, Hello, Dolly and Star! Fortunately, they also had enough hits (Patton, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, M*A*S*H, the Planet of the Apes series) to stay afloat. However, the Tora! debacle cost both Fox chairman Darryl F. Zanuck and his son, production head Richard Zanuck, their jobs. Ironically, Darryl F. Zanuck had saved the studio a decade before by finally bringing Cleopatra to a costly conclusion and off-setting losses with spectacular grosses from his 1962 D-Day blockbuster The Longest Day. By 1966, Zanuck and that film's producer Elmo Williams decided they could make lightning strike twice by using the same formula to recreate the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The project seemed jinxed from the beginning. Skyrocketing costs and logistical problems delayed filming until 1969. By then, America's outlook about war movies had changed radically due to the burgeoning anti-Vietnam movement. Zanuck and Williams also forgot one important distinction between The Longest Day and Tora! Tora! Tora!: the former was about a major Allied victory while the latter was about a tremendous defeat. Americans generally stay away from military movies that depict anything other than glorious victories and Tora! was no exception. Critics were also lukewarm and the only saving grace was that the film performed spectacularly in Japan, largely because it presented both sides of the conflict on a non-judgmental level.
of the great director Federico Fellini’s more curious motion pictures is his
1972 part-documentary/part-fictional collage that consists of “impressions” of
Rome, both past and present. In many ways, it is the middle chapter of a
trilogy that comprises Fellini Satyricon (1969)
and Amarcord (1973), although not
many film historians view them as such.
Roma is a love letter, so
to speak, to Italy’s capital city. The film takes place in three time periods—sometime
during the 1930s, the war years, and the present (i.e., 1971-72, when the movie
was made). It is also very much a product of its time, when the counter-culture
movement was still in full swing. The modern sequences of Roma are populated by “hippies” and long-haired youth, as well as
motorcyclists, intellectuals (Gore Vidal makes an appearance as himself), and
Fellini as himself. The sequences cut
back and forth from the past to the present, presenting a story-less narrative
that is jumbled and episodic; but the visuals of cartoonish decadence and
surreal settings make up a fascinating piece of celluloid.
of the faces in the film—and I do mean “faces,” because Fellini always cast the
most absurd caricatures as extras in his later pictures—are recognizable in Amarcord (easily one of the director’s
best works). Anna Magnani provides allegedly her last screen appearance at the
end of Roma, where she tells the narrator
(Fellini, presumably) to go away and leave her alone. Many Fellini-esque
hallmarks abound in the movie—feuding families, grotesque prostitutes, and irreverent
1930s-40s sequences are autobiographical. A young man arrives in Rome to be a
journalist (as Fellini did), and stays with a large family that his mother
knows. He explores the city, visits brothels, and goes to music hall
performances. The present day scenes are more documentary-like, following the
director and a film crew around the city as they shoot a traffic jam, the
excavation of an ancient Roman home, and—the highlight of the movie—a
wacked-out fashion show for priests, nuns, and bishops. Totally bizarre.
Criterion Collection presents a 2K digital restoration of the international
version of the picture (120 minutes). The long-lost original Italian cut was
seventeen minutes longer, but these deleted scenes are included as supplements
(as restored as possible). The feature comes with an uncompressed monaural
soundtrack, as well as an audio commentary by Frank Burke, author of Fellini’s Films.
supplements include new interviews with filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino on Fellini’s
influence, and poet and Fellini friend Valerio Magrelli. There’s a collection
of Felliniana (posters, artwork) from the archive of collector Don Young, and
the theatrical trailer. An essay by film scholar David Forgacs adorns the
Fellini’s Roma is a mess of a film,
to be sure, but it’s always fun to play in a mess made by Fellini. It is a
welcome addition to Criterion’s stable of excellent cinema.
The web site www.filmbuffonline.com reports that the 1984 feature film "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension" is now the subject of a law suit between MGM and the film's director W.D. Richter and screenwriter Earl Mach Rauch. Richter and Rauch claim they should have ownership of rights to the characters they created for the movie. MGM disagrees and intends to proceed with a "Buckaroo" TV project that Richter and Rauch oppose on the basis that their permission has not been sought and that they would not be financially compensated. At the heart of their argument is that the contract for the 1984 film failed to include a standard clause that would have given Rauch underlying rights to the characters especially since some were created prior to the studio having even been approached to produce the film version. MGM has responded by filing suit in the hope that the studio will receive a declarative judgment affirming their rights to proceed with the TV project. Got all that? If so, then add this into the mix: director Kevin Smith was attached to the TV project but has now publicly stated that he is dropping out because he doesn't want to be part of any effort that Richter and Rauch are not involved with. The irony is that all this back-and-forth is over a movie that was a bomb with critics and the public at the time of its initial release but which has accumulated a loyal cult following over the years. For more, check out the filmbuffonline.com article by clicking here.
Christmas 1970 on the horizon, the UK’s thrilling new sci-fi TV show UFO was
well underway. Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's first live-action series, it was set
in the future and revolved around the activities of the Supreme Headquarters
Alien Defence Organisation (SHADO), a covert agency presided over by Commander
Ed Straker (Ed Bishop) to fend off alien attacks on mankind. As a wide-eyed 8-year-old
I was hooked and I can recall wishing two things. One was that I could have one
of the Dinky Toys’ missile-firing SHADO Interceptors, which I thought then (and
still think now) was the coolest among the incredible array of vehicles that
appeared in the show; I’d not be nearly as forgiving today as I was back then
that Dinky had manufactured it in garish green, where the ‘real’ ones on TV
were white. The other wish was that I could somehow watch UFO whenever I wanted
instead of having to wait the week-long eternity between each episode. Now, the
first of these wishes had a pretty good chance of being granted, after all
Christmas was coming and if it didn't materialise then it would only be a few
months more until my birthday. The second wish was… well, frankly it was silly;
the only way to watch episodes whenever one wanted would be to own them and
that was beyond the realms of possibility, literally the stuff of dreams.
Yet here's the thing: Although I never did get that Interceptor toy, almost 20
years later, thanks to a TV run in the early hours of the morning during the
late 1980s, I got to own every episode on video. Then along came the wonders of
DVD and a spiffy Network box set release which suddenly made those
dropout-impaired, off-air VHS recordings completely redundant. It's now almost
half a century since UFO first aired on television in the UK and Christmas has
truly come early this year with Network's upgrade of the show to sparkling
the 1960s the Andersons were best known for a slew of action shows aimed at
children with marionettes as their stars – Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds
and Captain Scarlet remain among the most fondly remembered – and, aside from 1969
TV movie Doppelgänger (aka Journey to the Far Side of the Sun), UFO was their
first dalliance with live-action. It was also their first move towards
something aimed at a more mature audience, its storylines touching upon some distinctly
adult themes; not only was there the ever-present core threat of aliens
abducting humans and harvesting their organs to sustain their dying race, there
were flirtations with adultery, divorce, interracial romance and the
recreational use of hallucinogenic drugs, a facet which prevented the final
episode, “The Long Sleep”, from being screened during the series' initial run;
it eventually showed up some two years later. The very appearance of the aliens
was disconcertingly sinister, sporting eerie liquid-filled helmets, the viscous
green fluid therein enabling them to breathe. Additionally, the characters
regularly made flawed decisions and not all the stories concluded happily. There
was also a pervasive frisson of sexuality throughout the series; not only were most
of SHADO’s female personnel clad in rather provocative attire, in the first
15-minutes of the show’s pilot episode alone a woman fleeing from aliens tears her
dress and exposes her underwear, moments later there’s a protracted tracking
shot of a young woman's shapely legs as she walks across the studio forecourt, then
Gabrielle Drake performs a semi-striptease (to accompanying wah-wah organ music).
Of course, as a futuristic action series it was still going to harbour huge
appeal with a younger audience and whilst the heavier plot tropes would probably
have by-passed most kids, throwaway dialogue such as "These clouds give
about as much cover as a G-String on a belly dancer" almost certainly flew
right over their heads; at 8-years-old I doubt I even knew what a belly dancer
was, let alone a G-String!
Ed Bishop and Ayesha Brough
and co-creator (with Sylvia) of UFO, Gerry Anderson also wrote and directed the
first episode, "Identified". Other directors on the series were David
Lane (8 episodes), Ken Turner (6 episodes), Alan Perry (5 episodes), Jeremy
Summers and David Tomblin (2 episodes each), and Cyril Frankel and Ron Appleton
(a single episode each). As with any series there are great stories and
not-so-great stories, but there isn't a single entry in UFO's run that doesn't
have something intriguing going on. Among my personal favourites are Frankel's
"Timelash", in which Straker arrives at SHADO HQ and finds the entire
establishment frozen in time; Turner's "Ordeal", which finds a key
SHADO member abducted by the aliens and turned into one of their own; Lane's
"A Question of Priorities", in which Straker is torn between the
responsibility of his job and a tragedy in his personal life; and Summers'
"The Psychobombs", wherein the aliens turn several humans into living
up the cast, Ed Bishop was the only actor to participate in all 26 episodes but
there were regular appearances by a handful of others, among them Michael
Billington (as Colonel Paul Foster), George Sewell (as Colonel Alec Freeman), Dolores
Mantez (as Nina Barry), Antonia Ellis (as Joan Harrington), Vladek Sheybal (as Dr
Doug Jackson), the aforementioned Gabrielle Drake (as Lieutenant Gay Ellis), Keith
Alexander (as Lieutenant Keith Ford), Wanda Ventham (as Colonel Virginia Lake)
and Ayesha Brough (who, despite the fact she appeared in 19 episodes, was
curiously never given the courtesy of a name).
first of only three films for which Peter Fonda took up residence in the
director's chair – the others being Idaho Transfer (1973) and Wanda Nevada
(1979) – unconventional western The Hired Hand (1971)is the jewel of the triad. A
couple of fleeting outbursts of violence aside, it's heavy on gentle drama and
light on shoot-'em-up action, as such more a thinking man’s western than one whose
white hats and blackguards are clearly defined from the outset and proceed to
serve up a profusion of rapid-fire gunfights with bounteous squirts of ketchup.
an upsetting incident which prompts him to reflect on his life choices, drifter
Harry Collings (Peter Fonda) informs his travelling companions Arch Harris
(Warren Oates) and Dan Griffen (Robert Pratt) that he's decided to return home
to the wife and daughter he deserted six years earlier. Before they can part
ways Dan is shot by a man who claims he assaulted his wife, which alters Arch’s
plans; instead of riding out to the coast he accompanies Harry back to his
homestead where, unsurprisingly, they're met with some disdain by his wife
Hannah (Verna Bloom). She softens a little, however, and agrees to take on the
pair as hired hands. As time passes and the bonds of Harry and Hannah's
relationship strengthen, Arch begins to feel like a third wheel and announces
his intention to hit the trail, whereafter Harry finds himself faced with a deadly
situation that will test his loyalties to the zenith.
unequivocal critical success when it was released in 1971, it's a little perplexing
to learn that The Hired Hand passed broadly unacknowledged on the awards
circuit, not so much in respect of wins – there were none – but more in that it
received only 2 nominations; both were derived from critics' awards ceremonies
and both were for Warren Oates as ‘Best Supporting Actor’. In any event,
deserved as those nominations were, even though he was technically playing
second fiddle to Fonda, to pigeonhole Oates as the movie’s supporting actor
wasn’t exactly fair; he enjoys easily as much screen time as his co-star and,
due in part to Alan Sharp's elegant script, I'd suggest as characterisation
goes Arch Harris is far more interesting than his phlegmatic comrade and Oates
gets to overshadow Fonda in every respect. High Plains Drifter's Verna Bloom
also gives a memorable performance as the slightly dowdy yet subtly sensual Hannah
Collings, outwardly toughened by circumstance but warm and caring beneath. Meanwhile
Severn Darden, perhaps best remembered as Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’
baddie Kolp (a role he reprised in Battle for...), makes for a splendid if underused
malefactor; he’s so deliciously venomous that one hankers to see more of
picture was beautifully shot by Vilmos Zsigmond (later Oscar-winner for his cinematography
on Close Encounters of the Third Kind), with a profusion of freeze-frame transition
dissolves and exquisite chocolate-box sunsets that are joyous to behold. Folk
musician Bruce Langhorne's debut film score is evocative of the very essence of
western movies and his banjo-driven opener is nothing if not a triumphant
his success as star and co-writer on Easy Rider, Peter Fonda was in a position
to do whatever he wanted; that his directorial debut should birth The Hired
Hand – a film so accomplished, with such genuine depth of emotion and richness
of character – shows the measure of the man’s talent and one might lament that
opportunities to expand on it were to subsequently prove so scant. The aforementioned
deficit of action means it probably won't be to everyone's taste, especially
those seeking a more traditional western. But those who enjoy a thoughtful,
leisurely-paced tale of the Unforgiven ilk are likely to feel well rewarded.
of The Hired Hand should be thoroughly delighted by Arrow Academy's dual format
Blu-Ray/DVD package. The movie is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio with 1.0
mono sound and certainly looks better than it ever has. Peter Fonda provides a
feature accompanying commentary and the plentiful supplements comprise a
59-minute in-depth documentary from 2003 (which includes interviews with Fonda,
Verna Bloom, Vilmos Zsigmond and Bruce Langhorne), a second documentary from
1978 (which runs 52-minutes and focuses on a trio of Scottish screenwriters,
the pertinent one being Alan Sharp), a 2-minute to-camera piece in which Martin
Scorsese enthuses about the film, five deleted scenes (presented 4:3, with a
combined runtime of around 20-minutes, one of which features Larry Hagman and
places a different slant on Arch’s reasons for upping sticks and departing the
Collings ranch), an alternate edit of the finale, a 1971 audio recording of
Fonda and Warren Oates at the NFT, a generous selection of trailers, radio and
TV spots, and a stills gallery. The release also benefits from the now standard
(for Arrow’s releases) reversible sleeve art and souvenir booklet.
The Youtube channel for Listopedia provides a sobering look back at ten stars who died tragically on set. The inclusion of Clark Gable, however, is a bit of a stretch. While there is no doubt that Gable's exhausting activities in the making of "The Misfits" contributed to his death, he did not pass away until shooting had been completed.
The Warner Archive has released the highly enjoyable 1975 caper film Inside Out and it should appeal to fans of both The Italian Job (the good version from '69!) and Kelly's Heroes. The wisecracking cast of old pros is topped by Telly Savalas, Robert Culp and James Mason. The latter plays the commandant of a German POW camp in which Savalas was interred. He tracks Savalas down thirty years later and finds him as a high-living con-man in London whose luck has run out. He entices him to participate in an audacious scheme to infiltrate a maximum security prison in Berlin to locate its sole inhabitant: a former high ranking Nazi who has knowledge of where a stolen shipment of German army gold has been hidden for decades. The elaborate plan involves drugging the prisoner, smuggling him out of jail, convincing him he is back in WWII (complete with Hitler impersonator!), getting the necessary information and then smuggling him back inside the jail. Obviously, if logic matters tremendously to you, this isn't your kind of movie. However, if you're able to suspend belief for a few scenes, you'll find this a highly rewarding and very entertaining film. Ironically, the central absurdity- that the Allies would have an entire heavily guarded prison simply to watch over one inmate- is based on fact, as this was precisely the case with Hitler top henchman Rudolf Hess, who was the only inmate of Spandau prison. The three leads are all in top form, as is Aldo Ray, who seems to be in virtually every movie released by the Warner Archive. Director Peter Duffell gets maximum impact from locations in London, Amsterdam and Berlin. The movie moves along at breakneck pace and has some genuinely suspenseful sequences, not to mention some very amusing dialogue. A good bet for all true retro movie lovers. (The DVD is region-free).
CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM THE CINEMA RETRO MOVIE STORE
As he prepares to accept honors at the Kennedy Center on December 4 with President Obama and the First Lady in attendance, Al Pacino talks about his long, mostly illustrious career to Karen Heller of the Washington Post. We say "mostly illustrious" because the notoriously private Pacino admits to having built a "museum of mistakes" in relation to the roles he turned down in what turned out to be classic movies. Among them: "Taxi Driver", "Pretty Woman", "Kramer Vs. Kramer" and a little picture called "Star Wars". His first big break, playing Michael Corleone in "The Godfather", resulted in him almost being fired by the studio- and even Pacino admits he thought he was all wrong for the role. Click here to read.
Pacino says that Paramount tried to fire him three times from "The Godfather".
Cinema Retro has received the following announcement from the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria New York:
December 11–April 23, 2017
Changing Exhibitions Gallery
Martin Scorsese is the iconic American
film director. His wide-ranging body of work is at once distinctly personal and
rooted in a profound understanding of the art and history of cinema. He is also
a consummate New Yorker, and his movies capture the intensity and energy of his
home city. Martin Scorsese, the first major exhibition about the
director’s deeply intertwined career and life, explores Scorsese’s remarkable
half-century of filmmaking within the context of his personal history and his
love of cinema. Drawing extensively from Scorsese’s own collection, the
exhibition includes production material from his key films, objects from his
childhood, behind-the-scenes images, and large-scale projections of scenes from
his work. It is organized thematically: Family, Brothers, Men and Women, Lonely
Heroes, New York, Cinema, Cinematography, Editing, and Music.
During the run of the exhibition, the
Museum will present a comprehensive retrospective of the director’s work, with
the best available film prints and restored versions of his films, supplemented
with personal appearances. Additional screenings will feature a selection from
the hundreds of classic movies restored by the Film Foundation under Scorsese’s
supervision, and a selection of films that formed his lifelong love of cinema.
The exhibition Martin Scorsese is
organized by the Deutsche Kinemathek - Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Berlin.
Martin Scorsese is made possible by
major support from Paramount Pictures, with additional support from ARRI,
Technicolor, HBO and Delta Air Lines.
Issue #36 of Cinema Retro has shipped to subscribers worldwide. This is the final issue of Season 12. Please subscribe or renew today and help keep the dream alive for the world's most unique film magazine!
Highlights of this issue include:
Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer celebrate the 50th anniversary of "The Professionals" starring Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Claudia Cardinale, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode and Jack Palance.
*Mark Mawston with a rare exclusive interview with 70's sex siren Linda Hayden
*Cai Ross takes a bite at covering the underrated 1979 version of "Dracula" starring Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier
*John LeMay uncovers the top secret story of the unfilmed "Romance of the Pink Panther" that was to have starred Peter Sellers.
*Peter Cook continues his celebration of matte painting artists
*Tim Greaves uncovers the fascinating career of British "Sex Queen" Mary Millington
*Mark Mawston concludes his interviews with legendary stills photographer Keith Hamshere, who recalls shooting "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and the James Bond films
*Lee Pfeiffer's personal tribute to the late Euan Lloyd, producer of such films as "The Wild Geese" and "Shalako"
*Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau burn up the Old West in "Viva Maria!"
Raymond Benson's Ten Best Films of 1955
*Darren Allison's latest soundtrack news
*Gareth Owen's "Pinewood Past" column
If you have not yet subscribed for Season 12, you can still do so and get all three issues: #34, #35 and #36 shipped in one package. Thanks to all of our subscribers worldwide who continue to support classic cinemain print!
set tensions between stars or between stars and directors are about as old as
the Lumiere Brothers. Sometimes that friction can have a negative consequence
on the project and sometimes it can be a positive. The Robert Redford vehicle
“Little Fauss And Big Halsy” is one of those odd examples where the tensions
yielded both positive and negative results. The antagonism that Redford
reportedly felt towards co-star Michael J Pollard certainly helps inform their
performances in the second half of the film, but the differing ideas that
Redford and director Sidney J. Furie had for handling the movie's thematic
material creates a frisson that undermines the final film. Even if you were
unaware of the differing motivations of Redford and Furie, you couldn't help
but suspect that something was up between the two.
begin with, “Little Fauss And Big Halsy” is fairly thin on plot. Itinerant
motocross racer Halsy Knox (Redford) wanders from town to town, scraping
together whatever he can to get to the next race. After an accident breaks the
leg of Little Fauss (Pollard) and gets his racing license suspended, Halsy
persuades Little to let him race under his name while tagging along as his
mechanic. The arrangement seems to work for a while until Rita Nebraska (Lauren
Hutton) joins the pair on their travels. Tired of being offered breadcrumbs
from Halsy's plate, Little walks away after Halsy tries to pass Rita to him as
just another leftover scrap. Rita later engineers something of a reconciliation
between the two, but that turns out to be even more fragile than their initial
it may share some surface similarities with 1969's “Winning” (starring
Redford's “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” co-star Paul Newman), “Little
Fauss And Big Halsy” is clearly smack dab in the center of the boom of films
exploring the then-current aimlessness of the American spirit that came in the
wake of “Easy Rider” released the previous year. Director Furie cut his teeth
on Cliff Richards rock and roll musicals before graduating to thrillers like
“The Ipcress Files” and “The Naked Runner.” Nothing on his resume would suggest
that he would be a good fit for the material- and that is born out in the
finished film, which feels like he is trying to make a racing picture. With
Redford more interested in plumbing the psychology of Halsy, the two differing
approaches don't jell very well. And with Furie more focused on the incidences
in the screenplay than exploring the characters who inhabit it – big events in
the characters' lives such as the death of a parent happen off-screen and only
get a passing mention on-screen – it falls to a string of Johnny Cash tunes on
the soundtrack to hold the often episodic proceedings together.
being a rather unsympathetic character on the page, Redford's breezy charm
still makes the character one you want to see coming out on the winning side.
And that performance becomes a necessity if the film's ending – sorry, no
spoilers - is to have any impact at all. Pollard's Little is just the right
combination of naivete, twitchiness and fumbling social graces to be endearing.
He manages to shade his performance with enough subtlety that it is only in
hindsight do we see his growing frustration with Halsy that culminates with
their falling out. Hutton makes the most of her underwritten role, fleshing it
out (and flashing a bit of flesh in the process) more so than one would expect
from an actor relatively new to the profession.
Film's new Blu-ray release of “Little Fauss And Big Halsy” marks the first time
that the film is available in a digital home video format and for the first
time in its original theatrical aspect ratio in the US. The transfer is
relatively crisp and clean with no real apparent defects or scratches. It
definitely shows off the dusty browns of the film's California desert
towns as captured by cinematographer
Ralph Woolsey. Those looking for anything beyond the movie though are bound to
be disappointed as the disc is bare-bones with not a single trailer, featurette
or commentary track to enrich the experience.
Cinema Retro hosted Fritz Weaver at a screening of "Fail Safe" at the Players club in New York City. Here Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer (L) and contributor Paul Scrabo present Weaver with marketing materials for "To Trap a Spy", the feature film made from an extended version of the "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." TV show pilot, "The Vulcan Affair". Weaver discussed how surprised he was at the level of interest there was in the fact that he was the first U.N.C.L.E. villain. (Photo: GeorgeAnn Muller).
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Weaver, who won acclaim for his work in film, TV and on the Broadway stage, has
passed away at age 90. Weaver was primarily a character actor but sometimes
top-lined in stage productions.He played Sherlock Holmes in the 1960s Broadway
musical production of "Baker Street". He won a Tony in 1970 for his
performance in "Child's Play". Weaver also earned strong reviews over
the years for his performances in Shakespeare classics. He made his big screen
debut in 1964 in the Cold War thriller "Fail Safe", giving an intense
and memorable performance as a U.S. general who cracks under pressure when the
U.S. accidentally launches a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. When this
writer interviewed him at a screening of the film some years ago, Weaver said
he still found the movie difficult to watch because of its chilling
implications. Weaver's big screen appearances also include "Black
Sunday" (1977), "Marathon Man", "The Maltese Bippy",
"Creepshow" and "Demon Seed". He continued working in film
up to this year. His TV appearances include an Emmy nominated performance in
the 1978 mini-series "Holocaust" and two classic episodes of
"The Twilight Zone". From a pop culture standpoint, he is also
remembered as the very first villain in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." TV series, having appeared in the pilot episode, "The Vulcan Affair" in 1964
opposite series star Robert Vaughn, who coincidentally also passed away two
weeks ago. For more, click here.
There are so few good roles nowadays for older actresses that any film that defies this sorry practice is more than welcome no matter how modest its pleasures may be. "Wild Oats" is a recent comedy starring two Oscar winners: Shirley MacLaine and Jessica Lange and directed by Andy Tennant. It speaks volumes that the movie was barely released theatrically and to date has amassed a boxoffice gross of $22,000, indicating it played an abbreviated run in one theater probably to fulfill contractual requirements. It's a pity because "Wild Oats", which sometimes plays more like a saucy sitcom episode than a feature film, does offer a number of delightful elements, the most obvious being good roles for the two leading ladies. MacLaine plays Eva, a recently widowed elderly woman who is facing a bleak financial future. Her husband's life insurance policy is worth only $50,000 and she is already struggling with the costs of day-to-day living along with the inescapable frailties that come with age. Her best friend Maddie (Jessica Lange), although younger, is facing dilemmas of her own. After enduring a loveless, sexless marriage for many years, her husband has just dumped her for his 25 year-old secretary. The two women commiserate with each other and appear to be consigned to a rather joyless view of their so-called "Golden Years". Then a quirk of fate changes everything. When the life insurance check arrives, Eva notices that it has been accidentally made out for $5 million instead of $50,000. At the urging of Maddie, the normally conservative Eva does something she once would have found unthinkable: she deposits the money in her bank account and then sets out to spend as much as she can so that she and Maddie can have one last big fling, the consequences be damned. They end up in a fabulous resort in the Canary Islands where they indulge in every type of pampering imaginable. They add to their winnings when they unexpectedly strike gold in the hotel casino and place the jackpot of $450,000 in cash a safe inside their suite.
While living the high life and spending the insurance loot like drunken sailors, Eva and Maddie draw the attention of Chandler (Billy Connolly), a charming, erudite British man whose eccentricities appeal to them. He squires them about the island and before long reawakens Eva's dormant sexual desires. Similarly, Maddie has an encounter with a twenty-something hunk named Chip (Jay Hayden) who she quickly seduces and ends up almost crippling during some intense sexual encounters. The film's non-too-subtle message to its intended audience- older women- is that just because you collect a Social Security check doesn't mean that you can't be vivacious. The film's sub-title could well be "Revenge of the Cougars". It doesn't give much away to point out that Chandler turns out to be a con man who absconds with the ladies' casino winnings. This plot device is obvious from minute one. Meanwhile, an insurance investigator, Vespucci (Howard Hessman in fine form) tracks Eva to the island and tells her she must return the insurance money or go to jail. Eva, Maddie and Vespucci need to track down Chandler and get back the casino winnings in order to compensate for what they've already spent of the insurance funds. It's at this point that the film goes off coursewith the trio tracing Chandler to the villa of a much-feared local crime baron, Carlos (Santiago Segura), whose tough guy image is shattered when they discover he is actually a nerd who is perpetually hen-pecked by his young wife. The shtick involving Carlos brings a level of surrealism to the film. Such scenarios can sometimes work, as in the case of "The In-Laws", but here it plays out in an over-the-top fashion that undermines what had been until now a believable premise. Things get back on track in the final act in which the story provides a Hallmark-style, feel-good ending that nevertheless leaves a couple of holes in the plot.
"Wild Oats" plays out like a glorified TV movie from the Lifetime cable channel, albeit with better production values and a more impressive cast. Its pleasures may be modest but there is great satisfaction in seeing two excellent actresses in strong, well-written roles and they deliver the goods. (It should be noted that Demi Moore is criminally wasted in an under-written role as Eva's daughter). Director Andy Tennant keeps the proceedings going at a brisk pace and allows for some poignant sequences that speak to the down side of the aging process. The movie is about the rejuvenation of body and soul and will hopefully get a second chance to find its audience through the DVD release from Anchor Bay. The transfer is great but the release is devoid of any extras. It's a pity because the cast appears to have had the time of their lives making this movie and it would have been great to have them discuss it on a commentary track. Although the movie is clearly geared to an older female audience, it's hard to imagine anyone who won't appreciate seeing MacLaine and Lange in top form.
There is a reason that Toshiro Mifune still reigns as Japan's greatest screen actor despite the fact that he died in 1977. Mifune was pivotal in reawakening Japanese pride in the wake of the nation's disastrous defeat in WWII, but he also helped mainstream the power of Japan's burgeoning new wave cinema. Mifune, who collaborated with the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurasawa on seventeen films, starred in some of the most acclaimed movies ever made, among them "The Seven Samurai" and "Rashomon". Like most screen legends, Mifune was a larger-than-life figure both on screen and off. His sometimes reckless habits and short-temper would ultimately put him at odds with Kurosawa, destroying their creative collaborations- but not before the two had made screen history. Mifune is the subject of a major new documentary by Steven Okazaki, "Mifune: The Last Samurai", which is receiving wide acclaim. Daily Beast writer Nick Schager takes a look back at Mifune's life and career and the impact the of the new film. Click here to read.
Actress Florence Henderson has died at age 82 apparently from heart failure. Henderson became a beloved TV icon on the long-running sitcom "The Brady Bunch" which aired between 1969-1974. Born in Indiana, Henderson always had show business in her blood. She was a star long before the "Brady" era, having impressed Rodgers and Hammerstein with her performance in a road show production of "Oklahoma!" in 1952. The famed composers chose her to play the female lead in a Broadway revival of the play. She also made TV history as the first female guest host for "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson". However it was her role as Carol Brady that ensured her enduring popularity. The show was the first to deal with a situation in which two single parents merged their families. The success of "The Brady Bunch" was somewhat improbable as it presented the image of a squeaky clean sitcom family during an era of radical social change. However, if older teens and twenty-somethings wouldn't be caught dead watching the show (or at least admitting to it), the series did catch on with pre-teens and older viewers, the latter audience primarily wanting to escape the images of hippies and protesters that permeated the evening news. In many ways "The Brady Bunch" was a throwback to the kind of comforting family sitcom that dominated TV in the 1950s through mid-1960s. The irony was that the male lead in the show, actor Robert Reed, who played Henderson's husband Mike, was a gay man. Although this information would have been damaging to his career if known publicly at the time, the cast and crew were aware of it and embraced him. Thus, the corniest TV sitcom family of all time was actually fighting back against prejudices in real life.
The series managed to thrive even after the 1970 debut of "All in the Family", which brought a new wave of realism into American households and changed the face of the traditional sitcom forever. Henderson, like her fellow cast mates, recognized the sheer corniness of the show but continued to embrace her image as Carol Brady. She and her co-stars reunited for several TV specials as the Brady family and over the decades she relished the fact that the show had developed a cult following. In 1995 Brady played the grandmother in the hit feature film spoof of "The Brady Bunch" that depicted the characters as being unwittingly out of touch with modern society. Henderson remained an active and popular performer and in recent years published her memoirs. Her last appearance on TV was earlier this week when she attended a taping of "Dancing with the Stars" to support her "Brady" TV daughter Maureen McCormick, who was competing. For more click here.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Mad Max fans will have something to put atop
their holiday gift lists with the Mad Max High Octane Collection,
debuting December 6 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (WBHE). All four
films from visionary director George Miller’s blockbuster sci-fi franchise -- Mad Max (1979); Mad Max 2:
The Road Warrior (1981); Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985);
and MadMax: Fury Road (2015), now with Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky
-- are together in one collection.
The Mad Max High Octane Collection is
available to own in both Blu-ray ($79.99 SRP) and DVD ($54.97 SRP)
versions. Both collections include the four films and five hours of bonus
content, including the visually stunning Mad Max: Fury Road “Black
& Chrome” Edition. The Blu-ray collection will also include a 4K-Ultra HD
version and a UV Digital Copy of Mad Max: Fury Road.
The Mad Max: Fury Road “Black & Chrome
Edition” will also be available on Blu-ray
($29.98 SRP) in a two film collection including the theatrical version of the
film and a special introduction by George Miller describing his vision.
High Octane Collection Special Features and Additions:
NEW! *Fury Road “Black & Chrome” Edition –
Witness the surreal black and white version of mastermind George Miller’s Fury
NEW! *George Miller Introduction to the Mad Max Fury
Road: Black and Chrome Edition – Special introductory piece by George
Miller describing his vision.
NEW! Road War – In 1982, the world was
blindsided by George Miller’s masterpiece of apocalyptic destruction: The
Road Warrior. For the first time ever George Miller, Terry Hayes and star
Mel Gibson tell the story of the car-crushing production that redefined action
Madness of Max – The previously released Mad Max (1979)
documentary is a feature-length documentary on the making of arguably the most
influential movie of the past thirty years. With over forty cast-and-crew
interviews, hundreds of behind-the-scenes photographs and never-before-seen
film footage of the shoot, this is, without a doubt, the last word on Mad Max (1979).
Interviews include: George Miller, Byron Kennedy, Mel Gibson, Hugh Keays-Byrne,
Steve Bisley, Roger Ward, Joanne Samuel, David Eggby, Jon Dowding and many
more. From the Producers to the Bike Designers to the Traffic Stoppers, this is
the story of how Mad Max was made.
Mad Max: Fury Road Two Film Collection
Special Features and Additions:
NEW! *George Miller Introduction to the Mad Max Fury
Road: Black and Chrome Edition – Special introductory piece by George
Miller describing his vision.
About The Films
Mad Max (1979)
George Miller's first entry in the trilogy, Mad Max packs
brutal action and insane stunts as it follows the inevitable downfall of
relentless cop Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) in a world gone mad.
Living on the edge of an apocalypse, Max is ready to run far away
from it all with his family. But when he experiences an unfortunate encounter
with a motorcycle gang and its menacing leader, the Toecutter, his retreat from
the madness of the world is now a race to save his family's life.
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1982)
The sequel to Mad Max, Mad Max 2:
The Road Warrior provides action-packed “automotive” entertainment,
telling the story of a selfish-turned-selfless hero and his efforts to protect
a small camp of desert survivors and defend an oil refinery under siege from a
ferocious marauding horde that plunders the land for gasoline.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Mel Gibson returns for his third go-round as the title
hero who takes on the barbarians of the post-nuclear future - and this time
becomes the savior of a tribe of lost children. Music superstar Tina Turner
co-stars as Aunty Entity, a power-mad dominatrix determined to use Max to
tighten her stranglehold on Bartertown, where fresh water, clean food and
gasoline are worth more than gold.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Haunted by his turbulent past, Mad Max (Tom
Hardy) believes the best way to survive is to wander alone. Nevertheless, he
becomes swept up with a group fleeing across the Wasteland in a War Rig driven
by an elite Imperator, Furiosa (Charlize Theron). They are escaping a Citadel
tyrannized by the Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), from whom something
irreplaceable has been taken. Enraged, the Warlord marshals all his gangs and
pursues the rebels ruthlessly in the high-octane Road War that follows.
Good taste and Dr. Phil McGraw have always walked separate paths. McGraw, known by one and all in avuncular terms as "Dr. Phil", has been a mainstay of American chat shows for years ever since being championed by Oprah Winfrey. McGraw is typical of syndicated talk show hosts in that he often features troubled people in vulnerable conditions to whom he dispenses homespun advice to improve their lives. At times McGraw appears sympathetic but he often plays to the audience by chastising those he deems to be slackers or responsible for their own predicaments. It seems to please those viewers who relish seeing a parade of individuals who are less well-off than they are. The latest person to receive Dr. Phil's attention is actress Shelley Duvall, who has been mostly out of sight for over a decade. Duvall appeared on a recent episode of the show and was barely recognizable. She admits to suffering from mental illness and made bizarre claims such as her belief that her friend and "Popeye" co-star Robin Willilams is not really dead. Duvall tells McGraw "I am very sick. I need help." McGraw says he did arrange for Duvall to be sent to a mental health clinic in California but she left after a few days. He said she returned to her home in Texas where she is now receiving treatment, presumably at McGraw's expense. Duvall's appearance on McGraw's show was too much for Vivian Kubrick, daughter of legendary director Stanley Kubrick, who directed Duvall in his 1980 hit "The Shining". Vivian Kubrick sent off a couple of Tweets to McGraw, accusing him of exploiting the troubled actress. She said that when her friend, filmmaker Lee Unkrich began researching a book about the making of "The Shining", he contacted Duvall and was shocked by her mental condition. Kubrick has now set up a Gofundme page to raise funds on behalf of Duvall. However, that page has also raised some questions because it is vague about specifically how the funds raised will be used. Some readers have expressed concern that the monies might be turned over to Scientology, which Vivian is an adherent of, and which disdains traditional psychological treatments for mentally ill people. Vivian has been estranged from the Kubrick family since her involvement with the controversial religion. There is also the matter that the first line in the description of the Gofundme page is rather bizarrely worded: "Like many older movie stars, embarrassed finances is not uncommon." For more click here.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON LIVE IN CONCERT, A One Night Only Special Event:
Screening with Live Score Performed by Wordless Music Orchestra
Saturday, April 8, 2017 at Kings Theatre, Brooklyn
Producers Joseph A. Berger and Michael Sayers, in association with Wordless Music and Warner Bros.
Pictures, are pleased to announce BARRY LYNDON
LIVE IN CONCERT at Brooklyn’s extraordinary Kings Theatre on Saturday, April 8,
2017, at 8pm. Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece will be projected in a new 2K DCP
restoration, with live musical accompaniment by Wordless Music Orchestra, led
by renowned conductor Ryan McAdams.
Barry (Ryan O’Neal), is a young,
roguish Irishman who’s determined, in any way, to make a life for himself as a
wealthy nobleman. Enlisting in the British Army and fighting in Europe’s Seven
Years War, Barry deserts, then joins the Prussian army, gets promoted to the
rank of a spy, and becomes a pupil to a Chevalier and con artist/gambler. Barry
then lies, dupes, duels and seduces his way up the social ladder, entering into
a lustful but loveless marriage to a wealthy countess named Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson). He takes the name of
Barry Lyndon, settles in England with wealth and power beyond his wildest
dreams, before eventually falling into ruin.
Barry Lyndon’s Oscar winning soundtrack features Irish traditional
music and military marches, along with baroque and classical themes by Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach, and Paisiello. Most notable are sumptuous interpretations of Handel’s Sarabande and Schubert’s
Piano Trio in E-Flat Major, D. 929,
which emerges as a recurring, melancholic love theme for Lady Lyndon.
The sublime score will be performed by the 50-piece Wordless Music
Orchestra, and conducted by Ryan McAdams. Barry Lyndon will be projected on
the huge, glorious screen of Kings
Theatre (1027 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn), Brooklyn’s premier movie palace and one
of the five ‘Loew’s Wonder Theatres,’ opened in 1929 and magnificently restored
in 2015. This engagement will be on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 8pm, and promises to be a memorable evening of live
music and masterful cinema. The program is approximately three hours, plus one
It’s 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor. The nation is
nervous about the possibility of another bombing raid by the Japanese, and
nobody is more nervous about that possibility than Champ Larkin (James Craig)
and his pal Jimbo (Frank Jenks), two convicts doing time on Alcatraz. Champ’s a
pretty self-centered guy. He isn’t at all concerned about the war. It’s none of
his business. “If they want to fight, let ‘em fight.” he says. “Theres a law
says they can’t draft convicts. We’ll sit this one out.” (Jimbo’s a little more
thoughtful. “I don’t know, Champ,” he says. “Anybody pulls a sneak trick like
that is a rat and a rat means trouble here and there.”)
When they see some Zeros coming in over the Pacific to do
a flyover of San Francisco, Champ decides it’s time to evacuate. As he says in
his voice-over narration, “It ain’t easy breaking out of Alcatraz, and we can’t
tell you how we did it because it’s a professional secret. But we had two
things going for us. A blackout and a heavy fog.”
They try to swim to San Francisco in the dark but don’t
get far before the cops start shooting at them from a patrol boat. Luckily
there is a wooden crate floating in San Francisco Bay that night and they hide
inside it. The crate, by the way, and by sheer chance, has the name H. Schlom
stamped on it, which is some kind of inside joke, since Herman Schlom from
1940-52 was producer of second features for RKO, and was producer of “7 Miles from Alcatraz.” They
elude the cops but drift out under the Golden Gate Bridge and land at a
lighthouse seven miles from the prison.
Living in the lighthouse are the lighthouse keeper,
Captain Porter (George Cleveland), his daughter Anne (Bonita Granville), a
comic relief guy named Stormy (Cliff Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket), and
radio man Paul Brenner (Erford Gage). Champ and Jimbo take over the lighthouse
and hold the inhabitants prisoner. At first Champ, who hasn’t seen a woman in
five years, seems more interested in getting to know Anne better than continuing
with his escape. But, in the meantime, Brenner, the radio man, is receiving
coded message that he pretends he can’t understand. It turns out he’s working
with a small cell of German spies (Tala Birell, John Banner, [otherwise known
as Sgt. Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes], and Otto Reichow), who are hiding in San
Francisco, and are awaiting Brenner’s arrival by boat to ferry them out to the
lighthouse, which they’re going to use as a landing point for a U-boat coming
in through the Bay. Whew, I need to get my breath after that line.
When there’s another blackout, Champ decides it’s time to
split. He and Jimbo want to take the lighthouse keeper’s boat and take off, but
the lights come back on before they can get away. Things get further complicated
when the Nazis get another boat and arrive at the lighthouse. At first it looks
bad for the good guys, but Champ, being the self-centered cad that he is,
strikes a bargain with the Germans that will allow Jimbo and him to get out of
the country on the sub. Of course things go awry, and when Anne is placed in
danger, good old Champ, who’s quickly grown rather fond of the old girl, shows
his true colors and decides he won’t stay out of the fight after all. He springs
into action against the spy trio and sends the coordinates of the sub’s
location to the coast guard.
Well, it’s all pretty silly, but it’s entertaining in a
quaint sort of way, if you don’t mind the preposterous plot. The only really
noteworthy thing about it is that it was the first feature film Edward Dmytryk
directed for RKO Radio Pictures. You gotta start somewhere, right?
“Seven Miles from Alcatraz” is a low budget World War II
propaganda film released by the Warner Archive Collection in a bare-bones,
no-extras DVD. Picture and sound are okay, but nothing remarkable, which pretty
much sums it all up. If you’re a big fan of James Craig (and who isn’t) or
Bonita Granville (there may be a few still alive), an Edward Dmytryk
completist, or you just like lighthouses, this one’s for you.
By the late 1960s many popular actors found that their family-friendly trademark films were going the way of the dinosaur. Elvis Presley's popularity on screen waned thanks to Colonel Parker's Svengali influence that saw him block The King's desires to expand into meaningful dramas. Don Knotts, whose low-budget Universal comedies were hugely popular, lost much of his audience when he added some sexual elements to "The Love God?" Equally affected was Doris Day, a genuine cinematic legend who, only a few years earlier, could be counted on to bring in big bucks at the box-office through her romantic comedies. The running gag was that Day always played goodie-goodie characters (one comedian quipped "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin!") This was not entirely true. Day often played mature women who were either married or quite modern in their views of sexual relationships. Still, she was never less than wholesome even in her pursuit of romance. However, as the Sixties neared an end the sweeping changes in popular culture, spurred by the new wave of rock artists, extended into cinema as well. Doris knew her day was over on the big screen. She had a lifeline of sorts but she tossed it away when she refused to play the role of Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate". Her manipulative husband, Martin Melcher, wanted to wring the last few dollars out of her film career and often coerced her into starring in middling projects that she had little enthusiasm for. Her final role as a leading lady on the big screen came in 1968 in the comedy "With Six You Get Eggroll" (you have to see it to understand the relevance of the title.) The film is a factory-made concoction that uses the well-worn trappings of other recent films that tried to combine traditional Hollywood elements with the burgeoning youth market and the new cinematic realism that was all the rage. Generation Gap comedies were churned out by studio executives in an attempt to capture the market for both older and teenage movie-goers. The highly popular "Yours, Mine and Ours" had immediately preceded "Eggroll"'s release and the desperate-to-be-hip"The Impossible Years" would open a month later. They all played like extended sit-coms but did offer up legendary actors in starring roles. "Eggroll" is as nondescript as the other films in this peculiar niche but it isn't without its simple, unpretentious pleasures.
The most refreshing aspect of the movie is the one-and-only teaming of Doris Day and Brian Keith, who was then starring in his own popular sit-com "Family Affair", a sugary confection that is all but unwatchable today. Yet Keith had a raw masculinity that allowed him to excel in playing both light comedy and gritty men of action. In any event, he and Day make for a likable twosome. The familiar story line finds Day as Abby McClure, a widowed mother of an 18 year-old son Flip (John Findlater) who has just graduated high school and his two very young brothers. Abby seems content trying to cope with being a single mother as well as that rarest of species in 1968: a successful businesswoman. (She is the hands-on owner of a thriving construction firm.) It's all she can do to fulfill her responsibilities to both her business and her family, which gives the otherwise dated script a somewhat topical element that many women of today can identify with. Abby's sister (Pat Carroll) keeps needling her about the need to find a new boyfriend and potential husband and contrives a meeting with Jake Iverson (Brian Keith), a widower with a teenage daughter Stacey (Barbara Hershey). Abby and Jake have known each other on a casual basis for years but sparks do fly when they meet up at an otherwise disastrous house party Abby hosts. Most of the film covers predictable turf: Abby and Jake decide to get married but their bliss is short-lived when they realize that the blending of two families causes major personality conflicts between Flip and Stacey. Additionally, both teens take pride in the fact that they had been relied on heavily by their parent and feel threatened by the presence of a new spouse who might usurp their adult responsibilities. The constant fighting extends to jealousy about what house they all reside in so, to keep the peace, Abby and Jake devise an cumbersome plan where the family alternates their abode every night. Abby and Jake also find they have very little quality time together and a running gag has them sneaking away to a late night coffee house drive-in where they are greeted with familiarity and plenty of wise-cracks by one of the servers, played by up-and-coming comedy legend George Carlin. The gags are all familiar and highly predictable but director Howard Morris, himself a noted comedic actor, keeps the action moving at a brisk pace and prevents blandness from turning into boredom. At times the movie threatens to become almost poignant when it examines the challenges of blending two families together under one roof with the kids having no choice but to accept a new mom/dad. One scene, in which Abby finally breaks through and earns respect from Stacey, is actually quite touching. However, the finale delves into absurdity when a wild car chase ensues that encompasses some lovable hippies (two of whom are played by future "M*A*S*H" TV stars Jamie Farr and William Christopher.) Whenever family films of this era attempted to present members of the Flower Power movement, the results were generally cringe-inducing and this is no exception. The final scene has a chaotic mess in which everyone converges on a police station- a scenario that I believe I have seen played out about a dozen times in similarly-themed films of this time period.
Despite its flaws, "With Six You Get Eggroll" is never as bad as you probably fear it will be. The sets are cheesy and poorly lit and the laughs somewhat meager, but I found myself enjoying seeing the teaming of Doris Day and Brian Keith. The mind reels at what the possibilities might have been if they had been cast in a mature adult romance. The only hints we have are a few topical references to sex that occasionally surface in the movie. This type of innocent comedy would be all-but-gone by the time Bob and Carol got into bed with Ted and Alice the very next year. Ms. Day would go on to star in a hit sitcom that ran for years before virtually retiring from show business and the public eye (though she did re-emerge with a cable TV show in the 1980s dedicated to her life's passion: caring for animals.) Keith would go on to star in some very worthy films, among them "The McKenzie Break" and "The Wind and the Lion" and scored a hit with the tongue-in-cheek action series "Hardcastle and McCormick". "Eggroll" is elevated from sheer mediocrity by their presence in the film.
"With Six You Get Eggroll" is available as a bare-bones DVD from Paramount.
While navigating through the labyrinth of
collectibles, comic books, and dealer tables at the New York Comic Con this
past October, I came upon a vendor selling copies of old horror films. As is usual,
I had to stop for a moment and thumb through the boxes of DVDs and Blu-rays
labeled simply as “Classic Horror.” There were, of course, the standard bearers
that you would expect to find; such black and white Universal classics as The Wolfman (1941) and Frankenstein (1931), as well as such latter-age
British horror favorites as Vincent Price’s Theatre
of Blood (1973).
Continuing to flip through the boxes, I was
surprised to see The Horrible Dr.
Hichcock (1964), a mostly obscure Italian horror film that I had never had
the opportunity to see. In truth, I’d
never even heard of the film before – and before you scold me for my ignorance,
please keep in mind I’m only nineteen years old. Even Jason and Freddy Krueger are old-school
to me. Still, I admit my immediate
thought was that this copy of The
Horrible Dr. Hichcock was likely misplaced. Was this little known film deserving of having been sandwiched between the
revered classics of Universal and Hammer Studios?
Shortly afterwards, the Olive Films Blu-ray of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock dropped into
my mailbox. Now that I’ve finally gotten the chance
to watch the film, I realize the suspenseful and eerie tale is indeed a worthy addition
to the canon of “Classic Horror.”
Olive Films new Blu-ray release of The Horrible Dr. Hichcock brings – if
you excuse the expression – “new life” to this now half-century old and
unsettling melodrama. Dr. Bernard Hichcock
(Robert Flemyng) seems an OK guy. He’s a
celebrated and much admired surgeon, but also a tortured soul hiding a perverse
secret. He’s completely given to necrophilic
fantasies, of which his wife Margaret (Teresa Fitzgerald) is strangely
accepting and willing to indulge her husband’s strange desires. However, things
take a tragic turn when the not-so-good Dr. unintentionally kills her with an accidental
overdose of the anesthetic, emphasizing that there can in fact be too much of a
The film then flashes forward several years. Dr.
Hichcock returns from a long absence from the village, returning to his old stately
home with a new paramour: the understandably jittery Cynthia (played by Italian
“Scream Queen” Barbara Steele of Black
Sunday and Nightmare Castle fame).
It isn’t long before things again turn weird as Cynthia begins to see the
apparition of Hichcock’s former wife walking the estate grounds. She is tormented by the spirit.
Despite the film’s somewhat confusing plotline,
the movie possesses what I like to call “the Universal Horror aesthetic.” The film is rife with the atmospheric
elements I look forward to in every classic horror film: eerie fog, misty graveyards,
a creaking near-abandoned manor, and a devilish doctor who, more likely than
not, is up to something no good. As these elements are all welcomingly in place
here, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock was deservedly
slotted in the “Classic Horror” section at Comic Con. Or perhaps it was the
moments of suspense and mystery that, when moodily combined with Roman Vlad’s ominously
eerie score, left me guessing about who (or what) might be waiting behind every
corner of the dreary house.
There are many such memorable moments of mystery
and apprehension in The Horrible Dr. Hichcock.I found the film somewhat reminiscent of The House on Haunted Hill and The Haunting, as there are so many
twists that the audience is constantly forced to change their minds about what might
happen next. Whether due to a less than cohesive script or specific choices
made by director Robert Hampton to keep things from being too formulaic, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock succeeds in
keeping the audience engrossed and guessing. Though I found the ending to be
slightly confusing – some elements of the film’s story threads were not explained
to my satisfaction – this is a movie that’s worthy of a second viewing.Until then, I am content to say that The Horrible Dr. Hichcock has definitely
earned a place of honor in my personal library of classic horror.
MGM's remake of its 1959 blockbuster "Ben-Hur" proved the old adage that you can't go home again. The studio had hoped that the religious community would rally around the film in much the same way they had done for other faith-based films, primarily Mel Gibson's 2004 production of "The Passion of the Christ". However, this time around those audiences stayed away in droves, leading to a write-down of $48 million for the quarter. Part of the problem isn't the studio's fault: there simply aren't the type of old school, epic-leading actors like Charlton Heston, who won an Oscar for the original film. However, the marketing campaign didn't help matters. In an attempt to broaden the film's appeal to mainstream audiences, a poorly-conceived trailer tried to make the movie look like a Marvel super hero flick, with gimmicky editing and an emphasis on special effects that may have alienated the religious community. The film cost $100 to make and grossed $94 million worldwide. However, that doesn't include the tens of millions in marketing costs that will not be recouped. It should be noted that the film was released by Paramount but mostly financed by MGM. Paramount's losses are estimated to be in the range of $13 million. Click here for more.
Why do you want to do a book on Jan-Michael
This is the most common question I received
during the writing of Jan-Michael Vincent:
Edge of Greatness, my book on the
career and life of Jan-Michael Vincent. Jan’s former Hollywood colleagues, most of whom now refer to him in the
past tense, asked me this, and so did Jan’s classmates and friends from
Hanford, California, where Jan was born and raised.
I’ve always been fascinated by unfulfilled
potential, and the tragedy this represents, and I see Jan as the embodiment of
this. Although Jan, as an actor,
possessed all of the ingredients, on a purely physical level, for superstardom,
there was something missing, something very wrong, and I wanted to explore this.
I called the book Edge of Greatness, which suggests great potential but also the
existence of a precipice bordered by the arbitrary forces of fate and
circumstance. Obviously, Jan’s story
turned out very badly, and although there is no clear explanation for the
source of Jan’s lifelong sense of confusion, his eternal torment, I found some
Jan’s hallmark as an actor, at the height
of his career in the early to mid-1970s, was his physical beauty, his
incredible well of vitality, which disguised the characteristics and
personality of a lifelong misfit, an identity that carried destructive
implications for Jan in his career and life. He was cursed with natural ability, in terms
of his screen presence, and with surfing, his one true passion. He got by on this, his god-given gifts, for a
very long time. When this evaporated, turned
inward on him, there was nothing left.
Jan’s alcoholism, which is the bedrock of
not only his downfall but his life, was rooted in his family. It was passed down to him through his
grandfather, Herbert Vincent, and Jan’s father, Lloyd, a World War II veteran
who owned a sign painting business in Hanford, Jan’s hometown. However, it must be pointed out that Jan’s
brother and sister both avoided this fate. “Jan was a born alcoholic from an alcoholic family,” says Bonnie Hearn
Hill, Jan’s classmate at Hanford High, the high school Jan attended between
1959 and 1963. “He would’ve been an
alcoholic had he ended up a sign painter in Hanford. He probably wouldn’t have had access to all
of the drugs.”
Jan wanted to be a surfer. After graduating from Hanford High in 1963,
at the age of nineteen, he enrolled at Ventura College, far away from
Hanford. In early 1965, Jan abruptly
dropped out and went to Mexico in pursuit of a surfing odyssey, which was
halted due to Jan’s draft status. In
1966, after completing basic training, Jan had few prospects. Acting, as a possible career, was a last
resort for Jan, and he really had no choice.
Through his father’s connections, Jan made
the acquaintance of legendary talent agent Richard “Dick” Clayton, who
immediately saw in Jan, purely visually, the heir apparent to James Dean,
Clayton’s friend and former client. Clayton,
following the Rock Hudson model, specialized in identifying good-looking boys,
hunks, and developing them into stars, whether they had talent or not. Clayton’s stable included Harrison Ford and
Nick Nolte, whom Clayton discarded in favor of Jan.
The only acting training Jan received in
his career was at Universal Studios, in the training program, which he entered
in the summer of 1966. Jan was a
natural. The camera loved him, and he
had an instinctive sense of the camera, and he understood how to seize the
crucial moment within a given scene. “Jan
was a “stand and deliver” type of actor,” says Robert Englund, Jan’s friend and
co-star in the film Buster and Billie. “He could, in those short bursts, dominate
the scene he was in, and he was very effective. Jan was about five ten, which was the perfect height in terms of him
relating to the camera. He had
everything going for him.”
Following the Rock Hudson model, Jan was
marketed, beginning in the late 1960s and continuing well into the 1970s, as a
male model. He was a teen idol, a
luridly-developed persona that followed him into the early thirties, when he
was a husband and father.
Vincent starred with Darren McGavin in the acclaimed TV movie "Tribes".
Jan’s first acting role, which Jan received
outside of the Universal bubble, was a supporting part in the western feature The Bandits, which starred Robert
Conrad, who urged Jan to abandon his chosen screen name, Jan Vincent, in favor
of a more manly-sounding name. He became
Michael Vincent, Mike, employing the middle name he’d barely invoked in
Hanford, a moniker he kept until he appeared in the TV production Tribes, the first film Jan was proud
Conrad was the first in a parade of iconic
leading men Jan found himself paired with between the late 1960s and late 1970s. Conrad was followed by John Wayne and Rock
Hudson in The Undefeated, Darren
McGavin in Tribes, Robert Mitchum in Going Home, Charles Bronson in The Mechanic, Gene Hackman in Bite the Bullet, and Burt Reynolds in Hooper.
As a leading man, Jan found his greatest
success, critically and commercially, between 1972 and 1975, with the films Buster andBillie, The Mechanic, The World’s Greatest Athlete, and WhiteLine Fever, a film that was most notable, in spite of its success,
because it represented Jan’s introduction to cocaine, which he was turned onto
by a stuntman. None of these films were
gigantic box office hits, but they were successful and promoted the idea that
Jan was going to become a major star. “Jan was at the beginning of the process of being groomed for stardom
when I met him,” recalls White Line Fever’s
director, Jonathan Kaplan. “He was being
groomed by Peter Guber at Columbia Pictures, which distributed White Line Fever, and Peter told me that
he was convinced that Jan was going to become a major star.”
from the point of view of an idealistic and patriotic German boy from high
school graduation and military basic training to the trenches of WWI
battlefields, “All Quiet on the Western Front” is a classic tale of the horrors
of war. Written by Erich Maria Remarque and published in
1929, the German WWI veteran based the novel on his own experiences in the
trenches of WWI. A Hollywood movie quickly followed staring Lew Ayres as Paul.
Produced and released in Hollywood by Universal, it was awarded the Best
Picture and Best Director Oscars for 1930, a few short years before the rise of Adolf Hitler who banned the book and
Fifty years after the novel’s release, a
made-for TV movie was broadcast on American TV in November 1979. It starred
Richard Thomas as Paul Baumer, who was fresh off the hit TV series “The
Waltons” when he went to work on this movie which is not so much a remake as it
is a new adaptation of the classic book. The wide-eyed innocence of Thomas, who
was in his late twenties at the time, works well in his interpretation of Paul as
he transforms from German patriot seeking adventure to disillusioned soldier
tired of war.
movie follows Paul, a thoughtful and likable student who enjoys art, literature
and intellectual conversations; as he joins his friends who become soldiers at
the outbreak of the war. His school teacher, Donald Pleasence as Kantorek, is
an outspoken patriot who urges Paul to join the army. Paul and his friends, the
local postman, Himmelstoss (Ian Holm), as they bully him and knock him to the
ground for not serving in the army. We also meet Paul’s mother, played by
Patricia Neal (Thomas’ mother in the TV pilot for “The Waltons” TV series - the
Christmas classic, “The Homecoming”) saying his goodbyes to his family before
heading off with his friends to their military training.
Paul and his friends arrive at basic training, they’re met by now Army Corporal
Himmelstoss who has not forgotten their cruelty toward him and returns it to
them during their training. I never got the sense that Himmelstoss was overtly
cruel during the training sequences. All basic trainees wish they were
elsewhere during boot camp, but we are led to believe that he is over-the-top
in his cruelty. Holm does sport a menacing mustache and he has harsh words for
the recruits, but its typical stuff and the scenes are too brief to get a sense
that anything cruel is occurring apart from what we learn from the characters.
movie moves along at a predictable pace and finally settles into the meat of
the story when Paul and his friends arrive at the front and meet up with their
mentor, Stanislaus Katczinsky, played by Ernest Borgnine. He’s the old soldier who
advises the inexperienced recruits and tells them to forget everything they
learned in basic training because he’s going to tell them the correct way of
doing things in order to survive.
and his friends become seasoned soldiers after months of fighting in the
trenches. Friends are killed and wounded and Paul ends up in the hospital after
he is wounded where we see soldiers suffering from shell shock, commonly known
today as PostTtraumatic Stress Disorder. After his recovery, Paul is allowed a brief
visit home where he visits with his mother and Kantorek. Himmelstoss ends up
being transferred to the front with the boys, but he disappears from the story
without explanation shortly after his arrival. It was good to see Holm,
Pleasence and Neal once more, but they have too little screen time.
does a good job as Paul, but it felt like something was missing. I never got
the sense Paul was truly transformed in the end of that any of them were
experiencing the horrors of war. Thomas and the actors playing his friends are credible,
but are not quite up to the screen presence of the more seasoned actors in this
movie. Borgnine carries much of the water in the film and he is a welcome part
of the production in every scene he appears, but the movie is not about him.
production is very good television and it is an impressive version of a classic
tale that benefits from the cast of great actors and by the on-location filming
in Yugoslavia. Perhaps I’m simply jaded after the superior production values in
similarly themed television projects like “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific”
which depicted warfare in graphic detail as well as combat related post
traumatic stress. This production touches on it in a way that was acceptable on
1979 television, but which appears dated today.
movie was directed by Delbert Mann who moved very successfully from Emmy
winning TV director to Oscar winning movie director in the 1950s and returned
to TV in the early 1970s after directing a string of dramas and light comedies
during the 50s and 60s including the Oscar winning best picture “Marty,” his
motion picture debut, which also starred Ernest Borgnine. Pleasence, Neal and
Holm’s scenes are welcome, but all too brief and little more than cameo roles.
Borgnine is wonderful in every scene and works well with Thomas.
movie is presented in widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio, although I doubt it was
originally broadcast in that format in 1979. Its possible the movie was filmed
in widescreen with the safety area left open when broadcast on television and on
early home video releases. The run time is also longer here on the Blu-ray than
in the original CBS broadcast of 131 minutes clocking in at 156 minutes on this
Shout! Factory release. The Blu-ray looks and sounds terrific and includes the
trailer and a photo gallery as extras. The movie is an entertaining and welcome
During my formative years – as I sat before a steady
procession of unforgettable movies, my passion for cinema intensifying with the
discovery of the diverse emotions that films proved capable of stirring within
me – there were several behind-the-camera names that would show up on opening
titles sequences which I started to recognise, people whose involvement in any
given picture became synonymous with a fine evening’s entertainment. One of
those names was Elliott Kastner. The producer behind dozens of films, from
big guns such as the fabulous wartime actioner Where Eagles Dare and Charles Bronson western whodunnit Breakheart Pass, to less remembered gems
the like of beautifully melancholic heartbreaker Jeremy and psychological thriller Death Valley, if Elliott Kastner's name was attached to it then,
for me, that was a cast-iron guarantee that I wasn't going to come away
Which brings us to director Anthony Page's 1978 clerical
mystery Absolution starring Richard
Burton, which Kastner co-produced (alongside four-times collaborator Danny
O'Donovan) and which somehow bypassed me for years until I finally caught up
with it recently courtesy of Kino Lorber's new Blu-ray disc.
Benjie Stanfield (Dominic Guard) is the most promising
pupil at a Catholic public school. Feeling the pressure of permanently having
to act the model student he starts to develop a rebellious streak. Much to the
dismay of his austere housemaster, Father Goddard (Richard Burton), Stanfield
begins associating with ne’er-do-well traveller Blakey (Billy Connolly) who's
set up camp in the woodland adjacent to the school and whose bohemian lifestyle
strikes the young lad as idyllic. Furthermore Stanfield starts to spin
outrageous fictions to Goddard which, bound by the seal of the confessional,
the incensed priest is powerless to punish him for. Then, following an argument
with Blakey, the distraught Stanfield confesses to Goddard that he lost his
temper and killed the man. Is he telling the truth, or is it just more
mischief? And when he confides that he'd like to do away with irritating fellow
pupil Arthur Dyson (David Bradley), can the poor, beleaguered Father Goddard manage
to stop him?
For the most part tautly directed by Anthony Page, Absolution is a keen-edged mystery from
the pen of Anthony Shaffer (whose other notable works include The Wicker Man, Frenzy and ultimate twisty-turny thriller Sleuth). Yes, the first half is something of a leisurely affair,
taking perhaps a shade too much time to establish its protagonists. But hang on
in there, because at the midway point the screw begins to turn and continues to
tighten up the suspense to almost knuckle-whitening levels as the story reaches
its (semi-)predictable dénouement. And if it is predictable to any degree, that's only because, coming as it
does from the writer of the aforementioned Sleuth,
one spends the film’s runtime trying to second-guess its sting (one aspect of
which, expected or otherwise, still harbours a shockingly brutal punch).
I don't think I've ever seen a disappointing Richard Burton
performance – even in those occasionally questionable projects (which, with
hindsight, he himself might have conceded were poor judgment calls) he was
always the dominating presence – and with Absolution
arriving the same year as The Medusa
Touch and The Wild Geese we can certainly
be thankful to 1978 for its delicious crop of Burton victuals. His
exemplary performance here as Father Goddard, which came towards the end of a
career cut tragically short by his premature death in 1984, is spellbinding;
the character's burgeoning air of desperation and despair is relayed to
perfection. Just as he should be, Dominic Guard is irksomely smirky and
objectionably arrogant as Stanfield, the blue-eyed boy gone bad who's holding
the whip hand and seemingly relishing every moment of it. David Bradley
(probably best known for his starring role in Kes, credited here as Dai Bradley) garners audience
empathy as underdog Dyson, the gawky target of Stanfield's disdain. Billy Connolly
meanwhile is first-rate in his film debut, revealing a talent that stretched
far beyond the stand-up comedy for which, back in 1978, he was almost
exclusively renowned. The supporting cast includes a typically gruff Andrew Keir
as the school's headmaster, Brian Glover as a thuggish policeman and the always
engaging Hilary Mason, Oh, and unless I'm very much mistaken, Linda Robson puts
in a single shot cameo as a school dinner lady.
As tales of priests vexed by the sanctity of the
confessional go, Absolution would
make for a very fine double-feature companion to gripping Hitchcock drama I Confess. And where with films such as
this the words "don't watch the trailer before you've seen the film"
are a fairly mandatory warning, in Absolution's
case it's imperative one take heed. I mention this specifically because the
original trailer is included among the bonus features on Kino Lorber's Blu-ray release
and it recklessly throws away a key moment from the climax. If the disc’s menu
screen sets off alarm bells with its excessively grainy still image of Richard
Burton, it shouldn't be cause for concern; the 1.85:1 transfer of the feature
is almost impeccable, faltering only at the tail end of the closing credits
with evidence of some minor print damage. The aforementioned "avoid at all
costs" trailer aside, the disc’s all too sparse supplements comprise just
a pair of thematically-associated trailers (for Donald Sutherland vehicle The Rosary Murders, and True Confessions starring the two
Roberts, De Niro and Duvall).
Film legend Jackie Chan has been awarded an honorary Oscar at a ceremony at which he was introduced by Chris Tucker and Tom Hanks. Chan grew up dreaming of someday getting an Oscar and when he finally did, it was in recognition to his overall contributions to the film industry. Other legends also received honorary Oscars at the ceremony including editor Anne V. Coates, documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman and casting director Lynne Stalmaster. These are all great choices and the Academy deserves credit for honoring them but movie fans won't get to the see them accept their awards except for in a fast-moving compilation of the speeches that lasts about a minute. Years ago the Academy decided that viewers were bored by seeing honorary Oscars given out, even though these had been considered highlights of the broadcast by true film scholars. Instead, in a blatant attempt to cater to concerns over ratings rather than artistry, overblown production numbers and time-wasting comedy skits have eaten up much of the time that should be allocated to the real purpose of the ceremony: to honor respected artists in their fields. Sadly, the most legendary of those artists have now been relegated to a second-class tier. The Academy argues, with some justification, that the separate ceremony allows the recipients to not have have their career achievements boiled down to a few minutes each. Fair enough...but why not arrange for the awards to be telecast earlier in the day, perhaps on a cable network, so that movie fans can enjoy the goings-on?
"Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice"- no one seemed to like the film except the audience.
In an interesting article for the New York Times, reporter Brooks Barnes analyzes the hits and misses pertaining to Warner Brothers. Interviewing chief executive Kevin Tsujihara, Brooks addresses the conventional wisdom in Hollywood that WB is a studio in turmoil. Yet Tsuhihara points out that 2016 has been a highly successful year with record operating profits being posted. "Quietly, we've been having an amazing year", he says. Even critically lambasted "tent pole" productions like "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad" turned solid profits and the studio is banking heavily on the JK Rowling story "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" as a potential blockbuster (Rowling wrote the screenplay). Other major films in the pipeline include "Wonder Woman", "Kong: Skull Island" and "Justice League" not to mention Christopher Nolan's WWII epic "Dunkirk". The studio doesn't just rely on mega-budget productions, however. Clint Eastwood's "Sully" turned out a profit as did other modestly-budgeted films and the studio's TV division booming, turning out old favorites like "The Big Bang Theory" and the new HBO series "Westworld". Click here to read.
Film historian Jonathan Froes has uploaded this trailer for the 1939 Universal monsters classic "Son of Frankenstein". According to Indiewire, this particular trailer was thought to be lost due to the fact that it shot on nitrate film. That film stock proved to be highly flammable, causing studios to ends its use and destroy countless prints of feature films and trailers. Indiewire says that horror film enthusiasts consider this to be a real find because it contains alternate takes and snippets of scenes not included in the final cut of the film, which featured a stellar cast: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill. For more click here
The past year has been an especially harsh one for the entertainment industry in terms of well-known personalities who have passed away. Today's news that actor Robert Vaughn has died hits Cinema Retro especially hard and this writer in particular. He died from a battle with leukemia and was surrounded by his family in his final moments. I first met Robert in 1983 at a press conference in New York in which he and David McCallum promoted their forthcoming TV movie "Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E." I've remained friends with them ever since and shared many an enjoyable conversation. Robert was an early supporter of Cinema Retro and contributed to numerous issues, most recently issues #33 and #34 in which he was interviewed by writer Steve Rubin about the dramatic occurrences in making the 1969 WWII film "The Bridge at Remagen". Robert overcame a troubled youth in which he grew up in a household in which both of his parents, who were actors, were barely on speaking terms. In his autobiography "A Fortunate Life", he related how, as a young man with an aspiration for acting, he and his mother drove to Hollywood in a beaten up car in hopes he would find work. He did so almost immediately and gained praise for his stage appearance in "End as a Man". That led to appearances in a slew of "B" movies, including the Roger Corman cult film "Teenage Caveman". He didn't linger in "B Movie Hell" for long, however. Having befriended Paul Newman, he got a key supporting role in Newman's 1959 film "The Young Philadelphians" and earned an Oscar nomination for his performance. That led to him being cast by John Sturges in the 1960 western classic "The Magnificent Seven". He became a familiar face on TV in the 1960s and co-starred with Gary Lockwood in the short-lived TV series "The Lieutenant".
Vaughn with Steve McQueen on the set of "The Magnificent Seven".
Robert entered the realm of superstardom with the 1964 premiere of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", which benefited a great deal from the explosive success of the James Bond phenomenon. He played suave secret agent Napoleon Solo opposite David McCallum as fellow agent Illya Kuryakin. The show struggled for ratings in its first season before catching fire in the second season and becoming a pop culture phenomenon in its own right. In 1966 Photoplay named him the most popular male star in the world. The series lasted three-and-a-half years and when it went off the air in January 1968, he went immediately into production on "Bullitt", the detective thriller in which he played an ambitious D.A. in conflict with a maverick detective played by Steve McQueen. He was nominated for a BAFTA for his acclaimed performance. Over the decades Robert appeared in many other major films including "The Venetian Affair", "Superman III" , "S.O.B" and "The Towering Inferno". He won an Emmy for his performance as the political hatchet man in the 1977 mini series "Washington: Behind Closed Doors" and in 1998 was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He had a late career success as one of the stars of the British crime series "Hustle" that ran from 2004-2012, earning him a new generation of fans.
Robert was always consumed by politics. He was the first major American actor to publicly denounce President Johnson's Vietnam War policy, a position that earned him criticism from William F. Buckley, the father of modern conservatism. The two men ended up having a memorable debate on Buckley's political show "Firing Line" and a moderator ruled it a "draw", something Robert took great pride in. He and Buckley formed a mutual respect and kept in touch after the event. Robert also worked tirelessly to pursue higher education and became the first star of his caliber to earn a PHD. His thesis on the Hollywood blacklist was published as the acclaimed book "Only Victims". He was a close friend of Robert F. Kennedy and was devastated by his assassination in 1968, just two months after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, who he greatly admired and once introduced at an event. Robert became disaffected with the situation in America and moved to England for several years where he starred in the TV series "The Protectors" and made feature films such as "The Mind of Mr. Soames" and the 1970 all-star version of "Julius Caesar". Although he considered himself a confirmed bachelor, he fell for his co-star in a production of "The Tender Trap", Linda Staab. They ultimately married and raised a son, Cassidy, and a daughter, Caitlin. The Vaughns resided in Ridgefield, Connecticut, having preferred the East Coast to the dazzle of Hollywood, but they also spent a considerable time in England shooting for the filming of "Hustle". Robert loved the UK and considered it his second home. In 2014 he returned to London to star in a West End revival of "Twelve Angry Men". He received rave reviews and proved he could still bring in audiences, as the play was a smash hit and entered an extended run.
Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer reunited Vaughn with David McCallum and "Man From U.N.C.L.E." guest star Joe Sirola at the 2009 event in honor of Vaughn at The Players.
In 2009, this writer had the pleasure of arranging and hosting a black tie dinner in honor of Robert at New York's famed private club for the arts, The Players. The highlight of the evening was the surprise appearance of David McCallum, who made a very gracious speech about their long friendship. The two men remained in touch through the years and always called each other on their birthday.
With Robert's death, the entertainment world has lost another great talent. He once told me why he titled his book "A Fortunate Life". He said, "All I ever wanted to do was act and I always have. If you do what you want to do for a living then you can say you never worked a day in your life".
Thanks for the memories, Robert. Closing Channel D for the final time.
Tippi Hedren was a model with no acting experience when director Alfred Hitchcock cast her as the female lead in his 1963 classic "The Birds". The announcement surprised the entertainment industry, given Hitchcock's penchant for casting well-known actresses in his films. He saw Hedren by chance in a TV commercial and immediately set his sights on the beautiful blonde. Hedren was recently divorced at the time and in need of a new career in order to care for her young daughter, future actress Melaine Griffith. In her just-published autobiography "Tippi: A Memoir", the 86 year-old actress says that Hitchcock manipulated her when she was vulnerable by signing her into an exclusive contract that gave him dictatorial power over her career. He promised he would cast her in high profile films that would establish her as a major star. However, her dreams were shattered when Hitchcock made overt sexual advances toward her that she spurned. In retribution, Hitchcock allegedly sought revenge by sabotaging her career after their second and last collaboration, the ill-fated "Marnie". For decades Hedren has only hinted at the specifics of what caused the deterioration of her relationship with Hitchcock but in the book she finally gives her side of the story. It is known that Hitchcock was depressed during the filming of "Marnie" and some critics attribute his lack of interest in the film to the sexual tension between him and Hedren. For more click here.
UPDATE: Since publication of Hedren's accusations there has been push-back from people who knew Hitchcock or have studied his career. These people have raised doubts about the veracity of Hedren's claims and point out some facts that seem to contradict the time table in which some of the events allegedy occurred. Click here to read.
In the early Fifties movie studios were worried because fewer
people were going to see movies in the theater. They’d rather stay home and
watch that new-fangled gadget—television. To lure audiences out of their homes
and away from their TV sets, Twentieth Century Fox’s Spyros P. Skouras
developed the anamorphic widescreen filming process known as Cinemascope. “The
Robe” (1953) was the first film shot in this format and was an instant hit. More
movies in widescreen with stereophonic sound soon flooded into neighborhood
To take advantage of the widescreen, Twentieth Century
Fox’s early Cinemascope movies were often filmed in beautiful, far off locations.
These films were part travelogue, part-adventure, and romance, with lush music
soundtracks. Jean Negulesco, the Romanian-born director who made dozens of
films in the 1940s including “Nobody Lives Forever” (1946), “Humoresque”
(1946), and “Johnny Belinda” (1948) became a specialist at making these kinds
of movies. His Cinemascope work includes “Three Coins in the Fountain” (1954),
which he shot in Rome, “The Pleasure Seekers” (1964), filmed in Madrid, and
“Boy on a Dolphin” (1957), filmed in the Greek Islands.
“Boy on a Dolphin” (1957) starred Alan Ladd and is notable for
being the film that introduced Sophia Loren to American audiences. She plays
Phaedra, an earthy Greek sponge diver who finds a rare, and valuable, centuries-old
statue of a golden boy riding a dolphin down in the water off the coast of one
of the islands. Ladd plays Dr. James Calder an American archeologist whom
Phaedra first asks for help in recovering the statue so she can become rich.
Their relationship starts well but takes a bad turn when scoundrel Clifton Webb
shows up as the nefarious Victor Parmalee, an unscrupulous art collector who wants
the statue for himself. He convinces Phaedra to double cross Calder, who wants
to put the golden boy and his fish in a museum. Parmalee convinces her that
he’ll make her rich if she helps him get the statue.
There isn’t a whole lot of plot in this film, which was directed by Jean Negulesco. Mostly it’s
Phaedra leading Calder on and telling him to dive in all the wrong places so he
won’t find the statue, and helping Parmalee locate it and hide it. There’s a
ne’er-do-well boyfriend named Rhif (Jorge Mistral), who is jealous of Calder, double
crosses Phaedra, and makes his own deal with Parmalee.
The plot may be overly simplistic but it doesn’t matter
much. “Boy on a Dolphin” is one of those films that you don’t think about or
analyze. You just sit back and let all that scenery and soundtrack music wash
over you. Milton Krasner’s beautiful color photography of the Greek Isles fills
almost every frame with dazzling sunlight, azure seas and sky, and the
magnificent architectural scenery that took three thousand years to create.
It’s a treat for the eyes. Hugo Friedhofer’s score is beautifully lush and very
Debussey. The Kino Lorber Blu-ray presents the film in a magnificent 4k
restoration with gorgeous color and glorious stereophonic sound. I’ve always admired the sound of these
fifties Fox films. The sound recording is in some more impressive than what we
hear in today’s films. For this writer, these “golden oldies” often offer more
spatial dynamics between the actors’ voices that give it a more true-to-life
sound- and it isn’t so loud it blows your ear drums out. Modern sound engineers
should go back and study these films to learn how to record realistic
While “Boy on a Dolphin” was Loren’s big screen debut in
the US., sadly, it also marked the beginning of the decline of one of
Hollywood’s most charismatic stars. In a real-life “A Star is Born” kind of way,
the young Loren fills the screen with life and radiance and comes out of the
sea like Venus on the half-shell. Ladd, on the other hand, though he still had
that deeply resonant voice that carried so well, seemed tired, disinterested,
and diminished. There was no chemistry at all between him and Loren in the
stiffly acted love scenes. It was only four years after the magnificent “Shane”
(1953), but somehow the ruins of ancient Greece seemed a cruel reflection of
the star himself, whose days of glory were already beginning to fade. He died only
seven years later, going on to make ten more films of varying quality, finally
rallying with his last great performance in “The Carpetbaggers” (1964).
Kino Lorber has done a terrific job presenting this film under
its KL Studio Classics banner in a brand new 4k 1080p Restoration. Picture and
sound are excellent. The extras include trailers for other Loren films,
including “Marriage Italian Style” and “Sunflower”. Recommended.
UK-based Big Chief Studios, which specializes in producing officially licensed, highly detailed 12" action figures, has been licensed by Eon Productions to create a line of figures based on the James Bond films. Big Chief announced thatt the first wave of releases will center on the 1964 film "Goldfinger" with likenesses of James Bond (Sean Connery), Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) and Harold Sakata (Oddjob). No formal release date has been set. There have been other authorized Bond figures released over the decades. The first incarnation of Sean Connery in action figure form was produced by Gilbert in 1965 to tie in with the release of "Thunderball". The company also produced an Oddjob doll as well. In 1979 Mego produced action figures of James Bond (Roger Moore), Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), Jaws (Richard Kiel) and Drax (Michael Lonsdale) from "Moonraker". In more recent years, Sideshow created a series of highly detailed figures based on the Bond films including the only authorized figure to date of George Lazenby as 007 in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". The Big Chief license illustrates Bond's remarkable staying power as a licensed collectible line.
Director Joe Dante's 1993 comic-drama Matinee is a loving ode to the monster movies that enthralled him during
his youth. Equally it's a Valentine to film producer William Castle, without
whose uniquely innovative approach to film exhibition a generation of
moviegoers would have been denied such wonders as ‘Emergo’ (for The House on Haunted Hill), ‘Percepto’
(for The Tingler) and ‘Illusion-O’
(for Thirteen Ghosts).
During the fraught two- week period of the Cuban
Missile Crisis in October 1962, brothers Gene (Simon Fenton) and Dennis (Jesse
Lee) are thrilled to learn that not only is new horror picture Mant! getting a sneak preview at their
local movie emporium the Key West Strand, but that the screening is going to be
attended by showman extraordinaire Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman), who's
planning to test run his newest attraction, ‘Atomo Vision’. Woolsey is a
second-rate producer of third-rate pictures who peddles his wares on the back
of gimmickry, and he rigs out the Strand with all manner of electronic wizardry
to optimise the viewing experience, much to the chagrin of its unimpressed
manager (Robert Picardo). But as the evening of the big show approaches so the
threat of nuclear annihilation heats up...
Set against the backdrop of the infamous and alarming political
confrontation between America and the Soviet Union, we get glimpses throughout Matinee of the understandable mania that
gripped a terrified public – the stripping of shelves in grocery stores in
order to stock up for post-strike survival, the mind-boggling naiveté of the futile
drills instructing schoolchildren on how to live through such an attack – but
as with several other Dante films including Small
Soldiers, Explorers and The Hole, the nucleus of the narrative concerns
a bunch of kids and a childhood adventure. The four youngsters who assume the
key roles here – Simon Fenton, Omri Katz, Lisa Jakub and Kellie
Martin – are all very likeable and bring a nice measure of charm to the party.
And, unsurprisingly, John Goodman has a fine old time chewing up the scenery as
the larger-than-life showmaster with a pretty girl on his arm (Cathy Moriarty),
a big fat cigar in one hand and a litany of wild ideas in the other.
For those who enjoy such things – and I certainly do – the
setting of Matinee in a cinema makes for
an unparalleled nostalgia trip, Gene and Dennis’s wide-eyed enthusiasm for movies
provoking heady memories of the sheer excitement of those childhood trips to
the pictures, brimming with barely restrained anticipation for what might emerge
from the shaft of light beaming out over my head. Certainly anyone with a
fondness for old sci-fi and horror titles, particularly the vast catalogue that
emerged during the 1950s, should get a thrill out of the ambience that Dante conjures
up; just look at the gorgeous period decor of The Strand, its walls a haven of
gorgeous movie art, its facade bedecked with splashy posters and stills...not
to mention the two enormous rubber ant
legs extending out over the marquee. A snapshot of a joyous era of
showmanship sadly long since dispensed with.
And then, of course, there's Mant! itself, a fun homage to the very best (and worst) of those sci-fi/horror
clunkers and a recognisable hybrid of Them!
and The Fly. Dante, a dyed in the
wool monster movie buff himself, treats us to several extended scenes of this
film-within-a-film, which concerns Bill, a man who has an unfortunate reaction
to a dental x-ray and thereafter metamorphoses into a giant ant. The dialogue,
delivered with deliciously straight-faced sincerity, is very funny indeed, for
example this line from Kevin McCarthy as a military General loud-hailing the mammoth
insect scaling a tower block: "Bill…come down off that building – we've
got sugar for you!" Supported by a typically euphonious and playful score
from the always reliable Jerry Goldsmith, Matinee
may not be Dante at his best – for that I would point to Gremlins or Innerspace,
or more recently Burying the Ex – but
it's certainly Dante given reign to express his passion for a cinematic genre so
dear to his heart.
Arrow has issued Matinee
on a dual format Blu-ray/DVD release in the UK. The 1.85:1 ratio image is very
nice with only a couple of scenes bearing particularly noticeable grain.
Supplements are bountiful, the highlight for this writer being the
feature-length version of Mant!
itself, seen teasingly in interrupted chunks during Matinee; okay, so it runs for just 16-minutes, but it's
easily as much fun as the old films to which it pays tribute and there's even a
mock, distinctly Castle-esque trailer for it dropped in for good measure.
Additionally we get interviews with Joe Dante, cinematographer John Hora and
editor Marshall Harvey, a piece concerning some of the director’s stock players
(Robert Picardo, Archie Hahn, Belinda Balaski, John Sayles and, of course,
Dick Miller – hey, what would such a featurette be without input from him?), deleted and extended sequences,
some behind-the-scenes footage, a vintage electronic press kit (how antiquated
those once revolutionary, pre-Internet promotional packages look 20+ years
on!), and a theatrical trailer. The disc comes housed in a reversible sleeve,
offering fans a choice of original or newly commissioned art, and it’s also
accompanied by a collectible booklet.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
BURBANK, Calif., November 3, 2016 – To mark the 75thanniversary of
Orson Welles’ cinematic masterpiece“Citizen
Kane,”Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
(WBHE) will release a new Blu-ray™ and DVD on November 15, and the American
Film Institute (AFI) will mount a special screening of the restored master at
AFI FEST presented by Audi, the Institute'sannual film festival in Hollywood,
on November 13.The
screening will take place at the Egyptian Theatre at 1:30 p.m., followed by an
AFI Master Class, featuring close personal Welles friend Peter Bogdanovich and
a celebrity and academic panel to be announced.
The film’s central character is powerful
publisher Charles Foster Kane, who aspires to be president of the United
States. Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst
thinly veiled and slanderous account of his own life and sought to use his
formidable muscle to halt the film’s production and distribution and ultimately
to destroy Welles himself.
the early 1960s
“Citizen Kane”had been out of
circulation for many years when a panel of top industry tastemakers, selected
by the AFI,voted it as the Greatest Film of All Time. Since then,“Citizen
Kane”has remained # 1 or # 2 on countless critics’ lists and
other surveys including those from Roger Ebert, The BBC,Rolling Stone
Magazine, Pauline Kael, among many others.
One-time dean of American movie reviewers,
Pauline Kael, noted, “Citizen Kane
is perhaps the one
American talking picture that seems as fresh now as the day it opened. It may
seem even fresher.” Ebert echoed, “This towering achievement is as fresh, as
provoking, as entertaining, as sad, as brilliant as it ever was. Many agree it
is the greatest film of all time.”
According to Martin Scorsese, Welles and the
film are “responsible for inspiring more people to be film directors than
anyone else in the history of cinema.” Woody Allen:
“Welles takes a
quantum leap above every American director with that intangible thing called
genius. Just an exhilarating movie.” Mel Brooks: “Maybe the best American
picture ever. A masterpiece with artistic genius on a ‘Beethoven’ level.”
Richard Dreyfuss: “I usually avoid questions about my favorite movie but then
people keep pressing me. ‘OK, ‘Citizen Kane’ is my favorite movie. It’s the
greatest movie ever made, OK?’ Without a doubt the only film you can watch 138
times, and each time you’ll still see something new.” And finally, Steven
Spielberg: “Just one of the great movies ever made. A great American experience
also heads a long list of film dramas about the media
including such classics as “All The President’s Men,” “Sweet Smell of Success,”
“The Killing Fields,” “Absence of Malice,” “The Paper,” and lastyear’s Academy
Award®-winning Best Picture, “Spotlight.”
Not only did he star in the film, but the
then only 25-year-old Orson Welles also produced, directed and co-wrote the
film which won the Academy Award® for Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Welles
and Herman J. Mankiewicz) and captured nine nominations, including Best
Picture, Best Actor and Best Director (Welles). Joseph Cotten made an
impressive screen debut as Jedidiah Leland, newspaper reporter and Kane’s
longtime friend, from whom he had become estranged over the issue of
journalistic integrity. Other actors included Everett Sloane, Agnes Moorehead,
Ruth Warrick, Paul Stewart and William Alland as the investigative reporter who
delves into Kane’s life and his mysterious “
Alan Ladd and Arthur O’Connell appear uncredited as reporters. Gregg Toland was
the film’s cinematographer and Robert Wise, later a two-time Academy
Award-winning director, edited the picture.
Remastered and restored from original nitrate
elements in 4K resolution, the film (certified 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes)
will be available on DVD ($14.97) and Blu-ray ($19.98). A wide variety of DVD
and Blu-ray extras will be included in all editions.
story writer and poet Raymond Carver was known for pithy, honest tales of the
human condition in modern settings, the literary equivalent of cinematic
“neo-realism.” His critically-acclaimed work was published mostly in the
seventies and eighties, and he died of lung cancer in 1988 at the age of fifty.
Since Carver was known for his brevity of prose, it might seem curious that a
three-hour film would be adapted from his material.
a director like Robert Altman could make it work.
(and co-writer Frank Barhydt) took nine of Carver’s stories and one poem,
mashed them together, re-located the settings to Los Angeles, and freely
intersected them in order to create an ensemble piece that reflected “Carver
Country” with a Southern California sensibility. While the stories in the movie
might not be entirely faithful to the original tales, they capture Carver’s
spirit. Nevertheless, make no mistake—Short
Cuts is a Robert Altman film, and one of his very best.
terms of his trademark “collage” storytelling that focuses on multiple
principal characters, it’s as if the filmmaker wanted to out-do Nashville by broadening the canvas and
extending the randomness of dramatic encounters. Short Cuts is certainly a movie about chance, if anything, although
on the surface the picture follows the messy relationships between husbands and
wives and various extramarital lovers, mothers and daughters, and fathers and
sons. The way Altman moves smoothly from one set of characters to another is
masterful—his direction received an Oscar nomination (but Steven Spielberg won
that year for Schindler’s List).
cast is simply amazing—the likes of Tim Robbins, Jack Lemmon, Andie MacDowell,
Bruce Davison, Julianne Moore, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Madeleine Stowe, Matthew
Modine, Robert Downey, Jr., Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Frances McDormand, Jennifer
Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lili Taylor, Peter Gallagher, Lori Singer, Annie Ross,
Lyle Lovett, Buck Henry—and more—populate this ambitious, sprawling, and
extraordinary accomplishment. The other star is Los Angeles itself—in many
ways, Short Cuts is the ultimate L.A.
Criterion Collection had previously issued the film on DVD in 2004 but now
presents a new, restored 4K digital transfer on Blu-ray, approved by
cinematographer Walt Lloyd, with a 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.
Alternatively, viewers can choose a 5.1 soundtrack mix presented in DTS-HD
Master Audio. If that isn’t enough, one can watch with an isolated music
track—and there’s plenty of great music by Mark Isham, and songs by Doc Pomus
and Mac Rebennack (AKA Dr. John).
second disk contains a wealth of supplements, all of which appeared on the
original 2004 release (the only extra not ported over is a segment from BBC
television’s Moving Pictures tracing
the development of the screenplay). Otherwise, you get a video conversation
from 2004 between Altman and Tim Robbins; a terrific 1993 feature-length
documentary on the making of the film which includes plenty of footage showing
Altman at work on the set; a 1992 PBS documentary on Raymond Carver; a rare
1983 one-hour audio interview with Carver (who rarely spoke about his work);
original demo recordings of the songs, performed by Dr. John himself; a few
deleted scenes; and a study of the difficulty in marketing such an unusual
motion picture using examples of numerous poster and art designs and concepts,
trailers, and teasers. The essay in the booklet is by film critic Michael
Short Cuts is one of the
masterpieces of the 1990s and belongs on the shelf of any Robert Altman fan.
The latest Marvel comic book screen adaptation, "Doctor Strange", has opened strong at the boxoffice with $85, according to Variety. There was speculation that Marvel was now moving into its "B" list of superheroes and that the film might be met with apathy by audiences who may not be familiar with the character. It looks like those fears have been put to rest. "Strange" tested well in screenings and the resulting boxoffice indicates it could be a major hit. "Hacksaw Ridge", the story of a conscientious objector during WWII, also opened with a "respectable" $14.7 million. The film marks Mel Gibson's latest attempt to recover some boxoffice mojo after the scandals that derailed his career years ago involving some cringe-inducing personal behavior. Gibson directed the flick but doesn't star in it but the movie's modest $40 price tag indicates it might well prove to be profitable. For more click here.
Robert Downey Jr. is developing a third Sherlock Holmes big screen adventure though the project is still in its early stages. According to Variety writers are being hired and Guy Ritchie, director the previous two Holmes films, is expected to return along with Jude Law, who plays Dr. Watson. The two previous Holmes films starring Downey and Law have grossed more than $500 million worldwide, not blockbuster status by today's standards but then again the films don't have the mammoth budgets of many other action/adventure movies. For more click here
The good folks at the U.S. cable TV company, Cablevision, are at it again. When you press your remote control's "INFO" button, a brief synopsis of the show you are watching appears on screen. For years some person or persons has proven themselves to be more entertaining than the program itself by providing descriptions of the telecasts that are, to put it charitably, bizarre. Check out these descriptions of Turner Classic Movies recent telecasts of some Horror Hammer films classic featuring TCM's "Star of the Month" Christopher Lee:
"DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS": "Four tourists dine and spend the night at Dracula's castle; two escape and warn a monk".
Now, try sinking your teeth into this one:
"DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE": "The vampire count bites a tavern waitress and monsignor's niece, then falls on something sharp".
If you think you doubt you possess the talent to be a professional writer, keep in mind the perpetrators of these descriptions actually get paid for their efforts, so by all means send in your credentials to Cablevision.
Director Christopher Nolan is among the filmmakers who are wielding their clout to preserve the glory days of 35mm and 70mm film. Nolan has made it known that his forthcoming WWII epic "Dunkirk" will not only be seen in digital format, but will also have special engagements presented in both film formats. Quentin Tarantino also insisted upon releasing "The Hateful Eight" in 70mm, a format that was once the darling of the film industry before being deemed obsolete. Nolan's movie will depict the disastrous defeat of the British expeditionary force that tried to liberate occupied France in the early days of the war. The Brits managed to turn tragedy to triumph when an ad-hoc armada of small fishing vessels piloted by everyday citizens made the treacherous crossing to France under heavy fire to rescue the trapped British army. That they succeeded in doing so allowed Churchill to fight another day and hold out until America was finally in the war. Nolan's film is not a sure-bet with audiences which have usually been less-than-enthused about movies in which the heroes lose. John Wayne's 1960 epic "The Alamo" did well but never became the blockbuster many had anticipated. Richard Attenborough's 1977 film "A Bridge Too Far" told the story of the Allies' ill-fated invasion of Holland in 1944. It under-performed at the boxoffice. Still, we give Nolan credit for making a large scale WWII epic. In an age when many young people can't even identify their political leaders, film becomes an important tool for teaching history. - Lee Pfeiffer
It's a photo that will bring back many great memories for countless retro movie lovers across the globe. Participating in a centenary parade to honor his hometown of Carmel, California, Clint Eastwood shocked the crowd by leading a parade atop an old-time Western stagecoach and dressing as The Man With No Name, the character he made famous (and who made him famous) in the classic trilogy of films directed by Sergio Leone in the mid-1960s. For a man of 86, Eastwood stills looks might tall in the saddle. It appears that the hat he is wearing might be the one he wore in his 1992 Oscar-winner "Unforgiven". Eastwood became enamored of the Carmel area in the late 1960s. He filmed his first directorial effort, "Play Misty For Me" there in 1971. In 1986 Eastwood took a hiatus from acting to run for mayor the town. He was elected and served one successful term before resuming his career as an actor and director.
Unlike most actors, Eastwood can say that many of the costumes associated with his films have been preserved for posterity. His long association with Warner Brothers has resulted in the studio preserving an archive of his iconic costumes worn in WB films. Eastwood has been especially sentimental about the poncho he wore in the Leone trilogy and has only shown it publicly on rare occasions. In 2005 he authorized the poncho to be displayed at the Autry Center in Los Angeles as part of props exhibition relating to the films of Sergio Leone.
Here's a rarity. An original rare CBS promotional film highlighting the forthcoming TV premiere of "Hogan's Heroes" a half century ago. You'll note the film also includes cameos by Fred MacMurray of "My Three Sons" and Alan Hale Jr. and Bob Denver of "Gilligan's Island". You'll also notice that the early version of the opening credits is much longer than the final version for broadcast and that there are some cast discrepancies as well.