RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FEATURES FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVE
This feature puts the spotlight on those glorious old movie marquees. This one depicts the
Loew's Capitol theater on the evening of the New York premiere of The Dirty Dozen in June 1967 at the Loews Capitol. Continue reading to see vintage marquees for Steve McQueen's The War Lover and Requiem for a Heavyweight starring Anthony Quinn and Jackie Gleason.
small film, which actor/co-producer/co-writer Jon Cryer says could be made 200
times for the budget allotted to Titanic,
is an absolute gem.
by Cryer and director/co-producer Richard Schenkman, Went to Coney Island… is part coming-of-age story, part mystery,
and part social problem film. The latter category encompasses the tackling of
mental illness, homelessness, and what one’s obligation might be to a loved
one—or simply a friend—who has ceased to function in society.
(Cryer), Stan (Rick Stear), and Richie (Rafael Báez) have been friends
since they were five, growing up on New York streets but basically living a
normal existence as precocious, middle-class American boys. As teens, Stan
underwent a botched medical procedure to correct a problem with his leg and was
left with a permanent limp, brace, and cane. Richie has a reputation as a
ladies’ man, but he holds a secret that he can’t reveal. Daniel is the
straight-arrow and probably the most intelligent of the trio.
the present day the threesome is in their thirties. Daniel works a regular job in
a pawn shop/jeweler, and Stan is an alcoholic and has a gambling problem. The
woman in his life, Gabby (Ione Skye), has about had it with him. Richie is
simply… missing in action. He disappeared years earlier after a tragedy
occurred in his family. One day, Stan hears that Richie is homeless and living
under the boardwalk in Coney Island. Using a childhood code for ditching school
and doing something more “important,” Stan tells Daniel that they have a “mission
from God”—they must go to Coney Island and look for Richie.
winter, so Coney Island is mostly closed-down except for a handful of sleazy
shops and midway attractions. The once famous amusement park is practically a
ghost town, on its way to oblivion. Daniel and Stan make their way around the
area, encountering various misfits and wackos, until they do indeed find their
long, lost friend. Richie isn’t in good shape. What follows is an intervention
of sorts, as well as a redemption for the two main protagonists.
in numerous flashbacks and contemporary (1998) scenes, Went to Coney Island masterfully draws the viewer into the intimate
lives of the characters. It explores their inner demons, but it also exhibits
what it means to be true friends. While this might sound like a dire
experience, much of the picture is hilarious. The various weirdos and how
Daniel/Stan react to them provides the kinds of laughs one might find in a John
Hughes picture—only these have a little more bite. This is “dramedy” at its
Cryer and Stear are excellent in their roles. Schenkman’s direction is
pitch-perfect, easily pushing the movie to the top of his eclectic body of
work. The way the flashbacks to the 1980s are handled reveal sensitive insight
on the mood and sensibility of the era. Schenkman’s handling of the Coney
Island sequences evokes a wide palate of moods and imagery.
is art-house cinema of the highest order.
new High Definition Blu-ray release incorporates a frame-by-frame digital
restoration from original 35mm film elements, and it looks spectacular. The
main feature comes with 5.1 Surround Audio (uncompressed PCM) and 2.0 stereo,
plus an audio commentary by both Schenkman and Cryer. The pair also appear in a
new, short introduction to the film. Supplements include a behind-the-scenes
featurette that contains new and vintage footage; The Producer,a comedy
short from the period directed by Schenkman; a photo gallery; and the original
theatrical trailer. A mini-poster comes in the package.
Went to Coney Island
on a Mission from God…Be Back by Five could stand alongside such low-budget
classics as My Bodyguard, Breaking Away, and sex, lies and videotape. Check it out.
EVE GOLDBERG presents an in-depth examination of the only film Marlon Brando ever directed: "One-Eyed Jacks" (1961)
"ONE-EYED JACKS: AMERICA AT THE CROSSROADS"
A new movie schedule arrived
every few months.A two-sided paper
treasure chest brimming over with promises of time travel, existential wisdom,
and singing in the rain. Wild
Strawberries, City Lights, Battle of Algiers, Belle de Jour.
We grabbed up the schedule
and studied it with care, taped it to the refrigerator door, marked our
calendars.The African Queen, Yojimbo,
Rules of the Game.
We made cinema voyages all
over town — to the Vista in Hollywood, the Nuart in West LA, the art deco Fox
Venice.Before VCRs, DVDs or streaming,
revival movie theaters were about the only place a film junkie could get a
fix.We might find an occasional nugget
on late night TV, John Ford’s Stagecoach,
perhaps, or Invasion of the Body
Snatchers, but for the most part, it was the revival house or nowhere.Citizen
Kane, La Dolce Vita, Alphaville.
There was rumor of a weird
Western called One-Eyed Jacks,
starring and directed by Marlon Brando.Nobody we knew had seen it.The
movie took on the aura of myth. Was there really a scene where Brando gets
whipped?What had the famously
iconoclastic actor done with the time-worn clichés of the horse opera?
Finally, I think it was
1974, One-Eyed Jacks arrived.We trooped down to the Fox Venice, waited in
a long line, found seats in the filled-to-capacity theatre, and settled in for
the ride.We were not disappointed.From the opening shot — Brando casually
eating a banana during a bank robbery — the film was like no Western we had
ever seen.Moody, psychological,
ambiguous, it was awash in sadomasochism, with a brooding Brando in nearly
every scene.And yes, the actor gets his
whipping in a scene of perverse cruelty which sears into memory.
Back in 1974, we knew we had
seen an odd, strangely subversive, one-of-a-kind film.We didn’t know, however, that this quirky
little revenge gem would someday be considered an important (if flawed)
masterpiece of cinema, and a fascinating link between two eras in Hollywood…and
The Western is a
quintessentially American film genre.From its earliest days, the cowboy drama was about good guys (white
lawmen) confronting bad (Indians, outlaws).Each movie was a tale of expansionist dreams and masculine
aggression.Each was a saga of
civilization triumphing over savagery.The Western was, to quote film critic J. Hoberman, “the way America used
to explain itself to itself.”
Edwin Porter’s 1903 film, The Great Train Robbery, was one of the
first Westerns.This 12-minute story in
which bandits rob a train, only to be pursued by a posse of lawmen,
revolutionized the art of cinema.Porter
used ground-breaking techniques such as cross-cutting and close-ups to create a
suspenseful, compelling narrative.The
basic elements of the genre were set.
The Western remains
instantly recognizable across more than a century of evolving media and
myth-making.Gunfights, holdups, and
massacres.Horses, trains, rustlers, and
stampedes, and six-shooters.
The Golden Age of the
Western is often considered to be the years 1946-1973.Following World War II, with the Cold War
blazing hot on the beaches of Korea, the U.S. declared itself the new global
sheriff in town.At home, the Eisenhower
Era earned a reputation as being a time of complacency and consumerism.But these were also the McCarthy years, when
right-wing witch hunts against political progressives were ruining lives and
careers.And, at the same time, the seeds
of change were taking root.A young
civil rights movement began asking America: What the hell are the good guys who
fought Hitler doing about racial discrimination and bigotry at home?
The classic 1969 crime caper film "The Italian Job" starring Michael Caine and Noel Coward will be screened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London on 10 June with Quincey Jones's score played by a live orchestra conducted by Robert Ziegler. Click here for info.
Olive Films has released aa Blu-ray edition of the 1971 comedy Cold Turkey. Written
and directed by Norman Lear, the fanciful plot is set in Eagle Rock,
Iowa, a struggling small town of 4600 residents in Iowa that has fallen
on hard times. The town is on the verge of financial catastrophe with
most of the once-thriving businesses having moved away when a local air
force base was closed. Potential salvation comes in the form of a
contest sponsored by a major tobacco company to award $25 million to any
town that can give up smoking for a period of 30 days. In fact, the
offer is a mere ploy by a cynical tobacco executive, Merwyn Wren (Bob
Newhart), who assures his bosses that the contest will improve the
industry's reputation without ever incurring the prospect of having to
pay off. That's because every person in the town would have to sign a
pledge to not smoke for 30 days. A single offense would result in
disqualification for the prize. What Wren doesn't count on is the
determination of Eagle Rock minister Clayton Brooks (Dick Van Dyke), a
disillusioned and depressed reverend who finds renewed vigor in his
determination to see his town win the contest and revitalized itself
with the prize money. Brooks goes on a one-man crusade to persuade the
town's population to sign the petition- not an easy task because
seemingly everyone has turned to smoking in order to cope with the
stress of their financial hardships.
The film bares a resemblance to Norman Jewison's The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! in
that it centers on an a diverse number of small town eccentrics, all
wonderfully played by a sterling cast of great character actors: Vincent
Gardenia, Tom Poston, Jean Stapleton, Graham Jarvis and Judith Lowry
among them. (The latter is as hilarious as ever, playing her typical
ancient, foul-mouthed great granny character). There are also
appearances by Edward Everett Horton as the senile tobacco company owner
and the great team of Bob and Ray as thinly-veiled impersonations of
legendary network anchors Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David
Brinkley who come to Eagle Rock when the town becomes the center of
national news stories. Pippa Scott is very amusing as Van Dyke's
long-suffering wife, who barely gets a word in due to the benevolent
dictatorship he has established in their marriage. When the Reverend
turns to sex as a substitute for smoking, Scott accommodates him with a
bored demeanor and a pained look on her face. While most films that
depict a rural population tend to go overboard in portraying them as
cute and kind, Lear's film takes a more sarcastic tone. Initially,
everyone gets along fine, but as pressure builds to meet the challenge,
the townspeople turn on each other. The local doctor (Barnard Hughes) is
especially targeted for attention due to his weak will and hopeless
addiction to smoking. Graham Jarvis delivers a very funny performance as
the nerdy local leader of a Tea Party-like political group that
typically disdains "big government" until they decide "big government"
can be profitable for them. Even the once-modest reverend gets swept up
in his new-found fame as Eagle Rock swarms with tourists, many of whom
are wearing masks of his likeness. As the town nears the final hours
until the deadline, Merwin and the tobacco company brass invoke every
dirty trick imaginable to ensure the prize money doesn't have to be
paid. The madcap finale finds the town awash with a variety of
individuals seeking to capitalize on the town's quest. Even President
Nixon gets into the spotlight!
Cold Turkey is a gentle comedy with an occasional sharp edge. It evokes memories of The Andy Griffith Show, but
manages to make a statement about human traits that can be found
everywhere: greed, deceit and selfishness. Van Dyke is excellent in the
lead role and he benefits from a terrific supporting cast and a
typically "hummable" title song by Randy Newman. I found the film itself
to be quite addictive.
The Blu-ray release offers a very fine transfer, but sadly, no bonus extras.
James Bond actress Gloria Hendry ("Live and Let Die") will make her London cabaret debut on 25 June at Crazy Coqs, where she will perform classic songs from the film series. She will be accompanied by Doug Sides and his quartet. Click here for more info and tickets.
From 1937 to 1971 Look magazine was a bi-weekly publication, a "general
interest” publication that along with its main competitor, Life magazine, were the upscale forerunners
of all the supermarket tabloids.. Both mainly consisted of pictorial essays on
sundry subjects; politics, sports, entertainment, news of the day, even
up-close-and-personal celebrity featurettes.
In 1945, a 17-year old high school student
from the Bronx, Stanley Kubrick, sold his first photograph to Look. It's subject was a dejected
newsstand operator sitting amidst newspapers announcing the death of F.D.R..
For all of its candid appearance, the young Mr. Kubrick gave the news seller
direction to "look sadder." A star was born.
From then into 1950 Stanley Kubrick was a
staff photographer for Look. His
assignments were generally to go out in the streets and take photographs that
fit a particular essay a staff writer would pen. He also took many other
photographs on his own that captured the sights, sounds and feeling of his home
Collected here at The Museum of the City of
New York and displayed for the first time are a series of more than 120
photographs taken by young Kubrick and culled from the Museum's Look Magazine archive, an unparalleled
collection that includes 129 photography assignments and more than 12,000
negatives from his five years as a staff photographer.
The exhibition is divided into four themes: Looking.
Visual Style. Working the System. Media Savvy.
Each takes the viewer through the stages of
Kubrick's photojournalistic career that eventually lead one to two clips of
Kubrick's earliest films: "The Day of the Fight" and "Killer's
From assignments such as "Teacher puts
the Ham in Hamlet" to "How a Monkey Looks to People... ...And How
People Look to a Monkey" through profiles of celebrities diverse as
Leonard Bernstein, Rocky Graziano, Diane Von Furstenberg and Montgomery Clift
fans of his film oeuvre can see the Master's eye develop.
The exhibition runs thorough October 28, 2018
and is accompanied by a Taschen published catalog that until June 10th is for
sale only at The Museum of the Moving Image.Cinema Retro was invited to a preview showing of the exhibition and highly recommends a visit to the Museum to see this extraordinary collection.
The Daily Mail and the web site Bored Panda present an interesting aspect to the design of movie posters. Many years ago, the nation of Ghana's political disruptions resulted in a shortage of professional printing presses. Thus, major motion pictures had to be marketed through hand-painted, custom-made posters created by local artists. The results, to put it kindly, were generally less-than-impressive. However, in a bizarre twist, these "so bad, they're good" posters have now become valuable collector's items, fetching up to $15,000 each. For more click here. (Images copyright Bored Panda).
science fiction writer Jerome Bixby produced many short stories in the genre,
but he is perhaps most well-known for writing a handful of classic Star Trek episodes (“Mirror, Mirror,”
“By Any Other Name,” and more). The memorable original Twilight Zone entry, “It’s a Good Life,” was based on his short
story, as was the same segment in The
Twilight Zone—The Motion Picture (1983). Bixby was also responsible for the
stories or scripts for sci-fi films such as Fantastic
Voyage (1966), and It! The Terror
from Beyond Space (1958).
last work, allegedly completed on his deathbed in 1998, was the screenplay The Man from Earth. Nearly ten years
later (2007), Bixby’s son Emerson helped bring it to the screen as producer.
The low-budget feature was directed by Richard Schenkman and starred David Lee
Smith as “John Oldman,” a man in the present day who has lived without aging
for 14,000 years. Released with little fanfare, The Man from Earth grew a cult following and is today considered
one of the “great science fiction films you’ve never heard of.” It is the kind
of picture that is cerebral, intelligent, and deals with existential themes and
ideas. Sci-fi for the mind.
the ensuing years, Schenkman and Emerson apparently received many requests from
fans of the original work to make a sequel. The idea was resisted until the
concept of a TV series was floated. In each episode, the Man from Earth would be
on the run, followed by various groups of cultists and “believers”—much the
same way Richard Kimble (The Fugitive)
had to move from place to place.
The Man from Earth: Holocene was made
as a backdoor pilot to a series, was an official selection at the Dances with
Films Festival, and it is now available on home video.
Holocene picks up a decade
after the events of the first picture, with John “Young” (he changes his
surname with every move across country) teaching religious studies at a
community college in a small California town. He’s shacking up with fellow
teacher Carolyn (Vanessa Williams), keeping a low profile, and inspiring
students. A quartet of these young adults, played with aplomb by Akemi Look,
Sterling Knight, Brittany Curran, and Carlos Knight, discover John’s secret,
decide that he has all the answers to their many questions about life,
religion, and the universe, and begin to, well, stalk him.
of the students, Isabel (Look), contacts Art (William Katt), the primary
antagonist from the first film. Art had been a professor, like John, who wrote
a non-fiction book about the Man from Earth, exposing his tale, and was roundly
pilloried by the academic world and shunned for it. Thus, he has an axe to
grind with John.
any more about the story would spoil what is a very decent continuation of the
original picture. While the first movie took place mostly in one room—like a
stage play (and, in fact, Schenkman adapted that film into a play that has been
produced around the world)—Holocene has
“opened up.” It was shot in various locations around the town. It does retain,
however, the intellectual and dialogue-heavy aspects, keeping it in tune with the
original and what will, hopefully, indeed become a series. This reviewer has fingers
Star Trek—The Next
Generation’sMichael Dorn and Star Trek: Enterprise’s John Billingsley also appear in Holocene as, respectively, the college’s
dean and as Harry, a character from the first film.
The Man from Earth:
once again a low-budget but thoughtful treatise on the nature humanity. The
acting, especially of Smith as John, and of Look as Isabel, is top-notch.
Blu-ray looks gorgeous and shows off Richard Vialet’s cinematography with sharp
images and vivid color. The main feature comes with an audio commentary by
Schenkman and co-producer Eric D. Wilkinson. A Behind-the-Scenes Documentary
features most of the crew and cast and takes the viewer through the history of
the first film and production of Holocene.
Also included are featurettes on the score by Mark Hinton Stewart, the premiere
at the Dances with Films premiere, deleted/extended scenes with optional commentary,
a kickboxing video made for the movie, photo gallery, poster gallery, teaser
trailer, and theatrical trailer.
you’ve never seen either picture, the original The Man from Earth is now also available from MVD as a special
edition Blu-ray/DVD combo.(Click here for review). Holocene may
not have the impact of the first movie, but it is indeed a worthwhile follow-up.
When it opened in 1969, New York Times critic Vincent Canby assessed French director Jacques Demy's "Model Shop" as "a bad movie, but a sometimes interesting one." It's easy to understand how Canby- or any viewer- could come to that conclusion. However, watching the film today, it has a lyrical and occasionally beautiful quality. Demy, who made a splash with the international success of his 1964 film "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg", was inspired to make "Model Shop" after visiting Los Angeles on vacation. He was mesmerized by the city and decided to make a cinematic valentine to a place that many others criticized for its pollution and congestion. Ah, but as Preston Sturges famously quipped, "The French, they are a funny race", and Demy saw only the positive aspects of the city, which gives the film an unusual aspect. At a time when Johnny Carson was making night cracks about L.A.'s smog levels, Demy saw it as an appropriate setting for an offbeat love story. It's difficult to describe "Model Shop" because not much happens in it. The film traces 24 hours in the life of George Matthews (Gary Lockwood), a 26 year-old hunky guy who has graduated from Berkeley with a degree in Architecture. When we first meet him, he's in bed with his petite blonde girlfriend Gloria (Alexandra Hay). Before they even get dressed, they're embroiled in a bitter argument, which we are led to believe is a daily occurrence. This is a relationship on the rocks. Turns out George is a lazy deadbeat. He refuses to look for a job in his chosen profession because he objects to working for crassly commercial corporations, which sounds like a cop-out similar to what many unmotivated people might invoke. Gloria points out that they are dead broke and he has no plan for changing the situation. Gloria isn't burning up the want ads section in the newspaper, either. She's a bit of a ditz who dreams of being an actress and spends most of her time being sexually exploited by opportunistic producers and casting directors. She clearly isn't George's intellectual equal but when she strolls around the house in her bra and panties, it's easy to see why he's made the decision to stay with her.
The film kicks into gear when a repo man arrives at George's house (which bizarrely is situated directly next to an oil rig that operates 24/7) to take away his prized, vintage convertible MG, a luxury he can't afford but can't live without. He buys a few hours time by promising to raise $100. We then follow him around L.A. as he tries to hustle the money from friends who are as broke as he is. He has a chance encounter in a parking lot with an exotic looking woman (Anouk Aimee) who he immediately becomes obsessed with. She's the picture of class and elegance and George creepily decides to follow her. She ends up entering a luxurious home in the Hollywood hills. Hours later, he is motivated to return to the place, only to find her car gone and a disembodied voice from inside the house tells him she was never there and to leave the property. By the kind of sheer coincidence that can only happen in movies, George spies her later in the afternoon on the street and follows her to a seedy Skid Row "modelling studio" where sexually frustrated men can "rent" a model for a 15 minute session for $12 (only $20 for a half-hour!) during which they must remain chaste but can photograph the model in a tacky boudoir setting (film and camera included.) He learns the woman's name is Lola, and it turns out she's the same character Aimee played in Demy's 1961 film "Lola". George snaps a few photos of her and they engage in some awkward conversation before he departs. We follow him as he makes some other pit stops including visiting a small counter-culture newspaper where his friends offer him a job. He's interested but makes a fateful phone call to his parents only to learn that he has received his draft notice and must report for induction in two days. Adding to his misery, his father jovially equates getting drafted to fight in Vietnam to the good times he manged to enjoy in the Pacific campaign in WWII. George, however, is emotionally devastated and fails to see the allure in risking his life in the hope of enjoying some male bonding. Distraught, he returns to the modeling studio and this time engages Lola in conversation. Turns out she is an immigrant from Paris whose husband deserted her. She has a 14 year-old son in France who she is trying to support but is about to throw in the towel because she can't get a work visa and has to rely on the demeaning "career" of posing for naughty photos. Although Lola initially rejects George, she is moved by the fact that he really seems to be in love with her. They are two young people who are going through a life crisis and before the night is over, they share a single lovemaking session before George leaves for the army and Lola catches a flight back to Paris.
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Kino Lorber, in conjunction with Redemption Films, has released British crime flick "The Orchard End Murder" as a Blu-ray special edition. Never heard of it? Don't feel bad- neither had I, but the film's obscurity makes this release all the more interesting when one learns the story behind it. The film was shot in the lovely countryside in Kent in 1981 by writer/director Christian Marnham. With only a small budget to work with, Marnham had to restrict his running time to a mere 48 minutes, which precluded the movie from ever being shown as a main feature in theaters. Consequently, it plays out like a TV episode, albeit a very good one. The film opens with a young woman, Pauline (Tracy Hyde), making a phone date to meet up with Robins (Mark Hardy), a young man she met the previous night in a pub. Pauline is clearly a modern woman. She's attractive, dresses stylishly and wants some excitement and, presumably, sex. However, she is frustrated when Robins insists that she first accompany him to his local cricket match, where he is scheduled to play with his team. She becomes bored and decides to take a walk through a large apple orchard, emerging onto the street of a bucolic country village with a small train station. She stops to admire an attractive cottage with a large collection of garden gnomes. She is greeted by the owner (Bill Wallis), who happens to be the local station master. She accepts the kindly eccentric's invitation to come in for a cup of tea but things get disturbing with the abrupt arrival of his lodger, Ewan (Clive Mantle), a tall, mentally disturbed man who brutally slaughters a rabbit in front of Pauline without saying a word. Understandably, she cuts her visit short and walks back through the apple orchard to the cricket match. Along the way, she is intercepted by Ewan who now shows a kinder, more sensitive disposition. Tracy humors him by giving him a kiss but it proves to be a fatal mistake. He lures her deeper into the orchard and when she resists his sexual advances, he strips and strangles her. When evening falls, Robins, informs the police she has gone missing and before long a major search is launched. The station master discovers the murder when he sees Ewan stroking and kissing Pauline's dead body. Knowing there will be a house-to-house search of the neighborhood, he puts into motion a plan to bury the body in an area the police have already searched.
"The Orchard End Murder" is a slick, well-made mini thriller that is very ably directed by Christian Marnham. Best of all are the performances, with every actor hitting the right note, including well-known character actor Raymond Adamson as a village businessman who may play a crucial role in solving the crime. It must be said that the scene-stealing performance is provided by Bill Walllis, who plays the frumpy station master with a disarming sense of friendliness and gentleness. Nothing riles him, including having to bury a nude woman in the dead of night. His attachment to Ewan is never quite explained, as to whether its based on a fraternal relationship or a sexual attraction. Tracy Hyde gives a brave performance, with much of her screen time being displayed and abused as a nude dead body.
There are several extras included pertaining to the film. Director Marhham gives a thorough review of its production history, stating that the film was released in 1981 as the second feature along with a major hit, "Dead and Buried". However, because second features didn't share in the theater revenues, everyone involved never saw any compensation beyond the pittance they were paid as a flat salary. There are also informative interviews with star Tracy Hyde, who was a flash-in-the-pan childhood star in the 1970s. Sadly, adult stardom never followed and she retired from the industry. Also interviewed is David Wilkinson, who had a small part in the film before quitting acting and becoming a successful film producer.
"The Orchard End Murder" is a remarkably accomplished work. It's a pity that a director as talented as Marnham didn't find greater success in the film industry.
Imagine, if you will, that you are a Hollywood producer in the year 1969. ABC TV has recently launched its venture into producing theatrical motion pictures and you have a doozy of a concept. It centers on a spoof of Charlie Chan movies with the distinction that you have enlisted some very eager partners in Japan, thus the main character will have to be Japanese. You are sitting around a long table in a studio conference room with executives deciding how to move forward. The promising venture will be filmed on location in Japan and. thus, will offer the promise of some exotic locations at your disposal. Since the project is very much inspired by the Pink Panther movies, you've scored a bullseye by enlisting screenwriter William Peter Blatty to author the script. Blatty knew a thing or two about the Pink Panther franchise, having co-authored the screenplay for "A Shot in the Dark". Yes, it's all coming together very nicely. Now comes the fun part: who to cast as the Japanese incarnation of Inspector Clouseau, a bumbling detective named Hoku Ichihara. Names are bandied about and you smile in a patronizing manner because you already know who the most logical actor is to cast: Zero Mostel!!!! A collective gasp from those around the table ensues, along with plenty of backslapping on your stroke of genius. Yes, when it comes to playing a bumbling Japanese detective, who could possibly think of someone more suited for the assignment than the rotund Jewish actor from Brooklyn?
One doesn't know if this is how the film "Mastermind" came into existence but its safe to assume at some point a room full of executives had to green light the casting of Zero Mostel in the lead role in what must surely be one of the most ill-advised films of the era. The concept seems even more egregious in these more enlightened times once you get your first view of Mostel decked out in his makeup, which includes slanted eyes and a droopy mustache that makes him look like a cross between Max Bialystock and Fu Manchu, though to be fair, for decades other unsuitably cast Caucasian actors portrayed Asian detectives, Peter Sellers and Peter Ustinov among them. The film is a jumbled mess that opens with the theft of a prototype of an amazing new human-like robot that has a comprehensive understanding of virtually every command. Some shady characters have also kidnapped the scientist who invented the robot, which is named Schatzi and is played by actor Felix Silas. The bad guys intend to appropriate the design plans for nefarious purposes. If anyone gets in their way, they utilize as hi-tech weapon that puts people in a permanent state of suspended animation. The gimmick is played out ad nauseam and reminds us of why it's generally a mistake to have live actors playing statues or inanimate beings (just look at "The Man with the Golden Gun" for further proof.) Inspector Ichihara is called in to solve the case along with his British sidekick Nigel Crouchback (Gwan Grainger) and immediately makes a muddle of things, a la Clouseau.
Anyone can make a bad movie but it's a true rarity to make a movie that is so bad it falls into that prized category of being a guilty pleasure; a film that you may want to revisit for all the wrong reasons. "Mastermind" meets that criteria. How had is the film? It's "Which Way to the Front?" kind of bad. The director, Alex March, had recently saw the release of two major studio films, "Paper Lion" and "The Big Bounce". He gamely plows through some juvenile sight gags and even speeds up film frames to emulate the old Keystone Cops films, a concept that already had moss on it by 1969. It must be said that March does a credible job of capitalizing on the Japanese locations and manages some impressive set pieces among the teeming city crowds, most notably a well-staged car/motorcycle chase. Beyond that, however, there is little to recommend. Zero Mostel gamely goes through the humiliations of playing out every cringe-inducing stereotype that had been assigned to Japanese characters in movies of the era. Most notable are the scenes in which his character fantasizes about being a great samurai warrior, which gives you the heart-stopping vision of what it might have looked like if Kurosawa had cast him in the leading role of "Seven Samurai". Mostel is not alone in having made a Faustian deal in return for a free trip to Japan, as Bradford Dillman is also in the cast.
Clint Walker, the towering, rugged-looking leading man who specialized in playing gentle giants, has passed away at age 90. Walker had a diverse career including serving as a deputy sheriff providing security to the Sands casino in Las Vegas prior to entering show business. His first big break came during the craze for western TV series in the 1950s when he was cast in the title role of "Cheyenne", the first network series produced by Warner Brothers. The show proved to be a major hit, with Walker playing a solitary loner who came to the rescue of those being menaced by various villains. The show ran from 1955 to 1962. Walker had less success on the big screen, though he did land top billing in modest productions such as "Gold of the Seven Saints" which teamed him with Roger Moore, the India-based "Maya" and "Night of the Grizzly", a 1966 western adventure. Walker also co-starred with Frank Sinatra in "None But the Brave", a 1965 WWII film that Sinatra also directed. Walker teamed with Burt Reynolds for the 1969 western comedy crime caper "Sam Whiskey".
One of his best remembered roles was as a member of "The Dirty Dozen" in the blockbuster 1967 film in which he played one of a group of convicted military murderers who are recruited to volunteer for a dangerous mission behind enemy lines in Germany. (Walker would reunite with some of his co-stars to provide voice-over work in director Joe Dante's clever 1998 animated tribute to that film, "Small Soldiers".) Although Walker retired after working on Dante's film, he remained popular with his fans and would occasionally attend western-themed movie events. Click here for more.
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVES
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Newly released documents and a new book unveil heretofore unknown facts about the infamous meeting between Elvis Presley and President Richard M. Nixon in 1970. The King had written to the President in the hopes of being appointed a federal agent so that he could presumably play a role in Nixon's anti-drug war. In fact, his real motive was simply to acquire the badge as part of his collection of law enforcement memorabilia. Nixon aides persuaded the President to meet with the legendary entertainer at the White House. The meeting was initially awkward for both men. Elvis was out of his element in the White House and seemed a bit intimidated in the presence of Mr. Nixon, who, in turn, was not exactly a leading advocate of rock 'n roll music. Elvis was giddy when Nixon arranged for him to get his badge as an "honorary" agent. In the course of their 30 minute conversation, Elvis discussed how he felt he could have a persuasive effect on young people to avoid drugs (though ironically, he was falling victim to addiction himself). He also made some shocking comments about The Beatles that, when they were revealed publicly, alienated the Fab Four, who had idolized Elvis. For more click here
what I think of a film and why, and my readers know my tastes by now. Some hate
my taste, and so I'm reliable for them, too, since they know they'll like what
Crist, American film critic
BY JOE ELLIOTT
month marks the 96th birthday of American film critic Judith Crist (1922-2012).
Crist was one of the most influential and controversial movie reviewers of her
day. She was a founding film critic for New
York magazine and spent over two decades serving as the in-house movie
reviewer for TV Guide. In addition,
she was a frequent contributor to NBC’s Today
show for many years. She was very much a tell-it-like-it-is kind of critic,
totally unafraid to speak her mind even when this got her into hot water with
powerful people in the industry, which it sometimes did. While it’s hard to
believe today, back in the 1960s and 1970s a bad review from a prominent critic
like Crist could help sink a multi-million dollar film project. Her panning,
for example, of 1963’s Cleopatra
starring show-biz celebrity couple Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, so
upset executives at 20th Century-Foxthey
threatened to ban her from future screenings of new films.
was equally unafraid to criticize films the public loved, such as the hugely
popular The Sound of Music (1965), a
feature she characterized as
perfect “for the 5-to-7 set and their mommies who
think the kids aren’t up to the stinging sophistication and biting wit of Mary
Poppins.”Well-known Hollywood director and
full-time curmudgeon Otto Preminger sarcastically nicknamed her “Judas Crist,”
meant as an insult but also a sort of unintended backhand compliment to her
sagacity and prestige as a critic. (An antediluvian alpha male type likePreminger
likely would have been especially irked having a woman critique his films.)
Roger Ebert, a great admirer of Crist, credited her for helping turn American
film criticism into a popular art form, bringing to it both a sense of fun and
seriousness. Her work in turn spurred readers to seek out the writings of other
critics and reviewers, including Ebert himself. For this contribution alone we
owe her a lot. Then there was the platform she helped create for other savvy women
like herself who wished to have their own ideas and opinions taken seriously. In her 2012 New
York Times obit it was erroneously reported that she was the first woman to
become a full-time film critic at a major American newspaper.
She wasn’t the first, but certainly among the first, and
probably the first female to gain real prominence in that position. As a result, she helped open the door
for many who followed. In addition, she was an early vocal fan and supporter of
such newcomers as Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford
Coppola, Robert Altman, Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen. Not a bad legacy.
what I personally remember most about Judith Crist was her work for TV Guide. Every week my mom would buy a
copy of the guide, then one of the best-selling publications in America, at the
local grocery. Each new edition brought the promise of some exciting new
movies, either recent theatrical releases or those made for television. Crist
reviewed many of these for the magazine. I especially remember the big fall
preview edition that came out each year. This was the time when many of the
movie blockbusters and Oscar winners of the previous season first came to
television as the three major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) did battle during
“sweeps week,” a four-week period of intense rivalry for viewer ratings. There
was always a section by Crist, filled with pithy, often wickedly funny
thumbnail reviews of many of the films. Since I couldn’t watch all of them, I
trusted her to guide me in my viewing choices.
this end, I would carefully read each review as if I were going to be tested on
it the next day in school, taking special care to highlight those titles she
liked best, along with their scheduled air dates. My rule of thumb was, if she
liked it, I’d watch it: call her my first movie arbiter, my sovereign, my
queen. If I had to have one, and I suppose I did at that early age, I could
have done a lot worse. One of the few exceptions I made to this rule were the
“Man With No Name” westerns starring Clint Eastwood. For me, these were
entirely bullet-proof from criticism and I made it a summer ritual to see each
one of them.
Crist's pan of "Cleopatra" outraged executives at Fox.
when I was growing up I’d had a friend like Judith Crist. She said once in an
interview that as an adolescent she sometimes skipped school in order to catch
matinees of such film classics as The
Grapes of Wrath and Grand Illusion.
Doubtlessly she was absorbing everything she saw like a thirsty sponge. She
watched movies where and whenever she could, not because she was necessarily
planning to become a professional critic and writer one day, but simply because
it was her passion and love. They entertained her and broadened her perspective.
They opened her mind and heart to new people and places. They deepened her
understanding of humanity and history. In a word, they brought her joy. Definitely
my kind of girl.
Cinema Retro proudly announces its annual Movie Classics special edition for 2018: Roadshow Epics of the '60s! This is an 80-page special that provides in-depth coverage of the making of five memorable epic films:
Mutiny on the Bounty
Lawrence of Arabia
The Fall of the Roman Empire
The Greatest Story Ever Told
The behind-the-scenes struggles to bring these monumental productions to the screen often equaled the events depicted in the screenplays. Indeed, all but Lawrence of Arabia proved to be boxoffice failures (or disasters). However, Cinema Retro provides compelling evidence that all of them were superbly filmed and provided many grand, memorable moments. This special edition provides fascinating insights into the often seemingly insurmountable challenges directors, writers, producers and actors had to overcome in order to bring the films to completion. These are the kind of movies we think of when we hear it said "They don't make 'em like that anymore!". This special Movie Classics issue is packed with hundreds of rare production stills and on-set photos, as well as rare international advertising and publicity materials.
As with all Cinema Retro issues, this is a limited edition so pre-order now to reserve your copy!
(This Movie Classics special edition is not part of the subscription plan. It must be ordered separately.)
This will make Eastwood fans' day: he's returning to the big screen in "The Mule".
Screen icon Clint Eastwood will return to the big screen in his first appearance as an actor since 2012. Eastwood will reunite with his "American Sniper" star in "The Mule", which tells the true story of a 90 year-old WWII veteran who becomes involved with a Mexican drug cartel. The plot has been tweeted to make Eastwood's character an unwitting accomplice of the bad guys. Eastwood will also direct the film. For more click here.
technology that we all know and use today has become so ingrained in our
everyday lives that it’s virtually impossible to recall how we all survived
without them. Cell phones, portable computers, tablets, realistic-looking video
games, Global Positioning Systems, and access to extensive news media on a
24/7/365 basis were pipe dreams just twenty years ago. The computing power that
we all take for granted now started somewhere,
but most of the present-day users of techno gear weren’t even zygotes when the
home computer revolution was just getting off the ground. Yours truly was there
when my mother’s uncle worked for the federal government. He was the first to
get the really cool gadgets, mostly because he had the disposable income to
spend on them. I recall being in his basement in 1977 and playing Atari’s Pong
and being wowed by it. I was thrilled to watch movies on Wometco Home Theater
(WHT) on his rear-projection TV that he built out of a Heathkit two years later.
My mother’s second cousin had the Tandy/Radio Shack TRS‑80 Model I
in 1978. Santa Claus delivered an Atari 2600 to me in 1981 (one of the most
frustrating aspects of owning one would unquestionably be that the actual 8-bit
games themselves couldn’t live up to the excitement depicted on the cover
artwork). I was given a TRS-80 Coco (Color Computer) II in early 1984 and wrote
programs in BASIC (Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). In 1989 I
did desktop publishing in Pagemaker on an Apple Macintosh SE. In 1995 I purchased
a 100MHz Pentium Packard Bell IBM-compatible computer. Where did all of these
electronic gadgets come from?
Walliser’s8-Bit Generation: The Commodore Wars is an entertaining and informative
documentary that attempts to answer that question. However, it really feels
geared towards those like myself who are in the know. I do feel, however, that
anyone who isn’t would not only be
lost but ultimately frustrated by this film as it assumes familiarity with its
subject which it tackles with rapid-fire editing and has an annoying habit of accentuating
the onscreen interviews (depending upon the subject being discussed) with strains
of Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the
Mountain King and Richard Strauss’s Also
Sprach Zarathustra overused to the point of annoyance.Those shortcomings
aside, it’s also an insightful look at how modern business is conducted (that
is, cutthroat) and how the dominant factor in just about every business decision
boils down to two syllables: “money” (and sometimes, “revenge”).
film, which was shot between 2010 and 2012, primarily focuses on Jack Tramiel,
an Auschwitz survivor who saw the darkest side of humanity but was lucky enough
to come out of it. His success as a business man following his liberation from
the camp is a testament to his human spirit, business acumen and tenacity. He
went from selling reconstructed typewriters to calculators to personal
computers. Through interviews with Mr. Tramiel and many colleagues who worked
with him and for him, we learn about the founder of Commodore International, the
company that produced The Commodore PET (Personal Electronic
Transactor), the Commodore VIC-20, and the Commodore 64. I never owned any
of these computers, but the story behind their inception, rousing and
unprecedented success and ultimate failure is very intriguing. In addition to
Mr. Tramiel, we hear from his son Leonard, MOS Tech engineer Chuck Peddle, Nolan Bushnell (the founder of Atari), Commodore engineer Bil Herd (who also
narrates), and a whole slew of others too numerous to list.
fact that this film about hi-tech is available only DVD and not Blu-ray is not
lost on me and is quite ironic. DVD is now looked upon by some as a legacy
technology despite being around for 21 years, not unlike the very systems
depicted and discussed in the film itself. If you are interested in seeing it,
you would do well to read this next bit of info very carefully prior to making
a decision. The film is available in three different varieties:
Available here on DVD on Amazon.com (which has a 14-minute TEDx Talk Segment with Leonard Tramiel that can also be seen here on Youtube). Kino
Lorber has put together a very professional package for this release.
- Available as a high definition download in a deluxe edition
at this link with many extras not on the DVD.
Available as a high definition download in a Jack Tramiel edition at this link which contains everything in the
deluxe edition, plus a one-hour interview with Mr. Tramiel.
still waiting for a documentary on RCA’s Select-A-Vision Capacitance Electronic
Disc (CED) system…
One man’s cinematic trash is another man’s cinematic
treasure, so I will tread lightly here.Simply
put, the low budget horror From Hell It
Came (1957) is not a very good movie.The fact that the folks at Warner Archive have made this available on
Blu-ray allows film fans a glimmer of hope that their own personal cinematic
Titanic might yet see release in this upscale format. This is tough review for
me.As a devotee of Silver Age Sci-Fi
movies, I wish I could be more charitable of this film’s few merits, but Richard
Bernstein’s screenplay offers little more than a cycle of endless chatter.This causes the film’s relatively brief 71-minute
running time to seem even more meandering and interminable.That producer Jack Milner and
director-brother Dan Milner (The Phantom
from 10,000 Leagues (1955) were able to bring this unremarkable film to
fruition is laudable, but while this movie has achieved some low-grade cult
status - and a memorable monster that has spawned a thousand snickering
mockeries – it’s nowhere in the league of such entertaining monstrosities Phil
Tucker’s Robot Monster (1953) or Ed
Wood’s seminal Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).
I suppose, if caught in the right combination of shadow
and light, the titular tree monster from Hades might be of somewhat cool design…
if still not particularly threatening.I
think I should mention, in the interest of full disclosure and despite my
critical brickbat here, I actually purchased
the original DVD release of this when first issued in 2010.So I’m not immune to the film’s (very) limited
pleasures.Set on an unnamed island in
the South Seas, From Hell It Came manages
to unashamedly mix the timeworn clichés of nearly every B-picture worthy of the
designation: jungles, quicksand pits, scientists, voodoo doctors, atomic energy
and, of course, a lumbering monster.Released in the summer of 1957, From
Hell It Came was paired with another Allied Artists voodoo-themed release The Disembodied (a somewhat better film also
available as a MOD DVD release through Warner Archive).
Having been born in the first decade of the 20th
century, the aging Milner Bros. were either already over or nearing their chronological
half-century mark when they unleashed From
Hell It Came on unsuspecting teenage moviegoers.I suppose it’s to their credit that they
chose not to pander to their teenage audience – as, for example, that decade’s immensely
popular beach-party and biker movies most certainly would.The Milner’s, conversely, seem to have little
interest in promulgating lowbrow teen culture.They display an almost refreshing disinterest in appearing hip; this is most
evident in their disparagement of the ascendant rock n’ roll phenomena.The natives’ tribal drums are referenced sarcastically
as providing “a nice anthropological beat.” The killjoy egghead scientists on
the island suggest the crazy, primitive, and percussive tribal rhythms are so
“out there”, they’re worthy of topping the contemporary hit parade.
The film’s casting team – assuming there was one, of
course – were, at best, making what they could from the shallow pool of available
talent.While some of the island’s natives
share some physical characteristics of Pacific islanders, most of the indigenous-to-the-island
roles are handled by actors who…Well,
let’s say they could have been plucked from the sidewalk of the Gambino’s
Bergin Hunt and Fish Club of Ozone Park, Queens. Similarly, the best that can be said of the
film’s wardrobe and costume department is that they made good use of their 50%
off summer clearance coupon at Tommy Bahama.
Though badly mounted, this film is essentially one more formulaic
allegory pitting old world superstition against modern science.The tribe’s blood-thirsty medicine man –
perhaps sensing his position as exalted healer might soon become redundant - is
at the center of the mayhem.He’s
clearly unhappy that his healing herbs and folkloric healing incantations have
been neatly usurped by the “Devil Dust” of the American scientists, the healing
pharmaceuticals of modern medicine.He’s
so upset, in fact, that the film opens in a rather savage manner, with poor islander-collaborationist
Kimo (Gregg Palmer) being put to a grim death for his collusion with the infidel
American doctors.In his last spoken declaration
before meeting his maker, the bound and aggrieved Kimo threatens to come back
from Hell itself, if only to make the witch doctor and his minions pay dearly for
putting him to this terrible end.
Having been grotesquely and mortally staked through the
chest, the islanders bury poor Kimo, for no apparent reason, vertically.To no one’s surprise he reemerges later as Tabonga,
described – rather aptly - as an all powerful “creature of revenge.” Tabonga is
a lumbering monster tree stump that frightens the primitive and enlightened
alike… sort of a physical repository of the island’s accumulative evil spirits
and bad karma.
A Summer Story is the unassuming title of a classy
and ultimately emotionally wrenching romantic drama of class differences set in
Great Britain in the early 1900’s. Originally released in the United States in
the summer of 1988 in a small number of theaters, the film is an adaption of John
Galsworthy’s 1916 short story “The Apple Tree” which was also made into two
separate radio programs over forty years earlier: Lady Esther Almanac on CBS in 1942 and Mercury Summer Theatre in 1946. Obviously the source material
proved to be palatable enough to audiences to warrant adaptations in both the
aural and visual spectrums. Director Piers Haggard, known for more sinister
fare such as The Blood on Satan’s Claw
(1971) and Venom (1981), directs from
the late Penelope Mortimer’s adapted screenplay.
Ashton is played by James Wilby, who was coming off the heels of Maurice (1987) and A Handful of Dust (1988) at the time. Ashton (changed from Ashurst
in the short story) arrives at a farm in the summer of 1922 with his wife who goes
off to look for a view to paint. He approaches a dilapidated fence alone with
hesitation and remembrance in a voiceover that can be best described as perfunctory,
much like Rupert Frazer’s ill-executed explanation to the audience concerning
the secret of his bride in Gordon Hessler’s unfairly under-rated The Girl in a Swing (1989). This is a
great misstep right out of the gate, or wet gate, given the film’s transfer
from what appears to be a near-mint theatrical print. The sequence would have
made the film’s denouement resonate even more than it does if Ashton were given
the gift of conveying his emotions by simply exuding them in a wordless opening
scene. The obvious emotion would have sufficed to have been accentuated by the
lush and poignant strains of Georges Delerue’s violins. It’s so out of place,
in fact, that I have a hard time believing that it could have come out of Ms.
Mortimer’s typewriter rather than a last-minute-urging of a studio executive
following a Q-and-A of a sneak preview, the result of cinematically illiterate audience
members wondering what the opening sequence even means. A slow dissolve takes
us to a period nearly twenty years earlier when Frank and a friend stumble upon
the very same gate and farm. A misstep over the gate leaves Frank with a
twisted ankle and a need to convalesce in the abode of the farm’s owners, under
the caring eye of their farm girl, Megan David (Imogen Stubbs), who is desired
by Joe, the farmhand (Jerome Flynn, Game
of Thrones’s Bronn). Her aunt (Susannah York) puts Frank up in a guest room
for a decent price but it isn’t long before Megan and Frank begin eyeing each
other. Frank meets up with Megan at a sheep-shearing festival. Eventually they
make love, read poetry upon a hilltop, and it isn’t long before Joe and Frank
come to blows. Frank makes a decision in an effort to be together that will
forever change Megan’s life.
film benefits enormously from the exceptional acting by all of those involved
as it tells the story of people who behave in an orchestrated and proper
manner, only to have their human emotions boil over when their true wants and
desires are threatened. The set design is quaint and colorful, with Lyncombe
Farm in Exmoor National Park in Dulverton, Somerset, England being where the
bulk of the action takes place.
U.S. theatrical exhibition of A Summer
Story committed a faux pas so
egregious in nature I felt it was borderline sacrosanct. The carefully
orchestrated main theme of the film which was supposed to play over the end
credits was instead jettisoned for the Moody Blues’s new song at the time, I Know You’re Out There Somewhere. How audiences
didn’t regurgitate and burn down the Village’s Quad Cinema, I’ll never know.
available from the fine folks at Kino Lorber, this new Blu-ray release
mercifully reinstates the late Mr. Delerue’s glorious theme over the end
credits, righting the wrong enacted upon this lovely film thirty years ago. The
soundtrack album from 1988, long out of print, is now available again in a
significantly expanded edition from Music Box Records that can be ordered here from Screen Archives. The Blu-ray image
is touted as a “brand new 2017 scan of the original vault elements”. As there
is no mention of a 2K restoration, I’m assuming that this is 1080P, and the
result is the best that the film has looked since its theatrical exhibition,
easily besting all previous home video incarnations (the VHS version retained
the inharmonious Moody Blues tune). The Blu-ray’s sole extra is a section of no
less than seven trailers for the following films: Conduct Unbecoming (1975), Etoile
(1989), The Salamander (1981), Trouble Bound (1993), The Last Seduction (1994), Aloha,
Bobby and Rose (1975), and Steaming
(1985). Curiously, the trailer for A
Summer Story is not included. However, it can be seen here on Youtube.
long-gone Carnegie Hall Cinema in New York showed A Summer Story, and even featured a classy diorama in one of the
windows, depicting a scene from the film. Beautiful. Moviegoing in New York is
a lost art, a thing of the past…
On Sept. 15, 2000 the New
York Times ran an interview with Quentin Tarantino in which the famed
director raved at length about a Roy Rogers movie called “The Golden Stallion
(1949).” He absolutely loved the film and its director, William Witney, calling
him a “forgotten master.” According to Tarantino, Witney was the ultimate genre
film director, making everything from the classic Republic Pictures serials, to
western feature films (including 27 Roy Rogers flicks). He later did films for
American International, and shot numerous TV series including “Bonanza.” The
thing that appealed to QT the most about “The Golden Stallion” was the way
Witney was able to sell the idea that Roy Rogers regarded Trigger as much a
friend as any human being could ever be. He does five years on a chain gang to
save his horse from being destroyed after being framed for killing a man. As far-fetched
as that idea sounds, Tarantino thought Witney,Roy and Trigger absolutely made you believe it. (Click here to read the NY Times article.)
In “The Golden Stallion” Trigger has a bit of a fling
with a mare that smugglers were using to transport diamonds across the border.
A colt named Trigger Jr., was the result of that dalliance, and screenwriter
Gerald Geraghty picked up that thread to build a new story for Roy’s next
picture. In some ways, the result, “Trigger, Jr.,” is an even better movie,
with a story line that has darker undertones and a shocker of an ending.
In this picture, Roy is in charge of his father’s
traveling circus and sets up headquarters for the winter at the ranch of his
dad’s former partner Colonel Harkrider (George Cleveland). Roy’s publicist,
Splinters (Gordon Jones), thinks the idea of wintering there will bring good
publicity, but the Colonel isn’t too happy about it. The Colonel’s older daughter
was recently killed in an accident during her bareback riding routine. As a
result of the trauma her death caused, the Colonel himself has been wheel
chair-bound ever since. Worse, his grandson, Larry (Peter Miles), is terrified
of horses. He has nightmares about them. The Colonel constantly berates the boy
for being a coward. The Colonel’s younger daughter, Kay, (Dale Evans) hopes
having the circus on the ranch will help the two of them recover their
psychological balance. But she knows it won’t be easy.
It doesn’t help that all the local ranchers in the are
being muscled by a villain with no less a sinister name than Manson (Grant
Withers), who heads The Range Patrol, an outfit that provides protection for a
price. Those who don’t join up find barns burning, and livestock suddenly
disappearing. No sooner does Roy arrive than he finds Trigger Sr. and Jr. about
to be kidnapped by a couple of rangers. Roy and Splinters manage to rescue the
horses after some fisticuffs, of course. (People complain about violence in
films today, and say they wish movies could be like they were in the old days.
I guess they never saw any of Witney’s Rogers films. They were full of
shootouts, fistfights, bar room brawls, and they didn’t spare the fake blood
Roy and the Colonel convince the other ranchers to stop
paying the Range Patrol, which prompts Manson to put more pressure on them.
There’s an interesting historical element introduced into the story at this
point. At a horse auction, Roy finds out that there was an Army remount station
nearby. The remount stations were where the Army bought, trained and sold horses
for service in the U.S. Calvary. The station is out of use now, but a white
stallion “killer” horse is being kept there pending its destruction by lethal
injection. Roy tries to buy him but the sheriff informs him that there’s a
court order calling for the horse’s destruction. However, Manson puts the doctor
(I. Stanford Jolley) on his payroll and they take him to a hideout in the hills
so they can use him to terrorize and kill the ranchers’ horses. He becomes
known as The Phantom and it isn’t long before the other ranchers cave in the
Rangers and Roy and the Colonel find themselves alone in opposing them.
The situation worsens as Trigger is attacked by the
Phantom and a blow to his optical nerve renders him blind. Trigger goes down
and he can’t get up. Things get pretty tense as Larry decides he must be a
coward as his grandfather says, since he’s too afraid to even help Trigger. He
runs away and in the meantime more livestock are being killed. I don’t think
I’ve ever seen any other western where so many horses are shown dead or dying
out on the prairie, in this case all victims of the Phantom.
“Trigger, Jr.’s” brisk pace (it’s only 66 minutes long) moves
over the downbeat elements of the story so quickly, you don’t get much time to
react. But when you think about them later, you realize it’s all pretty heavy
stuff. There are only three musical numbers in the movie and one of them is the
haunting “Stampede” which is used to illustrate one of Larry’s nightmares. Jack
Marta’s cinematography and lighting create an impressionistic mini-masterpiece.
It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. The colorful circus wagons, the scenes
of the acrobats and aerialists rehearsing, the lions and trained seals performing
provide splendid splashes of color to offset the somber story line.
Fans gathered at the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéma de la Plage on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 in Cannes, France to watch a special 40th anniversary screening of a newly restored version of Paramount’s enduringly popular cultural phenomenon Grease. (Photo:Theo Wood)
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Paramount:
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (May 17,
2018)— Paramount Pictures hosted a special screening of the enduringly popular
cultural phenomenon GREASE at this
year’s Cannes Film Festival to celebrate the film’s 40th
anniversary.John Travolta and director
Randal Kleiser took part in the Cinéma
de la Plage event on May 16th where fans relived the unforgettable
moments, sensational soundtrack and classic love story at a spectacular outdoor
screening of the newly restored film on the beach.
Thierry Frémaux, Festival de Cannes Director, introduces John Travolta and director Randal Kleiser prior to a special 40th anniversary screening of a newly restored version of Paramount’s enduringly popular cultural phenomenon Grease at the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéma de la Plage on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 in Cannes, France. (Photo: Theo Wood)
Director Randal Kleiser and John Travolta. (Photo: Theo Wood).
In anticipation of the
film’s anniversary, GREASE was
restored to its original vibrancy with the highest quality sound, picture
resolution and color.The original negative
was scanned and received extensive clean up and color correction using
previously unavailable digital restoration tools.In addition, the audio was enhanced from a
six-track mix created for an original 70mm release, giving the music more
(Photo: Theo Wood)
A new 40th
anniversary edition of the fully restored film was recently released on 4K
Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.
I have a weakness for any movie starring John Wayne- even the bad ones. If you can find something of merit in "The Conqueror", in which the Duke played Genghis Khan, then you've really crossed the Rubicon. "A Man Betrayed", made during Wayne's tenure with "B" movie studio Republic, has been released on Blu-ray by Olive Films. It isn't one of those aforementioned bad Wayne movies, but it's no more than a minor entry in his career. Wayne had been toiling in the film industry since the silent era. His first big break came with the starring role in Raoul Walsh's massive western epic "The Big Trail", which was released in 1930. However, the film was released during the Great Depression and bombed at the boxoffice. For the next nine years, Wayne was starring in quickie westerns that were termed "One Day Wonders". John Ford came to his rescue by casting Wayne as the male lead in his 1939 classic "Stagecoach". It elevated Wayne to star status but he didn't fully capitalize on the opportunities that "Stagecoach" seemed to afford him. He slogged through starring roles in largely undistinguished productions for many years, interrupted by a few more ambitious productions (Ford's "The Long Voyage Home" and "They Were Expendable" and DeMille's "Reap the Wild Wind"). It wouldn't be until the late 1940s that the plum roles finally came his way and Wayne was seen as something more than "B" actor. "A Man Betrayed", released in 1941, fits comfortably into the bulk of Wayne's work during this period of his career. It's a low-budget affair, unremarkable in every respect, but still reasonably entertaining.
The film opens in an unnamed city at a scandalous nightclub called Club Inferno, where all sorts of notorious practices take place. (The sign advertises "30 Girls and 29 Costumes!"). Inside, staff members dress as the Devil and exotic dance numbers take place amidst overt gambling. In the first scene, a young man stumbles outside the club and is seemingly electrocuted during a torrential rainstorm when the lamp post he is leaning on is struck by lightning. A closer examination, however, proves he had been shot. Shortly thereafter, we're introduced to Lynn Hollister (Wayne), an affable small town attorney who comes to the city to investigate the death of the young man, who was a close friend of his. In short order he arrives at the home of Tom Cameron (Edward Ellis), a local rich widower who lives in a mansion and who owns the Club Inferno (though is rarely seen there.) Turns out Cameron is the local crime kingpin who controls the political machine and employs an army of thugs and assassins to do his bidding. He presents an affable personality and pretends to cooperate with Lynn's investigation. Lynn meets cute with Cameron's daughter Sabra (Frances Dee), a frisky, witty beauty who takes to him immediately. Before long, Lynn is staying in the guest room and he and Sabra are a couple. Cameron tries to use the relationship to manipulate Lynn but the more Lynn probes into the murder, the more convinced he is that Cameron directly or indirectly was responsible. Cameron is about to run for re-election to political office and like all crooked elected officials, is impatient for Lynn to wrap up his investigation. However, Lynn has uncovered massive evidence of voter fraud with indigent men being paid to vote numerous times for the "right" candidates. As he gets closer to the truth he is also physically threatened by Cameron's thugs. All of this sounds very dramatic but, in fact, "A Man Betrayed" is actually a romantic comedy, with the exception of the dramatic murder scene. Director John H. Auer (who had directed another, unrelated film with the same title a few years before) keeps the mood light and pace fast and gets fine performances from Edward Ellis and Frances Dee, the latter especially good as the spoiled rich girl who learns the father she has idolized is, in fact, a crook. As for Wayne, he was somewhat victimized by studios who wanted to squeeze him into contemporary romances in the hopes he would emerge as the next Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper. But at this period in his career, Wayne looked like a fish out of water in such productions. He gamely goes through the motions but he appears to be a bit uncomfortable without a horse and saddle. As he matured, he got better, as evidenced by his fine work in "The Quiet Man" , his war-based films and his late career detective movies "McQ" and "Brannigan".
"A Man Betrayed" is fairly entertaining even by today's standards. It's a hoot seeing Frances Dee sporting the over-the-top high fashions of 1941 and there is a cryptic reference to the war in Europe months before anyone realized America would soon be part of it. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the film is the early teaming between Wayne and Ward Bond, who would become close friends and occasional co-stars. Bond is cast against type as a mentally-challenged violent thug who has a knock-down brawl with the Duke. The resolution of the murder and corruption scandals are wrapped up in a rather absurd ending that seems to have been developed to ensure that audiences left the theaters smiling.(Incidentally, the film was also later released under the title "Wheel of Fortune" and was marketed as "Citadel of Crime" in the UK.)
The Olive Films Blu-ray is unremarkable. The transfer is reasonably good but the film lacks any bonus extras.
Steve McQueen's second-to-last feature film "Tom Horn" remains one of his least-seen. The troubled production was a long time in the making and was a personal obsession for McQueen, who was well-versed in the life of Horn, a celebrated frontier scout in the Old West who had reached legendary status, though his name doesn't resonate today the way Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill Hickok's have. Horn distinguished himself in the Apache Wars and played a role in the defeat of the fiercely independent tribe. Ironically, he met Geronimo at his surrender to the U.S. Army and befriended the great chief, who came to admire Horn. McQueen produced "Tom Horn" through his own production company, Solar, and the film was also released under the umbrella of First Artists, the company he had formed years before with Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Barbra Streisand and Paul Newman with the goal of giving actors more control over the final content of the movies they made. The production was a mess from day one. McQueen had last enjoyed a major hit with the 1974 release of the blockbuster "The Towering Inferno". He was one of the biggest stars in the world but his long-festering personal demons got the better of him. He went into semi-retirement, emerging only to release an art house film production of Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" in 1978 that barely saw release. At the same time, McQueen's personal appearance had changed radically. He grew a unkempt beard and long hair and began to resemble Grizzly Adams. Simultaneously, his reputation for being difficult and unpredictable alienated him from the major studios. By the time McQueen decided to make a comeback in mainstream films, the welcome mat was no longer out for him. Still, he succeeded in getting a distribution deal for "Tom Horn" through Warner Bros.
Troubles began even before the cameras turned. McQueen had numerous directors involved with the project (including Don Siegal) but they found McQueen too demanding and impossible to work with. He wanted to direct the film himself but wasn't a member of the Director's Guild. As he did with his 1972 bomb "Le Mans", McQueen hired a director he felt he could manipulate. In this case it was William Wiard, a respected veteran of many well-known TV series but who had never directed a feature film before. (Rumors flew that McQueen actually "ghost-directed" much of "Tom Horn".) McQueen also caused celebrated screen writer William Goldman to leave the project but he was replaced by Thomas McGuane, who was recognized as an expert on the life of Tom Horn. (The script was co-written by Bud Shrake, who only wrote a few little-seen films previously.) Just prior to filming, McQueen, a lifelong chain smoker, developed a bad cough that persisted throughout the shoot. It was an omen that bode ominously for McQueen.
The film opens with Horn arriving in Wyoming, already a celebrated legend of the west. He's low-key and lives on the hoof, traveling lightly with his beloved horse, whose ornery nature acts as a weapon for Horn when he finds himself in tight spots. He's approached by John C. Coble (Richard Farnsworth), representing the local Cattleman's Association. They are being robbed blind by rustlers and the local lawmen are either impotent or in on the robberies. Coble hires Horn to stop the rustling by whatever means necessary as long as the Association isn't tied to his actions. In short order, Horn sets to work, gunning down numerous cattle thieves even when he's outnumbered. Before long, the rustling stops but by then the carnage caused by Horn has instilled a backlash in the local population, who suspect he was working as a secret assassin for the Association- which, in fact, he was. The Association decides that Horn is now expendable. He is framed for a murder (though in real life, it was never proven whether he committed the crime or not), is arrested and sentenced to hang by a kangaroo court.
By the time "Tom Horn" opened in early 1980, word-of-mouth on the film was that it was a lemon. The arduous editing process increased the production costs and Warner Bros. was eager to simply be rid of it. Critics loathed the film and it bombed at the boxoffice, marking a major setback for McQueen's plans to re-establish himself as a major boxoffice star. A re-edited version fared no better and "Tom Horn" vanished from theaters quickly. Still, there is much merit in the film beginning with McQueen's low-key playing of Horn as a quiet, humble man. He even keeps his dignity on the scaffold when a new-style hanging device powered by water leaves Horn in the torturous situation of waiting patiently for the water to rise in a bucket in order to activate the trap door. The film is peppered with some wonderful character actors, the most impressive being Richard Farnsworth as Horn's only true friend. Farnsworth had been in so many westerns he practically looked like he walked directly out of a Frederic Remington painting. Also to be found: Billy Green Bush, Elisha Cook Jr, Geoffrey Lewis, Harry Northup and Slim Pickens (who had appeared with McQueen in the 1972 hit "The Getaway"). Linda Evans is cast as a schoolteacher with an exotic background (she immigrated from Hawaii) but her role seems to have suffered in the editing process. She has virtually nothing to do other than provide McQueen with an underwritten love interest. The film boasts great cinematography by John A. Alonzo and a fine score by Ernest Gold, who relies on drumbeats to provide an appropriate dirge-like quality. "Tom Horn" isn't a great western, but it's a very good one and it deserved a better fate. McQueen was already in the early stages of cancer when the movie opened. He managed to complete one more mainstream film before his death: the lightweight action comedy "The Hunter", also released in 1980. Ironically, it proved to be a modest hit and might have helped McQueen revive his career had he not succumbed to his increasingly serious health issues.
The Warner Bros. DVD of "Tom Horn" has a very impressive transfer and includes the original trailer and a promo clip for the video release of McQueen's TV series "Wanted: Dead or Alive". Given the interesting background to the film, it calls out for a special edition.
Robin Williams suffered from a brain disorder that led to dementia in the final months of his life. Originally, he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Diseasev but his strange and erratic symptoms led to another diagnosis, this one related to dementia. According to "Robin", a new biography of Williams, the actor was tragically aware of his dilemma, as it affected his performances. He would break down crying at the realization that he could no longer remember his lines. It was a tragic fate for a comedic genius and would ultimately result in him committing suicide. For more, click here.
Actress Margot Kidder has passed away at age 69. Kidder shot to stardom for her acclaimed performance as Lois Lane in "Superman", the 1978 blockbuster starring Christopher Reeve. She went on to reprise the role opposite Reeves in sequels. Kidder first gained notice in Brian DePalma's quirky Hitchcock-like 1972 thriller "Sisters" and appeared in supporting roles in films such as "Gaily, Gaily", "The Great Waldo Pepper" and "Black Christmas" before landing the role of Lois Lane. In the Superman film, Kidder brought a modern interpretation to the role that had last been played by Noel Neill in the legendary 1950s TV series starring George Reeves. Kidder's vision of Lane was as a sassy, independent and fast-witted single big city career girl who was as courageous and competent as any of her male colleagues. Critics lavished praise on the exciting young talent but her newfound success was short-lived. Aside from the three sequels to "Superman" she appeared in, the only other major boxoffice success she would have was the 1979 film "The Amityville Horror", which was derided as schlock but which proved to be popular with audiences.
Kidder gained a reputation of being unreliable and difficult to work with and the only roles afforded her were in less-than-stellar films. The nadir came in the mid-1990s when her personal behavior devolved to such a point that she was literally found living as a homeless person. Rumors swirled that she was suffering from drug addiction but it was revealed that she had been clinically diagnosed as bipolar. Kidder earned praise for speaking openly about her affliction and she would spend the rest of her life coping with her personal demons, while simultaneously lobbying to help people suffering from mental disorders. She successfully resumed her career, earning respect for her ability to cope with her psychological issues while striving to so many others. Although she never had another major feature film success, she won an Emmy in 2015. She is remembered as tough, honest and gutsy: all qualities that could be said of Lois Lane herself. For more click here.
Cinema Retro has received the following news flash from Park Circus:
We are delighted to be releasing the beautiful 4K digital
restoration (from the VistaVision negative) of Alfred Hitchcock’s
masterpiece Vertigo theatrically from the 13th of July – and we
want to share the new 60th Anniversary trailer and poster with you.
Starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, the all-time favourite of film critics
and fans alike, Vertigo, will screen in Cannes Classics Cinema de la Plage on
the 15th of May, before its 60th Anniversary release across the UK on the 13th
like us; we ain't such dogs as we think we are’
glad to report that Eureka’s new Blu-ray release of “Marty” (the film’s debut
on Blu-ray in the UK) is certainly no dog. Over 60 years on, the film still
remains a warm and sentimental favourite. On the surface, Paddy Chayefsky’s
story is arguably as thin as they come. A lonely Bronx butcher in his mid-30s,
Marty (Ernest Borgnine) by nature is both shy and uncomfortable around women.
The story sees Marty again facing another regular weekend hanging out with his
buddies. It’s as dull a prospect of his life as it might equally appear on
paper. However, this peach of a film has plenty of richness tucked away in its
reserve tanks. Marty wins on a great deal of levels, warm characters, great
performances (Borgnine won the Best Actor Oscar) and above all, a super screenplay. It’s a magnificent script that manages
to hook you in from the opening scene and rightly saw Chayefsky rewarded with
an Academy Award. On this fateful weekend, Marty’s life is about to change. A
chance meeting with lonely schoolteacher Clara (Betsy Blair) is about to adjust
Marty’s destiny. It’s not an easy journey, as there are plenty of tests and
decisions that Marty has to face - small subplots that gently but effectively
hold the frail narrative together and strengthen the story.
has presented a beautiful Blu-ray/DVD dual format package for Marty. The moody (but handsomely crafted)
monochrome photography is crisp and clean for the best part of its 90 minutes
with just a few brief scenes looking a little softer in places Print quality is
also fine throughout with only a few odd speckles evident on some darker scenes
or static backgrounds – but overall, there is really little to quibble about
here. Audio is also clear and sharp with no significant problems.
the bonus material is the full length 1953 TV play (performed live) which was
presented on NBC. Also directed by Delbert Mann, the play features Rod Steiger
in the title role. It’s a lovely little discovery which showcases nicely
Marty’s journey from written page to TV and eventually its big screen triumph.
Also included is a short piece hosted by Eva Marie Saint, a collection of
interviews with (among others) Steiger and Mann provide a great deal about the
production and co-producer Burt Lancaster’s input behind the movie. This
featurette manages to pack a lot into its fairly short time and works
especially well as an introduction to the movie.
is also a newly filmed and very enjoyable retrospective account of “Marty” by
film scholar Neil Sinyard. Many of the film’s key aspects are explored,
including how the principles landed their roles, how the film was almost
scrapped before completion and again how significant the intervention of Burt
Lancaster was to the production – all of which is very engrossing stuff and
lasting some 20 minutes. After watching this interview, I was left convinced
that Sinyard could have provided a very interesting commentary - it’s just a
shame that the opportunity was not picked up and followed through.
original trailer concludes the bonus features, and a welcome one it is too. Screen
legend Burt Lancaster introduces the trailer and provides the narration
throughout. As a co-producer he was naturally available to lend his influential
power and weight to the film – and naturally does it very well indeed. Full of
spectacle and sparkle, it’s a great example from the Golden age of Hollywood.
still holds up incredibly well and there’s very little (if anything at all) not
to like about it. It’s an everyman tale that arguably still relates to a lot of
people and continues to warm hearts. In today’s somewhat cynical world, it
still works as a timely reminder of a much more innocent and respectful time.
Gemser is an actress known to very few moviegoers in the States nowadays. In
the 1970s and 1980s, however, she was well-known for her Emanuelle series, which followed the better-known Silvia Kristel Emmanuelle variety, the difference
between both women being the exclusion of one “m” in the title. Emmanuelle and the Deadly Black Cobra is
a 1976 effort by Joe D’Amato, the man responsible for many other entertaining
European trash films (I use that as a term of endearment). Unlike Ms. Gemser’s
past Emanuelle films, this one is a
curiosity as it inexplicably has two “m’s” and is really just an excuse to dangle
the director’s lithe leading lady in front of the camera in various stages of
undress. The plot, if you can even call it such, is really rather silly.
Gemser stars as Eva, an exotic nightclub dancer in Hong Kong whose seductive
and topless moves with a Python catch the eye of Judas Carmichael (Jack
Palance) who is with his brother and businessman
Julius (Gabriele Tinti, Ms. Gemser’s real-life husband). Judas is a significantly older gentleman (by forty-four
years) who is captivated by Eva’s Indonesian beauty. He attempts to intrigue her
by introducing her to his love of reptiles, specifically snakes (Fellini
jump-cut anyone?). Following a brief lunch the next day, Judas invites Eva to
his home to see his snake collection, which she initially refuses to do. It
isn’t long before the oogling ophiophilist’s charms work on Eva and she agrees
to live with him following his desire to lavish her with money and presents. Eva
likes ladies, too, and she meets Candy (Ziggy Zanger). Another woman, Gerri (Michele
Starck), takes her to a club frequented by lesbians. Meanwhile, Julius is up to
no good. He becomes jealous of the women and puts a nasty plot in motion to
teach “them a lesson”.
many other exploitation films of the era, Emmanuelle
and the Deadly Black Cobra has been released under various other titles: Eva Nera (Black Eva) and Black Cobra
Woman. Don’t be confused, these titles are one in the same film. In typical
exploitation fashion, the film is replete with bad dubbing and stilted
performances but let’s face it, we’re not watching Edward Albee here. The
target audience of this flick is young men and the women on display are a sight
to behold despite their unorthodox stage names: “Ziggy Zanger” and “Michele
Starck” are strange monikers to be sure and they only really serve as eye
candy, the former’s character’s namesake a deliberate tongue-in-cheek maneuver.
The character of Julius is a curiosity as we never really know what his deal
is. He meets a terrible end (and I do mean “end” which, mercifully, takes place
off camera). The late-great Mr. Palance is sufficient as the playboy/rich man
who is visibly taken with Eva. She, in turn, is pursued by an Asian man who is
shattered when his attempts to possess her ultimately fail.
Piero Umiliani provides a musical score that
is pleasant to the action onscreen, especially in the dance-with-the-snake and
girl-on-girl sequences that passed for high eroticism over forty years ago. The
interiors were shot in the old Elios Studios in Rome and exteriors were shot in
Hong Kong and the city is featured prominently, roughly twenty years before the
British government would transfer the sovereignty of Hong Kong over to China in
The film has recently made its way to Blu-ray
via of Code Red and Kino Lorber and the results are spectacular. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and
given a 1080p transfer, Emmanuelle and the Deadly Black Cobra looks
light years ahead of any past dark VHS bootlegs that circulated through the
mail and in video stores back in the 1980s.
Mirek Lipinski, the film’s writer, provides
an interesting feature-length commentary which discusses both the onscreen
action as well as interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits involving the nature of
the film business at the time and the relationships among the performers in the
If you’re a Laura Gemser fan, this Blu-ray is
if the D-Day invasion of German occupied France during WWII was a failure and
the Germans ended up invading and occupying Great Britain? That’s the premise
of a fascinating alternate history movie, “Resistance.” Based on the book by Owen
Sheers and released in the fall of 2011, the movie opens in the Olchon Valley, England,
in 1944. It’s a lonely and isolated area filled with rolling hills, sheep and
old cottages. Sarah Lewis (Andrea Riseborough), awakens one morning surprised to
find her husband is gone. It turns out all the men in her valley have departed
to join the resistance. A group of German soldiers arrive led by Albrecht (Tom
Wlaschiha) and they set up quarters near Sarah’s home. Tommy (Michael Sheen) is
one of the men departing to join the resistance and we watch as he briefs
George (Iwen Rheon) on when to use the rifle hidden under the floorboards of
German occupiers led by Albrecht are in the Olchon Valley in search of an
artifact, a large map dating to the middle ages, which the Germans believe is hidden
in the area. Albrecht also happens to be a historian who was specifically sent
on this mission to locate the map. He finds the map in a cave near the village
fairly quickly, but does not disclose this information to his men. His
objective is to stay out of the fighting while the Germans wind down their
occupation, thus sparing his men from more death. Not all of his men agree with
this strategy of staying put and this creates conflict among the Germans.
harsh winter follows and a cordial relationship develops between Sarah and
Albrecht. As spring arrives it becomes clear the Germans are not leaving and
the men who left to join the resistance have not been successful. The women
continue their existence hoping and dreaming of the return of their men as the
Germans allow the women greater independence and normalcy. One of the village
men, Tommy, returns tired, beaten and bloodied. He thinks the Germans, by now
in civilian clothing as their uniforms have worn out, are other local men. He’s
captured, interrogated and shot in quick succession.
women soon learn things in the rest of England are returning to a kind of
normalcy and that the German have completed their occupation. Albrecht
reluctantly allows some of the women to travel to a neighboring village and
compete in a livestock fair, sending one of his men along as an escort. George,
seeing this as collaboration, finds his rifle and the result is a devastating
conclusion to this tale of isolation and alternate history.
the “what if?” backdrop is interesting, I felt the story is under-developed and
there are many questions left unanswered. Why were the women surprised when the
men left? Wouldn’t they know of their preparations? Why was the medieval map so
important? Why was it in the Olchon Valley? Why was it so easy for the group of
soldiers led by Albrecht to remain in isolation from the rest of the German
occupation force? Nobody noticed they were missing? The “resistance” of the
title never really occurs other than during the opening scenes of the movie
when the Germans first arrive. It was hard to connect with any of the
characters other than to feel pity for all involved.
English and German cast is uniformly good, given the uneven story which left me
wanting more compelling story angles. The movie, under the direction of Amit Gupta, feels much longer than the
brief 92 minutes, which is largely due to the predictable nature of this story and
it drags on with seemingly endless scenes of the English countryside. The movie
has little new to say that hasn’t already been said about war and military
occupation. The DVD released by Omnibus Entertainment is bare bones with a nice
transfer which highlights the rolling hills and sense of isolation.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Park Circus:
Park Circus is delighted to re-release Robert Wise’s
iconic motion picture musical The Sound of Music. Screening at select
cinemas in a new 70mm print and more widely in a 4K Digital restoration, the
1965 box office smash won 5 Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best
Director for Robert Wise. The family classic features the songs of Rodgers
& Hammerstein which have enchanted generations and are perfectly poised for
This new 70mm print is made from the original camera
negative and will be presented with DTS sound. The 4K Digital version comes
from an 8K scan restored and presented in 4K.
Maria, free-willed and deeply connected with the
beautiful Alpine landscape of her youth, is a conflicted postulant, debating
whether or not she should give her life over to serving in Nonnberg Abbey. Her
Mother Superior suggests that Maria should come to a decision after
experiencing more of life outside the Abbey, and sends Maria to act as a
governess to the seven children of Captain Georg von Trapp, an Austrian naval
officer and a widower.
Maria arrives at the von Trapp villa to discover she's
merely the latest in a long line of governesses the children have scared away.
But, with her love of life, music and dance, she quickly wins them over, and is
welcomed into the family. The von Trapp's delicate happiness is threatened,
however, by a burgeoning romance between Maria and the soon to be married
Captain, and the rise of the Third Reich in Austria that may see the Captain
forced to accept a position in the German Navy.
The Sound of Music will screen at the BFI (London) in 70mm from
May 18th before expanding to wider release throughout the UK and
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
year the ground-breaking British film company Woodfall Films celebrates its 60th
anniversary. After a popular season at BFI Southbank throughout April, on 11
June 2018 the BFI will release 9-disc Blu-ray and DVD box sets containing some
of Woodfall’s most revered films, many newly
restored. A huge array of special features includes interviews with Rita
Tushingham and Murray Melvin, archive material, shorts from the BFI National
Archive and an 80-page book.
Woodfall revolutionised British cinema during the 1960swith a slate of iconic films.Founded
in 1958 by director Tony Richardson, writer John Osborne and producer Harry Saltzman (James Bond), the
company pioneered the British New Wave, defining an incendiary brand of social realism. Look Back in Anger(Tony Richardson, 1959), and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning(Karel Reisz, 1960) spot-lit working-class life with unheard-of
honesty. The same risk-taking spirit led the company to find a new generation
of brilliant young actors to star in their films, such as Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Rita Tushingham. The global
blockbuster Tom Jones(1963) expanded the Woodfall slate in an irreverent,
colourful direction that helped define swinging London
– further securing its extraordinary chapter in the
history of British film.
These box sets
bring togethereight of
ground-breaking films, many now newly restored and on Blu-ray for the first
time in the UK. Each set contains:
Look Back in Anger(Tony
Richardson, 1959), starring Richard Burton as a
The Entertainer(Tony Richardson, 1960), which
stars Laurence Olivier as ageing music-hall veteran Archie Rice
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning(Karel Reisz, 1960)
(as previously released by the BFI), starring Albert Finney as factory worker Arthur
A Tasteof Honey
(Tony Richardson, 1961), legendary
kitchen sink drama focusing on working-class women, with a script by Shelagh
Delaney and Tony Richardson
The Loneliness of the LongDistance Runner(Tony Richardson, 1962) (as previously released by the BFI) starring Tom Courtenay at Colin
Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963), (both the original theatrical release and the 1989
Director’s Cut), a raucous
and innovative multi-Oscar-winning adaptation of the classic novel by Henry Fielding
Girl with Green Eyes(Desmond Davis, 1964) with Rita
Tushingham, Lynn Redgrave and Peter Finchin a lively adaptation by Edna O’Brien of her own novel
THE KNACK…and how to get it(Richard Lester, 1965)which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes
The Stories that Changed British
Cinema (2018, 47 mins): panel discussion held
at BFI Southbank during April, featuring actors Tom Courtenay, Rita
Tushingham and Joely Richardson, writer Jez Butterworth, journalist Paris
Lees; chaired by the BFI’s Danny Leigh
Five audio commentaries featuring Alan
Sillitoe, Freddie Francis, Dora Bryan, Rita Tushingham, Murray Melvin, Tom
Courtenay, Adrian Martin and Neil Sinyard
George Devine Memorial Play: Look Back in Anger, The Entertainer,
Luther, and Exit The King (Peter
Whitehead, 1966, 39 mins): extracts from four plays written by John Osborne
starring Kenneth Haigh, Gary Raymond, Laurence Olivier, Albert Finney and
Morris Remembers Woodfall (Alan
Van Wijgerden, 1993, 24 mins): the cinematographer reminisces about his
time with Woodfall
Deadline Hollywood reports that Sylvester Stallone intends to revive the character of Rambo once again in a film tentatively labeled "Rambo 5" (we hope they come up with something a bit more creative.) The character first appeared in 1982 in the film "First Blood" and has since been seen in four sequels, the last being released in 2008. For the latest film, Stallone seems to be tapping into some Trumpian angles, with Rambo taking on a Mexican drug cartel. Stallone is said to be working on the script now but according to Deadline, he will apparently not be directing this entry in the series. It's hoped that the film will start shooting in September. Click here for more.
Choosing my favorite Vincent Price film is, to put it
mildly, no easy task.The actor’s
filmography has long been a favorite to mine through and revisit time and again;
I believe I own copies of all of the mystery, sci-fi, and horror films he would
appear in from 1939 on, along with a handful of his equally impressive non-genre
film work as well.Few true horror film
buffs would not put this elegantly sinister Missourian on or near the top of
their favorite actor’s list.If director
Douglas Hickox’s Theatre of Blood is
not my favorite Price film – and it very well might be – this glorious item of dark cinema has certainly never
dropped below the no. 5 position in my ever-shuffling ranking of Vincent Price personal
favorites…maybe even scoring no lower
than no. 3 on the chart.So anything I
write about this film should be accepted as having been reflected from this
There’s really no point in attempting to describe the
film’s flimsy plot detail.Anybody with
any sort of interest in this sort of macabre storytelling will be well versed
with the machinations comprising Theatre
of Blood.This film has made the
rounds almost from the beginning of the advent of home video, and I imagine
anyone with any interest would have had been afforded plenty of opportunities
to enjoy this film during its original theatrical run, on television (where I
first caught it), or on tape or disc in the privacy and comfort of their own
home.This Twilight Time issue of Theatre of Blood on Blu-ray is the first
time this film has appeared in this format in the U.S.It’s also a limited edition run of a mere
3,000 copies and as it’s already been more than a year-and-a- half since first
released on Blu in the U.S., I’d get moving on securing a copy for one’s self
before it starts to go for crazy “collector’s prices” on internet auction
sites. Believe me, as someone who has foolishly
waited on other coveted titles only to miss out due to intervals of parsimony,
it most surely will.
For those of you who have not yet been blessed, Theatre of Blood tells the tale of the
grand eloquent thespian Edward Lionheart (Price), described by one pursuing
detective - in a smirking and cautious appraisal as a “vigorous” actor.Lionheart is as sincere an actor as anyone who
walked the stage.Unfortunately, his
flamboyant, overly-emotive style and obsession with appearing only in the works
of William Shakespeare have put him at odds with the post-modern expectations
of London’s self-satisfied Drama Critic Circle.He’s particularly annoyed by being passed over for the coveted Critics
Circle Award of 1970, angered that the trophy was handed to a virtual newcomer
of the London stage, a young actor who Lionheart describes deliciously as “a twitching,
mumbling boy who can barely grunt his way through an incomprehensible
performance!”Distraught over this final
insult, he tosses himself with a suicidal, swan-like high-dive into the cold, choppy
waters of the Thames.But if he’s truly
dead, why are all of his detractors in the press meeting all
sorts of amusing – but ghastly - Shakespearean fates?Some blame his doting surviving daughter
Edwina Lionheart (the ever lovely Diana Rigg) as committing these so-called revenge
murders, but others seem not so sure.
If this plotline seems familiar territory to moviegoers -
and to Vincent Price fans in particular - it’s not unreasonable.United Artists, in some manner of speaking, simply
lifted the dark, tongue-in-cheek atmosphere that made both
American-International’s The Abominable
Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again
into big screen successes.If A.I.P.’s internationally
renowned organist and composer Dr. Anton Phibes takes to murderous task those members
of the medical profession he blames for his wife’s untimely demise, Edward
Lionheart similarly goes after those columnists who have effectively disrespected
his art and summarily killed off his career.If the script isn’t terribly original in its conception, it’s
nevertheless well executed.One pleasing
aspect is writer Anthony Greville-Bell’s amusing application of Dickensian
names to the film’s major players and occasional targets: in the course of the
movie we’re introduced to such characters as Peregrine Devlin, Solomon and
Maisie Psaltery, Meredith Merridew, Chloe Moon, Hector Snipe and Mrs. Sprout.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
the Classic ‘50s Celebration with a New 40th Anniversary Edition Featuring
Fully Restored Picture and Sound and New Bonus Content on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™,
DVD and Digital April 24, 2018
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – It’s got a groove,
it’s got a meaning…and it’s still a cultural phenomenon 40 years after its
original release.The iconic celebration
of high school life in the 1950s, GREASE is the way you’ll be feeling with a
new 40th Anniversary Edition on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital April 24,
2018 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.
Featuring an explosion of song and
dance, as well as star-making performances from John Travolta and Olivia
Newton-John, GREASE made an indelible impact on popular culture.40 years later, the film remains an enduring
favorite as legions of new fans discover the memorable moments, sensational
soundtrack and classic love story.Boasting unforgettable songs including “Greased Lightnin,” “Look At Me,
I’m Sandra Dee,” “Summer Nights,” “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” “Beauty School
Drop Out” and, of course, “Grease,” the film is a timeless feel-good
Paramount worked with director Randal
Kleiser to restore GREASE to its original vibrancy with the highest quality
sound, picture resolution and color.The
original negative was scanned and received extensive clean up and color
correction using previously unavailable digital restoration tools such as high
dynamic range technology.In addition, the
audio was enhanced from a six-track mix created for an original 70mm release,
giving the music more clarity.The
resulting picture and sound create an exceptional home viewing experience.
GREASE 40th Anniversary Edition 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs include the
fully restored version of the film plus an all-new, in-depth exploration of the
little-known origins of what would become a Broadway play and then a feature
film and worldwide phenomenon.“Grease:
A Chicago Story” features new interviews with writer Jim Jacobs and original
cast members of the Chicago show.In
addition, the discs include the original song the title sequence was animated
to and an alternate ending salvaged from the original black & white 16mm
work print discovered by director Randal Kleiser.
the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs also feature more than an hour of
previously released bonus material, including a sing-along, vintage interviews
with the cast, deleted scenes and more.Plus, the Blu-ray Combo comes in collectible packaging with 16 pages of
images laid out like a high school yearbook.In addition, a Grease Collection will be available in a Steelbook
Locker, which includes the 40th Anniversary Blu-ray of Grease, as well as Grease
2 and Grease: Live! on Blu-ray for the first time.
40th Anniversary Blu-ray Combo Pack
The GREASE Blu-ray is presented in
1080p high definition with English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German
5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 2.0 Dolby Digital,
Brazilian Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Castilian Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital,
Latin American Spanish Mono Dolby Digital, and English Audio Description and
English, English SDH, Cantonese, Mandarin Simplified, Mandarin Traditional,
Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean,
Norwegian, Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese, Castilian Spanish, Latin
American Spanish, Swedish, Thai and Turkish subtitles.The DVD in the Combo Pack is presented in widescreen
enhanced for 16:9 televisions with English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby
Digital, Spanish Mono Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English,
French, and Spanish subtitles. The Combo Pack includes access to a Digital copy
of the film as well as the following:
film in high definition
by director Randal Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch
by Randal Kleiser
Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease
A Chicago Story—NEW!
Animated Main Titles—NEW!
Scenes with Introduction by Randal Kleiser
Reunion 2002 – DVD Launch Party
Memories from John & Olivia
Moves Behind the Music
Travolta and Allan Carr “Grease Day” interview
Newton-John and Robert Stigwood “Grease Day” interview
film in standard definition
by director Randal Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch
by Randal Kleiser
Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease
Animated Main Titles—NEW!
Scenes with Introduction by Randal Kleiser
Reunion 2002 – DVD Launch Party
Moves Behind the Music
Newton-John and Robert Stigwood “Grease Day” interview
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
(April 26 - Omaha, Nebr.) Film historian Bruce Crawford will be
presenting the 1979 classic thriller ”ALIEN” on
Friday, May 25th. 2018 at Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street in
Omaha. ALIEN has become one of the most popular science fiction thrillers
in cinema history and spawned almost a dozen prequels and sequels as well as
comic books and graphic novels.
In addition to the special event screening, “Alien” actress
Veronica Cartwright, who played navigation officer Lambert in the film, will
speak before the screening discussing the making of this iconic film. There
will also be a meet-and-greet and autograph session for the fans.
This event marks 26 years since Crawford started hosting film
legends and the classic films on which they worked. He typically presents two
movies each year, spring and autumn.
Tickets to meet and hear Miss Cartwright go on sale Wednesday,
April 26th for $24 each and can be purchased at the customer service counters
of all Omaha-area Hy Vee food stores.Proceeds
will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association.
For more information and to purchase tickets over the phone call
(402) 932-7200 or visit www.omahafilmevent.com
anniversary screening of “Alien” (1979) movie with actress Veronica Cartwright
Museum theatre, 2200 Dodge Street, Omaha, Nebraska
25, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. (CDT)
WHY:An event for
classic movie fans, with proceeds benefitting the Nebraska Kidney Association
$24 each and can be purchased at Omaha-area Hy-Vee stores (customer service
counter) and at the Nebraska Kidney Association. Seating is limited, and the
event is expected to sell out quickly.
Perhaps more relevant today than ever, the Visual Entertainment Inc. DVD label has released "Arthur C. Clarke: The Complete Collection", a 52 episode boxed set containing 22 hours of programming. Why is this set more relevant today than ever? Because in his prime, Clarke and his fellow prominent scientists and intellectuals were held in great esteem by the general public. Today, however, vast segments of the world's populations are intent on downgrading the importance of science in place of fanatical religious dogma. Fortunately, for the majority of people of faith, science does not exist in a mutually exclusive universe. Nevertheless, there is an undeniable trend in some quarters to pretend that established fact does not exist, especially if it offers some inconvenient contrasts to what these people want to believe. This anti-science slant is not restricted to fringe religious groups. Our popular culture reflects widespread belief in things that once would have been considered highly speculative by most mainstream audiences. Thus, we have shows in which a Long Island housewife is paid a fortune to pretend she is a medium from Long Island and others that have self-proclaimed "ghost hunters" trying to convince the average person that their home is haunted. Arthur C. Clarke, the esteemed scientist and author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, tried to elevate discussion of the mysteries of life by keeping an open mind while also providing a skeptic's viewpoint. Now as a skeptic myself, I must admit I am often viewed as the skunk at the garden party when it comes to attempting to bring logic into conversations with people whose minds are made up that aliens are routinely abducting innocent earthlings or that religious miracles are occurring every day. Many people are as committed to their comfortable beliefs as they are to political ideologies and they don't want to allow any viewpoint into their lives that might cause them to rethink such positions. Clarke wanted people to constantly challenge their own belief systems. From 1980 through 1995, he hosted period series of TV programs designed to explore the great mysteries of science and nature. The new DVD set is as enlightening today as it was when these shows were originally telecast on British television.
The set is broken down into three different programs. Here is the description from the official press release:
"Hosted by acclaimed sci-fi
author Sir Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey), Arthur C. Clarke: The Complete Collection
investigates the inexplicable, abnormal and mind-boggling wonders of the world. Included in the set are three
popular, documentary series originally aired on Britain’s ITV network. Mysterious
World (1980), narrated by author, actor and newscaster
Gordon Honeycomb (Then She Was Gone, The Medusa Touch), looks at unexplained
phenomena from Stonehenge to the Loch Ness Monster. Narrated by English journalist Anna Ford, World
of Strange Powers (1985) investigates goose bump-raising paranormal
activity from haunted houses to magical spirits. Mysterious Universe (1995),
narrated by British TV personality Carol Vorderman, examines mystical secrets
from the ancient world. In each episode, Clarke tackles
the daunting task of finding a reasonable explanation for some of the most
bizarre phenomena ever known to mankind from such “mysteries of the first kind”
as solar eclipses to the more inexplicable, including messages from beyond the
grave, the stigmata, lost planets, UFOs and zombies … Making Arthur
C. Clarke: The Complete Collection a must-have for every science-fiction
Clarke bookends every episode with an introduction and an epilogue, though he occasionally appears in the program itself to offers opinions and insights, treating people on both sides of an issue with dignity and respect. Each segment is fascinating and educational, ranging from topics that include the great achievements of the ancient world to seemingly inexplicable phenomenon. Clarke presents compelling arguments on all sides regarding the matters at hand but clearly relishes exposing some theories such as faith healing as the fraudulent practices they are. (One must admit, however, that the footage of these "miracle workers" performing is quite convincing on a certain level - until they are ultimately unveiled as charlatans preying on the most vulnerable members of society.) Clarke's presentation of other phenomenon such as the Abominable Snowman features thought-provoking insights from serious explorers who were convinced that there could be some actual unknown beast in the Himilayas. Clark acknowledges that, based on his study of the evidence, it might be possible the creature exists, but he dismisses as virtually impossible that a real-life Yeti could be tramping through even the most remote regions of the United States. Similarly, like any good scientist, he doesn't reject outright the possibility that supernatural phenomenon does occur- but doesn't shy away from the one answer that never satisfies any "true believer" in that he simply acknowledges he does not know the answer. Human beings need answers and if science and nature doesn't provide them, they simply convince themselves that something is true. If we don't know the answer of how the universe was created...well, then, Presto! A superior being made it! If something goes "bump" in the night in your home then...Yikes! You're house must be haunted! Scientists take a more measured approach by suppressing as much as possible their own beliefs so as to prevent coming to any forgone conclusions. Clarke represented that mindset. Just because someone else can't provide a viable answer doesn't mean your beliefs have to be true.
The set is addictive in terms of viewing. The subject matters are so vast and wide-ranging that if one topic doesn't appeal to you, another will. Each 30 minute episode is tightly edited and features fascinating film footage from around the world. Some segments may reinforce your beliefs (or lack thereof) while others may leave you questioning long-held opinions on these subjects, but there is enough here, for example, in the examination of religion to please both believers and skeptics because of the fascinating angles Clarke uses to explore the topic. The series represents a time when such topics could be treated in an objective manner with the end result being that the viewers would reach their own conclusions. Sadly, such respect for the audience's intelligence has all been eradicated in the era of shows like The Long Island Medium. Highly recommended.
We recently reported on the Moviepass announcement that the company would now limit subscribers to seeing only four movies a month under the current plan, as a method of trying to reduce the sea of red ink the company finds itself contending with. Now, the web site Wired reports that the company has reverted back to its initial program that allows subscribers to see one movie a day, every day of the month in return for a $9.95 monthly fee. The service has proven to be wildly popular in America and over two million members are now on board. However, the company has not succeeded in its goal of getting theaters to share revenue from concessions, which is crucial to the ability of Moviepass to survive as a viable entity. Meanwhile, the company has told Wired that recent problems with the AMC movie chain have now been resolved. Click here for more.
(Thanks to subscriber Karen Keithler for the alert.)