This advertisement from the New York Times Archive from November, 1965 illustrates the wide variety of fine movies that were playing in New York theaters simultaneously. Among them: "The Cincinnati Kid", "The Hill", "Darling" "King Rat", "The Ipcress File", "The Leather Boys", "Ship of Fools", "Repulsion", "The Greatest Story Ever Told", "Return from the Ashes", "The War Lord" and "Sands of the Kalahari".
When it comes to publishing top-end film books nobody
does it better than Titan. The company has its pulse on every movie geek’s
desires and their recent title “Harryhausen: The Movie Posters” should leave
fans of the late, great special effects genius Ray Harryhausen drooling over
the superb representations of his films. Author Richard Holliss wisely leaves the
text to a minimum to allow the wonderfully-reproduced graphics exemplify the
sheer excitement and wonder of the sci-fi and fantasy films associated with
Harryhausen. The book presents a mind-boggling number of rare international
movie posters and assorted oddities relating to the promotion of his films.
Titan has published the book in an appropriately large size hardback format
that allows the stunning graphics to be fully appreciated.
becomes aware of
just how important of a role the classic movie posters played in selling
films to the public, thanks to their ingenious designs by
artists. Represented are wonderful graphics from such films as "Might
Joe Young", "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", the Sinbad films, "First
Men in the Moon", "Mysterious Island", "Jason and the Argonauts" and so
many other classics. With a foreword by John Landis, a long-time friend
and admirer of
Harryhausen, this is the most impressive film book to cross my desk this
Kudos to all involved.
Kudos to the New York Times for recognizing the passing of Jerry Ohlinger, the famed Gotham movie memorabilia dealer who passed away this week at age 75. Collectors would travel far and wide, especially in the pre-internet age, to rummage through Ohlinger's early shops that boasted a wealth of vintage movie stills, magazines and rare posters. Over the years, he moved locations several times and his shops, by necessity, became better staffed and more organized. Ohlinger seemed to be omnipresent, holding court at the shop, chatting with customers, shouting out orders to staffers who were in search of that illusive something that a customer required. He was quite the character: eccentric, engaging and always seen with a soggy cigar in his mouth that, ironically, was never lit because he didn't like smoking cigars. Go figure. Jerry Ohlinger's Movie Memorabilia Shop went through some hard times in recent years due to the skyrocketing rents that have wreaked havoc on small businesses in major cities. With Jerry's passing, it truly is an end of an era for collectors of vintage movie memorabilia, though his presence will be felt due to the fact that the last location of his shop will remain in operation. For more click here.
Joe Dante's "Trailers from Hell" presents Alan Spencer analyzing Robert Wise's 1966 epic "The Sand Pebbles", which afforded Steve McQueen his only Oscar nomination for his superb performance. Spencer succinctly nails down the key aspects of this superb film, which received wide acclaim when released but which is often ignored by the critical establishment today.
(Goldman with James Caan on the set of "A Bridge Too Far"- 1976)
BY LEE PFEIFFER
There's an old joke among writers about the naive young starlet who thought she could make it in Hollywood by sleeping with screenwriters. Indeed, the people who made it possible for hit films to exist by writing the scenarios the actors carried out on screen were often regarded as being very low on the industry totem pole- and relatively low-paid as well. Not so with novelist and screenwriter William Goldman, who elevated regard for screenwriters while demanding- and receiving- the kind of breakthrough salaries that revolutionized the film industry's respect for writers. Goldman has died from cancer in Manhattan at age 87. He was known to be opinionated, abrasive and demanding, but no one questioned his talents. He won Oscars for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "All the President's Men". Among his other screenplays: "Harper" (aka "The Moving Target"), "Marathon Man" (adapted from his own novel), "A Bridge Too Far", "The Princess Bride", "No Way to Treat a Lady", "The Hot Rock", "The Stepford Wives", "The Great Waldo Pepper", "Magic", "The Princess Bride" (adapted from his own novel), "Misery", "Year of the Comet", "Chaplin", "Maverick" and "The Ghost and the Darkness". Goldman was inspired to take up screenwriting after buying a book about the profession in an all-night Times Square book shop. His first novel to be adapted for the screen was "Soldier in the Rain", though the screenplay was written by Blake Edwards and Maurice Richlin. Goldman's book "Adventures in the Screen Trade", a scathing look at the film industry, is still widely-read. He famously wrote of his conclusion about competence among studio executives: "Nobody knows anything". Goldman's brother James, was also an Oscar winner, having written the play "The Lion in Winter" for which he received the award for Adapted Screenplay. Even if you've never heard of Goldman, you're familiar with some of his dialogue which has become ingrained in popular culture. The Washington Post provides examples. Click here to read.
As with any major film star who dies young, Jean Seberg has become a cult of personality to some film fans, partly due to the fact that she died in Paris from an overdose of barbiturates at age 40 in 1979. Her death was ruled a suicide but conspiracy theories still abound because she was deemed a political radical by the FBI due to her association with far left wing causes and her support of the Black Panther party. On screen, however, Seberg's characters were generally not radical, although her breakthrough film did find her as the female lead in Godard's classic 1960 crime flick Breathless. Still, there were some hints of Seberg's liberated woman persona in her early career. One such film was In the French Style, a largely forgotten 1963 production based on Irwin Shaw's novel. Shaw wrote the screenplay and the film was directed by Robert Parrish, a respected veteran of the movie industry who never enjoyed a career-defining major hit. (The closest he came was directing segments of the bloated 1967 spoof version of Casino Royale.) The movie opens in Paris with Seberg as Christina James, a 19 year old free spirited girl from Chicago who has come to the City of Light to hone her skills as a painter. In the process of trying to acclimate herself to the metropolitan lifestyle, she meets Guy ((Philippe Forquet), a headstrong, sometimes arrogant 21 year-old who is nonetheless charismatic and quite handsome. He woos Christina and before long, they are a couple swept up in a whirlwind romance. However, it isn't long before there are strains due in part to their impoverished lifestyle. Guy, being a typical guy, tries to get Christina into bed, but she says when it happens, it will be on her terms and conditions. When the big moment arises, Guy's romantic evening turns into a disaster because he only has enough money to rent a room at a flophouse hotel without heat. In the course of the strained evening, Guy confesses to Christina that he cannot perform sexually because he is too nervous. He makes a shocking confession: he is actually a 16 year old high school boy and a virgin at that. While this does bring the story into a completely unexpected direction, it's the one element of the film that strains credibility largely due to the fact that Forquet was actually 23 years old at the time and looks it. Nevertheless, this plot device takes us away from what was shaping up as a conventional "boy meets girl" romance and plunges the viewer into unknown waters.
The story then jumps ahead in time and we find Christina now in her early twenties and very much in step with the Parisian lifestyle. She is the toast of her neighborhood's social scene and the belle of the ball in terms of attracting male suitors. In a rather progressive depiction of a single woman for the year 1963, it is made abundantly clear that Christina has her pick of lovers and routinely engages in short-term sexual affairs. Every time she meets the "right man", it turns out that differences in their lifestyles prevent them from enjoying a traditional relationship. Her father (very well played by Addison Powell) visits her from Chicago and, again Shaw's script goes against the conventional depiction of father and daughter relationships generally seen in movies during this era. Instead of being a square old fuddy duddy, Dad is actually amused by his daughter's somewhat hedonistic lifestyle and he asks her how many lovers she has had. "A couple", she replies, but it becomes clear that both of them regard that as a drastic understatement. When her father asks to see the paintings she has been working on for years, he gently informs her that they are below the quality he had expected. He cautions her that her party-filled lifestyle may be compromising her potential. Christina objects and two part company under a strain, but it becomes clear that her father's words have resonated with her and that it might be time to develop plans for a more productive career path.
All of that changes when she has a chance encounter with Walter Beddoes (Stanley Baker), a hard-drinking international newspaper journalist. They enjoy a torrid affair and fall in love but, alas, fate rears its ugly head once again when Walter's requirements to travel extensively takes him away from Christina for months at a time. He confesses to her that, while abroad "I don't live like a monk". Christina says she accepts that he will have other lovers but makes it clear that she will, too. Such behavior from a young couple was rarely depicted so honestly on screen in 1963, an era in which sexually assertive women were generally painted as floozies. By the time Walter returns from a three month stint in Africa, he finds Christina has a new boyfriend, an American doctor from San Francisco (James Leo Herlihy), who she says she intends to marry. She has a civilized lunch with both men, as Walter tries to persuade her to resume her affair with him. She confesses that she has seen her share of former lovers ultimately drop her to marry the girl of her dreams, a status she somehow never attains in their eyes. This climactic sequence left me a bit disappointed because in the end, Christina- that most liberated of young women- decides to throw in the towel to become a doctor's wife and live in San Francisco. However, director Parrish does afford us the nagging possibility that she knows she is selling out by doing so.
In the French Style is a very worthwhile experience. The Parisian locations add immeasurably to its pleasures and the crisp B&W cinematography Michel Kelber is impressive, as is the Joseph Kosma's atmospheric score. Not much happens dramatically in the film. You keep waiting for some earth-shaking development to emerge but it never does. However, that's part of the movie's charm. It recalls an era in which studios routinely backed small films with fine actors (they are all wonderful here) and gave them intelligent dialogue and direction.
Twilight Time has issued an impressive limited edition (3,000) Blu-ray edition that does justice to the fine B&W cinematography. The bonus extras include an isolated score track, informative commentary by film historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman, a theatrical trailer and a collector's booklet with liner notes by Kirgo.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER TWILIGHT TIME BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION
CLICK HERE TO ORDER SONY BASIC DVD EDITION FROM THE CINEMA RETRO MOVIE STORE
Some of the best private eye thrillers tend to be complex and sometimes incomprehensible affairs. Howard Hawks' "The Big Sleep", for example, had a plot that could not be comprehended even by the people who made the film, but it ranks as one of the great movies in the crime genre. Similarly, director Arthur Penn's 1975 mystery "Night Moves" (the title is- appropriately enough- a metaphor) sat on a shelf for over a year before it went into general release, only to be greeted by an apathetic public. There were some prescient critics like Roger Ebert who foresaw the film's enduring qualities but, for the most part, "Night Moves" didn't get much attention in a year in which the likes of great films like "Jaws", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest', "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Barry Lyndon" were in release. The movie began to gain steam over the decades with the critical establishment and is now considered to be a classic by many, thus its arrival on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive is much appreciated by retro movie lovers.
The film reunited Gene Hackman with Arthur Penn after their triumphant work on "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967). Hackman was a supporting character in that film but received an Oscar nomination. In "Night Moves" he is the front-and-center star, in almost every scene and he dominates the movie with a superb, laid-back performance that is so natural that it reminds us of how Hackman's genius was to make you think you are watching a real-life person. He plays Harry Moseby, an L.A. private eye who isn't down-and-out like most of his cinematic counterparts, but is not setting the world on fire, either. He's a complex man haunted by bad childhood memories and he's got some contemporary problems, as well. His wife Ellen (Susan Clark) is bored and frustrated that Harry is too remote and spends far too much of his time on low-paying cases. He catches her having an affair but it's clear her lover (Harris Yulin) is more of a distraction than a passion. While Harry is trying to reconcile with Ellen, he's hired by Arlene Iverson (Janet Ward), a one-time minor starlet with a knack for marrying rich men. She wants Harry to find her wayward, runaway 16 year-old daughter Delly (Melanie Griffith), with whom she has a terrible relationship. Seems Arlene is dependent upon the funds from a trust that her late husband set up for Delly. As long as Arlene lives with the girl, she can continue residing in a mansion and enjoy a lavish lifestyle. However, once Delly turns 25, the spigot is turned off and Delly gets control of her fortune. The case leads Harry to the Florida Keys where Delly's stepfather, Tom Iverson (John Crawford) (divorced from Arlene) runs a charting plane service. He's surrounded by plenty of unsavory types, some of whom are employed as stuntmen in the movie business. At least two of them- Marv Ellman (Anthony Costello) and Quentin (James Woods)- have had sexual flings with the free-spirited Delly. Harry discovers Delly living openly with Tom Iverson and she resents having to be brought back to L.A. by Harry. She tells him her mother only views her as a source of income. While at Tom's place, Harry also becomes involved with another female with a troubled past, Paula (Jennifer Warren), who had once been both a stripper and a hooker before latching onto Tom and helping him with the plane charter business.She speaks in riddles and her dialogue with Harry is marvelously coy. (When she asks him where he was when Kennedy was assassinated, he replies "Which Kennedy"?).
Alan Sharp's terrific screenplay is witty and complex and chances are that when some of the mysteries are resolved, you'll end up scratching your head wondering what it all meant. "Night Moves" is a film that requires a few viewings before it all makes sense but that's part of the delight in seeing it for the first time. The dialogue crackles with bon mots and there are numerous intriguing sub-plots that sometimes overshadow Harry's primary mission, which, it turns out is explained in part by a MacGuffin. Hackman is superb, as is Arthur Penn's direction. The film has a moody, menacing atmosphere throughout, aided considerably by Bruce Surtees' typically dark cinematography. The supporting cast is letter-perfect with Jennifer Warren outstanding in an early screen role (she should have become a much bigger star, though she has found success as a director.) Also seen in an early role, James Woods impresses substantially in his limited screen time. Susan Clark (long underrated as an actress) is very good indeed, as is veteran character actor Edward Binns and Janet Ward. Young Melanie Griffith also impresses, though, ironically she played essentially the same role in another gumshoe flick that same year, "The Drowning Pool". I also admired the jazzy score by Michael Small. The finale of the film is most memorable. It's not only suspenseful and exciting but also intriguingly ambiguous with Harry on a boat literally spinning in circles, as the viewer may well be in terms of comprehending what has just occurred.
Because the original film elements of "Night Moves" were in decline, the Warner Archive spent a good time of time and money to restore the movie to its initial grandeur. The results paid off with an excellent transfer that does justice to Penn's artistic vision. Kudos to all involved. There are also some bonus extras: an original trailer and a vintage featurette, "The Day of the Director" that provides some very good behind-the-scenes footage of the movie in production. However, the Blu-ray cries out for an audio commentary to allow analysis of the film's many complex aspects. Perhaps a future release will include one. For now, this is a "must-have" for your video library.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM THE CINEMA RETRO MOVIE STORE
Nancy Sinatra and Aron Kincaid are menaced by George Barrows.
Enjoy the original trailer for the so-bad-it's-fun 1966 horror movie spoof "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" that somehow boasts an eclectic cast consisting of esteemed movie greats along with cult film favorites. It's painful to see such fine, legendary actors as Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone so discarded by the major studios that they had to appear in celluloid dreck such as this. There were some brighter horizons for some of those involved: Nancy Sinatra would go on to star in "The Wild Angels" and "Speedway" (opposite Elvis Presley). Karloff would still get to appear in two genuinely good films - "The Venetian Affair" and Bogdanovich's classic "Targets", but poor Rathbone only had one more film on his horizon: the equally abysmal "Hillbillies in a Haunted House".
Two years before "Bonnie and Clyde" revolutionized the American crime movie genre a far more modest production centered on a star-crossed pair of lovers who were young, in love and killed people. "Young Dillinger" starred Nick Adams in the titular role, playing notorious gangster John Dillinger who was among the "Most Wanted" criminals of the Depression era. Although the real Dillinger had a hardscrabble life and a dramatic death (ambushed by police when benignly exiting a movie theater), any resemblance to the historic figure and the character portrayed by Adams on screen is purely coincidental. The film was distributed by Allied Artists, which would go on to release some top-shelf hits in the 1970s including "Cabaret", "Papillon", "The Man Who Would be King" and "The Wild Geese". However, in 1965 Allied was strictly a Poverty Row studio that churned out low-budget movies for undiscriminating audiences in hopes of making a quick, modest profit. Shot in B&W, "Young Dillinger" opens with "Johnny" and his girlfriend Elaine (former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley) necking in a car and bemoaning the fact that they are too broke to get married. Elaine must still live at home under the rules set by her mother and father, an inconvenience that intrudes on her not-inconsiderable sex drive. She spontaneously comes up with a plan of action: they can break into her father's office and steal a load of cash that he keeps in the safe. Dillinger is all in immediately but the plan goes awry when they are spotted by a watchman. Still, they get the loot and head off on a cross-country spending spree, indulging in expensive meals, liquor, gambling and hotel rooms. It all comes to an end when the cops track them down and arrest them. Dillinger makes a deal: he will plead guilty if Elaine is not charged. Consequently, he is sent to jail for several years, an experience that leaves him even more cynical and disillusioned. Sure enough, Elaine is waiting for him when he emerges and they immediately take to crime again. Dillinger is hired by professional gangsters to carry out an audacious plan to spring 'Pretty Boy' Floyd (Robert Conrad) and 'Baby Face' Nelson (John Ashley) from a prison farm. When he succeeds in carrying out the plan, Floyd invites him to join him and 'Baby Face' in their newly-formed gang. With Elaine along for the ride, the group terrorizes the Midwest through small-time robberies that eventually lead to daring bank jobs. Before long, Dillinger is on the F.B.I's "Most Wanted" list.
Directed by Terry O. Morse, who was primarily known as an editor, the movie breezes along at a brisk pace even if the style is quite unimpressive and pedestrian. In fact, the film looks like a standard TV episode of "The Untouchables" in terms of production values. Even a fleeting glimpse at Dillinger's biography will make it immediately apparent that story is almost entirely fictionalized. The performances are adequate, nothing more. Adams, who was a seasoned actor, tries to bring some intensity to the role but the script presents Dillinger as a superficial gangster type with no effort expended to provide some of the more interesting aspects of his background. Similarly, we know nothing about Elaine aside from the fact that this "girl next door" type can turn into a hardened criminal on a whim. Why? We never learn anything about her background, either. The supporting actors don't fare much better. Robert Conrad, who would soon find stardom with the hit TV series "The Wild, Wild West" is given little to work with as 'Pretty Boy' Floyd and is mostly seen shooting at the cops. One exception is the inimitable and delightful Victor Buono, who makes a couple of cameos as "The Professor", an eccentric mastermind who provides the gang with operational plans for bank jobs. Equally good is John Hoyt as a mob doctor who Dillinger hires to undergo some plastic surgery (a rare instance of the film depicting an actual event). The doctor botches the surgery but while Dillinger is lying helpless in bed in terrible pain and his face wrapped up like The Mummy, the surgeon takes advantage of the situation by trying to rape Elaine. She has to keep him at bay with a loaded gun while not alerting Dillinger to the crisis when he's helpless to assist her. It's the best scene in the film and the only one that provides a bit of suspense. It also allows Mary Ann Mobley to display her acting chops instead of being presented as Gidget as opposed to a Depression-era gun moll.
Stan Lee, the man who transformed Marvel Comics into an entertainment phenomenon, has passed away at age 95. Lee, along with superb artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, introduced a line of super hero characters that were the antithesis of the popular heroes in rival D.C. Comics. Lee's characters, such as Spiderman, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four, were somewhat grounded in reality. They protagonists had plenty of human flaws, insecurities and resentments. In his WWII comic book "Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos" (the main character of which is better known today as Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D), Lee broke new ground by making the commando squad integrated with a black soldier as well as a Jewish member of the unit. The series dealt realistically with matters of racial intolerance and also featured the unthinkable: the deaths of beloved characters. Over the decades, Lee became a guiding force that saw screen adaptations of Marvel characters evolve from low-budget, cheesy productions to major studio blockbusters. Click here for more.
The film must have seemed to have the makings of a classic. Director Vincente Minnelli reuniting with Kirk Douglas for the first time since their triumphant The Bad and the Beautiful a decade earlier. Edward G. Robinson co-starring and a supporting cast that included Cyd Charrise, Claire Trevor, James Gregory, George MacReady, George Hamilton and lovely up-and-coming actresses Rosanna Schiaffino and Daliah Lavi. Add to this exotic Rome locations during the era when La Dolce Vita was all the rage plus a source novel by Irwin Shaw -- this had to be a project that couldn't miss. Alas, it did indeed go off-target, but the fact that the 1962 screen version of 2 Weeks in Another Town falls short of its potential doesn't mean it isn't a gloriously trashy spectacle to behold.
Douglas plays Jack Andrus, a washed up, one-time screen legend who is
driven to the brink of insanity by the philandering nature of his
Italian wife (Charisse), who ended up having an affair with Douglas'
friend and collaborator, screen director Maurice Kruger (Robinson).
Years later, Andrus is contacted by Kruger, whose career is also in
decline, to reunite for a Rome-based major film that could revive their
reputations and popularity. When Andrus gets to Italy, he discovers
there is no part for him in the picture, but Kruger felt it would be
therapeutic to have him assist in the dubbing of the film. Before long,
the love/hate relationship between the two men sparks jealous and anger,
with Kruger's Lady MacBeth-like wife (Trevor) constantly finding ways
to cause friction. Adding to the soap opera aspects of the story is the
presence of an Italian screen diva (Schiaffino), whose temper tantrums
have everyone on edge. Andrus does find solace in the arms of a young
lovely (Lavi) but before long is embroiled in enough personal intrigue
and frustration to once again threaten his sanity.
The film is certainly not high art. Douglas dominates the landscape
with the type of eye-popping antics that made him a favorite of
impressionists during the era. Robinson is far more understated and it's
great fun to watch the two conflicting acting styles in the same
scenes. The film benefits from some good location scenery including rare
glimpses of fabled Cinecitta Studios during its heyday, but Minnelli
relies far too often on cheesy rear-screen projection shots that
distract from the byplay among the actors. The story is often overly
melodramatic and somewhat confusing, with the vast number of characters
intertwined in each other's scandals. However, it never reaches the
so-bad-it's-good status the similarly- themed The Oscar, which is
somewhat of a mixed blessing. With a few more "over-the-top" elements,
Minnelli could have created a trash classic. As it stands, 2 Weeks in Another Town is
too campy to be called a truly good film, and not campy enough to
emerge as a cult movie. Still, with all the powerhouse talent involved,
it never commits the cardinal sin of being dull.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray features a very good transfer and includes the original theatrical trailer.
CLICK HERE TO ORDER FROM THE CINEMA RETRO MOVIE STORE
If you're among the many Cinema Retro readers who have read our Movie Classics special issue devoted to epic films of the 1960s, you'll know that the story behind producer Samuel Bronston's ill-fated 1964 epic "The Fall of the Roman Empire" played out like a Greek tragedy (with apologies to the Romans.) Director Joe Dante's addictive "Trailers from Hell" web site presents another esteemed director, John Landis, analyzing the film through its original trailer. While we don't agree with his conclusion that it is a "terrible movie", we did laugh out loud at some of his observations: especially the bizarre tag lines used on screen during the trailer that promise the film displays not just a few emotions, but ALL emotions! In fact, the trailer appears to have put together by someone for whom English was a fourth language.
Retro movie lover Steven Thompson has put together a marvelous web site that pays tribute to his favorite year: 1966. It's hard to argue with his logic, especially if you were growing up then. The Beatles, James Bond, Batman, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., British invasion rock, great comic books, and so much more all at your fingertips. The site features vintage ads for movies, TV shows and products of the day, as well as vintage comic strips and film clips. Click here to view
It doesn't get any better than this: closing out the year with the release of "The Mule", directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, who made his last acting appearance in "Trouble with the Curve" in 2012. In "The Mule", Eastwood, who is going on 90 years old, plays a man with a troubled past who gets caught up in the drug-smuggling trade. If the film plays as well as the trailer, it may prove to be a real gem.
I've long had admiration for the work of actor Robert Shaw ever since he impressed me at age 8 with his chilling interpretation of the SPECTRE psychotic killer Red Grant in "From Russia With Love". Shaw could always be counted on to deliver a fine performance even if the material he chose was sometimes underwhelming. Shaw was also a talented writer and playwright, having won acclaim for his play "The Man in the Glass Booth", which was inspired by the war criminal trial of Adolf Eichmann. Shaw, like many actors, participated in many questionable films in order to enable his real passion, which was to bring avante garde movie projects to fruition, even if they only appealed to the art cinema crowd. One of Shaw's most interesting vehicles is one of his least seen. "Figures in a Landscape" was his 1970 adaptation of an allegorical novel by Barry England that abounded with reference to the (then) on-going Vietnam war. Shaw dispensed with that aspect of the novel and instead played up its more opaque aspects, particularly those that concern the two protagonists in what is basically a two-character adventure. The film opens with Shaw and co-star Malcolm McDowell on the run in an unnamed country being pursued by unnamed forces (presumably the police and/or military) for unspecified crimes. One senses they are political prisoners in a totalitarian state but this is never addressed directly. Shaw is MacConnachie ("Mac"), a middle-aged man with a colorful past that often found him on the opposite side of the law. McDowell is Ansell, a twenty-something free spirited type from London whose social values are the polar opposite of Mac's old fashioned values. When we first see the men, they are running at a high rate of speed and have to contend with the major obstacle of having their hands bound behind their backs. We never learn how they effected their escape and from whom but these are just several key questions that Shaw's screenplay goes to lengths in terms of not filling in the audience on the details. The two men, bound by their mutual need for one another, bicker and bark at each other like Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in "The Defiant Ones" with Mac channeling his future performance as Quint in "Jaws" by constantly attacking the younger man for being the product of a soft generation. As these types of films generally play out, Mac and Ansell are able to win some small victories through mutual efforts and begin to develop a grudging but sincere admiration for each other. (In one of the script's few instances of humor, we learn that Mac is somewhat of a prude by the way he chastises the younger generation for the sexual promiscuity afforded by "The Pill".) They finally figure out a way to free their bonds and obtain food, water and arms. However, they find themselves relentlessly pursued by a helicopter piloted by faceless, nameless men who coordinate a widespread army of pursuers on the ground The image of the helicopter haunts Mac and Ansell throughout their desperate race across a harsh landscape that contains both deserts and high, snow-covered mountains. Throughout their ordeal, the men come to know each other better though Shaw's screenplay, perhaps not coincidentally, gives his character far meatier material than McDowell gets to work with. Shaw is at his best in the quiet sequences, reminiscing about his beloved wife who waits for his return home.
The film falls short of its Kafkaesque pretensions but is never less than engaging, thanks in no small part to the skill of director Joseph Losey in keeping the bizarre aspects of the scripts from becoming too alienating for the audience. There is also superb cinematography that does justice to the magnificent, if sometimes foreboding, Spanish landscapes and a fine score by the estimable Richard Rodney Bennett. It's unclear what Shaw was trying to say in this sometimes puzzling film that at times evokes aspects of Patrick McGoohan's classic TV series "The Prisoner". This jumbled aspect of the story robs the film of some of its potential dramatic payoffs but there is real satisfaction in watching Shaw and McDowell in parts that are this meaty. We only learn enough about each character to tantalize us even further regarding how they ended up in this dilemma and it's probably best that Shaw never provides any easy answers. However, some of the men's actions and interactions cry out for a bit more clarification especially in the exciting climax when Mac is motivated to take on downing the hated helicopter even at an unnecessary risk to his own life.
"Figures in a Landscape" has been released by Kino Lorber on Blu-ray. As with most of the company's titles, this one boasts a superb transfer that does justice to the impressive filming locations. Unfortunately, no extras are included. A pity because this film cries out for a commentary track that could have covered not only the movie itself but also Shaw's remarkable career, one that never completely fulfilled its potential because of his own personal demons.
Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) returns in The Night Strangler (1973), a follow-up
TV-movie to the previous year’s unexpectedly successful The Night Stalker. Kolchak has been booted out of Las Vegas and
settles in Seattle and teams up with his old boss Tony Vincenzo (Simon Oakland)
just as a string of suspicious murders begin to plague the metropolis. It comes
to his attention that the victims, young female exotic dancers, are turning up
dead after having had their necks crushed, drained
of a small amount of blood, and most disturbingly all had instances of rotting
flesh on their necks. The murders occur over a period of 18 days.
a researcher, Carl learns that a nearly identical series of killings took place
in 1952 (21 years earlier) for the same duration, and then 21 years prior to
that, all the way back to at least 1889 (this notion was exploited to horrific
effect in Stephen King’s masterful 1986 novel, It, wherein a malevolent creature appears every 27 years under the
guise of Pennywise the Dancing Clown and goes on a murder spree to remain alive).
The police want Kolchak to cease his own investigation and temporarily arrest
him so that he won’t print anything that will alarm the public.
later uncovers information that leads him to a surgeon who was stationed on the
Union Army side of the Civil War and the “Underground City” of Seattle figures
into this surprising revelation of the identity of the man who is attempting to
remain immortal over the millennia. It’s a really cool idea in theory, although
in practice the sequence drags on a bit longer than it should.
The Night Strangler, shot in July of 1972 and aired on
January 16, 1973, follows Kolchak and his aggravated boss as they bicker, yell,
and disagree on what the facts are. The producers of the original film figured
that if the public liked the original so much, they may as well give them
something similar the second time around, and that’s just what they got. Robert
Cobert returns to provide a spooky and playful score and Richard Matheson is on
board again helming the teleplay. Sitting in the director’s chair this time
around is Dan Curtis, the creator of Dark
Shadows, the long-running TV horror series as well as its two theatrical
films from the early 1970s. He went on to direct what is widely considered to
be one of the scariest TV movies of all-time, Trilogy of Terror (1975), and the theatrical film of Robert Marasco’s
Burnt Offerings (1976), an equally
frightening thriller. He does a fine job building suspense and keeping the
streets of Seattle lit like a film noir,
although the film suffers a bit from its extended running time with sequences wherein
Kolchak enlists the help of a lady friend (JoAnne Pflug) walking the streets in
the middle of the night to entrap the killer, or later when he roams the
streets of the “Underground City” searching for the killer. Why is it that
whenever women start being killed off, others feel the need to walk home alone
on deserted streets?
Lorber has released the film in a 4K restoration and the film looks like it was
just shot. In addition to this, there are some great new extras:
commentary with Tim Lucas – Mr. Lucas provided the wonderful commentary on this
film’s predecessor and he does the same here. He has been writing about movies
for well over 35 years. I first read his articles in Video Times Magazine in
the mid-1980’s and published Video Watchdog magazine from 1990 to 2018. He has
done some terrific commentaries in the past for Mario Bava’s work among many
others, and he does the same here. One thing viewers will notice is that this
second Kolchak outing runs 90 minutes as opposed to the first film’s 74 minutes.
This is due to the fact that the original TV version, which also ran 74
minutes, is considered lost, and this 90-minute cut is actually the theatrical
version that was released in Europe, something that was also done with Steven
Spielberg’s 1971 TV-movie Duel. That
telecast also received a theatrical release here in the States in April 1983
and it’s the 90-minute cut of that film that audiences know today.
is also a high definition, ten-minute 2018 interview with music composer Robert
Cobert who is an absolute delight to listen to. This is the same interview that
appears on the Blu-ray of The Night
Stalker. At nearly 94 years of age he describes how he comes up with music
as he watches the rough cut and also discusses the stressful deadlines he was
handed to compose and conduct the score simply because he was the last person
brought in on the project. I have loved his music since I saw Burnt Offerings on television in 1981
and he has a signature sound. If you can find it, this CD has some of his best work.
is a standard definition interview with producer Dan Curtis that was shot
around 2003/2004 (he passed away in 2006) that runs seven and-a-half minutes
wherein he talks about how wonderful and fun it was to make these films, and I
really got a sense from him that he meant what he said when he reminisced about
the good old days.
is also a trailer for Burnt Offerings
(1976); a limited edition booklet essay by film critic and author Simon Abrams;
and beautiful new artwork by artist Sean Phillips.
also nice to have subtitles for a change and I’m happy to report that Kino
Lorber has provided those on this release, too. Let’s hope that they continue
this practice I with their future releases.
filmmaker and stage director Ingmar Bergman famously said that he was “married
to the theatre,” but that “film was his mistress.” In a vintage interview in
Margarethe von Trotta’s new documentary on Bergman, the Swedish artist is asked
to define “film director.” Bergman’s brow wrinkles and he is lost in thought
for a moment… and then he replies that being a film director is “someone who has
so many problems to deal with he doesn’t have time to think.”
then, is a cruel mistress, indeed.
official selection of the New York Film Festival and released to U.S. theaters in
November in time to help celebrate Bergman’s centenary, Searching for Ingmar Bergman is a welcome and lovingly-made
examination of the filmmaker’s life and work. Director von Trotta, one of the
major figures of the New German Cinema movement of the 70s and 80s, shines a
light on this somewhat enigmatic and complicated man through a succession of
film clips from Bergman’s oeuvre,
interviews with various actors, crew, family, and other filmmakers, and scenic
tours of what was Bergman’s physical world.
with the help of author Stig Björkman (Bergman on Bergman), von Trotta traces
Bergman’s movements in Stockholm, Farö Island, and Munich
(where Bergman spent his voluntary banishment from Sweden after he was falsely
accused of tax evasion in the mid-70s). The portion of the documentary that
deals with the “German period” is enlightening and not typically recorded.
Bergman’s repertory company, Liv Ullmann is of course a top-billed
interviewee—a documentary on Bergman would not be complete without her. Gunnel
Lindblom, Rita Russek, and Julia Dufvenius also make appearances, but,
curiously, Max von Sydow and Harriet Andersson are missing. Sadly, most of the
actors associated with Bergman’s films—Erland Josephson, Gunnar Björnstrand,
Ingrid Thulin—are no longer with us, and Bibi Andersson is tragically incapacitated
by a stroke.
Ruben Östlund (The
Square), Olivier Assayas (Personal
Shopper, Clouds of Sils Maria),
Mia Hansen-Løve (Maya,
Things to Come), and Carlos Saura (Carmen, Tango), screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière
(The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie),
and Bergman’s “script girl” for thirty years, Katinka Faragó,
all deliver poignant and insightful analyses of Bergman’s style and the themes
that run through his work.
interesting are the comments from Bergman’s sons, Daniel and Ingmar Jr., and
grandson Halfdan Ullmann Tøndel. Bergman was
married five times and had numerous love affairs. He fathered nine children,
but according to Daniel and Ingmar Jr., Bergman wasn’t close to his children.
One gets the impression that he loved his actors more than his immediate family,
and that he was only truly at “home” when he was in the theatre or on a film
set. At one point, an anecdote is told of how Bergman, sitting with some of his
grown children, once complained that he “missed his actors.” One of the
children snapped back, “What about your children?” Bergman shrugged and
replied, “I don’t miss you.”
Bergman may not have been the best father or family-man, but his dedication to
his art, his perception of the human condition, and especially his presentation of liberated women in his films, place
the filmmaker on any serious cinephile’s Greatest Directors list.
testament to Bergman’s standing in the world of cinema is the upcoming Blu-ray
39-film box set that will be released by The Criterion Collection on November
20. In the meantime, a good introductory course for Bergman-beginners might be
von Trotta’s new documentary. Search for it at an art-house near you.
(The impressive and Gothic Oakley Court, star of many horror pics.)
BY MARK MAWSTON
Cinema Retro’s Mark
Mawston was invited to cover a rather special event being held at the wonderful
Oakley Court near Windsor, just across the river and virtually facing Hammers old
studios at Bray. Oakley, the setting for many a Hammer and Amicus film, was
utilized for its Gothic look and proximity from Bray, starting way back in 1949
when Hammer were still under their Exclusive Films moniker. Film fans will
immediately recognize Oakley as the home of Tim Curry’s Dr. Frankenfurter in the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so a more apt
location for a memorabilia fair would be hard to find. The timing was also
perfect as it was held just before Halloween. Collectors and dealers from
all over the country (and further afield) met to exchange stories as well as merchandise
at the event which was expertly organized by Harry Malcolm and Mark Hochman of
Vintage Movie posters.
(Organizers Harry Malcolm and Mark Hockman.)
(Mark & Harry at the Hotel entrance which featured in the movie shown later that day, Brides Of Dracula. It seemed unchanged.)
Hopefully this will be the first of many such events, as
those gathered, including legendary poster artist Graham Humphreys and Bond optical effects designer Alan Church, all agreed that this was a resounding success and
the perfect venue in which to celebrate classic film at this spookiest time of
year. The day was rounded off by a Venture Films screening of the 1960 Hammer classic Brides
Of Dracula starring Peter Cushing, just one of the many classics filmed at
Oakley, the entrance of which featured several times in the film. The spot hasn't changed since filming and the imposing towers were inspiration on the DVD releases of
the Hammer House of Horror series. All
in all, this was a wonderful day for all as the fans and indeed the fangs were
out in force. Though no one offered to recreate The Time Warp, this was a
celebration of one of UK cinema’s most creative periods when Hammer films were
as Gothic as Oakley.
(All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.)
"Saturday Night Live" spawned many a memorable comic character, some of whom were exploited in feature films. While "The Coneheads" proved to be popular on the big screen, other TV-to-cinema transfers of iconic "SNL" pop culture figures proved to be duds. Al Franken's memorable incarnation of Stuart Smalley was the subject of "Stuart Saves His Family", a 1995 production directed by Harold Ramis that received some surprisingly favorable reviews but ended up with a North American boxoffice gross of less than $1 million. That ranks as a major success compared to "It's Pat: The Movie", released the prior year and starring Julia Sweeney as the androgynous character that proved to be a popular staple of "SNL" during this period. Pat was a visually unattractive figure with an obnoxious manner of speaking that repulsed his/her coworkers, who were constantly striving to discover whether Pat was a male or female. Inevitably, Pat would provide unintentionally ambiguous answers to leading questions that would only heighten the mystery and thwart those who were seeking to unveil Pat's genetic makeup. As the subject of five-minute comedy sketches the concept worked great and Sweeney's Pat became a popular staple of the show. Then Hollywood came knocking. Fox approached Sweeney to turn the concept into a feature film. Sweeney admitted she couldn't envision how Pat could remain interesting to viewers in any format other than TV skits. After putting some development money into the film, Fox agreed and backed off only to have Disney's Touchstone Pictures ride to the rescue and give the production the green light. The result was a disaster. The film was given some sporadic openings only to be pulled within a week due to complete rejection by audiences. The movie's boxoffice gross in North America stands at $61,000. Although modestly-budgeted, the movie still had cost more than $10 million to make. Time has not been kind to dear Pat, as it boasts a Rotten Tomatoes score of 0%. Now those brave souls at Kino Lorber have released a Blu-ray of "Pat: The Movie" and, consequently, it's time to revisit the film.
The plot (such as it is) opens with Pat alienating everyone in his/her orbit with obnoxious behavior. A local store owner gives Pat items for free just to expedite his/her departure. Pat tries various career moves but inevitably loses every job due to ineptness. Just when things seem hopeless, Pat finds love with Chris (Dave Foley in a role originated by Dana Carvey on "SNL"), another androgynous individual. The two set up house together and live as a normal couple, though both seem blissfully unaware that their sexuality is a mystery to those around them. Are they a straight couple? A gay couple? Two men? Two women? A subplot is introduced in which a hunky new neighbor, Kyle (Charles Rocket) and his wife Stacy (Julie Hayden) find their lives disrupted by Kyle's increasing obsession with Pat. He is sexually attracted to him/her, much to the alarm of Stacy, and that attraction turns into a psychological mania that finds Kyle dressing like Pat and even stroking a doll that resembles him/her. Meanwhile, the hapless Pat blunders into some successful career steps by making an appearance with a rock band that leads to him/ her becoming a media sensation. When he/she drops by a radio station to visit a friend, Kathy (Kathy Griffin), who hosts a popular romantic advice show, Pat unintentionally upstages her and gets the hosting gig. Pat's success has alienated Chris, who breaks up the relationship and decides to move abroad. The finale finds Pat coming to grips with his/her faults and making a mad dash to a cruise ship line to prevent Chris from leaving the country.
"THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS IN THE
BY EVE GOLDBERG
The Night of the Iguana, Tennessee Williams’s last great
play, was turned into a 1964 movie which, in its day, was as famous for its
behind-the-scenes spectacle as for what actually appeared on screen.
Today, Iguana is rarely mentioned alongside the other
classic Tennessee Williams film adaptations: Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a
Hot Tin Roof, and Suddenly, Last Summer. Despite a tremendously talented cast,
compelling characters, and a can’t-look-away examination of our anguished,
redeemable humanity, Iguana is often neglected.
So, it’s high time for a fresh look at this movie — with
a focus on its journey from stage to screen.
"Shannon!" shouts Maxine Faulk from the veranda
of her run-down hotel on the coast of Mexico. Thus opens Tennessee Williams’
1961 play. The setting is 1940. Recently widowed Maxine greets her old friend,
Reverend Shannon, a disgraced minister who has been reduced to leading low-rent
bus tours. He is currently shepherding a group of middle-aged Baptist women
through Mexico. Shannon is in crisis. He has become sexually involved with
Charlotte, a 17-year-old girl on the tour, whose jealous, closeted chaperone,
Miss Fellows, is determined to get him fired. Already locked out of his church
for having an affair with a young Sunday School teacher, Shannon is at the end
of his rope. In a desperate attempt to stop Miss Fellows from phoning the
States and exposing him, he pockets the ignition key and strands his charges at
Maxine’s secluded hotel.
Vacationing at the hotel is a pro-Nazi German family who
stay glued to the radio throughout the play, gleefully reporting on Hitler’s
progress. Soon, another unexpected visitor arrives: the beautiful spinster artist,
Hannah Jelkes, escorting her 97-year-old grandfather, “the world’s oldest
practicing poet.” To eek out a living, Hannah sketches and her grandfather
recites poetry as they wander the globe. Right now they are broke. Shannon
convinces Maxine to let the pair spend the night at her hotel.
Earthy, sensual Maxine wants Shannon to stay on at the
hotel and fill her late husband’s shoes. Persistent Charlotte wants to seduce
him. Vengeful Miss Fellows wants to get him fired. Shannon wants some peace of
mind. As he fights against his own desires for both Charlotte and alcohol, he
becomes increasingly distraught and emotionally unstable. He finally falls to
pieces after the bus driver wrests the ignition key away from him and leaves
with the women to continue their tour. To prevent Shannon from running down to
the beach to take that “long swim to China,” Maxine ties him up in a hammock on
the verandah. During a stormy night of soul-searching (while strapped to the
hammock), Shannon connects deeply with the serene and understanding Hannah. He
admits to his “spooks,” she to her “blue devils.” Hannah, who has never had
sexual relations, describes to Shannon what she calls her “love experience”
with an underwear salesman. When Shannon asks whether she was disgusted by the
man’s request to hold a piece of her clothing, Hannah replies with the most
famous line of the play: “Nothing human disgusts me, unless it’s unkind,
As a result of the profound communication and connection
Shannon experiences with Hannah, his torment subsides. He frees himself from
the hammock. Then, at Hannah’s request, he cuts loose the iguana which is being
held captive under the verandah by Maxine’s houseboys. At the end of the play,
Hannah’s grandfather finishes his final poem and dies; Hannah leaves to travel
alone; and Shannon reluctantly agrees to stay on with Maxine and help her run
Night of the Iguana opened on Broadway with legendary
Bette Davis in the role of Maxine. The play was well-received, and ran for 361
performances. It won the New York Drama Critic’s Circle award for Best Play,
and was nominated for a Tony for Best Play. However, unhappy with the
production and her role, Davis left the show after a few months. According to
the actress, “There was no camaraderie, no sense of kinship, no attitude of
pulling together to make the play work.” According to Tennessee Williams, “If
she had ever truly had a command of her talent on the stage, she had lost it by
that time.” Davis was replaced by Shelley Winters. Still, Davis hoped to play
Maxine on screen. It was not to be.
When producer Ray Stark brought a screenplay for Night of
the Iguana to John Huston, the director was immediately interested in making
the movie. “I was a great admirer of Tennessee Williams,” said Huston. “I had
seen the play and liked it, with reservations.”
At that time, Huston was at the peak of a long and
illustrious career. His prior films included such popular and critical hits as
The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, and The
Asphalt Jungle. In the sexist vernacular of the day, Huston was known as a
“man’s man” — he was a former boxer, unrepentant boozer, and lover of women,
danger, and adventure — who enjoyed making his films in exotic, challenging
locations. He was also one of the most literate of American filmmakers. He had
been a contract writer at Warner Brothers, penning adaptations of great novels
including Moby Dick and Red Badge of Courage. In Iguana, he saw an opportunity
to explore Tennessee Williams’s meaty theme of “loose, random souls trying to
account for themselves and finally being able to do so through love.”
Huston hoped to cast his movie with big-time stars:
Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, and Sue Lyon.
Richard Burton was just coming off mega-movie Cleopatra,
where he met, co-starred, and began a torrid affair with Elizabeth Taylor. The
stunningly beautiful Taylor was the top female box office attraction in the
world. Burton, an acclaimed Shakespearean actor, had become a screen sensation
with starring roles in Look Back In Anger and Becket. Both Burton and Taylor
were married to others when they began their affair — Taylor to crooner Eddie
Fisher whom she infamously “stole” from girl-next-door actress Debbie Reynolds.
At a time in American culture when divorce, much less extra-marital affairs,
was still semi-taboo, the public couldn't get enough of "Liz and
Dick." Their scandalous relationship and glamorous lifestyle captivated
millions. Their photos and personal lives were constant fan mag fodder — solid
gold for the Hollywood publicity machine.
If anybody could rival Liz Taylor in both the beauty and
scandal departments it was Ava Gardner. Brought to Hollywood more for her looks
and legs than her acting ability — which, according to the actress herself, was
close to zilch — Gardner signed a contract with MGM at age 19. She then
progressed from pin-up girl, to small roles in B movies, to femme fatale icon.
She exuded a magnetic, sultry sex appeal. And she was gorgeous. According to Humphrey
Bogart, "Whatever it is, whether you're born with it, or catch it from a
public drinking cup, she's got it."
Gardner gained additional fame for three high-profile
marriages to three high-profile celebrities: actor Mickey Rooney, band leader
Artie Shaw, and no-introduction-needed Frank Sinatra. The tumultuous
Frank-and-Ava marriage was chronicled in the press as avidly as the
Liz-and-Dick affair. After six years of a passionately volatile relationship,
Gardner and Sinatra divorced in 1957. By the time Iguana came around, Ava
Gardner was 44 years old and living in Spain where she hung out with Ernest
Hemingway and a bevy of bullfighters. Huston decided that her unique blend of
beauty, maturity, and lusty sensuality made her ideally suited for the role of
hotel owner Maxine.
As for Bette Davis, who openly coveted the role she had
pioneered on Broadway, Huston decided she wasn’t right for the part. He felt
she came across as “too threatening” for the kind of Maxine he had in mind.
When 18-year-old Sue Lyon was cast in Iguana as seductive
teenager Charlotte, she had exactly one film credit to her name: the title role
in Lolita. 'Nuf said.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Deborah Kerr already
had 42 films under her belt. She had played a troubled nun in Black Narcissus;
a neglected military wife in From Here to Eternity (iconic beach make-out scene
with Burt Lancaster!); a widowed school teacher in The King and I; and the
tragically romantic heroine in An Affair to Remember. She had been nominated for
an Academy Award as Best Actress six times. On screen and off, Kerr had gained
a reputation as a class act. Huston thought she'd be perfect as the chaste
"We went to see them, one after another" Huston
wrote in his memoir, Open Book. "Richard, in Switzerland, promptly
accepted; likewise Deborah in London. That took us to Madrid and Ava
Gardner." According to Huston, Gardner was unsure whether she had the
ability to do the part. However, after the requisite wooing, she agreed to be
in the film.
Now the stars were set. The press closed in. The fun was
about to begin.
"We've got more reporters up here than
iguanas." -- producer Ray Stark.
In 1964, when Iguana's cast and crew descended upon it,
Puerto Vallarta was still a small fishing town with a few hotels; 24-hour
electrical service had only recently arrived. Eight miles up the coast,
accessible only by boat, was an isolated rain forest peninsula called
Mismaloya. High atop the cliff at this lush, mosquito-infested spot is where Huston
decided to film Night of the Iguana. A strong believer in location shooting, he
thought the wild, sweaty atmosphere of Mismaloya would visually reflect the
inner tumult of the movie's characters. He also hoped that the challenging
environment would force the actors out of their comfort zones and enhance their
Up on this jungle mountaintop, a construction crew built
the movie's weathered hotel set. They also erected 40 bungalows to house the
125 cast and crew members who would live there for the entire 72-day shoot. In
addition to living quarters, the crew built an editing room; a large kitchen,
bar and restaurant; water tanks and an electrical plant; plus various paths and
roads. All materials and supplies had to be carried up 134 earthen steps from
the beach to the cliff-top location. It took 280 men and 80 burros to complete
As construction of the miniature city proceeded, Huston
and his co-writer, Anthony Veiller, worked on the script.
Finally, Iguana's cast arrived in Puerto Vallarta. As did
more than 100 members of the press and paparazzi. Fascinated by the
high-wattage gathering of filmdom glitterati, reporters expected plenty of
behind-the-scenes fireworks. Especially because Burton was accompanied by his
lover, Elizabeth Taylor. With sexy co-stars Ava Gardner and Sue Lyon roaming
the set, the press assumed that Taylor wanted to keep an eye on Burton. "I
trust Richard completely," she told reporters. "It's just that I
don't trust Fate. After all, Fate threw us together on Cleopatra."
And there was plenty more to feed the gossip-hungry
public: Burton brought along his publicist, Michael Wilding, who had been Liz
Taylor's second husband. Teenager Sue Lyon was visited on location by her
25-year-old fiancé, actor Hampton Fancher III. And Ava Gardner took up with
several hunky beach boys. Director Huston, married at the time, was accompanied
by his mistress, Zoe Sallis. Deborah Kerr brought along her husband, writer
Peter Viertel, who had once been Ava Gardner's lover. Viertel was the author of
White Hunter, Black Heart — a novel based on the making of The African Queen —
which featured an unflattering portrait of a Huston-like movie director.
Before filming began, Huston assembled his stars, plus
Taylor and Stark, and presented each one with a velvet-lined box. Inside the
box was a derringer pistol and five gold-plated bullets. Each bullet was
engraved with the name of one of the others. A photo from that moment shows the
assembled group examining their pistols and sharing a hearty laugh. The
atmosphere was loose and fun — regardless of what the press hoped for.
While most of the cast and crew lived at the Mismaloya
mini-city for the duration of the shoot, top stars Burton, Kerr, Gardner, and
Lyon stayed in Puerto Vallarta.
Wrote Kerr about their accommodations in town:
"Never have there been such raucous donkeys, such snuffling and screeching
pigs, such shrill and insistent roosters and babbling turkeys. Top this off
with a thick sauce of mariachi music, plus phonographs and radios at full
blast, season with firecrackers and rockets at all hours of the night, and you
have a fairly tasty idea of what the sleeping conditions are like in this
Early each morning, the stars boarded motor boats to make
the 25-minute ride to Mismaloya. Documentary footage shows Deborah Kerr being
carried by a crew member, who is waist-deep in the surf, and being placed in a
Lines were drawn on the first day of shooting when Kerr
and Lyon announced that they expected the set to be "dry." Burton, a
devout alcoholic, said this was "preposterous." He ordered a bar to
be set up at each end of the crude staircase which connected beach to
cliff-top. Huston and Gardner, both committed drinkers, did not object. Thus,
beer and tequila flowed freely during the shoot. Burton took his first drink
early each morning before the cameras rolled. Gardner had a personal icebox
stocked with her favorite Mexican beer. For her part, Elizabeth Taylor ordered
gourmet hamburgers imported daily from the U.S. and brought up to the set.
Despite prodigious alcohol consumption, filming
progressed fairly smoothly. While the press anticipated juicy sex scandal and
interpersonal catastrophe, the most serious mishap of the production was
actually due to the sub-standard materials used to construct the housing at
Mismaloya. One night, assistant director Tom Shaw was standing on his balcony
when it collapsed. Shaw broke his back and had to be flown back to the U.S. for
surgery. Fortunately, his injuries healed and he would work with Huston again.
The State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey, launched their Broadway season for 2018. The theatre has long been regarded as a historic venue where outstanding productions have been presented, from theatrical performances to legendary rock stars, classic film shows and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in concert. Last year, the State initiated a bold new program: a full season of Broadway hits. The results exceeded expectations and today marked the second season's debut with a production of the zany, Tony-nominated "Something's Rotten". The comedy musical is set in the 1590s and incorporates such diverse topics as William Shakespeare and his works, women's liberation, "Les Miserables" and Nazis (don't ask!). It's Monty Python by way of Mel Brooks, with a bit of Woody Allen tossed in. As with the previous season's presentations, this was a first-class, expensive production that could be moved intact back to Broadway. The cast is uniformly first-rate and the packed house howled with laughter throughout. You'll have to move quickly if you want to see it at the State, however, as the show moves on to a national tour after the performances on Sunday, November 3. Broadway fans need not despair, however, because there are some other gems forthcoming in the theater's new season: "The King and I", "Finding Neverland", "Rent", "Stomp" and "Chicago: The Musical". The theatre's proximity to Manhattan ensures an abundance of talent is available and many of the performers are seasoned Broadway veterans. Click here for more information about the Broadway series. Click here for future play dates for the "Something Rotten" national tour.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Get ready for a laugh in the cult-classic comedy that has
captured everyone’s hearts when The Big Lebowski 20th Anniversary Limited
Edition debuts for the first time ever on 4K Ultra Combo Pack that also
includes Blu-ray™ and Digital via the digital movie app MOVIES ANYWHERE on
October 16, 2018, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Fans can relive
the hilariously freewheeling plot of one of the most beloved films of all-time
with the twisted crime-comedy starring Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart, True Grit),
John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane, Argo), Julianne Moore (The Hours, Still
Alice), Steve Buscemi (Fargo, Ghost World), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master,
Capote) and John Turturro (Barton Fink, Fading Gigolo). The Big Lebowski 20th
Anniversary Limited Edition is the perfect gift for any fan and the exclusive
set includes a collectible bag, bowling ball pencil holder, polishing cloth and
sweater packaging offering an experience like no other to look back on the
cultural phenomenon of The Dude in the “#1 cult film of all time” (The Boston
With unforgettable scenes and outrageous humor, The Big
Lebowski 20th Anniversary Edition showcases hours of bonus features including
retrospective documentaries, an interactive map, an in-depth look at the
phenomenon known as the Lebowski Fest taking audiences deeper than ever before
into the upside down world of “The Dude.”
From the Academy Award®-winning Coen brothers, The Big
Lebowski is a hilariously quirky comedy about bowling, a severed toe, White
Russians and a guy named…The Dude. Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski doesn’t want any
drama in his life…heck, he can’t even be bothered with a job. But, he must
embark on a quest with his bowling buddies after his rug is destroyed in a
twisted case of mistaken identity.
· The Dude’s
Life: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi and John
Turturro take a look back at their performances and how their delivery of the
Coen brothers’ dialog became classic movie lines.
· The Dude
Abides: The Big Lebowski Ten Years Later: A conversation with the cast about
the film’s decade-long reign as a cult classic.
· Making of The
· The Lebowski
Fest: An Achiever’s Story: An in-depth look at the annual Lebowski Fest, a
celebration of The Dude and his world, attended by thousands each year.
Carpets and Bowling Pin Dreams: The Dream Sequences of The Dude: A look at some
of the Dude’s trippiest fantasies so fans can learn for the first time how
these innovative scenes were created.
Map: Take a tour of the locations of The Big Lebowski, then and now.
· Jeff Bridges
Photo Book: For more than 30 years, Jeff Bridges has been snapping pictures on
movie sets. The accomplished photographer presents a portfolio of shots taken
on the set of The Big Lebowski.
· Photo Gallery
· And Much
The Big Lebowski 20th Anniversary Edition will be
available on 4K Ultra HD combo pack which includes Blu-rayTM and Digital, and
4K Ultra HD is the ultimate movie watching experience. 4K
Ultra HD features the combination of 4K resolution for four times sharper
picture than HD, the color brilliance of High Dynamic Range (HDR) with
immersive audio delivering a multidimensional sound experience.
Blu-rayTM unleashes the power of your HDTV and is the
best way to watch movies at home, featuring 6X the picture resolution of DVD,
exclusive extras and theater-quality surround sound.
Digital lets fans watch movies anywhere on their favorite
devices. Users can instantly stream or download.
Movies Anywhere is the digital app that simplifies and
enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing
consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place when purchased
or redeemed through participating digital retailers. Consumers can also redeem
digital copy codes found in eligible Blu-rayTM and DVD disc packages from
participating studios and stream or download them through Movies Anywhere.
MOVIES ANYWHERE is only available in the United States. For more information,
came to fame with his trademark comedy style of portraying a meek, excessively
nervous character. He was Woody Allen before Woody Allen was Woody Allen.
Knotts honed his skills on Steve Allen's show in the 1950s, with his "man
on the street" Nervous Nellie routine sending audiences into fits of
laughter. He co-starred with fellow up-and-comer Andy Griffith in the hit
Broadway production of "No Time for Sergeants" and the subsequent
film version. When Griffith landed his own TV series in 1960 in which he played
the sheriff of fictional small town Mayberry, Knotts imposed upon him to write
a small, occasional part he could play as Barney Fife, Griffith's inept but
loyal sheriff. Griffith complied and the role made Knotts an icon of American
comedy, allowing him to win an astonishing five Emmys for playing the same
character. Five years into the series, Knotts was offered a multi-feature deal
by Lew Wasserman, the reigning mogul of Universal Pictures. Knotts took the
bait and enjoyed creative control over the films to a certain degree. He could
pretty much do what he wanted as long has he played the same nervous schlep audiences wanted to
see. The films had to be low-budget, shot quickly and enjoy modest profits from
rural audiences where Knotts' popularity skewed the highest. His first feature
film was The Ghost and Mr.
Chicken, released in 1966 and written by the same writing team from
the "The Andy Griffith Show". (Griffith actually co-wrote the script
but declined taking a writing credit.) The film astonished the industry,
rolling up big grosses in small markets where it proved to have remarkable
staying power. Similarly, his next film, The
Reluctant Astronaut also proved to be a big hit, as was his
1969 western spoof The
Shakiest Gun in the West. Within a few years, however,
changing audience tastes had rendered Knotts' brand of innocent, gentle humor
somewhat moot. By the late 1960s audiences were getting their laughs from the
new film freedoms. It was hard to find the antics of a middle-aged virgin much
fun when you could see Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice cavorting in the same
bed. Still, Knotts soldiered on, providing fare for the drive-in markets that
still wanted his films. In 1969 he made The
Love God?, a very funny and underrated film that tried to be more
contemporary by casting Knotts as an innocent ninny who is manipulated into
fronting what he thinks is a magazine for bird watchers but, in reality, is a
cover for a pornography empire. Knotts' traditional audience balked at the
relatively tame sex jokes and for his final film for Universal, How to Frame a Figg, he
reverted back to his old formula.
1971, Figg casts
Don Knotts as the titular character, Hollis Figg, a nondescript wimp who toils
as an overlooked accountant in a basement of city hall. The film is set in a
Mayberry-like small town environment but any other similarity ends there. In
Mayberry, only the visiting city slickers were ever corrupt. The citizenry may
have been comprised of goofballs and eccentrics, but they were all scrupulously
honest. In Figg's world, however, the top government officials are all con-men
and crooks. They are ruled by the town's beloved paternal father figure, Old
Charley Spaulding (Parker Fennelly), a decrepit character who hands out pennies
to everyone he encounters, with the heart-warming greeting "A shiny penny
for your future!" In fact, Old Charley has plenty of those pennies
stashed away. He and his hand-picked fellow crooks, including the mayor and
police chief, have been systemically ripping off the state by grossly inflating
the costs of local building projects and secretly pocketing the overages.
Concerned that the accountants might get wind of their activities, they
summarily fire them all except for Figg, who is deemed to be too naive to ever
catch on. They justify the firings by saying it's fiscally prudent and replace
the accountants with a gigantic computer that is supposed to be even more
efficient. Through a quirk of fate, Figg and his equally naive friend, Prentiss
(Frank Welker), the janitor for city hall, discover exactly what is going on.
Figg dutifully reports his findings to the mayor (Edward Andrews), who
convinces him to keep it secret while he launches his own investigation. Old
Charley, the mayor and their cohorts decide to make Figg the fall guy for the
corrupt practices. They give him a big promotion, a new red convertible and
even hire a private secretary for him. She's Glorianna (Yvonne Craig), a leggy
femme fatale who wears mini skirts and oozes sex. When her attempts to seduce
Figg leave him paralyzed with fear because of his allegiance to his new
girlfriend, the equally virginal waitress Ema Letha (Elaine Joyce), Glorianna
gets Figg drunk, takes some embarrassing photos of him and then proceeds to have
him sign a stream of incriminating documents that he has not bothered to read.
Before long, Figg is blamed for all the missing funds and faces a jail
sentence- unless he and the dim-witted Prentiss can figure out how to use the
computer to thwart the real crooks.
13 Hilarious Discs, Lovers of the Three Stooges Will Find Over
Incredible Hours of Content, Including All of the Columbia Pictures
(1934-1945), Four Feature Films, Vintage Animated Cartoons,
9-Part Documentary Series "Hey Moe! Hey Dad!," a Collectible,
Memory Book and More!
Nyuk Nyuk...Why I Oughta..."
over 50 years, The Three Stooges presented a brand of pie-throwing, eye-poking
and head-bonking routines that cracked up multiple generations. They were the
masters of mirth, merriment and mayhem, turning slapstick comedy into an art
form. And, with a body of work including over 300 films, television, stage
shows, cartoons and more - they're forever ingrained in popular culture. Now,
one of the greatest comedy troupes of all time is here to poke, smack, slap and
bonk their way onto your screens with THE BEST OF THE THREE STOOGES!
this riotous DVD set, Time Life has brought together the Stooges greatest hits
in one exclusive collection, priced at $99.95 and available only at
ThreeStoogesDVDs.com. Across 13 uproarious discs, viewers will yuk it up with
over 45 hours of knee-slapping content brought together for the very first
THE BEST OF THE
THREE STOOGES: COLUMBIA PICTURES SHORTS 1934-1945 -- These two
volumes feature 87 hilarious short films from 1934 to 1945. Witness the
rise of these comedy icons in this high-spirited collection containing the
first of the iconic Columbia Pictures Shorts. Watch as the Stooges hit
their stride and began to settle into their definitive roles- Moe as boss,
Larry the middleman, and Curly as their foil -- and experience what has
become regarded as the high point in the Three Stooges career - the Golden
Age! (8 Discs; 1496 mins)
THE BEST OF THE
THREE STOOGES: SHORTS, CARTOONS, & FEATURE FILMS -- From
feature-length films to rare cartoons and vintage shorts - this
collection is sure to leave a smile on your face and a bump on
the back of your noggin! It includes Shemp Howard Comedy Shorts (14
classics from the '30s & '40s); Joe Besser Comedy Shorts (10
side-splitters from the '40s & '50s), Joe DeRita Comedy
Shorts (4 smackers from the '40s), Feature Films (The
Three Stooges (2000, biopic); Have Rocket, Will Travel; The Outlaws Is
Coming and Rockin' in the Rockies; The Three Stooges Cartoons,
inludingBon Bon Parade (1935), Merry Mutineers (1936), A Hollywood Detour
(1942), as well as the bonus 9-part documentary series "Hey Moe! Hey
Dad!," which takes fans behind the scenes with the family of The
Three Stooges as they share never-before-seen footage and photos. (5
discs; 1309 mins)
Life is one of the world's pre-eminent creators and direct marketers of unique
music and video/DVD products, specializing in distinctive multi-media
collections that evoke memories of yesterday, capture the spirit of today, and
can be enjoyed for a lifetime. TIME LIFE and the TIME LIFE logo are registered
trademarks of Time Warner Inc. and affiliated companies used under license by
Direct Holdings Americas Inc., which is not affiliated with Time Warner Inc. or
Sissy Spacek rose to stardom with her Oscar-nominated performance in the 1976 film version of Stephen King's supernatural bestseller "Carrie"- but the actress reveals how the odds were against her getting the role. Among the obstacles: a previous strained relationship with the film's director Brian De Palma and the fact that studio executives were lobbying for De Palma to cast another actress in the role. Spacek was still determined to land the role and her strategy was to go to the audition looking as "disgusting" as possible. Click here to read.
Writer Ernie Magnotta has released a new book "Halloween: The Changing Shape of an Iconic Series" that explores the origins of John Carpenter's classic chiller as well as evaluations of the entire "Halloween" series. The book is 380 pages and has 200 color photos. For full details and to order, click here.
was three years-old when John Llewellyn Moxey’s The Night Stalker premiered on the ABC Movie of the Week on January
11, 1972 and it took me nearly twenty years to catch up with it on a late night
rerun on a local ABC-TV affiliate. Featuring the terrific late character actor
Darren McGavin in the role of Carl Kolchak, an intrepid reporter who wants to
print the truth regardless of what his editor says after finding himself in the
midst of several murders, The Night
Stalker, penned by the great Richard Matheson based on an unpublished
novel, is a delightful slice of early 1970s spooky entertainment fare that is
most definitely a product of a time that was populated by groovy music on the
radio, TV dinners, and little kids getting tossed around in the backs of mammoth
station wagons. The Las Vegas of 1971 when this movie was shot is much
different from the Las Vegas of 2018. For one thing, the bulk of filming takes
place in what is in present day known as the Fremont Street area. Much of Vega$, the television series starring
Robert Urich that ran from 1978 to 1981, was also filmed in this location as
well, so it will no doubt look familiar to viewers.
is like a cross between photographer Arthur (Usher) Fellig, better known as
Weegee, and Jeff Daniels’s Will Macavoy on HBO’s The Newsroom. He wants the scoop but he wants to tell it the way it
is: truthfully. We are introduced to him after the events have occurred and the
action is told in flashback as Kolchak, unshaven and nearly impecunious in a
run-down motel, is writing a book about the events that have happened. Someone,
or something, is stalking the
residents of Las Vegas and draining them of a portion of their blood. The
authorities (Kent Smith and Claude Akins) are keeping a tight rein on Kolchak
so as to avoid public embarrassment and panic. The suspect is Janos Skorzeny (Barry Atwater), a
creepy-looking man who bears a resemblance to Jonathan Frid of Dark Shadows fame.
gets into frequent and boisterous arguments with his editor Tony Vincenzo
(Simon Oakland, forever known as the deus
ex machina psychiatrist at the end of 1960’s Psycho) about letting people know the truth, especially if they are
in danger of dying at the hands of Skorzeny,
who appears to be a vampire following failed attempts to shoot him dead after
his break-in of a blood bank at a local hospital. Vincenzo wants to keep the
newspaper’s reputation clean and urges Kolchak not to print such events for
fear of frightening the public. Far from being the first television series to
deal with vampires, it exercises restraint in the depiction of violence against
women, though the results do not shy away from showing some blood – this was,
after all, the era of the televised Vietnam War. One of the earlier victims is
a young woman whose mother is played by actress Virginia Gregg, who provided
the voice of Mother in Psycho and Psycho II. Carol Lynley plays a
prostitute, though her profession is only alluded to in her introductory scenes.
She is a lady friend of Kolchak’s, with modern parlance applying the moniker of
“friends with benefits” to their relationship; she’s twenty years Kolchak’s
junior and urges him to read up on vampires. Kolchak eventually makes his way
to Skorzeny’s lair in an effort to
get the story on his own and uses standard items from his Anti -Vampire Kit
such as a crucifix and the sun through broken glass in an effort to kill him
(or it). A twist has Kolchak leaving
Vegas with his tail between his legs at the urging of the authorities, his
determination to tell the truth at its strongest when he ends up at the motel that
we saw him at the start.
1960s murder thrillers with Joan Crawford have been released by Mill Creek
Entertainment on single-disc Blu-ray.The cover sleeve bills the package as a “Psycho Biddy Double
Feature.”The films are “Strait-Jacket”
(1964), the first of Crawford’s three pictures with producer-director William
Castle, and “Berserk!” (1967), her first of two with producer Herman
Cohen.In using the possibly ageist and
definitely sexist phrase “Psycho Biddy,” Mill Creek’s marketing department
clearly hopes that audiences will have fond memories of the frenzied, middle-aged
Joan Crawford in 1981’s “Mommie Dearest,” shrieking “I told you!No . . . wire . . . hangers -- ever!” at her
terrified adopted child, Christina.Never mind that the belittling term “biddy” is problematic in the case
of Joan Crawford.There may be plenty of
biddies in the world, but the imperious Joan was never one of them.Never mind either that it was Faye Dunaway
impersonating Joan Crawford in “Mommie Dearest,” not Crawford herself.For most casual movie fans, the distinctions
are not likely to matter.
“Strait-Jacket,” scripted by Robert Bloch, prosperous farm owner Lucy Harbin
(Crawford) returns unexpectedly from a trip to find her younger husband (Lee
Majors -- his first film role) in bed with another woman.Enraged, Lucy seizes an ax and butchers the
pair as her young daughter Carol watches.Released from a mental institution twenty years later, Lucy is welcomed
home by her brother Bill and her sister-in-law Emily (Leif Erickson and
Rochelle Hudson), who have reared Carol in the meantime.Carol (Diane Baker) encourages her mother to
ease back into a normal routine by looking and dressing as she had, two decades
before.The gray-haired Lucy dons a
black, ‘40s-style wig and trades in her dowdy outfit for a tight dress.The tactic goes awry when Lucy, drinking too
much out of nervousness and getting tipsy, puts a move on Carol’s uptight
boyfriend Michael.More stresses
mount.Lucy hears things, sees things,
and dreads meeting Michael’s even stuffier parents, who are unaware of her
history.As they skip rope outside a
store where Lucy is shopping, two little girls appear to be chanting, “Lucy
Harbin took an ax . . .”Bill’s creepy,
disheveled hired hand, Leo (George Kennedy, almost unrecognizable at first
glance), asks if she wants to use his ax to chop the head off a chicken.Lucy’s therapist drops in for a visit and
observing how tense she is, gravely suggests that she’s at risk of a
relapse.Then one murder occurs,
followed by a second, and evidence points to Lucy.
the headlong pace and gruesome CGI of modern slasher movies, even older viewers
are likely to find “Strait-Jacket” quaint at best.A similar production today would probably
wind up as a made-for-cable, “my mom is a murderer” melodrama on the Lifetime
Movie Network.The film’s pacing is
deliberate, and the carnage is low-tech and mostly implied, despite the old
lobby poster’s promise in grand William Castle style that “Strait-Jacket
vividly depicts ax murders!”Although
the restrictions on movie violence had relaxed a little by 1964, and a
melodrama filmed in black-and-white like “Strait-Jacket” might tease the MPAA
standards on mayhem with slightly more success than one photographed in color,
studios were still careful not to push their luck too far.Of the three ax attacks in the film, only one
explicitly shows grievous bodily harm.Even so, with quick editing and minimal gore, the effect is more
impressionistic than realistic.These
days, grislier special effects routinely appear on prime-time TV crime shows.
Cinema Retro has received the following press notice:
commemorate their 30th Anniversary, ‘Propmasters’ are proud to present a very
special Live Auction on November 15th 2018 featuring 350 lots solely drawn from
their unique Movie and Television Archive, which spans from the 1930’s to
The auction will feature original props, costumes and production
ephemera from a multitude of movies and television, from Hollywood blockbusters
though to British TV comedy classics. This unique auction should have something
for everyone. Register and view catalogue by clicking here.
FilmStruck, the streaming service that provided classic movies from the vaults of Warner Bros, the Criterion Collection and Turner Classic Movies, will be shut down to subscribers on November 29, 2018. The corporations that owned the service cited the fact that it hadn't progressed from appealing to a "niche" market. Sadly, this is the case in today's entertainment industry. If every production or venture isn't an immediate blockbuster, there is little appetite to nurture the product in hopes of growing the audience. That's how it has come about that a film can literally gross over a billion dollars and still be considered a disappointment. Alex Cranz bemoans the loss of FilmStruck in an article on the Gizmodo web site. Click here to read.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
foundation established by legendary special effects visionary Ray Harryhausen
is pleased to announce a joint effort with Morningside Productions, the company
of late film producer Charles Schneer.Discovery of new materials in the vast archives of the Ray and Diana
Harryhausen Foundation will be the basis of a spectacularly new and original
theatrical motion picture in the style of such Harryhausen/Schneer classics
such as Clash of the Titans, the duo's most significant box office
collaboration from 1981.
project, tentatively entitled Force of the Trojans, is based on a screenplay by
Beverley Cross, and original production art and sculptures conceived by Ray
Harryhausen that are on par with some of his most iconic screen creatures.
of the Trojans will embody the spirit of the original Harryhausen films with
all the fun, vibrant action, epic scope and dedication to craftsmanship that
has made Ray Harryhausen's films timeless.
other revisits to the fantasy adventure genre, Force of the Trojans will bring
together stop-motion animation with the photo-real world of CGI, marking the
first time that a monster battle will mix both techniques on screen in a major
motion picture.In homage to a bygone
era, this film will bring both worlds crashing together.For the first time, we can put on screen
sequences that were not possible for Ray due to the limitations of special
effects photography at the time.
Harryhausen Foundation oversees and curates a vast creative archive of 60
years’ worth of artefacts in its 50,000-strong collection from the father of
animated special effects, making this the most complete and comprehensive
fantasy cinema and animation collection anywhere in the world.We are excited and challenged to have
unearthed this lost gem and a look forward to creating a film that will delight
both the fans of Ray Harryhausen and moviegoers everywhere.
Trustee, filmmaker and friend of Ray Harryhausen
Harryhausen 1920 - 2013
Harryhausen was a young puppeteer and animator heavily influenced by King Kong
in 1933 and then went on to work as apprentice animator with Kong animator
Willis O’Brien on Mighty Joe Young.Ray
went on to have a spectacular career establishing himself as the most
influential animators and special effects wizards in film history. From Jason
and the Argonauts, the 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Clash of the Titans his imagery
and iconic creations are known the world over. His sixteen feature films
represent the most influential fantasy and science fiction cinema of the
Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars."
set up the Foundation in the, and he intended that future generations should
enjoy his work but also learn about the craft of filmmaking. I am delighted
that audiences want to visit the artefacts on display. We have over 50,000
items in the collection making it the largest of its kind outside of the Disney
Walsh is an award-winning film maker and trustee of the Harryhausen Foundation.
In 2019 his new book Harryhausen: The Lost Films is published by Titan Books.
If you were a boy growing up in the mid-1960s, chances are you had the Man From U.N.C.L.E Thrushbuster Corgi car. Not only did it come in cool packaging that included a display stand with photos of Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, but you also got a plastic ring with their photos on it. The ring would "flicker" and alternate the image of each actor. The well-made car was also pretty groovy- you pressed a button on top and Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin would alternately shoot out of the side windows. (The add says there were sound effects for the gun shots but we don't recall this being the case). Most of the cars were painted blue but there were a small number of them available in white paint. These can now command hundreds of dollars on the collector's circuit. Here is an original ad for the car from the Moonbase Central web site.
at London’s Bond in Motion exhibit could be forgiven for wondering about the
steady stream of distinguished-looking people heading through the vehicle
displays towards a private area – but they were witnessing a bit of James Bond
history in the making. On on Thursday, October 11th, the Ian Fleming
Foundation, EON Productions, IFF founder Doug Redenius and this writer hosted a
remarkable book signing for Charles “Jerry” Juroe, the executive who ran
publicity on 14 Bond movies, from Dr. No
right up to the dawn of the Pierce Brosnan era. His memoir, Bond, The Beatles and My Year with Marilyn is just out from McFarland
Press.(Shameless Plug:Doug and I “line produced” it and the book is
a fascinating read, not just for Bond fans but for anyone interested in movie
history.)For 50 years, Jerry knew, worked
with or encountered “Anyone who was anyone”. From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig,
Mary Pickford to John Wayne, William Holden, Alfred Hitchcock and, yes, the Fab
Four.Jerry even crossed paths with the
legendary Howard Hughes.Bond was only
part of Juroe’s remarkable career – he served as Marilyn Monroe’s publicist
(not an easy gig!) when she was making The
Prince And the Showgirlwith
Laurence Olivier in England. Jerry was an executive at United Artists, Paramount
and other major studios. Movies aside, Jerry is also a World War II veteran who
took part in one of the most significant military actions in modern history –
the D Day Invasion.
Credit: Danny Gibbons.
event’s guest list included many prominent alumni from the Bond series – director John Glen, line
producer Anthony Waye, Oscar-winning production designer Peter Lamont, talent such as
Carole Ashby, Valerie Leon, Jenny Hanley, Margaret Nolan, Caron Gardner,
Sylvana Henriques and Terry Mountain, Roger Moore’s daughter Deborah, Harry
Saltzman’s son Steven, former EON marketing executives Anne Bennett and John
Parkinson, along with a number of staff members from EON, who graciously
provided all manner of support for the event.(The signing was preceded by a private lunch for Jerry arranged and
attended by Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson) American actor
Billy Zane was on hand – meeting up with Peter Lamont who created the stunning
sets for the “little” film they made together in 1997, Titanic.The Bond community
was well represented with Cinema Retro’s Dave Worrall, From Sweden with Love’s
Anders Frejdh, Some Kind of Hero authors
Ajay Chowdhury and Matthew Field, Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond Fan
author Mark O’Connell and French Bond Club co-founder and Bond historian,
Laurent Perriot in the crowd.Designer
Mark Witherspoon was a photographer.
Above: Actor Billy Zane and director John Glen.Credit: Mark Cerulli.
and I each made a brief address – reading well wishes from the likes of Pierce
Brosnan and top Hollywood publicist Dick Guttman (a protégé of Jerry’s) then
turned the floor over to the Man himself.Jerry, long famous in the industry for his tough exterior, was visibly
moved.He thanked everyone for coming
and simply wished them “My longevity” (he’s 95) which got a big round of
applause.Many hadn’t seen Jerry – or
each other – in decades so as the old saying goes, “There was a lot of love in the room”. One thinks that actors and filmmakers hang out
with each other constantly, but in reality they do a film then it’s on to the
next project and they may never work with the same people again.Since working on a Bond film is arguably a
highlight of any career, these few hours in each other’s company were priceless-
an All Time High, for real.It was a privilege to be there.
(Photos copyright Mark Cerulli. All rights reserved.)
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
ACADEMY AWARD-WINNING ACTOR CHRISTOPH WALTZ ANNOUNCED AS A SPECIAL GUEST AT THE
2018 VIRGINIA FILM FESTIVAL
OFFICIALS ALSO ANNOUNCE HIGH PROFILE ADDITIONS TO 2018 PROGRAM INCLUDING BARRY
JENKINS’ IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK AND JULIAN SCHNABEL’S AT ETERNITY’S GATE
Also Include Sundance Award-Winning Documentary Matangi / Maya / M.I.A.
VA – OCTOBER 10, 2018– Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Christoph Waltz
will be a special guest at the upcoming 2018 Virginia Film Festival, VAFF
officials announced today. The Festival also announced program additions
including Moonlight writer and director Barry Jenkins’ latest film, If Beale
Street Could Talk, and Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate, which stars Willem
Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh. The Virginia Film Festival is a program of the University
of Virginia and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts. The
2018 Festival will take place from November 1-4 in Charlottesville and will
include more than 150 films and over 100 industry guests from around the world.
also announced today the addition of the Sundance Award-winning documentary
Matangi / Maya / M.I.A. that charts the unlikely rise of a London Sri Lankan
immigrant through the ranks of the music industry to become one of the most
fascinating and controversial artists today.
thrilled to announce that Christoph Waltz will be joining us for the 2018
Virginia Film Festival,” said Jody Kielbasa, director of the VAFF and vice
provost for the arts at UVA. “Our audiences will not only have the chance to
hear from someone who is clearly one of the leading actors working today, but
also one who is at the very top of his game, and whose star is still on the
rise. He is truly one of the most interesting and talented actors of his time,
and brings a sense of originality to every role that makes it nearly impossible
to imagine anyone else in it.”
appear with Academy Award-winning producer and VAFF advisory board chair Mark
Johnson for “A Tribute to Christoph Waltz” on Saturday, November 3, 2018 at
1:00 PM at The Paramount Theater. The pair worked together previously on
Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, which opened last year’s Virginia Film Festival.
The event will combine the onstage interview with clips of key scenes from
the newly-announced screenings and tribute event will go on sale on Friday,
October 12 at noon online at virginiafilmfestival.org; in-person at the UVA
Arts Box Office in the lobby of the UVA Drama Building, open M-F from noon to
5:00 PM; and by phone at 434-924-3376. Beginning October 24, Festival tickets
will also be available at the Downtown Box Office in the lobby of Violet Crown
on the Downtown Mall.
Tiffany has always been a magnet for fans who emulate Audrey Hepburn's iconic appearance in the film.
(Photo copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
There are legions of retro movie lovers around the world who hold the 1961 film version of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" close to their hearts. Now the iconic New York landmark- the symbol of unabashed self-indulgence- is making it possible to follow in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly. Tiffany has opened an on-premises upscale restaurant that movie fans have been flocking to in order to live out a cinematic fantasy and enjoy a sumptuous meal in dazzling surroundings. White-gloved waiters serve the fare on the finest crockery amidst tables populated by diners who are dressed to the nines (and sometimes adorned as Holly). Washington Post writer Megan McDonough recently decided to experience the real breakfast at Tiffany's. Click here to read.
The Robb Report focuses on nine airplanes that were associated with famous films or stars and what has become of them over the decades. From a personal jet owned by Elvis Presley to a Spitfire from "Battle of Britain" to James Bond's microjet to a biplane that flew Harrison Ford and Sean Connery, the stories behind these unusual aircraft make for good reading. Click here to read.
movie censorship relaxed in the early 1970s, Mel Welles’ horror film “Lady
Frankenstein” added sex and nudity to the familiar Frankenstein formula of the
single-minded and arguably demented scientist who creates a monster and lives
to regret it.In the 1971 production,
now available in a handsome, fully loaded Blu-ray edition from Nucleus Films
encoded for Region B, Dr. Tanya Frankenstein (Rosalba Neri) returns home to the
family estate after completing medical school.Having inherited the family obsession, she is determined to help her
father (Joseph Cotten) realize his long-frustrated ambition of creating human
life in his laboratory.When Baron
Frankenstein and his associate Dr. Marshall (Paul Muller) balk at including the
refined young woman in their gory experiments, she fiercely overrides their
objections:“Stop treating me like a
child!I’m a doctor and a surgeon.”Frankenstein and Marshall successfully
reanimate a creature that they’ve stitched together from plundered cadavers,
but events take a turn for the worse, and soon a suspicious police officer,
Inspector Harris (Mickey Hargitay), begins nosing around the Frankenstein
Frankenstein” was filmed in Italy and independently marketed in Europe, where
Rosalba Neri, Mickey Hargitay, and Paul Muller were popular actors in genre
movies.In the U.S., it was distributed
by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures.Inexplicably, New World billed Rosalba Neri as “Sara Bay” in the
American credits and promotional materials, and depicted the exotically
beautiful brunette actress as a blonde in the poster art.Like many other exploitation films from the
same period, notably New World’s own series of Women-in-Prison productions like
“The Big Bird Cage,” it professes to have a feminist message while at the same
time including a fair amount of female nudity to meet the expectations of the
grindhouse audiences to which it was pitched, here and abroad.
feminist aspect is clear when Tanya discusses the resistance she faced in the
conservative halls of higher learning.“Was it difficult, very difficult, being my daughter?” her father asks sympathetically.“Sometimes,” Tanya responds, “but mainly
because I was a woman.The professors
still have a lot of old-fashioned ideas about a woman’s place.”In the wake of recent news events, many of us
will sympathize with Tanya’s dilemma and reflect that things haven’t changed a
lot in the male-dominated corridors of power, either in the two hundred years
since the early-1800s setting of “Lady Frankenstein,” or indeed in the
forty-seven years since the film was made.
as the story progresses and Tanya takes center stage, she begins to employ sex,
seduction, and murder to achieve her ends.You may start to wonder:do her
ruthless and increasingly cruel methods invalidate the movie’s claim to advance
a feminist theme . . . or underscore it?When one character is murdered in cold blood at her suggestion while she
has sex with him to distract his attention, does the film idealize -- or
objectify -- Rosalba Neri’s bare breasts and ecstatic facial expressions?When the infatuated, middle-aged Marshall
professes his love for her, does Tanya practice gender bias in reverse by
suggesting that she respects his intellect, but she’d respect it more if
Marshall were also young and handsome? The answers, I suppose, depend on your
interpretation of female empowerment.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Park Circus:
Park Circus is delighted to announce the big screen
release of Billy Wilder’s cross-dressing comedy Some Like it Hot. The film has
been restored in 4K by MGM, Park Circus and The Criterion Collection. The
theatrical re-release will follow the world premiere of the new 4K restoration
at The 75th Venice International Film Festival.
Featuring an all-star cast of Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon
and Marilyn Monroe, Some Like it Hot is set in Prohibition-era Chicago, where a
couple of struggling musicians are in the wrong place at the wrong time when
they witness the Valentines Day Massacre and find themselves on the run from
the mob. They accept a new gig out of town as part of an all-girl jazz troupe and
rock up on the train dragged up and raring to go.
Recently voted by the BBC
as the greatest comedy of all time, Some Like It Hot is a romantic comedy, a
buddy movie, a crime caper, and a musical - and a timely anthem in praise of
tolerance, acceptance, and the possibility of transformation.
A 4K restoration by MGM, Park Circus and The Criterion
Collection. Restored from the 35mm original camera negative. The 35mm
fine-grain master positive and a 35mm duplicate negative and were used to
replace missing/damaged sections of the camera negative. Restoration was
undertaken at Criterion Post, New York. Additional restoration and grading were
completed at Roundabout Entertainment, Santa Monica.
The film will open at the BFI Southbank and at selected
venues across the UK from 2 November.
Photos all copyright 2018 by Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.
BY MARK MAWSTON
Three days before the
launch of the new Halloween film and
40 years since the original was released, Cinema Retro’s Mark Mawston was
invited to photograph the London leg of the new tour by the original films
director John Carpenter. As with his concert
here two years ago, John’s set was littered with some of his finest moments;
themes that have transcended their mere film score monikers to become rock music
synth classics in their own right. Tunes such as The Fog, accompanied as it was by dry ice and clips from the film itself,
projected onto screens around the stage, were nirvana for those many fans gathered
to witnesses the maverick director’s other great contribution to cinema: his music,
played live on stage.
Film critic Ann Thompson worked on early John Carpenter movies as a press agent, including the original 1978 horror classic "Halloween", which is being reissued to theaters. Thompson recently reunited with the director and actress to reminisce about the making of "Halloween", which was made for a relatively small budget and became a boxoffice blockbuster. Carpenter also discusses how his superb remake of "The Thing" made him cynical about working with major studios after it under-performed at the boxoffice- a fate that was blamed on his ambiguous ending to the movie. Click here to read.
John Carpenter's 1980 horror film "The Fog" has undergone a new 4K
restoration by Studiocanal and will be released to 50 American theaters
on October 26, presented by Rialto Pictures. The restoration finally
allows the movie to be seen as Carpenter envisioned it. Over the
decades, the movie was largely out of circulation due to the fact that
the prints had been allowed to deteriorate. A new trailer and theatrical
poster has been created for the presentations.
New original poster art by Matt Ferguson.
For a list of theaters presenting "The Fog" click here.
Shampoo (1975) is a movie
that can leave a viewer unsure as to what they just watched.Was it merely a vanity project for
Producer/Co-Screenwriter/lead actor Warren Beatty, who plays a babe magnet L.A.
hairdresser who juggles his three main girlfriends while haplessly attempting
to go into business for himself? Beatty portrays George Roundy, a flashy
dressing, motorcycle riding lothario who deftly manipulates the hearts and
sexual appetites of the beautiful women who constantly want to throw themselves
at him and his hair dryer. Or is it a
social satire, a la The Graduate,
that exposes the flaws in American life by showing us the sexual/romantic
dysfunction in the homes of the upper crust? One of Beatty’s character’s love
interests is the wife (Lee Grant) of the business tycoon (Jack Warden) he hopes
will finance his would-be new spa. Is it
a screwball sex comedy that aims for occasional emotional profundity? The
second of the hairstylist’s two lady friends is the tycoon’s mistress (Julie
Christie), and the third is that woman’s close friend (Goldie Hawn). Or is the
movie primarily a commentary on the American political climate of the late
1960s, and its damaging impact on the citizenry? The story takes place over one
24-hour span, that happens to be the day Richard Nixon won the 1968
answer is that Shampoo is a little of
each of those things. Which leads to the question of whether it was successful
in developing any or all of its themes. The feature’s overall quality has been
a debatable point over the decades. Roger Ebert felt it came up short,
summarizing that it “wasn’t confident enough to pull off its ambitious
conception,” “wasn’t as funny as it could have been in the funny places,” and
“it’s not as poignant as it could be in its moments of truth.” In the pages of The New York Times, meanwhile, critic Nora
Sayre positively savaged the movie, charging that it ultimately sank into “a
slough of sentimentality” while also calling it pretentious and dumb. Other
reviews have been kinder. It’s been called “a sharp satire” by Time Out, and
“one of the last true moments of personal expression in American cinema” by Elaine
Lennon in Senses of Cinema, etc.
can be hard to know what we’re supposed to make of the main characters. Roundy
is shown to be a user, and his three girlfriends, while likeable-enough people,
are hardly role models feminists of the day could have seen as on-screen
heroes. So are we supposed to find all of them laughably shallow people, tragic
figures victimized by their own egos and emotional needs, or are they simply
authentic representations of a womanizing hairstylist and the kinds of people
with whom he would be likely to consort? Director Hal Ashby, who struggled
while working alongside the overbearing Beatty in Beatty’s
open-to-interpretation role as Creative Producer, seems to have felt distantly
sympathetic to the characters. Ashby said of them, “They’re not people I spend
time with, but they’re people I’ve looked at and felt sorry for. So I spent a
lot of time being very kind to those people. The other way’s easy. To make fun
of people is easy. Life isn’t that easy.”
else with which Ashby had to tangle during the making of Shampoo was the often volatile artistic relationship between Beatty
and Co-Screenwriter Robert Towne. Beatty and Towne were engaged in a creative
power battle over the film’s content starting back from when it was only an
idea being bounced around between the two of them. Once Ashby was brought in,
he found himself often acting as referee between those two. Towne was actively
involved on the set, to the point where Goldie Hawn came to feel like she was
working under three different directors. Despite this circus atmosphere,
though, and despite Ebert’s and Sayre’s critiques, and despite what some see as
its foggy intentions, Shampoo took in
a slew of nominations at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. Lee Grant won
the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
The times they were a-changin’ in the
1960s. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho did not feature a foreign monster (no
Dracula vampire with an Eastern European accent or Cold War alien creatures or
Japanese Godzilla.) The audience follows the main character (played by Janet
Leigh) to an American motel where the caretaker Norman Bates appears to be a
mild-mannered young man. Then he stabs the main character to death in a shower.
The camera slowly zooms out of the eye of the beautiful young woman’s corpse.
Norman Bates was inspired by the real-life serial killer Ed Gein, who committed
two ghastly and grisly crimes in Wisconsin in the 1950s. The assassination of
President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 traumatized the nation and the
race riots in 1964 and 1965 showed a conflict and crisis in American society
that could no longer be ignored. After midnight, on August 1, 1966 in Austin,, twenty-five
year old Charles Whitman stabbed his mother and wife and then shortly before
high noon he climbed the stairs of the clock tower at the University of Texas
campus and murdered multiple victims by firing at them with his sniper rifle
until he was shot by police officers.
Twenty-eight year old Peter Bogdanovich
had been obsessed with cinema his entire life. He wrote film criticism for
various magazines and had also been a movie programmer at the Museum of Modern
Art in New York City. He had left NYC for L.A. because he no longer wanted to
only write about films. He wanted to be a director. Yet it was his writing that
gave him his first directing job. Roger Corman had read an article Peter
Bogdanovich had written for Esquire, and the two of them discussed
filmmaking when they met at a screening. Corman gave Bogdanovich complete
creative control over his directorial debut, with one exception. He had to use
the actor Boris Karloff and footage from the film The Terror.
Bogdanovich had been deeply disturbed by Charles Whitman’s mass shooting and
felt compelled to write a screenplay based on the event. How would he
incorporate Boris Karloff into this story? Karloff had been the iconic face of
horror in Hollywood history. His foreign facial features and voice had
frightened American audiences. The 1930s - 1950s was an era when America’s
deepest fears were of foreign enemies. The 1960s altered audiences’ views. Lee
Harvey Oswald was American. Charles Whitman was American. The enemy was no
longer foreign. The enemy was within American society.
Bogdanovich named his directorial debut
with the stark title Targets. He co-wrote the screenplay with his wife
Polly Platt. He was against his directorial debut being released by American
International Pictures. Bogdanovich wanted it to be distributed by a company
with historical significance. He sold the movie to Paramount. They had Boris
Karloff for five days and a shooting schedule of twenty-three days. They juxtaposed
two plotlines. In the first plotline, Boris Karloff plays Byron Orlok (a nod to
Nosferatu), an aging horror movie star who wants to retire, which
outrages the company who want him to make more films. Karloff was seventy-nine
years old when production on Targets started in 1967. He felt
rejuvenated by the opportunity to play a character that was a deviation from his
usual appearances in the horror genre. This was a character that had nuances
and was realistic. Karloff’s performance is wistful and wry, which fits his
character who is reflecting on the course of his career. Bogdanovich’s
performance is appropriately anxious and nervous as he plays himself, a cinephile
who has suddenly been thrown into the management position of his first major
motion picture. Bogdanovich plays (Sammy Michaels), a young director who is
both optimistic about Orlok (he believes the script he has written will be
Orlok’s best and most complex character) and skeptical about the state of the
movie business (“All the good movies have been made.”) Bogdanovich had a high
opinion of Karloff and was nostalgic for Old Hollywood. This becomes clear in
several scenes. Karloff and Bogdanovich watch a sinister scene together from The
Criminal Code and Bogdanovich praises his performance. Bogdanovich and the
hippie radio DJs (whom he satirizes as absolutely absurd in their lack of
serious questions for Karloff) gather around and listen to Karloff’s hypnotic, mesmerizing
voice as he recites the ancient fable of the Appointment in Samarra which symbolizes the inescapability of
death. This fable doubles as an epitaph for Karloff’s career (Targets was
his last major role in an American film) and as a commentary on the mass
shootings in American society. Bogdanovich also uses dialogue he wrote for
Karloff as a commentary on the changing attitude to the horror genre (“You know
what they call my films today? Camp! High camp!”) and on Bogdanovich’s own
perspective of Hollywood and L.A. in the 1960s (“what an ugly town this has
people represent their countries. In
music it seems, Elvis Presley was and is still, now more than ever, everything America represents. He optimized the
‘American Dream’ but the tale of the man who changed not only music but culture
forever, plays out more like a Greek tragedy than an American classic.
been many great documentaries on Elvis but few have matched the scope of “The King” mainly because its tapestry onto
which Elvis was sewn is America itself. Both follow similar paths.
moment when Ethan Hawke, one of the many key figures in this film says “when my
grandfather was alive, America’s greatest export was agriculture. By the time
my father grew up it was entertainment”. This one line sums up the entire
film. Elvis, like America, started off with humble beginnings and worked hard
to reap the harvest that the dry soils and endless toil could produce. When the Presleys lived in Tupelo
they didn’t have a cent to pay their bills and Elvis’s father was incarcerated
for changing the value of a check in the hope of buying a few weeks extra food. The analogy
of Elvis’s life and America’s own growth in the boom during the post-WW2 world
go hand in hand; from the lean to the bloated. Elvis grew up in Memphis, a
cultural melting pot and there is good reason to say that if the Presleys
hadn’t moved here, then the world would never have heard of Elvis and Rock ‘n
Roll as we know it would never have happened. When record mogul Sam Phillips
said “If I had a white boy that sounded black I could make a million dollars”
he wasn’t white-washing music as some people allude to here. What he was hoping
for was that he could find a singer who could break down barriers and introduce
the world to a new sound, based on old Delta blues, the definitive American musical heritage. In Elvis, Phillips found
the perfect mix of beauty and danger, sweat and cologne and more importantly,
black and white. The stars and indeed, the stripes, were aligned right
there in the tiny Sun studio in Memphis with Elvis simply tearing up the rule
book and playing the music he and Sam loved and admired. It changed music
another key figure in the documentary does his usual “Elvis stole from the
black artists” monologue but did he really? Did he not merely celebrate it and
introduce it to others as anyone wants to do when they fall in love with
something or someone? Would the world have even heard of Little Richard or
Chuck Berry or Fats Domino, great artists in their own right, if Elvis hadn’t
kicked down the doors that taste and indeed racial boundaries had kept
segregated up to that point? Elvis took the choice
to spend his childhood in Gospel churches and his teens in predominately black
areas such as Beale Street where BB King played. Thus, I find Chuck D’s diatribe
all a bit tiresome these days and think that he will be more famous for his
line “Elvis was a hero for some but meant shit to me” from Fight The Power rather than any of his other contributions to
music. If only James Brown or Jackie Wilson, who were there first hand and knew
Elvis, were still around to clarify it all. However, it’s the link between
Memphis and Elvis that again sums up the analogy that Presley was the spark
that lit the fuse, the plunger to the dynamite that enabled the great Memphis music
explosion that followed, both culturally and racially. Memphis was, like the
country itself, a place of extremes. Not only is it the birthplace of Sun and
Stax Records, two of the studios that made some of the greatest music the world
has ever heard, it was also the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the
shining light who broke down political racial barriers in the way Elvis had
done musically, was assassinated. Memphis is America in a nutshell and when
Memphis burned in the riots of the 1960’s, both Sun & Stax were left
standing. There may have been war on the streets but the places where entertainment
emanated from still stood tall and unscathed, their neon still flickering and lighting
up the night long after the flames had turned to ash.
It is the
parallels between Elvis and America that make this such a fascinating
documentary and so it’s strange that Elvis seems to have lost himself to the
entertainment industry he optimized. He was the Dr. Frankenstein who couldn’t
control or gain the respect of the monster he’d help create. In parallel
worlds, while Elvis suffered through those ‘60’s movies, American youth
suffered to a far greater extent through Vietnam. The 1970s brought the soul-draining
Vegas years for the singer while America itself took a long hard look in the
mirror when the Watergate scandal broke. Both brought artist and country to
Movie marketing sure has changed. Studios rarely advertise films in newspapers today (assuming you can still find a newspaper today) but that medium was once the most effective method of promoting new films. Not only were traditional ads run but clever off-beat ancillary campaigns were also featured in the guise of entertainment. For example, here is a promotional campaign for the 1966 epic "Khartoum" starring Charlton Heston and Laurence Olivier that was squarely aimed at kids despite the fact that the intended audience was adults. This promotional block seen above was featured in the United Artists pressbook sent to American theater owners to suggest creative local publicity campaigns.
(For extensive coverage of the making of "Khartoum", get the Cinema Retro Movie Classic Roadshow Epics of the 1960s issue by clicking here.)
Cinema Retro reader and contributor Kev Wilkinson was kind enough to provide these rare photos of the British sexploitation film The Pleasure Girls playing at London theaters in 1965. For Adrian Smith's extensive articles on the British sex film industry in the 60s and 70s, see Cinema Retro issues #23 and #24.
Cinema Retro has received the following announcement from Bondstars:
Bondstars have a handful of tickets left for
their Chitty Chitty Bang Bang event on Sunday November 18th at Pinewood
Studios, London England.
celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ian Fleming's most fantasmagorical flying car
'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' on the big screen, they are hosting a special
anniversary lunch event at Scrumptious Mansion, aka Pinewood Studios. Pinewood
isn’t open to the public, so this is a rare chance to step into one of
Britain’s most iconic film studios. The
day will include a visit from the car herself; cast and crew members in
attendance; screening of the film in The John Barry Theatre; a delicious lunch
in the Pinewood Ballroom; a special Chitty quiz; Q & A’s with our guests
from in front and behind the camera; a tour around Scrumptious Gardens and an
exhibition of Chitty memorabilia and souvenirs.
Adrian Hall (Jeremy), Heather Ripley (Jemima), Vic Armstrong (Stunts), Robbie Sherman (son of Robert Sherman),
Dickie Bamber (Assistant Director:
title sequence \ Set Dresser), Peter
Lamont (Assistant Art Director), Graham
Hartstone (Sound Camera Operator), Martin
Body (Assistant Camera), Brian W
Cook (Second Assistant Director), Lawrie
Read (Sound recordist and ADR), Michael
Reed (Director of Photography: title sequence), Les Tomkins (Draftsman) and Rona
Turner Classic Movies (North America) will broadcast "Treasures from the Disney Vault" on October 15. Here is the official description:
Once again, we are honored
to present an assortment of classics from the Walt Disney library, with TCM
friend and Disney expert Leonard Maltin returning as host. This collection
includes the TCM premieres of three Disney features and two cartoon shorts:
The Cat from Outer Space (1978) is a sci-fi
comedy feature about an intelligent extraterrestrial cat named Jake who crash
lands his spaceship on Earth and seeks help in making repairs so he can return
to his own planet. The human actors include Ken Berry, Roddy McDowall, Sandy
Duncan, Harry Morgan and McLean Stevenson.
The Last Flight of Noah's Ark (1980) is a
family-adventure film in which a plane carrying various animals is turned into
a boat after crash landing on a desert island. (A full-scale Boeing B-29 bomber
was used in the film.) This film stars notable actors Elliott Gould, Geneviève
Bujold and Ricky Schroder.
Flight of the Navigator (1986) is a sci-fi
adventure about a boy (Joey Cramer) who is abducted by a spaceship and travels
into the future. Randal Kleiser directed and the cast includes a young Sarah
The premiering cartoons in our night's lineup
focus on the Mickey Mouse family of characters. In Magician Mickey
(1937), Mickey stages a magic show despite interruptions from heckler Donald
Duck. In Pluto's Sweater (1949), Minnie Mouse knits a hideous pink
sweater for Pluto, to the amusement of the kitty Figaro.
Two features are given encore screenings in the
theme of Halloween. The classic musical fantasy Bedknobs and Broomsticks
(1971), which combines animation and live action, stars the delightful Angela
Lansbury as an apprentice witch in WWII England, who takes in three children
during the London blitz and plans to use a magic spell to help in the war
effort. The film, directed by Robert Stevenson, received four Oscar nominations
and won in the category of Best Special Visual Effects.
The Little Whirlwind (1941), an encore
cartoon, has Mickey Mouse struggling with a small tornado. This short is of
particular interest because it employs a redesigned Mickey that was employed
briefly during the World War II period. In this version, Mickey has smaller
ears, larger head and hands and buck teeth.
The sci-fi adventure The Black Hole (1979)
concerns space travelers who locate a lost spacecraft that is hovering near a
black hole and try to solve the mystery of how the ship defies the enormous
gravitational pull. An imposing cast includes Maximilian Schell, Anthony
Perkins, Ernest Borgnine and Yvette Mimieux. This film was Oscar-nominated in
the categories of Best Cinematography and Visual Effects. It was the first
"dark-themed" Disney feature and the first to be given a rating of