Hollywood studios are still licking their wounds over one of the worst years in memory in terms of boxoffice performance, though there are signs of a strong final quarter. Still, the guys and gals in the corner offices can't get out of a rut when it comes to lack of imagination. When they have a good thing, their only strategy seems to be to over-indulge in it. As David Sims writes in the Atlantic, Warner Bros. is planning three- yes, three- simultaneous comic book-related films featuring the Joker. The abundance of superhero films is the latest trend and, as usual, studios are over-indulging in it to the point that the bloom will come off the rose with audiences that are always seeking the next shiny object. Eventually, the quality of the films, which are all similar in content, begins to diminish and all the CGI effects imaginable can't make up for an uninspired script. There's already signs that audience exhaustion with superhero flicks is already setting in, despite the great success of some of the franchises. Universal is in the same dilemma: trying to dust off its classic Universal Monsters franchise for modern audiences despite anemic response to their updated version of "The Mummy" starring Tom Cruise. The recent remake of Stephen King's "It" indicates there is still a big market for horror films....but let's remember, the film is still a remake of a TV production. The lack of imagination and risk-taking among the major studios has left independent productions and art house films to dominate the market for mature audiences who want to see something a bit different than young women being pursued by maniacal killers. Perhaps the success of Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk" might embolden the studios to have more faith in diversity- but I wouldn't be surprised to see a film about the battle of Gettysburg somehow involving Superman and Batman. Click here to read.
John Wayne's estate has recently launched a line of official liquors based on the Duke's drinking preferences. Wayne Enterprises, which is run by the Duke's son Ethan, produces brandy and bourbon in accordance with the Duke's taste. Wayne was from a generation of hard drinkers but never developed a dependency on liquor. In an article for the Daily Beast, Ethan recalls interesting anecdotes about his father's drinking habits. Contrary to his popular image, Wayne appreciated fine wines and champagnes...but he wasn't so sophisticated that he ever built his own wine cellar. Instead, he kept Dom Perignon and expensive wines stored in his garage! To read the article, click here. To visit the official site of Duke branded liquors, click here.
A new poll finds that the majority of Millennials are shockingly unfamiliar with older, classic movies. The posting on the Cinema Retro Facebook page has set off a spirited discussion among our readers. People who live in major metropolitan areas may take issue with the poll's findings since young people routinely attend screenings of classic movies at revival cinemas. The Alamo Drafthouse chain of cinemas has been especially effective at exposing younger audiences to retro movie classics and cult films. Yes, Netflix and other streaming services make plenty of retro movie classics available to viewers of all ages everywhere. But in major cities, younger people tend to view going to see a classic film from the past as a social activity, often going in groups to theaters with funky themes. It may be, however, that people who live in more rural areas don't have the same opportunities to see older films on the big screen, therefore they are not as familiar with them. Click here to read article.
Rich Hardy, writing on the New Atlas web site, explores the resurgence of interest in the long-dormant 70mm film format by today's retro movie-loving directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan. There was a time when Hollywood embraced the magnificent widescreen format for some of the most ambitious epics ever filmed. However the cost of shooting in 70mm made the format virtually extinct until recent years. Tarantino brought 70mm back for "The Hateful Eight" and had to practically move mountains to find a way to have his film projected properly, given that most of the equipment and venues that once were associated with the widescreen process were long-gone. Now Christopher Nolan is presenting his WWII epic "Dunkirk" in 70mm. This article provides short history of 70mm and some useful information about the various formats the movie is being shown in. Click here to read.
The legendary Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in the famed car chase from the 1968 classic "Bullitt" has apparently been found by accident in a Mexican junkyard. Watch video above for the fascinating story.
TMZ reports that a much-ballyhooed auction of items belonging to the late Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds is causing concern in some areas. On a high profile "Good Morning America" segment, the show took a tour around Fisher's home, guided by her brother Todd Fisher. In the segment, Todd-accompanied by the correspondent and the representative of the auction house, Profiles in History, take a cheery walk through Memory Lane, pointing out various items and relating anecdotes about them. The concerns raised relate to certain "Star Wars" collectibles that were being represented as having belonged to Carrie Fisher. TMZ reports that at least some of them appear to have been purchased by Todd at "Star Wars" auction that took place after his sister's death. Profiles in History had hired a firm, CGA, to verify the authenticity of the items but apparently the company ensured that, while the collectibles were legitimate, they were not actually owned by Carrie. TMZ reports that CGA is now asking to re-examine twenty "Star Wars" items to further examine their provenance. The auction is scheduled for September 23. Todd Fisher has promised that a portion of the proceeds will be donated to charity.
Elvis's bizarre and ill-conceived meeting with President Nixon was among the factors that detracted from his legacy as a musical legend. His garish wardrobe is what many younger people associate with his persona.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
In a report for the web site of The Guardian, writer Thomas Hobbs examines an inconvenient truth- as the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death approaches, the King's legacy is being diminished. Young people are not conversant in his achievements and relatively few listen to his music as opposed to other acts from decades past such as The Beatles. Part of the blame must be placed on Elvis himself, who in his later years, had squandered his 1968 comeback by becoming a benign lounge act in Las Vegas. He remained a popular draw but younger people regarded him as someone their parents and grandparents wanted to see. The world was changing rapidly but Elvis, under the Svengali-like control of Col. Tom Parker, was still attired in skin-tight, garish pants suits and appealing to the sexual fantasies of aging female fans. The unsavory circumstances of his death also worked against his legacy. Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin all died from drug overdoses but remain hip even to today's young people. Elvis had the misfortune of dying from drug-related problems while sitting on a toilet, something that has detracted from the tragedy of his death. Even the value of Elvis vintage record albums is declining precipitously. There's plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the Presley estate which greedily licensed virtually any product imaginable, allowing him image to be portrayed on many cheesy "collectibles". No one's making the argument that Elvis's legacy is heading towards oblivion- but it has been poorly served by the people who represent it. Hopefully, younger music lovers who can groove to retro rock will one day discover that Elvis was more than an amiable lounge act, but in fact, was a once-in-a-lifetime musical legend.
In a TV appearance on Stephen Colbert's show, Julie Andrews recalled filming "Mary Poppins" back in 1964. In one of her flying scenes, she began to sense that the harness that was supporting her in the air was not as stable as the technicians had assured her. Her fears proved justified: at one point the harness gave out and she plummeted to the floor of the studio. Although she miraculously escaped serious injury, the world's most beloved nanny apparently shouted out some not very Disney-like words to express her frustration. Click here to watch and to also view an interview with Dick Van Dyke about his role in the forthcoming new Mary Poppins film.
Director Sofia Coppola's remake of the 1971 film "The Beguiled" opens this summer. This new teaser trailer reveals that the film will stay reverent to the original movie which was directed by Don Siegel and starred Clint Eastwood in a gothic Civil War tale. Eastwood played a badly wounded Union soldier who is rescued, hidden and nursed back to health by the teachers and students at a quaint southern school for girls which eeks out an existence in the midst of the war. The film was a rare bomb for a Siegel/Eastwood collaboration but it remains one of the best films both have have been associated with. For Eastwood it was a rare opportunity to play a rather villainous role as the wounded soldier learns to exploit the sexual frustrations of the students and their headmistress, who was memorably played by Geraldine Page. His manipulative efforts wins him numerous bed mates but also leads to an unforeseen consequence. The original film was hard to market and was lacking in the kind of raw action that Eastwood fans expected back in 1971. The new film stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst. Coppola is a skilled director and may pull off the rare feat of overseeing a remake that rivals the classic original movie.
The new documentary "Batman & Bill" is sure to be controversial. It tackles the subject of who actually created the iconic world of Batman, who debuted in comic books way back in 1939. Conventional wisdom always gave sole credit to Bob Kane, who became a legend in the comic book industry and our pop culture as the Batman phenomenon stretched for decades. However, the documentary seeks to give credit to Bill Finger, a collaborator of Kane's who apparently created some of the most memorable characters in the Batman universe but who remained unheralded. The documentary debuts on Hulu on May 6 and the intriguing trailer indicates this truly will measure up to being "must-see TV".
Welles, Bogdanovich and Huston on the set of The Other Side of the Wind.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Netflix has ridden to the rescue to team with a crowdfunding effort that raised $400,000 to help complete Orson Welles' final film, "The Other Side of the Wind", which is perhaps the most legendary unseen movie of all time. Welles promised that the movie would mark his return to greatness but his independent financing sources were diverse and unreliable. The production of the movie dragged on for many years and Welles was trying to complete it when he died in 1985. The film's original production manager, producer Frank Marshall, will oversee completion of the project, working in conjunction with filmmaker Filip Jan Rymsza, who headed the fundraising effort. Director Peter Bogdanovich, a protege and friend of Welles who appeared in the film, has worked diligently for many years to complete the movie but always ran into obstacles. Bogdanovich will serve as a consultant on the Netflix project. The few people who have seen footage from the movie, which Welles had mostly completed at the time of his death, provided mixed emotions, with some saying it's a strange and off-putting movie while others proclaim it a work of genius. It is a scathing take down of hypocrisy in Hollywood. The film stars John Huston playing a once-great director who has fallen on hard times, thus leading some to speculate Welles viewed the character as his alter ego. While no one doubted Welles' genius, his prickly nature, offbeat projects and unreliable habits caused major studios to shun working with him. Welles had turned to finding independent funding from often shady sources that would sometimes dry up unexpectedly. Additionally when Welles did get a substantial sum infused into the film, he would often blow through it by spending it on expensive hotel suites, fine wines and upscale cigars. The highly unusual deal by Netflix is sure to win praise from classic movie lovers who have hungered to see "The Other Side of the Wind". For more click here.
"La La Land" lived up to its hype by earning 14 Oscar nominations, tying "Titanic" and "All About Eve" for the most ever. Other films with multiple major nominations include "Manchester by the Sea", "Arrival", "Fences", "Moonlight", "Lion", "Hell or High Water" and "Hacksaw Ridge". The Oscar telecast takes place on February 26. Click here for full list of nominations.
In 1924 a film titled "The City Without Jews" premiered in Vienna. The movie was an adaptation of a novel by Hugo Bettauer, who viewed it as a dark satire of what unchecked racism could lead to. In the novel, a fictional city named Utopia orchestrates a round-up and forced exile of all of the Jews who inhabit the city, making them scapegoats for all of the problems that have left residents frustrated. . However, after the quality of life deteriorates and services begin to fail, the city fathers issue a mea culpa and request that the exiles return to Utopia (which is an obvious metaphor for Vienna). The film was directed by Hans Karl Breslauer. It won acclaim but its legacy was to be defined by ironies and tragedies. Bettauer wrote the novel to denounce anti-Semitism even though he had already converted to Christianity. He would be murdered by an anti-Semite a year after the premiere of the film. The director of the film would never make another movie and join the Nazi party in 1940, although he may have done so because of political expediency since Nazi Germany took over the nation, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler, in the "anschluss", or annexation, of 1938. At the time the film premiered Adolf Hitler was serving a jail sentence for his failed coup against the Weimar Republic. While in jail, Hitler effectively used his status to become a martyr to ultra right-wing fringe groups who were growing increasingly militant amidst the economic catastrophe that was engulfing Germany. After Hitler was elected to national office, he would wait out the death of the beloved elderly president von Hindenburg. Upon von Hindenburg's passing, Hitler established himself as dictator and appealed to desperate people who would willingly cede their civil rights to a strongman who promised he could fix everything. One of the first casualties of the Nazi regime was freedom of speech. The propaganda ministry forbade the public display of any film or published work that might be viewed as undermining the totalitarian nature of the regime. Thus, "The City Without Jews" was pulled from circulation. This was not surprising, given the fact that the movie and its source novel predicted exactly what the Nazi government had in mind for the Jews of Europe: forced evacuations and ultimately mass exterminations.
"The City Without Jews" was presumed to be a "lost" movie until 1991 when an incomplete version was discovered and screened at the Vienna Film Festival. However it lacked its powerful final sequence in which the Jews are invited to return to Utopia. The Daily Beast reports that last year a complete version of the movie was improbably found at a Paris flea market. The Film Archive Austria is raising funds to protect and preserve it, as the movie existed on highly flammable nitrate stock. Those behind the effort to completely safeguard the film also feel the movie has an unfortunate parallel in today's world where hate crimes and intolerance of minorities is on the rise.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Mass. — Dec. 12, 2016 — For Immediate Release — The Film Detective announces
its classic movie app, streaming on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV. An established
leader in film restoration and distribution, with thousands of hours of
classic film and television restored from original elements, The Film Detective
offers viewers the chance to forgo DVDs or a cable subscription, while still
enjoying great entertainment. For a preview, visit thefilmdetective.tv
app launches with dozens of iconic titles, including rare silent films,
westerns, film noir, musicals and comedies. In addition to such golden age Hollywood
fare as Kansas City Confidential (1952), The Film Detective has
uncovered and restored such kitschy titles as Flash Gordon Conquers the
Universe (1940), The Vampire Bat (1933) and 20 episodes of The
New Howdy Doody Show (1976-77). The app refreshes content monthly for
timely programming around themes, holidays and anniversaries.
Film Detective also creates original, supplemental content, with legendary
broadcast veteran Dana Hersey (longtime star of Boston’s WSBK-TV’s
groundbreaking series, The Movie Loft), offering behind-the-scenes
information and fun-facts about the movies. The Film Detective’s original
content starts with The Outlaw: The Movie That Couldn’t Be Stopped, a
mini-documentary highlighting the film’s controversial journey to success.
addition, the app offers licensed content such as the recently discovered,
HD-restored, lost Ed Wood TV pilot Final Curtain (1957); the
Oscar-winning documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975); and
such beloved family classics as Sounder (1972). The Film Detective
has also licensed the Independent International Pictures library which includes
over 200 classic exploitation films, including the Al Adamson collection (Satan's
team is excited to bring vintage cinema to life in the digital age through The
Film Detective app. It gives consumers a library of content without purchasing
DVDs, Blu-rays or subscribing to cable. Viewers can now enjoy old favorites and
long-lost gems on demand. This is truly cutting the cord,” commented Phil
Hopkins, Founder of The Film Detective.
Film Detective uses Zype, the video distribution service for OTT, to manage and
publish their premium content and foster relationships with classic movie and
TV fans. “A premium subscription service is the natural progression for The
Film Detective,” said Zype’s CEO, Ed Laczynski. “Zype is thrilled to help The
Film Detective bring content to streaming media devices and to help
cord-cutters re-discover the classic film and television content they grew up
a free trial period with subscriptions starting as low as $3.99 per month or
$34.99 annually. Three films will stream free each month. iOS distribution will
be available in 2017.
The Film Detective:
Philip Elliott Hopkins – who has been a fixture in the entertainment industry
since 1999 – has channeled his life-long
passion for collecting classic films into The Film Detective, a leading
purveyor of restoration and distribution of broadcast-quality,
digitally-remastered programming, including feature films, television, foreign
imports, documentaries, special interest and audio. Since launching in 2014,
the Massachusetts-based company has distributed its extensive library of 3000+
hours on DVD, Blu-ray and through such leading digital and television broadcast
platforms as Turner Classic Movies, American Movie Classics, NBC, Bounce TV,
Hulu, Amazon, EPIX HD, MeTV, PBS and more. In 2016, the Film Detective launched
its OTT classic movies channel streaming on Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV. Visit
us online at www.TheFilmDetective.com
Let's hope that we never have another year in which we lose as much artistic talent as we did in 2016. Here is TCM's moving annual retrospective of those lost in film and TV during the year. Doubtless, you will have some unpleasant surprises when you realize that you weren't aware of the extent of how many great talents left us during the last twelve months- and this video was prepared before the passing of both Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. We do take consolation from the fact that, while these artists are no longer with us in the physical sense, their work is eternal.
Dick Van Dyke, who played Bert the chimney sweep opposite Julie Andrews in the 1964 Disney classic "Mary Poppins", will appear in "Mary Poppins Returns" which stars Emily Blunt as the magical nanny along with an all-star cast that includes Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury. Van Dyke, 91, won't be reprising the role of Bert, however. Instead he will be playing a new character, the son of a greedy banker. Van Dyke, who has jokingly "apologized" for his much-criticized Cockney accent in the first film, promises to have an even worse accent in the new movie. "I intend to represent a corner of London with my accent that has not yet been invented. I'm going to have the worst accent in the history of British accents-I'm going to sound like I'm from another planet". Julie Andrews will not be part of the new film but has given the project her blessing. The movie, directed by Rob Marshall, is intended for release on Christmas day, 2018. For more click here.
The National Film Registry has added 25 more titles to their list of film classics that will ensure they are preserved for generations to come. As usual, it's an appropriately eclectic mix of titles spanning from the silent era to recent years and includes some admirably quirky choices. Among them: Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" and John Boorman's "Point Blank". Click here for more (and the full list.)
A gaggle of writers for Rolling Stone have come up with their list of the top 50 characters to appear in the "Star Wars" franchise. Such lists are largely meaningless but they do elicit a lot of passion from readers who love to argue that the writers are either geniuses or clueless in terms of their selections and rankings. This article will do the same...C-3PO didn't even crack the top ten but at least we didn't see Jar Jar Binks included. Click here to read.
Cinema Retro has received the following announcement from Bondstars.com in the UK:
"In 2003, the renowned American artist Jeff Marshall
(known for his James Bond work) was commissioned to create a lithograph
for Daleon Enterprises (officially sanctioned by Hammer themselves)
featuring several famous Hammer actresses - Ingrid Pitt, Caroline Munro,
Valerie Leon and Martine Beswicke.
· The first 100 of these limited edition lithographs
were signed and numbered by Jeff himself and have never been available to
· We have 006 - 100 for sale, unfortunately we
cannot accommodate requests for specific numbers.
· The lithograph measures 20" x 30" and is
printed on museum quality acid-free paper.
· The lithograph will be shipped rolled in a sturdy
The web site www.filmbuffonline.com reports that the 1984 feature film "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension" is now the subject of a law suit between MGM and the film's director W.D. Richter and screenwriter Earl Mach Rauch. Richter and Rauch claim they should have ownership of rights to the characters they created for the movie. MGM disagrees and intends to proceed with a "Buckaroo" TV project that Richter and Rauch oppose on the basis that their permission has not been sought and that they would not be financially compensated. At the heart of their argument is that the contract for the 1984 film failed to include a standard clause that would have given Rauch underlying rights to the characters especially since some were created prior to the studio having even been approached to produce the film version. MGM has responded by filing suit in the hope that the studio will receive a declarative judgment affirming their rights to proceed with the TV project. Got all that? If so, then add this into the mix: director Kevin Smith was attached to the TV project but has now publicly stated that he is dropping out because he doesn't want to be part of any effort that Richter and Rauch are not involved with. The irony is that all this back-and-forth is over a movie that was a bomb with critics and the public at the time of its initial release but which has accumulated a loyal cult following over the years. For more, check out the filmbuffonline.com article by clicking here.
There is a reason that Toshiro Mifune still reigns as Japan's greatest screen actor despite the fact that he died in 1977. Mifune was pivotal in reawakening Japanese pride in the wake of the nation's disastrous defeat in WWII, but he also helped mainstream the power of Japan's burgeoning new wave cinema. Mifune, who collaborated with the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurasawa on seventeen films, starred in some of the most acclaimed movies ever made, among them "The Seven Samurai" and "Rashomon". Like most screen legends, Mifune was a larger-than-life figure both on screen and off. His sometimes reckless habits and short-temper would ultimately put him at odds with Kurosawa, destroying their creative collaborations- but not before the two had made screen history. Mifune is the subject of a major new documentary by Steven Okazaki, "Mifune: The Last Samurai", which is receiving wide acclaim. Daily Beast writer Nick Schager takes a look back at Mifune's life and career and the impact the of the new film. Click here to read.
Good taste and Dr. Phil McGraw have always walked separate paths. McGraw, known by one and all in avuncular terms as "Dr. Phil", has been a mainstay of American chat shows for years ever since being championed by Oprah Winfrey. McGraw is typical of syndicated talk show hosts in that he often features troubled people in vulnerable conditions to whom he dispenses homespun advice to improve their lives. At times McGraw appears sympathetic but he often plays to the audience by chastising those he deems to be slackers or responsible for their own predicaments. It seems to please those viewers who relish seeing a parade of individuals who are less well-off than they are. The latest person to receive Dr. Phil's attention is actress Shelley Duvall, who has been mostly out of sight for over a decade. Duvall appeared on a recent episode of the show and was barely recognizable. She admits to suffering from mental illness and made bizarre claims such as her belief that her friend and "Popeye" co-star Robin Willilams is not really dead. Duvall tells McGraw "I am very sick. I need help." McGraw says he did arrange for Duvall to be sent to a mental health clinic in California but she left after a few days. He said she returned to her home in Texas where she is now receiving treatment, presumably at McGraw's expense. Duvall's appearance on McGraw's show was too much for Vivian Kubrick, daughter of legendary director Stanley Kubrick, who directed Duvall in his 1980 hit "The Shining". Vivian Kubrick sent off a couple of Tweets to McGraw, accusing him of exploiting the troubled actress. She said that when her friend, filmmaker Lee Unkrich began researching a book about the making of "The Shining", he contacted Duvall and was shocked by her mental condition. Kubrick has now set up a Gofundme page to raise funds on behalf of Duvall. However, that page has also raised some questions because it is vague about specifically how the funds raised will be used. Some readers have expressed concern that the monies might be turned over to Scientology, which Vivian is an adherent of, and which disdains traditional psychological treatments for mentally ill people. Vivian has been estranged from the Kubrick family since her involvement with the controversial religion. There is also the matter that the first line in the description of the Gofundme page is rather bizarrely worded: "Like many older movie stars, embarrassed finances is not uncommon." For more click here.
MGM's remake of its 1959 blockbuster "Ben-Hur" proved the old adage that you can't go home again. The studio had hoped that the religious community would rally around the film in much the same way they had done for other faith-based films, primarily Mel Gibson's 2004 production of "The Passion of the Christ". However, this time around those audiences stayed away in droves, leading to a write-down of $48 million for the quarter. Part of the problem isn't the studio's fault: there simply aren't the type of old school, epic-leading actors like Charlton Heston, who won an Oscar for the original film. However, the marketing campaign didn't help matters. In an attempt to broaden the film's appeal to mainstream audiences, a poorly-conceived trailer tried to make the movie look like a Marvel super hero flick, with gimmicky editing and an emphasis on special effects that may have alienated the religious community. The film cost $100 to make and grossed $94 million worldwide. However, that doesn't include the tens of millions in marketing costs that will not be recouped. It should be noted that the film was released by Paramount but mostly financed by MGM. Paramount's losses are estimated to be in the range of $13 million. Click here for more.
Film legend Jackie Chan has been awarded an honorary Oscar at a ceremony at which he was introduced by Chris Tucker and Tom Hanks. Chan grew up dreaming of someday getting an Oscar and when he finally did, it was in recognition to his overall contributions to the film industry. Other legends also received honorary Oscars at the ceremony including editor Anne V. Coates, documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman and casting director Lynne Stalmaster. These are all great choices and the Academy deserves credit for honoring them but movie fans won't get to the see them accept their awards except for in a fast-moving compilation of the speeches that lasts about a minute. Years ago the Academy decided that viewers were bored by seeing honorary Oscars given out, even though these had been considered highlights of the broadcast by true film scholars. Instead, in a blatant attempt to cater to concerns over ratings rather than artistry, overblown production numbers and time-wasting comedy skits have eaten up much of the time that should be allocated to the real purpose of the ceremony: to honor respected artists in their fields. Sadly, the most legendary of those artists have now been relegated to a second-class tier. The Academy argues, with some justification, that the separate ceremony allows the recipients to not have have their career achievements boiled down to a few minutes each. Fair enough...but why not arrange for the awards to be telecast earlier in the day, perhaps on a cable network, so that movie fans can enjoy the goings-on?
"Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice"- no one seemed to like the film except the audience.
In an interesting article for the New York Times, reporter Brooks Barnes analyzes the hits and misses pertaining to Warner Brothers. Interviewing chief executive Kevin Tsujihara, Brooks addresses the conventional wisdom in Hollywood that WB is a studio in turmoil. Yet Tsuhihara points out that 2016 has been a highly successful year with record operating profits being posted. "Quietly, we've been having an amazing year", he says. Even critically lambasted "tent pole" productions like "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad" turned solid profits and the studio is banking heavily on the JK Rowling story "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" as a potential blockbuster (Rowling wrote the screenplay). Other major films in the pipeline include "Wonder Woman", "Kong: Skull Island" and "Justice League" not to mention Christopher Nolan's WWII epic "Dunkirk". The studio doesn't just rely on mega-budget productions, however. Clint Eastwood's "Sully" turned out a profit as did other modestly-budgeted films and the studio's TV division booming, turning out old favorites like "The Big Bang Theory" and the new HBO series "Westworld". Click here to read.
The latest Marvel comic book screen adaptation, "Doctor Strange", has opened strong at the boxoffice with $85, according to Variety. There was speculation that Marvel was now moving into its "B" list of superheroes and that the film might be met with apathy by audiences who may not be familiar with the character. It looks like those fears have been put to rest. "Strange" tested well in screenings and the resulting boxoffice indicates it could be a major hit. "Hacksaw Ridge", the story of a conscientious objector during WWII, also opened with a "respectable" $14.7 million. The film marks Mel Gibson's latest attempt to recover some boxoffice mojo after the scandals that derailed his career years ago involving some cringe-inducing personal behavior. Gibson directed the flick but doesn't star in it but the movie's modest $40 price tag indicates it might well prove to be profitable. For more click here.
Robert Downey Jr. is developing a third Sherlock Holmes big screen adventure though the project is still in its early stages. According to Variety writers are being hired and Guy Ritchie, director the previous two Holmes films, is expected to return along with Jude Law, who plays Dr. Watson. The two previous Holmes films starring Downey and Law have grossed more than $500 million worldwide, not blockbuster status by today's standards but then again the films don't have the mammoth budgets of many other action/adventure movies. For more click here
Director Christopher Nolan is among the filmmakers who are wielding their clout to preserve the glory days of 35mm and 70mm film. Nolan has made it known that his forthcoming WWII epic "Dunkirk" will not only be seen in digital format, but will also have special engagements presented in both film formats. Quentin Tarantino also insisted upon releasing "The Hateful Eight" in 70mm, a format that was once the darling of the film industry before being deemed obsolete. Nolan's movie will depict the disastrous defeat of the British expeditionary force that tried to liberate occupied France in the early days of the war. The Brits managed to turn tragedy to triumph when an ad-hoc armada of small fishing vessels piloted by everyday citizens made the treacherous crossing to France under heavy fire to rescue the trapped British army. That they succeeded in doing so allowed Churchill to fight another day and hold out until America was finally in the war. Nolan's film is not a sure-bet with audiences which have usually been less-than-enthused about movies in which the heroes lose. John Wayne's 1960 epic "The Alamo" did well but never became the blockbuster many had anticipated. Richard Attenborough's 1977 film "A Bridge Too Far" told the story of the Allies' ill-fated invasion of Holland in 1944. It under-performed at the boxoffice. Still, we give Nolan credit for making a large scale WWII epic. In an age when many young people can't even identify their political leaders, film becomes an important tool for teaching history. - Lee Pfeiffer
It's a photo that will bring back many great memories for countless retro movie lovers across the globe. Participating in a centenary parade to honor his hometown of Carmel, California, Clint Eastwood shocked the crowd by leading a parade atop an old-time Western stagecoach and dressing as The Man With No Name, the character he made famous (and who made him famous) in the classic trilogy of films directed by Sergio Leone in the mid-1960s. For a man of 86, Eastwood stills looks might tall in the saddle. It appears that the hat he is wearing might be the one he wore in his 1992 Oscar-winner "Unforgiven". Eastwood became enamored of the Carmel area in the late 1960s. He filmed his first directorial effort, "Play Misty For Me" there in 1971. In 1986 Eastwood took a hiatus from acting to run for mayor the town. He was elected and served one successful term before resuming his career as an actor and director.
Unlike most actors, Eastwood can say that many of the costumes associated with his films have been preserved for posterity. His long association with Warner Brothers has resulted in the studio preserving an archive of his iconic costumes worn in WB films. Eastwood has been especially sentimental about the poncho he wore in the Leone trilogy and has only shown it publicly on rare occasions. In 2005 he authorized the poncho to be displayed at the Autry Center in Los Angeles as part of props exhibition relating to the films of Sergio Leone.
In a recent appearance on "The Late Show", Tom Cruise and host James Corden participated in a very ambitious and very funny recreation of scenes from Cruise's most famous cinematic roles. Cruise appeared on the show to promote his new film "Jack Reacher: Never Look Back".
Thirteen web sites sites that provide downloads of current movies and TV shows will be blocked by major internet providers after a key ruling in a UK court sided with complaints from the Motion Picture Assn. that such downloads are illegal and deprive studios of revenue. The sites are to be blocked within the next few days. The ruling virtually ensures that traffic to the sites will be reduced substantially. According to Variety, blocking such sites has proven to be an effective tool in the battle against video piracy, which is estimated to cost the industry hundreds of millions- and perhaps billions- of dollars a year. Studies show that when accessibility to pirated sites becomes unavailable, many consumers decide to pay for access to legal streaming services. For more click here.
In 2003, the renowned American artist Jeff Marshall (known for
his James Bond work) was commissioned to create a lithograph (officially
sanctioned by Hammer themselves) featuring several famous Hammer actresses -
Ingrid Pitt, Caroline Munro, Valerie Leon and Martine Beswick.
The first 100 of these limited edition lithographs were signed
and numbered by Jeff himself and have never been available to buy....until
have 006 - 100 for sale, unfortunately we cannot accommodate requests for
lithograph measures 20" x 30" and is printed on museum quality
lithograph will be shipped rolled in a sturdy poster tube.
Joe Sirola (left) and Robert Creighton at The Players club in New York City where Cagney was also a member. (Photo: Sam Hodgson for the New York Times).
If you haven't seen the smash hit musical "Cagney the Musical" starring Robert Creighton, currently playing to packed houses off-Broadway, then you're missing a sensational tribute to one of Hollywood's greatest legends. In a New York Times article, Creighton is interviewed along with actor (and Cinema Retro contributor) Joe Sirola about the Cagney legacy. Sirola, a Tony-award winner who is one of the producers of "Cagney the Musical", can speak about Cagney through first-hand experience, as he co-starred with him in the last scene Cagney ever filmed in the 1984 television production "Terrible Joe Moran". Click here to read. Click here for the official "Cagney: The Musical" web site.
For fans of "The Magnificent Seven", the sands in the hourglass have finally run out. Since the mid-1990s, there have been attempts by studio executives to bring director John Sturges' classic 1960 Western back to the big screen. There was a reasonably popular TV series based on the film that aired in the 1990s but no big screen feature film ever went into production- until now. We realize it is irresponsible to judge a film simply on the basis of its trailer. However, it is appropriate to judge the trailer on its own merits. Suffice it to say that the trailer for the new big screen version of "The Magnificent Seven" stinks-- on ice. First, it's cut in the same style that virtually every action movie trailer now follows. It's as though the creators of these trailers are in arrested development from the era of when MTV videos were all the rage. It moves at lightning speed and tells you precious little about the story. What we can glean is that the notion of a band of misfit gunfighters traveling to Mexico to protect innocent villagers from banditos has largely been altered. Apparently all of the action in the new film takes place north o' the border. Denzel Washington takes on the lead role, following in the footsteps of Yul Brynner, Lee Van Cleef and George Kennedy. (Brynner excelled in the first film but plodded through the first sequel, "Return of the Seven". Kennedy and Van Cleef registered even worse in the ill-advised sequels "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" and "Guns of the Magnificent Seven".) At least all of those films had a consistency in that the lead character's name was "Chris" throughout. This time around, Washington plays someone named "Sam Chisholm". We're told that this movie isn't a remake but a "re-imagining" of the classic film. "Re-imagining" is now often used as a justification for taking elements of a superior film and tampering with them for commercial purposes. This version seems like a cookie-cutter attempt to make some fast cash. It seems devoid of any passion or even respect for the original and is filled with wise-cracking characters who fire off one-liners while blowing things up. How can you even think about making any version of "The Magnificent Seven" without utilizing Elmer Bernstein's classic score? Well, they've apparently done it. The late James Horner provided the score for this version and we'll reserve judgment. However, the musical instincts found in the trailer are foreboding, as the action is set to a rock version of "House of the Rising Sun". After all, nothing brings out a feeling for the Wild West like "House of the Rising Sun". Maybe the final cut will feature Madonna's "Vogue", as well. The film reunites Denzel Washington with his "Training Day" co-star Ethan Hawke and that film's director Antoine Fuqua. They are all talented men but Washington long ago relegated his status as one of America's finest actors in favor of taking a quick pay check in lousy action movies and Fuqua has been associated with a number of "by the numbers" action films in recent years. We at Cinema Retro are also calling upon studios to make more Westerns so we don't want to judge the final product until we actually see "The Magnificent Seven" when it is released later this year. Perhaps we'll be pleasantly surprised- but based on this dreadful trailer, we're not counting on it.
It was forty years ago today that director Alan J. Pakula's landmark ode to journalism, "All the President's Men", opened in movie theaters. It was, of course, based on the best-selling book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, whose dogged investigation of a seemingly trivial break-in of Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern's campaign HQ would turn the story into an international thriller that would ultimately bring down what Bernstein has called "the criminal" administration of President Richard M. Nixon. As with most scandals, the break-in itself was just the tip of the iceberg. By the time Nixon's embattled Presidency was over in August 1974, even Republicans had been calling for his head. Nixon was determined to face impeachment hearings. It fell to that symbol of conservatism, Sen. Barry Goldwater, to inform the President that the scope of the crimes committed during his administration would not be condoned by members of his own party: he had to resign because recent revelations about the cover-up convinced his fellow Republicans that they could no longer give him any benefit of a doubt. Nixon did resign, ending his political career in disgrace just shy of two years since enjoying the greatest landslide re-election in American history. (Ultimately, dozens of his adminstration members would go to jail, some for crimes unrelated to Watergate. In the midst of the scandal, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned after pleasing "no contest" to charges he had been accepting bribes that were delivered directly to his office in the White House.) Pakula's film version of the Watergate investigation was released just two years after these dramatic events had occurred and they were very fresh in the minds of the public. In a new article for The Washington Post, writer Michael Cavna extols the importance of the film and interviews Woodward and Bernstein about their impressions of the movie. He also justly cites the role of cinematographer Gordon Willis in bringing to life one of the greatest suspense stories of our time. - Lee Pfeiffer
Sofia Coppola is said to be preparing a remake of director Don Siegel's "The Beguiled", a Gothic drama set during the American Civil War and set in a dilapidated school for young women in the war-torn South. Clint Eastwood starred in the original film which was released in 1971. It marked a rare boxoffice bomb for Siegel and Eastwood, who would team again for the smash hit "Dirty Harry" later that year. Eastwood played a wounded Northern soldier who is given shelter and care by the students in the school and their headmistress, played by Geraldine Page. Over a period of weeks, the Eastwood character realizes that the women around him are all sexually frustrated and that he can manipulate them into doing his bidding. Before long he is carrying on multiple affairs but jealousy inevitably rears its head and leads to some ghastly developments. The film was a bold departure for Eastwood, as he played a manipulative and unsympathetic character. Although the movie was under-appreciated in its day, its stature has grown with critics and film scholars, some of whom regard it as a major achievement in both Eastwood and Siegel's careers. The Coppola project is said to have an impressive female cast lined up that includes Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning. We're told this will be a "new take" on the original film. We're tempted to say "Uh oh", but Coppola is a skilled director so we'll give her the benefit of the doubt until more information is released. Pivotal to the film's prospects will be the casting of the male lead, which has not been announced yet.
(For full analysis of "The Beguiled", see Cinema Retro's special issue "The American Westerns of Clint Eastwood". )
There is no doubt that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has earned Disney the right to crow about being the top-grossing film of all time. However, when one considers what a film grosses, a major aspect in the equation is often overlooked in terms of considering ticket prices over the decades. Boxoffice Mojo has made that adjustment and the results are enlightening. If inflation is considered, plenty of "golden oldies" rocket back up the list, an indication that a film's true success should be calculated in terms of the number of tickets sold, not boxoffice dollars. One would also assume that the older films were also far more profitable on a dollar-for-dollar basis given the fact that production costs were far less in years past. The adjusted chart shows that "Gone With Wind" is still the all-time boxoffice champ with the original "Star Wars" in second place. The top-grossing James Bond film becomes "Thunderball" (1965) (#30 on the list) which would have an adjusted boxoffice gross today of $644,000,000. "Jaws", "The Godfather" and "The Sound of Music", each of which shared the highest grossing film honor at one time, also go far back up the adjusted chart. Keep in mind that these numbers pertain only to the North American market. If international grosses were adjusted for inflation, these numbers would be even more eye-popping. For example, "Thunderball" was made on a budget of approximately $6 million. The latest Bond film "Spectre" has grossed close to $900 million to date but also was reputed to cost over $250 million. Click here to read.
Disney has pushed back the release of "Star Wars: Episode VIII" from May, 2017 to December, 2017. No explanation was provided in the Variety article that reported the shift in strategy. However, principal filming is on schedule to commence in England next month with Rian Johnson taking over the director's chair from J.J. Abrams, who helmed the current blockbuster in the series "Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Johnson has also written the screenplay. For more click here.
Glory days: the Ziegfeld hosted many premieres over the decades including the 1972 gala for Bob Fosse's "Cabaret". Forty years later the Ziegfeld hosted Liza Minnelli and other cast members who returned for a screening of the restored version of the film.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
In 1969 the Ziegfeld Theatre in Manhattan opened its doors for the first time. The lavish theater quickly won the hearts of movie fans. It was an elaborate place and showcased top films. It was considered New York's secondary jewel, however, as Radio City Music Hall was still alive and well and showing top-notch movies. Over the years Radio City closed its doors, a victim of changing times in the film industry. The Hall would only show family friendly films and there were precious few that could profitably play at the cavernous theater. You used to be able to get to a first run movie and a big stage show for five bucks but, after a while, nobody came. After the Hall closed and reopened, you can now see the stage show only for about a hundred bucks and the place is packed. Go figure. Now the Ziegfeld will follow Radio City into the realm of glorious Gotham cinematic memories. The landlord has notified management that the lease will not be renewed and the theater is expected to close in the next few weeks. It will mark the end of Manhattan's last single-screen theater. Ironically the plug wasn't pulled by the theater's owners, Cablevision, who kept the venue open despite losses of over $1 million a year. Under Cablevision the theater played first run movies but also periodically showed restored classics. The theater also hosted the occasional premiere. However, American studios rarely hold the kind of glorious premieres that were once regular occurrences, thus resulting in the loss of a key part of the theater's income. The theater's name will change to the Ziegfeld Ballroom and will now be hosting corporate events although the new owners will keep the screen intact primarily as a decoration and promise that occasional films will still be screened there.
Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer at the Ziegfeld's New York premiere of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E" in August 2015.
For this writer the closing of the Ziegfeld seemed like an inevitability in changing times when multi-plex cinemas dominate the landscape. The first film I saw there was the 1969 reissue of "The Sand Pebbles" starring Steve McQueen. It was being promoted with a new ad campaign that capitalized on the anti-Vietnam war movement that had emerged since the film originally opened in 1966. I recall being a wide-eyed 13 year-old and being swept away by the grandeur of the place even though I had been to the even grander Radio City countless times. I have nothing but wonderful memories of the Ziegfeld. In 1975 when I was the film critic for my student university newspaper I would get invitations from the studios to attend movie events there. For blue collar kid from right across the river in Jersey City who was working his way through college, it was pure bliss. I recall taking my girlfriend (now wife) to what I thought was a standard advance screening of Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" in 1975 and being mortified to find everyone else dressed to the nines for some kind of prestigious unveiling of the film. (They even gave you the vinyl soundtrack album on the way out. Pure Heaven!) Over the decades I have seen countless films there and witnessed the slow but inevitable decline in the atmosphere. My last visit there was in August for the premiere of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." feature film. Despite having a somewhat tired interior, the old place still rallied for one last red carpet, celebrity-packed event. I won't be going to the Ziegfeld again before it closes because I want that very special evening to be my lasting memory of a very special place, one that will remain alive and well at least in the hearts of movie lovers. "Closing Channel 'D'", indeed.
Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly will star respectively as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in a new BBC production titled "Stan and Ollie". The film is shaping up as an affectionate tribute to the legendary comedy duo and will concentrate on their last personal appearance tour which took place in the UK in 1953. Hardy's health was failing at the time but they continued the tour as initially anemic attendance statistics began to grow. Ultimately the tour proved to be highly successful even as Laurel and Hardy came to the realization that their long-time professional partnership was at an end. Oliver Hardy died in 1957. Stan Laurel passed away in 1965. For more click here.
Nominations for the 88th annual Academy Awards have been announced. "The Revenant" topped the nominations with. "Mad Max: Fury Road" was a surprise in that it received ten nominations. Sentimental favorite Sylvester Stallone has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for "Creed". Legendary composer Ennio Morricone was nominated for Best Score for "The Hateful Eight". Previous Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence received her fourth nomination (for "Joy"), making her the youngest actress (age 25) to achieve that honor. Snubs included Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott for Best Director even though their films "Bridge of Spies" and "The Martian" were nominated for Best Picture. The films "Carol" and "Inside Out" also failed to get expected Best Picture nods though the latter was nominated for Best Animated Feature. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", now the highest grossing film of all time, failed to score in any of the major categories but did get technical nominations. The James Bond film "Spectre" received a Best Song nomination for Sam Smith's "Writings on the Wall".
Guillermo Del Toro is set to direct a long-planned, often delayed big screen remake of the 1966 sci-fi hit "Fantastic Voyage". James Cameron is behind the plans to bring the remake to reality. The film centers on a group of scientists who are miniaturized and inserted into the body of another prominent scientist in order to remove a blood clot that has endangered his life. Matters of international security depend upon successful completion of the mission but things go awry and endanger the would-be rescuers. The original film, directed by Richard Fleischer, was acclaimed for its (then) state-of-the-art special effects. The film also provided an early career hit for young Raquel Welch who was then a contract player at 20th Century Fox. Other original cast members included Stephen Boyd, Edmond O'Brien and Donald Pleasence. The remake is still in its early stages with no completed script and no casting decided upon.
The annual BAFTA nominations for the best achievements in filmmaking have been announced. Top contenders are "Carol" and "Bridge of Spies" which each nabbed 9 nominations. "The Revenant" and "Mad Max: Fury Road" received 8 and 7 nominations respectively. The awards ceremony will take place on February 14th in London. The importance of the BAFTAs for the American film industry has increased substantially in recent years as BAFTA nominations are often seen as indications of which films will receive Oscar nominations. For the full list click here.
Cosby co-starred with Robert Culp in the hit 1960s NBC TV series "I Spy".
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Legendary comedian and actor Bill Cosby has been formally charged with sexually assaulting a woman who said she considered him a friend and mentor. The incident is said to have occurred in 2004. Pennsylvania prosecutors cite new evidence that was unveiled in relation to the case, which was first reported by the alleged victim in 2005. At the time, prosecutors chose not to file charges. Cosby has been accused of sexual assault over the decades by many women whose stories are quite similar. They state that Cosby lured them into a trusting relationship, then used drugs to immobilize them. He then allegedly sexually assaulted them. Cosby has denied committing any illegal acts and has brought a lawsuit against on of the women, model and actress Beverly Johnson, claiming that she have slandered his reputation. He has admitted in a 2005 deposition that he had obtained prescriptions for Quaaludes and would give the pills to women with the expectation of having sex with them. However he never clarified whether the women knew that was his intent and if the sex was consensual following their ingesting of the pills. Allegations of sexual abuse have dogged Cosby since the 1960s when he burst onto the scene as one of America's brightest young stand-up comics. In 1965 he co-starred with Robert Culp in the TV series "I Spy" which earned him Emmy awards and respect for breaking down racial barriers as the first African American actor to star in a dramatic TV series. In the ensuing decades Cosby has become an iconic presence in American pop culture. His 1980s sitcom series became a smash hit and ran for many years, defining the epitome of "Must See TV". Some of Cosby's alleged victims have claimed that his iconic status and powerful connections discouraged law enforcement officials from aggressively pursuing their claims. Ironically, the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania for the crime Cosby is charged with would have expired in 2016. Cosby was arraigned in court today. For more click here.
There have been countless tributes to Frank Sinatra on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Here is some great footage of Sinatra recording Ervin Drake's superb and haunting "It Was a Very Good Year" in 1966 when Sinatra was arguably at the peak of his career.
Kenneth Branagh will direct a remake of Agatha Christie's classic thriller "Murder on the Orient Express" (originally published under the title "Murder in the Calais Coach"). Branagh will also star in the feature film as detective Hercule Poirot. The film was last brought to the big screen in 1974 by director Sidney Lumet in an Oscar-winning production that featured a cast of legendary actors including Albert Finney (in an Oscar-nominated role as Poirot); Ingrid Bergman (who did win an Oscar for her performance), Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Richard Widmark, Anthony Perkins, Michael York and many other greats from the era. No word on who will co-star with Branagh. For more click here.
Lucas put on a happy face when he sold his rights to "Star Wars" to Disney in 2012. Since then, he's made his frustrations public about not being able to further the original story lines he had envisioned for the series, which he describes as a "soap opera".
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Don't invite George Lucas and Mickey Mouse to the same cocktail party. The "Star Wars" creator was not at all happy with negative feedback from fans in relation to the last trilogy of films in the series that he had creative control over. Lucas, in an interview with CBS News, states that he was frustrated by the perception that the series should be about "space ships" instead of human relationships. Thus, Lucas threw in the towel, sold his rights to Disney, took his billions in profits and went home. He's basically washed his hands of "Star Wars" and realizes that the Disney vision will be about fan perceptions of the series, not his original story lines. Lucas says he still wants to direct, but prefers to work on the kinds of experimental movies that "will not be shown anywhere". In essence, Lucas is about to embark on creating prestigious home movies ever made. Lucas isn't alone in his disdain for the modern film industry. His colleague Francis Ford Coppola hasn't made a major studio film since "The Rainmaker" in 1997 and spends much of his time either tending to his successful wine business while occasionally directing films that give him personal satisfaction even though they have very limited commercial appeal. Today's film industry is about developing "tent pole" series that can spawn numerous sequels. Seemingly every other movie in release features a spy or a guy in tights. Still, every year finds a crop of worthy art house movies that often find their intended audiences and win awards. One would hope that Lucas and Coppola might some day find a happy medium and direct films that have at least some commercial appeal. The caveat, of course, is that both men are used to having complete creative control over the projects, a demand that would generally fall on deaf ears today. For more click here.
This gentleman was photographed at this year's Victory Show, a WWII re-enactment festival that was held in September in Cosby, England. If you have to ask who he resembles, it's time to purchase our special issue dedicated to "Kelly's Heroes".