Brynner, Richard Widmark and George Chakiris share top billing in “Flight From
Ashiya” a 1964 Japanese- American co-production originally released by United
Artists. The movie is dedicated to and takes place within the world of the United
States Air Force Air Rescue Service. Created in 1946, the Air Rescue Service mission
is to rescue downed military aircrew. Their motto, which is displayed
throughout the opening credits, reads: “That Others May Live.” In 1947 the
mission was expanded to that of a special operations unit which later included
Navy SEAL like Pararescuemen or “PJs” supporting everything from
humanitarian rescue missions to NASA astronaut recovery.
story of “Flight From Ashiya” is a mix of military themed clichés and melodrama
which fans of this genre will find familiar. Two Air Rescue Service teams stationed
at Ashiya Air Base in Japan depart on Air Force float planes to rescue a group
of Japanese civilians who are clinging on to a make-shift raft after being shipwrecked
during a typhoon. With the typhoon still raging, the first float plane crashes
while attempting a landing on the choppy storm tossed water. The special
effects are well done for the era and the aircraft models look realistic. For
the new viewer today living in the era of over-used CGI effects, the models and
water tank footage may appear old fashioned, but it all works if the viewer
considers this movie was made decades before modern special effects.
three men at the center of the story suffer from what we commonly refer to today
as post traumatic stress syndrome. As they circle above the shipwreck survivors
while the typhoon rages, we learn through a series of flashbacks that each man is
opening up emotional baggage throughout the rescue which is packed with doses
of love, pain, guilt, hate, sorrow and loss. Brynner, Widmark and Chakiris are
convincing as military men and their performances allow us to forgive the
limitations of the special effects.
Chakiris plays Lt. John Gregg, a pilot stationed with Widmark and Brynner in
Germany prior to their assignment in Japan. He feels responsible for the civilian
avalanche victims he was unable to rescue in 1954. In his flashback, the team
initially manages to land their rescue helicopter, drop off supplies and take
back a few survivors. Brynner assists in delivering a baby and we see a hint of
Widmark’s troubled past in a brief flashback within this flashback followed by
a racially charged tirade toward Brynner, who we learn is half Japanese.
Chakiris insists on returning and Widmark reluctantly agrees. Their helicopter
can only carry a dozen people at a time and on the return trip the helicopter rotor
blades cause another avalanche which kills the remaining survivors.
plays Lt. Col. Glenn Stevenson, a tough Air Force veteran and survivor of a
Japanese prisoner of war camp. He was a civilian pilot and owner of a charter
airline flying supplies out of Manila, Philippines. On the eve of the Japanese
invasion of the Philippines and America’s entry in WWII, he meets his future
wife, Caroline Gordon. She’s a journalist covering the victims of a recent earthquake
for which Stevenson just happens to be flying supplies. Shirley Knight plays
Caroline in a brief and understated role as Widmark’s soon to be wife. They end
up in a Japanese prison camp and Widmark begs the Japanese camp commander for
medicine, which is denied. Their baby and his wife die in the camp and Widmark
carries this resentment to the other rescue missions.
plays Master Sgt. Mike Takashima, the senior paramedic of the team. He’s an
Army corpsmen in North Africa in 1943 during WWII during his flashback where he
meets a beautiful French speaking woman named Leila. He introduces himself
with, “Mike Takashima... father Japanese, mother Polish.” We soon learn that
she is Muslim and she and everyone else tells him their romance is not meant to
be. Not willing to give up, Brynner tells her, “My father was a Buddhist, my
mother a Seventh-day Adventist.” As Brynner searches for Leila on his
departure, she comes running to him just as a demolition team detonates an
unexploded bomb, killing Leila.
sweats a lot during the typhoon rescue mission. He’s the co-pilot and his guilt
over the avalanche deaths is relived when Widmark arrives as the replacement
pilot at the start of the movie. Widmark is faced with his racism and
resentment as he initially declines landing the float plane to rescue the
Japanese civilians. Brynner drops to the survivors with a life raft and offers
medical assistance. The three men wrap up their flashbacks and complete the
is convincingly commanding whenever he plays military men and this movie is no
exception. Likewise, Brynner is also terrific as Mike in spite of appearing
more Polish than Japanese. Widmark and Brynner are compelling in all their
films, this one included. They have a few key scenes together during the
typhoon rescue and the avalanche flashback rescue, but do not upstage one
is on hand for the younger audience members and is probably best remembered for
his skill as a dancer in “West Side Story” for which he won a best supporting
actor Oscar. He danced his way through other movies including the Jacques Demy
musical “The Young Girls of Rochefort” featuring
Catherine Deneuve and Gene Kelly. He also co-stared previously with Brynner in
“Kings of the Sun,” and later appeared in a stage revival of “The King and I.”
He worked with Charlton Heston in the drama “Diamond Head” and appeared in
other military themed movies like “633 Squadron” “Is Paris Burning?” and
McGuire Go Home.” He transitioned to TV roles in the 1970s and retired from
acting in the late 1990s to focus on making handcrafted jewelry.
Knight is very good in her brief scenes with Widmark. Primarily a stage and TV actress
with roles in dozens of TV series throughout her continuing prolific career,
Knight was occasionally cast in high profile movies including “Sweet Bird of
Youth,” “House of Women,” “Petulia,” “Juggernaut” and “As Good as it Gets.”
model and actress Daniele Gaubert plays the beautiful Leila in the Yul Brynner
flashback scenes. We see her briefly on the beach in a one-piece swimsuit and
she speaks only French onscreen. She had a brief acting career and is probably
best known as the star of Radley Metzger’s “Camille 2000.” She was married to
Olympic skier Jean-Claude Killy until her death from cancer at age 44.
Parker plays Lucille Carroll in the third female role, but she has very little
to do in the contemporary scenes back at the Air Rescue Service operations
center. It’s not clear exactly why she’s there other than to give concerned
commentary and look worried as radio reports come in. Parker was an American
model and actress who had parts in a handful of high profile movies and TV
series such as “Funny Face,” “Kiss Them for Me,” “The Best of Everything,” “The
Interns” and appearances in the TV series “Twilight Zone,” “It Takes a Thief”
and “Night Gallery.”
movie was directed by Michael Anderson, who had a long and prolific career and
is the director of many fan favorites. I remember watching his 1956 version of
George Orwell’s “1984” in high school after we read the book. Despite its
critics, I still enjoy his “Around the World in 80 Days” which was a broadcast
TV “event” in the era before home video and cable TV. “The Dam Busters,” “The
Wreck of the Mary Deare,” “Operation Crossbow,” “The Quiller Memorandum,” “The
Shoes of the Fisherman” and “Logan’s Run” are a few of the highlights in
Anderson’s prolific career.
From Ashiya” is predictable and melodramatic, but enjoyable and winds to a
satisfying 100 minute conclusion. The widescreen Panavision image looks very
well preserved and the audio is also more than satisfactory.. The DVD is
made-to-order through the MGM Limited Edition Collection and has no extras.
"Jurassic World" may have received mediocre reviews but the dinosaur flick has taken a gigantic bite out of the boxoffice with the second highest opening weekend gross in history (behind "The Avengers") with over $204 million. For more, click here.
The estate of Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has sued Miramax for damages regarding its forthcoming feature film "Mr. Holmes" which stars Ian McKellan as Holmes in retirement. The estate claims that the screenplay has borrowed from elements of the ten stories that are still under copyright control by Doyle's ancestors. A court ruling in the USA declared that all but ten of Doyle's works are in the public domain, meaning the story elements can be used without payment of licensing or royalty fees. However, the Doyle estate jealously guards key elements of the Holmes legend that appear in the ten works that are still under their control. The estate points out in their lawsuit that the producers of the recent Sherlock Holmes feature films and the hit BBC series "Sherlock" have paid licensing fees and accuse Miramax of trying to avoid doing the same. For more click here.
The majestic Loew's Theatre on Journal Square in Jersey City, New Jersey is one of the theaters that had been saved from destruction.
There's few things sadder than witnessing the decline and neglect of a one time movie palace. At least in the New York City area, this trend is finally being reversed thanks to major restoration efforts to save and preserve these landmark cinema showcases. The New York Times has a major piece on these restoration efforts, which are affording movie lovers the opportunity to enjoy classic films and cultural events in these historical settings. Click here to read.
Variety reports that Bradley Cooper is in negotiations to direct the latest big screen remake of "A Star is Born". It is not known whether he intends to star, as well. The film was originally made in the 1930s with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. It was successfully remade in the 1950s with Judy Garland and James Mason. In 1976, Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson starred in a modern version of the tale that was largely reviled by critics but proved to be a major boxoffice success. In recent years, Cooper's "American Sniper" director Clint Eastwood announced plans to direct another remake of the film but plans went on hold when his star, Beyonce, dropped out of the project due to pregnancy. It would appear that Eastwood has now moved on from plans to be involved in this latest remake. It's also unknown whether Beyonce will be attached to the production. If it comes to fruition, this would make Cooper's directorial debut.
The Italian fashion house Antony Morato has funded the digital restoration of director Vittoria De Sica's 1971 classic "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis", which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. The movie depicts the tragic story of an influential and affluent Jewish family in Italy prior to their deportation to Nazi death camps. The restoration will be shown at numerous international film festivals in recognition of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The restored film will premiere at a gala celebration in Rome on March 25, which will be attended by the De Sica family. For more click here.
Director Steven Spielberg has reunited with Tom Hanks for the recently-completed Cold War espionage thriller "Bridge of Spies", which tells the true story of a famous prisoner exchange that took place on a bridge in Potsdam. The intrigue involved American efforts to get back military pilot Francis Gary Powers, whose U2 spy plane had been shot down over the Soviet Union, thus giving the communists a major propaganda victory. The film will be scored by John Williams, who marks his 27th collaboration with Spielberg. For more click here.
Ford's WWII-era private plane in the aftermath of today's crash.
Iconic actor Harrison Ford has been injured in a private plane crash this afternoon. Ford, an experienced pilot, was flying his WWII-era plane when it crashed on a Los Angeles golf course this afternoon. Ford had been at the wheel of the plane and there were no other passengers. Witnesses said Ford suffered injuries and was bloodied. He was transported to a local hospital where he has been reportedly listed in critical condition. The story is developing...Details often change as more facts are known, but this is what is being reported by TMZ and NBC News. For more click here.
Director John Sturges' classic 1960 Western "The Magnificent Seven" will be remade as a big screen MGM Western by director Antoine Fuqua. Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke and Haley Bennett are the first cast members to be announced. The original film was based on another classic, director Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai". For decades, MGM has been trying to launch a remake of the film but the closest the studio came was with a moderately successful TV series. At various times, names like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Cruise had been linked to remakes that never bore fruit. The first movie spawned three big screen sequels between 1966 and 1972. At the time it premiered, the only big name stars in the cast were Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach. However, the success of the movie helped launch supporting actors Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn and James Coburn to full-fledged leading man status. German actor Horst Bucholz also went on to a very successful career. The remaining major cast member, Brad Dexter, became a film producer. For more click here.
If you're as addicted as we are to director Joe Dante's "Trailers From Hell" web site, maybe you can help the site continue to grow. "Trailers From Hell" presents an amazing number of original theatrical trailers for everything from classic cinema to "B" movies and schlock films. Best of all, each trailer is accompanied by a commentary track by a well-known filmmaker, writer, or movie historian. You can view the trailers both with or without the commentaries. Joe tries his best to present and preserve these precious artifacts of movie marketing but there are some titles that have eluded him. Click here to find out the trailers on his "must have" list and see if you can help!
"Boyhood" won the coveted Best Film award at this year's BAFTAs. Richard Linklater won the director's award for the same film. Eddie Redmayne won for Leading Actor for "The Theory of Everything" and Julianne Moore won Leading Actress for "Still Alice". Click here for full list of winners.
In the wake of their success with "Gone Girl", Ben Affleck and director David Fincher will re-team for a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1951 thriller "Strangers on a Train". The original film is regarded as one of Hitchcock's best. The movie starred Farley Granger as a dapper young tennis pro who has a chance encounter with a man of similar age, played by Robert Walker, with whom he shares a compartment on a train. To pass the time, the men engage in a macabre "what-if" scenario to see if they can construct the perfect crime. They come up with what appears to be a foolproof plan. Both men name a bothersome real life person as the presumed "victim". They then agree that if each man carried out a murder on behalf of the other man, they would never be caught because they have no ties to each other and don't even know the person they will murder. The two men part company but Granger is horrified when he discovers Walker took the conversation literally and has murdered the person Granger had named as the victim. Worse, he now insists that Granger carry out his part of the plan or be murdered himself. The ingenious story line has a timeless appeal but Affleck and Fincher are walking on thin ice in terms of incurring the wrath of Hitchcock enthusiasts who regard his work as sacred. On the other hand, they obviously hope to appeal to young audiences, among whom many probably never even heard of Hitchcock, let alone the original film. The original has also been analyzed extensively for what many consider to be a homo-erotic attraction between the characters played by Granger and Walker, who had a field day creating one of the era's most memorable movie villains. Given Affleck will star, chances are this element of the original film will not be present in the remake. Click here for more.
There is a reason why most home-grown Chinese films are set in ancient times.
In an enlightening article in the New York Times, screenwriter Nury Vittachi analyzes the current state of the film industry in communist China. His verdict? Not good. Despite decades of capitalist reforms that have resulted in new freedoms and the emergence of a middle class, Big Brother is still watching over the people and arts. Vittachi laments the fact that the arts commissions that oversee every film production made in China are still clinging to the ludicrous idea that citizens will believe they are living in a real-life Shangri-la if only they don't see disturbing story lines on screen. Thus, in order to get a film made with government approval, there can be no evidence of criminal activity among Chinese citizens, no prostitution, virtually no vice of any kind- and at all times government officials must be portrayed in a heroic light. Vittachi discusses the creative loopholes filmmakers try to employ in order to get around these Draconian rules. Click here to read.
Clint Eastwood may not have snagged a Best Director Oscar nomination last week, but he's having the last laugh at the North American boxoffice. Until now, the highest weekend opening of an Eastwood film had been $29 million for "Gran Torino" in 2008. "Sniper" is projected to bring in $90 million this weekend. Warner Brothers described the film as a "cultural phenomenon" and industry analysts attribute the astonishing grosses to excellent word-of-mouth. Making the studio brass even more delighted is that Eastwood is from the old school of filmmakers: he works fast, efficiently and within a modest budget. "Sniper" cost only $60 million to make, ensuring that it will become a major financial success. Click here for more.
Western movie lovers of a certain age often reminisce about the era in which going to big ticket films was a special experience. "Roadshow" presentations played in select big city movie houses for extended runs before the film was released to local theaters nationally. In some cases, films could play for months in roadshow engagements before people in small towns and suburbia could see a blockbuster flick in their local theater. This trend is all but dead today. Even the biggest hits have short theatrical runs, at least compared to the old days. That's because studios want to capitalize on the recent marketing campaigns by moving quickly to pay-per-view, home video and cable exploitation of a hit movie. However, in India- where passions for all things cinematic run deep- one particular film has been running consistently in a Mumbai cinema for twenty years. The simple love story titled "Dilwale Duhhania Le Jayenge" touched a nerve with Indian audiences. It centers on a young Indian woman who is living in London and is about to wed through a marriage arranged by her father. This is an old and revered Indian custom that is still widely adhered to even by the younger generation. Prior to the young woman moving to a village in India where she will wed and reside, she has a chance encounter with an attractive young man and they fall in love. What sets the film apart from most cinematic depictions of such dilemmas is that the young couple doesn't simply run off but, rather, try to convince the girl's father to rescind the agreement through which his daughter will marry. Such a notion is quite controversial in India and the situation depicted on screen has consistently spoken to audiences that identify with the young couple, as well as the girl's father. The film still often plays to sold-out audiences. For more (and to view the trailer) click here.
We're not the only ones who act like Scrooge when it comes to evaluating the present state of movie poster designs. There was a time when even "B" movies boasted epic posters. Today, we have bloated $250 million productions that are marketed with cheapo poster designs that look like they were knocked out by some folks in a marketing agency in the course of 15 minutes. The Huffington Post seems to agree, as evidenced by their comparison of how Christmas-themed movies have been marketed in recent years. There seems to be only a couple of basic designs that are copied and recopied by unimaginative poster designers.
If you want to see truly imaginative poster designs, just scan fan pages on the web. The mock up "unofficial" posters you'll find there generally blow away the junk being released by major studios. Maybe it's appropriate, as most of these films are unwatchable. There may be a few gems here and there but many of them feel they have to include scatological jokes and gags and fill the screen with screaming, dysfunctional families.
As for the present state of holiday movie designs, we can sum up our feelings in one word: "Humbug!"
After facing blistering criticism from arts groups, ,actors, writers, producers, directors and even the president of the United States, Sony has announced that it will release "The Interview" to select independent theaters on Christmas Day. Sony has maintained it has been trying to find venues for the film all along, but as Cinema Retro pointed out previously, they apparently weren't looking very hard. While it is true that major theater chains are still refusing to show the film due threats of violence from the hackers, who are believed to be working for the North Korean government, independent theater owners would eagerly play the film- if for no other reason that to make a statement against self-imposed censorship. Now an unspecified number of such theaters will be showing "The Interview" on Christmas Day, the original date the movie was intended to premiere across North America. Sony appears to have been chastised by criticism but more recently, bolstered by support, not only from the arts community but also the Obama administration. Look for a deal to make the film available via streaming to be announced in the near future, as that seems like the inevitable next step. Click here for more.
She was the most famous pin-up model of the 20th century. She had an air of sweetness and innocence about her, even as she posed for kinky photos, often with more than a hint of S&M about them. The Huffington Post reports that the late, great Bettie Page is alive and well-- in spirit, anyway- as evidenced by a revival of interest in the pin-up culture she helped kick into high gear in the 1950s and 1960s.
She is the subject of films and stage productions, as the "Bad Girl" image of the 1940s comes roaring back into the 2000s- and much of it is inspired by charitable efforts to aid veterans. Seems only fair. After all, it was WWII G.Is and swabbies who immortalized their favorite female stars through tacking up sexy photos of them on their walls and lockers. Click here to read.
In a wide-ranging year-end press conference, an upbeat President Obama discussed a range of issues from the recent changes to the foreign policy with Cuba to the Keystone Pipeline. However, the entertainment industry will be most interested in his opinion that Sony "made a mistake" by canceling plans to show the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy "The Interview". Unless you've been living in a cave for the last few weeks, you are aware that Sony suffered a humiliating hack of its private E mails and corporate data. In a rare instance of a sitting President immersing himself in a discussion of a specific motion picture, President Obama confirmed what everyone suspected: that the hack was orchestrated by the North Korean government in retaliation for the satirical plot line of the film that involves the assassination of dictator Kim Jong Un. The President said that the decision to pull the film prior to its release amounted to giving in to the hackers and sets a slippery slope for future demands that might be made. The President presented a scenario in which studios might be threatened about the content of future films and news broadcasts. He said he feared a scenario in which people in the creative community would self-censor future projects rather than incur potential threats. The President expressed sympathy with Sony executives, who he acknowledged suffered severe damage due to the hacking. He also said he understood the studio's concerns regarding threats of violence should the film be released. However, the President also said he "wished they had spoken to me" prior to making the decision to meet the hacker's demands, but acknowledged that, as a private corporation, Sony acted in what they thought was their best interest.
The President's candid remarks surprised some in the media who expected him to give a more nuanced response in regard to the Sony situation. However, Obama was feisty, humorous and- in the words of a CNN analyst- in a "bouyant" mood, trading wise-cracks with members of the press. Obama stated his opinion that it shows the vulnerability of the North Korean government that they can be intimidated by a Seth Rogen movie, causing loud laughter from the press corps. Obama sheepishly added that he "loved" Rogen and co-star James Franco but said that no government should feel threatened by a satirical comedy.
On a more serious note, the President vowed that the USA would respond "proportionally" to the North Korean hack but would not specify what actions that might entail.
The President's position on the Sony issue seems to mirror that of widespread reaction in the filmmaking community.Actor/director George Clooney tried to get major studios to sign a letter stating that they would not bow to future demands to censor their product. No one studio executive would sign the letter.
Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that Sony received a letter purportedly from the hackers who praised the decision by Sony to pull the film, saying it was a "wise" decision. However, the letter also made additional demands from the studio, primarily that Sony also withdraw any trailers relating to "The Interview" or risk the release of even more damaging data.
Superstar Angelina Jolie is described as "a minimally talented spoiled brat" in a confidential E mail that has now gone viral.
The hacking scandal that has afflicted Sony Pictures has turned into a major disaster with implications that could ruin lucrative business relationships as well as lead to lawsuits. Sony was hacked by a mysterious entity that seemed more interest in embarrassing the company than extorting it. Thousands of social security numbers of employees have been leaked along with their salaries, unreleased films have been compromised at a potential cost of many millions of dollars and, perhaps most devastating to the suits in the corner offices, private E mails have been made public that reveal shocking comments by executives towards some of the most prominent people in the industry. The smart money is on North Korea as the culprit behind the sophisticated hack, that goes far beyond what most security experts have seen. Sony is about to release a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un- and the Dear Leader clearly doesn't think its funny. The North Koreans have denounced the film and called for Sony to suppress it. The studio's refusal to do so may have unleashed North Korea's intelligence services on it's computer systems. The Washington Post reports that the scandal has reached levels that is causing major agita among the top brass at Sony. In an industry that prides itself on keeping secrets, the cats are running out of the bag. Click here to read.
For extensive coverage of leaked E mails, click here for Gawker article.
Burt Reynolds' rise to fame and fortune was one of the great Hollywood success stories. Reynolds broke into acting in the 1950s but found the road to stardom blocked by a factor he could not control: his physical resemblance to Marlon Brando. But Reynolds persevered, landing a recurring supporting role on the legendary TV show "Gunsmoke". He also starred in two detective shows in the late 1960s and early 1970s: "Hawk" and "Dan August" as well as a number of "B" feature films like "Skullduggery", "Navajo Joe" and "Sam Whiskey". By the early 1970s, a new side of Reynolds began to emerge as he became a popular guest on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" as well as various game shows that allowed him to show off his knack for off-the-cuff witticisms and self-deprecating humor. Yet, stardom on the big screen still eluded him despite top-lining in the 1972 cop satire "Fuzz" with Raquel Welch and Yul Brynner. He wisely promoted his nude centerfold spread in "Playgirl" magazine into a bonanza of free publicity that made him an international celebrity. Later in 1972, major success finally landed at his door step when Reynolds' was given star billing along with Jon Voight in director John Boorman's classic screen adaptation of James Dickey's "Deliverance". The film was a major hit with both the public and critics. Finally, Reynolds was more than just another pretty face on the silver screen. After "Deliverance", Reynolds' rise to stardom was meteoric. He could seemingly do no wrong. He became one of the most popular male sex symbols in the world. Along with his contemporary, Clint Eastwood, he ruled the international box-office. (The two actors posed for the cover of Time magazine, which anointed them the new kings of Hollywood.) Reynolds epitomized the very definition of being a "star" in that audiences flocked to his films even when they weren't very good. He deftly deviated between first class, sophisticated films "Starting Over" and popular fodder for the drive-in audience, such as his "Smokey and the Bandit" flicks.
By the mid-1980s, however, Reynolds' armor was beginning to tarnish. He made a few too many lousy movies and even his core audience began to tire of this predictable fare. (He would later lament turning down Jack Nicholson's Oscar-winning role in "Terms of Endearment" to film a little remembered cornpone bomb, "Stroker Ace.") While Clint Eastwood studiously built his reputation as both actor and director, often turning out box-office bombs that were nevertheless critical successes, Reynolds suffered from over-exposure. He was literally everywhere, epitomizing the old joke that he so loved the spotlight that he struck a pose every time he opened the refrigerator door. Unlike Eastwood, who realized that a major movie star should limit his exposure on television, Reynolds cheapened his image by appearing on seemingly every show imaginable. By 1984, he was deemed box-office poison. Eastwood tried to help his old friend by teaming with him in the retro-based crime comedy "City Heat". A few years earlier, the film would have been a blockbuster based on the pairing of these two stars, but the movie turned out to be a debacle with director Blake Edwards quitting and being replaced by Richard Benjamin. The movie received poor reviews and even loyal Eastwood fans stayed away. Worse for Reynolds, a mistimed stunt resulted in his being seriously injured. He was out of action for many months recuperating from an operation during which time tabloids cruelly spread the rumor that he was dying of AIDS. Reynolds recovered and slogged through a string of mediocre feature films and TV movies before unexpectedly receiving the best reviews of his career as the pornographer in the 1997 film "Boogie Nights". He won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and received an Oscar nomination as well. Although considered the sentimental favorite, he didn't win and surprisingly tarnished his hot streak by returning to the genre of forgettable TV movies. In the ensuing years, Reynolds suffered severe medical problems that saw him undergo heart surgery. Additionally, apparent plastic surgery on his face resulted in plenty of nasty tabloid stories that bluntly stated that his looks were now ruined. Reynolds' messy love life also made headlines over the years and resulted in an expensive divorce settlement with actress Lonnie Anderson. The couple's split was one of the nastiest in Hollywood history with sordid charges flying back and forth including Anderson's allegations of physical abuse. Simultaneously, Reynolds' business investments began to go south, as well. A dinner theater and investment in a restaurant chain cost him millions in losses.
Better times: Reynolds and old friend Eastwood on the cover of Time magazine, January 1978.
Now Burt Reynolds is facing another indignity: the loss of his palatial Florida mansion, which he had once tried to sell for up to $10 million. He has since dropped the price to just under $3 million, but there are still no takers. Banks hold the mortgage on the property and Bank of America claims he hasn't made a payment in four years. To raise money, Reynolds is selling of many of his prized personal possessions, from the canoe from "Deliverance" to his Golden Globe and autographed photographs given to him by legendary personalities. These items, along with hundreds of others, were once on display at the Burt Reynolds Museum in his home town of Jupiter, Florida. The auction will take place in December 11-12 in Las Vegas, handled by Julien's. Whether the one-time superstar will realize enough profits from the sale to help alleviate his dire financial crisis remains to be seen.
Click here to view the long-awaited teaser trailer for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens". Fans hope that more than the Force will be reawakened with this film, which they hope will restore the franchise to its former glory.
(Photo copyright Dollie Banner/Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
By Lee Pfeiffer
If you've been a serious collector of movie memorabilia over the last 40 years or so, you will know the name Jerry Ohlinger. He has long been the king of selling vintage and current film posters, photos and other rarities. Ohlinger has operated out of several New York City stores since the 1970s. However, earlier this year, Ohlinger closed down his mid-town store because of increasing rent costs. He relocated to a smaller store where he sees customers by appointment only. However, in 2003 Ohlinger partnered with a New Jersey-based married couple who run their own movie memorabilia business. They jointly market and sell Ohlinger's materials via on eBay, with Ohlinger receiving 75% of the sales revenue. The bulk of Ohlinger's inventory is stored in a warehouse in Paterson, New Jersey. Now the business partners are embroiled in a law suit filed by Ohlinger, who states that the couple has illegally appropriated his inventory, which is estimated to be worth as much as $8 million. Ohlinger has apparently fallen behind on his obligation to pay for most of the rental costs on the Paterson warehouse, but says he had an agreement with the couple that, should such a circumstance arise, such costs would be deducted from his share of on-line sales revenues. Ohlinger also claims that his former business partners are maintaining that they actually purchased the entire inventory years ago for a mere $70,000. In a lawsuit filed in Newark on October 22, Ohlinger is seeking possession of his warehouse inventory and $5 million in damages. Neither party would comment to Northjersey.com reporter Hugh R. Morley, stating that they were acting on advice from their attorneys. Click here to read.
(For previous coverage about Jerry Ohlinger, click here)
Even major stars are subject to the Rubik's Cube system of finding financing for major films. The studio has pulled the plug on "Idol's Eye" starring Robert De Niro, Robert Pattinson and Rachel Weisz after producers failed to find adequate funding to begin production. The aborted project is an indication that, despite the presence of major names, film budgets have skyrocketed to such an extreme that funding often evaporates before a movie can even begin shooting. For Variety report click here.
Mickey Rourke and Christopher Walken in "Homeboy".
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Dillon Kastner, who represents the estate of his late father, producer Elliot Kastner:
Hollywood Classics has signed a new distribution
agreement with Dillon Kastner of Cinema Seven Productions to represent the
Elliot Kastner library for all rights.
Titles in the library of the Hollywood producer include
comedy musical A Chorus of Disapproval, starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony
Hopkins, and US sports drama Homeboy with Mickey Rourke and
John Ramchandani, MD of Hollywood Classics said: “I am
delighted to work with Dillon Kastner on the wonderfully eclectic and adored
selection of his father’s features.
“Throughout his extensive career Elliott worked with
the highest calibre of world-renowned actors, screenwriters and directors
including Peter Ustinov, Jeremy Irons, James Spader, Pierce Brosnan, Alan
Ayckbourn and Donald Cammell.”
Dillon Kastner of Cinema Seven Productions Ltd said:
‘It is a pleasure to be working alongside the team at Hollywood Classics.
“My father had many ups and downs in his career, and
independent finance can inspire risky and offbeat choices, but at the end of
the day my father believed in all his projects and would be very pleased that
they have now been added to a library of films thoughtfully presented by his old
friend Joe Dreier.”
Bertolucci directing Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris.
P.E.A. Films, a European based company, has filed a lawsuit against MGM stating that their auditors has found evidence that the movie studio has underpaid royalties due P.E.A. and, in general, has been slow in cutting checks and hindering the audit processes. The suit involves the 1965 Italian Western classic For a Few Dollars More starring Clint Eastwood and it's 1966 sequel The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (the first film in the trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars, is not included in the lawsuit). Also in dispute is director Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial 1973 classic Last Tango in Paris starring Marlon Brando. The sexually provocative film was a critical and boxoffice hit despite having an X-rating.
Clint Eastwood in Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
This is not the first lawsuit filed against MGM by P.E.A. Over the years, the company has accused the studio of negligence in terms of reporting revenues due to P.E.A. The current lawsuit seeks termination of MGM's distribution rights to the films as well as payment of $5 million in damages. For more click here.
The Expendables 3 boasts the kind of all-star cast that is rarely assembled in today's film industry- yet the movie is under-performing.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Call it "Suddenly Last Summer"...one year ago, Hollywood was crowing about the performance of its usual spate of special effects-laden monstrosities designed to appeal to the least-demanding audiences, at least in terms of intellectual content. Now, suddenly, comes the realization that even viewers who thrive on shallow sex comedies and the celluloid equivalent of monster truck rallies may finally be wising up. With cinema tickets now considered a major investment by moviegoers who are still reeling from the last recession, it appears that the studios may have hit the wall: Hollywood has seen its worst summer since 1997. In July, boxoffice receipts for the North American market plummeted by 30% compared to the same month last year. Studio executives call the disastrous summer a fluke and have even blamed competition from the World Cup, which finally caught on with Americans, as a prime reason for the boxoffice decline. They may be right - and some of these so called "bombs" will go into profitability once international grosses and home video sales are calculated. However, no one wants to consider another possible reason: many of these overblown epics simply stink. The cost of a couple attending a movie in a big city now requires a small loan to be taken out. Greedy studios take the lion's share of the profits, leaving hapless theater owners to rely on diverse offerings at the snack stand in order to ensure profitability. Who wants to pay $15 a ticket to sit next to a guy who is burping up tacos and pizza? For a New York Times report click here.
As improbable as it would seem, some important out-takes and behind-the-scenes footage have been discovered pertaining to director Sergio Leone's landmark Western "A Fistful of Dollars". Made in 1964, the film was responsible for the pop culture phrase "spaghetti western" and became an international hit that made a star of Clint Eastwood. Cinema Retro writer Howard Hughes, writing on the Spaghetti Western Data Base site, provides in-depth analysis of these recently-discovered cinematic treasures. Click here to read.
To celebrate the UK Blu-ray release of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, food artist Carl Warner has fashioned a unique tribute to the film made entirely from pasta! We'll admit it looks magnificent, Carl-- but we're still waiting for that King Kong tribute made from bananas. Here is the official press release:
World renowned food artist Carl Warner has produced
his culinary interpretation of the classic ‘Spaghetti Western’ film trilogy,
made entirely from spaghetti and other Italian ingredients.
In his film foodscape debut, Warner has brought
Sergio Leone’s masterpiece The Good, The Bad and The Uglyto
life using traditional Italian ingredients from pasta to pancetta, to celebrate
the re-mastered Blu-ray release of the and to mark the 90th
Anniversary of the studio MGM.
Warner, who was born in Liverpool, produced the
foodscape in his studio down the road from Borough market, where he sourced a
lot of the authentic Italian ingredients.
“Over my 25 year career this is the first time I
have brought a film scene to life,” said Warner. “Having grown up with the Spaghetti Western
trilogy, the imagery and music from those films are indelibly printed in my
childhood memories and lent themselves so perfectly to my style that it was the
perfect canvas for my film foodscape debut.”
“The term Spaghetti Western was coined because of
the films’ Italian origins, and I have been inspired by Italian ingredients
throughout my career, but was surprised how well they lent themselves to Sergio
Leone’s stunning vistas and the central figure of The Man With No Name,
portrayed so brilliantly by Clint Eastwood.”
Warner produced the foodscape following a trip to
Turin, where he sourced a lot of the ingredients and found much inspiration. The iconic scene in which the mysterious
figure of The Man With No Name stands among a bleak graveyard in the dessert
was created using over twenty different Italian ingredients, including gnocchi,
various pastas, risotto, dried herbs, parma ham, bresaola beef, parmesan,
polenta, olives, Italian breads and, of course, spaghetti.
“Pasta is very much the Lego of the food world and
I find these fantastic Italian ingredients really lend themselves to natural
looking desert and Mediterranean landscapes,” added Warner. “There is a real organic element to the
compositional values of the food – from pasta shells forming rocks to dried
spaghetti making perfect tumbleweed, through to the swirling layers of white
cooked spaghetti bringing the skies to life, partly inspired by Van Gogh’s work.”
“These films were very off the wall and really
broke the mould for westerns, so this slightly surreal nature really
compliments the surreal nature of my art. To bring to life this trilogy as part of my ongoing Foodscape is not
only a great privilege but has been such a joy to create.”
The image took weeks of planning and was created by
Carl in his Borough studio over two days.
(The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Re-mastered
Edition is available on Blu-ray now from MGM and Twentieth Century Fox Home
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
has released its brand new trailer for the upcoming documentary Filmed In Supermarionation, featuring
digitally remastered clips from the iconic 1960s shows. The film will be out in
and produced by Stephen La Riviere (The Story Of Upstairs
Downstairs, We Were ‘The Champions’), Filmed In Supermarionation is the
definitive documentary on the work of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and the iconic
puppetry and animation technique they developed through the 1960s including Stingray, Captain Scarlet, and most famously, Thunderbirds.
The world premiere of Filmed In Supermarionation will take place on 30 September 2014 at the BFI Southbank.
In one of the craziest legal brawls over trademark protection we've ever heard of, Duke University is attempting to prevent the estate of John Wayne from marketing a new bourbon under the title "Duke". As any movie lover knows, that was Wayne's nickname since childhood and stemmed from a dog who used to follow him around. Locals referred to them as "Big Duke" and "Little Duke". The name Duke has been synonymous with Wayne throughout the decades. The university argues that it is merely ensuring that they are protecting their own use of the name as a famed institution of learning. The Wayne estate says that is pure bunk and that no one could logically confuse a John Wayne bourbon with anything having to do with Duke University. We somehow doubt those university officials would have taken on this case if the Duke himself were still around to oppose them. Click here for more.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Los Angeles - July 7, 2014 - Exuberant Pop culture phenomenon A HARD DAY'S NIGHT successfully opened nationwide and exceeded estimated this July 4th in a 50th Anniversary Re-Release, with multiple sellout screenings and high demand among fans across generations, with a cume of $220,542.
Playing in over 100 venues across the nation, the unique theatrical event includes full week runs in NYC at Film Forum and in LA at The Cinefamily, and over 100 special event, single screenings, and weekend screenings. In addition to Janus Films' theatrical re-release, the restored film is available now on Blu-ray and DVD through Criterion Collection.
For a list of American theaters showing the film, click here
Regular readers of Cinema Retro know that the Loew's Jersey City Theatre is not only an American landmark but it also hosts classic movie screenings throughout the year. The magnificent structure was saved from the wrecking ball by a dedicated group of volunteers known as Friends of the Loews. They have gone to Herculean efforts over the years to painstakingly restore much of the theatre to its original glory, though there is still much work to be done. Now the Friends of the Loews claims that the new city administration is attempting to sideline them and give massive tax breaks to a "for profit" group from outside the city to come in and take over the venue. The Friends have started a grass roots campaign to prevent this from happening. Click here for the full story and a petition you can sign to help their efforts.
The Hollywood Reporter says that Harrison Ford's recent injury on the set of the new Star Wars film, now shooting in England, resulted in a broken ankle and he may miss filming for up to eight weeks. Nevertheless, producers are confident that they can get around the problem and that the film's December 18, 2015 will not be affected. For more click here
Neil deGrasse Tyson is universally regarded as one of the top astrophysicists in the world. He hosts the popular Cosmos series and is a ubiquitous presence on American television as he promotes the study of science and astronomy is layman's terms. Nevertheless, the generally calm, cool deGrasse does have something that irks him more than the flat-earthers who continue to argue that the planet is only a few thousand years old and that humans romped around in the presence of dinosaurs. Turns out that a routine question from TMZ regarding his opinion of the movie that bastardized science the most, set deGrasse into a humorous "rage" when he immediately recounted how the 1979 Disney flick "The Black Hole" continues to irritate him to this day. deGrasse said that the scriptwriters didn't even make a token attempt to convey the actual science behind real black holes and claims that, had they done so, they would have also turned out a more compelling film. deGrasse isn't a totally stick-in-the-mud, however. He acknowledges that the Bruce Willis blockbuster Armageddon was also amiss when it came to science, but he gives it a pass because he feels it was a very entertaining film. Click here to watch the interview.
After being attached to the forthcoming "Ant-Man" Marvel super hero flick for a staggering eight years, director/co-writer Edgar Wright left the project he has been nurturing on the basis that the studio made changes to his script without his permission. Variety presents nine other examples of high profile film productions dating back to "The Wizard of Oz: and "Gone With the Wind" that saw directors replaced, mostly due to "creative differences". Click here to read.
If you have $10 million laying around that you don't know what to do with, you might consider buying the iconic apartment seen in the 1961 classic film Breakfast at Tiffany's. It served as the personal residence of Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) and key sequences were shot for exteriors in the film including Hepburn's interactions with co-stars George Peppard and Patricia Neal. It's located at 169 E. 71st Street and is otherwise just another building in the tony neighborhood. It sold for over $5 million two years ago and the current owner thinks he can now double that investment. Interiors were shot in a studio, though a representative for the owner thinks the famed party sequence was actually filmed inside the apartment. One thing is certain: if you want to buy the place, it won't go lightly on your wallet. For more click here
L to R – Senior Archivist Dr. Greg Bradsher; Chief U.S. Archivist David Ferriero; Monuments Men Foundation Chairman Robert Edsel and real-life Monuments Man Harry Ettlinger. All attended a ceremony today (May 8, 2014) at the National Archives in Washington where Edsel donated “Hitler Album No. 6” to the Archive. The photo album has now been reunited with 39 other “Hitler Albums” documenting the looting of cultural treasures in Nazi-occupied Europe that were recovered at the end of World War II. Ettlinger represented the historic group honored most recently in Sony Pictures’ THE MONUMENTS MEN, based on Edsel’s No.1 New York Times’ bestseller, which is now available on Digital and on Blu-ray™ May 20. (Photography: copyright Bruce Guthrie
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Sony:
CITY, Calif. (May 8, 2014) / PRNewswire — At a ceremony today at the U.S.
National Archives in Washington, D.C., Monuments Men Foundation Founder and
Chairman Robert Edsel donated “Hitler Album No. 6” to the Archive, reuniting it
with 39 other “Hitler Albums” recovered at the end of World War II. Chief
Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, accepted the album from the
foundation and Monuments Man Harry Ettlinger. Ettlinger represents the historic
group honored most recently in Sony Pictures’
THE MONUMENTS MEN, which is based on Mr. Edsel’s No.1 New York Times’
bestselling book of the same name.
Clooney’s action thriller THE MONUMENTS MEN is now available on Digital from
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, starring Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John
Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett.[i]
The Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD are available on May 20, including bonus features
with Ettlinger and Edsel, who worked closely with Clooney during the production
of the film.
brown leather-bound album of photographs donated today was created by the staff
of a special Nazi taskforce, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR),
which documented Hitler’s systematic looting of cultural treasures in
Nazi-occupied Europe. The ERR staff catalogued the French collections by
creating leather-bound photo albums, including Album No. 6, with each page
containing a photograph of one stolen item with inventory codes denoting the
family to which it belonged. These albums were specifically created for Hitler
in an effort to keep him apprised of the ERR’s progress in France. In May 1945,
39 original ERR albums, along with records that documented the confiscation of
thousands of looted items, were discovered at the Castle of Neuschwanstein in
Germany by the Monuments Men, including Lt. James Rorimer, who after the war
became the sixth Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The albums were
subsequently taken to the Munich Central Collecting Point, where they were used
by the Monuments Men, including Harry Ettlinger, to assist in the restitution
process. The albums were also introduced as evidence at the Nuremberg trials to
document the massive Nazi art looting operation.
the U.S. National Archives has custody of the original 39 albums. It was
believed that additional ERR albums had been destroyed during the latter days
of World War II. However, since 2007, The Monuments Men Foundation discovered three
additional albums, which have since been donated to the U.S. National Archives,
joining the original 39 albums. Album No. 6 was found when an heir of an
American soldier stationed in the Berchtesgaden area of Germany contacted the
Monuments Men Foundation. In the closing days of World War II, the soldier had
entered Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Alps and picked up the album as a
souvenir. The soldier’s nephew, who later inherited the album, was initially
unaware of their historical significance until meeting with Edsel.
Foundation often receives calls on our toll free tip line, 1-866-WWII-ART, from
veterans and their heirs, who don’t know the importance of cultural and
artistic items they brought home after their military service, or aren’t aware
that anyone is looking for the items,” Edsel stated. “This album is just the
tip of the iceberg, and thanks to George Clooney and the success of The
Monuments Men film, global awareness about these heroes of civilization has
increased dramatically. We are delighted, and anticipate that the home
entertainment rollout of the film will continue to help us honor the legacy of
the men and women, and complete their mission by locating and returning works
of art and cultural items to their rightful owners.”
features on THE MONUMENTS MEN include two all-new featurettes that highlight
the making of the film. The first, “George Clooney’s Mission,” features
interviews with Clooney, as well as the rest of the cast, on the elements that
went into completing THE MONUMENTS MEN. The second featurette, “Marshalling the
Troops,” features a cast discussion on the real men and women who inspired the
film. Exclusively available on the Blu-ray Combo Pack are deleted scenes and two
additional exclusive featurettes. “In Their Own Words” is a unique piece that
offers the most comprehensive and direct insight into the hearts and minds of
the heroes, featuring an interview with Ettlinger, one of the last surviving
members of the Monuments Men.
“A Woman Amongst the Monuments Men” features a discussion with Cate Blanchett about
her film character, Claire Simone, who is based on French heroine Rose Valland.
[i]Two-time Academy Award® winner Clooney (Argo, Best Motion Picture of the Year,
Academy Award® winner Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for
the Screen, 1997), Bill Murray (The Grand
Budapest Hotel), John Goodman (Argo),
Academy Award® winner Jean Dujardin
(The Artist, Best Performance by an Actor
in a Leading Role, 2011), Bob Balaban (The
Grand Budapest Hotel),
Hugh Bonneville (TV’s “Downton Abbey”) & Academy Award® winner
Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, Best
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, 2013).
Adolf Hitler and Jesus Christ aren't generally linked together in any way, shape or form- but their names were invoked in a lawsuit regarding copyright infringement in L.A. this week. A judge has issued a summary judgment in a case against Warner Brothers and the producers of The Matrix film franchiset by a screenwriter, Thomas Althouse, who alleged that that key aspects of the movies were derived from a 1993 script he wrote. Althouse contends the lawsuit took so many years to file because he had only recently watched the films in question and came to the conclusion that references to Hitler being brought back from the dead could be traced to his script. He also maintained that Christ-like allusions could have also derived from said script. The judge dismissed the complaint saying that he could find no substantial similarities and noted that allusions to Christ can't be copyrighted, as they have been invoked in fiction throughout the centuries. I guess any would-be plaintiffs about to sue over Ben-Hur or The Greatest Story Every Told might now rethink their strategies. As for Herr Hitler, Althouse probably didn't bone up on his retro movies or he would have known that Nazi clones coming back from the dead is a concept that dates back decades in films such as The Frozen Dead (1967) and the more prestigious The Boys From Brazil (1978). For more click here
What a difference a few decades make. Harrison Ford says he is now intrigued by the idea of doing a sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner and would look forward to working with director Ridley Scott again, though such a project is only in its early stages. Back in the day, however, the original film was a boxoffice bomb though over the years it has come to be regarded as a classic. During filming of the original production, Ford found the filming to be a very unpleasant experience and his view of Scott at the time was far from complimentary. However, he seems to have soften his stance over the years and now says that if the script were good, he would welcome returning to the role.
After years of litigation, Warner Bros. has prevailed in its lawsuit against several entities it claimed violated copyright laws by producing unlicensed merchandise based on the films The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind and also Tom and Jerry cartoons. The defendants had argued that the merchandise was derived from materials in the public domain, such as movie posters and images that were out of copyright. However, the judge found that the companies went beyond making exact reproductions of those materials and altered them for use in the creation of new lines of merchandise. (The companies produced collectible figurines of the actors who depicted characters in Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz). The judge ruled that the defendants have to pay $2.75 million in damages despite the fact that the defendants claim to have only derived a total of $70,000 in profits from the merchandise. A factor in the judge's ruling was his belief that the defendants did not keep accurate records. The case further muddies the waters regarding what properties fall into the public domain, which, under American law, allows certain works to be reproduced without payment of royalties if such works are out of copyright or used in a context of educational or non-profit works. Scholars have long led the battle to open up more works under the public domain argument while copyright holders have tried to put a short leash on such freedoms. Central to the case are films derived from source novels. In some cases, merchandise and products could be produced based on literary works such as The Wizard of Oz that have fallen out of copyright. However, the law does not allow imagery to be used that depicts actors from the film versions of such novels, which are still under copyright. For example, a company could produce a line of products based on the literary concepts of characters from The Wizard of Oz but would have to get a license to use the depiction of those characters associated with the legendary film version. For more click here
American acting icon Charlton Heston will be honored by the United States Postal Service with a commemorative stamp. The unveiling, which will be attended by Heston's family, will take place at the famed Chinese Theatre in Hollywood as part of the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival on April 11. For more about the ceremony click here
Fabby, the star of the new sitcom Fabby Knows Best, introduces the creative teams from Stage 17.
The cast of Wallflowers.
By Lee Pfeiffer
Last week Cinema Retro was invited to attend a launch part at the Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York City to celebrate the on-line launch of production company Stage 17's first season of all original programming. The festivities kicked off with a fun VIP champagne party after which guests were escorted into the theater to see highlights of the programs on the big screen. The Stage 17 line-up includes an abundance of original comedy shows, reality programming and "Fan Fare", a show that is set at the world famous Sardi's restaurant that is devoted to the latest productions on Broadway.
Broadway star Kate Baldwin.
Actress Elizabeth Stanley
The festivities were attended by the network's creator David Stoller, who joined cast and production crews on stage to celebrate the launch. The ambitious venture is just another indication that industry types believe the future lies in on-demand programming that viewers can watch anytime, anywhere at their own convenience. In the early days of on-line programs, it was fairly apparent that production values were far below that of network shows. However, the Stage 17 productions are virtually indistinguishable from the big budget fare on the major networks. More importantly, the shows give exposure to talented young artists, some of whom may well become stars in the near future.
VIP kickoff party.
Fabby with David Stoller of Stage 17 productions.
To explore the lineup of Stage 17 programming, click here to visit the official web site and get ready for some binge viewing.
For many years an ad hoc group of volunteers struggled to save the landmark Loew's Theatre in Journal Square, the hub of commerce in Jersey City. The one-time movie palace had been allowed to disintegrate into a crumbling ruin by the 1980s and was slated for the wrecking ball. Concerned citizens from within and outside the city formed a group called The Friends of the Loew's. Working with sometimes reluctant city officials, they got landmark status on the theater where young Frank Sinatra saw Bing Crosby perform and became inspired to become a crooner himself. As the theater was painstakingly restored over a period of decades, crowds have been flocking to see presentations of classic movie screenings as well as live concerts. The theater is not 100% restored, however, and is still suffering from a lack of funding to pay for essential repairs such as the air conditioning system. The theater is only openly periodically, mostly on weekends and has operated at a slight financial loss. Still, the theater has been drawing enthusiastic crowds with many classic movie lovers taking the short PATH train ride from Manhattan to Journal Square. Cinema Retro has occasionally helped to host some of these screenings.
The Loew's in 1932.
There is now trouble in paradise, however. The new mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, has determined that its time to bring the Loew's to its full potential. He is bringing in private investors to turn the venue into a world class entertainment palace. No one disputes the theater has more potential than is presently being realized but the Friends of the Loew's say they are being marginalized and pushed out of the equation with little recognition or appreciation for the work they have done in running the theater. They fear that if corporate bigwigs take over, the theater will lose its appeal for the core audience that has kept it going over the years. Consequently, the Friends of the Loew's have taken legal action against Jersey City and its Redevelopment Agency to stop the corporate takeover. For his part, Mayor Fulop claims that the Friends have been treated with all due respect but that only corporate funding and involvement will make the Loew's truly thrive again. Fulop, who was recently elected on a reformist agenda, has also been in the national news in regard to the controversial New Jersey "Bridgegate" scandal after Governor Chris Christy's staff canceled a number of promised meetings allegedly because he refused to endorse the governor for re-election. One thing is certain: New Jersey thrives on political controversy and now its even seeped into the seemingly uncontroversial topic of saving a wonderful old movie theater. For more on the Loews situation, visit the Friends of the Loew's web site by clicking here.
Click here for photo galleries of the Loew's including vintage shots from decades ago.
Will Smith was "honored" as Worst Supporting Actor for his role in the bomb sci-fi flick After Earth at the annual Razzie Awards, designed to celebrate the worst achievements in filmmaking. His co-conspirator, son Jaden Smith, did not escape recognition, winning Worst Actor in a Leading Role. Jaden and dad were also accorded Worst Screen Duo for the film which earned scorned from both critics and the public. Poppa Smith is generally immune to critical notices but After Earth was seen as a blatant, expensive attempt to build a career for his son. It lost mega bucks at the boxoffice. The sketch comedy Movie 43 also won numerous Razzies. For the complete list click here.
Well, here we go again. The annual pointless but fun ritual of weighing in on my predictions for the major Oscar categories. This year is more challenging than most because there are plenty of fine films but no clear front runners, though certainly there are a number of nominees that are far more favored than others. I'll put out my predictions, but I have to admit I don't feel certain about any of them. Keep in mind that these predictions don't always reflect my own personal preferences
12 Years a Slave- Oscar loves "message" movies and although this film is difficult to watch, it does relate a true and inspiring story about one man's incredible courage. My pick for the Best Picture Oscar. Runner up: American Hustle. The acclaimed film Gravity seems to have some serious momentum but Oscar generally snubs sci-fi and horror-related flicks.
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave. It's rare that the best picture doesn't result in an Oscar for its director, though last year Argo won Best Picture and it's director, Ben Affleck, wasn't even nominated. Still, that was a fluke that has rarely happened in the past and I don't think it will occur again this year. Runner up: David O. Russell for American Hustle.
Cate Blanchett for her amazing performance in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. Runner up: Amy Adams for American Hustlealthough you can never count out sentimental favorite Judi Dench who many people feel was unjustly snubbed for a Supporting Actress snub for Skyfall.
It's a toss-up between Chiwetel Ejifor for 12 Years a Slave and Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club. It could go either way. Ejifor might be seen as a newcomer with plenty of opportunities ahead of him (plus there are probably only ten people in the Academy who can pronounce his name.) McConaughey has been kicking around for twenty years, making some good films and a lot of celluloid garbage, but his performance in this film is true method acting and a brilliant achievement on any level. My choice: McConaughey.My preference: Bruce Dern for Nebraska, admittedly partially out of sentiment and the fact that he has been underrated as an actor for decades.
Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle would be the lead contender but she won Best Actress last year for Silver Linings Playbook which was also directed by David O. Russell. The Academy might think they are overdoing it by giving her the award two years in a row. My choice: newcomer Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave.
Jared Leto gave an amazing performance as a transvestite hooker in Dallas Buyers Club and critics love streetwise, eccentric characters. He could be the favorite but I think Barkhad Abdi is strong competition for Captain Phillips. It's a really tough call but I'll go with Leto.
American Hustle- This might be the consolation prize for not winning in other major categories. The fact that the film is an almost entirely fictionalized look at the Abscam caper of the late 1970s/early 1980s won't hurt it since the film doesn't present itself as anything other than a playful romp "inspired" by some true life events.
12 Years a Slave
We'll know in a matter of hours how off the mark I am! Enjoy the show.
When we first started Cinema Retro ten years ago, one of our first subscribers was Leith Adams, the highly-regarded archivist for Warner Brothers. Well, it's time for a little nepotism so that we can return the favor for his support over the years. For a classic movie lover, Leith has a dream job: preserving and cultivating "the stuff dreams are made of" which includes every type of costume and prop that might have some historical significance (or practical use in future films.) The Hollywood Reporter presents a video segment in which Leith takes viewers through a typical day on the job. Click here to view
Blogger Shaun K. Chang posts an interesting article on the Hill Place film web site regarding the Academy's controversial rescission of a Best Song Oscar nomination for writer Bruce Broughton pertaining to the Christian film "Alone, Yet Not Alone." Broughton allegedly violated Academy rules by openly soliciting votes from members but critics say he is being victimized by a double standard that may have something to do with the religious nature of the film. Chang presents a well-balanced article that examines both sides of the controversy and find that everyone deserves some criticism for the positions they have taken. Click here to read.
In an enlightening interview with Christopher Rosen of The Huffington Post, legendary film editor Themla Schoonmaker discusses her remarkable collaborations with Martin Scorsese. They first paired on Raging Bull in 1980 and she has cut every one of his 18 films since then. Schoonmaker reflects back on the making of some of those classics right up through the release of The Wolf of Wall Street. She also amusingly expresses why the legacy of Goodfellas has proven to be a curse for both she and Scorsese. Click here to read