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
Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: one of the P.M.'s all-time favourite films.
whether you share his political views, readers will have to agree that British
Prime Minister David Cameron's choice of movies are worth voting for. In an
interview in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday 'Event' magazine he chose the following
films as his favourite top five - Lawrence of Arabia; Where Eagles Dare; The
Good, The Bad, And The Ugly; Casablanca, and Schindler's List. Nice one, Dave!
There's a Cinema Retro exclusive "Broadsword Calling Danny Boy" tee
shirt in the post to you, tomorrow.
You can count me among those who were critical of Jacqueline Bisset's bizarre acceptance speech at the recent Golden Globe Awards. Bisset seemed dazed and confused (though decidedly not inebriated) when she gave a rambling speech (complete with an unbleeped expletive) that resulted in widespread criticism and ridicule in both the main stream and social media. Entertainment writer Shaun Chang contacted Cinema Retro to set the record straight, at least insofar as he sees it. He has written an article detailing his dealings with Ms. Bisset and defends her as as kind, sensitive and highly intelligent woman. To be fair, that has always been her reputation and we at Cinema Retro are great admirers of her work. That's why it was so disheartening and disappointing to see her appearance at the Golden Globes. There are precious few actors and actresses still working who were major players in the golden age of cinema during the 1960s and 1970s. Generally speaking, they are light years ahead of today's crowd when it comes to class and style. Ms. Bisset certainly looked as gorgeous as ever. It was her choice of words that got her in trouble. Nevertheless, in the interest of fairness to an actress we respect and admire, we agree with Shaun Chang that she should not judged entirely by this one incident because most of us would not want to be subjected to the same fate. Thus, you can click here to read Chang's poignant defense of the lady and her career. - Lee Pfeiffer
Funny Girl's engagement at the Criterion Theatre in New York City.
In his column on the Digital Bits web site, writer Michael Coate provides some fascinating facts about director William Wyler's classic 1968 film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Funny Girl, the movie that won Barbra Streisand a Best Actress Oscar. Coate not only traces the movie's entire road show presentation history in North America but also scores an exclusive interview with Sony's Grover Crisp, who discusses the challenges he encountered in the film's recent restoration process. Click here to read.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Acorn
Silver Spring, MD; December 19, 2013 — After a highly competitive bidding process, Fox has acquired film rights to the iconic mystery novel “Murder on the Orient Express” from Acorn Productions Ltd/Agatha Christie Ltd, the UK based rights holding production arm of RLJ Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ: RLJE). With more than two billion books sold, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time, and “Murder on the Orient Express”is one of her most popular novels. The 1934 novel features her internationally renowned detective, Hercule Poirot, investigating a murder on the Orient Express.
Though no decision on writers or casting have been confirmed yet, Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator), Mark Gordon (Saving Private Ryan) and Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class, Sherlock Holmes) will be producing the film.
Miguel Penella, CEO of RLJ Entertainment, said,“Since acquiring a majority share of Agatha Christie’s literary estate in February 2012, we have worked closely with Mathew Prichard, Agatha’s grandson, to find the right studio and filmmakers to grow the Christie brand. We are excited to be working with Fox as well as Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon and Simon Kinberg to produce a new, star-studded adaptation of one of the most well-known mystery novels of all time.”
Founded by Robert L. Johnson, RLJ Entertainment owns a 64% share in Agatha Christie Ltd, which manages Christie’s extensive literary works including more than 80 novels and short story collections, 19 plays, a film library of nearly 40 TV films, and iconic characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Agatha Christie’s grandson, Mathew Prichard, is Chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd.
“Murder on the Orient Express”was previously made into a 1974 film directed by Sidney Lumet. The film received six Oscar nominations, including best actor for Albert Finneyas Poirot, and winning best supporting actress for Ingrid Bergman. The all-star cast of suspects also featured Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bisset, Colin Blakely, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave and Michael York.
Additionally, David Suchet portrayed the popular Belgian detective in all 70 television adaptations of Christie’s Poirot stories, including “Murder on the Orient Express” in 2010. The final five Poirot television mysteries aired in the U.K. in 2013 and will debut in the U.S. in 2014. In Sept. 2013, Agatha Christie Ltd and RLJ Entertainment announced the first fully-authorized new Agatha Christie novel to be released in September 2014. Bestselling author Sophie Hannah is writing the novel featuring Hercule Poirot.
Hilary Strong, Managing Director of Acorn Productions, and WME negotiated the deal for RLJ Entertainment.
The Library of Congress continues its tradition of adding 25 films a year to the National Film Registry. In addition to being preserved by the Library, the status ensures that the films cannot be edited for television viewing. This year's list is typically eclectic, with titles released in the silent era through 2012. Among the more iconic titles on the list are Pulp Fiction, Mary Poppins, The Quiet Man and The Magnificent Seven. For the entire list click here
Cinema Retro has received the following announcement:
filmmakers are using Kickstarter to raise the small budget needed to make a
brand new episode of classic TV detective show Columbo, in tribute to
the late Peter Falk.
on the amount of money they raise, the film may or may not get the rights to
use the name Columbo from Universal, but at the very least they want to
make a show in that 1970s American TV-style that fans of the genre will enjoy.
have various levels of funding options available with some great rewards, and
are appealing to the public to get behind the project. What could be a better
Christmas gift for the Columbo fan in your life than a piece of branded
memorabilia, a signed script or even a name in the credits?
For more information and the opportunity to become a
backer of the project go to their Kickstarter by clicking here
(Please note: this notice is posted for informational purposes only. The Kickstarter campaign does not involve Cinema Retro in any way, although our columnist Adrian Smith is one of the production team that is trying to get the project off the ground.)
It's no secret that the Loew's Jersey City Theatre is a favorite of Cinema Retro readers in the New York/New Jersey area. The magazine periodically provides film scholars to introduce classic movie screenings there. Located only minutes from mid-town Manhattan, the landmark theater that opened in 1929 has seen its share of hard times and almost faced the wrecking ball before activists saved it in the 1980s. Since then, a private ad-hoc group called Friends of the Loew's has been managing the theater and overseeing a painstaking restoration of the palace back to its former glory by using mostly volunteer help. The theater now screens classic movies monthly and also offers concerts and stage productions. Now the new Mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, weighs in on his views about the potential for the place to become the hub for the revival of Journal Square, the famed center of the city that has been in decline since the 1970s. The area is on the verge of seeing a boom and the Mayor feels the Loew's can be a major, world class venue. Those who have nurtured the Loew's, however, are nervous that the politicos will move in and undo progress that has been brought about by the current management team. The Mayor assures the Friends of the Loew's that "we are not throwing them out" and says that sizable investments from private industry will be pouring into the theater to finalize its full restoration. Click here for more
At a recent auction of classic movie memorabilia conducted by Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies in New York City, an original Maltese Falcon sold for $4,085,000. There were two falcons built for John Huston's classic 1941 movie but this one can be verified as actually having been in the film. It was purchased by an anonymous collector. The piece is thought to be the third highest valued movie collectible in history having sold for slightly less than the original Batmobile and James Bond's original Aston Martin DB5. Click here for more
George Lazenby, Laurene Landon and Douglas Dunning in "Hunter".
Douglas Dunning, Cinema Epoch’s Director
of Acquisitions, has just announced that the company has obtained the rights to
release four films from XPosse Productions for worldwide distribution on DVD and
on all digital platforms. Scary Tales
is among the titles scheduled for release. Here
is a brief trailer for the film.
Mr. Dunning is currently also appearing
opposite actor George Lazenby, who is best known for playing James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969),
in the recently completed film Hunter, which was directed by Gregory
Hatanaka, who is also the president of Cinema Epoch. Mr. Lazenby plays General Bullmont in the
film. Also starring is actress Laurene
Landon who has starred in the Peter Falk film All the Marbles (1981), I,
the Jury (1982), Hundra (1983)
and Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold
Mr. Dunning can also be seen in Jason
Rutherford’s upcoming film Shhhh. You can view the trailer here
and click on the homepage here.
At a recent symposium in St. Louis, Jesuits joined with members of the public for a symposium dedicated to discussing the actual incident that inspired William Peter Blatty's best-selling book The Exorcist, which in turn, was adapted into the classic 1973 horror film by director William Friedkin. The incident involved a 13 year old boy who was allegedly possessed by demonic spirits. The Catholic church, which had pretty much down played exorcisms in the modern age, gave rare permission for Father William Bowdren to perform the ritual. The identity of the boy remains secret even today and Father Bowdren, who died in 1983, never discussed specifics of the case other than to say "it was the real thing." Nevertheless, there is disagreement even among contemporary priests about the validity of the claim. Some say it's very probable that whatever physical manifestations Father Bowdren witnessed afflicting the boy could have been attributed to other causes. If faith is a belief in something that cannot be proven through traditional means, how one views the incident depends on one's religious convictions. If someone believes in God and an afterlife, it stands to reason that it isn't much of a stretch to believe in the existence of evil spirits. Conversely, skeptics and those who look to science as opposed to faith would look to natural causes for such occurrences. Whatever your views are, the incident certainly inspired one hell of a creepy horror story.- Lee Pfeiffer For more click here
(Issue #19 of Cinema Retro features an exclusive interview with William Peter Blatty. Click below to order)
Our good friend actor Robert Davi has a sensational second career as a crooner. His Sinatra tribute show is getting rave reviews and the Huffington Post called him "a legend in the making". Now Davi has just released a wonderful new single on CD. New York City Christmas calls to mind the kind of unapologetically old-fashioned, sentimental holiday songs you just don't hear anymore. If you haven't heard him sing, you're in for a real treat.(We love that cover art by Steve Penley). Here is the official press release:
Angeles, CA--Singer/actor ROBERT
DAVI will be releasing his forthcoming “New York City Christmas” single for the upcoming holiday
season. The song was recorded at the iconic Capitol Records’ Studio A,
where Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole and The Beatles once laid down some of
their most memorable work. Davi recorded “New York City Christmas” with
arranger/conductor ChrisWalden (Michael Buble), and is
accompanied by a live 30-piece orchestra, creating a lush background for the
holiday seasoned-song. “New
York City Christmas” was produced by legendary mixing engineer Al Schmitt, John Potoker and Nick Vallelonga, who also wrote the
song. Vallelonga has extensive directing, writing and producing credits
including: Yellow Rock, Stiletto and the
forthcoming romantic comedy, That’s Amore! (2014).
DAVI, who recently released DAVI
SINGS SINATRA – On The Road to Romance, produced by the
legendary Phil Ramone and
mixing engineer Al Schmitt (which
hit #6 on Billboard’s Top 10 Jazz chart), will be in New York for
promotion of the song in November and December.
Quincy Jones says of Davi’s performances: “As FS would say, 'Koo, Koo.' Wow! I have
never heard anyone come this close to Sinatra's sound – and still be himself.
Many try, but Robert Davi has the voice, tone, the flavor and the swagger. He
absolutely touched me down to my soul and brought back the essence and soul of
'Ol Blue Eyes himself.”
noted actor in motion pictures, DAVI is scheduled to film The
Expendables 3 on location in Bulgaria in October with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Swartzenegger,
Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Jet Li and DolphLundgren – is best known for his
roles as FBI Special Agent Johnson in Die Hard; Franz Sanchez in Licence
to Kill; Jake Fratelli in The Goonies and Ray Ferritto in Kill
the Irishman. He has appeared in
more than 100 moviesand television
The last known photograph of Doris Day, taken in 2008. The screen legend is now largely relegated to staying indoors.
In an interview with a former assistant to Doris Day, the Daily Mail reveals that there are concerns that the 91 year-old screen legend may be in a precarious state. Ms. Day has always been the most reluctant of superstars. Despite being a chart-topping singer and one of the most popular actresses of her era, Ms. Day has worn the mantle of fame and fortune very modestly. Her life has been beset by tumultuous marriages, deaths and estrangements. Like Cary Grant, she walked away from the motion picture business in the 1960s (her last film was released in 1968). She had a successful TV sitcom in the early 1970s and would periodically appear in the medium from time to time. She spent most of her life in a rather secluded manner, having sworn off relationships with men. Most of her efforts in her post-acting years were devoted to helping injured and stray animals. Rumors have abounded that Ms. Day was a total eccentric but friends and neighbors said that wasn't true. She would often be seen around her home town of Carmel, California, shopping or running errands. She also prided herself on answering fan mail personally. Now, however, it is feared that her health is deteriorating and that the quality of her life has been compromised by caregivers who are allegedly little more than adequate. For more click here
It was the last remaining Mecca for movie memorabilia collectors in New York City. Jerry Ohlinger's Movie Memorabilia Store at 253 W. 35th Street in Manhattan will close it's doors and sell goods only on line. There was a time when New York, like most major city, had numerous major outlets selling movie stills, photos, magazines and other goodies. Rising rents and lack of interest in collecting among the new generation combined to force these wonderful places to close. In New York, Mark Ricci's old Memory Shop contained the stuff dreams were made of. But with Ricci's death many years ago, there was no heir apparent to carry on and much of his stock was purchased by friendly rival Jerry Ohlinger. There was also the long-standing Movie Star News, which had morphed into a rather antiseptic place characterized by neatly arranged, bland filing cabinets that somehow violated the unwritten rule that memorabilia shops should be cluttered, friendly places. Movie Star News finally closed its doors last years. Back in the 1970s and 1980s the Cinemabilia book shop and collector's store was the place to keep up with movie books and collectibles prior to the advent of the internet. They were the first major New York venue to close. Along 8th Avenue, minor memorabilia stores would open and close throughout the years, but Jerry Ohlinger's persistently survived even in the face of a changing marketplace. Finally, rent of $9,000 a month put the kabosh on his ability to maintain a store five days a week. The good news is that Ohlinger will continue his mail order and eBay sales- and it will also be possible for customers to make appointments to review memorabilia in person, but this will have to be done by appointment, according to Dollie Banner, a long time employee of Ohllinger and a contributing writer to Cinema Retro.
On a personal level, this announcement really hurts. I've know Jerry Ohlinger since 1971 and have acquired countless items from his store. His inventory has always been helpful in the publishing of Cinema Retro. Whenever I walk through mid-town Manhattan, I inevitably stop by to pick up some hard-to-find stills and chat with Dollie. Jerry still holds court there, his trademark soggy, unlit cigar dangling from his mouth. He has had several different locations over the years in Manhattan. The one I have the fondest memories of was located in Greenwich Village way back when. Those were the days when the store acted as something like a neighborhood barber shop for local movie fans who would gravitate there to to discuss and debate cinema. I'm glad Jerry is still hanging in there, even on a virtual basis, but I'll sure miss the human element as New York's last great memorabilia shop closes its doors. Thanks for the memories, Jerry.
Gregory Peck in the screen version of To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee, the reclusive 87 year old author of the American literary classic To Kill a Mockingbird, is taking legal action against the Monroe Heritage Museum, located in Lee's hometown in Alabama. Lee acknowledges that her novel, which was adapted into the classic 1962 film starring Gregory Peck in an Oscar-winning performance, has had a significant cultural impact. However, she maintains that the Museum is crossing the line and profiting by using her work and image for purely commercial purposes including running a gift shop that capitalizes on her work. The Museum denies all allegations and attributes the suit to the greed of Lee's "handlers". Like Margaret Mitchell, author of another American classic, Gone With the Wind, Harper Lee never wrote another novel after her first great success, which directly addressed the shameful racial practices taking place in the segregated American South. For more click here
The next time you think you've got too much time on your hands, consider Canadian artist Kristan Horton,who professes not to own a TV, but somehow became so obsessed with Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove that he's recreated some of the most iconic sequences from the film using everyday household objects. This is the kind of time-consuming diversion one would think was last practiced by inhabitants of the Bastille, yet we have to admit Horton has fashioned some remarkable images. We can't wait to see his tribute to General Jack D. Ripper's "precious bodily fluids"! The web site www.cinematical.com uncovered this bizarre tribute. To indulge yourself click here.
"MEIN FUHRER, THEY'VE MADE A TRIBUTE TO ME USING CLOTHESPINS AND DINNERWARE!"
Ever wonder why the plot lines and even trailers of today's action movies often seem indistinguishable? Well, the truth is that they are intentionally made to be indistinguishable.Slate writer Peter Suderman reveals that the late author Blake Snyder's book Save the Cat! was designed to give aspiring screenwriters some tips about producing scripts with commercial appeal. However, the self-help scenario worked too well. The book has been used as a formula by studio executives to commission big budget action movies that never stray far from some basic plot devices. It's as generic as you can get, with only the characters distinguishing one story from another. The article explains why Hollywood is so devoid of creativity: if one Iron Man movie makes a ton of money, just make ten more movies just like it. The strategy works theoretically, but not always financially. Audiences often know they are being served warmed over, recycled fare and this often results in such "sure-fire" hits bombing at the box-office. Click here to read
Cartoonist and film book author Sophie Cossette pays tribute to the late, great British director Ken Russell, calling him "The Mad Hatter of British Sinema" and examining the stories behind Russell's controversial films. There's also her unique cartoons that enhance the very enlightening analysis. Click here to view
When F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote "There are no second acts in American lives", he would have missed the boat when it comes to actor Robert Davi. He's been a familiar face on the big screen and TV for decades and is known as one of the most memorable James Bond villains. Davi was generally regarded as a reliable and talented character actor. When I made his acquaintance some years ago, we instantly bonded. He is a regular guy with a New York attitude, no ego and a mutual love of exchanging ball-busting jokes with any other guy in his orbit. We share a love of good cigars and stories of old Hollywood but the difference, of course, is that Davi's stories are based on personal experience. His first major role came about when Frank Sinatra personally chose him as a co-star, despite his lack of experience. That was the basis of a long-time friendship and Davi always spoke reverently of Sinatra, s grateful for the break he gave him. A few years back, we were conversing over some stogies and arguing politics (we're on opposite sides but love debating the issues),when Davi told me he was determined to embark on a second career as a crooner of Sinatra's songs. In my typically gentle way of offering advice I told him he was crazy. I told him no one would go to a concert to see a guy who never sang a note on screen. Then shortly thereafter, Robert starred in a directed a little-seen independent movie called The Dukes, about an over-the-hill group of doo-woppers who were attempting to make a comeback. He did all of his own singing and was quite brilliant. The next thing I knew, he was being acclaimed as one of the best Sinatra tributes act ever. Davi is now the toast of the town, taking his show on the road around the country to packed houses. He's now fulfilling another dream by combining his singing talents on stage with Don Rickles, one of Sinatra's best cronies. In a review on The Huffington Post, writer Ellen Sterling calls him "A legend in the making". Sometimes nice guys do finish first. For more click here
HBO has made a deal with executive producers J.J. Arbrams and Jerry Weintraub to buy a pilot for a TV series based on Michael Crichton's thriller Westworld. The story was already made into a hit 1973 MGM film starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin. If the story line remains consistent, it will involve the establishment of a high end amusement park where people can live out their most extreme fantasies. The park features exact period recreations of various eras of history with the gimmick that highly sophisticated robots are intermingled with the guests and are indistinguishable from the humans, who can use or abuse them as their fantasies dictate. Things go wrong when a design flaw in the control program allows the robots to think for themselves and rebel against their human masters. For more click here
Despite his aversion to making public appearances or attending awards shows (he has even shunned the Oscars when nominated), Woody Allen will receive the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award at next year's Golden Globe ceremonies, to be telecast on January 14. For more click here
Did anyone even know a sequel to Easy Rider was in the works? Suddenly, it is upon us. Easy Rider: The Ride Back follows the life and adventures of the son of Wyatt Willliams (aka "Captain America", played by Peter Fonda in the 1969 classic). We don't know how the new team of filmmakers scored the rights to a film that was so contentious between Fonda and his co-star and director Dennis Hopper that they could never agree on a concept for a follow-up. A trailer has been released for the film, which opens later this month. We hate to judge a book by its cover but the trailer looks pretty awful...like a low-brow attempt to rip off the original, with some unconvincing Vietnam footage and plenty of tits and ass tossed in for the male audience. On the up side, two great character actors have prominent roles: Michael Nouri and Rance Howard, so let's all just hope for the best.- Lee Pfeiffer Click here for more and to view trailer.
Upon the 50th anniversary of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, you
can own an authentic piece of the movie. You can even wear an authentic
piece of the movie. Academy Award nomination and Golden Globe award
winning artist Dave Woodman is mainly known for his 20 years of Hollywood
animation, especially the Disney animation & over 35 years of illustration
work. The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin are among his
animation credits. Paula Abdul dancing with a cartoon cat in her
Opposites Attract video, miniature animated children for Honey I shrunk the
Kids titles as well as an animated Santa that looks suspiciously like Al
Hirschfeld in Christmas Vacation are all part of the flow of graphite Dave
spewed during that magical time of his life. Familiar illustration
projects include The Laugh Factory logo and Phyllis Diller's caricature
logo. All of this aside, Dave recently created a line of shift knobs,
jewelery, belt buckles, paperweights, charms, models and assorted art pieces
with authentic pieces of Jimmy "The Smiler" Durante's crashed car
from the legendary opening sequence of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
In the year 2000, the
traditional animation system was coming to an end. Without an inkling
that this might be in his future, Dave used downtime to travel to Palm Springs
in search of filming locations from this, his favorite movie. When movies
could only be watched in the theater or on network television, availability of
location photos was extremely rare. The aid of video tape and DVDs made
finding locations possible. Near and around "The Smiler"'s
bucket kicking location, Dave noticed piles of glass, turned aqua by the sun
and assorted car parts. This was an added and unanticipated bonus.
Dave says, with a smile, "The parts can be traced to find that they are
indeed from a 1957 Ford Fairlane 500." A '57 Fairlane was the
automobile used in this most beloved car crash. Since a ramp was built
for the Ford to dive from and the car deliberately raced downhill for the most
spectacular sail and impact possible, no other Ford Fairlane could have landed
that far down the mountainside. So, aged glass turned aqua by the sun and
other Ford Fairlane pieces found in the exact spots that are now traceable by
DVD research, all add up to a treasure find other than the Smiler's buried
$350,000. Dave even found a piece 16m of 16mm movie film negative down
there, deemed authentic by archivist-producer
Robert Harris! "At first I thought it was a piece of paper,
and then I noticed the sprocket holes. You might say I found some of the
missing footage,...if you don't care what you say". The very short
scene shot from inside the wayward car explains a possibility related to the
film find. A hubcap, side chrome, red taillight fragments, headlight
fragments, and even a tire were left for Dave to discover. Research has
taught Dave that, "The Nygen General Dual 90 was common on this type of
car. It was left in the right spot and mangled instead of blown
out. In addition to the larger finds obscure pieces such as the top off
of a shock absorber and a Fairlane Custom door lock cylinder lever only gave me
more confidence in what I had found."
"How could I just leave it all down there?" Mr. Woodman
asked. "Over the years I left most of it, thinking that there should
be some for anyone else who might track down this location. Then after
moving to Palm Springs I noticed a line of cones was placed down that side of
the road, leading me to believe the road might be widened. This could
have covered all of it and that's when I started seriously gathering whatever
Fairlane parts I found. When I noticed the 50th anniversary approaching,
I began to make items of interest out of the very beautiful, aqua glass, as
well as merely placing pieces in protective cubes. I believe this
materiel should belong to the people who will love it. The more fun I can
make from it, the better." Dave's "Smiler" products are
currently listed at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/DaveWoodmanArt?ref=ss_profile
What makes even a larger
treasure is the use of 3 cars to create this spectacular wreck sequence.
Dave noticed, "The first car shown, tilts to its left, the second in the
sequence hits head on and flips over and the third is shown settling right side
up. I discovered that the final car shown was used as the prop car behind
Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Jimmy Durante, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney and
Jonathan Winters. Since it had crash landed right side up, most of the
glass remained inside. Turning it on its side for use behind the men
caused more glass to spill out. I finally found all 4 areas when my
friend Ron Kwal helped me find where the car that tilted to its left had hit
the ground. It's mysterious to me is that the glass from this car did not
turn aqua. Hopefully someone can tell me why."
When asked if there's anything else he might add, Dave said, "Criterion
has hired me to create a map of locations for their box set release of this
movie and last night Karen Kramer gave me permission to reveal that the 50th
anniversary Cinerama Dome screening of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World will
take place on October 27th. The Dome itself was built to showcase this