To commemorate Criterion's Blu-ray release of acclaimed director/cinematographer Haskell Wexler's 1969 counter-culture classic Medium Cool, Criterion asked Wexler to provide a list of his ten favorite films of all time. With the exception of Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, all of his choice are in languages other than English. We're still bitterly disappointed that Smokey and the Bandit II didn't make the list. Click here to read
Douglas Dunning, actor, producer,
film authority, radio show host of “How Do You View” and director of
acquisitions at Cinema Epoch, has acquired the rights to the following titles
for release on DVD:
“Hundra”, the 1984 Laurene Landon
“How Do You View” is the name of a
new Internet radio show hosted by Dunning. The show can be heard daily at 1:00 am, 5:30 am,
11:00 am & 5:00 pm Pacific Standard Time (that’s 4:00 am, 8:30 am, 2:00 pm,
and 8:00 pm to us on the Eastern Seaboard). It can be heard on the Prodigy Media Network. This week, Mr. Dunning interviews director
Richard Rush (pictured), best known for 1980’s The Stunt Man.
to listen to “How Do You View” at the respective times.
Warner Brothers and Paramount will combine forces to co-producer Interstellar, a new sci-fi flick that will be directed by Christopher Nolan. The project was originally being developed for Steven Spielberg, but when he dropped out, Nolan eagerly took over the production. According to Deadline, the story "will depict a heroic voyage to the farthest borders of scientific understanding." It is known that when Spielberg was involved with the film, he was exploring scientific theories about time travel. A November 2014 date has been set to open the movie, which will star Matthew MConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. For more click here
In the history of Eon Productions, there has only been one non-James Bond film: the 1963 Bob Hope comedy Call Me Bwana. Eon's founders, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, did produce independent productions (Broccoli made Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; Saltzman produced the Harry Palmer films and Battle of Britain) but these were not under the Eon banner. Since Broccoli's death, Eon Productions has been in control of his daughter Barbara and his stepson Michael G. Wilson. They have made an occasional foray into non-Bond territory including an acclaimed HBO film about the Lindbergh baby kidnapping and the successful stage production of Chitty. Now, however, in the wake of the company's greatest success, Skyfall, Eon have announced that they will produce a rare non-007 film, The Silent Storm which will be shot in Scotland this summer. Click here for more details.
Artist Pete Emslie of the Cartoon Cave web site provides yet another impressive tribute to a pop culture favorite- Batgirl herself, Yvonne Craig, who celebrates her birthday today. Keep 'em coming, Pete! Click here for more of Pete's tribute to Yvonne.
The Trevi Fountain figured famously in Fellini's classic La Dolce Vita with Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg.
Rome has been
the backdrop to some iconic films over the years, but its real heyday was
between the 1950s and 1960s, when classics such as Roman Holiday were shot in and around the city centre. Even today,
the locations used are considered to be points of pilgrimage for any
self-respecting retro film fan, from the Trevi Fountain to the Colosseum,
especially as 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of Roman Holiday hitting our screens.
The easiest way
to track down the real life places behind the celluloid is to create your own
walking tour, so that you can spend as long as you like at each spot; just use
the Rome film map from lowcostholidays.com and dive straight into the sights to plan your own
route. Here’s your guide to each of the retro pictures that made the map.
Roman Holiday (1953)
It’s the film
that launched Audrey Hepburn; her first leading role, which saw her playing a
princess from an unnamed European country who was determined to explore Rome
whilst on a royal visit. With Gregory Peck as her guide, she went to the Mouth
of Truth, the Spanish Steps and Ponte Sant’Angelo. You can still see the key
locations today, but one of the highlights is the Roman Forum, where our main
characters meet. There’s no longer a road through the middle of it, but you can
still explore the crumbling Arch of Septimus Severus, where Audrey (as Princess
Ann) is found asleep.
Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
Aside from the
continuity gripe of only two – not three – coins being thrown into the fountain
from the title, this 50s film is perfect viewing for anyone who wants to see
vintage Rome in all its glory, through the eyes of three American ex-pats.
Right from the start, with establishing shots of St. Peter’s and the Tivoli
Gardens, we’re treated to picture-perfect views. The Colosseum is a stopping
point on a whistle-stop tour of one character’s city recommendations, along
with a branch of the National Museum.
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Fountain’s most memorable cinema appearance was when Anita Ekberg and Marcello
Mastroianni climbed in together during a night-time stroll. Sadly you can’t
recreate the moment these days, as bathing isn’t actually allowed, but you can
relive the magic by visiting after dark, to avoid the huge crowds. Further
afield, take a trip to the Baths of Caracalla and see where film star Sylvia
(played by Ekberg) danced in front of the press and her fiancé.
As well as the
locations used as a backdrop to certain scenes, you can also track down one of
director Federico Fellini’s biggest local inspirations – Harry’s Bar, on the
Via Veneto, which was a hotspot for celebrities back in the 60s. In the film
itself, the popular street was entirely recreated in the studio, but today it
would be a lot easier to shoot footage here, as the Via Veneto isn’t considered
to be part of Rome’s social scene anymore and is relatively quiet.
Aside from those
greats, there were hundreds of films made at the nearby Cinecittà Studios,
which is on the outskirts of the city and was built by Mussolini. This is the
perfect place to continue your cinematic tour, where you can find out how epics
such as Ben-Hur and Cleopatra were made on the sprawling set. Head to Cinecittà
by using the Metro system and then enjoy a set and on-site museum tour, which
will set you back €15.
Pay tribute to
Italy’s most cinematic city and discover the locations behind the iconic
scenes; you’ll soon see why directors couldn’t keep away from Rome.
The man himself may be long gone, but Al Jolson's immortal contributions to music and cinema are still being celebrated by the thriving International Al Jolson Society. Their official web site allows fans from around the world to share in all aspects of Jolson's career and you can listen to some of his most enduring musical accomplishments. An annual membership in the Society brings even more benefits. This year's convention of Jolson fans will take place in Palm Springs May 16-19 (the location varies every year). There will also be a Jolson festival on Long Island in August (date to be announced). The web site has over 1.5 million hits to date, indicating there's still plenty of life left in Jolson mania.
WORLDWIDE APPEAL TO RETRIEVE ORIGINAL MISSING FILM MATERIALS FOR HORROR CLASSIC
THE WICKER MAN:
CELEBRATION TO RESURRECT AND RESTORE FOR UK CINEMA AUDIENCES
LONDON, UK, 30th April 2013 – STUDIOCANAL, with the
endorsement of director Robin Hardy, today launched a world-wide public appeal
to locate original film materials relating to legendary horror classic THE
WICKER MAN, originally released in 1973, in celebration of the cult film's 40th
2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the THE WICKER MAN'S original release. In
celebration of this and continuing its project to conserve, restore and release
for future generations the best of Classic British cinema, STUDIOCANAL today
announces its intention to release the most complete version of the film
possible. The now widely lauded film was released with minimal promotion in
1973 as second feature of a double bill with Don’t Look Now. The version
exhibited to audiences was significantly shorter than director Robin Hardy's
original vision. In what has now become an apocryphal episode in British film
history, the negatives disappeared from storage at Shepperton Studios, were then
allegedly used as landfill in the construction of the nearby M4 motorway, and are
considered lost forever.
STUDIOCANAL are now appealing worldwide to film
collectors, historians, programmers and all-round fans to support the campaign
and come forward with any information relating to the potential whereabouts of
Director Robin Hardy comments: "I never thought that, after forty years, they would still be
finding lost fragments of my film, We thought all of The Wicker Man had
gone up in flames, but fragments keep turning up and the hunt goes on!"
STUDIOCANAL General Manager UK Home Entertainment John
Rodden adds: "The Wicker Man is not only a great horror film, it is a true
classic that grows in stature as the years pass. We’re now appealing to the
public to help us create the most definitive version possible.”
More details about
the history of the various cuts of the film are below.
WICKER MAN: A SHORT HISTORY:
In 1973, Robin
Hardy’s debut film THE WICKER MAN fell
victim to a boardroom takeover at distribution company British Lion, and had
its release temporarily shelved. A finished version of the film that director
Hardy was happy with had been delivered with a running time of 102 minutes.
When it did finally
reach UK cinemas that year, with little fanfare or promotion, and as part of a
Double Bill with DON’T LOOK NOW, 15 minutes had been cut, leaving the film’s running
time a trim 88 minutes. Director Robin Hardy and the other filmmakers had not
been involved and did not approve of this new version.
A few years later when
Hardy tried to track down his original version, he was told that all the
negative trims from it that had been stored at Shepperton Studios had been
thrown away, and the only “original negative” was now the 88-minute version. He
finally managed to ascertain that Cult US Director Roger Corman still had a
print of the full-length version, and this was used for the US theatrical
release. Corman’s print has been missing since the 1980’s and only poor quality
1” video material is known to exist of this version.
Harrison Ford and Chad Boseman in "42", a surprise boxoffice hit.
Hollywood studios, long criticized for catering almost exclusively to young audiences, is discovering that if they release intelligent fare aimed at older audiences, they will be rewarded with boxoffice gold. In recent years, films that feature the usual big action sequences, boring special effects and low-brow comedy have been rivaled by some highly praised films aimed squarely at baby boomers and senior citizens. Case in point: last week's strong opening for 42, the Jackie Robinson biopic that top-lines 70 year old Harrison Ford, who now refers to himself as a "character actor". For more click here
Harrison Ford isn't generally known to be a ball of laughs in interviews. He plays the good soldier and makes the circuit to promote his latest film (in this case, the new Jackie Robinson biopic). However, he generally appears to enjoy the process as much as enduring a root canal. However, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he engaged in a spirited and very funny routine in which he confronts some eccentric Star Wars fans- and is uncomfortably reunited with a certain alien. Click here to view
Disney isn't wasting any time capitalizing on their costly purchase of the Star Wars franchise. The studio has announced that, beginning in 2015, a new Star Wars film will arrive annually. Some will be new series based on various characters from the franchise. For more click here
Eddy Friedfeld, Carl Reiner and Fran Zigman. (That's Mel Brooks on the phone). (Photo: Karen Caesar.)
By Eddy Friedfeld
The late great Larry Gelbart once said
about his friend and colleague, the still great Carl Reiner: “Carl Reiner and my maid have a lot in
common- they both abhor a vacuum.” Having spent time with Mr. Reiner, I can attest that Mr. Gelbart was
newly released autobiography, I Remember Me, is a very entertaining and wonderful
and inspiring collection of anecdotes. His
third biography, following My Anecdotal Life and How Paul Robeson Saved My Life and Other Mostly
Happy Stories, is a collection of funny and poignant, and extremely well-crafted
stories range from friends and family, including his late wife of 65 years,
Estelle (whose When Harry Met Sally iconic line “I’ll have what she’s having,”
rated ahead of Humphrey Bogart’s Casablanca close “This is the beginning of a
beautiful friendship,” on the AFI list of all-time great movie lines,), to
famous friends and acquaintances, including Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny, George
Burns, Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Ernie Kovacs, Gregory Peck, Julie Andrews, and
regular at bi-monthly dinner parties at Sid Caesar’s home in Beverly Hills organized
by producers Fran and Lou Zigman, Reiner read from his new book, extolling
Caesar’s gifts as the best sketch comedy performer that ever lived, and talked
about being creative with Brooks. When
prompted by Estelle Harris (Seinfeld’s Mrs. Costanza), who is as warm and
friendly as her Seinfeld counterpart was tough and overbearing, he said that he
saw himself as the ultimate master of ceremonies: “As child I loved movies so much that when I
saw one I really liked I gave a friend
money to go see it.”
all due respect to the master, he undersold himself. He is an Agent Provocateur of creativity and comedy. He makes everything and everyone he interacts
with smarter, funnier, and better.
understands the fundamental
art of storytelling and how to share a stage. An actor, writer, director and producer, he is the consummate partner; a
chronic comedy enabler: From Caesar’s comedic
foil, to Brooks Two Thousand Year Old Man partner, to The Dick Van Dyke Show’s
creative force, to Steve Martin’s early film collaborator, and to anyone whom
he happens to be in a room with at the time, his kinetic energy is
enters Caesar’s home with Mel Brooks, his oldest friend, his partner in
creative crime, with whom he has a palpably enviable and inspiring bond. They are the Butch and Sundance Kid of
comedy, both comedic alchemists, creating funny lines, images and situations
literally from the air spinning their golden wit and entertaining and
energizing everyone around them.
Indefatigable, his energy level would
make Seal Team Six tired. There is a
deceptive effortlessness with which he creates. It belies years of training and even more years of passionate pursuit of
craft. He will turn a conversation into a riff or a small
sketch. And for the self-proclaimed
tone-deaf man who once needed an entire orchestra to back him up for a one line
of musical song- and missed it, he is a virtuoso at the music of comedy, and
its innate rhythms and vibrations. He
is a pleasure to watch in action. When
actress Diane Ladd came over to his table during dinner and said, “please don’t
get up,” he responded with dignity and velocity: “I am up. I am just not standing.”
At 91, he still stands over six feet
tall. Distinguished looking, and a
stylish and dapper dresser, he could easily pass for a retired lawyer or
banker. There is a decided dignity that is
coupled with a mischievous spark in his eyes. He is studying the room, stealthily casing it like a creative cat
burglar, mining it for ideas, talent and potential laughter: He is going figure out how to make you laugh,
you just don’t know it yet. And you are
not just going to laugh- you are going to be an active participant in the
party. HisRaison d'être is to bring out the
best in you.
At another dinner party, he produced a
ceramic mug he received from the Off-Broadway show Old Jews telling Jokes. Seeing an opportunity, he turned the mug into
a prop and a tradition; a faux microphone- whomever it was passed to was
required to tell an old joke. From
contemporaries Dick Van Dyke and Monty Hall, to later generations of comedians
and actors, including Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna, Richard Lewis and Roastmaster
General Jeffrey Ross, and guests who never told a joke on stage or for money, each
of whom took the cup, got up and executed a joke with equal fervor and gusto,
encouraged by his spirit.
At one of the dinners, I showed the group a segment of an episode
of NBC’s Producers’ Showcase from 1954 which had a satire of "Meet the Press"
called "Beat the Press." Caesar was in his Professor character the
purported expert on everything, with Reiner playing the earnest reporter
interviewing him about subjects ranging from mountain climbing to the pyramids,
and was being quizzed by real-life journalists Lawrence Spivak, H.V.
Kaltenborn, and Emanuel Freedman.
clip prompted a recollection from Reiner that he was on the Jack Paar Show with
Radio Foreign Correspondent H.V. Kaltenborn who talked about meeting Adolph
Hitler during World War II. “Hitler had
such a warm relationship with his dogs, he was so kind to them,” he recalled
which Reiner interjected: “Do you recall
his relationship with the Jews?” The story got resounding applause from the dinner
party. Reiner said that Paar’s audience
had a similar reaction and that the reporter couldn’t recover from the
resounding applause to make another point.
has given me both advice and friendship over the years, graciously sharing
stories and wisdom. Excited that I
introduced my NYU film class to Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, he said: “It’s the most fun I ever had making a
picture. We spent six months editing
clips from old Film Noir movies finding clips we could use. The name Rigby Reardon (Steve Martin’s
character) came from lines from other movies uttered by Charles Laughton and
Humphrey Bogart.” Showing him original
programs from Your Show of Shows prompted a story about how Bob Hope produced
his first national television special using the Show of Shows cast and crew,
“I’ve been thinking about it,” he once said to
You don’t need both.”
Retro Contributor Eddy Fried(feld) teaches comedy and film history at Yale and
Click here to order Carl Reiner's I Remember Me from Amazon
With 1980s screen icons back in style, we're actually kind of excited over the prospects for Escape Plan, which pairs Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Formerly titled The Tomb, Entertainment Weekly describes the movie this way: "Stallone stars in the film as a brilliant prison architect who has to break out of the world’s greatest prison with Schwarzenegger, and presumably they do indeed conceive some kind of “plan” for their putative “escape.” The film also stars Jim Caviezel, 50 Cent, Sam Neill, and Vinnie Jones." In the photo above, the former Governator looks particularly cool. The flick will be released in North America in September. For more click here
Mike Bloomfield of moviepostermem.com is pleased to announce the launch of a new
website www.fiskenposter.com This website is dedicated to a single owner
collection of movie posters. We're showcasing posters in the collection &
trying to explain something about the artists behind the posters & the
market in general. Hopefully people will enjoy browsing & find it a useful
resource base. Of course, if you have any posters that you think would fit
into the collection. please contact me on email@example.com
(For a special tribute article to the legendary British movie poster artist Tom Chantrell, see Cinema Retro issue #25)
With his long-planned remake of A Star is Born seemingly stalled, Clint Eastwood appears to be looking at another big screen musical: the movie adaptation of the Broadway smash hit Jersey Boys. The play tells the story of the meteoric rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to the top of the American pop charts in the 1960s. The show received widespread acclaim for not simply presenting a catalog of the group's greatest hits, but for also showing many of the unsavory, behind-the-scenes aspects of Valli's career and personal life. This would be Eastwood's first foray into the musical genre since the ill-fated 1969 big budget Paint Your Wagon in which he starred with Lee Marvin and Jean Seberg, although this time, he would be behind the cameras. For more click here
Plans are going forward to relaunch the National Lampoon 'Vacation' film series that was all the rage in the 1980s. Christina Applegate and Ed Helms will star. Producers are in negotiations with the films' original stars, Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo to reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold, though their appearance is being planned as a cameo throwback to the original series. For more click here
We straight guys have spent inordinate amount of hours drooling over scantily-clad cavegirls in B movies. Seems only fair that gay guys can exercise the same right when it comes to cavemen. Inspired by a new scientific theory that there may have been gay cavemen, writer Chris Eggersten cobbled together a slide show of "Ten Hot Cavemen Who Can Club Us Anytime!" From Victor Mature to Brendan Fraser to Robert Vaughn, click here to view the slide show
Although he has collaborated with Quentin Tarantino on several films, legendary composer Ennio Morricone says he will never team with the mercurial director again. Morricone accuses Tarantino of lumping music into his films "without coherence". He is especially miffed that, after he declined to compose a score for Django Unchained, Tarantino simply used a previous Morricone composition in the film. Morricone, who is not known for personal restraint when it comes to expressing his opinion, says that he didn't care for the Oscar-winning Western, saying there was "too much blood." Click here for more
Although not intended to be seen by the public, costume test photos of Nicolas Cage were leaked to the web, resulting in mockery by fans of the notion Cage could be a credible Superman. This, along with other factors, may have led to Warner Brothers pulling the plug on the Tim Burton production.
It was announced with great fanfare. Back in 1998, a theatrical blockbuster titled Superman Lives was to go into release through Warner Brothers with red-hot Tim Burton in the director's chair and Nicolas Cage starring as the legendary D.C. Comics hero. Kevin Smith would be among those contributing to the screenplay. Then, after sinking $30 million into the heavily-hyped production, Warners pulled the plug on the film. The exact reasons remain murky and now an independent filmmaker, Joe Schnepp, is raising funds on-line for a documentary about the Supey would-be blockbuster that never was. Many people attribute the cancellation of the film to the failure of the mega-budgeted Batman and Robin, which also sunk that franchise for a number of years before it was revitalized by director Christopher Nolan. Burton himself theorized that his version of Superman may have been deemed "too dark", a notion he now finds ironic, given the overwhelmingly depressing mood of the Nolan Batman movies. Superman spawned two major hit films in 1978 and 1980 for Warner Brothers. Both starred Christopher Reeve. The third Reeve film, Superman III, released in 1983, was successful but turned off fans with its silly storyline featuring Richard Pryor. A relatively low-budget 1987 flick sub-titled The Quest for Peace was an outright bomb. The next time Superman would appear on film was in the 2006 production Superman Returns. The movie was only modestly successful, but the Man of Steel will get another chance to lure fans to theaters later this year with the appropriately titled Man of Steel. For more on the checkered screen history of Superman click here
They were the most prolific of many prolific singing duos that came to prominence in the 1960s. However, it was a movie that led to the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel shortly after the release of their masterpiece "Bridge Over Troubled Water". Both men had aspired to acting careers. Director Mike Nichols had cast them in key roles in his 1970 film version of Joseph Heller's anti-war novel "Catch-22". However, shortly thereafter, Nichols made the decision to cut Simon's part. Feeling hurt, Simon spent his time in New York City while Garfunkel filmed in Europe. The resentment led to Simon writing the song "The Only Living Boy in New York City", an allusion to the loneliness he felt writing the songs without the presence of his partner. Making matters worse, Garfunkel went immediately on to star in another Nichols film, Carnal Knowledge. This resulted in the duo splitting up, though they have had numerous (sometimes tension-filled) reunions in the years since. For more click here for Vanity Fair's report.
Variety, the legendary "bible" of show business, has been struggling to survive in the internet age. It's gone through different owners, management staff and several bold business plans- but none of them has staunched the bleeding. It has been announced that Variety will cease publication of its daily edition, once a must-read in the industry, but will continue to publish its weekly issue as well as special editions throughout the year. Variety also becomes the latest publication to concede defeat in its efforts to build a base of paid subscribers for its web site. The site has now reverted to a free service. For more click here
Despite bold attempts by influential directors and cinematographers to keep the 35mm format alive, it is going the way of the dodo bird- and taking with it projectionists and any theaters that can't or won't convert to digital.
Cinema Retro has extensively covered the rapid conversion from 35mm film to digital technology. There is no doubt that, despite the determination of acclaimed directors like Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino to keep shooting movies in the traditional method, digital is winning big time. The format results in crystal clear imagery (too clear for some) and the guarantee of a great picture. It also does away with the disruptive process of cinematographers having to pause filming every ten minutes to change film stock. However, purists still like the traditional look and feel of film and find the digital format a cold and rather uninteresting way of shooting movies. Regardless, writer Jonathan Owen of The Independent boldly pronounces 35mm film as officially dead. He says this year's Oscars may well be the last to feature any films shot in the 35mm format. Click here to read more
It's been a long time since Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was in theatrical release-- 22 years, to be precise. However, star Kevin Costner is suing the production company Morgan Creek over alleged hanky panky when it comes to royalties still due to him from the film. Costner says the production company was tardy in providing accounting records, and in some years didn't provide them at all. A judge ruled that Costner has enough validity to his argument to proceed with his suit, but cautioned him he needs to provide more compelling evidence if he hopes to win a financial award. For more click here
Don Fearney, the man
behind “Legend Of Hammer Vampires” documentary and Amicus style anthology movie
“Grave Tales”, is preparing a feature length documentary on Amicus films.
Amicus titles include The House That Dripped Blood, Tales from the Crypt
(1971), Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, Asylum, The Skull, Dr. Who and the
Daleks, Daleks: Invasion Earth, The Land That Time Forgot, The People That Time
Forgot, The Mind of Mr. Soames, At the Earth’s Core, Madhouse, The Vault of
Horror and more. Check out IMDB
under Amicus Productions for a complete list of titles.
Don is currently at the pre-production stage and is on the look out for high
resolution scans from Amicus’ history. Any image from poster artwork to front
of house and behind the scenes photos would be greatly appreciated.
Those who are aware of Don's previous productions or of his numerous events
such as Bray Days, will know how much effort he puts in to ensuring the best
possible product for genre fans.
If you can assist in this project Don can be contacted in writing at Don
Fearney, 25 High Hill Ferry, Bakers Hill, London E5 9HL. Credit will, of
course, be given.
For e-mail enquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hollywood Reporter presents an amusing article in which an anonymous director allows a reporter to review his Oscar ballot with him while he decides what to vote for. His candor is refreshing and insightful, as he lambasts some Oscar favorites and speaks up for other films he feels are being neglected. He says Django Unchained was fun but really just "Tarantino masturbating". He thinks Alan Arkin shouldn't be nominated. He likes Life of Pi but disdains the film's religious message and he threatens to fillet his neighbor's dog if Skyfall doesn't win Best Song (he's been angry at the Academy ever since they passed over Live and Let Die for Best Song back in 1973). Click here to read
The tradition started benignly enough in 1994 with a short segment on the Oscar broadcast paying tribute to notable people in the film community who passed away the previous year. The segment is now a mainstay of the Oscar telecast. Although the Academy keeps it a closely guarded secret regarding who is on the committee that decides who will be included in the tribute and who will not make the cut, friends, family and colleagues of the dearly departed routinely launch PR campaigns to ensure certain individuals are honored with the fleeting, multi-second photo or film clip. No matter how inclusive Oscar tries to be, someone is always insulted that a loved one has been excluded. In some cases, major names like Harry Morgan and Peter Graves were eliminated, but AMPAS argues that's because some stars became primarily known for their work in TV as opposed to feature films. The New York Times provides insight into the lobbying efforts some people initiate in order to influence the Academy. Click here to read
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd generally sticks to provocative political matters in her columns but she's fed up with filmmakers who change major historical facts in their movies then hide behind the "artistic license" excuse as a defense. Critically acclaimed films such as Argo, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln have all come under fire for changing key facts. In the case of Argo, director Ben Affleck admitted to one and all that he inserted an action-packed climax that never occurred in real life. At least that makes sense, but in the case of Lincoln, screenwriter Tony Kushner is livid over criticisms deriving from the fact that he presents the state of Connecticut as having voted against the Emancipation Proclamation when, in fact, it voted for it. Kushner tells Dowd it's a minor trifle equivalent to arguing over the color socks Lincoln wore. Dowd doesn't buy his argument, and frankly, neither do we. Its a completely avoidable mistake that doesn't have any justification, but Kushner is digging in and defending the decision not to alter the DVD edition of the film- even though director Steven Spielberg is sending this flawed historical record into Connecticut schools through a program whereby the DVD is being donated to educational institutions. Still, nothing beats Oliver Stone's JFK, which made up entire key characters and "facts" that didn't exist in order to support Stone's conspiracy theories. As for Lincoln, we're quite upset at another historical omission: the President's well-known career as a vampire hunter, which isn't even mentioned. - Lee PfeifferFor more click here
A Fox News Hollywood reporter is standing by his claim that Harrison Ford will return as Han Solo in the new Star Wars feature film currently in the works for Disney. The reporter could not say whether Ford will have a starring role in the film or just a cameo, but other reports indicate that both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, who starred with Ford in the original film, will also be appearing the new production. If true, it will spur fan interest into another galaxy. For more click here
Director Lars von Trier is preparing two version of his highly-anticipated new film Nymphomaniac. The first version will be soft-core but it's the second, hardcore version, that has audiences eager to see just how far everyone goes. Charlotte Gainsbourg's character is introduced as a 50 year-old self-professed nymphomaniac who reviews her erotic escapes in flashbacks. The cast of notables includes Uma Thurman, Shia LaBeouf, Willem DaFoe, Stellan Starsgard and Jamie Bell. The real suspense is in seeing who ends up doing what to whom on screen. Major actors in a hardcore film isn't unprecedented. In 1979, Bob Guccione produced Caligula featuring Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud and rising young actress Helen Mirren. When the film was released, it contained hardcore sex sequences. The principals argued that they were unaware that this footage would be added after the fact. Not so with Nymphomaniac - all the participants have gone into the project aware of von Trier's vision. Click here for more
Pierce Brosnan will star in Last Man Out, a new action film that casts the former James Bond star as a reformed IRA hit man who is released from jail after serving a twenty-year sentence. Plagued by guilt over the people he has killed, the character decides to make amends by avenging them through violent means. For more click here
A new biopic of Grace Kelly makes the claim that her marriage to Prince Rainier III, presented to the public as a fairy tale come true, was, in fact, a loveless union of convenience designed to produce an heir so that Monaco would not fall under French rule. The royal family has denounced what they claim are historical inaccuracies in the film, which stars Nicole Kidman as Grace, the Hollywood superstar-turned-real life princess. According to the script, Grace was secretly miserable and had accepted Alfred Hitchcock's offer to star in Marnie, for the then staggering fee of $1 million. Grace missed Hollywood and felt she was like a bird in a gilded cage, trapped in her royal residence in Monaco. Rainier is presented as a cold womanizer in the new film and his objection to her returning to Hollywood won out because Grace was advised that she would see very little of her two young children again, as they would remain under Rainier's care. For more click here
Disney, the new owners of LucasFilm, has canceled plans to to bring 3-D versions of the films to theaters following the weak box-office performance of The Phantom Menace in that format. Disney is sensitive to fan's criticisms that George Lucas was going to the well too often in attempts to milk more profits from the series while showing little enthusiasm for getting new entries off the ground. Instead, the studio will go all out to reboot the franchise now that J.J. Abrams has agreed to direct the first of the new films in the franchise. For more click here
The Huffington Post has compiled a list of 15 movies released in recent years during the month of January, long regarded as the elephant's graveyard for premiering a new film. With the holidays over and bills pouring in, movie-going generally declines, leading studios to dump some questionable entries onto the market. Click here to view
British director Michael Winner passed away recently. Although he had not been a force in the film industry in decades, the larger-than-life director remained one of the best-connected people in show business and could pretty much induce anyone to socialize with him. Click here to access some great stories about his relationships with Michael Caine, Sophia Loren, Sean Connery and Burt Lancaster.
When I was in high school back in the 1970s, rumors went around that Rock Hudson was dating Jim Nabors. I laughed them off as ludicrous...the world knew that neither man was gay! Well, while it's clear Hudson and Nabors were friends and colleagues, we don't know if they ever did date. But the idea that these two iconic American entertainers had to hide their true sexuality from the world now seems bizarre. However, at the time, the knowledge that one of Hollywood's on-screen lady killers, not to mention Mayberry's beloved mechanic, were anything but straight-as-arrow would have been the death knell to both men's careers. Hudson sadly didn't live to see the changing social values toward homosexuality, but Nabors has. He's proud to say he's just married his partner of 38 years. - Lee Pfeiffer
Warner Brothers is getting cold feet about their next potential big budget comic book adaptation, Justice League. The studio seems to be a bit nervous about the fate of the forthcoming Man of Steel, the latest attempt to revive the Superman franchise. While word of mouth on the movie is good and red-hot Christopher Nolan executive produced the film, the track record of its director, Zack Snyder, is mixed, having overseen some big budget disappointments. Warner Brothers has made it clear that it is taking a wait-and-see attitude and will evaluate how Man of Steel performs before deciding whether to proceed with Justice League. Click here for more
Hollywood devours its older, most respected filmmakers. Take acclaimed director Paul Schrader, the man who wrote memorable films like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Yakuza, Obsession and The Mosquito Coast. (He also directed Hardcore and Affliction). Schrader has other stories he wants to tell, but can't find financing for them despite the fact that the productions he has in mind can be produced for amounts that total less than Brad Pitt's coffee budget. Schrader has used innovation to his advantage, however, raising private funds on-line for his new film, The Canyons, a daring look at modern sexuality and depraved behavior in troubled relationships. He not only cast a male porn icon in the lead role, but has given the female lead to Lindsay Lohan. In an extensive piece on the making of the film for the New York Times, writer Stephen Rodrick lays bare the amount of trials and tribulations that Schrader has gone through to deal with Ms. Lohan in his obsession to bring this small film to the screen. Those trials included having to deal with Lohan's insecurities, her penchant for taking off on a minutes notice and having to direct naked in order to make her feel comfortable filming a sex scene. Click here to read
Andy Griffith, an American acting and comedy icon, seen here receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2005. (Click here for video of the ceremony)
Film critic Rex Reed pays his annual tribute to the great artists lost in the previous year. Among the great talents who left us in 2012: Whitney Houston, Ernest Borgnine, Phyllis Diller, Andy Griffith and so many more who will never be replaced. Click here to read the tribute article.
Lovelace, the bio pic of porn legend Linda Lovelace, premiered this week at Sundance. Amanda Seyfried plays the title role of the tortured Lovelace, a woman whose peculiar sexual talent resulted in Deep Throat grossing hundreds of millions of dollars in the 1970s. Lovelace saw none of the profits, however, beyond the paltry sum she was paid to perform in the film. The fame and notoriety did elevate her to a household name and put the debate over government censorship into high gear. Lovelace's personal life was also defined by controversy and destructive relationships. She passed away in 2002 at the age of 53. Click here to watch a clip of Seyfried as Lovelace.
Cinema Retro's Eddy Friedfeld fulfilled his life's dream by taking the Batmobile for a spin a few years ago.
George Barris, the man who turned a 1955 Lincoln Future concept car, into one of the most iconic vehicles in screen history is $4.2 million richer today. His original Batmobile, driven by Adam West and Burt Ward in the 1960s smash hit Batman TV series, sold for that eye-opening price last week at auction. Click here for details
The international rollout for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln will differ slightly than the version seen by American audiences. It will feature a special prologue that is designed to inform foreign audiences about the historical context of what was going on in America during the period of the Civil War. The film centers primarily on Lincoln's obsession with getting the 24th Amendment to the Constitution passed by Congress so that slavery would be banned throughout the entire United States once the country was reunited. For more click here
Jerry Lewis' big screen comeback film, Max Rose, is finally going into production this week in Los Angeles. However, if you look for Nutty Professor-like antics from the 86 year-old comedy legend, you won't find them in this indie film written and directed by Daniel Noah. It's a dramatic tale about a widowed pianist who is haunted by a revelation about his late wife. Lewis played it straight before, leaving the laughs to Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's underrated classic The King of Comedy (1983). For more click here
This is a trying time for all labor unions. Once the backbone of the American workforce, unions could point to so many quality of life issues they negotiated for that now benefit most working Americans, from the 40 hour work week, overtime, health benefits, family leave and many other progressive policies. However, the recent trend against employing union members has now extended to the entertainment industry. Variety's music critic Jon Burlingame reports that studios are balking at using union musicians for film scores, preferring to have the music recorded overseas where musicians make more money up front but don't get residual payments. The work in L.A. for musicians is drying up fast, but ironically, the American Federation of Musicians points out that it has brought in the highest total of residuals ever last year. The problem is that the work and money is going to a smaller and smaller pool of musicians. There is a movement afoot to try to convince the AFM to offer studios an alternative to the residual programs, which would make Hollywood more competitive with overseas orchestras. There is also criticism of the studios, which take major tax incentives from the U.S. government to shoot films on American soil but use a loophole to outsource the music. For more click here
Oscar favorite: Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln.
The Oscar nominations have been announced- and the biggest surprises came with the directors who were not nominated despite having been considered to be shoo-ins for the honor. Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper were all denied nominations for Best Director and long-shots Ang Lee, Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke did receive nominations. The "James Bond Curse" was also lifted, with Skyfall nabbing five nominations, none in the major categories. However, it did get nominations for Best Song, Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Cinematography- the most nominations ever accorded a 007 film. For more click here
Christian Slater's name above the title couldn't pull 'em in.
The film Playback has the dubious distinction of being the lowest-grossing movie released in 2012. Never heard of it? Apparently, only a handful of people did. The film, starring Christian Slater, took in an opening night gross of $252 with $12 earned during the week. In fairness, however, the movie only played in one theater for one week. In some cases, movies get limited theatrical releases in order to fulfill contractual obligations or to aid in the marketing of a DVD release, whereby the studio can technically say the movie played theatrically. No matter how you cut it, however, Playback offered no payback for investors: its budgeted was $7.5 million. For more click here
Director Robert Zemeckis has dropped plans to remake the Beatles' animated 1968 feature film Yellow Submarine. The Oscar-winner has been developing the project for several years but confirmed recently that he has changed his mind. "That would have been a great one, to bring the Beatles back to life," he said. "But it's probably
better not to be remade — you're always behind the eight-ball when you
do a remake." Thus, the original Blue Meanies will still reign supreme.
The messy, long-running mutual lawsuits between Paramount Pictures and the estate of author Mario Puzo have now been settled by mutual agreement, though the terms have not been made public. Paramount had sued the estate trying to prevent publication of The Family Corleone, the latest literary sequel to Puzo's legendary best-seller The Godfather. The studio contracted with Puzo in 1969 to bring his book to the big screen. The 1972 blockbuster movie was the biggest money maker in screen history until being displaced by Jaws three years later. The Paramount suit claimed the studio had rights to any literary sequels based on the original book. The estate claims that Paramount has forfeited those rights. Both parties have agreed to pay their own legal expenses as part of the settlement. For more click here
If the year 2012 was one of the most volatile in terms of American politics, some of that tension has seeped into the race for the Best Picture Oscar. The nominees have not been announced yet but front runners include Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, each of which is drenched in historical political overtones that critics and pundits say have relevance to contentious issues going on today. The New York Times analyzes how those political undercurrents may effect what films get nominated and which one may win. Click here to read
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from the producers of the outstanding indie Western The Scarlet Worm (click here for review):
December 17, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
ORIGINAL 'DJANGO' ACTOR FRANCO NERO
ATTACHED TO NEW WESTERN
Contact: Mike Malloy,
Eric Zaldivar and Mike Malloy, two
producers of the offbeat 2012 Western The Scarlet Worm, have received a
Letter of Interest from original Django star Franco Nero to topline a
gritty new Western project, tentatively titled Django Lives!Should the
sequel rights be secured, the feature would be the third “official” entry in
the saga that made Mr. Nero an international star.
Since the release of the original Django in 1966, over thirty films have
included the character’s iconic name in their titles, most recently Quentin
Tarantino’s Django Unchained, in
which Mr. Nero makes a cameo appearance.Until now, however, only the 1987 Western Django Strikes Again is considered to be an official sequel.
The story would have former gunslinger Django, in his twilight
years, ending up as a silent-movie consultant in 1915 Hollywood and meeting an
aspiring filmmaker with whom he reluctantly goes into business. When the
filmmaker gets killed by racketeers, the young man's gambling debts are
considered transferred to Django, who must now flee for safety to a small rural
community. But that town's sharply divided inhabitants have their own problems,
and Django becomes embroiled in a bloody conflict immediately upon arrival.
Looper star Noah Segan, an aficionado of
Spaghetti Westerns and friend of the production, has expressed interest in
co-starring as a younger character with mysterious intentions who befriends the
Zaldivar and Malloy most recently
worked with Nero on the award-winning cinema documentary Eurocrime! The
Italian Cop and Gangster Films that Ruled the '70s, which kicked off its
festival run of eight countries at the Atlanta Film Festival in March of this
“Everyone we met on the festival
circuit wanted to know first and foremost about what it was like to interview
Franco Nero,” said Malloy. “He still holds a mythical tough-guy intrigue for a
large audience. Nero is to European action cinema what Eastwood is to the
United States. And he's taken excellent care of himself.”
Zaldivar adds: “I gave Franco a Blu-ray
of The Scarlet Worm and showed him what we were able to achieve on a
microbudget. And he loved the new story we’ve developed for his return to the
screen as the legendary Django. Plus, he knows that Malloy and I are two of the
biggest students of Italian action cinema working today.”
The project aims for arthouse, VOD and
Blu-Ray releases, and the producers are hoping to lens the picture in Utah. Scarlet Worm cinematographer Michael A.
Martinez will return to that post for this film.
Mr. Nero, who rose to stardom in the
1960s with such films as Warner's Camelot, has remained a popular figure
in cinema and television, with recent roles in Letters to Juliet, Cars 2
and Law & Order SVU.
The Scarlet Worm was released in North America through Unearthed Films/MVD
and has pending releases in the U.K. via Trash House Cinema and in Germany via