Frank Langella played an aging writer in Starting Out in the Evening (2007). Who
would have figured this for typecasting?
In his superb memoir, Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them (HarperCollins),
Langella reveals that he is an incomparable memoirist and storyteller,
recalling his encounters with scores of luminaries from the world of
entertainment in a career spanning half a century. All of these luminaries are deceased and the
cast of characters is listed “by order of disappearance”. Just as well, as many
of the revelations are quite shocking.
Langella must be the most sociable and congenial actor
on the planet, as the busyness of his social and professional lives and the breadth
and depth of his friendships, romantic liaisons and acquaintances are very impressive
indeed. He met Marilyn Monroe in 1953. She stepped out of a limousine and said “hi”
to the adolescent from Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1962, Langella, struggling for a
toehold on Broadway, carried a dead drunk Montgomery Clift to his nearby
townhouse several times. “He never spoke a word to me. Never even knew my
name,” Langella recalls.
He knew Anthony Perkins in the late fifties when the
future Norman Bates was the king of Broadway, and decades later met him in the
parking lot of a grocery store in L.A., shortly before his death.
“I turned and saw what looked to me like a ghostly
apparition, a paper-thin, wide-eyed, sallow-faced, walking cadaver. (…) He did not speak. (…) It was a terrifying
sight. Clearly dying and clearly desperate, he seemed disoriented and lost.
Only his familiar crooked grin gave me the sense he knew who he was. (…)
Staring through my rearview mirror at him wandering around in the grass and
weeds, I remembered when the world was his oyster and it seemed nothing could
stand in his way; a book with such a beautiful cover on whose pages were most
likely written crippling and indelible words of shame and guilt.”
Several of Langella’s memoirs deal with the ravages of
time on the careers of actors and actresses who had been to the top of their
profession and smelled its rarefied air. In 1976, Langella co-starred with
Cameron Mitchell “in a ghastly television series entitled Swiss Family Robinson.” By then, the once handsome Mitchell was “fifty-eight,
a fat, jowly mess, covering his sad decline with an over-the-top wisecracking
demeanor; its most heartbreaking manifestation its constancy.” The wardrobe lady
finds an old Napoleonic-era jacket with Mitchell’s name on it, probably the one
he wore in Desirée, a 1954 film he
did with Marlon Brando. Mitchell does “a little yo ho yo ho strut” in the jacket that is now two sizes too small
for him, “like a vaudeville clown getting ready to throw a pie.” Pathetic.
Langella is unusually frank about his relationships
with Rita Hayworth (20 years his senior, her memory failing) and an aging
Elizabeth Taylor, whom he gently spurns, knowing that he could not be part of “her
indiscriminate search for the one thing she could not and would never have:
Langella has serious regrets about lost opportunities: blowing
a possible relationship with Dinah Shore; treating an older Deborah Kerr
callously as they co-starred in Edward Albee’s play Seascape on Broadway in 1974… and then trying to meet with her 30
years later to apologize; turning down a role in John Frankenheimer’s The Horsemen in order to star in Mel
Brooks’ flop The Twelve Chairs, which
led to an angry rebuke by Frankenheimer, who never asked for Langella again.
Langella befriended Alan Bates during the Broadway run of
Ivan Turgenev’s play Fortune’s Fool
and they remained very close friends until Bates’ death in 2003. Langella also
expresses admiration for Tony Curtis: “(…) apart from the absurdity of his
desperate attempts to look cool, hip and young, I found him always to be
charming, instantly connected, and very funny. He was, as well, ruthlessly
honest when he didn’t like someone or something. A no-shit guy who had taken a
lot of abuse, often challengingly bringing it upon himself.”
As for Paul Newman, who tried to befriend Langella, the
memoirist writes: “He was a great audience, a true lover of acting and actors,
and wanted, I believe, to be thought of as a great actor. He wasn’t. But he
gave everything he had to every role. As his movie star days faded and turned
mostly to stage and television projects, his limitations became more apparent.
As indeed, they were in life. After dirty-sexy jokes, shop talk, cars, or
politics were exhausted, Paul was a pretty dull companion. Never rude or
unkind, just dull.” However, Langella ends his chapter on Newman with a
description of his final heartbreaking encounter with the actor famed for his
baby-blues when he is stricken with cancer.” As I read this passage, I was so
moved that tears welled in my eyes.
Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them is so damned
interesting and well written that it should be savoured, but that is almost
impossible. I dashed through the book in one sitting and will read it again
just to study Langella’s literary artistry. My only quibble is that Langella
doesn’t mention Kate Nelligan, his ravishing leading lady in John Badham’s 1979
Other stars and entertainers profiled by Langella
include Billie Burke, Noel Coward, Lee Strasberg (whom Langella treated with
contempt), Celia Johnson, Dolores del Rio, James Mason, Richard Burton (a thundering
bore), Yul Brynner, Elsa Lanchester, Laurence Olivier, Bette Davis, Rex
Harrison (a dreadful man), Coral Browne, Colleen Dewhurst, Gilbert Roland,
Jessica Tandy, Raúl Juliá, Ida Lupino, Jo Van Fleet (who ended her days as a
bag lady), Robert Mitchum, Roddy McDowall, Oliver Reed, George C. Scott
(terminally sad), Loretta Young, Roger Vadim, John Gielgud, Anthony Quinn, Hume
Cronyn, Elia Kazan (“talent such as his doesn’t give you rights” to become “a
serial fucker of women’s bodies and men’s minds”) , Arthur Miller, Anne
Bancroft (terminally miserable despite all her gifts), Maureen Stapleton,
Yvonne De Carlo, Charlton Heston, Richardo Montalban, Jill Clayburgh and
For decades, Kirk Douglas has been boasting that he was the man primarily responsible for breaking the Hollywood blacklist against suspected communists by hiring screenwriter Dalton Trumbo for his 1960 production of Spartacus. While no one denies that Douglas was bold in support of the blacklisted writer and gave him his first screen credit in years, a darker side of this era is emerging thanks to Douglas' new book about the of the movie. Trumbo's family and the film's producer Edward Lewis accuse Douglas of greatly exaggerating his role in breaking the blacklist. They have been arguing for decades that, while Douglas deserved credit for putting Trumbo's name back on screen credits, he had to be shamed into doing so. They also say that Douglas was so nervous about this act of defiance against the established studios that he refused to give Trumbo screen credit for work he did on their follow-up production, Town Without Pity. Trumbo's heirs also say Douglas' production company exploited blacklisted writers by hiring the desperate men at a fraction of their usual salaries. Click here for more
For the past 35 years Paul Welsh MBE,
film historian and Chairman of 'Elstree
Screen Heritage',has written about the local film and
TV studios in a weekly newspaper column
for the Borehamwood & Elstree
Times. Paul, who recently wrote about the MGM Borehamwood Studios in our Where Eagles Dare special tribute
edition, has now written “Elstree Confidential” a unique book bringing readers
highlights of 50 years of Paul’s memories of the studios, lavishly illustrated
by private photos and correspondence never before published. For anyone
remotely interested in the history of film, this is a must-have, as Paul's
research, and indeed his history with
these world re-known studios, is unsurpassed. MGM's famous quote used to be
"We have more stars than there are in heaven." Well, judging by the
snapshots in this book, Paul met them all too! I felt as though I was there
with the author while going through these pages. Many of the photos are to die
for - especially those depicting sets on the old back lots, etc. An excellent
and personal account of an era long lost, and which should (could?) have been
Published by Elstree &
Borehamwood Museum, this hardbound book costs only £15.95 (plus £4.15 postage and packing in the UK) Your copy will be posted to you on the same day
you place your order! To order a copy simply go on-line to the web site at www.elstreescreenheritage.org
I almost hate it when Dick Klemensen publishes a new issue of his long-running Hammer Films tribute magazine Little Shoppe of Horrors. It takes a lot of my time just to work on my own magazine, Cinema Retro, and the distractions that Little Shoppe inevitably offers makes me put off reading the latest issue until that rare day when I have a few free hours. LSOH has been running for many years and publisher Klemensen never seems to run out of material, even though every article is dedicated to the Hammer phenomenon. Not surprisingly, this issue makes the most of the legendary film studio's resurgence with the brilliant new version of The Woman in Black. The magazine dedicates about half of its entire page count to the making of the movie, and affords exclusive behind the scenes access with most of the major cast and crew including Daniel Radcliffe. But there is so much more, including a vintage interview with the now deceased British character actor Nigel Stock and a fascinating, seemingly quixotic search for a mythical missing Japanese version of Horror of Dracula (with a terrific and unexpected payoff). Klemensen, like Cinema Retro, benefits from the talents of a loyal and highly talented group of international writers and columnists and every article proves to be a page-turner. Toss into the mix some wonderful original artwork, countless rare photos and some very moving personal tributes to Hammer screenwriter and director Jimmy Sangster, and you have another top-of-the-line issue.
Happier times for O"Neal: with long time love Farrah Fawcett.
Ryan O'Neal has a new book about his experiences during his lover Farrah Fawcett's final days. After spending decades trying to patch up contentious relationships with his three children, he sent them advance copies of the manuscript so they did not get blindsided by the stories he related. One son has not read it (he's in rehab) and the response from the other two offspring, including Tatum O'Neal, was decidedly unenthusiastic. O'Neal, who is battling stage 4 prostate cancer, says he is doing all he can to repair the long history of family feuds but is concerned he may have been too candid in the book regarding personal matters. For more click here
No matter what age you are, if you grew up in America in the last 71 years, Archie Comics have been a part of your life to one degree or another. The bloom may be off the rose in terms of the overall popularity of the perpetually-young, freckled face red head, but there are signs his mojo is coming back. The introduction of a gay character into Archie's circle of friends has seen sales soaring, as has a fantasy storyline that explores what his life would have been like had he married Betty and Veronica (separately, of course.). Nevertheless, the behind the scenes story of Archie Comics is the antithesis of the family-friendly plots in the comic books. The heirs of the founders are battling for control of the company- and the situation is so ugly that the New York Times is giving it major coverage. Click here to read. (Thanks to reader Nick Sheffo for the heads up).
Author and Cinema Retro contributing writer Howard Hughes has a new book: When Eagles Dared, a major history of 150 WWII film classics and the historic events that inspired them. Here is an excerpt from the press release:
"When Eagles Dared" tells the stories of the historical events of World
War II and the films that have depicted these events on cinema screens,
presenting a guide to history through cinema that compares the cinematic
myth with the historical reality. Illustrated with rare posters and
stills, it gives us a unique view of this war through the lenses of over
50 diverse films that have shaped our perceptions of the conflict,
including "Downfall," "Patton," "Tora! Tora! Tora!, ""Anzio," "The Thin
Red Line," "Letters from Iwo Jima," "Stalingrad," "Battle of the Bulge,"
"Cross of Iron, " and "A Bridge Too Far." The book portrays the men and
women who participated in World War II, from the evacuation of the
Allied forces from France ("Dunkirk") through to the battle for Berlin
and beyond. Each chapter discusses historical events as they unfold and
illustrates how these episodes subsequently have been portrayed onscreen
by filmmakers. Events discussed include the war in the skies ("Battle
of Britain" and "The Dambusters"), the sea ("Sink the Bismarck!), " and
the North African desert ("The Battle of El Alamein" and "Tobruk").
There are "special mission" movies, including "Where Eagles Dare" and
"Inglourious Basterds, " classic tales of ingenuity ("The Great
Escape"), and human endurance ("The Bridge on the River Kwai").
Click here to order from Amazon USA (available in April)
Paramount has sued the estate of the late novelist Mario Puzo, claiming copyright infringement for an unauthorized sequel to Puzo's legendary bestseller The Godfather. Paramount did work with the Puzo estate to release an official sequel in novel format, The Godfather Returns in 2004. However, they said a later sequel, The Godfather's Revenge and a future book titled The Family Corleone, are unauthorized. According to Paramount, Puzo, who died in 1999, sold the rights to all future film and literary stories based on The Godfather to Paramount as part of a 1969 deal that encompassed bringing the original book to the screen. The landmark 1972 film version starring Marlon Brando once held the spot as the highest-grossing film of all-time. Paramount says that the only rights Puzo maintained pertained to reprinting his original novel. For more click here
MacInnes' best-selling Cold War adventure The Venetian Affair was brought to the screen in 1967 starring Robert Vaughn and Elke Sommer.
Scottish novelist Helen MacInnes was known as the Queen of the Cold War thrillers. Prior to her death in 1985, MacInnes had built a loyal international following. However, in recent years, her work has faded into relative obscurity. Now Titan Books has secured the rights to MacInnes' work and will be reissuing these novels. Some of her books had been made into major films such as The Venetian Affair and The Salzburg Connection. Click here for more
Good news for fans of the literary Matt Helm: author Donald Hamilton's long out-of-print novels will be reprinted by Titan Books. The novels bear virtually no resemblance to the fun but campy Dean Martin films made in the 1960s, as Hamilton wrote straight forward, hard-hitting stories. For more click here
For Matthew Bradley's analysis of the literary and cinematic Matt Helm click here
Looks like those folks at The Guardian in London have good taste when it comes to appreciating sexy film posters. The newspaper's web site has a photo tour of classic movie posters from Cinema Sex Sirens, the new book by Cinema Retro publishers Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer. Click here to view To order the book, click on banner at top of page.
It was raining outside and I waswrapped up in my warm office listening to the
2-CD soundtrack to The Great Escape
and enjoying designing the Hatari!
feature for next May's magazine. I was feeling good. All was going well... and
then there was a knock at the door. Damn! It turned out to be the postman, and
he delivered a package that was to throw out the rest of my carefully planned
day. For inside the package was Marcus Hearn's new book from Titan, 'The Hammer
Vault' - a deluxe large format hardback book packed with sensational,
never-before-seen material from the archives of Britain's most famous film
studio. Marcus, who has written for Cinema Retro on several occasions, has
already authored three books about Hammer: 'The Hammer Story' (with Alan
Barnes), the brilliant 'Hammer Glamour' and the to-die-for 'The Art of Hammer',
but for me, this is the best of the lot. Following the studio's history from
the early 30s to present day, Marcus has unearthed rare stills, publicity
material, documents and letters - some from the personal scrapbooks of the late
Michael Carreras and Peter Cushing. There are even photos of props, Tom
Chantrell poster artwork, and projects never made. This is a must-have book,
especially in time for Christmas. I've only spent about thirty minutes looking
through it so far, but it threw out my whole work schedule for the day. Damn
(The book will be available for shipping in December)
If you think of Bruce Lee as simply an icon of the 'chop-socky' kung fu genre, think again. The legendary action star was actually an articulate poetry who wrote original work and translated the poems of others. Lee's poetry and other spiritual aspects of his life were the subject of the 2001 book Bruce Lee: Artist of Life written by his widow Linda and co-author John Little. For more click here
To order Bruce Lee: Artist of Life from Amazonclick here
Cinema Sex Sirens by Cinema Retro publishers Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer is now shipping in the UK and Europe. The limited editions signed by the authors are almost sold out in our UK office. If you pre-ordered the book, it's on it's way to you. As of right now, there are only 13 copies of the signed edition, available exclusively from Cinema Retro, left for sale in the UK.
Because the book's publication was delayed by a few weeks, we are now expecting pre-orders for the American market and the rest of the world to be shipped in November. Note: The regular American publication date for the book is March 2012- so by ordering the limited edition, you will receive the book months in advance of the general public! There are very few limited editions signed by the authors available from our American office also, so order today! Click on the banner at the top of this page for ordering details or click here.
Here is the official press release from Omnibus Press:
CINEMA SEX SIRENS
With an introduction by Sir Roger
Dave Worrall & Lee Pfeiffer
Published by Omnibus Press
appeared alongside many of the ladies featured in this book. My only grumble is
that they are all far prettier than me.’Sir Roger Moore
Cinema Sex Sirensis an exuberant celebration
of the female stars of the Sixties and Seventies. It was the last great era of
the cinematic sex siren – a time when massive cultural changes produced an unprecedented
relaxation of censorship and yet old-fashioned Hollywood glamour still held
The Sixties and
Seventies was an era when actresses unashamedly embraced the tag ‘Sex Goddess’
or ‘Sex Siren’ and willing exploited their beauty and bodily charms to further
their careers. This highly desirable coffee table book focuses on the key
actresses of the period, ranging from cinematic legends to cult actresses.
The authors, Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer, present a luminous collection of idealised women whilst
at the same time offering a fascinating insight into the movies’ depiction of
female sexuality. From international icons like Brigitte Bardot, Helen
Mirren, Sophia Loren, Natalie Wood, Ann-Margret, Raquel Welch
and Jane Fonda to less celebrated
sirens of British and European cinema, such as Susan George, Ingrid Pitt,
Sylva Koscina and Britt Ekland, Cinema Sex Sirens offers an unparalleled collection of stunning
glamour photos and a fascinating snapshot of sexuality in the Sixties and
The Cinema Sex Sirens era marked a new
spirit of frankness in society and the movie industry lost no time in following
suit, shaking off over 25 years of strict censorship and enforced
self-regulation. And the women who defined this new era of eroticism became
world-famous, defined a generation’s view of sexuality and still continue to
focuses on one actress. featuring rare full colour photos, a biography and
commentary, supplemented by some superb international movie poster artwork and magazine
Dave Worrall and Lee
Pfeiffer are the founders and publishers of the long-running Cinema Retro magazine (www.cinemaretro.com),
which proudly covers movies of the Sixties and Seventies. They have co-authored The Essential James
Bond, the best-selling 007 film book with sales in excess of 250,000
Dave Worrall also established the
highly successful company Solo Publishing in 1987, which has produced high profile
magazines and books pertaining to the James Bond phenomenon.
has authored books covering the careers of Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Sean
Connery and Harrison Ford. He has also taught classes about cinema at New York
University, written and produced DVD documentaries and runs film location trips
through his company T.W.I.N.E. Tours.
The late Pauline Kael is arguaby the most famous film critic of all time. In an age where film critics mattered, she got the most ink even among such prominent reviewers as Richard Schickel, Bosley Crowther and Rex Reed. Today film criticism is of the masses and by the masses with countless bloggers weighing in on their thoughts about movies and moviemaking. However in the pre-web age, certain critics had extraordinary impact on the fate of movies. They could help sink big budget productions and make small art house films hits. Kael was known for being abrasive and unapologetic. She gushed over the works of some filmmakers while others could never win a kind word from her. Such is her influence that she is the subject of two new books. New York Times film critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis debate her legacy. Click here to read
For those of us who have written numerous books, it goes without saying that the people closest to us have probably never read our work. Wives, husbands, kids, colleagues and close friends always are supportive and wish you well with your latest endeavor. They tolerate the mood swings, long hours meeting seemingly impossible deadlines and empty promises not to start another book project for a long, long time. However, their support doesn't mean that they have any interest in the subject matter. There's nothing offensive about it - you can't expect your teenaged daughter to cuddle up at night with a book about the films of John Wayne. For family members, the fact that mom or dad is an author is perhaps a bit more offbeat than most parent's careers but it becomes just as mundane over time. This is equally true when writers get together with other writers. Someone always has a book in the works but discussion of the latest project rarely goes beyond a few seconds during social gatherings. These trends extend even to those closest to famous writers such as the late Joseph Heller, whose great novel Catch-22 is now being celebrated on the 50th anniversary of its publication. In a remarkable column, Heller's daughter Erica, now in her 60s, confesses she has never read any of her father's books- but is about to break the trend by finally reading Catch-22 - though she does so was reluctance. Click here for more
The name of Hammer has long been associated
with the horror film genre. However, the legendary British company also made
some of the best fantasy and science fiction films in the UK. From the terrors
of The Quatermass Xperiment to the
prehistoric menace of One Million Years
BC, Hammer produced well-made productions with style and creativity equally
as good as their gothic horrors. Directors such as Val Guest, Don Chaffey and
Joseph Losey turned out spectacular fantasies for Hammer, many of which are now
considered cult classics.
Writer Bruce G Hallenbeck explores the
history of the studio's many ventures into science-fantasy, setting them in the
context of the genre as a whole and provides the reader with a wealth of
fascinating detail, as well as dozens of rare photos from private collections.
With a foreword by actress Martine Beswick,
HAMMER FANTASY & SCI-Fi is a 268 page book illustrated with more than 200
photos, including 8 pages in colour, and can be highly recommended for all
lovers of this film genre, whether a Hammer fan or not.- Dave Worrall
They may be in different political parties but former Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger has a lot in common with former President Bill Clinton in that their sex scandals didn't seem to tarnish their personal popularity. Arnold is taking the bull by the horns and delving directly into the more controversial aspects of his life and career by penning a memoir titled "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story" (we admit we do like the title). The book will be published in October 2012 and is sure to be an instant international best seller if only because of prurient interest in reading his spin on the scandals he's had to contend with. For more click here
1950s Radio in Color: The Lost Photographs of Deejay Tommy Edwards(Kent State University Press) is an extraordinary book on several levels. First there is the physical look of the book: it's an over-sized coffee table hardback that does full justice to the photos so beautifully reproduced therein. This brings us to the second point: the book is a priceless historical record of incredible candid photos taken by a man named Tommy Edwards. Who was he? Largely unknown today, Edwards was one of the top early deejays in the Cleveland Ohio market, where he helped make station WERE-AM a major force in popularizing the new music format known as rock 'n roll. Edwards had the foresight to photograph virtually every up-and-coming music star he was introduced to - and there were few who escaped his sphere of influence. Fate was unkind to Edwards and, due to a variety of reasons including personal problems, he faded from the influential position he held and ultimately ran a popular used record shop until his death in 1981. His photographs were presumed lost until this book's author Chris Kennedy uncovered the treasure trove and made them the basis for this book.
The number of iconic figures Edwards photographed in candid situations is remarkable. There's young Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, Paul Anka, The Everly Brothers, Sam Cooke, Frankie Avalon, Johnny Cash, The Big Bopper, Johnny Horton and many others. He also photographed young actors who had cut records such as Michael Landon and Tina Louise as well as iconic Hollywood stars who were promoting new films (Clark Gable, Rock Hudson, Doris Day, a bored Henry Fonda going through the motions of an interview). There are many "flash in the pan" musical acts and solo crooners who were destined for oblivion and these are among the most fascinating entries in the book. Kennedy, a true literary detective, even located elusive newsletter Tommy Edwards had sent out to rock and roll fans- and he reproduces them in this book.
The photos are elegantly presented in chronological order ending with a haunting photo of Edwards himself in his beloved record store.
Chris Kennedy has done yeoman work- and any fan of retro music and cinema owes him a great debt for salvaging the remarkable photographs of a very remarkable man.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Kiss Kiss Kill Kill
The Graphic Art and
Forgotten Spy Films of Cold War Europe
The Exhibition Catalogue
To coincide with the Kiss Kiss
Kill Kill touring exhibition, The
KKKK Archive is proud to announce the publication of a full colour catalogue
to celebrate this exciting touring show.
KKKK will appeal to everyone who loves “Eurospy” and the spy film genre. The
curator of the KKKK Archive, Richard
Rhys Davies, has spent many years creating one of the finest collections of
spy film posters in the world. The catalogue presents a selection of posters
from all over Europe as well as
fascinating artwork for many forgotten Soviet
The book is a large format A4 all colour art book on 100g paper stock
featuring over 100 stunning newly restored posters. All artwork from the KKKK exhibition is featured as well as
an introductory essay by the curator Richard Rhys Davies. The catalogue is
divided into the following chapters:
Curtain is Drawn
Noir: French spy cinema before
Lang : inventor of the spy
·Eurospy: The European Co-Production
·Out of the Rubble:West
German Escapist Cinema
·Paella Spy: The Spanish Connection
·Spaghetti Spy: The Italian Factory 1964 -1967
·The Spy in the Cold: British Spy Films
·Czechoslovakia Before and After ’68
·Eastern Bloc Poster Design: The Polish and Czech Schools
With a new high profile big screen version of The Great Gatsby scheduled for production, F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel is back in the news. Seems those intent on dumbing-down young readers can't resist "improving" literary masterpieces by altering them in key ways. Film critic Roger Ebert puts a new stream-lined version of Gatsby in his sites as he takes on those intent on changing novels that have been a mainstay of American culture. For more click here
BearManor Media specializes in niche-themed books relating to TV and film. One of their latest releases is as niche as you can get: an entire volume dedicated to Henry Fonda's little-remembered TV series The Deputy which ran between 1959-1961. Author Glenn A. Mosley has done yeoman work in researching the series, which was one of a seemingly endless parade of Western-themed TV shows that flooded the tube in the 50s and 60s. Mosley's book- rather cumbersomely titled Henry Fonda and the Deputy- The Film and Stage Star and His TV Western - also has a foreword by Fonda's co-star Read Morgan and a prologue by Christian Nyby II, the son of one of the show's late directors who recalls being on the set. He also gets insights from Norman Lear, who co-created the series. For Mosley, this project was clearly a labor of love and he provides a full episode guide with air dates and cast and credits. Additionally, there is an extensive bibliography and a list of web sites relevant to the show as well as many rare photos. I confess to never having seen The Deputy but it's made clear from this book that the show was one of the most intelligent Western series of the period. Fonda took a lot of flack at the time on two fronts. First, industry big shots warned him that appearing on TV would diminish his stature as a major film star. Second, Fonda limited his involvement in the show to mostly introductions and brief guest-starring appearances which didn't sit well with fans or critics who felt the Fonda name was being used strictly as a cheap marketing tool. The intriguing tales about the show in this book inspire me to put it on my "must view" list.
Writer Nicholas Sheffo of the terrific web site Fulvue Drive-In, reviews an intriguing book, Mego 8" Superheroes about a line of toys that are highly desired by collectors. The book by Benjamin Holcomb is profusely illustrated and covers the D.C. Comics heroes, who were immortalized over the decades by Mego Toys. Sheffo reports that certain figures now sell for up to $10,000 each!
A screenplay written by Mario Puzo, but never produced as a film, will be adapted into a new Godfather novel, this one a prequel that gives more insight into the rise of young Vito Corleone as a New York crime kingpin. Author Edward Falco will adapt the screenplay into book form. Publication date is June 2012. For more click here
Author and Cinema Retro contributor Howard Hughes has a new book on the market and it should be of special interest to anyone who loves retro Italian cinema. Here are the details:
CINEMA ITALIANO: THE COMPLETE GUIDE FROM CLASSICS TO CULT
Uncovering a treasure trove of Italian films from The Leopard to Puma Man
Italian filmmakers have created some of the most magical and
moving, violent and controversial films in world cinema. During its
twentieth-century heyday, Italy's film industry was second only to
Hollywood as a popular film factory, exporting cinematic dreams
worldwide. With international finance and multinational stars, Italian
filmmakers tackled myriad genres with equal gusto and in inimitable
style. Cinema Italiano is the first book to discuss comprehensively both
Italian 'popular' and 'arthouse' cinema of this golden age.
Appraising over 400 movies, Cinema Italiano
unearths the best of Italian cinema. Dario Argento's 'gialli' thrillers
and Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns are explored alongside the best
films of Luchino Visconti, Federico Fellini, Pier Paolo Pasolini and
Michelangelo Antonioni. Chapters discuss the rise and fall of genres
such as mythological epics, gothic horrors, science-fiction, spy films,
WWII movies, costume adventures, zombie films, swashbucklers, political
cinema, spaghetti westerns and 'poliziotteschi' crime films. The book
also traces the directorial careers and key films of such luminaries as
Mario Bava, Sergio Corbucci, Francesco Rosi, Lucio Fulci, Duccio
Tessari, Enzo G. Castellari, Bernardo Bertolucci and Gillo Pontecorvo.
An essential guide for DVD and video collectors and aficionados alike,
it is illustrated throughout with rare stills and international posters
from this revered era in world cinema.
Films include: La dolce vita, Hercules Conquers Atlantis, The
Leopard, The Horrible Secret of Dr Hichcock, Contempt, The Gospel
According to St Matthew, Castle of Blood, Fists in the Pocket, Django,
Battle of Algiers, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Blowup, Diabolik, The
Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Conformist, They Call Me Trinity,
Violent City, The Marseilles Connection, Illustrious Corpses, Suspiria,
The Big Silence, The Mask of Satan, Maciste in Hell, Blood and Black
Lace, Hercules Against the Moon Men, The Last Man on Earth, The Wild,
Wild Planet, Special Mission Lady Chaplin, Django Kill!, Fellini
Satyricon, Deep Red, Sons of Thunder, Tentacles, The Inglorious
Bastards, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Puma Man, 1990: Bronx Warriors,
8½, Once Upon a Time in the West, L'Avventura, Black Sabbath,
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, Amarcord, Two Women, Planet
of the Vampires, Death in Venice, Starcrash, Salvatore Giuliano,
Hercules Unchained, Kill, Baby...Kill!
Cary Grant's daughter Jennifer Grant has written a new book about life with her legendary father. The 45 year old part time actress is the product of Grant's marriage to actress Dyan Cannon, which ended in divorce. Unlike many books written by bitter children of Hollywood legends, Jennifer Grant's celebrates her relationship with her father, who she adored. She recalls that Grant retired from acting primarily to be there for her. She remembers the difficulties they had trying to obtain any privacy at all. The solution: Cary brought her to remote dude ranches where the "wow" factor of his stardom was kept low-key. For more click here
Click here to order the book Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant discounted from Amazon
Cinema Retro contributor and best-selling author Robert Sellers has another major book about to be released that will be of interest to all retro movie fans- right down to the groovy Flint-inspired cover. Here is the official press release for the book, which will be out in May (UK) and June (USA):
Alan Bates, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Tom Courtenay, Albert Finney, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, Robert Shaw and Terence Stamp: They are the most formidable acting generation ever to tread the boards or stare into a camera, whose anti-establishment attitude changed the cultural landscape of Britain.
This was a new breed, many culled from the working class industrial towns of Britain, and nothing like them has been seen before or since. Their raw earthy brilliance brought realism to a whole range of groundbreaking theatre from John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger to Joan Littlewood and Harold Pinter and the creation of the National Theatre. And they ripped apart the staid, middle class British film industry with kitchen sink classics like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, This Sporting Life, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, A Kind of Loving and Billy Liar before turning their sights on international stardom: Connery with James Bond, O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia, Finney with Tom Jones and Caine with Zulu.
Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down brings alive the trail-blazing period of theatre and film from 1956-1964 through the vibrant energy and exploits of this revolutionary generation of stars who bulldozed over austerity Britain and paved the way for the swinging 60s. What Peter Biskind’s ‘Easy Riders Raging Bulls’ did for American cinema writing so ‘Don’t Let the Bastards’ will do for the British cinema.
Interview subjects include: David McCallum, Rita Tushingham, Michael Anderson, Victor Spinetti, Susannah York, George Baker, Sidney J. Furie, Glyn Edwards, Derek Fowlds, Gary Raymond, Michael Cacoyannis, Robert Hardy, Cyril Frankel, David Storey, Edward Hardwicke, Gemma Jones, Monty Norman, Philip Saville, Walter Lassally and the widow of Richard Harris Elizabeth Harris.
I've become quite an admirer of writer Nicholas Anez, who focuses on the kind of off-beat films and subject matters that have great appeal to any retro movie lover. His latest book for Midnight Marquee Press is Artistic Triumphs...Box-Office Bombs. It provides in-depth analysis of the stories behind a glorious hodgepodge of films that either gained widespread acclaim and acceptance long after their initial failure at the box-office or have yet to be fully appreciated by the public on any meaningful level. The films covered are Pitfall, In a Lonely Place, Try and Get Me! (aka The Sound of Fury), The Egyptian, The Last Hunt, The Singer Not the Song, The Last Sunset, the original version of Cape Fear (hard to believe that a film this good bombed), First Men in the Moon, The Chase and The Quiller Memorandum. Anez provides plenty of interesting anecdotes about the making of each movie as well as assesses why it did not find popular acceptance at the time of its initial release. There are a wealth of photos including some interesting foreign release posters and lobby cards. This is the kind of book that inspires you to rent or purchase some retro gems that may have escaped your attention. Click here to order
Part of Charles Bronson's success was his reluctance to go public with his private life. It seems hard to believe in the era of Charlie Sheen that there once was an era in which celebrities valued their privacy and dignity. Bronson overcame a predestined fate to follow his family members in working in the mines of Pennsylvania. Through quiet, but hard-nosed determination, he gained a foothold in Hollywood and became a reliable supporting actor before his unlikely emergence as one of the world's most bankable leading men. Even at the height of his fame and popularity, Bronson's fans knew little about his personal life beyond the prerequisite studio-issued biographies. He rarely attended Hollywood functions, almost never promoted his films and only fleetingly gave interviews. I once asked Michael Winner, the director with whom he had some great successes, if he could say he really knew Bronson and the answer was a resounding "No."
There were reasons for Bronson's reluctance to open up his personal life and some of them revolved around his messy marital problems and affairs. These are painfully recounted in Charlie and Me, a memoir by his first wife Harriett. In the early years of their courtship, she found Bronson to be attentive and thoughtful, even if he harbored a lifelong insecurity about the women in his life that made him obsessively jealous. Harriett Bronson's book is a true page-turner, as it gives a different perspective from what little has been relayed to date about his personality. Harriett Bronson's story is the same as so many Hollywood wives: they stuck with their husband during the lean years and when success finally came, they were unceremoniously dumped for another woman. In this case, the other woman was British actress Jill Ireland, who was married to Bronson's best friend, David McCallum. The two men bonded in Germany on the set of The Great Escape, and these stories provide the basis for some of the book's most intriguing elements. Although Bronson claimed he considered McCallum as "a god" for being so kind to him, he didn't hesitate to initiate an affair with Ireland. While Harriett stewed about the constant delays on the film caused by Steve McQueen's perfectionism, Bronson relished the extra time "on location" with Jill. Though Bronson denied there was anything beyond friendship, Harriett used the services of a private detective to unveil the truth.
Fleming's only children's novel was transformed into the iconic 1968 movie musical.
The estate of the late Ian Fleming has authorized a series of sequels to his famous children's novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which has become regarded as a children's classic over the decades. Writer Frank Cottrell Boyce has been commissioned to write the new books, which will all have a present day setting. Click here for more
Published by McFarland, $45) 315 pages, Illustrated (B&W),ISBN 978-0-7864-4216-4 Also available as an E book.
Cinema Retro contributor Bradley (who, along with Gil Colon, conducted the William Peter Blatty interview in issue #19), spent over ten years compiling this in-depth look at the screen work of the master writer. Matheson cooperated fully and provides the foreword. Although other books have been written about this master of sci-fi and horror, this is by far the most comprehensive look at his work. Bradley provides the background stories on the making of The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, Trilogy of Terror, Duel and the other memorable films derived from Matheson’s creative mind. The book also covers Matheson’s work in TV from an episode of ‘The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.’ to his classic entries in ‘The Twilight Zone’. There’s also coverage of the misfires, as well, which often prove to be even more interesting to read about. The book boasts an extensive index and bibliography. If you admire Matheson’s work, this book can be considered as essential.
Landis, photographed in London, by Cinema Retro's Mark Mawston.
Director John Landis knows a thing or two about horror movies and now the director of An American Werewolf in London and Burke and Hare has announced he's authoring a book about the genre for DK Publishing. The volume, titled Monsters in the Movies, will be largely photo-driven with stills from his favorite horror flicks, but there will also be accompanying essays and comments from notable people associated with the genre. For more click here
The estate of writer J.R.R. Tolkien has sent a cease-and-desist order to a Texas novelist who has written a fictional book about the the legendary author. The estate claims it controls the rights to market his name in commercial ventures. The author is suing the estate, claiming they have no such right, as long as he doesn't utilize any of the characters that Tolkien created. He cites the Fair Use premise under American copyright law as a legal precedent to defend his case. For more click here
Borders, the evergreen chain of high end book stores, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The move was anticipated after years of drastically declining sales. The company will still continue to operate but will close about 30% of its 508 superstores in the United States. "Brick and mortar" traditional book stores are having a hard time competing from web sites like Amazon, which often sell items at razor-thin margins because they have much lower overheads. Borders remains a popular spot with book and video lovers, as the chain provides an upscale atmosphere complete with cafes. The chain also offers a wide range of books,magazines, DVDs and CDs that are hard to find in smaller venues. For more click here
After the publication of his first book Timeline of the Planet of the Apes, author Rich Handley triumphantly follows up on its success with From Aldo To Zira:Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes – a 400-page encyclopaedia listing every character, creature, device, location, weapon and much, much more from the Apes universe which consist of the initial five films, the Tim Burton remake, the Live-Action and animation series, a variety of comic books,and a whole host of other adaptations and spin-offs.With a staggering 3,200 entries, no stone or scroll is left unturned.Even diehard fans will be amazed by some of them; Baboonjas, the psychic ninja cult from Ape City (a 4-issue comic miniseries published by Malibu Comics in 1990), and Deadeye, a rare scared-face, cigar-chomping gorilla bounty hunter resin “garage kit” are two examples.
Fortunately, Handley has managed to reference Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes, the first of a soon-to-be-released series of Apes novels from BLAM! Ventures, which he edited for author Andrew E.C. Gaska. What’s more Lexicon, published by Hasslein Books, contains names and designations from rejected scripts and storylines such as those written by Twilight Zone creator and co-author of the original Planet of the Apes screenplay, Rod Serling, and comic book writer Ty Templeton.Each entry includes a description, an abbreviation, a symbol and suffix which can be easily identified by using a chart situated at the beginning of the book.All the categories have been compiled and indexed alphabetically at the back of the book for easy use.
This comprehensive reference guide is illustrated throughout with black and white photographs and stunning full-page chapter illustrations drawn by gifted artist, Patricio Carbaja (check out the excellent cover showing Dr. Zauis); credit to Paul Giachetti too for the outstanding overall design and layout.It also has a foreword by film and television historian John Kenneth Muir, the award-winning author of more than twenty books.
With the Apes prequel, Caesar: Rise of the Apes due to hit cinema screens in November this year, the timing of the publication of Lexicon is very apt, although, for obvious reasons, no entries from the film are included. Looks like nothing can keep those “damned dirty apes” down.
Burnt out from the extensive work he did compiling Timeline of the Planet of the Apes, Handley has dusted off the ash to produce an equally essential piece of Apes literature.It sure is a mighty piece of work that every Ape fan should have, and makes an excellent companion to the aforementioned book.If the only character name you know from the Apes mythos is Galen, then you too need this book.Handley’s extensive research and tenacious work has paid off big time and makes for compulsive reading.But be warned: once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down!
British publisher Tomahawk Press has released abiography of screen legend Boris Karloff by Stephen Jacobs that has been endorsed by the Karloff estate. Here is the press release:
This is the new authorised and definitive biography. Boris Karloff - a name synonymous with horror. Drawing on detailed research, previously unpublished letters, and interviews with those who knew him this new biography dispels the often repeated myths associated with the star - many perpetuated by Karloff himself - and reveals a wealth of new information about the private and professional life of Boris Karloff. Although forever associated with his breakthrough role of 'the Monster' in Frankenstein (1931) Boris Karloff had a career that spanned almost 50 years and over 150 movies - from the era of the silent picture through to the days of the 'Swinging Sixties'. His roles in "Bride of Frankenstein", "The Mummy", "The Black Cat", and many others - most now considered classics of the genre - ensured his reputation as 'The King of Horror'. Born William Henry Pratt in Camberwell, South London in 1887 Karloff defied family expectations and rejected a life in Government service. Instead he emigrated to Canada were he finally found work as a professional actor. After years touring Western Canada and the United States he arrived in Hollywood and tried his hand at movie acting. But success did not come overnight and the actor worked in pictures for over a decade before being asked to test for the role of the Monster. As public tastes changed Karloff was willing to adapt to the times and embraced work on the theatre, radio and television. His experience of the movie studios treatment of his colleagues led Karloff to advocate actors' rights and he became instrumental in the creation of the Screen Actors Guild. Few actors ever achieved the iconic status Karloff has been awarded. This is the only book that tells the whole story!
Ed Poole, who runs the superb web site Learn About Movie Posters, has released the 2011 edition of Movie Stills Identification Book, a meticulously researched volume that helps identify untitled movie stills based upon code numbers. Researchers, authors and collectors have long been frustrated by not being able to identify what movie a specific still is from. However, Ed has used the film code numbers on the bottom of the photos to amass a volume that helps identify these "mystery movies". For film scholars and publishers, such as Cinema Retro, the book is of great value, as it contains data on over 30,000 movie code numbers. The price is $45 and can be ordered through Ed's site by clicking here
Legendary stuntman and second unit director (and Cinema Retro contributor) Vic Armstrong has written his autobiography,which will detail his work on countless action films including the James Bond, Indiana Jones and Superman series. It's a testament to Vic's respect in the industry that the book includes contributions from George Lucas, Sir Christopher Lee, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Pierce Brosnan. The book, which is being published in May 2011, will also include unpublished photos from Vic's personal collection.
This incredible book was published in 2007 but Amazon still has some available for $270-- if that sounds like a lot, it's actually $230 off the original list price! Playboy: The Complete Centerfold Collection covers all of the gorgeous women who had the distinction of being a Playboy centerfold from the magazine's inception through the publication date of the book. The massive volume is 720 pages, contains 600 centerfolds and weighs over 35 pounds. Best of all, it comes in a swanky high quality briefcase with discreet Playboy Bunny logo emblazoned on it - something for your inner James Bond. The best part: you don't have those annoying staples to deal with!
In 1970, sisters Mary and Madeleine Collinson made history by both posing as Miss October.
Here is the official description from Amazon:
"With the first Centerfold, who just happened to be the radiant Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Hefner masterminded a cultural icon: Playboy's Playmate of the Month. Now, for the first time ever, Playboy has gathered together every Centerfold from every issue into one luxurious collector's edition. That's over 600 beauties. We've reproduced these Centerfolds exactly as they appeared in the magazine to create a full-size, deluxe volume. Paging through this colossal, chronological collection provides a breathtaking view of our evolving appreciation of the female form: from the fifties fantasy of voluptuous blondes to the tawny beach girls of the seventies to the groomed and toned women of today. Housed in a handsome leather briefcase lined with velvet, this impressive tome is the ultimate indulgence for every passionate collector."
Click here to order from Amazon and see a 360 degree video of the packaging. You can also read the foreword by Hugh Hefner.
(As Hef is an avid reader of Cinema Retro, see issue #5 for Raymond Benson's interview with the Playboy founder in which he discusses his favorite movies of the 1960s and 70s).
Taschen have released yet another high end book commemorating rare photos from a classic film. In this case it's Taxi Driver. Steve Schapiro was the unit photographer on Martin Scorsese's lauded 1976 movie and has released remarkable photos in this limited, signed edition volume. The bad news: it retails for a cool $1,000 per copy. The good news: if you gotta have it, you can save a few hundred by purchasing the book from various dealers through Amazon. Click here to order. Click here for the Hollywood Reporter's photo gallery from the book.
It’s hard to believe the now world-famous British television show The Avengers is 50 years old. To celebrate this event Titan Books have published a book as a tribute to the show that defined Sixties television and raised the bar for other British shows to follow. Written by Marcus Hearn (The Art Of Hammer, Hammer Glamour and The Hammer Story – the latter with Alan Barnes), with a foreword by Steed himself – the legendary Patrick Macnee, this large format hardback book is packed with newly discovered photographs and exclusive memories from the cast and crew. Although 50 years old, the show was so unique that it has yet to be rivaled for its wit, adventure and style. It became a worldwide sensation, its theme tune as familiar today as ever, and was syndicated to 90 countries, including America, where it was a prime time hit. The shows are today as original as they were when first transmitted, and The Avengers has become a cult status icon of the days when TV shows were not just good, but great. As one would expect from Titan, both the design and the quality of the printing is outstanding. A must-have for fans of the show - and for those who want to be reminded just how good British TV used to be.
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM THE CINEMA RETRO ARCHIVES
The Big Book of Biker Flicks by John Wooley and Michael H. Price is a long over-due tribute to the good, the bad and the ugly entries in this genre that came of age in the 1960s, though its roots can be traced back to Brando's early Fifties cult classic The Wild One. The book concentrates on 40 specific films and analyzes their merits and faults. the image of the biker chick on the cover is worth the price alone! Here is the description from Booklist:
"Wooley and Price consider the canon of the chopper epic
enthusiastically and thoroughly, mixing stills and promotional graphics
with dead-on thumbnail plot summaries, not to mention pithily noting
particular films' peculiar distinctions. Less revered and studied than
blaxploitation and smut, biker movies appeared, often at drive-ins,
throughout America in the 1960s and 1970s, inspiring one of the most
iconic sixties-culture films, Easy Rider, many of whose actors and plot wrinkles figured earlier in the likes of Hell's Angels on Wheels, The Trip and Angels Hard as They Come,
all of which Wooley and Price hail here. Besides production notes,
other, less easily accessed biker-movie information Wooley and Price
provide include such things as the names of the biker gangs and their
leaders in each movie. That Chino (Dennis Hooper) and his gang, the
Black Souls, rumbled with Darryl (Jody McCrea) and the Stompers in The Glory Stompers is the kind of niche information American culture collections shouldn't be without. Now they don't have to be. Mike Tribby"
My first introduction to Hammer wasn’t seeing of one of their films (I wasn’t old enough), but looking at the wonderful posters that adorned the hoardings close to my home. The eye-catching posters – all painted by wonderfully skilled artists – with images of scantily-clad women and vampires and such-like monsters bursting forth were enough to both terrorize and tantalize the public. And that is exactly what they did. Audiences in their millions flocked to see these films during the Sixties and early Seventies, and it was the publicity material that was responsible in creating this horror phenomenon. The British quad poster for Hammer’s One Million Years B.C. is now an iconic image of the Sixties, and probably the most well-known film poster of all-time. It made millions for the studio and Raquel Welch became an overnight star. Hammer were the pioneers of film promotion - something only the James Bond films can claim to come close to – just.
Since I came of age to be allowed to see the Hammer films, I have been a major admirer of them. My attic is full of posters and stills, and when I was nineteen, I was lucky enough to be invited to their offices by Michael Carreras and meet Peter Cushing and Stephanie Beacham on the set of what was eventually to be released as Dracula A.D. 1972.
So it was with great pleasure when earlier in the year acclaimed Hammer historian Marcus Hearn (author of the recent best-seller Hammer Glamour) told me about his latest venture – again with Titan Books – a book devoted to the poster art of Hammer Film Productions. And what a book it is. Like his previous tome, this is large format, in hardback and beautifully designed and printed. Marcus has drawn, with the assistance of the Hammer archives and private collectors, a selection of nearly 300 examples of Hammer poster art at its best. From the Fifties through to the Seventies, a superb selection of all genres – vampires, sci-fi, drama and comedy, are represented here.
I have always been a fan of the British quad size poster, especially those designed and painted by the genius of all poster artists, Tom Chantrell. I have some in my own collection, but there are many here that are incredibly rare and some that I have never seen before. Apart from being purchased by Hammer fans and movie lovers, this book will find itself onto the shelves of advertising agencies, publicity departments and designers the world over as the quintessential reference guide to the days when the world of film poster advertising was supreme. We will never see the likes of it again.
If you only buy one film book this year, buy this.
Shane Rimmer, the Canadian actor who made a career out of playing Americans in British films, has released his autobiography. Titled From Thunderbirds to Pterodactys, Rimmer reflects on his long relationship with Gerry Anderson (who provides the foreword) on the legendary Thunderbirds series. He also discusses working on Dr. Strangelove, Out of Africa, Batman Returns and three James Bond films. Rimmer is universally regarded as one of the film industry's true gentlemen and his stories provide anecdotes that are as illuminating as they are amusing. Read more about the book on the MI6 web site.
When it comes to talent, style and class, few actors had the pedigree of the great Claude Rains. The consummate actor exudes sophistication in every performance from films ranging from The Invisible Man to Notorious, Lawrence of Arabia and Casablanca. Such actors are virtually non-existent today, which makes it all the more pleasing that author David Skal has teamed with Rains' daughter Jessica to write the first in-depth biography of the acting legend. The information was culled from substantial archives of materials Rains himself had amassed over the years when he was trying unsuccessfully to write his autobiography. In addition to being superbly researched, the book is also liberally illustrated with wonderful movie stills.
Here is more information from the official press release:
Born into the English working class, Claude Rains (1889-1967) overcame a
severe speech impediment to become a fixture of the London theater scene.
Rains's personal life was as dramatic as his work onstage: to end his second
marriage while masking his wife's alcoholism, he staged an episode of
infidelity, though the ensuing scandal made it difficult for him to find work.
In 1926 he immigrated to America where, despite what Rains described as "the
worst screen test of all time," he was hired by director James Whale to play the
title role in an adaptation of H. G. Wells's The Invisible Man, a
tour-de-force depending completely on his vocal skills.
In Claude Rains: An Actor's Voice, noted author David J. Skal
illustrates how Rains's talents were well suited to Hollywood's studio system,
allowing him to become one of cinema's best known character actors. He lent his
commanding presence to such landmark films as Casablanca, Mr. Smith
Goes to Washington, Notorious, and Lawrence of Arabia and
was nominated for four Academy Awards. Bette Davis considered him her favorite
Drawing on over thirty hours of newly released audio interviews with Rains
and enriched by daughter Jessica Rains's contributions, Claude Rains is
an intimate portrait and the first full biography of this gifted actor.
David J. Skal is the author of numerous books about film and
popular culture, including Hollywood Gothic and The Monster
Show. He is a frequent lecturer and talk-show guest and has produced
several documentaries about Hollywood history, including documentaries about
Claude Rains's The Invisible Man and Phantom of the Opera.
Jessica Rains, the only child of Claude Rains, is a producer
and actress whose performance credits include The Sting, Pete and
Tillie, Islands in the Stream, and Portnoy's Complaint.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Tomahawk Press in London:
At last - the definitive biography of Charles Hawtrey!
From Wes Butters, Sony award winning broadcaster and author of "Kenneth
Williams Unseen", comes an extensively researched and compelling book
almost fifteen years in the making, featuring scores of exclusive interviews,
including Hawtrey's inner circle and surviving descendents, never-before-seen
photographs, and private documents and correspondence. The result is the first
definitive account of a life Hawtrey himself was keen to see evaporate into the
mist of history. Years before, Hawtrey started out as a child actor in silent
films, he was England's leading boy soprano and worked alongside a positive
who's who of the thirties and forties. He had directed films and produced West
End shows, starred in three hit TV series and was a prolific radio actor for
the BBC. Yet he was never content and spent his life desperately searching for
stardom and success, which, in his own deluded way of thinking, always failed
to live up to expectations. Like the character we see on the screen, Hawtrey
never grew up. Egged on by his mentally-ill mother, he disowned the rest of his
family, embarrassed by a background that included workhouses and illegitimacy.
Instead, he declared himself the son of Sir Charles Hawtrey, an illustrious
theatrical actor and Noel Coward's mentor. By the time the Carry Ons got going,
Hawtrey was well and truly typecast as a 'funny fella with glasses' and his bid
to be taken seriously was over. He wasn't the least bit interested in his
reputation or leaving a legacy, growing old disgracefully in Deal, the Kent
seaside town he lived in for the last twenty years of his life: collapsing in
pubs; swearing at autograph-hunting children; and, taking home teenage rent
boys (one of whom set fire to Hawtrey's cottage, with Hawtrey still inside it).
In 1988, doctors gave him a life or death choice to amputate both his legs.
Hawtrey refused, believing a transplant of pig's veins would save him, but he
died a month later. Nine people were at his funeral. Wes Butters' Radio 4
documentary on Charles Hawtrey will air in May. This long-awaited book gives
the whole story!
Author Sam Wasson's new book Fifth Avenue, 5A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffanys and the Dawn of the Modern Woman is winning praise for his innovative examination of the legacy created by Audrey Hepburn's portrayal of Holly Golightly in the 1960 film of Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffanys. Wasson makes the case that the character represented an important step forward for the image of the new,independent woman. Writer Patricia Zohn interviews him about the book and the film. Click here to read
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from the University Press of Kentucky:
KY— She showed
Joan Crawford how to dress. She wrote the MGM Norma Shearer movies
script for the film that made Clara Bow Hollywood’s “It Girl.” She
away the hours talking with a young John Huston, then working at
Brothers. For her 99th birthday in 1999, she published
memoir, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim: A Writer in Early
Hollywood.Eleven years later, Frederica Sagor Mass can now add
to her long list of accomplishments.
On July 6,
2010, Maas celebrated her
110th birthday at the Country Villa health care center in
Mesa, California. Not having children of her own, she was joined by
grandnephew Tony Tovar and his family, as well as a chocolate cake,
request. Maas’ monumental birthday makes her the second oldest
person in California, just behind 110 year-old Soledad Mexia, who is
Maas was a
journalism student at
Columbia University in 1920, when an ad for assistant to the story
at Universal Studios caught her eye. She eventually became the story
for the New York office, selecting plays, novels, and stories that
translate well to the screen. When the studio reneged on the promise
make her studio writer, she left New York and moved to Hollywood,
still a relatively underdeveloped town. She sold her first script
immediately and soon landed a coveted writing job at MGM. There at
commissary she would spend time with studio figures such as director
Von Stroheim and actresses Norma Shearer and Marion Davies.
Plastic Age (1925), starring
Clara Bow, was Mass’ first big success. After that, Maas worked on
other films with the starlet, including Dance Madness (1926),
(1927), and Red Hair (1928). For His Secretary (1925)
Waning Sex (1926), Maas worked alongside her good friend and
Norma Shearer. She also contributed to the films Flesh and the
(1926), Rolled Stockings (1927), and The Way of All Flesh
remained down-to-earth amid the
outward glamour of Hollywood, knowing only too well how studio
worked. After several years at MGM, Maas requested to be transferred
another production unit and was labeled a “troublemaker” as a
remembers, “What I did was a very big no-no. Producers might steal
another and stab each other in the back, but when it came to dealing
dissatisfied, unhappy writers, producers were fraternal brothers who
together—especially when some lowly writer challenged their
troubles, combined with an FBI investigation during the red scare of
1950s, force Maas to work on more freelance projects and eventually
to start a new career in insurance.
film career, she survived
the transition from silent film to sound and then from
color. She lived through two world wars, the Depression, the
and eighteen different presidencies. Maas has witnessed over a
history, and this birthday another milestone to add to a long list
Louis Gossett Jr. had already established a long, enviable career in movies by the time he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his remarkable performance as the drill instructor in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman. However, that achievement did little to divert him from the path of racism, poor health and self-destructive habits. Gossett has now released his memoirs, titled An Actor and a Gentleman and weaves a remarkable story about overcoming prejudice, drug abuse and even health problems related to mold in his home.
Here is the description of the book from Amazon:
"Louis Gossett Jr. is one of the most respected African American
stage and screen actors, who rose to fame with his Emmy-winning role in
the television miniseries Roots and Oscar-winning performance in An
Officer and a Gentleman. Now he tells the story of his
fifty-plus years in the entertainment world—from his early success on
the New York stage appearing with Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier in ARaisin in the Sun, through his long Hollywood career working
alongside countless stars, including Marilyn Monroe and Dennis Quaid. He
writes frankly of his struggle to get leading roles and fair pay as a
black man in Hollywood, his problems with drugs and alcohol that took
years to overcome, and his current work to eradicate racism and violence
and give our children a better future.
revealing stories and reminiscences involving famous performers,
including Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, Shirley Booth, Sammy Davis Jr.,
Steve McQueen, Richard Gere, Maggie Smith, Halle Berry, and Gena
Spans half a century of American theater and film
history, people, and performances
Highlights the problem
of racism in Hollywood and the challenges faced by African American
actors from the 1950s and 1960s onward
Actor and a Gentleman penetrates the celebrity glitz and glamour to
offer an honest, heartfelt portrayal of the African American experience
both in Hollywood and the New York theater world, as told by one of the
nation's most enduring and highly esteemed actors."
To watch a video about Gossett's career on Amazon and to order the book, click here
Gregory Peck and Mary Badham in the Oscar-winning film version of To Kill a Mockingbird.
As hard as it is to believe, Harper Lee's masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird has come under attack from some political commentators, even as the book celebrates its 50th anniversary as one of America's best-loved classic novels. The film version is so revered that its main character, Atticus Finch, was voted by the American Film Institute as the greatest movie hero of all time. Seems that doesn't sit well with some critics, who now denounce that character, who favors reason over violence, as weak-kneed and feminized. Writer Jesse Kornbluth fights back on behalf of the fictional Mr. Finch. Click here to read