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
Films like Custer of the West starring Robert Shaw portrayed the general as a gallant hero - but many feel he was a blunderer.
In reviewing Nathaniel Philbrick's The Last Stand, New York Times critic Bruce Barcott comes to the conclusion that General George Armstrong Custer was a bumbler akin to Inspector Clouseau and compares President Grant to Clouseau's perpetually frustrated boss, Dreyfus. Philbrick's biography of Custer sheds a new perspective on the oft-analyzed battle that cost Custer his life and his entire command. Philbrick points out that Custer benefited from a few lucky breaks in his career that resulted in his gaining a reputation as a brilliant strategist- when, in fact, he was merely a reckless fool who lacked any inherent understanding of battlefield tactics. In the wake of his legendary defeat, his widow Libby teamed with notorious liar Buffalo Bill to propagate the myth that Custer was a national hero. As such, Philbrick says, Custer became one of the first artificial American celebrities - someone who gained fame for the wrong reason. (Think Paris Hilton) For more click here
To order The Last Stand discounted from Amazon click here
following is an abbreviated excerpt of the Foreword by David Frangioni from his
Eastwood: ICON (reprinted with permission
from Palace Press). The book is a lavish collection of rare Eastwood international movie advertising materials from the author's extensive personal archive.
There are two types of people in the world:
those who collectand those who
I’ve found that the group of people that
don’t collect anything really doesn’t “get” how we collectors think, act, or
obsess. So I’ve come to appreciate the collectors of the world, and what makes
us tick. We’re a passionate bunch, inspired by the idea of completion around a
subject—whether its manifestations be art, books, cards, coins, stamps, posters,
toys, or the like—and we devote ourselves to realizing this idea. Driven by
this need for totality (some would say perfection), we pursue our desire to
possess by trying to find everything on our “want list,” not resting until
we’ve achieved the immediate goal of acquiring a particular object—with the
eventual aim of completing our ideal collection. We define ourselves through
this search for rare and unique items and the archive that results from the
And then there’s the high you get from
collecting. Lists and notations aside, collecting is a visceral business, too.
That rush of discovering a rare item is a feeling that all collectors
understand.For instance, I remember
flipping through the Heritage Auction catalog back in 2001 and seeing listed,
for the first time, three Dirty Harry
standees. They were barely even mentioned in the official 1971 Dirty Harry pressbook, and I had never
seen any of them for sale, much less two. Talk about rare! I had a feeling they
were quite special, and knew I had to
have them. If you’re a fellow collector you know exactly the feeling I’m
talking about—and how driven I was to obtain these items! Fortunately, I won
the standees......I’ve never seen their likes again, either for sale or in
someone else’s collection. I still get “that feeling” whenever I take them out
and view them.
You’re probably wondering, though, how I
discovered my passion for movie posters, and particularly Clint Eastwood
memorabilia. It actually started very early on—when I was eight. It was 1975,
and my mother had begun taking me to the twenty-five-cent Saturday matinees at
the Regent Theater in my hometown of Arlington, Massachusetts. The Regent was a
second-run movie house, but the movies were new to me and there was no home
video at the time.
Every Saturday, like clockwork, I’d see a
new movie—and a new movie poster. It was a special form of ritual for me, and
the movie posters with their different styles of artwork became important
features of my weekly pastime. I remember seeing the “Coming Soon” posters
outside the theater and in the lobby and being overcome by a feeling of
excitement. All of the cool, pop-culture graphics would pump me up for what I
was going to see next week or next month. I loved the art, the emotions that they
evoked, and the promise of big-screen excitement that the posters represented.
To me, they seemed an integral part of the filmgoing experience. I didn’t know
it at the time, but I was hooked!
"Entered His House Justified: The Making of the Films of Sam Peckinpah" may have one of the longest titles of the year, but anything relating to the master maverick director is difficult to summarize. The latest in a line of shelf-breaking volumes dedicated to Peckinpah is from author Jeff Slater, who has amassed an impressive list of interviewees to shed new light on one of the film industry's most analyzed personalities. Peckinpah, like so many other geniuses, was not completely appreciated in his own time, partly due to the inability of studio executives to recognize his innovative filmmaking techniques and partly because Peckinpah- like Orson Welles- specialized in forming circular firing squads. His own excesses often did more damage than did the legendary studio interference with the classic movies he produced.
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM CINEMA RETRO'S ARCHIVES
A welcome addition to the library of any fan of spy
movies or 1960s TV is I Spy: A History and Episode Guide to the Groundbreaking Television Series
by Marc Cushman and Linda J. LaRosa (McFarland, $40). This is a meticulously researched and very
entertaining look at the groundbreaking show that aired on NBC between 1965 and 1969. The show provided
the first serious dramatic role for an African American actor and helped vault Bill Cosby (previously
known primarily as a stand-up comic) into fame and fortune as a leading man. The chemistry he shared
with co-star Robert Culp was instrumental in the show's success. The series presented Culp as Kelly
Robinson, a world-famous tennis pro and Bill Cosby as Alexander Scott, his trainer. In reality, the
tennis schtick was merely a cover for their real day jobs as intelligence agencies for the
Producer Michael Deeley's remarkable career making films such as Blade Runner, The Deer Hunter, The Italian Job (the good version from '69) and The Man Who Fell to Earth is chronicled in his recent best-selling autobiography (co-written with Cinema Retro's own Matthew Field). The book, Blade Runners, Deer Hunters & Blowing the Bloody Doors Off is now available for pre-order in paperback from Amazon UK. The book chronicles the fascinating behind the scenes stories of films that had arduous production schedules but went on to become classics of their respective genres.
Click here for our 2009 report on Michael Deeley's book launch in London.
Click here for Ajay Chowdhury's review of the hardback edition
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN -- The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda.”
AGOURA HILLS, CALIFORNIA – February 14th, 2010: For the
first time in America, a book has been published on Japan's foremost director
of Fantasy Films: Ishiro Honda. Known primarily for directing such classic Japanese monster movies
as Rodan, Mothra, Attack of the Mushroom People and the
original Godzilla, Honda has been a much-overlooked figure in mainstream
The book is the first to cover in English print Honda's life --
including his heretofore untold military service in Japan's Imperial Army
during World War II -- as well as the first to comprehensively cover all 25 of
his fantasy, science-fiction and monster movies. It is also the first to
give objective and critical analysis of Honda's filmmaking methods, favorite
themes and his relationships with actors and technicians.
Making use of extensive interviews from Honda’s colleagues, as
well as a wealth of original source material never before gathered into one
volume (including unpublished essays), MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN
is an affectionate tribute to arguably the most-prolific and influential
director in the history of fantasy films.
You might think it's an exercise in futility to find a new angle to justify yet another book on the life and career of Elvis Presley. However, the newly released volume Elvis 1956 is in many ways the most exciting and intimate portrait of the legendary entertainer I've been exposed to. Photographer Alfred Wertheimer was asked by RCA Victor to accompany young Elvis for a one day assignment when the King was just on the cusp of major stardom. What transpired was a mind-boggling array of photographs that capture Elvis in his most private moments. Elvis invited Wertheimer to accompany him later in the year and the photographer continued to capture outstanding photos from a period when Presley was still very accessible and still very much his own man. Once Colonel Parker became to exercise dictatorial control over his every move, Elvis became unable or unwilling to control many aspects of his own destiny.
Elvis captured in a rare intimate moment, seducing a young woman he met in his hotel's coffee shop.
Wertheimer's photos are as haunting as they are fascinating. He captures the King on the sidewalks of New York, in some cases mobbed by young fans, in other cases able to stroll unrecognized down the streets. He could still stop into a coffee shop without drawing attention. Wertheimer captures especially intimate photos of the King trying to seduce a comely and willing young woman in the corridor of his hotel. So intent on making out with his obvious conquest-in-waiting, Elvis allowed Wertheimer to photograph the seduction from a distance. In other shots, Elvis sits on his tour bus finding small pleasure in reading an Archie comic book, drawing huge crowds of swarming young girls (both black and white), and casually getting off a train so he could make a long walk across fields to his home town.Wertheimer's text is sparing- he lets his photos do the talking, but his observations are never less than fascinating. You don't have to be an Elvis fanatic to recognize the importance of this book. It sheds significant light on the early days of one of the true legends of show business.(For more on this book, click here for the official web site)
For fans of French cinema, author Chuck Zigman has written the
definitive book on the career of iconic French actor Jean Gabin
entitled The World's Coolest Movie Star: The Complete 95 Films (and
Legend) of Jean Gabin, Volumes I and II featuring lengthy biography and
introductory chapters which place Gabin and his silver screen persona
into perspective. Voted one of the Best Performing Arts Books of 2009
by the Independent Publisher Book Awards and Foreword Magazine, this
impressive publication features over 100 photographs and forewords by
Michele Morgan and Brigitte Bardot.- Tom Lisanti
Click here to read more and to purchase your copy today.
Lorraine B. Diehl, wife of famed ABC Radio film critic Bill Diehl, has become quite a prolific author, as demonstrated by the release of her acclaimed new book Over Here! which chronicles life in New York City during WWII. Because America was spared the horror of warfare on its soil, most accounts of the nation during the war era are understandably limited to the combat role of the USA in the European and Pacific theaters.Yet, America played a key role in winning the war even before it officially entered the conflict after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The only person at the book party not impressed by Over Here! is Bill and Lorraine's granddaughter Lyla, who clearly has other priorities. (Photo: Lee Pfeiffer)
Through the controversial lend/lease agreement (enacted rather sneakily by FDR when the nation was still in isolationist mode), America kept England alive as it fought desperately (and alone) to keep Hitler from invading. Diehl has presented a fascinating story of what life was like in Gotham during this period and the war years that followed. She has lavishly illustrated the book with an abundance of mesmerizing photos. For movie lovers, there is ample coverage of the films made during the war for propaganda purposes. Diehl offers a plethora of fabulous candid photos that includes some great movie poster elements (a War Bonds drive in a theater features a great poster for Hitchcock's Spellbound.)
Diehl had a kick off party last week for the book at New York's legendary National Arts Club at Gramercy Park. Since then, Over Here! is generating major buzz and the book jacket displays kudos from the likes of newsman Tom Brokaw, Regis Philbin and documentary maker Ken Burns, who gushes "This is an evocative look at New York City during the Second World War; it's an enthusiastic, personal, immensely entertaining book, and a story about a city joining together to overcome the greatest challenge of the twentieth century. Brava!" Indeed, the book is a major achievement that manages that rare feat of entertaining even as it informs.
As major web sites become frustrated by literally giving away their product, The New York Times has made a major decision that could have a wide impact on the future of free web access. The Times, facing big fall-offs in advertising revenue that most newspapers are suffering, is thriving on its web site, which attracts a staggering 20 million unique users every month. However, the only revenue it derives from the site is through advertisers and the profits have been weak. The Times is about to announce a plan that will allow infrequent visitors to their site to read a certain number of stories for free. However, frequent visitors will have to pay a subscription fee. The Times tried this approach several years ago but withdrew the plan when its own columnists complained that their readership dropped significantly. Additionally, no other major newspapers followed their lead, leaving the Times out on a limb alone. This time, however, others may adopt the same plan. Publishing magnate Rupert Murdoch has been making loud noises about the fact that only the print medium is expected to give away the fruits of its labor force for free, even though they still have to pay reporters and staffers for doing the work. There is a chance that Murdoch may also jump on board with some sort of pay model.Murdoch has a point: consumers don't expect to download their favorite music and movies for free, nor would anyone expect to plunk themselves down in a Broadway theater or a concert without paying for the privilege. In the near future, Variety will go the way of a subscription plan for its on-line site. Although these sites are expected to lose a major amount of traffic, the bottom line is what counts: and having a fraction of readers pay for the stories they read is ultimately far more rewarding to the companies than simply boasting of the number of web surfers they attract. Click here to read the New York magazine web site article for more (and yes, it's free!)
One of the most impressive film books I've received in the last few years is author C. Courtney Joyner's The Westerners: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Writers and Producers. As with most books from McFarland Publishing, its worth doesn't lie in its modest production values, but rather, in the wealth of historical content. Joyner has amassed a large archive of interviews he has conducted over the years with the creators of many memorable Westerns. As many of these folks have since passed away, the volume becomes even more precious as a research tool. Joyner's interviews include:
Andrew V. McLaglen
Harry Carey Jr
Andrew J. Fenady
The fact is that many of these people were quite available to discuss their lives and careers but few journalists sought them out. Joyner shares the same mission as those of us at Cinema Retro: to get these stories on record through first-person interviews. Joyner stays clear of meaningless trivia to concentrate on the making of specific films and specific key sequences. Many of the films discussed are rarely evaluated in detail. For example, screenwriter Andrew J. Fenady provides fascinating insights into the making of John Wayne's excellent 1970 Western Chisum - a movie generally overlooked by the critical establishment. It must have been a wonderful privilege to sit down with the likes of Jack Elam and Warren Oates to hear their anecdotes about the making of classic Westerns. Fortunately, Joyner gives us the next best thing through his remarkable book, which is essential readers for all fans of the Western genre. Click here to order from Amazon
Author and Cinema Retro contributor Robert Sellers' acclaimed book Hellraisers already reached bestseller status in the UK. Now the book that examines the outrageous drinking adventures of bad boys Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed is available in the USA. Click here to order from Amazon. Click here to read our review of the UK edition. Click here to read NY Times review.
Film scholars have long been aware that the most grandiose of Stanley Kubrick's unrealized dreams was his planned epic based on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Now Taschen publishers has gained access to virtually all of the master director's research archives on the film and is presenting them in a magnificent, limited edition book the likes of which are truly grandiose. The downside: you have to be the emperor of France to afford it. The volume will cost $700 and is limited to only 1,000 copies. There are almost 3,000 pages in the reproduction of a Napoleonic-era history book, and the volume itself contains mini-books that are ingeniously built into the edition. Buyers also get access to over 17,000 on-line images that Kubrick used for research purposes. For more visit the Taschen site by clicking here. For an article about the film that never was from The Times of London, click here
There are probably good uses for Twitter, which limits the user's message to 140 characters or less. However, it's largely been defined by people who bore their friends by sharing their frustrations over what type of lettuce to buy as they peruse the grocery aisles of their supermarkets. Then there are the doofy elected officials who are desperate to prove they are hip by shooting out impromptu observations that generally have to be explained by their long-suffering staffers who spin like whirling dervishes to mitigate their true meaning. The Huffington Post site has some fun with the Twitter rage, however, by offering readers to offer up summaries of classic books in 140 characters or less. The results are inspired and very funny. Here is one reader's synopsis of Lolita: "Erudite horndog marries a cougar so that he can get his hands on her
hot underage daughter, who doesn't end up aging well. Kills a guy, too." For more click here
The popular image of the Monster, as created for the legendary Karloff classic film.
The original 1818 edition of the novel Frankenstein was published anonymously. Five years later, its
author - Mary Shelley- decided to put her name on all future editions
of the work, capitalizing on the sensation it caused in the literary
world. From the start, however, there were skeptics who doubted that an
18 year-old woman could have conceived such sinister goings-on. Shelley
tinkered with future printings of the novel and never hid the fact that
her husband Percy gave her advice and editorial assistance. The extent
of his participation has long been debated among scholars. A new
edition of the book from Random House will list Percy as a contributing
writer, albeit in parentheses next to his wife's name. For the full,
fascinating story click here
Blackdog and Leventhal publishers have released a soft cover version of author Jenny M. Jones' outstanding book, The Annotated Godfather. One critic described the book as akin to "seeing the movie all over again, but with Francis Ford Coppola sitting next to you on the couch." Indeed, Coppola participated in the book, adding insights into the making of the 1972 crime classic. There have been some unauthorized Godfather books produced over the years, but this one is officially licensed
through Paramount. Thus, the book not only boasts the original
screenplay with annotations, but a wealth of jaw-dropping photos, many
of which will be new to even the most fanatical followers of the film.
The reproduction of these photos is superb, and the addition of
little-known anecdotes about the filming make this book an offer you
We received an unusual but most welcome book from Kensington Publishers with the eye-catching title They Bite. No, it isn't a reference to our elected officials, rather, it's meant in the literal sense. The book is termed the ultimate guide to creatures and monsters of horror lore, both in film and in literature. Authors Jonathan Mayberry and David V. Kramer considerately lay out your favorite demons by type (i.e. vampires, hell hounds, monster dogs, werewolves and wolf-men, etc.) and then list them alphabetically with in-depth descriptions as to their origins and significance in the horror genre. There are also commentaries from horror authorities such as Peter Straub, John Carpenter, Herschell Gordon Lewis, and many others. There are also 8 pages of color illustrations by leading artists of the supernatural. Don't fail to order it in time for next Valentine's Day.
There is a theory about human sexuality that states that all people are born inherently bi-sexual and that it is sociological factors that determine whether we explore all of our true desires. While not widely accepted among academics, adherents to the theory often cite ancient Rome as proof of their belief. Here, bi-sexuality was not only tolerated, it was the norm. A new book is bound to set off a Towering Inferno of controversy
among fans of Paul Newman precisely because it delves into these issues in the context of how they affected the behavior of one of the screen's most enduring legends. Author Darwin Porter, who specializes in
unveiling clues to hidden homosexual lifestyles among straight screen
legends, claims in his new book Paul Newman: The Man Behind the Baby Blues that the beloved Oscar winner had countless dalliances with other
men in his early years in the film industry. I should note that I have
not had a chance to read the book, only to scan through it. Thus, I can't at this point personally evaluate its qualities.
However, it is already generating buzz in gossip columns and on
YouTube, where the publisher, Danforth Prince of Blood Moon
Productions, has launched a controversial video discussing the book.
Prince asserts that the book isn't a hit piece on Newman, but merely presents the first objective portrait of him, as he alleges all other biographies of the star are too sanitized. The book apparently doesn't attempt to claim that Newman's decades-long
marriage was a sham. However, it does claim that the star could be
equally enticed by both men and women. Porter links Newman with such
seminal figures (pardon the pun) as Tennessee Williams, William Inge,
Sal Mineo, Peter Lawford, Anthony Perkins and Marlon Brando. It also
delves into his female conquests, which allegedly include Elizabeth
Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Audrey Hepburn. If true, one
wonders how Newman found the time to rehearse his lines.
Porter says he accumulated all of the anecdotes and quotes in the book over a period of decades, having personally known many of the key people in Newman's life. Critics will cite the fact that virtually none of the quotes were made "on the record" so one must rely on the author's personal memory or interpretation of what he claims he overheard. This will be thin gruel for skeptics, especially since Porter replicates ancient conversations verbatim. A brief perusal of the book also reveals passages in which quotes attributed to Newman and others read like a porn paperback. Regardless of the veracity of any specific aspect of the book, there is no doubt the controversy will shed a spotlight on areas of Newman's personal life that the notoriously private star never wanted explored.
One of the more intriguing stories related in the book deals with Newman's plan to bring the novel The Front Runner to the screen in the 1970s. The best-seller dealt with a college track coach who falls in love with his star runner. Newman was determined to play the coach in what would have been a shocking departure from his usual screen image. The project, which was written about in the mainstream press at the time, was rumored to be a reunion vehicle for Newman and Robert Redford - despite the fact that the latter would have been far too old to play a student. Porter maintains that makeup techniques would have been used to rejuvenate Redford on the screen, but the point was moot as Redford had too many hang-ups to play a gay character. Porter says that Newman then screen-tested Cal Culver, who was known only in the gay community for performing in porn films. Porter quotes Culver directly in saying that he and Newman had an affair and that Culver saw The Front Runner as his ticket to legitimate work. However, his hopes were dashed when Newman backed away from the project - and the affair as well.
Anna Nicole Smith is still making headlines from beyond the grave.
Author and TV correspondent Rita Cosby has big trouble ahead: a judge has approved a jury trial for a libel case relating to a book Cosby authored in 2007 about Anna Nicole Smith. Cosby's book Blonde Ambition made a number of sensational allegations relating to the late actress and her lovers Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead (who is the father of Smith's daughter). Stern's suit claims that Cosby used information she knew or suspected was false in order to rush out a book about the actress, whose bizarre life and death became a media sensation. According to Cosby, Stern pimped out the drug addicted Smith to as many as 50 men a year. She also claims that Smith had a videotape of her rival lovers, Stern and Birkhead, having sex with each other. No tape has materialized and both men strongly deny the allegation. Cosby made a frantic trip to the Bahamas in order to talk with Smith's daughter's nannies, who she alleged also watched the video. The plan backfired when Cosby ended up meeting with a representative of one of the nannys and offered to pay money in return for her signing an affidavit verifying she saw the sex tape. The conversation was recorded. The judge ruled that Cosby may well have used unsubstantiated stories in an attempt to rush out the book, which became a best-seller. Cosby had been a high profile fixture with her own program on Fox News before she was let go by the network. She is now a correspondent for the syndicated program Inside Edition. For more click here
One of the services Cinema Retro readers appreciate most is our dedication to making the public aware of niche market books, videos and soundtracks that don't benefit from major marketing campaigns. The latest worthy effort to arrive in our mailbox is author John C. Fredriksen's Honey West, the ultimate tribute to the 60s one season, cult series. Anne Francis starred as the judo-chopping sexpot detective with John Ericson as her handsome and able Guy Friday. Although the series was not a hit when it first ran on ABC-TV, it has always maintained a loyal following. I had never seen the show during its original airing, but when the series was released on DVD last year, I was hooked. Fredriksen has done a very commendable job of outlining virtually every aspect of the series, from its origins as a paperback novel to what the stars are doing today. He has both recent and vintage interviews with Francis and Ericson, as well as their addresses for fans to write to them at. The book, published by Bear Manor Media, has modest production values but does contain a wealth of excellent photographs. It's probably the closest you'll get to curling up and spending the night with a sexy female detective, so make a date with Hioney West and make sure you add this to your retro library.
In the wake of criticism about Amazon's handling of a copyright problem involving digital versions of George Orwell's novels 1984 and Animal House, Amazon CEO JEff Bezos apologized for the problem saying, "Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles." Amazon had electronically deleted the novel from customer's Kindle reading devices when it became clear that the books had been sold in violation of copyrights.
They say that in politics, if you want a friend, get a dog. The same must be true in the TV industry. Walter Cronkite, beloved legendary newsman, has only been dead a matter of days and there is a battle royale brewing over a book proposal from his ex-chef. She claims Cronkite was a nasty piece of work who was despised by his own family. Friends and colleagues of Cronkite are outraged and are trying to throw cold water on the proposal by the chef, who somehow managed to work with this alleged monster for ten years. It's peculiar how so many people don't find working for a celebrity to be a terrible fate when they are alive and well, yet make it sound like they have survived the Bataan Death March after their employer passes away. For more click here