Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina in "Hercules Unchained", as featured in the latest issue of Cinema Retro (#30).
The latest issue of "Cinema Retro" is out and what do I see,
but an article about films that are dear to my heart. As a child of the Sixties,
the sword and sandal movies (aka peplum) meant a lot to me. Specifically the
films of Hercules, himself; none other than Steve Reeves. Interestingly enough,
while these movies were made to get people out of their houses and into the
theatres, here in the US in the early Sixties they made a bigger splash when
they were released to television. I was a little too young to see Steve Reeves’
"Hercules" when it was released in theatres, but when it was released
to TV; that's when the avalanche began. For those of us watching the boob tube
in the early Sixties, Hercules and his brethren were our heroes. (I always joke
that I'm a little messed up because all my heroes were fictional. They were:
Hercules (in the form of Steve Reeves), Tarzan (in the form of Gordon Scott),
James Bond (Sean Connery) and Elvis (the Elvis of the movies who could sing and
dance, won every fight and got all the girls.) The biggest
splash came from a show called "The Mighty Sons of Hercules" which we
now know as a package of peplum films, but back than they were our weekly
dose of heroic adventure. I did get to see some of these movies at the local
neighborhood theatre, like "Duel of the Titans", which was a
major disappointment due to the fact that it was more or less advertised as
a "duel" between "Hercules" and
"Tarzan" and not the story of Romulus and Remus. (At least here in
The article was also interesting not just for the information provided
about the stars of these movies, but for a glimpse of how these movies
fared in the UK. (Interesting that the film that I first saw on TV as
"The Trojan Horse" was known in England as "The Wooden Horse of
Troy"!) Also of interest is that the song from "Hercules
Unchained" was a popular success in the UK, but not so much in the US
where the song was not released on vinyl. [Here's some trivia: In Italy, the
singing voice of Sylva Koscina was dubbed by Marisa del Frate, one of Italy's
most popular performers. The song's title in Italian is "Con te per
L'eternita" ("With you for all eternity") and was a popular hit
for Ms. del Frate. The English version, "Evening Star", was sung by
June Valli, who had a few hits in the early fifties and was a member of the
cast of the American TV show, "Your Hit Parade" until she was let go
from the show, reportedly because the star of the show, Snooky Lanson was very
fond of her, much to the annoyance of his wife.] Well, thank you for this
little trip down memory lane. Now to get back to the rest of the issue. --Mr.
Retro responds: Angel, thanks so much for your kind words about the "Blood, Sweat and Togas" article. It's really hit a chord with readers who have been clamoring for us to cover this genre since the inception of Cinema Retro. We are grateful to writer Denis Meikle for his superbly researched article which shed a good deal of light on the importance of these long-neglected films, as well as Steve Reeves' brief shining moment as a major international star. Thanks also for the trivia. This has to be the only place in the world where Hercules, Elvis, 007 and Snooky Lanson can be logically tied into the same observations.
Hi, Lee. In his DVD review in issue #30, Adrian Smith writes
that The 10th Victim “prefigures Death Race 2000, Rollerball, The
Running Man and even The Hunger Games in its idea of murder as
mass entertainment, and [director/co-writer Elio] Petri deserves to receive
some credit.” How about giving some to Robert Sheckley, upon whose 1953
short story “The Seventh Victim” the film was based, and whose name is nowhere
mentioned? Sheckley (1928-2005) may not have been in Bradbury’s class,
but he was a Hugo and Nebula nominee, named author emeritus by SFWA in
2001. He even published a tie-in novelization of the film and, in the
1980s, two sequels, Victim Prime and Hunter/Victim.
Sheckley’s work was also adapted into more than a dozen other films and
television episodes, the best-known of which—for better or worse—is
probably Freejack, based on his novel Immortality Inc.
Retro responds: Matthew, far be it from us to deny any writer credit for their achievements. Retro articles for both the magazine and web site are often written under tremendous deadline pressure and/or short notice. The truth is that we get inundated with screener copies to review and it isn't always possible to do extensive research on people whose work may have inspired a certain film unless the source novel was written by some larger-than-life figure whose name and work are instantly known. Our purpose is to review the merits of a specific film and in doing so, it can often be argued that any number of contributors to that film are neglected in almost any DVD review. What is more inexcusable is failing to mention someone who worked on a movie and whose contribution is key to its success. I've completed many a DVD review and, after it has been posted, realized I neglected to mention such people. Thanks to our readers for pointing out when some of these occasional lapses in credit occur.
Several readers have corrected us on our statement that The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was never released on home video. Readers Paul Scrabo and Allen Blank point out that the film was released on laser disc and Paul also says a VHS version was also released. Thanks for the corrections, guys. Our understanding is that there apparently isn't a print deemed high grade enough to merit a modern video release for the age of digital media. Hopefully, the film will somehow find its way onto home video in the future.
We're always happy when readers can add some interesting angles to our coverage of retro films. Here is a letter we received from Canadian subscriber Andrew Merey:
"Further to your review of Room 43, it should be noted the movie has a terrific main title jazz theme by British composer Ken Jones (he also did the music for Fire Down Below (1957) and Tarzan Goes to India (1962)). The Room 43 title them was released as a single on Warner Bros. (5078)in 1959. Ray Anthony also recorded his own interpretation of the Room 43 theme (Capitol 4275) also in 1959."
Retro responds: Thanks for sharing this info, Andy...it adds another dimension to a worthwhile British low-budget effort that has much to recommend about it.
The 1963 version of Cleopatra is deemed a terrible movie, mostly by people who have never seen or who only have vague memories of it.
You do a fantastic job with your reviews in general, but occasionally you do one that resonates with me, and I like to send you a quick note on those occasions. Your review of The Adventurers is one of those times.
You ask: "How, after all, could a film by a major director and featuring a big all-star cast go so completely wrong? The answer is: it didn't. The Adventurers is not high art, but it doesn't deserve its place in the Razzie book of ten worst films of all time."
With that passage, you hit the nail on the head, in my opinion. I watched this movie a couple of years ago and concur with your review. No way this is one of the worst films of all time. It probably will not make any favorites lists, but it is worth the effort to view it once.
As always, keep up the good work.
Retro Responds: Thanks for the kind words, Martin...I find that, all too often, epic box-office failures are often judged by their financial fate, not their artistic merits. I'm not making the argument that The Adventurers is some great work. However, calling it one of the worst movies of all time seems way over the top. I can well understand why our own contributing writer and editor Sheldon Hall wrote to me to say he felt the film was "a stinker". Fair enough, but even he isn't making the argument that the film ranks among the ten worst of all time, as apparently the Razzies are claiming. Of course, such judgments are purely subjective and there is no right or wrong answer. However, I find that many people knock big boxoffice disasters based on vague recollections or general critical consensus. Among the other prominent "victims" of this scenario: the Liz and Dick version of Cleopatra, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Alamo (which actually was a financial success but has been deemed a bomb), the Brando remake of Mutiny on the Bounty and of course the infamous Heaven's Gate, which people are finally and justifiably re-evaluating. Some unenlightened critics still cite On Her Majesty's Secret Service as a film that died at the boxoffice, thus resulting in George Lazenby being fired as 007. For the record, although the film grossed far less than the preceding Bonds, its grosses would still have been the envy of most producers- and Lazenby quit the role and was not fired. Again, saner heads have prevailed in more recent years and the film has finally been receiving the praise it has always deserved. Hopefully, some of the aforementioned movies I've cited will, too.
(Readers can send their opinions on any topic to: firstname.lastname@example.org Because of the large volume of mail we receive, we can't guarantee the letter will be published, but we do try to answer every E mail.)
Your recent piece on inept screenings of old movies reminded me of a couple of horrific screenings I have been to.
I once saw The Third Man where the projectionist couldn't understand the Academy ratio of the film so expanded the picture so it filled the width of the screen. This caused the top of the picture to be projected onto the ceiling of the cinema and the bottom to spill over the first few rows of the stalls with only the centre of the picture hitting the screen. This had the effect in medium shot of everyone having their heads cut off, or in close-up just showing their nose. Needless to say it was money-back-time.
But even worse because it was my local art house cinema I saw Hitchcock's '39 Steps' expanded from academy to widescreen with the resultant distortion. When I complained they told me it was the new digital projection and they couldn't alter it. But the really scary thing I was the only one that did complain. Oh the sad lonely life of a suffering film buff.
All the best
Retro responds: We all have similar war stories, Mark. When I was working in a theater during my high school days, we had a very old projectionist named Mandrake who tended to doze off inside the locked projection booth. One time he didn't wake up in time to start the main feature. The theater wasn't in the best area and the local populace began screaming. The theater manager and I kept pounding on the projection room door...Startled, the projectionist awoke suddenly and presented The Valachi Papers without remembering to bring back the curtains. Thus, the entire first reel was shown on the curtains themselves. This Mandrake was no magician!- Lee Pfeiffer
The film adaptation of John Carter of Mars as been widely derided, but reader Jason Lenzi defends its attributes.
Hey Cinema Retro (and Lee Pfeiffer in particular!)-
Jason Lenzi here, I wanted to drop a note and tell you how much I continue to enjoy the CINEMA RETRO website. I check in on it every other day or so.
Something's stirring at the multiplex right now that's right up CR's alley: JOHN CARTER. Being the classic pop culture experts you are, I don't need to tell you about the history of CARTER, it's inspiring storytelling as we know it for the past 100 years, and the dozens of false starts a JC movie has had over the years. But it finally got made, and then subsequently ignored. Doomed from the start, there has already been miles of coverage given to all the ways the promotional department at Disney messed up, from the shortening of the title to the loathsome ad campaign. Before it's release, all the naysayers started calling it "the disaster of the year", or something to that effect. Which is a shame, because the deck became remarkably stacked against a great movie.
The kind of movie that DOES NOT get made anymore. Bursting with creativity, intelligent, action packed and beautiful to look at, for all it's faults and horrible marketing, JOHN CARTER is a refreshing throwback to the blockbusters of yesteryear, like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. And I feel it's going to go down like THE ROCKETEER from the same studio, 20 years ago: it will become a classic that the world will catch up with a decade later.
But something very interesting is happening. The box office is great overseas, and while it had a tepid opening weekend (which in itself was a miracle considering how poorly it was promoted), the Hollywood Reporter is reporting that box office has increased from Monday to Tuesday. And a new website, www.thejohncarterfiles.com, has been launched, and this weekend they're urging everyone to hit the theater again for a 'Take a Friend to Barsoom' weekend. There's even a Facebook page urging the studio to make a sequel.
I'm writing to CR about all of this because I felt this is the kind of film you guys would get behind, and thus would get behind the fan campaign. I've been part of a podcast, called 'Geek Shall Inherit', and for the past several weeks I've been preaching the gospel of JC, and now that I've seen it and love it, will be doing more of the same. Because the world needs more movies like JOHN CARTER.
Just thought you'd like to get to Barsoom with the rest of us!
Retro responds: Jason, we always have a soft spot in our hearts for courageous movie fans who stand up and defend movies that are widely derided by others. Frankly, I haven't seen the film, nor do I intend to, but that's primarily due to a lack of time. I share your respect for The Rocketeer, which remains an underrated gem that is just aching to be rediscovered.
CLICK HERE FOR THE WRAP'S COVERAGE OF THE FILM'S PROSPECTS FOR PROFITABILITY
FYI…”The Poseidon Adventure”
(1972) is FINALLY coming to blu ray on April 4th, as are several
other ship disaster movies around the same time. No doubt these are a tie-in
with the Titanic 100th Annivesary and Titanic (1997) re-release to
Anyway…thought I’d pass on the
news about TPA….hopefully you guys will do a special issue for “The
Poseidon Adventure” in the future…Dec. 12th will be the
40th anniversary since it’s release and this film has a huge
cult following…would love to see a whole magazine devoted to it (just a
wish and suggestion…haha) I believe there is to be a 40th Anniversary
showing on the Queen Mary in Long Beach California and hopefully lots of the
former stars of the film will be there…and of course the die hard fans of
Take care and look forward to more great
Thanks so much,
Retro Replies: Thank YOU, Todd, for the kind words and support. You'll be happy to know that we're all Poseidon fans here at Cinema Retro and although we won't have a special issue dedicated to the film, we are already working on major coverage for later this year. We've got some super images for the issue and some rarities including the Poseidon Adventure Viewmaster set. We're glad it's due out on Blu-ray- should look magnificent. Can't wait to hear Ernie Borgnine scream "My Linda!" in hi def format! - Lee Pfeiffer
I have been going through the latest issue of Cinema
Retro (Season 8 / Issue 22) and I'm overwhelmed. Before seeing it, I would have
said it couldn't be done, but you've done it. This is really the best issue of
Cinema Retro yet! All of the coverage on Cinerama is wonderful! Dark of the Sun
is a knockout. You all just keep getting better and better. Keep up the great
work. You now have another milestone issue to improve upon. Thank you!
Retro responds: Bill, thanks so much. We take pride in the fact that we're probably the only film magazine in the world to devote so much time and attention to an otherwise neglected gem like Dark of the Sun. It's proven to be one of our most popular articles ever, an indication that the general public knows a lot more about the real value of certain films than some of those "historians" who think a movie only matters if it has sub-titles. We believe we've fulfilled our initial goal of providing in-depth coverage of movies that are often neglected by the traditional critical establishment, though I have to say any number of prominent critics do contact us to tell us they agree with our sentiments about some of these titles. Returning to Dark of the Sun specifically, kudos are in order for writer Howard Hughes for providing such fascinating insights into the movie. I should mention that Dave Worrall's painstakingly-researched sidebar addressing rumors of "uncut prints" of the film has elicited numerous responses from readers. Some claim they recall seeing specific scenes in British prints in remote cinemas back in 1968. However, we have not been able to verify any of this. In England, the board of censors must give approval for any final cut to be released. The notion that a film company would risk severe financial and legal penalties to smuggle a "rogue print" of a movie to a rural cinema defies credulity. We believe that many people read the source novel decades ago and believe they saw some additional graphic sequences from the book in the film, as well. Worrall's research proved that there were sequences shot for the movie and excised before it was released. However, we still have no conclusive proof that any print other than that shown in the majority of cinemas ever existed. Sometimes movie fan's minds play tricks on them and they believe they saw sequences that never existed. I will point out an analogy. Back in the 1950s, Groucho Marx hosted the TV game show You Bet Your Life. In one famous instance, Groucho interviewed a man who said he had a very large family. Groucho asked him why he had so many children. "I like kids", the man said. To which, Groucho replied, "I like a good cigar, but even I take it out once in a while!" Countless people believe to this day that they saw that broadcast and embellish their tales with recollections of how shocked everyone was that such a sexually provocative remark could be telecast during that era. In fact, it wasn't. Groucho did indeed make that wisecrack, but the only people who actually heard it were those in the studio audience. It was never broadcast, yet it became such an urban legend that people to this day can specifically remember seeing it on TV. Such may be the case with the much-rumored, never-proven "uncut" prints of Dark of the Sun.
To order issue #22 of Cinema Retro featuring Dark of the Sun, see our back issues section or click here to order from Ebay.
I'll have to disagree with a major point about your review of 'Tora Tora
Tora'; namely the Zanucks refused to use major stars. The Zanucks and the
unknown but influential Elmo Williams were stung by the critics going after 'The
Longest Day' because of all the big stars. Zanuck Sr had to fill 'The Longest
Day' full of major stars to guarantee big box office for the shareholders for
the increasing budget of TLD. I read he nearly was going to drop the
project until United Artists made a large scale offer for the rights to the
film. Mr Z realised that if UA was going to pay a huge amount the film
would gain at least twice that at the box office and went back to it.
Instead Tora used experienced character actors, many very well known (Joseph
Cotton, James Whitmore etc). I had recently researched the film prior to
screening it at our WEA film society.
Your point about the defeat is well taken; it's interesting that the
Bruckheimer 'Pearl Harbor' film featured a triumphant revenge Doolittle
Raid and started out with action of the Battle of Britain.
James Peter Young,
Retro Responds: James, we've also done a great deal of research on Tora! as part of our book The Great Fox War Movies . There is no doubt that Fox's official story is that the actors were chosen because of their talents and physical characteristics. However, the new Blu-ray edition makes the point that a major factor was the amount of money that the film was going to cost at a time when the studio's finances were shaky. Even Richard Zanuck admits he was less-than-enthused to take on this "dream project" for his father Darryl and producer Elmo Williams. I find it a bit hard to believe that Zanuck would have been apologetic about the use of major stars in The Longest Day. Unlike George Stevens' star-packed The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Longest Day was an enormous success with both critics and the public. Reviewers generally praised Zanuck's use of major stars as opposed to Stevens, who used them as stunt casting. Additionally, The Longest Day was a major boxoffice hit and was nominated for a number of key Oscars. So it seems hard to believe that Zanuck would have been sensitive about any aspect of that film. I think that, faced with skyrocketing pre-production costs, Zanuck and Williams realized that the addition of major stars would have sent the budget into the stratosphere at a time when the studio was skeptical about the project itself. The film was supposed to have gone into production in 1966 but costly delays added three years to the schedule. I guess we'll never know the definitive answer, but these are our theories. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and opinions about a very under-rated film.
Cast a Giant Shadow: can young Ben Whishaw overcome Desmond Llewelyn's indelible portrayal of Q?
I don't care if Ben Whishaw is considered one of
the best young English actors of his generation; he is all wrong for the part
of Q precisely because he is too young and handsome. I'm not expecting a clone
of Desmond Llewelyn or John Cleese or Alec McCowen to reprise the role of
Bond's sarcastic old gadget provider in Skyfall, but Whishaw's delicate
features and tousled hair are more suited to decadent poets and rock and roll
stars (you may remember his young Keith Richards in STONED/2005). Whishaw would
also make an excellent Dr. Who. (I think 70-year-old Jon Finch – once
considered to play James Bond – would have been an interesting choice for Q.) I
have a bad feeling about Whishaw's taking on the role. Back in 1999, the luscious
28-year-old model Denise Richards was cast as a nuclear scientist in THE WORLD
IS NOT ENOUGH, starring Pierce Brosnan as Bond. Sex bomb Richards (fresh from
her success in STARSHIP TROOPERS) was so miscast as "Dr. Christmas
Jones" that her scenes elicited laughter... The part of Q requires a
certain amount of gravitas that 31-year-old Whishaw at
present is ratherlackingin.
- Harvey Chartrand
Retro responds: Judging by the general reaction across the board among Bond fans, most seem to be siding with your point-of-view. To your point, I think it would be a mistake to present the character of Q as a loveable eccentric. That vision of the role is indelibly the domain of the beloved Desmond Llewelyn. Although I have my concerns, history has taught us not to jump to conclusions about casting decisions in Bond movies. The notion of Denise Richards playing a scientist and Tanya Roberts playing a geologist seemed to be laughable on the surface-- and those fears proved to be well-founded. On the other hand, right up to the night of the royal premiere of Casino Royale you would be hard-pressed to find anyone enthused about the chances of Daniel Craig making a good James Bond. There were even web sites entirely dedicated to predicting disaster due to his casting. Not many people are making that argument today. As for Whishaw, one must remember that Eon are continuing to reinvent the franchise from the ground up. Thus, any preconceived notion of the character of Q has to be relegated to history. There are some serious and enormously talented people working on Skyfall - and those in the know who have seen the script say its sensational. So let's reserve judgment until we see how creatively Whishaw's talents are utilized. - Lee Pfeiffer
I've just read your online review of Red, White and Zero and thought I'd clear
up some of the mysteries surrounding MGM's DVD release before someone else
does! The title given to the DVD is in fact the intended title of the
three-part omnibus film you mention, which seems never to have been shown
commercially in its complete form, though both other parts were in fact
completed and still exist. The White Bus is the correct and, to the best of my
knowledge, only release title of Lindsay Anderson's contribution; the composite
title was never used.
Tony Richardson's episode was called Red and Blue and starred Vanessa Redgrave
and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (!) It's a short romantic musical, seemingly
influenced (like much of Richardson's 1960s work) by the French New Wave and
especially Jacques Demy. It was the supporting featurette to The Graduate when
the latter (released by United Artists in the UK, not Embassy) opened at the
London Pavilion in 1968, but public complaints caused it to be pulled before the
main feature had completed its run. A slightly faded colour print exists in the
BFI Archive and I have shown it myself at the Showroom in Sheffield, which may
have been one of its very few commercial screenings.
The third and shortest segment of the omnibus film is Ride of the Valkyrie
which stars - you guessed it - Zero Mostel as an opera singer involved in a
"madcap" chase to the tune of - you guessed it again - "Ride of
the Valkyries". I'm not aware of its having had a commercial release in
the UK (though IMDb indicates a December 1979 screening in the US), but I
certainly remember it being shown on TV here in the 1970s.
For the record, Ride of the Valkyrie was directed (badly) by Peter Brook. Red and Blue is quite favorably reviewed in the October 1968 issue of Films and Filming. The September issue indicates is was meant to support The Graduate on general release, but it is omitted from subsequent listings. I assume that after its disastrous London engagement it was shelved altogether.
MGM could easily have performed a public service by putting the three films
together for the first time on home video if someone there had known what they
were doing. But as I recall all three were shown together at a conference I
attended at the University of Stirling a few years ago, the location of the
Lindsay Anderson Archive; the screening venue was the Macrobert Arts Centre on
the university campus. So the full version has actually been shown, if only to
a specialised academic audience. I can see why UA didn't want to release it!
RETRO RESPONDS: Ah, Sheldon- I should have known that a Cinema Retro contributor would hold they keys to this mystery. This minor film has generated a lot of interest among our readers, thus they'll be happy to know how Redgrave and Mostel came to be associated with the original errant packaging by MGM. To be fair to the studio, there is no evidence that the packaging was ever released. I think the photo in question in my review just pertains to an early prototype done for marketing purposes. Apparently, the error was caught in time as the screener we received has correct packaging. As for releasing the entire film, let's just say that the right people are reading this so perhaps they will. It might be, however, that the master prints are in poor condition. Studios are reluctant to sink substantial money into restoring films that have limited financial prospects. Although I'm not a fan of The White Bus, I do appreciate the fact that MGM has put it out. It's an interesting experiment by a man who would become a respected director.
(Sheldon Hall teaches film studies at the University of Sheffield and is the author of numerous books about the cinema.)
Update: Reader Dave Williams advises that The White Bus is also available for streaming through Netflix.
Excited to hear about your 8-page feature on "Dark of the Sun". Earlier
this year, I finally got a re-mastered DVD through Warner Bros
Archives. It's a beautiful print (unfortunately no special features) and
the film holds up remarkably well. It's gratifying to see one of the best
action films ever get some long-overdue recognition. As I'm sure you know, it's
a "guilty pleasure" of both Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino (part of the
reason Tarantino cast Rod Taylor as Churchill in "Inglorious Basterds".) As for "The White Buffalo", I obviously liked the film better than you did.
I never really thought of it as "horror" movie-western hybrid, but I was struck
by its mythic, haunting ambiance. One of the many things I admired about it was
the authentic-sounding period dialogue. How many films use words like
Retro Responds: Thanks, Ray...We're probably the only magazine on the planet that would feature a film like Dark of the Sun in such detail, but the movie is a true gem. I totally agree that it stands up well over time and in fact is far superior to just about every action movie made today. Re: The White Buffalo, I do think the film is a failure, but I will concede at least it's an original and ambitious failure. However, I think in its attempt to be highbrow, it comes across as somewhat pretentious. The film is ultimately undone by an uneven script and some distractingly cheesy special effects. However, before anyone puts much stock in my opinions, I also consider The Ghost and Mr. Chicken to be a comedy classic. - Lee Pfeiffer
(Dark of the Sun will be featured in Cinema Retro issue #22 in a major article by contributor Howard Hughes.)
Retro responds: Brooke, we're always happy to put the spotlight on worthwhile indy productions, especially when they pertain to retro cinema. Boulevard of Broken Dreams is very charming and conveys a positive message in its brief running time. Congratulations to all involved- and keep up the good work. - Lee Pfeiffer
I recently picked up your special edition of Kelly's Heroes. I'm an Eastwood fan but I hate this movie, so that says a lot about your publication. When I came across it, I put it down twice trying to convince myself not to purchase it! It was just too good to pass up!
Retro responds: Brian, with enemies like you, who needs friends? The sales of our Kelly's issue are far above expectations. The compelling stories behind the making of this movie seem to intrigue even those who don't care for the film itself. - Lee Pfeiffer
Hi, I truly enjoy your magazine,and pick up every new issue...and wish I
could get a few older ones if possible? Started way back with your
"Batman" issue with Adam West. But I really like your issues on
U.N.C.L.E. my favorite T.V. show of all time,do you think Cinema Retro
may revisit this fine show now that a new movie is begining production
in the up coming year. Thank You, so much your friend and loyal
reader...Richard W. Fisher
Retro responds: Thanks for your long-term support, Richard. It's readers like you that keep the dream alive. Our back issues that have sold out are now available as digital editions on line. As for U.N.C.L.E., we've pretty much exhausted the comprehensive analysis of the feature films, having devoted sections in eight individual issues to each of the movies. However, our December issue will revisit the show to a degree with reviews of the recent DVD release of the U.N.C.L.E feature films as well as a review of The Venetian Affair with Robert Vaughn. - Lee Pfeiffer
While American movie fans in the pre-video age had to settle for compilations of feature films or promotional featurettes on 8mm (such as this one for Major Dundee), England's Derann Films offered collectors pristine, complete 8mm prints.
I enjoy reading your online CR and stop by every other day or so,
just to check out what's happening. I'm a little disappointed that you
have not covered the closure of Derann, the last of the great super 8 film
distributors, who closed their Dudley shop on Sunday. Even more surprising
when one considers one of your finest, Dave Worrall, used to work
there! In this day and age people forget the importance of the small film
formats in the years prior to the vhs boom, but Derann dominated the hobby
and then kept going through the lean times of the mid 80's, producing
stunning low fade full length prints of some of the greatest movies ever
to grace the silver screen. Come on guys, give Derann an acknowledgement
and let's celebrate the wonderful prints they put out.
Rant over. Keep up the good work,
Retro responds: Fair point, Mark. Most American collectors don't understand the importance Derann once had in the UK market where movie fans could legally buy complete 8mm feature films. In the USA, we had to settle for ludicrous 8mm "digests" which reduced films like The Longest Day to about 15 minutes of cobbled together footage. Amazingly, even in the DVD age there were still loyal 8mm collectors who supported Derann, but alas, not enough of them to sustain the business. You're right about Dave Worrall working there in the 80s through early 1990s before he went freelance. Dave points out that he was Derann's Marketing Manager and designed the company's promotional materials as well as their magazine, Film for the Collector. Dave recalls it was Derann's founder, the late Derek Simmonds who took him under his wing and encouraged him to become a freelance designer and writer. You don't find bosses like that anymore and you don't find companies like Derann, either. May it rest in peace. - Lee Pfeiffer
Hi! I just have to dash off these few
comments about your review of "Where the Boys Are". I feel you may have misread
Yvette Mimieux's character's reaction after as you phrase it she "goes all the
way". It is not her guilt re: losing her virginity that causes her to became
suicidal, but her being used as a sexual plaything and then tossed aside as if
she were worth nothing that brings about her suicidal depression. In this way
the film is still relevant in that many men today still look upon woman as
nothing more than sex toys to throw away once they have had their way with them.
Yes "Where the Boys Are" is still important as a document of its time. Also the
cast did spend some time on location as George Hamilton recounts in his
autobiography, as he had his friend, Sean Flynn, son of actor Errol Flynn come
on over and join him, so they could party in the sun. I believe it is also the
first of its type as all the major studios began producing films starring
young, up and coming stars frolicking in different locations
during school breaks. While I already have a copy of "Where the Boys Are" I am
almost tempted to buy this new edition. Thank you for the fine review. --A.
Retro responds: Thanks for your insights...such plot points are open to subjective interpretation but I share your overall assessment as well as your affections for the film. It's a bit darker and deeper than the mindless "beach movie" many write it off as.- Lee Pfeiffer
I very much enjoyed the most recent CR
special issue dedicated to Kelly's Heroes. It sounds like James Aubry did not like anyone or anything.
There is a Frankenheimer commentary on "The Gypsy Moths" DVD where he mentions the
problems he had with lack of marketing, etc.
Keep these special issues coming.
Retro responds: Thanks for your support of our magazine. The issue is selling at an amazing rate. It surprised us how complex the story behind the making of Kelly's Heroes was. James Aubrey, who headed MGM at that time, was widely loathed by many in the industry. His meddling with final cuts alienated many prominent filmmakers during that time. It was Aubrey who insisted on cutting significant scenes from Kelly's Heroes against the protests of director Brian G. Hutton and Clint Eastwood. In fact, Eastwood made good on his vow to never make a movie for MGM again.(The whole story appears in detail in the magazine) Frankenheimer's The Gypsy Moths is another gem even in its truncated state. The fact that it bombed at the time doesn't diminish its many merits. - Lee Pfeiffer
Hello, I am a big fan of your site but there's
one little thing I would like to critizise: Carpenter's "The Thing" is
not a remake of "The Thing from another world" but a truer adaption of
the classic tale "Who goes there". And strangely enough, as Carpenter is
a big fan of Howard Hawks, it's possibly his most anti-Hawksian-film -
there are no professionals under pressure here but 12 victims of their own mutual
I hope I did not come across as too pedantic.
Retro responds: Among those of us who spend an unhealthy number of hours debating old movies, nothing is pedantic. I confess to not being overly conversant regarding the original film, so I'll cede your point. However, I would consider being trapped in an ice-bound building plagued by a wretched and murderous being from another world to be an example of being "under pressure". If you don't, Tobias, I would greatly like to know your definition of "pressure." Many thanks for writing from one of my favorite countries on the planet. Auf weidersehen! - Lee Pfeiffer
Your web site passes the time wonderfully until your next issue comes in. A comment. Could you have more interviews with actual stars, directors, producers, cinematographers, composers etc rather than people whining about films they don't like without being constructive?
Your review of 'Kona Coast' comes at a time when I've just picked up 'Knight without Armor' a smashing biography done of Richard Boone. The author writes it like the format of 'Citizen Kane', the facts, then interviews with various people who knew and worked with Mr Boone. Much better than something like Nick Tosche's bio of Dean Martin where I think that Mr Martin's only comment to him was 'get off my lawn, punk' and there are no quotes from Mr Martin in the book, just what Nick wants to write.
Anyway, 'Kona Coast' was meant to be a pilot for a series for CBS. CBS offered Boone the lead in 'Hawaii Five 0' which he turned down in favour of his KC series but CBS went for Jack Lord and 'H50'.
Interesting factoid in there in an interview with Andrew McLaglen who said John Wayne called him to arrange a meeting with Jim Arness to discuss playing the Sam Houston role in his 'The Alamo' film. Mr Arness agreed for a certain time, then without any word left Mr Wayne waiting. As AML was also directing 'Gunsmoke' as well as 'Have Gun Will Travel' Mr Wayne asked him 'who's that other guy you work with' and that's how Mr Boone played Houston.
Enjoyed the 'Magnificent 7' trailer but I prefer the original. Not even FSM knows who composted the song that appeared in this trailer and I recall being used on radio spots. As the film supposedly was released in Europe after a limited release in the US and one of the gun shots sound effects on the trailer sounds like the Spanish ones, maybe some Italian wrote it like the 'Mighty Sons of Hercules' themes. Any comments?
(Click below to view original trailer for The Magnificent Seven featuring theme song not heard in the film)
Retro Responds: James, thanks for the very informative letter. Regarding interviews, we feature as many as we can given limits on our time and resources. Not only does every issue of the magazine generally feature at least one major interview, but some of our columnists have provided still others specifically for the web site. Thanks for the insights into Kona Coast - they certainly explain why the movie has the look and feel of a TV show. I share your enthusiasm for Richard Boone and can highly recommend David Rothel's outstanding 2001 book A Knight Without Armor. This is the only biography of Boone I am aware of and it's a superb achievement, featuring episode guides to his shows and insights from his son. In fact, the book includes a really cool bonus CD - Johnny Western's original title theme for Have Gun Will Travel. (Click here to order book from Amazon) As for The Magnificent Seven, I can only assume that the song included in the trailer was not in the final film because it must have been pretty corny even in 1960 and certainly didn't fit the mood of the film and Elmer Bernstein's wonderful score. The same was true with theme songs recorded for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Sink the Bismarck and others. Thanks for supporting both the web site and the magazine.
I purchased the current issue of Cinema Retro on the promise of its insights into the obscure film, Candy. Instead, I was punished with a four-page rant by Dean Brierly who, in his brief bio, could not supply the name of a single film he liked (his "favourite films are the ones nobody's heard of") nor the name of any article of note. You do list magazines he's written for, including Men's Health. Why I make mention of his scarce credentials is because he so severely botched the opportunity to discover in a film its many treasures -- foregoing the requisite fairness called upon when assessing someone else's work.
For one, Brierly fails to mention the inspired Dave Grusin soundtrack (in fact, so inspired that Steven Soderbergh uses it in Ocean's Twelve), which makes effective use of Steppenwolf prior to Easy Rider. The music serves the film's surreal aspirations and it is through that lens that many positive assessments have sprung forward -- certainly positive enough that most people wouldn't wish to have "committed suicide halfway through" or preferred "having a root canal without anaesthetic" to watching it again. A bit over-cooked, that writing from Brierly, and certainly not justified in its humor or wit. While he uniformly ridicules the performances, many fans out there have pointed out how wryly funny Brando is while using his role to poke holes in his very own iconic status. Brierly writes that "Brando's excruciating exhibition foreshadows his eventual artistic decline," proceeding to briskly gloss over one of the greatest comebacks in show business! He makes grudging mention of The Godfather (considered to be one of the greatest films of all time) and Last Tango in Paris, but forgets to add Superman, The Nightcomers, Apocalypse Now and his lively performance in Don Juan DeMarco. These omissions are more glaring considering that, on page 8 of the same issue, your very own esteemed Raymond Benson lists Apocalypse Now as one of his "Top Ten Favourites" of 1979, and Lee Pfeiffer agrees with Richard Schickel on page 15 that "the most underrated work of Marlon Brando's career... Reflections in a Golden Eye remains one of his best performances," released just a year before the offending Candy. On the Cinema Retro webpage, you just have to scroll down five blurbs from Lee Pfieffer's half-hearted defense of Brierly to get to the news on Superman, where "Brando memorably played Jor-El."
I just wanted to take this moment to write and say how much I love your magazine, and especially the 80 page special issues. They're fantastic. I've bought the issues devoted to WHERE EAGLES DARE and THE DOLLARS TRILOGY multiple times, once for myself and then as gifts for friends. I am of course also looking forward to your special on KELLY'S HEROES.
Which brings me to my question. How do you choose which movie(s) to devote an 80 page special to? Do you take suggestions for special issues? If so, I'd really like to see you devote an 80 page special to the Harry Palmer series of spy movies starring Michael Caine: THE IPCRESS FILE, FUNERAL IN BERLIN and BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN. Fantastic movies, and many of the important people behind them are still around.
I hope in fact that you already have such an issue in the pipeline. Anyway, thank you for listening and thanks very much for a superior magazine.
Thank you for your kind words, Jack.
We do intend to cover the Harry Palmer films. However, they will appear in three major parts in the regular edition of the magazine, and will be published next year.
Specials are generally chosen by the popularity of the title and the availability of rare material that no other publication has unearthed. Not always easy - but we do our best!
When you say in your online reply to the Candy defender that you're "about the only one who will admit to seeing some great things in Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate", do you mean the only in your house? The only one of Retro's editors? If not, I'd be amazed if you didn't know that the film has a large following of reputable critics who regard it (as I do) as one of the last great Hollywood movies. See, for instance, the chapter on it in Robin Wood's book Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan (in the Sight and Sound 1982 critics poll, Wood named it as one of the ten greatest films of all time).
On the other hand, I think you're right about Skidoo. But I know one academic critic who loves it! I don't think Rosebud is too bad either. I guess every film has its champion - and some have more than you might think.
Retro Responds: Sheldon, my rhetoric was rather sloppy. I am aware that there are other defenders of Heaven's Gate. I believe there is a guy in Bayonne, New Jersey and a hermit living under a bridge in Kent. Seriously, while I am not aware of any significant number of prominent critics who defend Heaven's Gate, I do know that the film was accorded a much better reception in Europe, primarily in France and some other critics have warmed to it over the decades. Nevertheless, I would happy if there was a move to re-evaluate this fine film. It's one of those epics that was ill-conceived from a financial standpoint. Releasing a Socialist Western at the dawn of the Reagan era seemed to make it inevitable that the movie would be a box-office bomb. However, that doesn't negate it's value as a dramatic movie. In fairness, much of the virtriol leveled at the film was largely because of the many unfavorable stories in the trade press and mainstream media that presented Michael Cimino as a pompous egotist who had the audacity to not even show the finished movie to the studio that financed it until the night of the premiere. Adding to the film's sorry legacy was the bestselling book Final Cut by United Artists executive Steven Bach that provides in painful detail the amazing number of miscalculations that went into bringing the movie to reality. A modestly-budgeted Western morphed into an outrageously expensive marketing disaster. Nevertheless, your comments peak my interest in watching the film again. I smell a future article for Cinema Retro.. By the way, I'll use this opportunity to give you a gratuitous plug:
Sheldon Hall is the author of numerous books about the cinema, including Zulu: With Some Guts Behind It, The Making of the Epic Movie. His latest book is Widescreen Worldwide.
Cinema Retro reader Harvey Chartrand has a bone to pick with Cinema Retro's Dean Brierly regarding his cover story in our latest issue:
Dean Brierly has an obvious hate-on for CANDY which is unwarranted. His critique is unbalanced and excessively negative. I do not consider CANDY an “all-star fiasco” or one of the worst movies ever made. Far from it. If you want to see a bad movie, check out Otto Preminger’s Middle East “thriller” ROSEBUD with Peter O’Toole (who looks like a dying man in this picture). Sure, CANDY isn’t as good as the book, but so what? Neither was Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING, now acknowledged to be superior to the more faithful Stephen King-scripted TV-movie adaptation with Steven Weber and Rebecca De Mornay.
I do recall enjoying CANDY as a cultural artifact of its era (and I saw it quite recently). It’s emblematic of the swinging sixties... like THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN, often dismissed as an excessive celluloid abomination but delightful on its own terms and for the exuberant performance of Peter Sellers as eccentric billionaire Sir Guy Grand, out to prove that everyone has his price.
CANDY, with its dream cast, should at least be regarded as a curio or an interesting failure. Marlon Brando, even when he’s “phoning it in”, is always fun to watch. Sure, Ringo sucks, but his scenes are mercifully brief.
Ewa Aulin’s stunning good looks and her vulnerable demeanour override any drawbacks she may have for the role of the irresistible Candy. (I wonder what Aulin looks like now... probably still sexy in her sixties.) Forty-one years on, film historians are even taking a second revisionist look at MYRA BRECKINRIDGE... which critics considered one of the worst movies ever made back in 1970.
Harvey F. Chartrand
Retro responds: Harvey, we have a special place in our hearts for readers who defend films most find indefensible. You will recall that we accorded the cheapo Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature films the same kind of coverage generally accorded the works of Sir David Lean. Nonetheless, there is no denying that Brierly's sentiments reflect those of most retro movie fans. I believe that if Candy had been produced as a low-budget American International exploitation film, we would not be debating it today. However, the stigma arises from the fact that director Christian Marquand had the advantage of working with a cast of Hollywood legends. The fact that it only amounted to a trivial work has added to the film's reputation as a squandered opportunity. It's interesting that you mention Preminger, because Candy is probably only rivaled by Preminger's own Skidoo as the most glaring film of the Sixties to waste a "sure-fire" cast of greats. Nonetheless, we applaud your defense of the movie. I can relate...I'm about the only one who will admit to seeing some great things in Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate. If nothing else, I'm grateful to Marquand for giving Cinema Retro the opportunity to publish so many gratuitously sexy photos of Ewa Aulin. - Lee Pfeiffer
I've just become acquainted with your website, having read David Hedison's reflections on working with Richard Basehart on "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea". It was one of my favorite shows as a kid and I've purchased the series on dvd. I've asked around, but have you any knowledge of a DVD release of another of my long-ago favorites, the 1960's "Tarzan" series starring Ron Ely? Thank you, I'll be enjoying more of your website now! -Lanny Hamilton
Retro responds: Lanny, to our knowledge the series is one of many gems that has yet to be released to DVD. The fact that it was not a major hit at the time probably hinders the prospects of a traditional video release. However, the studios do read our site regularly, along with others that gripe about unreleased product, and its possible the show might be made available on a burn-to-order basis. These programs have proven to be far more successful than the studios imagined. -Lee Pfeiffer
I read your review of Hotel with interest and think that it is spot-on. I had just received it for Christmas and watched it within the last week. I had requested it for Christmas because of Catherine Spaak, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie. True, it doesn't have a lot of "thrills," but I found the story to be interesting and to have moved along quite briskly for two hours. My impression was that it was a well-made movie and a hidden gem.
Keep up the good work on the DVD reviews! I also got "The Power" as a result of a review that you did, but I haven't yet watched it.
Retro replies: Thanks so much, Martin....I knew someone out there was paying attention! Seriously, we're delighted to draw attention to so many good films that are now being released on the burn-to-order market. In an era of dwindling DVD sales, it's likely that if this technology didn't exist, these titles would be deemed to commercially "iffy" to receive a standard home video release. Meanwhile, here's a great still of two glamorous stars: Rod Taylor and Catherine Spaak in Hotel. Click here for a great web site devoted to Rod Taylor.
John Wayne in director John Sturges' excellent 1974 detective film McQ.
Just got the new issue - as far as I'm concerned, you can double the subscription rate and publish monthly! Without a doubt, Cinema Retro is the coolest film magazine ever. I should know because I have about 10,000 of them. Here is a "Wish List" of films I'd love to read about in Cinema Retro - and you guys are probably the only ones who would consider them for articles:
The Devil's Brigade
The Dirty Harry series
Rolling Thunder (what a finale!)
March or Die
A Study in Terror and Murder By Decree - both have Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper
Keep up the good work!- Vincent Conserva
Retro responds: Vince, thanks for the kind words, but we'll refrain from doubling our subscription rate. In fact, we haven't raised the price even for postage increases since we began publishing six years ago. I have to agree, this list would appeal to virtually any of our readers. We did cover the Dirty Harry films in issue #9, but its a series we will undoubtedly revisit in the future. We are planning on features about John Wayne's two cop films, McQ and Brannigan, both of which were quite different in tone and style, but equally entertaining. Your suggestion for March or Die is particularly inspiring. Not many people have seen this marvelous French Foreign Legion adventure with Gene Hackman, Terence Hill, Max Von Sydow and Catherine Deneuve. It died back in 1977 and only had a very limited home video release. It features a climactic battle in the desert that is truly superb. Keep the suggestions coming!- Lee Pfeiffer
In renewing my subscription, I'd like to say you gentlemen are doing an absolutely fantastic job and I look forward to each and every issue of this literary masterpiece!
- Bob Luckiewicz
Retro responds: "Literary masterpiece"??? Thanks for the acclaim, Bob - we just hope it finally gets people to stop reading those other "masterpieces" by such literary hacks and also-rans with names like Tolstoy, Twain and Shakespeare!
Can't you consider reprinting some of the earlier issues of Cinema Retro? I only learned about the magazine last year and there are still some issues I needed to complete my collection. I can't find most of them anywhere- and the few times I do see them offered, I have to practically take out a bank loan to afford them.
- Al Rogers
Retro responds: Sorry, Al, but it simply isn't practical or fair to reprint earlier issues. In addition to it being cost-prohibitive, we do advertise every issue as a limited edition collectible. However, there may be a solution on the horizon. We are exploring the possibility of making back issues available as digital downloads you can read on your computer. Stay tuned for further announcements about this. Meanwhile, as we often say ad nauseum, the best way to avoid missing any future issues is to simply subscribe. Postage is free in North America and the UK and you'll never have to search for an elusive back issue again. - Lee Pfeiffer
The following letter refers to our coverage of the dispute regarding Ron Howard's new film The Dilemma. The controversy revolves around the gay rights group GLAAD's protests about a line of dialogue in the film that they deem insensitive.
can’t believe that you appear to be supporting movie censorship. There is
no evidence that humor from any movie is tied to any crimes against people
because they are gay. It’s hypocritical for GLAAD to go after a movie for a
funny line that makes fun of gays when every other movie and TV series in
America routinely makes fun of white, male, Christian, heterosexual, conservatives and nobody raises an eyebrow. This comes on the heels of a
related story where openly gay entertainer Adam Lambert is scheduled to perform
at a concert in Malaysia where he has been asked by the government to tone down
his act after Malaysia’s Islamist Protest Party has demanded that his concert
be canceled. In Malaysia it is also a crime to be a homosexual, yet GLAAD is
totally silent on this issue and some would say they were cowards. Should we
submit all movies for approval by other politically correct organizations like
NAACP, PETA, NOW, CAIR and others? Maybe the narcissistic, thin skinned,
whining and hyper- sensitive cry babies who can only laugh at jokes aimed at
others, like CNNs Anderson Cooper who called Tea Party members “Tea Baggers”
and GLAAD, should stay out of the censorship business and speak out against
real, rather than imagined, threats to out Freedom an Liberty and get a sense
Retro responds:Doug; Whoa there, big guy! That's sure a lot of hyperbole for a simple story reporting on a dispute over a line in a movie that doesn't even involve politics. In fact, if you read our coverage, we're not advocating anything because there is no opinion expressed one way or the other. Whether or not GLAAD's objections are appropriate or overly-sensitive is left to the individual readers to decide. Similarly, I'll leave it to those readers to decide if "white, male, Christian, heterosexual, conservatives" are being discriminated against. It's a minefield I'd rather not walk across. There seems to be a presumption among some of our conservative readers that, by simply reporting on a story, Cinema Retro is biased against their views. I do have to say that we never get similar complaints from liberals when we run favorable stories that in some ways involve Presidents Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush or other conservatives. Nor do we get complaints about our site being a virtual love letter to the ultimate symbol of conservatism, John Wayne - which is a bias I will admit to because he's always been my favorite actor. Likewise, in the most contentious days of the Bush administration, I never received a single E mail complaining about the respectful coverage we gave to the President on those occasions where he figured into a story. None of this means I'm siding with liberals over conservatives, but the mail trends do seem to indicate a sensitivity on one side of the political spectrum that we don't hear from on the other side. To our conservative friends and readers: please just chill out because no one is criticizing your views or beliefs and we are not advocating any political philosophies here.
I've tried hard not to use Cinema Retro's vast readership as a platform to espouse political opinions of anyone who contributes to our site. I confine my personal political views to my circle of friends. We've been passionately arguing our positions for years - without changing anyone's mind. (Isn't the definition of insanity the tendency to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results?) I've had to continue repeating this like a broken record because we keep getting submissions from readers who want to tie in contentious political aspects to their stories. I have not run these articles regardless of whether they are slanted to the left or the right. There are a million web sites where these opinions would be appropriate, but a site about movies isn't one of them. I'm not one for Kumbaya moments, but I'd like to think that a love for classic cinema is a topic that might bring people together, not divide them. As for my opinions about the Tea Party, whether favorable or unfavorable, this is not the appropriate forum to express them. However, if you ever swing by New York City, let me know and I'll be happy to discuss 'em with you mano-a-mano over a few beers- and I'll pick up the tab even if we don't agree. Thanks for writing - Lee Pfeiffer
Today, in one swoop, we'll address our periodic requests to increase our coverage of political stories.
I really laughed at your recent posting of the "The Most Hilarious Political Speech" of all time. I've sent you links to some crazy clips involving Christine O'Donnell - how come you never ran them?
Retro responds: Jim, the benefit of our international readers, I will explain that Ms. O'Donnell is running on the Republican ticket for Senator in the state of Delaware. I believe such information makes most readers' eyes glaze over because no one comes to Cinema Retro to read about politics. There are occasions when show biz and politics cross over and a legitimate news story emerges. However, we don't embroil ourselves in political races and whether you support or oppose Ms. O'Donnell, her controversial comments dominate virtually every newscast, so there's no reason to cover them here. As for the "The Most Hilarious Political Speech of All Time", which was given by a minor candidate for a minor office in Ohio, we got a great response to it- probably because it had nothing to do with political ideology. This guy just happened to be a Republican, a fact I didn't even realize until I posted the link. However, virtually everyone got a laugh out of it- and it would have been just as funny if he was a Democrat.- Lee Pfeiffer
You say you cover TV News, but you've been completely silent on the firing of CNN show host Rick Sanchez, who was let go because he called Comedy Central's Jon Stewart "a bigot". Isn't this something you should cover for your readers?
Retro responds: Dear "A"- Again, I think our American readers don't often realize that we have a very wide international audience who don't know who many of these folks are. For their benefit, Sanchez was a long-time CNN host who got in hot water for calling Stewart a bigot and making some anti-Semitic remarks last week. He was subsequently fired, which caused quite a media sensation and has seemingly given Stewart and every other comedian enough material for the next six months. However, it's still primarily a story about cable news, not TV, per se. Those are treacherous waters to cover, as no matter how objective you try to remain, people on both the left and the right will accuse you of being biased. Thus, we stay away from that minefield. Cinema Retro does cover TV stories, but mostly on the entertainment side. I might as well mention why I've not covered Stewart's forthcoming rally in Washington, D.C., which some have sent links about. Although Stewart is by far the most influential satirist in America, his rally is still primarily a political event. If we were to cover it or link to information about it, we'd immediately hear from people who would complain that we didn't cover rallies dedicated to opposing viewpoints. It's our position that we should primarily stay out of politics so this site can be a place where people of all different opinions can share a common interest in the movies they love. (How's that for a cornball kumbaya moment?)- Lee Pfeiffer
Tony Curtis photographed in London by Cinema Retro's Mark Mawston.
Very sad to hear about one of my favorite actors and
another legend passing. I meet him about 4 years ago and he turned up in a big Stetson
hat. When asked if that was what he normally wore he replied “No, I’m
just here to promote my new film- Brokeback Mountain 2: The Later Years”!
Nobody talks like that! How many can say they were on the Sgt
Peppers cover and dated Marilyn Monroe? A legend.- Mark Mawston
You've probably already heard about this, but it might be a nice
news item for the website:...
The TCM (Turner Classic Movies) cable channel will be offering Hammer
Horror classics in October. One of the best movie channels anywhere is
showing a series of Hammer films every Friday night during the Halloween
month starting October 1st with the Draculas - HORROR OF DRACULA (1958),
BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960), DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) and DRACULA
HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968). October 8th brings on THE PLAGUE OF THE
ZOMBIES (1966), THE DEVIL'S
BRIDE (1968). THE REPTILE (1966) and THE GORGON (1964). October 15th ties things up in Mummy
wrappings with the entire Hammer
Mummy series - THE MUMMY (1959), THE CURSE OF THE MOMMY'S TOMB (1964),
THE MUMMY'S SHROUD (1967) and BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1971) which
includes Cinema Retro's recent cover girl, Valerie Leon. October 22nd brings in Hammer Sci-Fi
with X - THE UNKNOWN (1956), FIVE
MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (1968), THESE ARE THE DAMNED (1963) and a non
Sci-Fi choice, THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY (1960). Finally, October 29th features the
Frankensteins - THE CURSE OF
FRANKENSTEIN (1957), THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1958), FRANKENSTEIN
CREATED WOMAN (1967) and FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969). Each Friday evening session hosted by TCM's
Robert Osborne begins at
7:00pm(CST) with no commercial
interruptions. Considering TCM's track
record, all of the film prints will likely be in top notch shape and all
will be presented in their original aspect ratios where possible. What's
surprising about this news is how rarely (probably not at all) any of
these films are shown together in groups because the rights rest with
different U.S. studios, but TCM has made the hurdle. These should be fun
to see together. Hope this is good news for all 50's,
60's and even 70's Retro fans!
Retro Responds: Thanks for the head's up, Bill...we heard this was coming and were planning to promote the event on our site. Seems our readers really appreciate being alerted to great retro movie showings like these. - Lee Pfeiffer
I wanted to bring to
your attention -- and recommend to your readers -- a book that I've
"loved" as a film buff ever since I bought my first copy back in
1970. It's The New York Times' "GUIDE TO MOVIES ON TV," edited by Howard
Thompson. It's an eleven by eight and a half
inch soft-bound book with 223 pages of some 2000 capsule reviews
taken from the pages of the Times. Though not in the same league as
the Leonard Maltin books or even other well-known film guides, this book was
unique in that it included a black and white still from each film next to the
review. The Times only published this guide once (in 1970), which is a
shame, but used copies can still be found at Amazon and other internet
sources. The films covered date from the late 1930's to the end of 1968.
I've scanned the cover
and some sample reviews. The book is often fascinating in that many
movies considered a classics now were not that highly regarded back
then. A good example is the review of "The Good, the Bad, and
the Ugly."- Rory Monteith
Retro Responds: All movie geeks must think alike. I agree this was one of my most beloved books about film criticism and a dog-eared edition of the book adorns my bookshelf. You're right- many films considered classics today were scorned by the Times when they were originally released. I would advise any retro movie lover to hunt this book down and add it to their research library. - Lee Pfeiffer
As a writer at CinemaRetro.com, I want to
thank you all for your support and kind comments regarding our work. It
is very gratifying to know that the movies that we writers love are
equally admired by others out there!
As most of us have been
movie fans for virtually our entire lives, there are inevitably titles
that we want to see again, but were too young to take notice of the
title. There is one film that I am looking for, and have been looking
for since the late 1970s, and I am asking for your help. All I have is
of the film, and if anyone out there is able to identify it or point me
in the right direction, I will personally thank you on this website.
Here is my
In the late 1970s, I saw a film in my elementary school that I have not forgotten. I
to say that this film is European(?) and was made in either the 1960
1970’s, but I am not sure. In the film, a young boy gets a white teddy
bear for Christmas and is
disappointed because He wanted a brown teddy bear instead. He takes the
bear with him on a train ride and tells the bear that he wants the brown
instead. He gets to the North Pole and asks Santa for the other bear,
but when Santa gives it to him, he is told that he has to hand over the
teddy bear. He can only have one. I don't recall if he goes home with
the original bear, or does the exchange. This film is not animated, it
If you have any information about this film,
please email me at horrorexpress1968 at yahoo.com (please replace the
"at" with the actual "@" sign). Please put "Santa 16mm Children's Film"
in the subject line. Thank you in advance!
Aldo Sanbrell photographed at is home by Cinema Retro's John Exshaw. (Photo copyright John Exshaw. All rights reserved.)
I just wanted to say thank you for the fantastic job you guys did on
the Aldo Sambrell article. It's sad for many of older fans to see these
actors now ride into the sunset without them getting the send off they
deserve. Many out of the public eye for nearly 30 - 40 years now are
unknown to anyone under 40 and yet they are missing a heritage and a group
of actors who dominated films in the 60s and 70s. The character actors in
the Spaghetti western genre appear over an over in the genre and to the
fans they are as recognizable and loved as the stars of the films
themselves. It was always great to see a film and see the names Fernando
Sancho, Aldos Sambrell, Victor Israel, Lorenzo Robledo, Luigi Pistilli and
Mario Brega among others. They brought talent to the screen mIssing in
today's film industry.
Thanks again for a great article and a great job for a great
Viva Cinema Retro, Viva Aldo Sambrell,
Tom, many thanks for your kind words....they are much appreciated. It's actually our columnist John Exshaw who gets all the credit for writing such a heartfelt and personal tribute to his friend. Your observations ring true that younger generations of film-goers will probably have little appreciation for the work of the many supporting actors who brought so much to movies of the past. Although there are many fine movies being made today, one thing that is lacking is the reliable stock companies of familiar character actors. Where are the Walter Brennans, Jack Elams and Arthur O'Connells of today? Chances are anyone who resembled them wouldn't get past the studio gates. By the way, although Aldo 's name was commonly spelled "Sambrell" in movie credits, his actual last name was spelled "Sanbrell"...go figure. In any event, he was a great talent who will be missed. By the way, we checked out your blog about Italian Westerns and can highly recommend it to readers. Click here to access. - Lee Pfeiffer
Turns out that the legendary Mitch Miller was actually legendary enough to be mentioned in Queen's classic song Bohemian Rhapsody.
I just read Lee Pfeiffer's notice of Mitch Miller's passing. Part of
one sentence struck me as being awfully peculiar: the bit about Miller's
being mentioned in Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Because he ain't.
Here's the lyrics. If you can find Mitch in here, please let me know where because I'm missing something.
All the best,
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide No escape from reality Open your eyes Look up to the skies and see I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy Because I'm easy come, easy go A little high, little low Anyway the wind blows, doesn't really matter to me, to me
Mama, just killed a man Put a gun against his head Pulled my trigger, now he's dead Mama, life had just begun But now I've gone and thrown it all away Mama, ooo Didn't mean to make you cry If I'm not back again this time tomorrow Carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters
Too late, my time has come Sends shivers down my spine Body's aching all the time Goodbye everybody - I've got to go Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth Mama, ooo - (anyway the wind blows) I don't want to die I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all
I see a little silhouetto of a man Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango Thunderbolt and lightning - very very frightening me Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo Figaro - magnifico
But I'm just a poor boy and nobody loves me He's just a poor boy from a poor family Spare him his life from this monstrosity Easy come easy go - will you let me go Bismillah! No - we will not let you go - let him go Bismillah! We will not let you go - let him go Bismillah! We will not let you go - let me go Will not let you go - let me go (never) Never let you go - let me go Never let me go - ooo No, no, no, no, no, no, no - Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me for me for me
So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye So you think you can love me and leave me to die Oh baby - can't do this to me baby Just gotta get out - just gotta get right outta here
Ooh yeah, ooh yeah Nothing really matters Anyone can see Nothing really matters - nothing really matters to me
Anyway the wind blows...
Retro Responds: Bryon, we always take delight in debunking false urban legends - especially if we have been unintentionally complicit in spreading them. The line in question reads "Bismillah" - which many people have thought to be "Mitch Miller!". So widespread was this belief that when the song first came out, people at parties would sing "Mitch Miller!" and that false notion was repeated throughout the mainstream media in Miller's obituary. The premise that Mitch Miller might have been mentioned in the Queen classic didn't strike anyone as particularly absurd, given the fact that the song haphazardly name drops other seemingly disconnected prominent people, albeit in retrospect, Mitch Miller wouldn't have the same historical significance as Galileo or Beelzebub. I confess to never having heard the word "bismillah", but some research shows it is an Arabic term for "The Word of God." Thank you for setting the record straight on this erroneous legend- but please don't try to convince me that Elvis isn't alive and shacking up with elderly James Dean. - Lee Pfeiffer
Retro Responds: Thanks for the head's up, Joe...your site continues to provide more entertainment through your presentation of cult trailers than most contemporary feature films do!- Lee Pfeiffer
It is a shame that the UK branch of TCM doesn't often show films as
interesting or varied as Robert Hartford Davis' Corruption (actual
copyright is 1967). It will be interesting to see whether you goes over
the pond get the UK edit, or the much more gory/sexy European cut. The
latter has an extraodinary (no to say offensive) scene where Cushing
attacks a topless woman with a knife, and wipes his bloodied hands all
over her bare breasts after he kills her. He then proceeds to hack off
her head! The only version of this film I have seen was this nastier
edit under the title Laser Killer; a bootleg taken off a substandard
French VHS. Let us all know which edit you guys get?
Retro Responds: That's interesting, Rick...I didn't realize there were different versions of the film. As I have it already on DVD, perhaps some stalwart readers will alert us as to which version TCM shows this weekend. - Lee Pfeiffer
I really like the ideas being posted for a DVD of A Man Called Dagger.
Another action flick that is impossible to find on DVD, or even VHS, is
Blake Edward's Gunn, a feature film version of his famous Peter Gunn
film. I have always wanted to see this movie, but there have been no
videos, trailers, or even a soundtrack album. The only things I have
seen of this rather elusive film are the poster, and a semi-nude
publicity still of Sherry Jackson. Fans of Peter Gunn, Blake Edwards,
Henry Mancini, and Ms. Jackson would love to finally see this lost
treasure if it still exists somewhere. Please.-
Retro Responds: Good suggestion, Steven. Despite the fact that Edwards directed the film, it's largely been buried over the years. Did you know that William Friedkin was approached to direct it? He blatantly told Edwards and screenwriter William Peter Blatty that he hated the script. Blatty so admired Friedkin's honesty that he suggested him as the director of The Exorcist years later.- Lee Pfeiffer
Well, nothing is more exciting (kind of Christmas in May) than when I
open my mailbox and that white plastic package calls to me to open,
open!! Now I'm just a some times documentary filmmaker and a regular
reader of Cinema Retro and it is the joy of this publication that pulls
all of us fans together! Issue volume 6 # 17 is the most packed with the
finest variety of articles ever. I always read each issue with great
interest but I am currently salivating over each and every article with a
kid's excitement. The Valerie Leon article is fantastic!The wonderful How The
West Was Won piece : how cool to see and read about the making of that
film. Dave Worrall's Storm in a D-Cup tribute to June Wilkinson is delicious and tasty...and I have waited
so long to get more insights on the making of The Haunting - perfection!
Well I could go on and
on but I need to get back to what I think will be a very quick sell out
issue. So much thanks from us regular guys and gals who are fans of Cinema Retro. BRAVO! I will
always renew and rejoice in Cinema Retro!- Paul Jilbert
Retro responds: Paul, the check is in the mail! Seriously, it's letters like these that keep us motivated. Niche market publishing is a tough business in these times but we find that people like yourself who support Cinema Retro by subscribing are always very excited by the content. A lot of talented people from around the world contribute to every issue and we couldn't do it without them. We do urge our web site readers to help support our efforts by at least sampling one issue. We think they'll see why so many world class actors and filmmakers are part of the Cinema Retro universe. Thanks again for your support.
I noticed that the Charlton Heston film Dark City from 1950 will be available on DVD this July. Now if they would only release these other prominent Heston films: Counterpoint (1968), Number One (1969), The Hawaiians (1970), Antony and Cleopatra (1972) and Mother Lode (1982).
- William Burge
Retro Responds: To that list, we would add The Private War of Major Benson, The Pigeon That Took Rome, 55 Days at Peking, The Awakening (released on DVD in the UK, but not the USA), The Last Hard Men, and Cecil B. DeMille's The Buccaneer and The President's Lady with Chuck playing Andrew Jackson in both of the latter films. We'd also like to finally see a widescreen release of The Mountain Men instead of the pan-and-scan version currently available.- Lee Pfeiffer
With nearly 1000 members, after only two months, The Classic TV
Preservation Society has become the fasting growing classic television
group on Facebook.The interest and enthusiasm for the group is extensive.As such, I have been motivated to formalize the group with events
planned for the Fall of 2010 and 2011.
The first event will be a Committee Dinner Meeting (for the Fall of
2010) and the second event will be an all-out, celebrity-filled Weekend
Celebration (for the Fall of 2011).I am seeking an LA-based group of volunteers to work on the
formulation of the group and its events.
Please contact me at email@example.com if you are interested in joining the Planning
Committee, as I am seeking to hold our first meeting - in Los Angeles -
as soon as possible.
I recently discovered Cinema Retro Magazine, and I just wanted to tell
you how happy I am to find a publication devoted to classic films. Not
only am I a big fan of retro movies, I am something of mash-up editor
with a penchant for retro sensibilities... Please check out some of my
mash-ups if you get the chance. I think you folks will enjoy them.
Here's a link to my Youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/whoiseyevan
up the great work!
Retro responds: Excellent work, Ivan...our readers will really enjoy your clever mixing of original film trailers with new concepts. I especially like the way you turned Gone With the Wind into a vampire flick!- Lee Pfeiffer
Thank you for your preview of The
restoration and release on DVD and Blu-ray. Now I can finally sell my
version. The questions that have perplexed me are why have the rights to
African Queen changed hands, how did Paramount acquire it and why the
delay in releasing this title on DVD? Hollywood is an industry that
to double and triple-dip movie releases on DVD and someone has lost a
this classic which should have been released over 10 years ago.
Retro responds: Doug, the film has a long and convoluted history in terms of ownership. This goes back to the fact that the film's producer, Sam Spiegel had some complicated financing deals in place in order to produce it. The movie was considered a major failure in terms of artistry - right up until it actually premiered and was highly acclaimed. Over the decades, the rights to the movie changed hands. Some of this background is discussed in the documentary on the new DVD. Ron Smith, who headed the restoration team, said it took years for Paramount to secure the video rights. Incidentally, we just conducted an in-depth interview with Ron about the restoration which we'll be presenting in the near future.
Oh, Lee, I have no problem with an article on celebrity
celebrities; they're inherently objectified. But why is it necessary to
say such an article "unites all movie fans"?
Please remember that many,
many movie fans are not cleavage-drooling straight males. It is really not too
much to ask that when you think of fans, you think beyond the constraints of your own orientation and genitalia.
Retro responds: Gosh, Deborah - won't anybody give middle-aged, white, cleavage-drooling, straight males a break? Actually, you are right...I should have said that the cleavage at the Oscars article (which actually ran on the Huffington Post- we just linked to it), had united "cleavage-drooling, straight male" movie fans all over the globe. We obviously don't know your sexual orientation, but if its any consolation, please keep in mind that we often run equal-time photos of hunky male stars and routinely get favorable letters from both straight women and gay guys for doing so. We have always provided an equal-opportunity for straight, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and trans-gender droolers around the world. To prove it, see early cheesecake photo of Clint Eastwood above. Now that we've resolved all of this, I'm going back to my drooling, which, by the way is not limited to ogling photos of sexy women (as anyone who has had the misfortune of watching me eat a bowl of chili can attest)-Lee Pfeiffer
I just picked up the latest issue of Cinema Reto today. Full marks to
Tim Greaves for finally giving Lust for a Vampire it's just due. I have always
thought this was a very fine film and that all the fuss about the song
"Strange Love" was absurd. A lovely song which by all means doesn't
ruin the film by its inclusion. Regarding the alternate "clothed"
scenes. These did surface in the U.S. on television. When the film shown a few
times on Channel 7 in Los Angeles the print was titled To Love a Vampire and the
alternate clothed scenes of both the dormitorygirls and Judy Matheson's
seduction were included.
I actually met Yutte Stensgaard a number of years ago when she had
"disappeared". I was working in Beverly Hills and this lovely woman
came into the office from the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. I instantly
recognized her as Yutte Stensgaard. She was less than pleased to be recognized
and refused to give me her autograph or discuss her films. I assured her that
Lust for a Vampire was nothing to be ashamed of and that she had a considerable
cult following. I felt badly that she was so down on her film career. But I
heard that she later re-evaluated this and was more comfortable discussing her
Retro Responds: Many thanks for the support, Gary...and thanks for the update on Ms. Stensgaard. Like many actors and actresses who starred in "B" or cult movies, they sometimes felt ashamed of their participation in such films. However, as they see the genuine affection they have accumulated from fans over the decades, these artists often eventually take pride in the fact they were part of the film's legacies. If it's any consolation to Ms. Stensgaard, the issue bearing her cover is proving to be one hot seller for Cinema Retro!
I had not heard of Cinema Retro until I heard about the
interview with David Hedison about Richard Basehart. Then I read the
first part of the story about Richard Basehart and was glad to find this
website. So much about people I remembered from films and television of
my childhood. I just rediscovered Richard Basehart and David Hedison with
the release of the DVD's of "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea".
I have been viewing the films of both actors, and have gained a greater
appreciation of Richard Basehart's acting ability. He was so much
underrated as an actor. Even when the scripts on "Voyage" were
not as good as they could have been, Richard Basehart put the effort into his
role to make it good throughout the life the series. The chemistry
between Richard Basehart and David Hedison helped keep the series
exciting. Thank you for giving us a wonderful website.
- Sue Clark
Retro responds: Thanks very much, Sue. Herb Shadrak's article about Mr. Basehart has certainly generated a good response. I think there are plenty of people who appreciate it when under-rated actors are given their due on our site. We'll be posting an article shortly about a website devoted entirely to Mr. Basehart's work.
Dear Cinema Retro:
The reason I love and subscribe to Cinema Retro is because you understand just
how great actors like Richard Basehart really were. I grew up with Richard
Basehart watching Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea when I was just 6 years old -
then later on discovered him in his many film roles. Everything he was in was
improved because of his talent. He had something very very few actors have
today -quality. No matter what the
part, he brought an air of quality to the portrayal, and the movie/show. Thank
you for keeping the memory and appreciation of great actors like Richard
Lancaster, PA USA
Retro Responds: Thank you,Patrick and all the other readers who support our endeavors by subscribing to the magazine. Of course, all the credit has to go to writer Herb Shadrak and the many other talented writers from around the world who so generously provide these articles. I don't mind bragging a bit on their behalf by pointing out that these people are the best of the best and their dedication to keeping the artists and films from the Golden Age of cinema in public focus is appreciated by movie fans around the world. The Waynes, Gables and Bogarts of the world will always be celebrated, but it is the under-rated talents like Richard Basehart whose work benefits so much from the dedication of our writers. I can't tell you how many people say they watched certain films they were unaware of because of articles in our magazine and on our web site. It gives us a great deal of satisfaction to know that artists who might otherwise be ignored are having their work appreciated once again. - Lee Pfeiffer
Since your inception as a magazine I am on
board and loved each and every issue and the special issue. Your
site is also great to read every day but today I found it sad to read that you
take a person like Heather Mills as subject for an item on your
blog! What does Heather Mills have to do with your concept of retro
movies from the golden decades of movie
I try to stay away from the type of
readings like Hello and OK magazine with all the fake people like the Victoria
Beckhams, David Beckhams, Lindsay Lohans,... of this world and all those types
of non stars. So to see now this, it is sad that you devote an
item to a person who started in London as a ruthless high class hooker to work
way up the greed ladder to becoming Paul McCartney's wife and now using her fake
prominence to gather still money and spend on plastic surgery and what
Please stop giving us this crap of entries!
Mirko di Wallenberg
Retro responds: Ouch, that hurts! We appreciate your loyalty, Mirko, but as we've pointed out on previous occasions, while our magazine sticks with films of the 60s and 70s, our web site covers a much broader canvas and contains commentary on personalities across the board of the entertainment industry. We publish numerous articles every day and it would be very difficult to just stick with stories about older movies. Naturally, not every article will appeal to every reader, but I think you're over-reacting. This is one article out of well over a thousand we have posted on line. When you read a newspaper, you don't expect every single article to be of interest to you, and it's the same with web sites. Just glance down the articles currently on our home page...virtually every single one has relevance to the subjects that interest you. We only very rarely even mention the name of lightweight "celebrities" such as Ms. Mills. We just can't stand the hypocrisy of some public personalities and call them out when we can. By the way, we are also celebrating our third anniversary of being a "Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton- Free Zone." And to show you there are differences of opinions, see letter below. - Lee Pfeiffer
It's about time someone called out Heather Mills for using charity work as a way of boosting her reputation. What a shame that a true humanitarian like Paul McCartney would have been so short-sighted to have gotten involved with someone like this. Thanks for helping to expose her. I always enjoy the broad subject range of your web site and would like to suggest more reviews of DVDs that many readers may not be aware are out. I just read your review of The Internecine Project with James Coburn and ordered the DVD. If it wasn't for you guys, I wouldn't have even known about this movie.
Retro responds: Thanks, Jim. Regarding those DVD reviews, look for an increase in the number of articles pertaining to more obscure releases by niche market DVD labels in the weeks to come. There are some great titles out there that we'll be showcasing. The same will be true with giving exposure to many interesting book titles that don't often get the proper exposure. And by the way, none of the DVDs or books will feature Heather Mills! - Lee Pfeiffer
I'm writing to you today because it's January 31st and that was
the birthday of the late James Franciscus, who would be 76 today.
Probably best recalled now for only BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES
(1970), Franciscus was part of a crop of handsome TV actors (he was the
original star of THE NAKED CITY TV series) in the late fifties who
longed for movie star status (and likely watched with burning
resentment in the sixties as Steve McQueen shot past them all).
Franciscus tried for that brass ring several times (anyone remember
YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE from 1964?) only to return again and again to series
television to support his family. Jane Fonda's "first" (according to
her recent autobiography), Franciscus had a reasonably successful
acting career by most standards, but was reportedly bitter that he
never gained real leading man status in films and died young and rather
tragically in 1991 from emphysema caused by a suicidally dumb
four-pack-a-day smoking habit. The attached image from his best
remembered film is not meant as a tasteless joke, but a poetic comment
on the sad fate of this once promising "Hollywood" actor. - Rory Monteith
Retro responds: Thanks for your tribute to an often overlooked actor. Franciscus - like so many other actors- lived in the shadows of contemporaries who went on to greater things. Still, the fact that his name is still well known among movie and TV fans is an indication that he did gain respect in the industry. I always thought he must have felt awkward in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Fox did all they could to get Charlton Heston to star again, but all they could muster was a brief cameo that he reluctantly performed. Thus, Franciscus was groomed to be a virtual clone of Heston and while the resemblance was remarkable, he must have felt somewhat belittled by this process- especially in the scenes in which he had to perform with Heston. Still, he was a good, sold leading man and his talents are missed.- Lee Pfeiffer
There are some of us who remembered James
Franciscus from his stint as TV's "Mr. Novak", when we heard he would be in the
sequel to "Planet of the Apes"! I can remember feeling embarrassed for Mr.
Franciscus, as it was so obvious to we, the audience, that he was supposed to be
a "clone" of Heston. However, we enjoyed his performance anyhow. (Heston and Franciscus are
so great when they finally meet on screen, it was like watching two long lost
brothers! ) Franciscus was better served in that under appreciated Harryhausen
epic, "Valley of Gwangi". But we fans really rooted for him as the blind
investigator cum martial artist, Longstreet. Sort of a precursor (in the U.S.
anyway) of Zatoichi minus the sword! It is good to see he is well appreciated
by his fans!--A. Rivera, New York, NY
I absolutely love the Where Eagles Dare Special Tribute Issue. It is
the best behind the scenes history of a film magazine that I have ever
seen. I hope that this will be the first of many special film tribute
issues that you will release in the future. May I suggest that the
following films would make for very interesting special tribute issues
in the future.
2. The Great Escape
3. Kelly's Heroes
4. The Magnificent Seven
5. The Wild Bunch
I hope that you will seriously consider my suggestions for future special film tribute editions. Keep up the good work!
Retro responds: Thanks for the kind words, Jay. We really appreciate all the support that our readers gave us for the Where Eagles Dare issue. We especially appreciate the efforts of over twenty contributors from around the world to make this issue a reality. Your suggestions are all great ones and are on our "must do" list. We're now researching for a major article on Kelly's Heroes for a future edition of the magazine, though it won't be a Movie Classics special. As for The Great Escape, we did some extensive coverage on the making of the film in Cinema Retro issue#1, which is still available as a back issue. Stay tuned for some announcements regarding our most ambitious project ever, the forthcoming Movie Classics special on the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone Dollars films that will include an abundance of rare photos, including some that have never been published before. Meanwhile, if you don't have Where Eagles Dare issue, supplies are rapidly dwindling. Click here for ordering info.