One of the most idiosyncratic and
inventive voices of genre filmmaking to emerge in the 1970s was Jeff Lieberman
(born 1947), whose three best known films, Squirm (1976) Blue
Sunshine (1978) and Just Before Dawn (1981) have become
classics of horror and sci-fi. Cited as an influence on such directors as Eli
Roth and Quentin Tarantino (the latter lists Squirm as an essential
viewing if he’s to take you seriously), Lieberman’s filmmaking captures the
low-budget resourcefulness of Roger Corman and combines it with a singular
point of view -- one that seems both quirky and at times, deliriously demented.
Here at Cinema Retro, these are
exactly the types of directors we enjoy tipping our hat to. So I’m excited to
announce that I’ve organized a tribute to Lieberman built around these three
films with the generous participation and hosting of Anthology Film Archives in
New York City, where the retrospective will take place, August 17-19th. (www.anthologyfilmarchives.org)
“3 X Jeff Lieberman” will mark the
first time these three films have been screened in 35mm in New York since their
theatrical premieres, a remarkable event considering how much word-of-mouth
cachet each has, like prized baseball trading cards for cult film fans.
“It all comes down to story,” Lieberman
often says in interviews, and watching these three films, it’s clear why. All
three cohere around a tight, well crafted narrative that does not look to the
supernatural as the locus of horror, but at the inherently corrupt nature of
people as a means to bespoil nature and society. It’s a tough-minded, cynical
worldview that runs throughout his work, and the man himself. Perhaps updating
the famous line from Sartre’s No Exit, “hell is other people,”
Lieberman’s work is shot through with an even simpler maxim: Humanity is
Lieberman’s first film credit was
co-authoring the screenplay for the police thriller Blade (1973),
directed by his mentor Ernest Pintoff, but his debut as a writer-director came
in 1976 when his AIP-distributed Squirm burst upon drive-in
screens and became a sizeable hit, considering its low budget. The fictional
town of Fly Creek, Georgia is terrorized by a killer worm infestation after a
thunderstorm, which sends power lines crashing to the ground and electrifying
the ground -- and thousands of earthworms -- in the process. As a result, they
go on a killer rampage, invading homes and most shockingly, burrowing into
their victims’ skin. It stars a young Don Scardino (Cruising, He
Knows You’re Alone) as Mick, the interloping city-slicker beau of Geri
Sanders (Patricia Pearcy) the local redhead beauty of Fly Creek. Together with
Geri’s sister Alma (Fran Higgins), they attempt to survive the killer worm
onslaught overnight, without power and without a clue as to what has happened
Squirm-- still Lieberman’s most popular film -- feels like a
double-feature twin to 1972’s Frogs (1972, with Sam Elliott), another
swampy, “nature’s revenge” tale of eco-horror put out by AIP. Featuring
early makeup work by eventual seven-time Oscar-winner Rick Baker, and
co-starring thousands of real worms, the film was shot on location in Port
Wentworth, Georgia and aside from Don Scardino, used a cast made up mostly of
locals, who contribute to its earthy and authentic atmosphere, not unlike the
drive-in mainstay The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), which was shot in
similar circumstances. And speaking of earthy, we should pay special tribute to
the actors, who braved thousands and thousands of real live earthworms on set.
Not a rubber worm among them! The original idea, Lieberman revealed to an
interviewer this year, came from a real event. His brother, in order to get
earthworms out of the ground, electrified the soil inserting a electric model
train transformer into the soil. When they slithered out, they noticed they
burrowed back in when light was shined on them. But are earthworms scary? Not
in real life, but as Lieberman explained: “I had to go to great lengths to make
[the worms] scary, because they’re not scary...until you’re shown otherwise you
can just step on it. So I had to make that scary by it burrowing into the
face...so that was the big assignment and I guess it worked.” An interesting
footnote: When a 25 year-old Lieberman wrote the original title on a legal pad,
(then spelled Skworm) and sketched down a paragraph containing the
story, he showed it to his wife. “She said it was the stupidest idea she’d ever
heard. Two years later we’re buying a house with the money that Squirm built.”
Sony has just released the new full length trailer for the new James Bond film, Skyfall, as well as these two new photos showing Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem. This one emphasizes plot line as much as action sequences and features quite a bit of footage of Bardem as the villain Silva. There are some spectacularly filmed shots by cinematographer Roger Deakins and very intriguing scenarios. They also resurrect the James Bond theme, a welcome addition that we hope extends to the feature film. Bring it on! Click here to view
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises,”
the much-anticipated final chapter in writer-director Christopher Nolan’s Batman film trilogy has been adapted
into an official tie-in novel written by award-winning author Greg Cox and
published by Titan Books, under a licensing agreement with Warner Bros.
Novelist Greg Cox is no stranger to Batman or the DC Comics universe, having
written the official novelizations for such major comic book storylines as Infinite Crisis (2006), 52 (2007), Countdown (2009), and Final
Crisis (2010). He has produced numerous bestselling adaptations and
original novels based on Star Trek, Underworld, Warehouse 13, and other popular properties. His original novel Terminator Salvation: Cold War won the
2010 Scribe Award for tie-in fiction, and CSI:
Headhunter took the award in 2009.
“Batman is one of the most iconic characters of
popular culture,” Titan Publisher Nick Landau said. “We’re tremendously excited
to work with Warner Bros. on the novelization of ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’
especially since it is the culmination of everything Christopher Nolan has done
with his amazing trilogy. This is a part of motion picture history.”
The publishing of Titan Books’ The Dark Knight Rises on Tuesday, July 24, was timed to coincide
with the Warner Bros. Pictures release of “The Dark Knight Rises,” which opened
in theatres on Friday, July 20, 2012.
About “The Dark Knight Rises”
Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises” is the epic
conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman
all-star international cast, Oscar® winner Christian Bale (“The
Fighter”) again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film also stars
Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Oscar® winner
Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”), as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt,
as John Blake.
Returning to the
main cast, Oscar® winner Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”) plays
Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Oscar® winner Morgan
Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) reprises the role of Lucius Fox.
is written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan
& David S. Goyer. The film is
produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Charles Roven, who previously
teamed on “Batman Begins” and the record-breaking blockbuster “The Dark
Knight.” The executive producers are
Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull, with
Jordan Goldberg serving as co-producer. The film is based upon characters
appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by Bob Kane.
“The Dark Knight
Rises” is a presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with
Legendary Pictures. Slated for release
on July 20, 2012, the film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros.
Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
About Titan Publishing Group
Titan Publishing Group is an
independently owned publishing company, established in 1981, comprising three
divisions: Titan Books, Titan Magazines/Comics and Titan Merchandise. Titan
Books' rapidly growing fiction list encompasses original fiction and reissues,
primarily in the areas of science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk and
crime. Titan Books also has an extensive line of media and pop culture-related
non-fiction, graphic novels, art and music books. The company is based at
offices in London, but operates worldwide, with sales and distribution in the
US & Canada being handled by Random House.
About Warner Bros. Consumer
Warner Bros. Consumer Products, a
Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is one of the leading licensing and retail
merchandising organizations in the world.
About DC Entertainment
home to iconic brands DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman,
The Flash), Vertigo (Sandman, Fables) and MAD, is the creative division charged
with strategically integrating its content across Warner Bros. Entertainment and
Time Warner. DC Entertainment works in concert with many key Warner Bros.
divisions to unleash its stories and characters across all media, including but
not limited to film, television, consumer products, home entertainment and
interactive games. Publishing thousands of comic books, graphic novels and
magazines each year, DC Entertainment is the largest English-language publisher
of comics in the world. In January 2012, DC Entertainment, in
collaboration with Warner Bros. and Time Warner divisions, launched We Can Be
Heroes—a giving campaign featuring the iconic Justice League super heroes—to
raise awareness and funds to fight the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.
1959-60, the distinguished Quebec actor Gilles Pelletier (who had earlier
appeared in Otto Preminger’s The 13th
Letter and in Alfred Hitchcock’s I
Confess) came to Ottawa to shoot 39 episodes of the R.C.M.P. television series, coproduced by Crawley Films, the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the British Broadcasting Corporation.
producer F.R. “Budge” Crawley cast Pelletier as Corporal Jacques Gagnier, a
Mountie working at a detachment in rural northern Saskatchewan. Interiors were
shot on a brand-new soundstage near Ottawa at Old Chelsea, Quebec. Exteriors
were filmed in nearby Aylmer, Quebec, and in Outlook, Saskatchewan, which stood
in for the fictional western town of Shamattawa, the center of the action of
this contemporary adventure series.
a Québécois in the lead role was considered a gutsy move at the time, but
Crawley was ahead of the curve in acknowledging the “French fact” on Canadian television,
according to Pelletier. (Crawley went on to produce the Oscar-winning 1975 documentary
The Man Who Skied Down Everest.)
Co-starring in R.C.M.P. as Gagnier’s
sidekick Constable Bill Mitchell was Don Francks, later a series regular on La Femme Nikita and co-star in Todd
Haynes’ Bob Dylan “biography” I’m Not
all that talent on board, why did R.C.M.P.
only last one season? The show was well produced. Crawley partnered with
the CBC, the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and figured it would
be a snap to break into international TV markets, especially in the United
States. R.C.M.P. was a
crisply-shot, realistic and sometimes extremely violent crime drama which stood
in stark contrast to the usual stagebound and fusty Canadian television
programming of the time. Influenced by the
European neorealist school of filmmaking, the show
had the look and feel of a documentary, very convincingly conveying the dismal
Canadian ambience (especially in wintertime) and the homegrown criminal element
of small-town Canada. R.C.M.P. more
than held its own against similar U.S. TV fare.
to Pelletier, what was overlooked was the fact that the American TV networks,
distributors and producers operated like a closed circuit. They weren’t interested
in buying a foreign TV series unless they had a hand in its production from the
word “go”, and Crawley wouldn’t allow that. He said if they had that kind of
control, R.C.M.P. would lose its
distinctively Canadian cachet and be like any other American-style series.
When Eon Productions went into production on the 1985 film version of Ian Fleming's short story From a View to a Kill, it was announced that the unusual title would be kept intact for the movie. However, marketing tests showed that the title was confusing to moviegoers, hence the From was dropped and the film was titled A View to a Kill. Jason Whiton of the excellent web site SpyVibe provides insights into Fleming's short story and provides illustrations of how it was presented in a 1964 men's skin magazine, Swank. Click here to view.
On the January 11 1966 episode of NBC sitcom Please Don't Eat the Daisies (inspired by the Doris Day/David Niven feature film), the kids suspect their father is a secret agent. This is reaffirmed when he has a chance encounter with Man From U.N.C.L.E. star David McCallum, in an early example of cross-promotion of two popular TV shows. The surprise ending has dad calling in someone to convince his boys that he is not a spy. To the surprise of no one, that person turns out to be McCallum's fellow U.N.C.L.E. star Robert Vaughn, seen here in a publicity photo. The show had the desired effect at the time, with kids enthusiastically talking about the cameos the next day. The only question we have is: where are those sweatshirts today? They would be worth a fortune on eBay!
It may seem hard to believe in this day of comic-book inspired blockbusters, but a mere twenty years ago, there was so little interest in adapting comic heroes to the big screen that some of the most legendary pop culture characters were relegated to cheap movies funded by second rung studios. Such was the case with Captain America, shot in 1990 and plagued by problems since the first day of shooting. The film was a production of 21st Century Films, the company owned by legendary schlockmeister Menahem Golan. The movie, which was championed by Marvel's Stan Lee at the time as a wonderful achievement, was originally beset by financial problems. The money dried up, forcing director Albert Pyun to make compromises in terms of special effects and sets. The film was shelved and did not receive a theatrical release in America, although it was seen in the international market.
The movie opens in fascist Italy with a chilling sequence in which a boy genius is forcibly removed from his family, who are then slaughtered in front of his eyes. He is subjected to a cruel and brutal experiment that sees him emerge with extraordinary powers and intelligence, though he is horrendously disfigured. The plan is to produce a master army of such young men to fight for the Axis powers. The person who emerges from the experiment has a twisted mind and is so badly scarred that he is called The Red Skull (Scott Paulin). However, the scientist who designed the formula for the experiment disdains that her achievement will be used for evil purposes. She escapes to America where she offers her talents to the Allies. A polio-stricken young man, Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger) volunteers to be the subject of the first experiment to produce an American super soldier. (The process having been refined to eliminate the disfigurement of the patient.) The plan works and Rogers emerges, not only having been cured of polio, but possessing uncanny strength. However, a Nazi sympathizer kills his mentor, leaving him to be the only living example of the Allies' super soldier. He is given a virtually indestructible costume and a shield with boomerang capabilities. He's also named Captain America (the US never misses a beat when it comes to marketing.) On his one and only war time mission, Captain America succeeds in preventing a German rocket from hitting the White House, but he ends up crash landing in the Alaskan wilderness where he is frozen in ice for decades. A team of scientists accidentally discovers him in 1990 and he is immediately sought by the U.S. government to resume his battle with the Red Skull, whose physical appearance has now been altered to allow him to pass as an influential tycoon. The Red Skull has corrupt corporate bigwigs on his side, along with a high ranking American general.
Although this pre-blockbuster version of Captain America is routinely knocked by Marvel fans, there is much to recommend in this modestly-budgeted adventure film. For one, the casting of Matt Salinger as Steve Rogers is good choice. Salinger, who never gained major stardom, gives a fine performance as the titular hero, maintaining a sense of wonderment at his new powers. Some of the film's best scenes find him trying to adjust to life in 1990, having been under ice since the 1940s. He knows nothing about the great historic figures and events of those missing years and is understandably dazed and confused by modern life (and he doesn't even have to cope with such future inventions as PCs and cell phones). Unsure of who is friend or foe, he avoids everyone as he tries to make his way back to his long-lost finance. In a poignant sequence, he reunites with her, but the obvious age differences (and the fact she is happily married) dooms their chances of resuming their love affair. Fortunately, his ex has a hip, sexy daughter (Kim Gillingham, who plays both mother and daughter) who willingly joins him on his eventual quest to find and defeat the Red Skull, who is lodged in an ancient Italian castle surrounded by his own sexy (but murderous) daughter and an army of henchmen.
The film is uneven throughout and the finale is rather lamely staged, with Captain America joined by his new girlfriend and the President of the United States, who is being held captive in the castle. Most improbably, both of these new allies are almost equally adept at street fighting as the super hero himself. There are far too many blandly staged chase sequences and the villains, aside from a fine performance by Scott Paulin as the Red Skull, are just cardboard characters with no interesting personality traits. Still, director Albert Pyun does a lot with very little and the final sequences in Croatia lend a bit of much-needed exoticism to the proceedings. The film features real life old buddies and Deliverance co-stars Ronny Cox (very funny as the hip U.S. President) and Ned Beatty, but sadly no one thought to write a scene for them to appear in together.
The master print for this DVD is disappointing and is rumored to be the same transfer used ages ago for a laser disc release. MGM does state at the beginning of every DVD that the transfers are made from the best source materials available. Given the current craze for Marvel heroes, they should consider investing in a major overhaul of this title. Director Pyun has stated over the years that his original director's cut of the movie is far superior than the butchered version seen by the public. A Blu-ray, extended version is supposedly in the works.
Captain America is available through most major on-line DVD retailers.
Joe Dante's Trailers From Hell web site presents the original theatrical trailer for MGM's bizarre sex comedy/murder mystery Pretty Maids All in Row. The 1971 film remains one of the most sexist and politically incorrect movies ever released by a major studio. Rock Hudson stars as a horny high school coach who has the pick of the litter in terms of gorgeous and willing schoolgirls. His amorous activities are compromised when someone starts killing off his bed mates. The film, directed by Roger Vadim, features a stellar cast including Angie Dickinson, Roddy McDowall, Telly Savalas and Keenan Wynn. On the Trailers From Hell site, director John Landis provides some amusing insights about the movie. Click here to view
The year was 1957 when rising sex symbol Sophia Loren fell victim to notorious up-stager Jayne Mansfield at a Beverly Hills dinner event. Mansfield was a camera hog who didn't let her limited talents discourage her from trying to steal the limelight from every other female sex symbol. Sophia's expression speaks volumes.
Sean Connery in Zardoz: looking like a pitch man for adult incontinence products!
The pop culture web site Detour has a brief homage to director John Boorman's ill-fated 1973 sci-fi epic Zardoz (referred to by many as Zardoze) The bizarre futuristic tale involved immortality, slavery, sex-obsessed women and The Wizard of Oz. It's the kind of movie that should alarm you if it starts making sense to you. Nevertheless, we have affection for the film and are among those who consider "Boorman's Folly" to be an intriguing, thought-provoking gem. Where else can you see Sean Connery (who replaced Burt Reynolds in the leading role) strutting his stuff in what looks like a red Depends diaper, while Charlotte Rampling runs amok starkers. For more click here
Click here to order Zardoz from the Cinema Retro Amazon Movie Store- only $9.98!
Chad Everett, who rose to stardom as Dr. Joe Gannon in the popular 1970s TV series Medical Center, has died from cancer at age 75. Everett began guest starring on popular TV series throughout the 1960s including such favorites as Maverick, Hawaiian Eye and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He gained major stardom through his role on Medical Center which ran from 1969-1976. He earned two Golden Globes and an Emmy nomination for his work on the series. Over the decades, Everett remained a popular fixture on TV, guest-starring on hit shows such as Murder, She Wrote, Melrose Place, Cold Case and Castle. He also had a key role in David Lynch's acclaimed 2001 feature film Mulholland Drive. For more click here
TV legend Sherman Hemsley has died at age 74. Circumstances of his death are still unclear but no foul play is suspected. Hemsley, a former post office worker, drifted into acting in stage productions before he was cast by Norman Lear in the hit sitcom All in the Family. He guest-starred as George Jefferson, an African American version of Carroll O'Connor's Archie Bunker, as both characters were bigots who still maintained admirable traits. The character of George Jefferson, a successful Harlem businessman, was innovative on television in that he channeled much of the black community's frustrations over prejudice and intolerance. Hemsley's performance was so well-received that Lear spun him off into his own sitcom, The Jeffersons, from 1975-1985. On that show, Hemsley's foil was his wise-cracking, no nonsense wife Weezie (Isabele Sanford). Following that show, Hemsley had a five year run in anothet hit sitcom, Amen. He continued to appear in popular TV shows and provided voice overs for many characters. Hemsley was planning on starring in a revival of his first hit play Purlie. For more click here
I admit it. I am a Troy Donahue fan.
There I said it. Not surprising since I love and have been writing about
Sixties starlets for over ten years. If there ever was a male version of a
starlet, it was Troy. I purchased the DVD box set Warner Bros. Romance Classics
Collection featuring four of his early Sixties movies and recently viewed My Blood Runs Cold (1964) from Warner
Bros Archive as a DVD-on-Demand. The pairing of Troy Donahue as a loon and Joey
Heatherton as the blonde he desires in this suspense film didn’t burn up the
silver screens across the country and left most critics cold, but the coupling
of America’s favorite bland blonde boy with the Ann-Margret wannabe made for
bad cinema you just got to love.
By 1964 Troy Donahue had reached super
stardom and was one of the most popular young actors at the time, but he was
extremely unhappy with the roles being offered him. He could be lackluster at
times and was by no means a great actor, but with his looks Troy didn’t have to
be, as his boy-next-door charisma made teenage girls (and some men) swoon. His
film career began in 1957 with small roles in a number of films including Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), Summer Love (19580, Live Fast, Die Young (1958), and Monster on the Campus (1958) before he was cast opposite Sandra Dee
as tortured naïve young lovers in A
Summer Place (1959) for Warner Bros. The film, beautifully filmed off the
coast of Carmel, California doubling for Maine and featuring a lush score by
Max Steiner, was a huge hit especially with the teenage set. The studio wisely
then signed Donahue (who shared the Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer –
Male for his performance) to a contract. He then co-starred on the lightweight
TV detective series Surfside 6
(1960-62) in between essaying the romantic leading man in a series of glossy
romances (most directed by Delmer Daves) opposite some of the prettiest
starlets of the day.
Writer-director Frank Pierson has died at age 87. Among his screen credits were the screenplays for two acclaimed Sidney Lumet films, The Anderson Tapes and Dog Day Afternoon. He also wrote the screenplays for Presumed Innocent, Cool Hand Luke and the hit 1976 remake of A Star is Born starring Barbra Streisand. Pierson also directed that film. He also earned the respect of the industry by serving as President of the Writers Guild of America, West and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Pierson had also been very active in television with writing credits dating from such classic shows as The Naked City and Have Gun, Will Travel to contemporary shows such as Mad Men and The Good Wife. For more click here
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from the British Film Institute:
The BFI is
pleased to announce that the grand finale of The Genius of Hitchcock project
(June – October 2012) will be the BFI London Film Festival’s Archive Gala
screening, presented in association with The Krasner Fund for the BFI, of the
world premiere of the BFI National Archive’s new restoration of Hitchcock’sThe Manxman(1929). This powerful love triangle
set among the fishing community on the Isle of Man will be shown at The Empire,
Leicester Square with a new score by Stephen Horne on 19October 2012.
BFI London Film Festival runs from 10 -21 October 2012.
Stewart, BFI Head of Exhibition & Artistic Director, BFI LFF said,“The Manxmanas the BFI London Film Festival
Archive Gala will be a fitting culmination to the BFI’s extraordinary series of
screenings of Hitchcock's newly restored silent films this summer. Critics and
audiences alike have thrilled to see these films afresh, transformed by great
new music and exciting settings. We are delighted to be showingThe Manxmanat The Empire, a cinema which
Hitchcock knew, with an accompaniment from Stephen Horne, a hugely talented
composer who is guaranteed to produce something worthy of the LFF’s prestigious
screeningmarks the start of a
valuable partnership with Ella Krasner, whose significant donation launches The
Krasner Fund for the BFI: supporting film treasures in the BFI Collections. The
Krasner Fund for the BFI will underpin a series of events throughout the year
which, in turn, will leverage additional support for the unparalleled
collections held in the BFI National Archive.
Nevill, BFI CEO said, “We are delighted to welcome Ella Krasner to the BFI. Her
donation will support the work of the BFI collections and the fund we are
launching with her at the Archive Gala will act as a meaningful catalyst to
leverage additional significant funds for the same cause. We are very
grateful to her for initiating a new concept of support for our Archive in a
Alfred Hitchcock’s last wholly silent film and one of the best and most mature
works of his early career. Adapted from the novel (originally published in
1894) by Sir Hall Caine, a bestselling author who specialised in stories set on
the Isle of Man, the location work was actually done in Cornwall. Set in a
small fishing community, two boyhood friends take markedly different paths in
adulthood, one a humble fisherman, the other a lawyer destined to become
‘Deemster’, the local chief justice. Both fall in love with the same
woman, forcing them to deal not only with their own moral code but also that of
the strict Manx society. Although an untypical Hitchcock work,The Manxmansucceeds brilliantly on its own terms
and features superlative performances from Hitchcock favourites, Malcom Keen,
Carl Brisson and the luminescent Anny Ondra.
Horne has been associated with the BFI for over 20 years and is an internationally
renowned accompanist to silent films and a composer in his own right. His
involvement with The Genius of Hitchcock began when he performed a partially
improvised score at the world premiere screening of the BFI’s new restoration
of The Ring at the Cannes Film Festival in May to great acclaim, playing piano,
flute, accordion and percussion. He will also play a musical accompaniment to
Hitchcock’sEasy Virtuein the autumn for screenings at BFI
Genius of Hitchcock is the biggest ever project undertaken by the BFI.The Manxmanis the last of nine new restorations
of Alfred Hitchcock’s surviving silent films to be presented with new music,
part of a series of spectacular events, launched as part of the Cultural
Olympiad. The project continues through August into October with a complete
retrospective at BFI Southbank, many international guests and a nationwide
release ofThe Lodgerin cinemas. Now in the final stage of
the campaign, there is still a chance for anyone who would like to help ensure
all nine of Hitchcock’s surviving silent films can be restored to make a
donation by visitingwww.bfi.org.uk/saveafilm. The BFI has also published a new
book39 Steps to The Genius of
Hitchcockand there is a
supporting exhibition at BFI Southbank alongside a series of new resources on
the BFI website.
The Manxman credits
Ross Christian (uncredited)
Company: British International Pictures
from the famous story by: Hall CAINE
Director: Frank MILLS
Director: Wilfrd ARNOLD, Emile DE RUELLE
restoration and presentation ofThe
Manxmanhas been generously
supported by Daniel & Joanna Friel, Ronald T Shedlo, and an anonymous
provided by Deluxe 142.
also gratefully acknowledge the support and collaboration of STUDIOCANAL,
rightsholders ofThe Manxman.
thanks must go to everyone who has supported the BFI's Hitchcock 9 campaign,
including: The Eric Anker-Petersen Charity; Arts Council England; British Board
of Film Classification; Deluxe 142; Shivendra Singh Dungarpur; The Mohamed S.
Farsi Foundation; The Film Foundation; Pia Getty; The Headley Trust; Simon W
Hessel; The Hollywood Foreign Press Association; Ian & Beth Mill; Col &
Karen Needham; PRS for Music Foundation; Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler
Foundation; Martin Scorsese; and, Matt Spick.
(back row) Carol Cleveland, Caroline Munro, (front) Martine Beswick, Madeline Smith, Caron Gardner, Vera Day, Renee Glynn.
13th - 14th July 2012
impressive array of stars and an eclectic lineup of Hammer films at the Phoenix
Square cinema in Leicester marked the launch of a brand new innovative
collaboration between Hammer and the De Montfort University. Their Cinema and
Television History (CATH) Research Centre have become custodians of the Hammer
script archive, meaning they will curate and catalogue the collection and make
them available for research purposes. They have also received a collection of
Jimmy Sangster items donated by his widow Mary Peach, including written
materials and photographs covering not only his time with Hammer but as a
successful independent writer and director.
order to celebrate this new relationship the university hosted a two day Hammer
festival attended by fans and academics keen to explore the history and
fascinating output of this uniquely British film company. Hammer were in
production for fifty years and are now making an impressive comeback with films
such as Let Me In (2010) and The Woman in Black (2012). Of
particular interest was the section devoted to the early days of Hammer hosted
by official studio archivist Robert J. E. Simpson. Renée Glynne, now
impressively spry at 86, was interviewed onstage about her work as a script
supervisor. She joined Hammer in 1948 and worked on many important early
productions including The Quatermass Xperiment (1955). She spoke about
her great friendship with American actor Dane Clark and parties with Eva Bartok
during the making of Spaceways (1953) in the manor house at Bray
Studios. Accompanying this was a rare screening of crime thriller River
Patrol (1948), a delightfully quaint police procedural about the problems
with silk nylon smuggling in ration-era London. For those who thought Hammer
started with fangs and Kensington Gore, this helped to put the studio’s
development into a wider context.
Day was also interviewed on her roles in Quatermass II (1957) and the
comedy short A Clean Sweep (1958), both of which she also introduced.
She recalled that in those days all the filmmakers and producers were after the
girls, but luckily she had an aggressively protective boyfriend. She had fond
memories of the much maligned Brian Donlevy, whose performance as Professor
Quatermass is often dismissed as bullish and inappropriate. According to Day he
had a very dry sense of humour and was fun to work with.
FXRH was the magazine published between 1971 and 1974 and devoted entirely to the film legacy of special effects genius Ray Harryhausen. Now Archive Editions is publishing all of these rare issues, along with new supplementary materials, in the form of a limited edition book. Click here for details and to pre-order.
Update! Very few copies left..Book almost sold out before it is printed.
Shout! Factory has released a 24th volume of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes as a 4 DVD set. In case you've been on another planet yourself since 1988 when the show premiered, the bizarre premise finds a man and his two robot friends/sidekicks who are trapped by a larger than life villain and forced to watch an endless array of bad movies. The episodes are bookended by silly comedy sequences involving these characters, among others. These original comedy bits don't appeal to me, but there is no doubt they appeal to the show's hardcore fans. For this viewer, the real treat in any MST3000 episode is to cut to the chase and watch the bad movies along with the hostages. The episodes are cleverly filmed in that the viewer has the vantage point of someone who is sitting behind the trio in a theater. You see their silhouettes in the row in front of you. From minute one, the three trade sarcastic wise cracks about various aspects of the feature film. It isn't enough for a movie to be bad to merit inclusion in an episode...it has to be spectacularly bad, and the producers do a great job of tracking down largely forgotten clunkers and giving them new life (though not as their makers would have intended.)
In this boxed set, the "highlights" include Fugitive Alien and Star Force: Fugitive Alien II (yes, it merited a sequel.) These are bottom of the basement Japanese sci fi productions that were dubbed into English and imported to the USA by producer Sandy Frank. The films are patently awful by any standard and this gives the trio of "critics" plenty of ammunition to provide very amusing commentaries. Also on the bill is Samson Vs. the Vampire Women, an unintentionally hilarious Mexican horror film that combines the titular hero, a real-life masked wrestling sensation known south 'o the border as Santo, with a plot line that involves a bevy of gorgeous bloodsucking femme fatales. The best of the lot, however, is The Sword and the Dragon, a Soviet era historical "epic" that Roger Corman turned into an English-dubbed sword and sandals action flick. In doing so, Corman must surely rate alongside Ronald Reagan as one of the key figures to have brought down the Soviet empire. Comedy is funny thing...People will laugh hysterically when watching a movie with a group, but you're lucky to get a slight giggle if someone watches the same film at home, alone. In the case of The Sword and the Dragon, which features the worst dubbing of any movie in history, I actually found myself laughing out loud despite the lack of fellow bad movie lovers around me.
The set contains many extras including an excellent interview with producer Sandy Frank, who once feuded with and sued the series for running his bad old movies. They must have come to terms because Frank is fully cooperative. Surprisingly, there was much more to his career than importing a few B movies from Japan. He was major influence in the Golden Age of TV and produced some of the top game shows of all time. He's not lacking in ego, but he comes across as the kind of guy you'd love to have a drink with just to hear these tales of a bygone era of show business. There is also a recent interview with show cast member Frank Conniff and an excellent documentary about the history of the Mexican wrestling craze and how it was transferred to the silver screen. All that plus some cool commemorative poster art pieces for each film,
Legendary actor Peter O'Toole has announced he is retiring at age 79, marking a great loss for movie lovers. O'Toole was among the ranks of great British and Irish actors who gained stardom in the 1960s. They included Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Patrick McGoohan, Sean Connery and Oliver Reed. O'Toole shot to stardom in the titular role of David Lean's 1962 masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia. Many great roles followed even in films that were not critical successes. He has been nominated for Oscars eight times, never winning in a competitive category. However, he was given a lifetime achievement Oscar. O'Toole's once-wild ways are personified by the time he was in a country pub. Annoyed by the fact that the law forbade serving drinks after 11:00 PM, O'Toole purchased the pub on the spot so he could continue drinking. For more click here
Click here for rare images of Steve Mcqueen taken in 1963 for magazine by photographer John Dominis. They show the moody star relaxing at home with his wife and son. McQueen right at the cusp of major stardom with the release that year of The Great Escape.
Cinema Retro's Matthew Field explores his inner Bond on a Skyfall motobike.
By Matthew Field
Last Thursday Cinema Retro was invited by Beaulieu
Motor Museum to an exclusive peak at two Honda motorcycles that will feature in
an epic action sequence in the latest James Bond movie Skyfall.
Honda announced its partnership with Skyfall by showcasing two CRF250Rs,
which have been dressed exclusively for the film. The first is a Turkish police
bike ridden by henchman Patrice (Ola Rapace) and the second is a Turkish
merchant bike ridden by James Bond. The vehicles were used for the thrilling
pre-title sequence, which was shot in Istanbul and Adana earlier this year.
Both bikes feature extensive modifications, courtesy of
Chris Corbould’s award-winning special effects team. Stunt co-ordinator for Skyfall, Gary Powell, commented, “We
needed a highly verstatile and quality off-road motorbike that could easily be
modified without compromising performance or safety. Honda’s CRFs are probably
the best off-roaders out there so it’s great that we’ve been able to partner
with Honda, as the bikes, whilst heavily modified, were superb to work with.”
Twenty motorbikes were supplied ot the production and
dressed accordingly. An example of each now forms part of the Bond in Motion
exhibition at Beaulieu, which runs until January 6. Click here for more.
In the battle over digital vs. 35mm film, one casualty is the projectionist at your local theater. They are now going the way of the dodo bird into extinction and the industry is no better for it. Take, for example, the case of my old friend Dave Norris, who had the gold standard of projectionist positions: working the Odeon and Empire theatres in London's Leicester Square. Magnificent movie premieres are a thing of the past in America. Nowadays, most "premieres" consist of slovenly-dressed stars dropping by a converted airline hangar for a few quick drinks before heading out to some nightclub. The British empire may not be what it once was, but the Brits still know how to run premieres. Dave Norris has been the lead projectionist on some of the most high profile movie premieres ever held in London, where the Odeon Leicester Square is still the "go to" place to hold prestigious movie events. The first movie he presented there was The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. Over the years, he gained status as England's longest-serving projectionist. A dyed-in-the-wool 007 fanatic, Norris has also presided over ten James Bond premieres- all red carpet events, often with the Royals in attendance. Showing these films is an exercise in high pressure that would thwart anyone but an ultra professional. Sometimes directors such as David Lean would personally supervise how the film was to be presented. I personally recall taking members of film location tours I periodically run in England to the Odeon, Leicester Square, where Dave gave us an off-hours tour of the theater and projection room. It was a master class taught by someone who lives and breathes film history. Now Dave Norris has left his beloved Leicester Square theaters to run the projection facilities for Universal in London. He thinks digital is here to stay, so get used to it, but bemoans that fact that his chosen profession seems destined for extinction. For more click here
Russell Crowe is expected to sign with Warner Brothers for a new film based on Bram Stoker's Dracula. The film, to be directed by Eli Roth, will be titled Harker and present the character of Jonathan Harker as a Scotland Yard detective who tries to hunt down Count Dracula, who will be played by Crowe. Warners envisions a franchise based on the concept though Crowe is only officially attached to the first installment. For more click here
Click here to check out some very rare candids of actress Sean Young on the set of Ridley Scott's 1980s sci-fi classic Blade Runner. They are quite remarkable and give the impression the cast and crew might have actually enjoyed the grueling experience of making the film. Certainly Harrison Ford did not, despite the amusing photo shown here. Ford locked horns with Scott during filming and considered the movie to be a very unpleasant experience.
Quentin Tarantino revealed some tantalizing footage of his forthcoming Western Django Unchained at Comic-Con. The film, starring Jamie Foxx as a man who is obsessed with vengeance and freeing slaves from their cruel master (Leonardo DiCaprio in a rare villainous role), will not be released until December. Tarantino's fan base is eagerly awaiting his first movie since Inglourious Basterds. For more click here
Over on the Filmgoers' Guide blog, Howard Hughes looks back at the long-running DJANGO series of films, that started in 1966 with Sergio Corbucci's original.
Reader William Burge kindly provided these two rare photos from the 1965 premiere of The Greatest Story Ever Told, produced and directed by George Stevens. The photo shows the Warner Cinerama Theatre as well as Charlton Heston and his wife Lydia, arriving at the premiere on February 15. Heston portrayed John the Baptist in the film.
Richard D. Zanuck,the son of one-time 20th Century Fox chairman Darryl F. Zanuck, has died from a heart attack at age 77. Zanuck's life was one of triumph, failure and redemption. He was appointed as head of production for Fox during trying times when his abrasive father had been called back as Chairman in order to save a studio awash in red ink, largely the result of the out-of-control production costs on Cleopatra. The elder Zanuck saved the studio with his 1962 D-Day blockbuster The Longest Day. During the duo's tenure at the studio, there were massive hits including Patton, Planet of the Apes, M*A*S*H, The Sand Pebbles, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and, most profitably, The Sound of Music. There were also missteps such as costly financial disasters like Tora! Tora! Tora!, Hello Dolly! and Star! (The studio favored titles with exclamation points in that era). Under pressure to save the studio once again, the elder Zanuck deflected personal responsibility and in a shocking move, fired his son. The two were estranged for a time but ultimately reconciled. The younger Zanuck had a successful stint at Warner Brothers before teaming with fellow producer David Brown to produce such blockbusters as Jaws and The Sting. Working on his own in later years, Zanuck produced such hits as Driving Miss Daisy, Cocoon and Alice in Wonderland. He also produced Tim Burton's 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes. Despite being reviled by fans, the film was a major hit. His latest movie, Dark Shadows, is currently in release. For more click here
Here is rare color footage of The Three Stooges in 1938, shot in Atlantic City New Jersey's famed Steel Pier. Moe, Larry and Curly vie for the affections of model Barbara Bradford, who was married to song and dance man George Mann, who shot the film and makes an appearance.
In a poignant and moving article for TV Guide, Ron Howard remembers his "second" dad, Andy Griffith. Howard was but a tyke when The Andy Griffith Show started in 1960 and he was a teenager when Griffith voluntarily pulled the plug on the top-rated show. In the intervening years, the cast and crew became like family and forged life-long friendships. This included Howard, who graduated to becoming a world-acclaimed director. He had given up acting completely but made only one exception: the return to the role of Opie Taylor in the 1986 TV reunion movie Return to Mayberry.Click here to read his memories of working with Andy Griffith.
(Click here to listen to Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer, author of The Official Andy Griffith Show Scrapbook, interviewed on the Bob Collins radio program).
Frank Langella played an aging writer in Starting Out in the Evening (2007). Who
would have figured this for typecasting?
In his superb memoir, Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them (HarperCollins),
Langella reveals that he is an incomparable memoirist and storyteller,
recalling his encounters with scores of luminaries from the world of
entertainment in a career spanning half a century. All of these luminaries are deceased and the
cast of characters is listed “by order of disappearance”. Just as well, as many
of the revelations are quite shocking.
Langella must be the most sociable and congenial actor
on the planet, as the busyness of his social and professional lives and the breadth
and depth of his friendships, romantic liaisons and acquaintances are very impressive
indeed. He met Marilyn Monroe in 1953. She stepped out of a limousine and said “hi”
to the adolescent from Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1962, Langella, struggling for a
toehold on Broadway, carried a dead drunk Montgomery Clift to his nearby
townhouse several times. “He never spoke a word to me. Never even knew my
name,” Langella recalls.
He knew Anthony Perkins in the late fifties when the
future Norman Bates was the king of Broadway, and decades later met him in the
parking lot of a grocery store in L.A., shortly before his death.
“I turned and saw what looked to me like a ghostly
apparition, a paper-thin, wide-eyed, sallow-faced, walking cadaver. (…) He did not speak. (…) It was a terrifying
sight. Clearly dying and clearly desperate, he seemed disoriented and lost.
Only his familiar crooked grin gave me the sense he knew who he was. (…)
Staring through my rearview mirror at him wandering around in the grass and
weeds, I remembered when the world was his oyster and it seemed nothing could
stand in his way; a book with such a beautiful cover on whose pages were most
likely written crippling and indelible words of shame and guilt.”
Several of Langella’s memoirs deal with the ravages of
time on the careers of actors and actresses who had been to the top of their
profession and smelled its rarefied air. In 1976, Langella co-starred with
Cameron Mitchell “in a ghastly television series entitled Swiss Family Robinson.” By then, the once handsome Mitchell was “fifty-eight,
a fat, jowly mess, covering his sad decline with an over-the-top wisecracking
demeanor; its most heartbreaking manifestation its constancy.” The wardrobe lady
finds an old Napoleonic-era jacket with Mitchell’s name on it, probably the one
he wore in Desirée, a 1954 film he
did with Marlon Brando. Mitchell does “a little yo ho yo ho strut” in the jacket that is now two sizes too small
for him, “like a vaudeville clown getting ready to throw a pie.” Pathetic.
Langella is unusually frank about his relationships
with Rita Hayworth (20 years his senior, her memory failing) and an aging
Elizabeth Taylor, whom he gently spurns, knowing that he could not be part of “her
indiscriminate search for the one thing she could not and would never have:
Langella has serious regrets about lost opportunities: blowing
a possible relationship with Dinah Shore; treating an older Deborah Kerr
callously as they co-starred in Edward Albee’s play Seascape on Broadway in 1974… and then trying to meet with her 30
years later to apologize; turning down a role in John Frankenheimer’s The Horsemen in order to star in Mel
Brooks’ flop The Twelve Chairs, which
led to an angry rebuke by Frankenheimer, who never asked for Langella again.
Langella befriended Alan Bates during the Broadway run of
Ivan Turgenev’s play Fortune’s Fool
and they remained very close friends until Bates’ death in 2003. Langella also
expresses admiration for Tony Curtis: “(…) apart from the absurdity of his
desperate attempts to look cool, hip and young, I found him always to be
charming, instantly connected, and very funny. He was, as well, ruthlessly
honest when he didn’t like someone or something. A no-shit guy who had taken a
lot of abuse, often challengingly bringing it upon himself.”
As for Paul Newman, who tried to befriend Langella, the
memoirist writes: “He was a great audience, a true lover of acting and actors,
and wanted, I believe, to be thought of as a great actor. He wasn’t. But he
gave everything he had to every role. As his movie star days faded and turned
mostly to stage and television projects, his limitations became more apparent.
As indeed, they were in life. After dirty-sexy jokes, shop talk, cars, or
politics were exhausted, Paul was a pretty dull companion. Never rude or
unkind, just dull.” However, Langella ends his chapter on Newman with a
description of his final heartbreaking encounter with the actor famed for his
baby-blues when he is stricken with cancer.” As I read this passage, I was so
moved that tears welled in my eyes.
Names: Famous Men and Women As I Knew Them is so damned
interesting and well written that it should be savoured, but that is almost
impossible. I dashed through the book in one sitting and will read it again
just to study Langella’s literary artistry. My only quibble is that Langella
doesn’t mention Kate Nelligan, his ravishing leading lady in John Badham’s 1979
Other stars and entertainers profiled by Langella
include Billie Burke, Noel Coward, Lee Strasberg (whom Langella treated with
contempt), Celia Johnson, Dolores del Rio, James Mason, Richard Burton (a thundering
bore), Yul Brynner, Elsa Lanchester, Laurence Olivier, Bette Davis, Rex
Harrison (a dreadful man), Coral Browne, Colleen Dewhurst, Gilbert Roland,
Jessica Tandy, Raúl Juliá, Ida Lupino, Jo Van Fleet (who ended her days as a
bag lady), Robert Mitchum, Roddy McDowall, Oliver Reed, George C. Scott
(terminally sad), Loretta Young, Roger Vadim, John Gielgud, Anthony Quinn, Hume
Cronyn, Elia Kazan (“talent such as his doesn’t give you rights” to become “a
serial fucker of women’s bodies and men’s minds”) , Arthur Miller, Anne
Bancroft (terminally miserable despite all her gifts), Maureen Stapleton,
Yvonne De Carlo, Charlton Heston, Richardo Montalban, Jill Clayburgh and
Not coming to a theater near you: Raging Bull II. MGM has filed suit against Jake LaMotta and the production company that recently completed filming Raging Bull II, saying that MGM has all screen rights to LaMotta's life in and out of the ring. The studio is trying to thwart release of the movie. MGM also claims that the new film is shamelessly trying to capitalize on Martin Scorsese's original 1980 movie, regarded by many as one of the greatest films of its era. Neither Scorsese or star Robert De Niro are involved in the new production. For more click here
This is a fun concept: The Magnificent Seven reborn as a contemporary sports film with over-the-hill British footballers taking on a criminal kingpin, played by Robert Vaughn of the original film. Click here to view the trailer, which includes Elmer Bernstein's classic score.
Cinema Retro has received the following press announcement from Sony and Eon Productions.
CULVER CITY, Calif., July 12, 2012 – Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of SKYFALL™, the 23rd James Bond adventure, confirmedtoday that the character of Q will be making a welcome return to the Bond franchise and the role will be played by Ben Whishaw.
Whishaw becomes the fourth actor to play Bond’s quartermaster affectionately known as Q. The role began with Peter Burton as Major Boothroyd in Dr. No, followed by Desmond Llewelyn (in 17 Bond films between 1963-1999), and John Cleese (who appeared as Q’s assistant, R, in The World is Not Enough and was later promoted to Q in Die Another Day).
Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli commented, “It’s a real thrill to confirm the return of Q in SKYFALL™played by the enormously talented, Ben Whishaw. We are delighted to have this beloved character back in the series.”
Daniel Craig is back as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 in SKYFALL™, the 23rd adventure in the longest-running film franchise of all time. In SKYFALL™, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. The film is from Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Directed by Sam Mendes. Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan.
BEN WHISHAW will be seen later this year in Cloud Atlas alongside an all-star cast including Tom Hanks, Jim Sturgess and Halle Berry, and in the BBC’s “Richard II.” He will also be seen in the second series of “The Hour” for the BBC, in which he stars opposite Dominic West and Romola Garai. His films include roles in Bright Star, The Tempest, Brideshead Revisited, I’m Not There, Stoned, Layer Cake, Enduring Love, The Trench, Mauvaise Passé, and the lead roles in My Brother Tom and Perfume opposite Alan Rickman and Dustin Hoffman. For television, he also starred in the hugely popular BBC drama “Criminal Justice” which saw him pick up the award for best actor at the 2009 Royal Television Society Awards, Best Actor at the International Emmy Awards 2009 and was nominated for Best Actor at the 2009 BAFTA Television Awards. His many roles on the British stage include “The Idiot,” “Cock”, “The Seagull,” “Hamlet” (for which he received an Olivier nomination), and “His Dark Materials.” He will appear in Michael Grandage’s production of “Peter and Alice” in the title role opposite Judi Dench in 2013. He was a BAFTA Rising Star nominee in 2007.
About Albert R. Broccoli’s Eon Productions
EON Productions Limited and Danjaq LLC are wholly owned and controlled by the Broccoli/Wilson family. Danjaq is the US based company that co-owns, with MGM, the copyright in the existing James Bond films and controls the right to produce future James Bond films as well as all worldwide merchandising. EON Productions, an affiliate of Danjaq, is the UK based production company which makes the James Bond films. The 007 franchise is the longest running in film history with twenty-two films produced since 1962. Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli took over the franchise from Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli in 1995 and have produced some of the most successful Bond films ever including Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. They are currently producing the 23rd film, SKYFALL™.
To tie in with the recent Titanic commemorations, the Criterion Collection has issued its special edition DVD of A Night to Remember on Blu-ray. As usual, it's a first-class presentation all the way around. The 1958 British film was a modestly budgeted production by Hollywood standards, but represented a major investment for the Rank Organization, which specialized in films that were less-than-epic in scope. The film was shot at Britain's legendary Pinewood Studios, where the famous water tank facility was put to extensive use. The movie's scope may pale besides James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster, but it has lost none of its emotional impact. It presents the disaster through the experiences of numerous passengers and crew members, each of whom is superbly portrayed by a cast of young actors that includes such stars-in-the-making as Honor Blackman and David McCallum. The star of the film is Kenneth More, the reliable British actor whose popularity in England was sadly never replicated in America. More gives an impressive performance as Charles Herbert Lightoller, the second-in-command on the doomed vessel. The script by Eric Ambler captures all the intrigue and excitement of the best-selling novel by Walter Lord upon which the film is based.
The Criterion special edition contains precious interviews with key participants who have since passed away including Walter Lord, producer William MacQuitty and Roy Ward Baker, who did yeoman work as director.The interviews are contained in a 1993 documentary titled The Making of A Night to Remember. Although crude by today's standards, such documentaries were quite rare at the time and this one has a quaint appeal in that the filmmakers don't go in for the kinds of rapid-fire editing and pretentious special effects that mar so many "making of" featurettes today. The documentary presents McQuitty's home movies of the film's production along with extensive behind the scenes production stills. It's a priceless look into the making of a classic movie. The Blu-ray also contains:
Audio commentary by Titanic scholars and authors Don Lynch and Ken Marschall
Original theatrical trailer
An archival interview with Titanic survivor Eva Hart, who was a small girl at the time of the disaster who initially thought the entire event was a marvelous adventure.
There is also a fine Swedish television documentary from 1962 that features interviews with other Titanic survivors including a mother and her two daughters.
Rounding out the remarkable set is The Iceberg That Sank the Titanic, a stunningly filmed 2006 BBC nature documentary that explores how the deadly berg had been formed and how it ended up colliding with the ocean liner. It also features the one known photograph of the actual iceberg, taken the morning after the disaster.
Criterion has also included an excellent and informative collector's booklet with essays by writer Michael Sragow that is packed with vintage graphics pertaining to the film and the Titanic itself.
This is another Criterion release that should be classified as essential to any classic movie collection.
For decades, Kirk Douglas has been boasting that he was the man primarily responsible for breaking the Hollywood blacklist against suspected communists by hiring screenwriter Dalton Trumbo for his 1960 production of Spartacus. While no one denies that Douglas was bold in support of the blacklisted writer and gave him his first screen credit in years, a darker side of this era is emerging thanks to Douglas' new book about the of the movie. Trumbo's family and the film's producer Edward Lewis accuse Douglas of greatly exaggerating his role in breaking the blacklist. They have been arguing for decades that, while Douglas deserved credit for putting Trumbo's name back on screen credits, he had to be shamed into doing so. They also say that Douglas was so nervous about this act of defiance against the established studios that he refused to give Trumbo screen credit for work he did on their follow-up production, Town Without Pity. Trumbo's heirs also say Douglas' production company exploited blacklisted writers by hiring the desperate men at a fraction of their usual salaries. Click here for more
Click here to enjoy an array of classic trailers from the best films of Ernest Borgnine, including From Here to Eternity, Marty, Bad Day at Black Rock, The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch and The Poseidon Adventure.
Ernest Borgnine, the Oscar winning star of Marty, has passed away at age 95. His loss is a truly sad one for all movie fans. Borgnine's remarkable talents extended back so many years that virtually anyone in any age bracket could claim him as one of their favorite stars. On a personal level, I met Ernie and his long time manager and friend Harry Flynn in New York in 2008. Ernie was promoting his autobiography and I was invited to interview him in his hotel room. From the moment we met, we seemed to do nothing but laugh. Ernie's laughter could shatter windows and he had a timeless quality about him that belied his true age. I remember thinking of how precious that time was, even while the interview was going on. Here was the last cast member of From Here to Eternity. Here before me was the man I had watched as a kid in McHale's Navy, The Poseidon Adventure, The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Bunch and so many more. I would continue to send Ernie every issue of Cinema Retro, which he and Harry would read voraciously. Only recently Harry told me that they would curse when a new issue would arrive because they both knew they wouldn't get any work done that day since they would read it from cover to cover. I'll never forget Ernie's kindness and generosity. The world is a poorer place now that he is no longer with us, but his legacy will live on as long as there is a movie industry. For more click here
(For the interviews with Ernest Borgnine, see Cinema Retro issues #13 and #14)
We're admirers of Stanley Kubrick's 1987 film Full Metal Jacket, even if the post-boot camp half doesn't come anywhere near the power of the film's early scenes. R. Lee Ermey, a real life drill instructor, gives one of the most terrifying performances ever committed to the silver screen. Astonishingly, he wasn't even nominated for an Oscar. Click here to find out some truly interesting trivia about this film
The Warner Archive has released a slew of worthwhile 60s spy movies and TV series lately. Among the under-rated gems is The Double Man, a 1967 Cold War thriller starring Yul Brynner, who gives a powerful performance as American intelligence agent Dan Slater. His teenaged son is killed while skiing in Switzerland and Slater suspects it was actually murder. He finds he's been lured to Alps as part of a complex plot to kill him and replace him with an enemy agent with his identical facial features and characteristics. The plot was covered with moss even at the time since it formed the basis of a two-part Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode, The Double Affair, that was released theatrically the previous year as The Spy With My Face. Still, this is a highly intelligent, gritty film with Brynner as the most hard-ass hero imaginable. Devoid of any humor, Slater suspects both friend and foe as he leaves no stone unturned in trying to thwart the plot. The film benefits from a good supporting cast including future Bond girl Britt Ekland who finds herself unable to distinguish between the two Slaters. Clive Revill and Anton Diffring are excellent in supporting roles. There are some spectacular aerial sequences photographed by the late great cameraman Johnny Jordan, whose work on On Her Majesty's Secret Service bears a strong resemblance to this film, though both movies suffer from the shoddy rear screen projection technology of the time. The score by Ernie Freeman is sometimes overly-bombastic, but in the aggregate, this is one of the better spy films of the era thanks in no small part to the direction of Franklin J. Schaffner, who would win the Oscar several years later for Patton.
The transfer is crisp and clean and the DVD features the original theatrical trailer.
Charlton Heston and Maurice Evans in the original Planet of the Apes.
The web site Cable TV Providers (yes, that's really the name!) has another interesting article examining major films that significantly changed the plots of the source novels upon which they are based. From I Am Legend to Jaws, The Poseidon Adventure and Planet of the Apes, you'll be surprised at the major plot points excluded or changed in the transition from printed page to silver screen. Click here for more
The A&E cable TV network has confirmed it is going into production on a prequel series based upon Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1960 thriller Psycho. Titled Bates Motel, the show will explore the creepy relationship between Norman Bates and his dominating mother. A&E issued this statement:
“We are proud to be partnering with Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin on their thrilling reinvention of one of the most compelling characters in cinematic history,” A&E Network president Bob DeBitetto and EVP of programming David McKillop said in a statement announcing the news. “It’s a provocative project from two of the best storytellers in the business, and we’re looking forward to getting started.”
This is not the first time the Psycho saga has been explored in the medium of television. There have been TV movies throughout the years including one that is ironically titled Bates Motel.
For Gary Giblin's extensive tribute to the Hitchcock original and analysis of the sequels, see Cinema Retro #18 in our back issue section or click here to order direct from eBay.
The recent passing of Andy Griffith has brought new appreciation of his incredible performance as one of the screen's greatest villains: charismatic country singer Lonesome Rhodes in Elia Kazan's brilliant 1958 film A Face in the Crowd. Click here to view original trailer along with a link to James Wolcott's excellent 2007 Vanity Fair.
night saw Cinema Retro attend the exclusive private viewing of Designing OO7 - Fifty Years of Bond Style
at The Barbican in London. This unique exhibition showcasing the design, craft
and style of a screen icon - James Bond - is superblydesigned (by Ab Rogers, and guest-curated by
fashion historian Bronwyn Cosgrave and Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy
Hemming) . The exhibition is a must-see event for anyone with an interest in
film, let alone James Bond. Produced in partnership with Eon Productions, ably
assisted by the head of their archives, Meg Simmonds, the exhibition has
amassed over 400 items that reflect the history of Bond over the last 50 years.
the press call in the day, the organizers invited people who have worked on the
films over the years and also friends of Eon to a champagne reception and
private view of the exhibition. And what a show it is! After walking down the
red carpet and past the fabled Aston Martin DB5, guests were given their own
'OO7 passport' to gain access to all areas and greeted with a glass (or two) of
Michael G. Wilson (with Barbara Broccoli at his side) addressed the guests with
a wonderful tribute speech to those 'background' women and men who have been
responsible for creating the 'look' of the James Bond films over the years.
Many were in attendance, including: Norman Wanstall, John Glenn, David Arnold,
Neal Purvis, Rob Wade, Arthur Wooster, Anthony Waye, John Richardson, Chris
Corbould, Debbie McWilliams, Lindy Hemming, and Peter Lamont, Wilson acknowledged Lamont as the production designer
who not only took over from Ken Adam, but also oversaw the building of two
studios for Eon Productions. Peter received a rapturous round of applause from
the appreciative audience.
entrance to the exhibition is designed to look like the now-famous gun barrel,
and after walking through this, you enter a chamber resembling part of Fort
Knox, with large metal bars adorning one wall from floor to ceiling. The
centre-piece is a large revolving circular bed with a life-size model figure of
a golden girl lying across it. From here, guests are led through five rooms and
travel down a lift to one exhibit of large-scale models and props. Very
Entering through the legendary gun barrel.
are props and costumes galore, including Oddjob's bowler hat, Scaramanga's
'Golden Gun', and even the white bikini worn by Ursula Andress in Dr. No (on loan from Planet Hollywood).
The walls are adorned with production designs, sketches and storyboards, and
they have even managed to squeeze in the BMW motorcycle from Tomorrow Never Die, too. It was also
great to see the original attache case and prototype of Rosa Klebb's
flick-knife shoe, both iconic props seen in From
Russia With Love. It certainly brings back many memories of a series of
films that have entertained generations of movie goers the world over.
Producer Norman Felton has passed away at age 99. Born in London, Felton emigrated to America as a teenager and became a successful TV producer. By the mid-1950s, he was directing episodes of such high profile series as Robert Montgomery Presents and The Alocoa Hour. In the early 1960s, he produced the smash hit Dr. Kildare TV series, a spin-off of a successful 1940s film franchise. The show made Richard Chamberlain a star. Another series, The Lieutenant, was not successful but one of the stars, Robert Vaughn, impressed Felton. In 1964, Vaughn co-starred with David McCallum in the Bond-inspired TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The show ran until 1968 and became an international phenomenon, spawning 8 feature films derived from two-part episodes. Felton also produced the less successful Girl From U.N.C.L.E. spin-off starring Stefanie Powers and Noel Harrison. Felton remained active in the TV industry through the 1970s before retiring. The U.N.C.L.E. phenomenon lives on, with director Guy Ritchie developing a big screen update. For more click here
His name may not be well-known to international audiences, but UK film and TV fans are mourning the loss of Eric Sykes, who passed away at age 89. Sykes was an original writer, with Spike Milligan, on the classic Goon Show before establishing himself as one of England's most popular and enduring comedic character actors. He also appeared in such diverse feature films as Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, Theatre of Blood and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Despite having to cope with serious health issues and physical handicaps in recent years, Sykes continued to perform regularly. He had been awarded both an OBE and CBE over the years. For more click here
Twentieth Century Fox has joined other major studios in mining gold from its film library by launching a burn-to-order line of DVDs. The first batch represents worthy, but largely forgotten, films from the studio archives-- which is exactly the strategy Cinema Retro endorses. Many of these flicks feature major stars and hold up well in terms of entertainment value. However, they would never see release through a traditional DVD distribution market. The web site Oldies.com has an impressive line-up of the Fox titles on sale. Click here to view