Royal Theatre in Los Angeles will be presenting a 45th anniversary
screening of Billy Wilder’s 1972 film Avanti! The 140-minute film, which stars Jack Lemmon,
Juliet Mills, and Clive Revill, will be screened on Wednesday, March 29, 2017
at 7:00 pm.
PLEASE NOTE: At press time, Juliet
Mills and Clive Revill are scheduled to appear in person for a discussion about
the film following the screening.
the press release:
Part of our Anniversary Classics series. For details, visit:laemmle.com/ac.
45th Anniversary Screening
Wednesday, March 29, at 7
PM at the Royal Theatre
Followed by Q&A with
Co-Stars Juliet Mills and Clive Revill
Six-time Oscar winner Billy
Wilder made one of his most underrated movies,Avanti!,
in 1972. The film’s stature has risen dramatically in recent years. In his 1999
book,Conversations with Wilder, Oscar-winning writer-director Cameron
Crowe declared, “The prize of Wilder’s later-period work,Avanti!is a melancholy classic.” To
make the film, Wilder re-teamed with his favorite actor, Jack Lemmon (the star
ofSome Like It HotandThe
Apartment), and Crowe declared, “The picture was a new peak in the
collaboration of Wilder and the actor most tuned to his nuances.”
Lemmon plays a crass businessman who travels to Italy to claim the body of his
father, who was killed in an automobile accident while on vacation. There he
learns that his father was carrying on a long extramarital affair with an
Englishwoman, who died with him in the accident. He meets the woman’s daughter,
played by Juliet Mills, and it seems that history may repeat itself as Lemmon
and Mills fall in love. As Crowe wrote, Mills “is a wonderful foil for Lemmon.”
The uproarious and poignant film represents a sly reworking of one of Wilder’s
favorite themes, the encounter of an innocent American and more worldly
Europeans. It was a subject that Wilder first explored in his Oscar-nominated
screenplay forHold Back the Dawnin 1941, and he revisited this
terrain in such other films asA Foreign Affair,Sabrina,Love
in the Afternoon, andOne Two Three.Avanti!was filmed on glorious Italian
locations that gave added richness to the director’s exploration of the
Clive Revill and Edward
Andrews co-star in the film, which was written by Wilder and his longtime
collaborator, I.A.L. Diamond. Luigi Kuveiller was the cinematographer, and the
production designer was Ferdinando Scarfiotti, the Oscar-winning designer ofThe
Last Emperor,The Conformist, andDeath
in Venice. Leonard Maltin calledAvanti!a “sadly underrated comedy… lovely
scenery, wonderful performances by all.” The film was nominated for six Golden
Juliet Mills is a member of
one of the most distinguished British acting families. Her father, John Mills,
was an Oscar winner as well as a lion of the theater. Her younger sister,
Hayley Mills, the star of Disney classicsPollyannaandThe Parent Trap, has also enjoyed a
long career. Juliet has distinguished herself on stage, on screen, and on
television. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance inAvanti!and for her role on the hit television
series,Nanny and the Professor. She won an Emmy for her performance in
the miniseries,QB VII, and she was nominated for a
Tony for her performance in Peter Shaffer’s first Broadway play,Five
Clive Revill was nominated for a Golden Globe for his delightful performance as
the beleaguered hotel manager inAvanti!He has also had a stellar career in
film, theater, and television. He earned a Tony nomination for his performance
as Fagin in the original Broadway production of Lionel Bart’sOliver!.
He co-starred in another Billy Wilder movie,The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes,
and also appeared inModesty Blaise,The
Assassination Bureau, andThe Legend of Hell House. His television
roles include the miniseriesCentennialand such series asColumboandStar Trek: The Next Generation.
Royal Theatre is located at 11523
Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. The phone number is (310) 478
Some enterprising fans of Patrick McGoohan's landmark television series "The Prisoner" intend to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary with a multi-day convention that will be held in Seattle on September 29-October 1, 2017. You may not get to meet Number One but you will have plenty of activities including screenings, lectures, appearances by actors who were in the show, musical performances, cocktail parties and theatrical re-enactments. For more details and ticket info click here. "Be seeing you!"
Director Francis Ford Coppola will be joined on stage by major cast members from "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II" as part of the Tribeca Film Festival's closing ceremonies. The event will take place at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday, April 29 following screenings of both films. Among those expected to appear: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall,Talia Shire and James Caan. Tickets went on sale this morning. Click here to order.
Royal Theatre in Los Angeles will be presenting a 50th anniversary
screening of Richard Brook’s 1967 film In
Cold Blood, based upon the novel of the same name by Truman Capote. The 134-minute film, which stars John Forsythe, Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, will
be screened on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 7:00 pm.
PLEASE NOTE: At press time, Actor Scott
Wilson is scheduled to appear in person for a discussion about the film
following the screening.
the press release:
Part of our Anniversary Classics series. For details, visit:laemmle.com/ac.
IN COLD BLOOD (1967)
50th Anniversary Screening
Wednesday, March 22, at 7 PM at the Royal Theatre
Followed by a Q & A with Actor Scott Wilson
In Cold Blood, the film version
of Truman Capote’s immensely popular true crime novel, was nominated for four
top Oscars in 1967. Richard Brooks received two nominations, for Best Director
and Best Adapted Screenplay, and the film was also nominated for Conrad Hall’s
striking cinematography and Quincy Jones’ memorable score.
In his best-selling book, Capote chronicled the events leading up to and
following the senseless murders of a family of four in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959.
He drew a pointed contrast between the prosperous, all-American Clutter family
and the two social outsiders, Perry Smith and Richard Hickok, who committed the
In adapting the book, Brooks (the Oscar-winning writer-director of such films
asThe Blackboard Jungle,Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,Elmer
Gantry, andSweet Bird of Youth) resolved to be
as faithful as possible to Capote’s chronicle, even filming in many of the
actual locations where the events took place. With Capote’s encouragement,
Brooks cast unknown actors as the two killers, and the performances of Robert
Blake as Smith and Scott Wilson as Hickok earned critical raves. More
established actors John Forsythe, Paul Stewart, and Will Geer filled out the supporting
cast. Brooks also bucked the industry practice and decided to shoot the film in
black-and-white at a time when color cinematography had become virtually
mandatory for big-studio films.
Reviews at the time were largely positive.The Saturday Review’s Arthur Knight
declared the film to be “one of the finest pictures of the year, and possibly
of the decade.” Its reputation has not diminished. In an article inThe
Wall Street Journalin
January of 2017, critic Peter Cowie called the film “a classic of American
cinema” and added, “In Cold Bloodretains its relevance today, even as
random shootings continue to appall.”
Scott Wilson made his film debut earlier in 1967, in the Oscar-winningIn
the Heat of the Night.In Cold Bloodwas only his second movie. He went on
to co-star in John Frankenheimer’sThe Gypsy Moths, the Robert Redford
version ofThe Great
Gatsby, Philip Kaufman’sThe Right Stuff,The
New Centurions,The Ninth Configuration, and more
recent appearances inDead Man Walking,The
Last Samurai,Monster, andJunebug.
He also is known for his roles in the popular TV seriesCSIandThe Walking Dead.
Royal Theatre is located at 11523
Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. The phone number is (310) 478
The BBC Concert Orchestra will provide live musical accompaniment of John Williams' legendary score for "Jaws". The screening takes place at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 21 October. Click here for info.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
2017 Socially Relevant Film Festival returns to New York City this month.
Founded in 2013 by Artistic Director and Festival Curator Nora Armani the SRFF
is now in its fourth year. Focusing on "socially relevant film content,
and human interest stories that raise awareness to social problems and offer
positive solutions through the powerful medium of cinema" the festival has
screened 157 films from 35 countries over 20 days in its first three years.
year, 46 films will be screened from 23 countries. There are narrative features
(6), documentary features (12) and short films (23) presented during the fest
which also includes "an AR/VR and 360 gear expo and film exhibit, panels
on Women, Immigrations and Refugees, VR/AR and 360 films, Industry Panels at
SVA Social Documentary MFA film department on Funding Film Ideas and The
Hazardous Documentary. SAG-AFTRA hosts a low-budget film production workshop
for visiting and local filmmakers in the festival, and the Mayor's Office of
Media and Entertainment together with the Governor's Office of Motion
Picture & Television present a workshop on filming in New York. "
you know that most of the chocolate we consume is on the backs of child slaves?
"The Chocolate Case," the opening night feature of this year's
Socially Relevant Film Festival, chronicles the journey of three journalists
who uncover this fact, fail to convince the big chocolate producing companies
to end the practice and eventually enter the chocolate market themselves.
4th SRFF runs from March 13-19 at the Cinépolis Chelsea. It is packed with
films from around the world that will move you, inform you and have you talking
about them for days. There are narrative features, documentary features and
short films. There are also panels, workshops and VR/AR demonstrations to
attend. Parties too.
a desire to become a filmmaker? The afternoon of March 14th features a
"Smartphone filmmaking workshop" that will present an award to the
best smartphone film possibly giving the filmmaker a waiver to submit the film
for free for next year's festival.
15th features a retrospective screening of Charlie Chaplin's "The Great
Dictator" that is preceded by an "Artists in Resistance" panel
In the most notorious snafu in Oscars history, the wrong film- "La La Land"- was announced by presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty (reunited for the 50th anniversary of "Bonnie and Clyde") as the winner of the Best Picture. However, within minutes, the triumphant producers had to hand the award over to the makers of "Moonlight", which was the official winner. Beatty and Dunaway were not to blame- they had been handed the envelope for Best Actress, which had just been given to Emma Stone for "La La Land". Confused, Dunaway announced the winner was "La La Land". The debacle left a group of incredulous people on stage even while the producers of "La La Land" graciously handed over the award to the "Moonlight" team. The finale looked like a scene from "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World".
The ceremony itself was over-produced and over-long with Jimmy Kimmel as less-than-satisfactory host. He turned the entire event into a cheap comedy segment from one of his late-night shows with cringe-inducing bits that were both elaborate and unfunny. They ranged from literally parachuting donuts onto the audience to bringing in a busload of incredulous tourists into the auditorium. The latter was a one-minute joke stretched to interminable lengths as we watched the tourists ask the stars for autographs! Meanwhile, political punditry was predictably in vogue with many snipes at President Trump, whose obsession for media attention is considered a mental illness by opponents and an amusing eccentricity by his supporters, If Kimmel and company really wanted to get under the president's skin, they would have refrained from mentioning his name at all. Besides, nobody tunes into the show for political advice. There was an offensive comedy segment in which stars read actual offensive Tweets about themselves. More ridiculous was the segment that paid tribute to artists we lost over the last year. As usual, there were bizarre exclusions including director Guy Hamilton and Oscar nominee Robert Vaughn, to name just two. Meanwhile, the segment featured countless people the public never even heard of. With all the time wasted on comedy skits, couldn't they have extended this segment another couple of minutes to include more artists? The Best Song nominees were mostly duds and the banter between presenters was dreadful. On the up side there were some genuinely inspiring acceptance speeches and it was great to see so many films about people of color being honored. It had been a very fine year for movies but this Oscar telecast was one of the worst. The only upside is that during the Best Picture confusion, Kimmel was heard to promise that he won't be back as host. Let's hope it's a promise that is kept.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON LIVE IN CONCERT, A One Night Only Special Event:
Screening with Live Score Performed by Wordless Music Orchestra
Saturday, April 8, 2017 at Kings Theatre, Brooklyn
Joseph A. Berger and Michael Sayers, in association with Wordless Music and
Warner Bros. Pictures, are pleased to announce BARRY LYNDON LIVE IN CONCERT at
Brooklyn’s extraordinary Kings Theatre on Saturday, April 8, 2017, at 8pm.
Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece will be projected in a new 2K DCP restoration,
with live musical accompaniment by Wordless Music Orchestra, led by renowned
conductor Ryan McAdams.
Barry (Ryan O’Neal), is a young, roguish Irishman who’s determined, in any way,
to make a life for himself as a wealthy nobleman. Enlisting in the British Army
and fighting in Europe’s Seven Years War, Barry deserts, then joins the
Prussian army, gets promoted to the rank of a spy, and becomes a pupil to a Chevalier
and con artist/gambler. Barry then lies, dupes, duels and seduces his way up
the social ladder, entering into a lustful but loveless marriage to a wealthy
countess named Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson). He takes the name of Barry
Lyndon, settles in England with wealth and power beyond his wildest dreams,
before eventually falling into ruin.
Lyndon’s Oscar winning soundtrack features Irish traditional music and military
marches, along with baroque and classical themes by Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach, and
Paisiello. Most notable are sumptuous interpretations of Handel’s Sarabande and
Schubert’s Piano Trio in E-Flat Major, D. 929, which emerges as a recurring,
melancholic love theme for Lady Lyndon.
sublime score will be performed by the 50-piece Wordless Music Orchestra, and conducted
by Ryan McAdams. Barry Lyndon will be projected on the huge, glorious screen of
Kings Theatre (1027 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn), Brooklyn’s premier movie palace and
one of the five ‘Loew’s Wonder Theatres,’ opened in 1929 and magnificently
restored in 2015. This engagement will be on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 8pm,
and promises to be a memorable evening of live music and masterful cinema. The
program is approximately three hours, plus one intermission.
The annual British Academy of Film and Television Arts has presented its awards for the year 2016. For a full list of nominees and winners click here. Cinema Retro's London photographer Mark Mawston was there to cover all the action on the red carpet. Here is a selection of some of his photos. (All photographs copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.)
It looks like the big Hollywood musical is back from the cinematic graveyard as "La La Land" swept the Golden Globes with a record number of seven wins including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. Click here for more. Click here for complete list of winners and nominees.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Kubrick’s BARRY LYNDON LIVE IN CONCERT, A One Night Only Special Event:
Screening with Live Score Performed by Wordless Music Orchestra
Saturday, April 8, 2017 at Kings Theatre, Brooklyn
Producers Joseph A. Berger and Michael Sayers, in association with Wordless Music and Warner Bros.
Pictures, are pleased to announce BARRY LYNDON
LIVE IN CONCERT at Brooklyn’s extraordinary Kings Theatre on Saturday, April 8,
2017, at 8pm. Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece will be projected in a new 2K DCP
restoration, with live musical accompaniment by Wordless Music Orchestra, led
by renowned conductor Ryan McAdams.
Barry (Ryan O’Neal), is a young,
roguish Irishman who’s determined, in any way, to make a life for himself as a
wealthy nobleman. Enlisting in the British Army and fighting in Europe’s Seven
Years War, Barry deserts, then joins the Prussian army, gets promoted to the
rank of a spy, and becomes a pupil to a Chevalier and con artist/gambler. Barry
then lies, dupes, duels and seduces his way up the social ladder, entering into
a lustful but loveless marriage to a wealthy countess named Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson). He takes the name of
Barry Lyndon, settles in England with wealth and power beyond his wildest
dreams, before eventually falling into ruin.
Barry Lyndon’s Oscar winning soundtrack features Irish traditional
music and military marches, along with baroque and classical themes by Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach, and Paisiello. Most notable are sumptuous interpretations of Handel’s Sarabande and Schubert’s
Piano Trio in E-Flat Major, D. 929,
which emerges as a recurring, melancholic love theme for Lady Lyndon.
The sublime score will be performed by the 50-piece Wordless Music
Orchestra, and conducted by Ryan McAdams. Barry Lyndon will be projected on
the huge, glorious screen of Kings
Theatre (1027 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn), Brooklyn’s premier movie palace and one
of the five ‘Loew’s Wonder Theatres,’ opened in 1929 and magnificently restored
in 2015. This engagement will be on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 8pm, and promises to be a memorable evening of live
music and masterful cinema. The program is approximately three hours, plus one
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from The British Film Institute:
London: Friday 17 June 2016 – The first new trailer in four decades for Stanley Kubrick’s Oscar® and BAFTA-winning historical masterpiece BARRY LYNDON is released online today, ahead of the film’s re-release in cinemas across the UK on 29 July 2016.
Commissioned by the BFI in association with Warner Bros. Pictures and created by Ignition Creative London, the new trailer – the first since the film’s original release in 1975 – has a strong contemporary feel to appeal to new audiences. It focuses on the different and conflicting roles and characteristics of 18th century Irish wanderer Redmond Barry (later Barry Lyndon), played by Ryan O’Neal, whose adventures see him climb from innocent rural lad to a lying, cheating English nobleman.
A modern version of the film’s famous main title music – George Frideric Handel's ‘Sarabande’ (from Suite in D minor HWV 437) – adds pace and heightens the dramatic impact of the action on screen, which is as fresh and exciting today as it was forty years ago.
The trailer has been enthusiastically approved by Jan Harlan, Stanley Kubrick’s Executive Producer, who said:
“The trailer does the film justice. Brilliant. I am looking forward to watching the film again.”
It can be seen and embedded from YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjPSGuJskxM
Cinemas that will be showing BARRY LYNDON from 29 July are listed here, with more to follow in the coming weeks: www.bfi.org.uk/releases
BARRY LYNDON is the fifth film to be re-released by the BFI in an on-going partnership with Warner Bros., which has resulted in thousands of people being able to see Doctor Zhivago, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining back on the big screen.
One of the great joys any retro movie lover can experience is to view a screening of a classic film with a world-class orchestra playing the musical score as live accompaniment. Many acclaimed orchestras are now doing just that and delighting movie lovers across the globe. Among the most impressive performances, not surprisingly, are those presented by the New York Philharmonic, which has a very popular film-related series that is as diversified as it is irresistible. On May 19, the the NYP presented a superb tribute to Charlie Chaplin with a screening of his 1931 masterpiece, "City Lights". Conductor Timothy Brock informed that audience that by 1931 silent film was already dead. The new era of sound was all the rage but Chaplin's clout and popularity were such that he could still find financing for his films despite his insistence that they would be shot and presented as silent movies. Clearly the beloved Little Tramp would have seemed out of place in the new era. Chaplin not only wrote, starred in and directed the film but he also composed it's marvelous score. Brock was approached by Chaplin's estate to see if he could reconstruct the original score based on Chaplin's original notes. Over the decades, the score had been bastardized into many variations performed by countless orchestras and musicians around the world. The task took over a year but the effort was worth it. A sold-out audience at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center applauded wildly throughout. The evening was a triumph not only for Brock and the orchestra but also for Chaplin's legacy.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Film hisotiran Bruce Crawford's 38th salute to classic
cinema and a 60th anniversary
tribute to Cecil B. DeMille's classic epic The Ten
Commandments will be Friday May 27th, at 7pm at the Joslyn Art Museums'
Witherspoon Hall theater 2200 Dodge St Omaha Nebraska.
Special guests, Miss Holly Heston, daughter of screen legend
and star of the film, Charlton Heston and actress Kathy Garver who portrayed
young Rachel in the film. Kathy is best known as Cissy from the classic TV
series Family Affair. Artist Nicolosi will have a United States Post Office
Commemorative Envelope honoring the film and Charlton Heston and the legendary
director of the film, Cecil B DeMille, unveiled at the event.
Tickets on sale May 4th at all Omaha only Hy Vee stores
customer service counters
A rare 35mm revival screening of Bernardo Bertolucci's
1979 controversial drama LA LUNA, organized and hosted by Cinema Retro
columnist David Savage and co-sponsored by Iconic Linx, brought near-sellout crowds to Anthology Film Archives
in Manhattan last Monday night, April 25th, including the family of the late
Jill Clayburgh (1944-2010) star of the film.
Organized both as a belated tribute to Clayburgh and an
attempt, as described by Savage, to bring the neglected film back into popular
and critical consciousness, the screening was a family affair for the beloved
Clayburgh-Rabe family, bringing together Jill's husband, famed playwright David
Rabe, their actress daughter Lily Rabe (star of the forthcoming "Miss
Stevens") and their actor son Michael Rabe. Matthew Barry, Jill
Clayburgh's co-star and son in the film, now 53 and a casting director, flew in
from Los Angeles to attend the screening and panel discussion that followed,
moderated by Savage.
They were joined by David Rabe, who was in Italy during most of the filming and
had many interesting anecdotes to share, including the fact that Bertolucci,
incredibly, broke both arms in a disastrous fall during the making of the film
and was put in casts on both arms, forcing a two-week halt in production.
Matthew Barry admitted that his acting career did not take off as he had hoped
after the release of the film, but did not appear to be looking back in
bitterness. His stories and memories of making the film brought laughter from
the crowd and communicated a lifelong love of his co-star "mother"
Jill Clayburgh, Bertolucci, character actor Franco Citti (in one of the film's
most memorable cameo appearances), and Tomas Millian, who played his real
father in the film. In the film's final scene, Milian slaps his son's face with
an unmistakable force. Unfortunately, Matthew told the audience, the director
instructed him to do it successively harder and harder in numerous takes.
David Savage and actor Matthew Barry.
Perhaps most surprising was the personal video greeting
from the director himself that preceded the screening, which brought a gasp of
delighted surprise from the audience. "There is something very unfair
about you all being able to see my face, but I cannot see yours," he said
from his living room in Rome, looking like more of a beloved grandfather figure
than a reclusive auteur. He seemed touched at the return to New York of
"La Luna," which was not greeted enthusiastically when it premiered in
1979, adding that he particularly wished he could see his young star Matthew
Barry's face as it looked now. He also saluted the rising prominence of Lily
Rabe, confirming that he's heard great things about her as an actress.
Concluding by wishing the audience, "buona visione" (literally
"happy watching"), the greeting nicely framed the film itself,
projected from a flawless 35mm print on exceptional loan from Twentieth Century
Fox Archive. The print's quality showed off the artistry of cinematographer Vittorio
Storaro -- a frequent Bertolucci collaborator and three-time Oscar winner.
Finding the print, Savage told the audience in opening remarks, took him nearly
The film was available on home video only back in the VHS
days, and has never been on DVD in the States. However, that may change later
in 2016 or early 2017 as an American home video label, wishing to remain
anonymous at present, says it has purchased the packaged media rights to the
film for the US market, and will be bringing out a Blu-ray/DVD. Further details
to come as they are made available.- Lee Pfeiffer
The Metrograph is a two-story, rather flat and
rectangular building located at 7 Ludlow Street. The theater is sandwiched inconspicuously
between a funeral parlor and an iron works foundry, a couple of blocks east of
the Canal Street entrance to the Manhattan Bridge. It’s here, where the Lower East Side meets -
or perhaps blurs - with the border of Chinatown, New York City’s cineastes will find the borough’s
brightest new twinplex – one specializing exclusively in indie, art house, and repertory
programming. Since it’s opening in March
2016, the theater has already screened an intriguing variety of shorts, foreign
films, retrospectives, and silents.
The Metrograph’s primary theater is a 175 seat room on
the ground floor, with a second more intimate screening room of fifty seats perched
on the second level. A glass window
partition allows curious filmgoers a rare peak into a projection room outfitted
with two 35mm and one DCP projectors. The second level also features the “Commissary,” a comfortable space
with a small bar and assortment of tables and couches where patrons and artists
are not only welcomed, but encouraged, to congregate before and after screenings
to discuss films and their own creative work. I was told by one Metrograph associate that the theater’s vision to completely
transform this loft space into a small café is approximately three weeks
away. The northernmost corner of the
room that overlooks Ludlow Street has been reserved as a book-selling stall
that will exclusively feature filmmaking-related texts and journals. (Click here to visit theater web site.)
On the weekend of April 8-10, the Metrograph partnered
with Subway Cinema (the 501(c) (3) non-profit that has steered the New York
Asian Film Festival since 2002) to host the sixth annual “Old School Kung-Fu
Fest.” This year’s series of wild martial
art extravaganzas was programmed to celebrate the legacy of Golden Harvest
Productions, the Hong Kong based-studio founded by rogue producer Raymond Chow and
Leonard Ho following their break with the Shaw Brothers. It was through a series of Bruce Lee films
released through Golden Harvest that martial arts-action films would make their
first successful inroads into western markets. Lee, justifiably disappointed by his treatment in Hollywood and relegated
to sidekick and second-fiddle parts, moved to Hong Kong where he would star in no
fewer than four Golden Harvest productions from 1971 through 1973. (Lee’s fifth and final film for the company, the
posthumously released Game of Death (1978)
was cobbled together from bits of footage left behind following his tragic
death at age 32).
Though only Lee’s seminal Enter the Dragon (1973) would be screened over the course of this
weekend’s festival – to a sold-out audience, of course - the “Little Dragon’s” long
shadow remains omnipresent throughout. As might be expected at any celebration of cinematic martial arts mayhem,
the program would feature eight films – seven screened from 35mm elements, one
(The Prodigal Son) via DCP – that arguably
constitute some of the finest work of Lee’s contemporaries, protégés and pretenders.
The film I was most anxious to revisit – for the first
time in nearly forty years - was Brian Trenchard-Smith’s The Man From Hong Kong (1975) (aka The Dragon Flies), featuring Jimmy Wang Yu (“The One-Armed
Swordsman”) and one-shot James Bond George Lazenby. Having brashly walked away from the role of Bond
following his single-turn in On Her
Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), the former model-turned-actor had anxiously
found subsequent film work mostly unavailable. He reportedly financed a good portion of his first post-007 motion
picture, Cy Endfield’s Universal Soldier
(1971), out of his own pocket. In 1972,
Lazenby would accept an offer to appear in the grim and disturbing Italian
Giallo Chi L’ha Vista Morire? (Who Saw Her Die?). As director Aldo Lara would later recall in a
supplemental interview accompanying the film’s DVD release:
Lazenby had already played the role of James Bond and acquired a certain
international fame. This was useful for
the producers… He had deep issues with (Cubby) Broccoli and the entire James
Bond organization… In the end, he didn’t make a lira. He was going to the casinos, staying in big
hotels, and nothing was free. At the end
he was shown the bills and everything had been deducted from his pay… he had
made nothing. His only dream was to
return to his homeland of Australia, buy a boat and sail off alone. He was happy that [this film] would earn him
the money to buy the boat. He was very
available and very nice, but he disappeared after this.”
Well, not entirely. Near broke and recently married with a child on the way, Lazenby was
wandering around London’s Leicester Square where, on a whim, he caught a
late-night screening of Bruce Lee’s Fists
of Fury (aka The Big Boss, 1971). Though sensing a window of opportunity had
opened, the actor hadn’t done his homework particularly well. Lazenby booked a flight to Singapore, only to
discover Hong Kong was Lee’s actual base of operation. He caught a second flight to Hong Kong and, following
a brief meeting with the powerful but uninterested Shaw Brothers, found his way
to Raymond Chow’s office. Though Chow also
seemed indifferent to Lazenby’s unannounced visit, the producer did have the
presence of mind to call down to Lee (“James Bond is here to see you. Can I send him down?”). Though Lee’s answer was a curt “No,” an hour
later the martial arts star emerged from his screening-room session. He asked the down-and-out Australian if he’d
care to share a luncheon with Chow and himself. Midway through that meal – and to Raymond Chow’s sputtering surprise –
Lee coolly instructed his business partner to write out a check in the amount
of $10,000. “I want George to come back
here and do a movie with me, [Game of
Death] and I know he’ll come back if he’s got my money.”
Though he had already begun work on Game of Death, production was temporarily suspended when Golden
Harvest teamed with Warner Bros. for the international breakthrough Enter the Dragon. We’ll never know exactly what role Lee had in
mind for the former James Bond since, on July 20, 1973 and only four days following
their first meeting, Lee was found dead. The executives at Golden Harvest were
devastated. Not only had they lost a
friend and essential creative partner, they now inherited the liability of having
George Lazenby on the company payroll. The
company’s chagrin wasn’t personal. The
truth of the matter was their newly signed leading man was Hong Kong box-office
dead weight: he had absolutely no
kung-fu training and couldn’t speak a word of Mandarin.
Tired of hanging around Hong Kong waiting for something
to be offered in the weeks following Lee’s passing, Lazenby returned home. In January 1974 the actor announced to
reporters that he was offered a role in The
Golden Needles of Ecstasy to be shot “in both Hong Kong and Los
Angeles.” The plot was to involve
ecstasy-producing acupuncture needles of solid gold that “are “So precious […] people in the Orient will do anything to acquire
them.” Though that film actually would see
the light of day – as the disastrous Golden
Needles – Joe Don Baker and Jim Kelly had been assigned the lead male roles
and Lazenby was, once again, left out in the cold.
Remember the old days when unpredictable occurrences seemed to predictably occur at the Oscars ceremony? There was the nude streaker who failed to unravel the ever-unflappable David Niven. There were the political activist winners who used the forum to grandstand for their favorite causes. This included Vanessa Redgrave's pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist remarks during her acceptance speech, Marlon Brando sending a surrogate to reject his "Godfather" Oscar in protest of Hollywood's treatment of Native Americans, "Patton" winner George C. Scott refusing to show up at all in protest of the competitive nature of awards shows, the producers of the anti-Vietnam War documentary "Hearts and Minds" taking solace that that the nation was about to be "liberated" by a brutal communist regime, which caused another stir when Frank Sinatra was pushed on stage at Bob Hope's urging to read a hastily-scribbled denouncement of the remark. The Oscars haven't been as relevant or fun since, though I've been among the dwindling ranks of critics who often defend the entertainment value of the show even as its become ever more chic to diss the telecast as increasingly irrelevant. The Oscars have always been flawed, to be sure, and so have the ceremonies but they have also provided a lot of moments that were fun and sometimes poignant. (If you doubt me, just watch the marvelous segment of Charlie Chaplin returning from blacklist exile to receive a lifetime achievement Oscar in 1972 in the clip below.)
This year's Oscar awards ceremony didn't need spontaneous moments to cause controversy. We knew going in that the elephant in the room would have to be addressed: the on-going criticism in some quarters that the Academy is racist because there were no black nominees this year. This is total nonsense, of course, as has been pointed out by numerous distinguished African-American members of the Academy. Yes, Oscar was lily white this year and last year as well but it certainly wasn't due to an orchestrated attempt to bar people of color from being nominees. Since the 1960s, the Academy has overseen a long, sometimes torturous road toward removing the kinds of prejudicial barriers that not only had traditionally characterized the awards but the Hollywood studio system as a whole. It was a big deal when Hattie McDaniel won for "Gone With the Wind" and Sidney Poitier became the second black actor to win a full quarter of a century later for "Lilies of the Field". Since then the Academy has mirrored the changes in society to the point where no one thinks its particularly newsworthy to report on the skin color of any winner. Still, some folks got their knickers twisted about the all-white field of nominees this year. Host Chris Rock was lobbied to cancel his gig as host of the event, 'lest he be labeled an Uncle Tom. (To his credit, Rock ignored the implied threat.) A few other prominent people made a big deal about boycotting the ceremony. Chief among them, Will Smith, whose absence seemed less a statement of principal than simply pouting over the fact that he didn't get his expected nomination for "Concussion". (Smith conveniently seems to have forgotten that the Academy had previously nominated him twice.) Smith was joined by the ever-angry Spike Lee, despite the fact that his career was launched by winning a student Academy Award. He had also been nominated for two regular Oscars and only this very year accepted an honorary Oscar for his entire career. He showed up to accept that at a pre-broadcast ceremony, all the while denouncing the Academy as engaging in racist behavior. Talk about wanting your cake and eating it, too. Lee pointed out that this is the second straight year that the Oscars nominees were all white. "We can't act?! WTF!!", he asked rhetorically. That's hardly the case. Remember way back to 2014 when the Academy earned praise for its awarding of three Oscars ( and a total of nine nominations) to "12 Years a Slave"? Lee and Smith would somehow have you believe that the Academy members suddenly became racist since then and conspired to deprive black artists from getting nominations. The sad truth is that there is a scarcity of black talent behind the cameras and the major African-American actors often don't appear in films that are Oscar-worthy. That's not to diminish the value of the actors or the films. They are simply gearing their movies to the expectations of their audiences, which is what actors have done since the beginning of time. Chris Rock emphasized this point with an amusing "man-on-the-street" segment in which everyday black moviegoers were interviewed about their opinions of the films nominated this year for Best Picture. None of the people interviewed saw them and some hadn't even heard of any. The lack of interest among younger black people to pursue movie-making careers does deprive the industry of hearing and seeing alternative viewpoints from a cinematic perspective. But what is the solution proposed by Lee and Smith- to force young people to attend film school whether they like it or not?
Last night's ceremony started off well with a witty and expertly delivered monologue by Chris Rock. He gently tweaked the Academy by acknowledging the controversy but then, like a person who can't resist telling a good joke until the point of boredom, he kept revisiting the racism angle throughout the evening with very mixed results. To be sure Rock was himself caught between a rock and a hard place. He had to thread the needle between not appearing to be insulting to the Academy that was paying him a king's ransom to host the show, without alienating his core base of fans. To the degree he succeeded will be determined in the days to come. (Personally, I'm getting weary of major awards shows hiring hosts who have the intention of trashing the very awards the show is about. Enough already.) Suffice it to say Rock was in the ultimate "no win" situation. However, his insistence on not burying the race debate undermined other elements of the show. Adding to the absurdity of the racism accusations was a speech about diversity that was delivered by Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy, who, not incidentally, is an African-American. I don't know of many racist organizations that elect a minority female to be their representative. In any event, the Academy went so overboard in presenting black artists on stage that the whole thing threatened to back-fire. Presumably, the intention was to provide a not-so-subtle rebuke of Smith and Lee's charges by having some of the most respected African-Americans in the industry today show their implied support of the Academy by appearing on the show. After all, does anyone really think living legends like Morgan Freeman or Quincy Jones would lend their presence to a racist ceremony? However, most viewers probably simply regarded this as politically correct pandering to the critics. Indeed, Sacha Baron Cohen, in amusing ""Ali G" character mode made reference to the "token" white presenters. Since the vast majority of people who watch the Oscars are older and white, you could almost hear the comments in homes across the nation: "I hate racism but for God's sake stop cramming all this diversity stuff into the Oscars." Agree or disagree, I've already heard from people who think the Academy, in the immortal words of Louis B. Mayer, should "Leave the messages to Western Union".
Chris: Between a Rock and a hard place.
The main purpose of the ceremony is to celebrate great film-making but the constant references to race threatened to overshadow the individual achievements of the artists. The show ambled on to the customary 3 1/2 hour running time. As usual there were highs and lows. What follows are my random thoughts on various aspects of the show:
It always bothers me that honorary awards to living legends are reduced to a few seconds of film clips from a pre-show dinner. This is supposedly done to allow the telecast to move quickly. However, it also deprives viewers of magical moments such as the Chaplin award shown in the clip above. This year we learned that Debbie Reynolds received an honorary Oscar yet we got to see virtually none of it. Yet there was time for such bizarre segments as "SNL"-like comedy skits, a protracted and unfunny extended gag in which Girl Scouts went into the audience to sell cookies (!)and an appearance by Vice-President Joe Biden (to a rapturous ovation) to denounce sexual harassment on college campuses. Huh? While I don't want to see anyone suffer harassment of any kind anywhere, this was out of place on the Oscars and only justified on the dotted line reasoning that the subject matter was covered in the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Hunting Ground". Sorry- it would have been more appropriate to see Debbie Reynolds in the twilight of her years accepting accolades from her peers.
It was a night of surprises. Alejandro Inarritu, who won the Oscar last year for directing "Birdman", scored a rare back-to-back win for "The Revenant". However, this was also a rare case in which the Best Picture ("Spotlight") was directed by someone other than the Best Director winner. You had to feel for Sylvester Stallone, who was the sentimental favorite for Supporting Actor for "Creed". He lost in a surprise upset to the brilliant Mark Rylance for "Bridge of Spies" that reminded me of a similar situation many years ago when Burt Reynolds was supposed to win in the same category for "Boogie Nights" only to be by-passed by the Fickle Finger of Fate. Let's hope Stallone at least keeps his renewed respect in the industry by not making the mistake Reynolds made and delving back into awful projects in search of a fast, fat pay check. Another big surprise was the fact that "Mad Max: Fury Road" won the most Oscars, six in total, all in the technical categories. A lot of establishment types are still mystified about the critical acclaim this film received and how it ended up with a Best Picture nod. Suffice it to say, it's an acquired taste.
There was a definite political aspect to the show, all of it left wing. As usual some winners used their speeches to sermonize about everything from race relations to the threat of global warming. (They should pass out violins to these people.) At some point I thought I could hear Rush Limbaugh's head explode, though the telecast will give right wing commentators plenty of meat on the bone for their annual dissection of the awards as a thinly-disguised Democratic political event. Having said that, there were precious few Donald Trump jokes. Perhaps he's doing more damage to himself than any writers could.
Style and glamour outdistanced the embarrassing fashion statements. Many of the ladies looked sensational, though I will admit to being vulnerable in terms of overlooking certain fashion mistakes if the necklines plunge deep enough. It's enough to justify the admonishments of Major Hawthorne, played by Terry-Thomas in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", who chastises Americans for their "positively infantile pre-occupation with bosoms!" The men looked equally classy and elegant with the Bond-revived white tuxedo making a major comeback. Host Chris Rock wore one and looked terrific. The biggest faux pas in terms of fashion, quite predictably came from the Oscar winner for Best Costume Design, Jenny Beavan, who won for "Mad Max: Fury Road". She decided to replicate the grunge look of the film by wearing a cheap leather jacket but she came off looking like a character from the "Star Wars" cantina sequence.
Actress/model Kate Upton symbolized the female strategy for attire: "If you've got it, flaunt it!"
An emotional highlight was the Best Score Oscar given to one of the few living legends in the field, the great Ennio Morricone for his score for "The Hateful Eight". Morricone's presence only reiterated just how diminished the field of impressive film composers is today. Sure, there are a handful of reliable names but no one like Morricone, John Barry, Dimitri Tiomkin, Elmer Bernstein or Jerry Goldsmith. That's partly the fault of an industry that regards composers not as valuable members of the production team, as it had in the past, but as necessary evils. Therefore composers are often brought in very late to create scores on ridiculously short deadlines.
The in memorial montage to talents lost in the last year is always a moving highlight, and this year was no exception. However, as usual there were some inexcusable snubs of revered people. The most glaring I noticed was John Guillermin, who directed such major hits as "The Towering Inferno", "King Kong" (1976 version), "Death on the Nile", "Skyjacked" and many others. No mention of beloved character actor Abe Vigoda, either. Yet, there was room in the montage for a host of people who worked in the weeds of show business in terms of public awareness. (Apparently even dead people in Hollywood need press agents.) These omissions cause great backlashes every year but the Academy soldiers on making the same mistakes, thus giving credence to conspiracy theorists who believe that inclusion in the montage is based more on personal relationships than achievements.
Most of the speeches by winners were unremarkable. Popular winner for Best Actor Leonardo DiCaprio was a class act, as was Mark Rylance. When the winners droned on too long, the orchestra fired up Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" to intimidate them into shutting up. It seemed to have little-to-no effect. Maybe next year a helicopter attack can accompany the music to persuade them to get off stage.
Best speech of the night was by presenter Louis C.K. who pointed out that the most deserving nominees were those in the category for Best Documentary (short). He said that these were true artists, driven by a passion for story-telling and filmmaking and that none of them will probably make anything like a living wage in the course of these noble endeavors.
Every year there is at least one presenter who engages in trashy behavior in order to bolster their image as somebody on the "cutting edge". This year it was foul-mouthed "comedienne" Sarah Silverman, who has about as much to do with the contemporary film industry as Fatty Arbuckle. Silverman, with her trademark deadpan Morticia Adams demeanor, strode on stage to introduce a performance of the nominated song "Writing's On the Wall" from "Spectre". She used the opportunity to disparage the long-running franchise and, in doing so, diminished the introduction of the song's writer and performer, Sam Smith. The Bond producers and Smith got the last laugh when the song won the award but one has to wonder why Silverman was chosen to introduce a segment that insulted the nominees? Surely there were composers and singers who would have been honored to have the gig. Instead, they went with a woman whose film credits include something titled "Cops, Cum, Dicks and Flying". Whoever brought her on board should be fired- or worse, made to watch back-to-back screenings of "Copes, Cum, Dicks and Flying".
Speaking of the Best Song category, Smith's Bond number was no classic by 007 standards but it was certainly a lot better than some worst songs in the series (think "Die Another Day" and the wretched "Quantum Of Solace"). It was also light years better than the other nominated songs that were performed including "Til It Happens to You", a dreadful concoction about sexual abuse from "The Hunting Ground" written and performed by Lady Gaga. It may have been written with the best of intentions (abuse victims were present on stage) but that didn't make hearing it any more bearable. Similarly, the song "Earned It" from "50 Shades of Grey" was also terrible. The film is about people who enjoy sado-masochism. After listening to this number I felt that I had been drafted into the ranks of masochists. By the way, two of the nominated songs weren't even performed at all, proving that star power is the primary factor in terms of deciding who the "Cool Kids" are in terms of having their work exposed to millions of viewers. Who gets to tell the nominees of the other two songs that their work doesn't merit being performed? (Click here to view the song performances).
Speaking of Bondian references, it was nice to hear those classic 007 themes played as the show entered each commercial break. Also great that they included Burt Bacharach's superb main theme for the 1967 spoof version of "Casino Royale".
I was happy to see "Spotlight" nab the Best Picture award primarily because it reiterates the valuable and often thankless role that investigative reporters play in democratic societies. Sadly we live in an age where such writing skills and dogged determination are deemed expendable by people who rarely pick up newspapers any more.
Well, that's about it for my take on our old friend Oscar this year. Click here for full list of winners. To weigh in on your own opinions, please visit the Cinema Retro Facebook page.
Cinema Retro's "Man About London" Mark Mawston covers the "A" list events for our site- including last evenings BAFTA awards. Here are some of his outstanding shots from the red carpet. (All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.) Mark has photographed some of the legends of rock 'n roll. Visit Mark's web site by clicking here.
Yesterday the British Academy of Film and Television Arts held their annual awards ceremony, attracting acclaimed actors and filmmakers from around the globe for the festivities in London. Big winners were "The Revenant", "Brooklyn", Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson and Alejandro G. Inarritu. For full list of winners, click here.
Sentimental favorite Syvester Stallone brought home the award for Best Supporting Actor for his acclaimed performance in "Creed".
Major winners in last night's Golden Globe awards included Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson, Matt Damon, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winselt and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whose film "The Revenant" won for Best Motion Picture Drama. "The Martian" won for Best Comedy/Musical, which left a lot of people scratching their heads. Denzel Washington received a lifetime achievement award and legendary composer Ennio Morricone won for Best Score for his work on Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight". Sam Smith's theme song for the latest James Bond movie, "Writing's on the Wall" from "Spectre", won for Best Song. For a complete list of winners, click here. The tradition of host (Ricky Gervais), winners and presenters trying to look hip and relevant by incorporating profanity into their appearances remained firmly in place. For Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever's dissection of the telecast, click here.
On December 5 and 6 the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra performed live orchestral accompaniment to the popular 1990 holiday film "Home Alone" at the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts in Newark and the State Theatre in New Brunswick on respective days. There is a very definite trend by major international orchestras to incorporate cinema in special performances such as these. It's a trend we at Cinema Retro obviously welcome. Not only do these shows allow audiences to relish the thrill of hearing a live orchestra but it also exposes many people to the merits of worthy movies that they may not have been familiar with. We attended this afternoon's performance at the State Theatre. It was preceded by the NJSO's welcome practice of encouraging audience members to show up an hour early for a sing-a-long session that is held in the second floor lobby area. Here, pianist Rob Keiser hosted some rousing renditions of traditional Christmas carols. When the orchestra, under the direction of Constantine Kitsopoulos, took the stage and began to play in synch with the film, there was tremendous applause upon hearing the NJSO's rendition of the legendary 20th Century Fox fanfare that accompanies the studio's logo. The performance was flawless and made one fantasize about what it must have been like to be in the original recording sessions. "Home Alone" might seem a rather bizarre choice for a live accompaniment. However, composer John Williams' score is delightful throughout and the final credits feature traditional Christmas standards that gave the NJSO an opportunity to end the concert on a truly uplifting note. The film itself was shown as a digital restoration with a built-in intermission. I had not seen "Home Alone" since it originally opened in 1990 and I was impressed at how well its attributes have withstood the test of time. Younger members of the audience still howl in laughter at the antics of Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, the latter two as the inept house-breakers who get more than they bargained for from a precocious 8 year-old.
For more about the NJSO and a listing of future events, click here.
you’re above a certain age, Sylvester Stallone is more than an icon, he is an
inspiration. The real-life backstory of Rocky is just as mesmerizing as the
film itself, as a struggling actor refused to sell his script unless he was
able to star as The Italian Stallion. The rest of his history is also ours.
through the private preview in Manhattan was a tour through my own
recollections, as well as Stallone’s filmography. Over 750 props, costumes and personal items
will be offered. Boxing gloves, trunks,
robes, and the original handwritten script are up for sale, as well as the ball
Rocky plays with as he walked through the streets of Philadelphia.
field jacket, machete and Bowie knife, as well as a set of costumes, prop
armour and gun from Judge Dredd are on the block. You
can also buy pieces ranging from Freddy Heflin’s bloodstained peace officer
uniform from Copland, to Stanley Rosiello’s gang jacket from The Lords of
Flatbush, to Angelo “Snaps” Provolone’s three piece suit from Oscar.
up is Deke DaSilva’s flight suit from one of my all-time favorites, 1981’s
Nighthawks, where Stallone and Billy Dee Williams play undercover New York City
Detectives tasked to the Federal government to fight terrorist Wulfgar (Rutger
Hauer in his first American starring role) long before 9/11, with a great tense
climactic scene atop New York’s Roosevelt Island Tramway.
auction will be held in Los Angeles on December 18-20. Visit HA.com/Stallone, or call 866-825-3243866-825-3243 FREE
for more information.
Perhaps it is only fitting that area meteorologists would
forewarn ominously that the Mahoning Drive-in Theater’s “Christopher Lee
Tribute” might take place on a cold and dark and stormy night. After all, it was the villainous film legacy
of the actor – who passed away at age 93 on June 7th of this year – to have frightened
generations of moviegoers in such a bleakly nightmarish rain-soaked setting. As it happened, while the shivery autumnal
chill on Saturday night was undeniable, there was – happily - nary a sprinkle
of precipitation to obscure one’s windshield view of the drive-in’s massive
The Mahoning Drive-in, located amidst the Pocono Mountains
surrounding Lehighton, Pennsylvania, is – quite frankly – an anomaly amongst the
anomalies of surviving drive-in theaters. Whilst most remaining drive-ins have been forced to move cautiously and expensively
to digital projection systems or else suffer their screens going dark, the
Mahoning has survived this past year through a series of weekend-only 35mm
retro-film screenings. The Mahoning has
undoubtedly provided some great repertory movie-going fun this past summer; only
time will tell if the theater’s unorthodox business model is sustainable.
I was pleased to learn that the Mahoning had set aside
a night’s programming to commemorate the legacy of the great Christopher Lee,
the saturnine and elegant British actor who appeared in innumerable films over
a career lasting near seven-decades. I
admit to some bafflement when first seeing the handbill advertising the evening’s
selection of films: “Hercules in the
Haunted World,””Horror Express,” and “Psycho Circus.” It was an odd sort of tribute program as it
would not feature a single popularly acclaimed classic from the honoree’s deep back
catalog. Instead, the program was
seemingly drawn from a triad of second (and perhaps third) tier-efforts celebrated
only among the cognoscenti. I made my peace
with the program when I recognized two of the three films scheduled would likely
rarely – if ever – be presented from original 35mm elements anywhere in the world
in the year 2015.
In any event, the more celebrated legacy of Christopher
Lee was amply exemplified throughout the evening with a series of vintage
trailers. The crew at the Mahoning
promised a cavalcade of Lee-related trailers between features and they
delivered handsomely. There were the
requisite Hammer trailers, of course: “Horror of Dracula,” “Dracula Has Risen from the Grave,” “Scream of
Fear,” “Rasputin, the Mad Monk,” “The Devil-Ship Pirates,” and “She,” as well
as such combo-bill late-night drive-in madness as “Dracula: Prince of Darkness/”Plague of the
Zombies” and “Scars of Dracula/Horror of Frankenstein.” Lee’s non-Hammer horror film work was
represented with a pair of trailers featuring Tigon’s “The Creeping Flesh” and
A.I.P’’s “The Oblong Box.” Perhaps more
enjoyable, if only as a kitschy reminder that there were some mind-numbing
clunkers as well, were the trailers for “The Return of Captain Invincible”
(1983) and “Arabian Adventure” (1979).
The night’s features kicked off with a gorgeous 35mm Technicolor
print of Mario Bava’s handsomely mounted “Hercules in the Haunted World.” Originally released in Italy in 1961 as
“Ercole al Centro Della Terra,” the film was belatedly marketed to
English-speaking countries as “Hercules against the Vampires” or under other similar
but variant titles. This opportunistic marketing
strategy – no matter how false – was designed, no doubt, to ride the gold
sovereign lined coattail pockets of Lee’s mid-60s popularity as the reigning
Count Dracula of the Hammer film series. In a tacked-on preamble to the U.S. version of the film (released in 1963),
Lee’s character, King Lycos, is even described on the film’s soundtrack as a
“diabolical vampire” which he, most certainly is not… or, at least, not in the
more accepted use of the term.
The storyline itself is essentially a paint-by-numbers swords-and-sandals
epic with the usual mythological trappings and supernatural overtones, but is
rescued from the ordinary by Bava’s eerie visualization of the subterranean
underworld. Hercules (played by the
British bodybuilder Reg Park) must travel to Hades, the God Pluto’s grim
“Kingdom of the Dead,” to rescue his true love, the Princess Deianira. Bava’s ghastly underworld is soberly realized
with blue-green tinted labyrinth passageways of swirling mists, of knotty limbs
and thorny vines that hang spookily from dead trees, and of subterranean lakes
of fiery lava. Lee strikes a suitably menacing
figure as the scheming and sadistic King Lycos, though his performance is partly
handicapped by the fact that the actor’s voice is dubbed throughout. One cannot help but mourn the absence of the villainous
gravitas of Lee’s inflected speaking voice. (Click here to order this film from Amazon)
The night’s second feature, “Horror Express (1972)” was
the anchor to the evening’s triptych program. Likely the film most familiar to U.S.
enthusiasts due to it being in near constant rotation on “Chiller Theater” type-programming
in the 1970s and 1980s, this soon-to-be-neglected Spanish-British co-production
eventually fell into public domain status and became a staple of every
low-budget VHS and DVD collector’s set.
Following several minutes of exposition in the
snow-capped mountains of Manchuria’s Hangchow Province, the remainder of the
film is set in the claustrophobic confines of the Trans-Siberian Express. Lee plays Professor Alexander Saxton, a stern
and humorless – but nonetheless prominent – anthropologist who believes he’s
discovered the “remarkable fossil” of the proverbial Missing Link. Things take a turn for the worse when a
curious fellow scientist (Peter Cushing), intrigued by his rival colleague’s secretiveness,
bribes an ill-fated coachman to take a peek inside the heavily chained and padlocked
crate. This proves to be unfortunate as
the fossil, which proves to be not as extinct as one might wish, is released. The creature proceeds to lumber freely around
the train carriage, terrifying and absorbing the brains of his fellow
passengers. (Click here to order this film from Amazon).
The evening’s final film was “Psycho Circus” (alternate
British title “Circus of Fear”) one of a number of Anglo-German co-productions ministered
by Harry Alan Towers which featured Lee as the marquee star in the years
1965-1970. Tower and Lee enjoyed a
measure of box-office success bringing Sax Rohmer’s notorious (and extremely
politically incorrect) super-villain “Fu Manchu” to the big screen. Though Towers’s series of “Fu Manchu” films
with Lee, admittedly, varied widely in quality, they remain enjoyable popcorn
programmers to this very day. For this
film they looked to the novelist Edgar Wallace for inspiration. There were two versions of Wallace’s “Circus
of Fear” (the original 1966 British title): a longer color German version
directed by Werner Jacobs and an English version helmed by John Moxey of “City
of the Dead” and “The Night Stalker” fame.
Jerry Lewis and Martin Scorsese collaborated on the classic film "The King of Comedy". Now Scorsese will moderate an evening with Lewis at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens on Tuesday, October 6. Here is the official description:
With Martin Scorsese and Jerry
Lewis in person Co-presented with the Comedy Hall of Fame
A true Renaissance man, well recognized as one of the greatest comedians
in the history of the field, Jerry Lewis helped define so much of comedy’s
vast language as a stand-up performer, actor, producer and writer. Perhaps
his greatest innovation was as a filmmaker. Taken together, movies such asThe Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The
Errand Boy, The Nutty Professor, The Patsy,and The Family Jewels form a breathtaking virtual dictionary of every aspect of what is
important and essential to the language of comedic film. His films would
help forge the cradle of modern comedies as a separate movement in film, and
his seminal book,The
Total Film-maker(culled from almost 500 hours
of lectures) offers an essential primer for the fledging comedic filmmaker.
This unforgettable evening will be moderated by Martin Scorsese and will
include clips from Jerry Lewis's films.
The ninth annual Drive-in Super Monster Rama was staged
– as is traditional - on the weekend following Labor Day at the Riverside
Drive-in, Vandergrift, Pennsylvania.Inaugurated in 2007, this fiendish gathering of monster-movie insomniacs
is tailored to those who cherish the classic horror films of the 1960s and
1970s.It’s a thoughtfully programmed and
purposely retro affair; fans get to experience (or re-experience) their
favorites as they might have when the movies were new – in the witching hour setting
of an authentic neighborhood drive-in theater.
With each passing year the Monster Rama grows steadily
in attendance and flourishes in reputation.In 2013 the annual gathering spawned a mid-spring sister event, the
April Ghoul’s Drive-in Monster Rama.Co-sponsored from inception by George Reis (of the preeminent cult/horror/exploitation
film review website DVD Drive-in) and
Todd Ament, the proprietor and projectionist of the Riverside, both weekend
events feature eight full-length feature films (almost exclusively from 35mm
elements) as well as a dizzying array of vintage trailers, cartoons, shorts,
and refreshment stand advertisements.
The September event is proudly the more old-school of
the two and this year’s offerings might have been the best yet.On Friday night, September 11, with the
weather as near-perfect as one could expect for the season, there was a four-film
celebration of American International Picture’s Edgar Allan Poe-film cycle.From 1960 through 1964, director-producer
Roger Corman filmed no fewer than eight adaptations of Poe’s work, a remarkable
series of visionary and literate motion pictures that brought together such on-screen
talent as Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Ray Milland, Barbara Steele, Jack
Nicholson, Hazel Court and Basil Rathbone.Of course, it’s without argument that the uncontested big-ticket star of
the enterprise was the legendary Vincent Price.The elegant actor with the menacing but sonorous voice would feature in no
fewer than seven of the eight Poe films.
Though it’s been nearly twenty-two years since his
passing, Vincent Price remains an obvious favorite amongst Monster Rama
attendees. The films of this master of the macabre have been well represented
at the September event; Price remains the only actor to have at least one – and
often several – back catalog films screened at every gathering since launch.So it was to everyone’s delight - and no
one’s surprise - that Price would be the featured player in all four of
Friday’s films: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Masque of the Read Death (1963), Tomb of Ligeia (1964), and
The Haunted Palace (1963).
Roger Corman’s celebrated cycle of Poe adaptations are,
well… exactly that, adaptations.The films are only occasionally literal
re-creations of the original source material; mostly they’re brilliant cinematic
re-imaginings inspired by the author’s body of macabre work.As a child seeing the films for the first
time - in ten minute intervals sandwiched between drain-cleaner commercials on
the 4:30 movie - I was disappointed in them.Surely these were costume melodramas and not genuine horror films.Where were
Today, as an adult with a half-century’s accumulation
of weariness and wisdom, I’ve come to understand that Corman, in the best tradition
of Poe, identified the wellspring of terror as something internal.The short stories, novelettes, and poetry that
ebbed from the pen of this vanguard of American mystery writing is imbued with
a grotesquery that is almost always more psychological than spectral.Corman’s great directorial gift was his canny
ability to visually convey the crippling psychological inner-torment of both
victim and protagonist.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
July 28th, 2015. Actor-turned-filmmaker Michael Lee Stever, (Super Force, Broadway; The Golden Age) and revered stage actress
and Academy Award nominee Piper Laurie (The
Hustler, Twin Peaks, Carrie) recently joined Scares That Care founder Joe Ripple and his
entire team in Williamsburg, Virginia for the second annual Scares That Care Weekend film festival and
Scares That Care is changing
the face of the American film festival, and you can bet things are starting to
heat up in a major way. With hundreds of film festivals and genre events
scattered from coast to coast, it's not unreasonable to maintain that the
'festival scene' could use a serious cage shaking and Scares That Care is doing
just that. To date they are one of the only festivals in the United
States that are donating all net proceeds to the families of their 2015 Campaign. Additionally, with this
year’s convention, the Heritage Humane Society
will have a booth setup to collect money and items for the animals under
their care. A gauntlet hopefully more festivals, and horror conventions might
be inspired to pick up.
All of this because Joe
Ripple, a retired police detective, was motivated to find a way to raise money
for families experiencing medical hardship after witnessing first hand the
financial and emotional struggle his partner faced when his 4-year-old-daughter
was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.
Beloved actress and horror
icon Piper Laurie was on hand for a
screening of Michael Stever's 2012
documentary short film, 'Resurrecting Carrie.' The doc
features Laurie herself as well as a host of other industry professionals who
share thoughts on how Stephen King's classic novel, Brian DePalma's legendary
film, and Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore's cult hit musical influenced,
inspired and helped steer their paths. A
fascinating Q&A with Stever and Laurie followed immediately after the
Laurie (born Rosetta Jacobs)
has become one of the most celebrated, respected actors of our time and is the
recipient of numerous awards. Originally a product of the early studio contract
player system, she finally broke free from stringent, limiting contractual
obligations and has proudly helmed a career that has spawned countless iconic
roles on stage, in film and on television. In 2012 she published her much
anticipated personal memoir, 'Learning To Live Out Loud' which has
garnered raves for its insightful eloquence, wit and blistering candor.
Michael Lee Stever has
worked steadily in the business for nearly thirty years. First as an actor,
singer and dancer and now as full time filmmaker, cameraman, editor and writer.
His first foray into indie film was as UPM on the critically acclaimed
documentary, 'Broadway; The Golden Age.'
He's since produced a handful of engaging documentaries all focusing on
various facets of the thriller/horror genre; 'Saturday Nightmares; The Ultimate
Horror Expo,'featuring George Romero, Tom Savini & Adrienne
Broberg's Guide To Thespians, Sociopaths & Scream Queens'
featuring Elijah Wood, and most recently'Heather's Freddy Cut Nightmare' featuring
iconic 'Nightmare On Elm Street'
heroine, Heather Langencamp.
Other celebs that appeared
at this year's Scares That Care were David Naughton, (American Werewolf in London) Kim Coates, (Sons of Anarchy) Sid Haig, (Jackie
Brown) Larry Drake, (Dark man)
Ginger Lynn, (The Devil’s Rejects)
and many more.
Piper Laurie and Michael Stever.
Be sure and visit www.scaresthatcareweekend.com to get tickets
and learn more about the convention. Visit www.scaresthatcare.org
to learn more about the charity itself.
For press inquiries and interview requests with
Stever, Laurie or 'Scares That Care' founder Joe Ripple, contact Stever
or via cell @ 917 407-8250
Wednesday night, Hollywood took a step back in time and it was a beautiful
thing.Italy’s most glamorous export,
the lovely Sophia Loren, made a rare visit to screen two of her films to an
adoring crowd at the Dolby Theater.The
movie legend was greeted with a standing ovation when she walked out in a
shimmering gown, escorted by director Rob Marshall who was clearly in awe of
the star he cast in Nine, her last Hollywood
film.Settling into two plush seats
separated by a mountain of roses, Marshall introduced her as “A woman with a
heart as big as all of Italy.”Loren
opened up about her life, career and leading men in a 45 minute Q&A,
punctuated by frequent laughter and some poignant moments when she remembered how
movies offered an escape from the misery of post-WWII Italy.
came across as the most humble of stars – illustrated the moment she stepped
onstage when a fan approached from the audience and began speaking directly to
her! Loren told the audience she felt
she “owed” her fans so much and that she never forgot where she came from, “…
Naples and the war and terrible things.” Marshall deftly got the program back on track and Loren was off, talking
about starting off as an extra in Quo
Vadis, connecting with director Vittorio De Sica who cast her in a number
of films which made her a huge star in Italy – attracting the attention of
Hollywood (and a 1962 Best Actress Oscar for her role in Two Women, making her the first actress to win for a foreign
age 80, Loren showed the style, charm and humor that captivated audiences for
over five decades. When Marshall queried
her about her leading men, she remembered Cary Grant (her Houseboat co-star) as being “a special person” and Daniel Day
Lewis, who worked with her on Nine,
as “one of the best alive”. Marlon
Brando’s name elicited a dramatic pause – which had the audience laughing. She related how Brando pulled a diva move on
the first day of production of A Countess
From Hong Kong, showing up hours late to the set. The film’s writer/director, the legendary
Charlie Chaplin had some strong words with Brando and from that point on he
behaved. She also enjoyed making It Started In Naples with Clark Gable,
but remembered he had a watch that would ring at exactly 5 PM every day and
then he’d leave. Done. No late hours for him!
(Photos copyright Mark Cerulli. All rights reserved.)
Marshall also brought up the world-famous photo of Loren ogling Jayne
Mansfield’s generous cleavage. Loren’s
rationale? “I thought everything was
gonna fall out.”
of Loren’s two sons, Edoardo Ponti, came out to introduce The Human Voice, a 26-minute short he directed and co-wrote, based
on the 1930 Jean Cocteau play. Ponti’s version features his mother in virtually
every scene, delivering a rambling, heartfelt monologue to an unseen lover
about to marry another woman. This tour
de force would be daunting for a young star, but for a woman on the cusp of
80? Loren crushed it, as they say,
exhibiting a wide range of emotion from desperation to giddy delight, proving
her acting chops are still gloriously intact. Ponti noted that, “In an age when we idolize the wrong person, tonight
it’s the right person.” The crowd
short was followed by a restored print of Loren’s 1964 film, Marriage Italian Style, directed by
fellow Napolitano, Vittorio De Sica. Loren’s performance earned her a 1965 Oscar nomination for Best
Actress. The film was also nominated for
an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film in 1966.
more than three hours of film and conversation, Ms. Loren wisely skipped the
after-party, no doubt preferring to get her beauty sleep. Who can blame her? Molte Grazie!
July 16th 2014, Cinema Retro’s Eddy Friedfeld moderated a tribute to
the late Sid Caesar with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Billy Crystal at The Paley
Center in Beverly Hills, which Rotten Tomatoes called “funny, touching, and
illuminating.” The two hour program had
Brooks and Reiner sharing stories and recollections of their time onstage and
in the fabled Writers Room of Your Show of Shows and Caesars Hour, and Crystal
sharing how Caesar influenced him to become a comedian, including a step by
step recollection of how he created the legendary Fernando character. For full coverage on the Rotten Tomatoes web site, click here
Cinema Retro's Matt Field and Dave Worrall on the red carpet.
By Matthew Field
headlined an exclusive red carpet event at the Odeon Leicester Square in
London, to mark the 50th anniversary of Zulu – the 1964 epic about
the historic 1879 battle at Rorke’s Drift.
Arriving at the cinema, the Prince told Suzannah Endfield Olivier, the
daughter of the film's director Cy Endfield, that Zulu was one of his favourite
films. 'I watch this film every single year before Christmas time,' he said. 'Maybe
once. Maybe twice.'
Matt and Dave with Cinema Retro contributor Paul Adsacks.
Inside and ahead of the film, guests were treated to a screening of rare
behind the scenes footage shot on location in South Africa in 1964. Cinema
Retro’s Dr. Sheldon Hall, gave the 2,000 strong audience a running commentary
to the black and white footage. Film critic Mark Kermode and Historian Dan Snow
both addressed the audience giving the film a cultural and historical context.
Dave and Matt with Welsh Guards.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who played King Cetshwayo the leader of the
Zulus in the film, was also in attendance. He said in a short recorded piece to
camera “My portrayal of King Cetshwayo, my maternal great-grandfather, was not
only a privilege, but almost inevitable once the idea was conceived. Cy
Endfield and Sir Stanley Baker came to see me at KwaPhindangene to request my
assistance in enlisting the thousands of extras for the Zulu regiments and the
part of King Cetshwayo. But when Endfield saw me, he was struck by the family
resemblance, and persuaded me to play the role myself.”
The Choir of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards performed Men of
Harlech on stage before a specially filmed message from Michael Caine. The
event benefited three very worthy charities - Walking With The Wounded, The
David Rattray Memorial Trust and Sentebale.
Zulu actor Dickie Owen and Henry Coleman a historian of the film who supplied rare footage. Henry also runs a Zulu web site that can be accessed by clicking here.
Finally the audience enjoyed the gorgeous 50th anniversary
digitally restored print of the film. As the lights came up, we began talking
to an elderly gentleman sitting next to us, only to discover, he was in fact 88 year old actor Dickie Owen, who played
Corporal Schiess in the film. In all, a memorable commemoration of a very
memorable British film classic.
It was 70 years ago today that the greatest invasion in modern history took place, as Allied soldiers stormed the beaches of France to liberate Europe from the yoke of totalitarianism. Their sacrifices were not in vain. Brave men from forces of America, Great Britain and Canada led the charge with free French and Polish forces and supporting contingents from other nations including Australia,Norway and New Zealand. From the carnage, a better world emerged, though Eastern Europe would still suffer under the oppression of Communism for decades to come. West Germany would become a beacon of freedom and democracy, eventually reuniting with East Germany after the fall of the Soviet empire. There aren't many men still alive who can recall serving in the momentous events of June 6, 1944. But freedom loving people from across the globe owe them a debt of gratitude, along with those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Appropriately, President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Queen Elizabeth are scheduled to attend the ceremonies at Normandy Beach.
For those readers who are history buffs, this is the most appropriate day to recognize so many sacrifices. The two best films made about the invasion- The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan- should be shown to young people in your family so that they gain an understanding of the cost of freedom.
(For Cinema Retro writer Howard Hughes' tribute to The Longest Day, click here)
Lorcan Otway, owner of the legendary New York theater, starts off the festivities.
Actress Arlene Dahl ("Journey to the Center of the Earth") introduces Alan Cumming.
Alan prepares to be "immortalized" in cement for the theater's walk of fame.
On Monday night, Cinema Retro was invited to attend a private party in honor of actor Alan Cumming at New York's legendary and quirky Theatre 80 St. Marks on St. Marks Place. The venue has its own mini "walk of fame" that dates back many decades. The Theatre/bar also houses the Museum of the American Gangster, as it once had a sordid history that included a gangland rubout. Alan Cumming graciously signed the cement block, having been introduced by the theater's owner Lorcan Otway and actress Arlene Dahl. After the party, everyone thundered to the famed bar, where plenty of good brews and live Irish music (and Irish whiskey) rounded out the evening. (Alan Cumming is currently reprising his Tony Award-winning role in Cabaret on Broadway.)
If you are in New York and would like to visit Theatre 80 St. Marks, click here for info.
(All photos copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
There are precious few things in life that reach the status of absolute perfection. Off-hand I can think of three:
1. A top notch Cuban cigar.
2. A wee-small hours meal in a New Jersey White Castle.
3. Any performance by the New York Philharmonic.
Last night, I had the opportunity to cover the latter for Cinema Retro, as the Philharmonic, under the direction of the esteemed conductor David Newman, presented a magnificent tribute to the music of the Pixar animated film classics. The event took place at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City and was the latest production in the legendary orchestra's tie-ins to major motion pictures. Last year, I reported on the Philharmonic's similar celebration of the films of Alfred Hitchcock. (Click here for coverage) However, the Pixar event was even more impressive. My one gripe with the Hitchcock event was that the film clips included dialogue which distracted from the fact that a live orchestra was providing the background music. Obviously those concerns were shared by others because the clips used in the Pixar tribute were silent, thus allowing the full impact of the magical music scores to be appreciated.
David Newman addressed the packed auditorium prior to the concert and gave some fascinating insights into his family's long ties with film compositions. His father, Alfred Newman, was one of the most acclaimed movie composers of all time, having been accorded an astonishing 45 Oscar nominations and 9 wins. David is a noted film composer in his own right, his brother Thomas has been nominated for 12 Oscars and cousin Randy Newman has been nominated for 16 Oscars and won twice. It's doubtful there will ever be such a family legacy again in the course of motion picture history. David Newman's enthusiasm for the event was evident. He put his heart and soul into the performance. Drenched with sweat but clearly brimming with family pride, he provided an encore of Randy Newman's classic "You've Got a Friend in Me" from the original "Toy Story". It brought down the house. Kudos also to the editing team that so painstakingly put together the film clip montages that perfectly accompanied the scores. In all, there were selections from "Toy Story", "Finding Nemo", "Ratatouille", "A Bug's Life", "WALL-E", "Toy Story 2", "Cars", "Up", "The Incredibles", "Monsters, Inc.", "Cars 2", "Toy Story 3", "Brave" and "Monsters University". All but five of these scores were written by Randy or Thomas Newman. Four of the remaining scores were written by Michael Giacchino, with the score for the Scottish-themed "Brave" composed by Patrick Doyle. (There was a bagpiper brought out on stage to perform with the Philharmonic for themes from this film.)
We've written frequently about the fact that most contemporary movies lack memorable film scores. Composers are treated today like necessary evils rather than valued contributors to the finished movie. Often, they are brought on board after the movie has been completed and given an abbreviated time table to knock out a score. Compare that to the old days when composers were viewed as integral members of the production team who were often scoring sequences while the movie was still in production. The Pixar films still provide high profile presentations of major composer's work. Hearing these superb scores played by one of the world's greatest orchestras was a truly thrilling experience. Even more pleasing was the fact that there were many children in attendance. What better way could there be to illustrate to a young person the the contributions of musical scores to films?
The concerts opened last night and run tonight and tomorrow, May 3. Do not hesitate to attend if you possibly can. (Click here for ticket info)
Now I have to get those two other "perfect" things in life, so I'll have to track down a Cuban cigar while I head off to a White Castle here in Jersey.
BIGGEST SELLING ORCHESTRAL SOUNDTRACK OF ALL TIME PRESENTED LIVE FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME BY OSCAR AND GRAMMY AWARD WINNING COMPOSER JAMES HORNER.
TITANIC LIVE- WORLD PREMIERE
ROYAL ALBERT HALL
27 APRIL 2015
TICKETS ON SALE NOW!
London, 21 March; Avex Classics International and the Royal Albert Hall today announce one of the major music events of 2015, the world premiere presentation of Titanic Live at the iconic London venue on 27th April 2015.
James Horner’s epic score will be brought to life like never before, with the composer himself conducting a 90-piece orchestra, choir and Celtic musicians whilst the film is projected on a vast HD screen. Titanic Live promises to be the live cinematic event of the year, re-creating the uniquely familiar soundtrack which will forever be a part of cinematic history.Horner has composed for over 100 motion pictures, frequently collaborating with directors such as James Cameron and Ron Howard. Other scores include Avatar (the only film to surpass Titanic in box office sales), Braveheart, Aliens, Apollo 13, Star Trek II and more recently, The Amazing Spiderman.
The 1997 blockbuster Titanic, written and produced by James Cameron, became one of the most prolific movies of all time, grossing over $2 billion at the box office and winning 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director and more importantly, Best Original Song and Dramatic Score.Audiences worldwide echoed Hollywood’s appreciation of Horner’s musical score as the CD release became the best-selling orchestral soundtrack in history. Moreover, its lead single, “My Heart Will Go On” performed by Celine Dion was the biggest selling single of 1998, winning Record Of The Year at the 1999 Grammy ® Awards.
James Horner commented: “I am very flattered, and delighted to have been invited to perform the score of Titanic live with orchestra. Usually, putting the music into a film is a highly technical process that the audience never gets a chance to see. By performing the music live with the film, you, the audience, will experience the magic of seeing the live musicians, literally playing the music score as the film runs.”
“There are so many wonderfully talented people that perform the music of film scores, so it is a great honour for me to have the opportunity to share the experience, the musicians’ performances, all the ‘behind the scenes’ magic, with an audience."
Maggie O’Herlihy, Head of Europe and the Americas, Avex Classics International commented: “We are thrilled to announce the world premiere of Titanic Live at the Royal Albert Hall. When Titanic’s epic score takes centre stage, audiences will be able to immerse themselves in the hauntingly beautiful sound-world James Horner crafted like never before.”
Jasper Hope, Chief Operating Officer at the venue, said: “The Royal Albert Hall’s unique connection to the Titanic continues with the world premiere of Titanic Live.
“It was on this stage that the Titanic Band Memorial Concert took place in 1912, held to commemorate the eight heroic musicians who played on as the doomed ocean liner went down. A century later, the Royal Albert Hall was the venue for the world premiere of Titanic 3D. On that unforgettable evening, James Horner took the baton to conduct a 20-minute suite from his score – the most popular orchestral soundtrack of all time – the emotion and romance of the music sending shivers down the spine of everyone in the auditorium.We are delighted that James will now return to conduct the world premiere performance of Titanic Live, with his incredible score performed live and in full for the first time to accompany a high definition screening of the blockbuster film.”
Presented by the Royal Albert Hall and Avex Classics International, a branch of Japan’s leading entertainment business, the Avex Group, Titanic Live marks the start of a series of bespoke live events offering new and innovative ways to experience classical music.
Further worldwide dates for Titanic Live will also be announced shortly.
It's getting harder to indulge in the annual ritual of eviscerating the Oscar ceremonies as boring and ineptly staged. As Cinema Retro readers may know, in recent years I have been among the few critics who have defended the staging of most of the telecasts. They certainly are lengthy but, with the exception of one or two ceremonies, most have been creatively staged and well-paced. Last evening's presentation of the 86th annual Oscar awards held true to that trend. Host Ellen DeGeneres, returning after a seven year absence, was genuinely funny and kept the action rolling at a brisk clip even though the show went a half-hour over its allocated three hour time slot. DeGeneres also worked surprisingly clean with the only tasteless joke made at the expense of a virtually unrecognizable Liza Minnelli. DeGeneres infused the often stuffy ceremonies with a sense of -dare I say it?- gayety. Her mood was infectious with the crowd and it became immediately apparent that even the losers were having a hell of a great time. If DeGeneres overdid any angle, it was working the audience- literally. She spent so much time running amidst the star-packed audience that it began to resemble an old "Stump the Band" segment on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Some of this schtick worked better than others but DeGeneres' gamble on having pizzas delivered to the cavernous auditorium went over very well. Good thing, too...it was a risky gag that, if it had not been successful, the result would have been cringe-inducing. Similarly, DeGeneres put together an impromptu star-packed "selfie" of superstars that resulted in her meeting her goal of making this the most "Tweeted" photo ever.The ceremony was rather awkwardly built around an ill-defined theme of screen heroes. This resulted in a padded running time as montages of clips of famous screen heroes were shown. They were fun to watch but the segments were rather pointless as we watched disjointed examples of cinematic bravery that ranged from The Terminator to Atticus Fitch, James Bond and Batman.
The ceremony continued to the trend of having major stars show up to support the Oscars. Some years ago, it was considered chic not to attend. But last night featured a powerhouse lineup that included most of the nominees as well as genuine legends like Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford and even Kim Novak, who emerged from self-imposed exile. It was also great to see a true icon, Sidney Poiter (frail, but dignified), on stage fifty years after his ground-breaking Oscar win for Lilies of the Field. Bette Midler, looking better than ever, rendered a wonderful rendition of The Wind Beneath My Wings following the always-moving memorial film clip montage of all the great artists we have lost in the last year. Pink appeared on stage to sing a lovely version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow in tribute to the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. It was a beautifully staged segment that was made all the more poignant by the presence in the audience of Judy Garland's daughters. The four Best Song nominees were well-staged including a soulful performance by U-2 that couldn't quite compensate for the fact that most of the songs were merely pleasant, but hardly memorable. A seemingly ageless Jim Carrey did a dead-on imitation of nominee Bruce Dern in the 1972 film The Cowboys. Sally Field made a presentation and looked wonderfully elegant. The Oscar winner's speeches seemed classier and more heartfelt this year. Jared Leto, winner of Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyers Club, gave a very moving speech that seemed to set a trend in which several Oscar winners took pains to thank their moms, a nice gesture that was enhanced by the fact that some of those moms were in the audience. Lupita Nyongo'o's speech showed sheer, sincere exuberance at having won, in contrast to some of the more pretentious "surprise" moments shown by some winners in previous years. Cate Blanchett's win for Blue Jasmine was well-deserved but her heartfelt speech droned on so long that one thought she would acknowledge every person in the Sydney phone book. John Ridley, winner for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, was quite moving in thanking a mentor who gave him solid advice throughout his years as a screenwriter. Matthew McConaughey reined in his eccentric behavior and gave a rambling but still inspiring acceptance speech after winning Best Actor for his triumphant performance in Dallas Buyers Club.
As for the prizes themselves, virtually all were justified. Surprises were few and included Spike Jonez winning for Best Original Screenplay for the little-seen comedy Her and Alfonso Curaon winning Best Director for Gravity but seeing his film lose Best Picture to 12 Years a Slave. American Hustle became the third film in Oscar history (along with Gangs of New York and the remake of True Grit) to score ten nominations only to end up being shut out.
In all, a solid evening of classy entertainment...and here's hoping Ms. DeGeneres is up for hosting next year.
The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts will present "An Evening with Jerry Lewis" on March 15. The comedy legend will appear on stage for two performances on that date. Click here for more details and to view film clips of the show.
Cinema Retro's London photographer Mark Mawston is always on the "A" list when it comes to covering top entertainment events. Mark provides these remarkable candid photos from the BAFTA red carpet arrivals.
(All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved. For more about Mark's work, visit www.markmawston.com)
American Hustlers Christian Bale, David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper.
David McCallum with event host Bruce Crawford. (Photo: Steve Gray)
By Jon Heitland
On any list of the best films based on World War II, The Great Escape, directed by John Sturges
and based on the novel by Paul Brickhill, will always rank near the top.The compelling story of a group of British
and American prisoners of war and how they outwitted their Nazi captors
observes its 50th anniversary this year, and actor David McCallum,
who plays Ashley-Pitt in the film, travelled to Omaha, Nebraska on November 9,
2013, to help celebrate the classic film. Proceeds went to the Nebraska Kidney
Foundation, which was why McCallum took time from his busy television schedule
to make an appearance.The evening event
centered around a showing of the film at the large, concert-style theater at
the prestigious Joslyn Museum, to an enthusiastic, full house crowd of 1000.
Great Escape 50 year retrospective was another in a long running series of
film tributes organized by Omaha film historian and documentary producer Bruce
Crawford, who, since 1992, has produced similar events for other classic films,
with major sponsorship from Jerry and Patti Gress. Crawford is a lifelong lover of cinema, and
his retrospectives include appearances by the film’s stars or director to share
their recollections with an appreciative audience. Crawford has also produced
two radio documentaries on classic film composers, including Bernard Herrmann (Citizen Kane, Psycho, Taxi Driver, The Day
The Earth Stood Still, Vertigo, North By Northwest, etc.) and Miklos Rozsa
(El Cid, Quo-Vadis, Julius Caesar, King
of Kings, and Ben-Hur).
His past film retrospectives have included a tribute to special
effects legend, Ray Harryhausen, with screenings of Mysterious Island, and Jason
and the Argonauts in 1992; a 35th anniversary screening of Ben-Hur with director William Wyler's
family as special guests in 1993; and The
Longest Day, with director Ken
Annakin and the family of producer Darryl F. Zanuck in 1994. In subsequent years he honored Alfred Hitchcock
with a showing of Psycho, with Janet Leigh and her daughter Kelly as honored
guests; Gone With The Wind with Ann
Rutherford; and Mr. Smith Goes To
Washington, with Frank Capra, Jr.
For The Great Escape
event, local World War II re-enactors appeared in uniform along with a local
modeling club’s display of vintage model planes from the era, along with a
model of a prisoner of war camp. Attendees particularly enjoyed a motorcycle identical to that ridden by
Steve McQueen in the film when he tries to jump a barbed wire fence to elude
German soldiers. A United States Postal Service commemorative envelope for the
50th anniversary of The Great
Escape was also unveiled, featuring scenes from the film involving both
McCallum and Steve McQueen.
Commemorative envelop by the artist Nicolosi.
In introducing the film, McCallum recalled how he got the acting
“bug” at a young age: “My life as an
actor started when I was about 10 years old. I did a scene from King John, from Shakespeare, as a very small prince
in the tower, and there this jailer with a red hot poker is about to put out
his eye, and he pleaded for his life. I did this in a very small theater in a
church, and at the end I got a standing ovation. The scene got a standing
ovation, but I assumed it was for me. At
that moment I realized I had come home, I had found the place where I was going
to be for the rest of my life.”
Memorabilia display (Photo: Jon Heitland)
McCallum, a native Scot, was the son of professional classical
musicians, his father David, Sr., first violinist for the London Philharmonic,
his mother Dorothy a cellist. Young David took up the oboe at age eight, and
attended the Royal Academy of Music for a time, but he left school at age 15 to
attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for two years to become an actor. He
then went into repertory theater, but that was interrupted when he was
conscripted into the National Service. McCallum recalled “I became second in
command of C company, Third Battalion of the Gold Coast Regiment of the Royal
West African Frontier Force.” McCallum noted with pride this unit distinguished
itself earlier in World War II because of the enemy lines of communication it
captured, adding “I mention this because the wonderful thing about being in the
British army is you learn how to put the uniform on, how to march, how to
salute, and that all came in very useful
later on, on several occasions, The Great
Escape being one of them.”
(Photo: Steve Gray)
After leaving the army, McCallum did a lot of television in
Great Britain, with an occasional movie role in such films as The Long, The Short And The Tall, with
Laurence Harvey; Billy Budd, directed
by Peter Ustinov; and Freud with
Montgomery Clift, directed by John Huston. It was while filming Freud that
McCallum met director John Sturges, who would remember him later when casting The Great Escape. Sturges had directed Bad Day At Black Rock, in 1955, one of McCallum’s favorite films.
Sturges had also directed the iconic western The Magnificent Seven, in
1960, which starred Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn, three of
the stars he would feature in The Great
Escape, along with Robert Vaughn, McCallum’s future co-star on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Upon being cast as Ashley-Pitt in The Great Escape, McCallum remembered “When I arrived on set, John
Sturges, the director, gave me a letter, and in the letter it said ‘Let us know what you want, do you need a
babysitter, where would you like to live, would you like a car, would you like
a driver?’ Which was welcoming in a way
which I never thought possible.” McCallum noted he had not done a major
Hollywood type movie before, and he appreciated the respect and care with which
the cast was treated.
On the set of The Great
Escape, McCallum stated the cast all got along well, although they formed
small social groups for their off time: “We had a wonderful time together. The Germans went off with the
Germans, and the British went off with the British, and I went off with Donald
Pleasance., who was a good friend of mine.” McCallum soon also became friends with James Garner, as most of Donald
Pleasence’s scenes were with Garner. The three men remained friends from then
on. McCallum did not see much of Steve McQueen, who played one of his most remembered
roles in the form of Hilts, the cocky American flier whose motorcycle escape
has become a classic sequence, because for many of the ensemble scenes,
McQueen’s character was in the “cooler”.
McCallum also enjoyed the fact his wife, actress Jill Ireland,
and son Paul were with him during the filming, and they would sight see on his
days off in Starnberg, Germany. His
mother also visited the set, and McCallum drove her around Austria. Another member of the Great Escape cast, Charles
Bronson, also became lifelong friends with David McCallum, their friendship
even surviving McCallum’s divorce from Ireland and her later marriage to
Bronson. McCallum has been happily married to his wife Kathy Carpenter since
Although most attendees were interested in re-experiencing the
inspiring film, many were there to meet McCallum, popular today for his role of
Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on televisions’s N.C.I.S.,
as well as a substantial contingent who fondly remembered him as Illya
Kuryakin, the enigmatic Russian spy on The
Man From U.N.C.L.E. from 1964 to 1968. McCallum as Illya created a sensation at the time, resulting in mob
scenes and rock star-like status for McCallum.
The experience of being a “sex symbol”, especially for teen age
girls, caught McCallum by surprise at the time. His character was originally intended to be a a sidekick to Robert
Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo, but quickly became a co-star that helped make the
series a hit in the 1960s and a lasting icon in popular culture. Many of those
teen age girls, now in their 50s and 60s, stood in line after the film to meet
McCallum and get an autograph, which the 80 year old actor graciously supplied
to about 300 attendees anxious to meet him, finishing just before midnight. He also enjoyed seeing a large display of Man From U.N.C.L.E. memorabilia
featuring his image at the event supplied by this writer, a fan from Iowa and
author of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Book:
The Behind The Scenes Story of a Television Classic.
McCallum and Cinema Retro's Jon Heitland in front of a display of Man From U.N.C.L.E. memorabilia. (Photo: Mike Beacom)
Today McCallum, besides appearing on N.C.I.S., also does voice over work on video games, which he
describes as a wonderful opportunity to over act. He commutes regularly from Los Angeles back
to New York City to see his family. He
looks forward to raising a glass of wine to another 50th anniversary
next year, the golden anniversary of the premiere of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
In concluding his remarks on The
Great Escape to the appreciative audience, McCallum emotionally recalled
that the cast first saw the film when it premiered in London at the Odeon
Leicester Square Cinema (the scene of many later James Bond premieres): “The
balcony seats had been reserved for the cast. I sat down in my seat, not
knowing what to expect. And for the very
first time, as the curtain parted, and the music of Elmer Bernstein came up, I
watched that film. And I will never,
ever, forget that moment.”
Barbara Feldon and Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer at the Episcopal Actors Guild in New York City.
On November 21, Cinema Retro hosted an Evening With Barbara Feldon at the historic Episcopal Actors Guild in New York City. The event benefited indigent people in the arts. Ms. Feldon was interviewed by Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer, who asked her about her career prior to her Emmy-nominated performance in "Get Smart". She revealed that she had come to New York as a young woman from her native Pittsburgh with the desire to enter show business. Good looking and statuesque, Feldon was soon hired for a three month stint as a chorus girl at the famed Copacabana. She said it was the most thrilling time of her life, to be young and in New York with unlimited possibilities before her. Shortly thereafter, she became one of the top fashion models of the era, which- in turn- led her to be the face of Revlon in print and on TV ads. Those ads helped elevate her status and brought her to the attention of Hollywood producers. She played some bit roles in TV series before the producers of "Get Smart" (created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry) approached her for the role of Agent "99" opposite Don Adams. She initially turned down the offer, as she already had a lucrative career in modeling. She had also been offered a plum role in Sidney Lumet's film "The Group". She credits her agent at the time for convincing her to accept the part of "99" on the basis that Candice Bergen had the prime role in the Lumet film because she played a lesbian, which was a sensational notion at the time. He cautioned Feldon that she would just be lumped in with the other talented actresses who were to appear in the film and that Bergen would get all the attention. She accepted his advice and reluctantly flew to Hollywood, leaving behind her beloved New York. She immediately knew she made the right decision. The friendly bond between cast and crew on "Get Smart" was addictive and she said the show was a pleasure from day one. She credited Buck Henry for setting the tone of the early episodes, as Mel Brooks had already departed to work on his first feature film, "The Producers". After viewing a screening of the "Satan Place" episode with Cinema Retro's own Joe Sirola as the villain, Feldon remarked at how well the writing held up. Amusingly, she said she still feels self-conscious about how she towered over the much-shorter Don Adams and was reminded of how she attempted to minimize the height difference by slumping a bit in their scenes together or finding an excuse to sit down. Feldon said that when the show's ratings fell in the fourth season and the show moved from NBC to CBS for the fifth and final season, the idea of marrying "99" and Maxwell Smart was done simply as a gimmick, as was the introduction of their twin children who she laughingly said "disappeared rather quickly". Feldon also discussed the fact that the character of "99" was one of the first independent female characters on television. Pfeiffer mentioned that there were precious few such role models aside from Emma Peel and Cathy Gale of "The Avengers" and April Dancer of "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E". Feldon agreed, saying that she was happy that "99" was given more to do than simply being "the skirt" but said that, even then, it was clear that her character was often there to comfort or console the male hero, Maxwell Smart. She said, however, that given this was before the Women's Lib movement, it was rather progressive for the medium of television.
Feldon signs a commemorative shoe phone for contributing Cinema Retro photographer Tom Stroud.
Feldon said that, despite working with Adams for years, she knew very little about his personal life. It was only when they reunited for the TV movie "Get Smart Again!" in 1989 that they truly bonded and became close friends until Adams' death in 2005. Asked about why she didn't appear in the rather anemic "Get Smart" 1980 feature film, "The Nude Bomb", she said bluntly that she simply hadn't been asked. She said she was philosophical about the snub, saying that they were obviously looking for younger women to play against Adams. Pfeiffer asked Feldon to reflect on the contributions of Edward Platt, whose spot-on performance as "The Chief" is often overlooked in evaluations of the show. She said he played an integral part in the show's success and was a truly lovely man who was also a trained professional opera singer. She also discussed her post-"Smart" career when she wrote and performed a one woman show because she thought her acting skills might be getting stale and wanted a challenge that would "terrify" her. She also spoke about her lucrative career as one of New York's top voice-over talents. Speaking of feature films, she said that, at the time, being a TV star had made it difficult to transfer into theatrical films, although she loved working with Dick Van Dyke on the 1968 Disney film "Fitzwilly" and was especially pleased to star with Bruce Dern in the acclaimed 1975 comedy "Smile". She also spoke about how, after a failed marriage and relationships, she came to the conclusion that people don't need committed relationships in order to find happiness. She said her book, "Living Alone & Loving It: A Guide to Relishing the Solo Life", extols the virtues of living an independent life. She said living alone doesn't mean you are living a lonely life. She said her life is filled with wonderful people and great times, but she has chosen not to engage in a monogamous relationship.
"...and loving it!" Barbara expresses her appreciation to "Get Smart" scholar Nate Sears for flying in from Utah for the event.
Cinema Retro reader Tony Latino with Barbara Feldon.
Prior to the event, Barbara Feldon was interviewed for ABC News Radio by film critic Bill Diehl.
Following the interview, Ms. Feldon graciously answered questions, signed autographs and posed for seemingly endless photos with fans. She said she was genuinely touched by the fact that so many people still take an interest in her work. In all, a fun and informative evening with the ultimate New York "independent woman"- who still cites her three month stint as a chorus girl as the most fulfilling time of her career.
(Click here to find out how to join the Episcopal Actors Guild, which is non-sectarian. Dues are only $35 annually and you will get invitations to many exclusive entertainment-related performances and events. Proceeds go to aid charitable causes relating to the arts.)
(Click here to order Barbara Feldon's book "Living Alone & Loving It" from Amazon)
Director Nicholas Ray's 1955 classic Rebel Without a Cause has been restored by Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation. Cinema Retro L.A. correspondent Mark Cerulli attended the recent premiere. Here is his report:
November 1st, Warner Bros. unveiled a loving restoration of the
James Dean classic, Rebel Without A Cause at a special screening at the Los
Angeles Museum of Art.The project was funded
by the Italian fashion house Gucci, which also threw a cocktail party at
LACMA’s Japanese Pavilion before the show.Their party was attended by some of LA’s glitterati including actress
Camilla Belle and original Rebel cast member Jack Grinnage (“Moose”).
Premiere cocktail party.
(Photo copyright Mark Cerulli. All rights reserved.)
this restoration was supported by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, the
director was supposed to introduce the film personally. Work commitments kept him elsewhere, but he
came up with a crowd pleasing last minute substitute – his frequent
collaborator, Leonardo DiCaprio. The
actor seemed relaxed and genuinely excited to be there as he read Scorsese’s
statement about how the film was instrumental in fostering his interest in and
love of movies – especially its palette of rich and vivid colors. (And unlike most celebrity presenters who
duck out of events as soon as the lights go down, DiCaprio took an aisle seat
and stayed for the entire film!)
DiCaprio introduces the restored movie classic.
(Photo copyright Mark Cerulli. All rights reserved.)
goes without saying that the film looked and sounded spectacular. The colors popped and Dean’s iconic screen
presence, Natalie Wood’s fragile beauty and Sal Mineo’s haunting performance all
came across as poignantly as they did on the day of release in 1955. According to Scorsese in the premiere
program, “the original color negative was scanned at 8K resolution” and the
sound had to be digitally sourced and cleaned from the original release print.
the film came out of director Nicholas Ray’s wish to portray “young people
growing up”, it remains a timeless snapshot of 1950s America and a showcase for
the raw power of James Dean.
A couple of years ago we met director Tom Donohue and his colleagues, who were in the beginning stages of their documentary Casting By, which explores the generally neglected contributions of casting directors to major motion pictures. In the ensuing months, Tom and his team have interviewed a remarkable number of prominent directors, actors and producers for their film including Woody Allen, Robert Duvall, Robert Redford, Al Pacino, Robert De NiroMartin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood. The film, which is being touted as a strong Oscar contender, has just opened theatrically in New York. Additionally, Woody Allen, who generally keeps a low profile, was inspired by the film to write an open letter to the movie industry extolling the virtues of casting directors. (To read the letter click here)
Here is a synopsis and play dates for the film:
"Casting is 95% of directing a picture," Martin Scorsese says at the start of Casting By, a "scintillating (THR)", fascinating (NYT)" and "wildly entertaining"(Indiewire) look at an important and vastly under-appreciated craft that will never let you look at movies quite the same way again. Director Tom Donahue focuses his lens on the pioneering contributions of Casting Director Marion Dougherty whose keen eye and gut instincts almost singlehandedly created a profession from the ashes of a dying studio system and helped give birth to the golden era of the New Hollywood. The film combines "the greatest assemblage of talking-head star power in any documentary ever made" (Back Stage) with a rich treasure trove of archival to craft a fun and revealing journey through the last half century of Hollywood. "More than a must-see. It’s a brisk, breezy, enjoyable and often endearing experience." -Film School Rejects
CASTING BY starts today in NYC:
The Elinor Bunim Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center
11:00am.1:10pm. 3:15pm. 5:20pm. 7:25pm. 9:45pm
Q&A with Casting Director Ellen Lewis after the 7:25pm show tonight and tomorrow Click here for tickets
1pm. 3pm. 5pm. 7pm. 9pm
Q&As with casting directors after each screening Fri-Sun
Last evening I had the pleasure of being invited to attend the New York Philharmonic's tribute to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. The unique two-night event at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center had commenced on Tuesday with an evening hosted by Alec Baldwin (who helped conceive of the tribute's format.) Last evening, the closing night's performance was hosted by Sam Waterson, who provided insights into the films chosen for inclusion and the composers who created the memorable scores. Under the banner The Art of the Score, master conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos lead orchestra in a presentation of flawlessly performed original music from specific Hitchcock films in synch with dialogue from the film clips shown. It's an impressive feat, given the fact that being off timing by a mere second could wreak havoc on the concept. The film scores honored were To Catch a Thief (Lyn Murray), Vertigo (Bernard Herrmann), Strangers on a Train (Dimitri Tiomkin), Dial M for Murder (Tiomkin), North By Northwest (Herrmann) and Hitchcock's amusing signature theme, Funeral March of a Marionette which was composed by Charles Gounod in 1872. The entire main title sequences of each film were shown as the orchestra performed the themes. The effect was truly wonderful, with both Kitsopoulos and the orchestra in top form. One became even more aware of how vital Hitchcock's composers were to the quality of his films. What struck me is how such unabashedly lush and often romantic scores have been relegated to the past in today's film industry in which composers are relegated to the status of necessary evils. The work of these masters will be performed for generations after today's largely nondescript film scores have long been forgotten. The strongest part of the performance came after the intermission with particularly effective sequences and music from Dial M for Murder and North By Northwest having a mesmerizing effect on the audience. You could have heard a pin drop. The latter film, which boasts what is arguably Herrmann's greatest score, seemed to be the performance that resonated most with the audience. The concept of having dialogue included in the film clips did not sit well with everyone. My wife, for example, felt that the magnificence of the orchestra was undermined by the inclusion of dialogue in the clips. She maintained that the orchestra was so flawless that the viewer lost sight of the fact that it was a live performance and not simply the original soundtrack being played on celluloid. The Gounod piece, for example, was presented over silent home movies of Hitchcock. The concept could have worked brilliantly but someone diluted the impact by inter-cutting snippets of the trailer from North By Northwest in which Hitchcock makes amusing witticisms about world travel. It might well be more effective if future presentations designed along similar lines presented the film clips without the dialogue and perhaps inter-cut them with still images so that the full effect of the orchestra could resonate even better with audience. Nevertheless, any evening at Avery Fisher Hall is a special occasion and this was a masterful tribute to a master director.
Veering off topic for a bit, I do have to be a bit of a grouch, though it has nothing to do with the venue or the orchestra. Rather, it concerns the behavior of audience members. True, they sat in rapt attention during the entire performance. However, at the end of the program, the maestro had barely lowered his baton before a quarter of the audience scrambled for the exit doors, like the sequence in Hitchcock's Torn Curtain in which a false alarm about a fire causes pandemonium. There was a time when audience members would be too ashamed to leave such a grand performance before the orchestra even took its first bow. Just how important is it to get the first cab or get to the parking lot before anyone else? This trend is nothing new. I've noticed it at Broadway plays. Half the audience is gone before the applause even kicks in at the finale. We all know New Yorkers are perpetually in a hurry but there was a time when a sense of manners and decorum would have trumped their impatience. The audience members who remained to applaud seemed to go out of their way to compensate for those who jumped ship early. I dunno. I guess its a sign of the times. In an era when people look to the casts of Jersey Shore and Duck Dynasty for their role models, it's no surprise we're not seeing the likes of Noel Coward sitting next to us in the audience. Their rudeness and lack of courtesy may not have been intended as a slap in the face of the brilliant artists who performed last night, but the result was the same.
TCM's Dennis Adamovich, Robert Osborne and Jane Powell initiate the formal launch of the TCM Classic Film Tour. (Photo: Turner Classic Movies).
By Lee Pfeiffer
In true Hollywood style, it was an offer I couldn't refuse: an invitation from Turner Classic Movies to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony and inaugural roll out of the TCM Classic Film Tour of New York city movie locations. This event, which took place on August 20, was restricted to the media and invited guests. TCM host Robert Osborne was there to greet everyone along with a Hollywood legend, Jane Powell, who was clearly delighted to participate. Osborne and Powell used giant scissors to cut the ribbon on the bus, which is distinctively branded with the network's logo (and appropriately enough, the ultimate New York City "big" star, King Kong). Joining them was Dennis Adamovich, Senior VP of Brand Digital Activation and the guru behind the Turner Classic Movies Film Festivals. Once aboard the bus, we were treated to what the average attendee will experience on the tour. There is a video greeting by Robert Osborne and a knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guide (in this case, an impressive young lady named Roseanne who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the NY film locations.) There is an abundance of film clips pertaining to the various sites on the tour. The bus does make several stops to allow attendees to disembark for photo opts. These include the famed Dakota apartments where Rosemary's Baby was filmed (and where John Lennon was tragically murdered), the 59th Street Bridge where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton filmed an iconic scene for Manhattan, Holly Golightly's apartment from Breakfast at Tiffanys, the subway grate where Marilyn Monroe posed for the famed "up skirt" photo from "The Seven Year Itch" , the famed Zabar's market where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan encounter each other in You've Got Mail and, concluding the tour, Grand Central Station, site of many a film shoot including classic scenes from Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest. Even an old movie history war horse like myself was humbled by the fact that I could learn so many new facts about these classic films. The tours, which begin operating today for the general public, are three hours in duration and leave from 51st Street and Broadway. Locations are concentrated on the uptown neighborhoods but go as far south as the Empire State Building.
TCM host Robert Osborne with Cinema Retro Editor-in-Chief Lee Pfeiffer. (Photo: copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved)
The 59th Street Bridge, the "star" of an iconic scene in Woody Allen's Manhattan and the inspiration for a classic song by Simon and Garfunkel. (Photo: copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
Other film locations that play major or minor backdrops for popular movies include those seen in Plaza Suite, Coogan's Bluff, Live and Let Die, The Apartment, Arthur, You've Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, Network, West Side Story, The Out of Towners, The Sunshine Boys, Ghostbusters, The Producers, Serpico, Annie Hall, Moonstruck, The Way We Were, Crocodile Dundee, Big, Superman, the Eddy Duchin Story, Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town, Baby Boom, Weekend at the Waldorf, My Man Godfrey, Hannah and Her Sisters, Midnight Cowboy, Barefoot in the Park, Nothing Sacred, Miracle in the Rain and many more. Much use is made of classic film clips showing many of these movies, with emphasis on the 1949 MGM classic On the Town, especially in Columbus Circle where Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin made merry (the original subway entrance and news stand are still intact).
Holly Golightly's apartment from Breakfast at Tiffany's is a residential address today. (Photo: copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
The Dakota apartments where Rosemary's Baby was filmed- and where John Lennon met his tragic end. (Photo: copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
Tour guide Roseanne shows the subway grating where Marilyn Monroe shot publicity stills for The Seven Year Itch. Roseanne informed us that the sequence for the film was shot here but was later redone in the studio. However, the iconic images of Monroe on the New York street still resonate with movie fans worldwide. (Photo: copyright Cinema Retro. All rights reserved.)
There is another value to the tour that extends beyond Hollywood history- and that is the fascinating facts and anecdotes pertaining to how the city itself has changed over the years (and in some cases, remained consistent in terms of film locations.) On Location Tours, which runs the service in conjunction with TCM, also provides trivia questions on the monitors so that attendees can compete for prizes. (This is used as a pleasant way to kill time in case the bus becomes embedded in one of Gotham's notorious traffic jams.)
In all, this is a marvelous treat for both casual movie fans and die-hard TCM viewers. Tickets are $43 for adults, $27 for children. Click here to book tickets and get more info about the tour.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
In celebration of the 40th Anniversary
THE WICKER MAN: The Final Cut
First-ever full 2k Restoration
Back in cinemas 27th September First time on Blu-ray 14th October
Following a public search for the original film materials relating to horror classic THE WICKER MAN, STUDIOCANAL UK made an announcement on Monday about what they have found, via a video message from the film's director Robin Hardy on Facebook page that was set up for the search.
"Studiocanal contacted me last year in their search for the original materials that have been missing... I'm very pleased to announce that Studiocanal have been able to find an actual print of The Wicker Man, which is based on my original cut, working with Abraxas, the American distributors all those years ago. And they plan - and this is the exciting bit - to actual release it. This version has never been restored before, has never been shown in UK theatres before, and has never been converted to bluray before. This version of The Wicker Man will (optimistically!) been known as The Final Cut.
Thank you all Wicker Man fans, and please share and spread the word."
Studiocanal have been conducting an extensive worldwide search for film materials for THE WICKER MAN for the past year, including a public appeal to fans for clues as to the whereabouts of the missing original cut. Eventually a 35mm release print was found at Harvard Film Archives and measured to be around 92 minutes long. This print was scanned in 4k and sent to London, where it was recently inspected by Robin Hardy. Robin confirmed that it was the cut he had put together with Abraxas in 1979 for the US release. This has previously been known as the "Middle Version" and was in turn assembled from a 35mm print of the original edit he had made in the UK in 1973, but which was never released.
Robin accepts that film materials for this "Long Version" will probably now never be found. "Sadly, it seems as though this has been lost forever. However, I am delighted that a 1979 Abraxas print has been found as I also put together this cut myself, and it crucially restores the story order to that which I had originally intended."
Hardy has long maintained that the "Short Version" of the film, which is the only one that has ever been shown in UK cinemas, does not make narrative sense. Of paramount importance to Hardy is that the events on the island take place over a 72-hour period and that Lord Summerisle is established as a character far earlier. Another important inclusion is the performance of the songGently Johnny, which is key in signaling both the strange and unusual community into which Sergeant Howie is intruding, and its complicity in events on the island.
"We are very excited to be able present at last a version of the film that is true to Robin Hardy's original vision,"says John Rodden, General Manager of Home Entertainment of Studiocanal UK."The Final Cut release will reinstate all the important extra scenes that Robin Hardy intended to include and will restore the original timeline and story structure. After extensive film restoration work we will create a new digital cinema master of the film to screen in cinemas across the country for the 40th Anniversary. The Blu-ray will include the UK theatrical cut, The Director's Cut and of course The Final Cut, plus lots more!"
The Final Cut won't include all of the pre-credit mainland sequences, but Hardy himself originally agreed to their removal because the most important scene set in the Church is still there: of Sergeant Howie taking communion.
The 2013 Festival del film Locarno will screen The Wicker Man: 40th Anniversary restoration on Thursday 8th August as part of their homage to Sir Christopher Lee, who will be receiving the Excellence Award Moët & Chandon at the festival.
When asked whether this cut measures up to the fabled original, long version, Robin Hardy puts it most succinctly: "The film as I saw it in the editing suite the other day fulfills my vision of what it was intended to convey to the audience."
THE WICKER MAN: FINAL CUT Out in cinemas 27th September 2013 On DVD/BD 14th October 2013
Ltd 4 disc DVD edition & Ltd 3 disc BD edition to include:
The Final Cut UK Theatrical Cut The Director's Cut (seamless branching on BD only) Audio Commentary Making of Audio Commentary Interview with Robin Hardy (new) Featurette on the Cult of the Soundtrack (new), The Wicker Man: 40 years on Featurette (new), Restoration comparison (new), Burnt Offering: The Cult of The Wicker Man Interview with Christopher Lee & Robin Hardy (1979)\ Original Soundtrack Ex-S documentary Trailer