The web site www.in70mm.com reports that Warner Bros will be screening Stanley Kubrick's classic "2001: A Space Odyssey" in the IMAX format for the first time at 350 North American theaters for one week only, commencing August 24. Four key theaters will be showing the film in IMAX 70mm, thus making this the ultmate viewing experience for fans of the landmark film. Click here for more details.
The annual Monster-Rama Drive-In horror movie festival will take place at the Rivrside Drive-In in Vandergrift, PA on the evenings of September 7-8, 2018. This year's programs includes restored DCP presentations of 8 classic Hammer horror flicks, some featuring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Raquel Welch. Click here for details.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
The LOS ANGELES COMIC BOOK
AND SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION features Author SUSAN E. KESLER, who will be
signing THE WILD WILD WEST, THE SERIES, a new book on the popular 1965-1969
CBS-TV Series. Robert Conrad stars as James West and Ross Martin as master of
disguise Artemus Gordon, Secret Service Agents during the 1870’s. Featuring
Science Fiction and Horror themed storylines, spy gadgets, kung fu and
steampunk, Wild Wild West was conceived as James Bond on horseback. Wild Wild
West is known for it’s many distinctive villains such as Dr. Miguelito
Loveless, a brilliant megalomaniacal dwarf, played by Michael Dunn, and Count
Manzeppi played by Victor Buono. Every episode had a title with the word Night
such as: The Night of the Puppeteer, The Night of the Inferno and The Night of
the Steel Assassin. Find out more in The Wild Wild West, The Series, a 250 page
Behind the Scenes Book.Wild Wild West,
The Series, first published in 1988, is now updated with more photos and information,
and is considered the definitive history of this unique series.
Actor and Stuntman BOB
HERRON starred as KAHLESS, the first Klingon Emperor, in the Classic STAR TREK
episode THE SAVAGE CURTAIN. Bob appeared in 46 episodes of the Wild Wild West
Television series, doubling Ross Martin, also playing various henchmen and
other characters.Bob appeared in
episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Green Hornet, The Invaders, Voyage to
the Bottom of the Sea, The Six Million Dollar Man, Kung Fu, Logan’s Run and
many others.Bob starred as one of the
Mole People in the Classic 1956 Science Fiction Movie, The Mole People, did
stunts in Diamonds Are Forever, Disney’s The Black Hole (Stunt double for
Ernest Borgnine), The Goonies, Soylent Green, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and
Frankenweenie.Bob is only 93 years old
and rarely attends autograph shows, so this is a great opportunity to acquire a
Also appearing, TOM WELLING
and MICHAEL ROSENBAUM for a SMALLVILLE REUNION, and POM KLEMENTIEFF, who stars
as Mantis in the Marvel Movies AVENGERS INFINITY WARS and GUARDIANS OF THE
GALAXY VOL. 2.
The LOS ANGELES COMIC BOOK AND SCIENCE
FICTION CONVENTION will take place SUNDAY, AUGUST 12,
2018 at THE REEF, 1933 South Broadway, in Los Angeles, a mile
north of USC College. Show Hours are 10:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M. Regular
Admission is only $13.00, five years and under are free. Early Admission
is $15.00. The Dealers Room features over one hundred tables full
of Old and New Comic Books, Toys, Action Figures, Funko Pop, Trading
Cards, Trade Paperbacks, Graphic Novels, DVDs, Movie
Memorabilia and many other collectibles! Check www.comicbookscifi.com
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a 40th anniversary screening of "Grease" with director Randal Kleiser in attendance along with stars John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Didi Conn and Barry Pearl. Comedian and actor Margaret Cho will emcee. The event takes place on August 15 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Tickets go on sale July 25th. Click here for more info.
(All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.)
We’ve all had it
happen to us: after years of watching your favourite films in your “second home”,
your favourite cinema closes its doors and the projection light flickers on the
end titles for the last time, only to be replaced by the flutter of pigeon’s
wings who come to roost in the empty theatre before demolition. It happened to
me with the Jesmond Picture House in Newcastle and I’m sure most readers have
had a similar experience. In these days of theatres without flesh and blood projectionists
and the slightly automated feeling that brings to movie-watching, it is always
special to have one last bastion, thriving on the tradition it’s built up over
many years and one you love and visit like an old friend. Such has been the
case with the London Film Fairs at Westminster Halls which I’ve been attending
since moving to London exactly 30 years ago this week. Although it’s great to
have something fresh, it’s also cathartic to have an experience that seems new,
yet traditional at the same time, which is the way I feel about these shows. I
can’t tell you how many wonderful collectibles I’ve picked up over the years here and
although it became a well-loved routine to go there every other month, it never
ceased to provide surprises. Sometimes that pleasure may come from meeting a
memorabilia dealer who had your passion for the same films or having the
opportunity to meet and photograph one of your childhood heroes through their
talks about appearing in the James Bond series or the Hammer and Amicus horror films.
Sometimes there were cast and crew reunions, such as the memorable time the cast
of "Thunderbirds" got back together with no strings attached. Thus, It was a
great shame but sadly not much of a surprise to arrive at Westminster on
Saturday 30June not only to find it was the last day of the month
but also the last fair at these hallowed halls.
The London Film Fair
began 45 years ago and was run by the much-missed Ed Mason for many years
before Thomas Bowington took over, retaining the essence of what Ed had begun,
yet bringing a more professional feel to the event, reflected in the many stars
who attended. The shows are now under Showmasters management. Although the
September Fair was always one of the biggest of the year, the next fair has been
cancelled as the event is now moving to The Royal National Hotel in Bedford Way
in London, near Russell Square. It remains to be seen if this change of location
brings with it changes in those dealers and collectors who attend. One would
hope it won’t but it was the familiarity I described earlier that worked so
well, not only for the collectors but alsofor those who were selling, many of whom attended
those first shows. One would hope that the fair, like the films it celebrates,
will be seen as worth preserving by those behind the scenes as well as those
who attend. We’ll know on November 18th.
Thomas Bowington & Rosalind Knight
The main stars of the
June show were, as ever, from all genres; from Bond “Octopussy” star Vijay Amritraj,
to Jane Merrow (who I interview in the latest issue of Cinema Retro, #41), Sylvia
Syms, Susan Penhaligon, Rosalind Knight, Leonard Whiting (who posed for Retro
in his best Romeo stance from the 1968 classic), to Dr. Who companion Louise
Jameson and Bond Girls Helen Hunt (“Octopussy”) and “You Only Live Twice”’s
Yasuko Nagazumi. The star of the show, however, was Tom Baker, who had huge queues
waiting to see him and got rapturous applause when he finally entered the
building after being delayed. All in all it was a great day, although one
tinged with a little sadness as it was the end of an era. Of course, although Tom
Baker was the main draw, the other stars of the day were the dealers whose
incredible posters, soundtracks, stills and other memorabilia still make this
show one of a kind. I hope the London Film Fair's loyal attendees follow it to the new
venue, as they are its beating heart.
Abramorama has secured the reissue rights to the Beatles' 1968 animated film classic "Yellow Submarine" and will reissue the movie this month in celebration of its 50th anniversary. The screenings will take place on different dates at select theaters across the USA. This edition of the film will feature on-screen lyrics to encourage audience sing-a-longs. Click here for information about screening dates and locations.
From 1937 to 1971 Look magazine was a bi-weekly publication, a "general
interest” publication that along with its main competitor, Life magazine, were the upscale forerunners
of all the supermarket tabloids.. Both mainly consisted of pictorial essays on
sundry subjects; politics, sports, entertainment, news of the day, even
up-close-and-personal celebrity featurettes.
In 1945, a 17-year old high school student
from the Bronx, Stanley Kubrick, sold his first photograph to Look. It's subject was a dejected
newsstand operator sitting amidst newspapers announcing the death of F.D.R..
For all of its candid appearance, the young Mr. Kubrick gave the news seller
direction to "look sadder." A star was born.
From then into 1950 Stanley Kubrick was a
staff photographer for Look. His
assignments were generally to go out in the streets and take photographs that
fit a particular essay a staff writer would pen. He also took many other
photographs on his own that captured the sights, sounds and feeling of his home
Collected here at The Museum of the City of
New York and displayed for the first time are a series of more than 120
photographs taken by young Kubrick and culled from the Museum's Look Magazine archive, an unparalleled
collection that includes 129 photography assignments and more than 12,000
negatives from his five years as a staff photographer.
The exhibition is divided into four themes: Looking.
Visual Style. Working the System. Media Savvy.
Each takes the viewer through the stages of
Kubrick's photojournalistic career that eventually lead one to two clips of
Kubrick's earliest films: "The Day of the Fight" and "Killer's
From assignments such as "Teacher puts
the Ham in Hamlet" to "How a Monkey Looks to People... ...And How
People Look to a Monkey" through profiles of celebrities diverse as
Leonard Bernstein, Rocky Graziano, Diane Von Furstenberg and Montgomery Clift
fans of his film oeuvre can see the Master's eye develop.
The exhibition runs thorough October 28, 2018
and is accompanied by a Taschen published catalog that until June 10th is for
sale only at The Museum of the Moving Image.Cinema Retro was invited to a preview showing of the exhibition and highly recommends a visit to the Museum to see this extraordinary collection.
Fans gathered at the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéma de la Plage on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 in Cannes, France to watch a special 40th anniversary screening of a newly restored version of Paramount’s enduringly popular cultural phenomenon Grease. (Photo:Theo Wood)
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from Paramount:
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (May 17,
2018)— Paramount Pictures hosted a special screening of the enduringly popular
cultural phenomenon GREASE at this
year’s Cannes Film Festival to celebrate the film’s 40th
anniversary.John Travolta and director
Randal Kleiser took part in the Cinéma
de la Plage event on May 16th where fans relived the unforgettable
moments, sensational soundtrack and classic love story at a spectacular outdoor
screening of the newly restored film on the beach.
Thierry Frémaux, Festival de Cannes Director, introduces John Travolta and director Randal Kleiser prior to a special 40th anniversary screening of a newly restored version of Paramount’s enduringly popular cultural phenomenon Grease at the Cannes Film Festival’s Cinéma de la Plage on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 in Cannes, France. (Photo: Theo Wood)
Director Randal Kleiser and John Travolta. (Photo: Theo Wood).
In anticipation of the
film’s anniversary, GREASE was
restored to its original vibrancy with the highest quality sound, picture
resolution and color.The original negative
was scanned and received extensive clean up and color correction using
previously unavailable digital restoration tools.In addition, the audio was enhanced from a
six-track mix created for an original 70mm release, giving the music more
(Photo: Theo Wood)
A new 40th
anniversary edition of the fully restored film was recently released on 4K
Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.
After a costly divorce, Russell Crowe decided to take stock of the vast amounts of memorabilia he had accumulated over the years, including an abundance of costumes and props from his own movies, including a leather jock strap from his 2005 boxing film "Cinderella Man". He decided to part with some of the cherished items at auction in Sydney, where the actor made a surprise personal appearance at the event. In total, the auction raised $3.7 million in revenue, leading the Oscar-winning star to quip that it wasn't a bad hourly rate. Indeed- although it doesn't put much of a dent in the divorce agreement that reputedly saw his wife gain possession of an $11 million mansion and a $20 million payout. That can buy a lot a leather jock straps.... For full coverage and the final prices realized on individual items, click here.
The annual Steve McQueen Car and Motorcycle Show will take place this year on June 18 in Chino Hills, California. As always, the proceeds will benefit the charity organization Boys Republic, a camp where Steve McQueen spent some of his troubled youth. The iconic actor never forgot the positive influence that Boys Republic had on him in his early years. Despite its name, the Club also now benefits young girls who have challenges in life. The annual event operates with the permission and participation of the McQueen family and is much-anticipated by classic car lovers. For details, click here.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from the BFI Southbank:
From Monday 2 April – Monday 30 April, BFI Southbank will celebrate one
of the undisputed masters of cinema, Sergio Leone, with screenings of all his films,
as well as a complementary season of contemporary westerns. The season
coincides with the re-release of AFistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone,
1964), which is back in selected
cinemas courtesy of Park
Circus on Friday 13
April, and plays
on extended run during the season. Also included in the season will
be the other two films in Leone’s Dollars Trilogy –Fora Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad
and the Ugly (1966) – as well as his virtuosic
Once Upon a Time in
the West(1968), and the American gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America(1984).
There will also be a talk from Leone biographer Sir Christopher Frayling on Friday 6 Aprilexamining the distinctively
Italian character of Leone’s unique films and
charting how they’ve been
interpreted and celebrated over the years. Leone continues to influence filmmakers, from Edgar Wright
(whose first film was a parody called A Fistful of Fingers) to Quentin
Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and David Mackenzie, and to complement the season,
there will be screenings of modern takes on westerns, including feminist interpretations and those
which explore the African diaspora's contribution to
the genre; these will
include My Pure Land (2017), followed by
a Q&A with director Sarmad
or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016) and a preview of Chloé
Zhao's The Rider (2017).
Sergio Leone came from a filmmaking family, cutting his teeth working on dozens
of features including Ben Hur, and directed his first
Colossus of Rhodes (1961), a traditional
Italian ‘swords and sandals’ film, before moving
on to the genre that would define his career.A Fistful of
Dollars (1964) was the film that put Leone on the map, a
that flips the American western and gives it some European punch. The first
part of Leone’s Dollars
Trilogy, which is re-released on Friday 13 April, firmly sets out
the winning blueprint for the other two: not least in establishing both the
role of Clint Eastwood’s nameless anti-hero and his
memorable collaboration with Ennio Morricone. It’s
sequel For a Few Dollars More (1965) boasted double the budget of its predecessor and saw Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood play a couple of smart but ruthless bounty
hunters closing in on a vicious gang and their horrific leader. Eastwood’s final
film with Leone The Good, the Bad
and the Ugly(1966), which
completed the Dollars Trilogy, ironically
produced some of their finest work during a period of deteriorating relations.
Eastwood stars as Blondie who, in competition with two equally dangerous and
resourceful men, is after a stash of stolen confederate
gold. The resulting film is undoubtedly one of the greatest westerns ever made.
Also screening in
the season will be Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) starring Henry Fonda, Charles
Bronson and Claudia Cardinale. A piece of land with a
vital water source becomes the focus for this epic
piece covering all the best aspects of the Wild West;
it is both a homage to what
came before and a thoroughly
entertaining addition to the genre. Leone’s final
western A Fistful of Dynamite(1971) is set during the Mexican Revolution in 1913 and
sees a bandit and a British explosives expert
reluctantly team-up in a
tale that reflects the
political instability and violence rocking Italy at the time. Though often overshadowed by his
previous work, his final western is a rarely seen
treat. Completing the programme is Leone’s final film
as director, Once Upon a Time in America(1984), which saw the director transfer his ‘adult fairytale’ approach to the American gangster genre, following the friendship between four
youngsters from New York’s Lower East Side as they rise within the ranks of
organised crime. Despite an all-star cast including
Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern and Joe Pesci, the film was overlooked
critically and commercially in the US, but has since been re-appraised
as one of the greatest gangster films in cinema history.
westerns screening alongside the Leone titles bring
the genre right up to the present day, with recent releases and previews of
brand new features, and regular BFI series WOMAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA and AFRICAN ODYSSEYS alsofeaturing
films from the genre. Based on a true story, My Pure Land (Sarmad Masud, 2017) is a western with a feminist
twist which centres on a land dispute in rural Pakistan; the screening on Thursday
12 April will be followed by a Q&A with director Sarmad Masud.
Another western with a distinctly feminist perspective is Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Mouly
Surya, 2017), which intelligently blends the western genre with arthouse
sensibilities; the film, which previews as part of the BFI’s WOMAN WITH A
MOVE CAMERA series will be followed by a Q&A with the director Mouly
In my critique of the 90th annual Academy Awards ceremony, I criticized the Academy and host Jimmy Kimmel for wasting valuable air time on an elaborat (and unfunny) comedy sketch that deprived viewers from seeing some of the honorees who had received Oscars earlier at a ceremony hosted by the Academy's Governors. Among them was one of the world's finest and most enduring actors- Donald Sutherland, who surprisingly never received a nomination despite giving movie lovers a rich selection of characterizations ranging from those found in screwball comedies to intense dramas. Sutherland delivered a humorous, classy and gracious acceptance speech that viewers never got to see. However, we found this clip of his entire speech that was made available by the Academy. In fairness, the Academy argues that by giving their honorary awards away from the main ceremony, it allows the recipients to speak at length and not be bound by artificial time demands. That's a valid point. However, our guess is that most of the honorees would happily deliver shorter speeches in order to have their moment of glory shared with viewers around the globe.
"There's got to be a morning after" went the strains of the Oscar-winning song from the 1972 film "The Poseidon Adventure" and that somber warning always pertains to coverage of the Oscar events show itself. After last year's abysmal event that saw awful comedy bits, offensive omissions of major stars from the memorial tribute and the historic snafu in which the wrong film was initially announced for Best Picture, there was no where to go but up. Much of the success or failure of these shows rests on the back of the host. I thought it was going to be a mistake to bring back Jimmy Kimmel, as I was generally unimpressed with his performance last year. However, the second time was the charm- or almost. (More on that later). In general, this year's telecast was more tightly structured and moved at a faster clip even though it still ran about three-and-a-half hours. Helping matters was the fact that there was an exciting and highly diverse selection of films competing in the key categories and they boasted some brilliant performances by an eclectic array of actors. Gone are the days when viewers had to suffer through the mandatory opening musical production number, which was generally measured in terms of how misguided it proved to be. Kimmel started off with a witty dialogue that was surprisingly and refreshingly light on the political barbs in spite of the fact that the White House had just gone through a couple of miserable weeks that had brought out a surrealistic number of self-imposed scandals and crises.I had thought there would be so many quips about this that I expected to see President Trump's name listed among the key contributors to the show. (There were, however, some deep digs at Harvey Weinstein, who does not have a political base that can be offended.) However, I was relieved that Kimmel kept himself in check because I'm among those that think major awards shows should try to stick with the subject at hand: the work and the personalities involved in creating it. With Kimmel having decided to follow the old adage and "Leave the messages to Western Union", it fell upon others to promote diversity and equality. Great efforts were made in both areas with Best Actress winner Frances McDormand movingly calling for all female nominees to stand up. It was a moment that illustrated how fast and furiously Hollywood is moving to finally provide opportunities to females in the industry. Similarly, there were many minority artists on stage as presenters, performers and winners. I was glad to see triple-threat Jordan Peele, the director, writer and producer of the ingeniously quirky "Get Out", become the first African American to win the Best Original Screenplay award.
The awards dispensed during the show all went to worthy winners, though I would have liked to have seen "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" take home the Best Picture prize. Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand were popular, if predictable, winners based on their superb performances. "The Shape of Water" took Best Picture, as did its director Guillermo del Toro. The elaborate presentations for Best Song just emphasized the strengths and weaknesses of each of the nominees in this category, as the songs themselves ranged from pleasant to dreadful, which is often the norm. The show was moving along swimmingly until Jimmy Kimmel took viewers and participants on a major, ill-advised detour just as he had last year by introducing an elaborate gag in which people in an adjoining movie theater were used as unknowing props when Kimmel brought an array of celebrities from the Oscars ceremony next door to surprise them. Incredibly, it was a variation of the same awful shtick he pulled off the previous year. There's something rather condescending about bringing in a boatload of rich people to dispense candy and hot dogs to the grateful masses. It's like watching benevolent nobles toss some trinkets to their loyal serfs. Worse, the gag ate up valuable air time that could have been used for more appropriate purposes. Earlier in the show Kimmel made a snide remark about showing some of those honored with Oscars being dismissed with "blink-and-you-miss-them" clips from a ceremony that had been held previously. He correctly needled the Academy for pointing out that these artists and technicians, who would have once been allowed on stage at the "real" event, were now excluded. But his hypocrisy was revealed when he launched his dopey sight gag later. If you think I'm being a grump then ask yourself if it was more appropriate to spend time showing Kimmel and company tossing food to audience members or have the opportunity to see and hear Donald Sutherland accepting the Governor's Award for lifetime achievement.
The segment that honors artists who passed away in the last year should also be retired. Although sensitively presented and well-edited, the number of inexcusable exclusions is now almost downright offensive. Yes, it's great to honor those who make the cut (I counted three personal friends in the montage of artists who have left us in the last year), but if you can't extend the segment for even another few minutes in order to include other worthy honorees, then let's just eliminate it altogether. (The Academy does provide a more comprehensive tribute on their web site. Click here to view).
Cinema Retro's Mark Mawston takes you on the red carpet for the 2018 BAFTA Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London with some up close and personal photos of the celebs. (All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved).
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the festivities.
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" took the top honors for Best Film and Best British Film at last nights BAFTA awards. The film also won best original screenplay for writer/director Martin McDonagh. Frances McDormand was awarded Best Actress and Sam Rockwell received Best Supporting Actor. Allison Janey won Best Supporting Actress for "I, Tonya". Gary Oldman, the odds-on favorite, won Best Actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour". Guillermo del Toro received Best Director for "The Shape of Water". For complete list of winners, click here. For coverage of the ceremony, click here.
On December 1, James Cameron's "Titanic" will be reissued to 87 AMC theaters across America to commemorate the film's twentieth anniversary. The movie has been enhanced by being remastered in the Dolby Vision process. Cameron issued a statement saying “This is beyond 3D, beyond 70mm, it’s beyond anything
you’ve seen before. The image leaps off the screen as bright and
vibrant as life itself. This is the way all movies should be seen and without a
doubt, ‘Titanic’ has NEVER looked better.” For more click here.
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will present two live accompaniment presentations of "An American in Paris" on November 25 at the Performing Arts Center in Newark and on November 26 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. Here is the official description:
"Fall in love with Paris all over again! Watch this 1951
classic film, starring Gene Kelly as a former American GI who falls for
Parisian Leslie Caron, on the big screen while the NJSO plays the score live.
Memorable songs of George and Ira Gershwin—including “Embraceable You,” “Nice
Work If You Can Get It,” “I Got Rhythm,” “’S Wonderful” and “Our Love is Here
to Stay”—plus captivating dancing from the two charismatic stars will
deliver an unforgettable experience for movie lovers!"
After each performance, conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos will hold a discussion about the art of playing live to a film presentation.
For lovers of classic cinema as well as classic music, the recent emergence of presenting screenings of films accompanied by live orchestras has proven to be manna from Heaven. This was particularly true last week at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall when the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of David Newman, presented a big screen showing of "Star Wars: A New Hope" with the Philharmonic providing live accompaniment of John Williams' legendary score. To call the resulting event thrilling would be an understatement. The atmosphere in the hall was unusual for a Philharmonic event, as concert producer Betsey Tumarkin thought outside the box and allowed the Philharmonic to go funky. The hall clearly embraced and catered to the fan movement, which allowed attendees the opportunity to pose for photos with characters from the film. It was an amusing sight, with uppercrust patrons walking about with Martinis intermingling with families with young children who were thrilled to meeting Darth Vader and some of those evil storm troopers. Additionally, self-described "Star Wars" geeks proudly wore their own costumes to the event, making an interesting contrast to those attired more traditionally for a Lincoln Center concert. The resulting detente between both aspects of the audience was due to their common respect for the music of John Williams. Even conductor Newman, an esteemed film composer in his own right, got into the action following four-- yes, four-encore appearances demanded by the thundering ovations - by wielding a light sabre from the podium. I must shamefully admit that I only saw "Star Wars" once, when it opened theatrically in 1977, though I did revisit portions of it back in the dark days of VHS to fact-check a book I was co-authoring with Michael Lewis, "The Films of Harrison Ford". Thus, when the Cinema Retro was invited to attend and review the opening night of the concert series, this became the ultimate offer I couldn't refuse. Perhaps my distance from the film served me well on this particular night because, while I certainly remembered the most iconic aspects of the movie and those classic lines of dialogue, I was able to enjoy the many wonderful nuances of the story and the performances as if for the first time, including the homage to John Ford's "The Searchers" when Luke finds his home destroyed and his family brutally murdered. It was also delightful to see British acting icons Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing evoking applause from contemporary audiences when they first appeared on the screen.
Attendees got into the spirit of things by warming up to dastardly villains.
The version of the film that was screened was the "Special Edition" from 1997. It was especially created for concert events, as it had the dialogue in sub-titles for those instances in which the overwhelming sound of the orchestra drowned out some of the soundtrack. There was an intermission mid-way through the screening, presumably to give the musicians a break, but also to ensure that there was a race to the souvenir stands where attendees could buy exclusive "Star Wars" concert merchandise. In the program created for the event, John Williams states "These live performances allow audiences to hear these scores in a new way. The performance by a live symphony orchestra enables audiences to hear a lot of music that can go unnoticed in the cinema." As for the challenge such events present to musicians, Williams says ""The orchestra must play pretty relentlessly for two hours or more. It is very intense for the brass, particularly in many of the battle sequences that can be 15 or 20 minutes long." Horn player Leelanee Sterrett is quoted as saying, "The brass parts are very prominent in almost all the famous themes you think of: The Imperial March, Princess Leia's Theme, the Throne Room. We have a really important role to play in the storytelling." Of Williams' score, David Newman says "It was so groundbreaking. It completely changed film music".
Sales of concert merchandise were out of this world.
Perhaps the greatest tribute to visionary mind of George Lucas comes from John Williams himself: "(He) created something that seems to be timeless. You'd have to look back to Walt Disney or even Dickens to find a comparison to the longevity enjoyed by the fabulous characters George has conjured. Darth Vader, Yoda and Luke Skywalker are very much still with us and will continue to be for decades to come. Forty years is now looking like a very short time."
(The New York Philharmonic will next present "The Empire Strikes Back" on September 26, 27 and 28; "Return of the Jedi" on October 4 and 5 and "The Force Awakens" on October 6 and 7. Click here for information and tickets.
"Thunderball" co-stars Martine Beswick and Luciana Paluzzi.
Hammer and "Live and Let Die" actress Madeleine Smith.
BY MARK MAWSTON
The London Film Convention, organized by
Thomas Bowington was quite literally a Who’s Who of heroes and villains from
the small and silver screen. The actual Who came in the shape of a Dr. himself
in the guise of Sylvester McCoy, along with Who assistants Katy Manning who played Jo and
Bernard Cribbins from both the Amicus film version and the TV version. There was also a
rare appearance from Garial Woolf. The other key cult British film genres-the Carry On films, James Bond and Hammer horror- were all represented too, with many of the star
guests appearing in all three: from the Carry On Films we had Fenella Fielding,
Anita Harris and Amanda Barrie, from Hammer and Bond we had Maddie Smith,
Valerie Leon, Martine Beswick, Eunice Gayson, John Wyman, Deborah Moore, Jan
Williams, Shane Rimmer, Robert Watts, Golden Girl Shirley Eaton and a rare
appearance from Luciana Paluzzi.
We also had the Star Wars and action films
represented by Vic Armstrong, Wolf Kahler, Jack Klaff, Virginia Hey and many others.
All in all, a fabulous day for the fan and the collector alike with many of the
attendee’s purchasing back copies of Cinema Retro to be signed by the guests! (All photos copyright Mark Mawston. All rights reserved.)
Wolf Kahler- still recovering from looking inside the Lost Ark of the Covenant!
The First Lady of Bond, Eunice Gayson.
Anita Harris & Amanda Barri
Carry On’s Fenella Fielding
Famed Producer & Production Manager from Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Bond Robert Watts with Who assistant Katie Manning.
James Bond's "Golden Girl" Shirley Eaton.
Bernard Cribbins plays ventriloquist to Sylvester McCoy.
CINEMA RETRO HAS RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING PRESS RELEASE:
12, 2017 - New York, NY – At this year’s 15th edition of the New
York City Horror Film Festival, broad-ranged character actor Brad Dourif,
beloved to fright fans as the voice of killer doll Chucky, will receive the event’s
Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday, Oct. 28. The prestigious trophy honors Mr.
Dourif for his long-ranging contributions to horror cinema, and the actor will
accept in person.
Dourif began his career on the stage where he was eventually noticed by Milos
Forman and cast as Billy Bibbit in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, a role
which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He has
brought his craft to classic genre films including the John Carpenter-scripted EYES
OF LAURA MARS; David Lynch’s DUNE and BLUE VELVET; and William Peter Blatty’s THE
EXORCIST III. Dourif gained further renown for voicing Chucky in the CHILD’S PLAY
franchise, the latest film of which, CULT OF CHUCKY, debuts this fall.
features and 31 short films make up this year’s festival, which opens Thurs Oct.
26, with a range of films including New York premieres of Mitchell Altieri’s THE
NIGHT WATCHMEN; Norbert Keil’s REPLACE starring Barbara Crampton; Benjamin
Arfmann’s DISMISSED starring Dylan Sprouse; Richard Stringham’s CLOSE CALLS;
and Mathieu Turi’s HOSTILE starring Javier (IT) Botet; and the North American
premiere of Michael Mongillo’s ghost story DIANE.
festival runs October 26–29, at Cinépolis Cinemas, 260 West 23rd Street.,
at the corner of 8th Avenue and 23rd Street in the heart
of New York’s Chelsea district, just one block over from the famed Chelsea
Hotel, once home to Sid Vicious, Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, Jim Morrison, Bob
Dylan, and Arthur C. Clarke.
NYC Horror Film Festival was born in 2002 by filmmaker Michael J. Hein as a
venue for newer independent horror filmmaking. After Michael’s passing in 2011,
the festival created the Michael J. Hein Achievement Award to celebrate the
hard work and perseverance of creators in the field. George Romero was the
first recipient of the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award, followed by other
classic scaremeisters including Rob Zombie, Roger Corman, Frank Henenlotter,
Robert Englund, Stuart Gordon, and the beloved late Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper,
Angus Scrimm, and Herschell Gordon Lewis.
The full schedule for the New York City Horror Film Festival is here:
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
World Premiere of STAR
WARS FILM CONCERT SERIES
To Feature Iconic
Scores Performed Live to Film
Complete Scores Conducted by David Newman September 15–October 7, 2017
NEW YORK COMIC CON To
Feature RETURN OF THE JEDI and
THE FORCE AWAKENS as
Part of NYCC PRESENTS
“STAR WARS: MUSIC FOR
With Conductor and
Film Score Composer David Newman Moderated by Mark Travis
Part of FREE INSIGHTS
AT THE ATRIUM
September 12, 2017
Presents “Star Wars Film Concert Series Fan Zone” At Each Concert:
Meet-and-Greet with Star Wars Characters, Specialty Drinks,
Booth, Commemorative Merchandise, and More
The New York
Philharmonic will present the World Premiere of Star Wars Film Concert Series, September 15–October 7, 2017,
featuring screenings of four complete films from the saga — A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return
of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens —
with Oscar®-winning composer John Williams’s musical scores performed live to
film. The concerts will be led by acclaimed conductor David Newman.
New York Philharmonic has partnered with New
York Comic Con to feature the Star
Wars Film Concert Series presentation of Return of the Jedi (October 4–5) and The Force Awakens (October 6–7) as part of NYCC Presents — a
series of concerts, live podcasts, comedy acts, and more that brings New York
Comic Con to various venues throughout New York City.
Newman, who is also a film score composer, will discuss John Williams’s
compositional techniques, leitmotifs, and musical philosophy at “Star
Wars: Music for a Galaxy,” a free Insights
at the Atrium event, Tuesday, September 12. Mark Travis — the
New York Philharmonic’s Associate Director, Media Production, and resident Star Wars aficionado — will moderate.
The event takes place at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center
(Columbus Avenue at 62nd Street).
concert attendees are invited to take part in the Philharmonic’s “Star
Wars Film Concert Series Fan Zone” at David Geffen Hall, before and
after each performance as well as during intermission. Ticket holders will have
the opportunity to meet R2D2, Stormtroopers, and other Star Wars characters from costumed fan groups; in addition, they
can take photos in an event-themed photo booth. A commemorative program and
other merchandise will be available for purchase and a specialty cocktail
called the Cantina Margarita (and its non-alcoholic version) will also be
available. Those planning to attend are encouraged to come in costume and share
their Fan Zone experience on social media using
On April 29 the Tribeca Film Festival hosted an historic reunion between director Francis Ford Coppola and cast members from "The Godfather" and "The Godfather Part II". Significantly, the event was held at the nation's crown jewel of theaters, Radio City Music Hall. Joining Coppola were James Caan, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, James Caan, Al Pacino and Diane Keaton. The sold out venue first saw back-to-back screenings of the first two "Godfather" films, which were rapturously received by fans who applauded loudly at the introduction of certain beloved characters as well as classic lines of dialogue. (The audience predictably went wild when the scene arrived of Michael and Kay attending the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall.) Since neither film had ever been shown in the Music Hall, it was especially pleasing for retro movie lovers to experience them in Gotham's famed venue. Upon the final credits of "The Godfather Part II" ending, Coppola and the cast members took the stage for a discussion moderated by director Taylor Hackford. The "Godfather" alumni clearly relished seeing each other after so many years. Coppola was the father figure among the group and most of the comments about the making of the film were appropriately recalled by him. Coppola related how Paramount was skeptical about his abilities to bring the bestselling novel to the screen. At one point early in the production he was alerted that he was to be fired from the $6 million production. The studio brass didn't like the initial footage he had shot, specifically the scene in which Don Corleone rejects a business proposal from Sollozzo to join him in the drug trade. Coppola frantically arranged to reshoot the footage over the weekend and managed to avoid getting fired the following Monday. Coppola credited producer Al Ruddy and Paramount mogul Robert Evans for standing by him as allies, even though he admitted that the mercurial Evans caused him endless agita. Al Pacino related he was also in the studio's crosshairs. Unimpressed with his performance as Michael, he was due to be fired. Coppola came to his rescue by prioritizing the scene in which Michael Corleone shoots Sollozzo and corrupt police captain McCluskey in a restaurant. Coppola presumed that Pacino would carry off the scene brilliantly. He was proven to be correct when Pacino was retained on the film. Talia Shire, sister of Francis Ford Coppola, related how she desperately wanted to play the role of Michael's vulnerable and fragile sister Connie. Coppola actually made her screen test for the part and still felt she was all wrong for it because he envisioned a homely actress in the role. Coppola and the cast member recalled Marlon Brando being in an exceptionally good mood during production perhaps because he saw the film as his lifeline to a career comeback after a decade of boxoffice disappointments. (Brando was represented by a photograph placed prominently on stage among his cinematic "family".) Caan recalled practical jokes played by Brando on the set and Duvall remembered Brando leading male cast members in a mooning contest during filming of the wedding scene. Keaton acknowledged that she had only recently watched the film for the first time in decades because she felt her character never fit in with the all-Italian cast and that she was particularly bothered by her voice in the film. Coppola also revealed how Lenny Montana, who played hitman Luca Brasi, could not remember his lines and delivered them in a halting fashion. To get around the obstacle, he quickly wrote a scene showing the dim-witted Luca rehearsing his "thank you speech" to Don Corleone as though it was a difficult homework assignment. It was a brilliant improvisation that got Montana off the hook and made his brief presence in the film even more memorable. Coppola also paid tribute to the many artists from the films who are no longer with us and specifically praised Al Letieri for his performance as Solazzo.
Special campaign poster designed for the event.
If there was a weak link in the memorable discussions on stage it was Taylor Hackford as moderator. Hackford was understandably enthused about his role but he forgot the golden rule that interviewers should follow: remember that the audience is there to hear the guests, not the interviewer. Hackford seemed to be winging it instead of having carefully prepared questions and often ate up valuable time by giving long personal observations before getting to the point. He also had no rhyme or reason when it came to allocating the questions. Understandably, he went to Coppola more than anyone else but some cast members were treated almost as stage props. Duvall was rarely called upon to make a point, Shire told some good tales in the beginning but was barely heard from again and, to the consternation of audience members this writer spoke to afterward, De Niro was virtually ignored throughout the entire 90 minute discussion. It was only at the very end that Hackford seemed to remember that De Niro was sitting right next to him and the iconic star was given a single question before the evening came to a conclusion. Consequently there was very little discussion of "The Godfather Part II" and no mention at all was made of "The Godfather Part III". Hackford also wasted a good deal of time discussing trivial aspects of the production such as Coppola having the last minute idea of placing a cat on Don Corleone's lap in the first scene of the film, a minor point of interest that Hackford discussed ad nauseum. To his credit, however, Hackford realized the historic nature of the occasion and made it clear he would blow past the imposed timetable and continue the discussions for as long as possible. Consequently, those lucky enough to be in attendance certainly got their money's worth.
In all, "The Godfather" reunion was a superb, full day of entertainment, even if it tested the endurance of everyone's rear ends (the entire event lasted almost nine hours!). Kudos to the Tribeca Film Festival and Robert De Niro for making it a possible and giving classic movie lovers an offer they couldn't refuse.
(To read Star Ledger film critic Stephen Whitty's take on the event, click here).
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will provide live musical accompaniment for a screening of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets". The concert takes place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on October 28. Click here for details.
Include a Raffle for Free Star Wars Concert Tickets,
Giveaway of Star Wars Merchandise to Attendees in Costume,
Performances by Members of the Philharmonic’s Brass Section,
Meet-and-Greet with Star Wars Characters
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
New York Philharmonic is celebrating Star Wars Day by giving Star
Wars fans who come to the David Geffen Hall Box Office early access to
tickets for the Star Wars Film Concert Series on May 4, 2017, at
10:00 a.m., before tickets go on sale widely to the public online at noon.
Fans who arrive by 9:30 a.m. will be entered in a raffle to win a pair of free
tickets to the Star Wars concert of their choice. Three winners will
be announced at 10:00 a.m. The first 20 Star Wars fans to arrive in
costume will receive official Star Wars merchandise and collectible
vinyl. In addition, fans waiting in line will be entertained by members of the
New York Philharmonic’s brass section performing music from the Star Wars movies,
and will have a chance to meet R2D2, Kylo Ren, stormtroopers, and other Star
Wars characters from costumed fan groups. Those planning to attend are
encouraged to spread the word on social media using #nypstarwars.
New York Philharmonic will present the World Premiere of the Star
Wars Film Concert Series, September 15–October 7,
2017, featuring screenings of the complete films A New Hope, The
Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens with
Oscar-winning composer John Williams’s musical scores performed live to the
films. The concerts will be led by acclaimed conductor David Newman.
the release of the first Star Wars movie nearly 40 years ago,
the Star Wars saga has had a seismic impact on both cinema and
culture, inspiring audiences around the world with its mythic storytelling,
captivating characters, groundbreaking special effects, and iconic musical
scores composed by Williams. Fans will be able to experience the scope and
grandeur of these beloved Star Wars films in a live symphonic concert
experience, as the Star Wars Film Concert Series premieres from
September 15 through October 7 at David Geffen Hall in New York City. Legendary
composer Williams is well known for scoring all seven of the Star Wars saga
films, beginning with 1977’s A New Hope, for which he earned an
Academy Award for Best Original Score. His scores for The Empire Strikes Back,
Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens each were nominated
for Oscars for Best Original Score.
has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven British Academy
Film Awards, and 22 Grammy Awards. With 50 Academy Award nominations, Williams
is the Academy’s most nominated living person and the second most-nominated
individual in history, after Walt Disney. In 2005 the American Film Institute
selected Williams’s score to 1977’s Star Wars as the greatest
American film score of all time. The soundtrack to Star Wars also was
preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry, for
being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Williams was
inducted into the Hollywood Bowl’s Hall of Fame in 2000, and he received the
Kennedy Center Honors in 2004, the National Medal of Arts in 2009, and the AFI
Life Achievement Award in 2016. Williams has composed the scores for eight of
the top 20 highest-grossing films at the U.S. box office (adjusted for
Wars Film Concert Series is produced under license by Disney Concerts in
association with 20th Century Fox and Warner/Chappell Music.
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!"
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.
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.
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!