Does this screen grab show an innocuous image of an unidentified extra in "Jaws"- or does it depict a young woman who would be murdered shortly thereafter?
In the summer of 1974 Steven Spielberg was filming his soon-to-be legendary blockbuster "Jaws" on Martha's Vineyard. One hundred miles away in Provincetown, Mass, a badly decomposed and mutilated body of a woman was discovered near a beach area. Police have doggedly tried to solve the crime ever since and the victim has become known as "The Lady in the Dunes". Enter writer Joe Hillstrom King, who writes novels under the nom-de-plume of Joe Hill. King, the eldest song of legendary horror writer Stephen King, became intrigued by the case after reading about it in a book about amateur sleuths attempting to solve cold cases. Shortly thereafter, King happened to attend a retro movie screening of "Jaws". At the 54 minute and 2 second mark, there is a scene in the film showing masses of tourists arriving at the fictitious town of Amity (in reality Martha's Vineyard). King immediately took note of a fleeting glimpse of a female extra who appears at this precise moment in the film. The blink-and-you'll-miss-it flash haunted him because he felt the extra bore a remarkable resemblance to police artist's conceptions of the murder victim. King recently revisited his theory, which was not dismissed by the police out of hand, on a podcast he hosts relating to the movie "Jaws". King doesn't claim he knows that the film extra and murder victim are one-and-the-same but he is still sufficiently intrigued to find out for sure. Someone out there knows who the woman in the film is...perhaps a Cinema Retro reader can shed light on the mystery?
A lost screenplay written by Stanley Kubrick and and novelist Calder Willingham in 1956 has been discovered by writer Nathan Abrams, who was researching his book about the making of Kubrick's final film "Eyes Wide Shut". According to Abrams, the script was based on "Burning Secret", a 1913 novella by Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. Kubrick and Willingham had adapted it to contemporary American society. The script dealt with a then- controversial subject matter: a 30 year old man befriends a pre-teen boy with the intent of using him for access to his married mother in the hopes of becoming her lover. The screenplay has been described as the "inverse of "Lolita" in which a man feigns interest in a mother in order to gain access to her young daughter. (Kubrick made a film version of "Lolita" in 1962). The "Burning Secret" project came about at a time when Kubrick was just starting to direct films for major studios. He had not yet developed an acclaimed reputation, nor did he have any clout with studios. "Burning Secret' was under consideration by MGM but the film never came to fruition, possibly because of the sensitivity of the subject matter in 1956. Indeed, Kubrick had to make major alterations to "Lolitia" years later in order to keep certain sexual elements subdued. For more click here.
Liza Minnelli was reported by Radar Online to have given her blessing to a new big screen biopic of her legendary mother Judy Garland. However, the story was removed from Radar's web site when Minnelli publicly stated that she had no connection to the film and, contrary to the report, had never been in contact with its star, Rene Zellweger. The film chronicles Garlands 1968 concert appearance in London and all the surrounding drama that accompanied it. At that point in her career, Garland was suffering from many personal demons that would lead to her death the following year at age 47. In a statement, Minnelli said that she does not approve of or sanction the film. For more click here.
Davis with fellow Rat Pack members Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop in Las Vegas, 1960, for the filming of "Oceans Eleven". The Pack would film in the daytime, then perform sold-out evening shows at the Sands casino.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Entertainment legend Lionel Ritchie is joining the production team that is intent on bringing the remarkable life story of Sammy Davis Jr. to the big screen. The film will be based in part on Davis's 1965 bestselling memoir "Yes, I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr.". Davis led a dramatic life and career beginning as a child star in Vaudeville and progressing over the decades to be one of the most popular entertainers in the world. He conquered the mediums of stage, screen, records and television. Davis also broke barriers during the Jim Crow era of segregation in the American south. After gaining even more fame and fortune through his affiliation with Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack, Davis did the unthinkable: he dated white women, including Kim Novak. He would later marry Swedish actress May Britt. Their union lasted eight years. Davis was not without other controversies, however. While he enjoyed mainstream success in the 1960s, civil rights activists accused him of being soft on the issue despite Davis having marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. There were also criticisms that he was too willing to cater to Sinatra's whims because of his co-starring status in "Oceans Eleven", "Sergeants 3" and "Robin and the Seven Hoods". Still, by anyone's account, Davis's life is rich fodder for a major film production. Click here for more.
For years, John Travolta pursued his dream of portraying the late New York crime boss John Gotti in a high profile biopic. The long, torturous road to the big screen took seven years before the film was finally released. Travolta had been brought on early due to his star power and passion for the project but despite the actor's extraordinary and often creative ways of publicizing the film, it has fallen flat at the boxoffice. The Hollywood Reporter attributes this to almost universally poor critic's reviews, although audience surveys indicate that those who have seen it viewed the film favorably. The production had to cope with inexperienced producers and patchy financing agreements before filming was completed in 2016. Lionsgate, the studio behind the theatrical distribution, got cold feet about releasing the movie, thus leading to further complications as alternate partnerships and financing had to be found to secure the theatrical engagements. For the story, click here.
This will make Eastwood fans' day: he's returning to the big screen in "The Mule".
Screen icon Clint Eastwood will return to the big screen in his first appearance as an actor since 2012. Eastwood will reunite with his "American Sniper" star in "The Mule", which tells the true story of a 90 year-old WWII veteran who becomes involved with a Mexican drug cartel. The plot has been tweeted to make Eastwood's character an unwitting accomplice of the bad guys. Eastwood will also direct the film. For more click here.
Robin Williams suffered from a brain disorder that led to dementia in the final months of his life. Originally, he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Diseasev but his strange and erratic symptoms led to another diagnosis, this one related to dementia. According to "Robin", a new biography of Williams, the actor was tragically aware of his dilemma, as it affected his performances. He would break down crying at the realization that he could no longer remember his lines. It was a tragic fate for a comedic genius and would ultimately result in him committing suicide. For more, click here.
Cinema Retro has received the following news flash from Park Circus:
We are delighted to be releasing the beautiful 4K digital
restoration (from the VistaVision negative) of Alfred Hitchcock’s
masterpiece Vertigo theatrically from the 13th of July – and we
want to share the new 60th Anniversary trailer and poster with you.
Starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, the all-time favourite of film critics
and fans alike, Vertigo, will screen in Cannes Classics Cinema de la Plage on
the 15th of May, before its 60th Anniversary release across the UK on the 13th
Deadline Hollywood reports that Sylvester Stallone intends to revive the character of Rambo once again in a film tentatively labeled "Rambo 5" (we hope they come up with something a bit more creative.) The character first appeared in 1982 in the film "First Blood" and has since been seen in four sequels, the last being released in 2008. For the latest film, Stallone seems to be tapping into some Trumpian angles, with Rambo taking on a Mexican drug cartel. Stallone is said to be working on the script now but according to Deadline, he will apparently not be directing this entry in the series. It's hoped that the film will start shooting in September. Click here for more.
We recently reported on the Moviepass announcement that the company would now limit subscribers to seeing only four movies a month under the current plan, as a method of trying to reduce the sea of red ink the company finds itself contending with. Now, the web site Wired reports that the company has reverted back to its initial program that allows subscribers to see one movie a day, every day of the month in return for a $9.95 monthly fee. The service has proven to be wildly popular in America and over two million members are now on board. However, the company has not succeeded in its goal of getting theaters to share revenue from concessions, which is crucial to the ability of Moviepass to survive as a viable entity. Meanwhile, the company has told Wired that recent problems with the AMC movie chain have now been resolved. Click here for more.
(Thanks to subscriber Karen Keithler for the alert.)
The Daily Mail reports that British scientists are working with Disney to help reverse the deterioration of classic animated film cells used to create cinematic masterpieces. The original cells were painstakingly created by teams of artists and craftsmen to "animate" Disney films from the early days of the company through the release of "The Little Mermaid" in 1989. This was the era in which CGI effects had not been perfected. Single cells from Disney films that have surfaced in the private collectors market bring many thousands of dollars on auction circuits. However, Disney maintains the bulk of the cells, which are deteriorating with age. The scientists have methods to stop the deterioration and to ensure that this priceless aspect of film history will be preserved properly for generations to come. Click here to read.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
This year is a special anniversary for fans of classic film
& British comedy as it’s 60 years since the first classic Carry On
production, “Carry On Sergeant”, was released in 1958.
The Carry On films have their own distinct style that is
totally unique, beloved by many, and an important part of Britain’s comedy, film,
and cultural heritage, and 2018 marks 60 years since the first Carry On film.
"Carry On Sergeant" laid the groundwork for the
most prolific British film series (yes, more than James Bond). Without this
successful first film, there simply wouldn’t have been all the films that
followed in its path.
British film company Anglo Amalgamated distributed the first
12 Carry On films starting with "Carry On Sergeant" in 1958 and
ending with the much-loved Hammer Horror parody "Carry On Screaming"
To celebrate the British comedies, Art & Hue has created
a stylish pop art collection featuring the classic films and their stars.
Along with the classic film posters, Sid James, Kenneth
Williams, Hattie Jacques, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, and Barbara Windsor (Dame
Babs) have all been transformed into pop art icons by Art & Hue, in a
choice of three sizes and 16 colours.
It has been reported that Steven Spielberg will remake the classic Oscar winning 1961 film adaptation of the Broadway smash "West Side Story". Not many facts are known except that Spielberg is currently working with a casting director to find young talent for the starring roles. The original version won ten Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director (Robert Wise). For more click here.
McQueen and the Mustang graced the cover of Cinema Retro's first issue.
For the iconic car chase in the 1968 classic "Bullitt", two Mustangs were used. The first was known as "The Hero Car" because it was the one driven by Steve McQueen in the iconic film. The second car was known as "The Jumper Car" because it was utilized for the amazing stunt scenes. The latter car was located last year in a Mexican junkyard. However, the vehicle driven by McQueen remained elusive until recently when it was revealed that it had been purchased by a New Jersey insurance executive in 1974 for a mere $6,000. McQueen made two attempts to buy it from the owner, Robert Kiernan, but the offers were refused. Kiernan as he drove the Mustang locally until 1980, putting 30,000 miles on the odometer. Kiernan died in 2014 and the car, which had been kept in the family garage, has been restored by the family and is estimated to be worth millions today. For more click here and here.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
TOM WOODRUFF, JR. & ALEC GILLIS OF studioADI
THE studioADI COLLECTION
WITH 20TH CENTURY FOX CONSUMER PRODUCTS
THE HIGH-QUALITY FINE ART PIECES
WILL INCLUDE ALIEN³ AND ALIEN: RESURRECTION
HAND-CRAFTED WORKS OF ART
CREATED BY THE SAME ARTISTS AT THE SAME STUDIO WHO MADE
THE CREATURES FOR THE FILMS
The studioADI Collection Will Initially Consist of Seven Unique
The Queen Alien Embryo from Alien³, The 1/3 Scale Queen
Alien Head and
The Newborn Alien Full Body Design Maquette from Alien:
Los Angeles, CA (November 20, 2017) For 30 years, Los
Angeles based Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. (studioADI) has been the premier
Creature Effects studio in the motion picture business. studioADI was
co-founded by the Academy Award winning duo of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff,
Jr. in 1988. The team has been
responsible for 3 decades of iconic Creature Characters from the Alien and Predator
franchises to the recent smash hit horror film IT. Today Woodruff and Gillis announced The studioADI
Collection, art inspired by their iconic creations from Alien³ and Alien:
The studioADI Collection consists of high quality fine
art pieces which are not mere collectibles replicated by factory workers. These
are hand-crafted works of art created by the same studio and artists who
originally created them for the films, from the actual molds used in the
production of the history-making films Alien³ and Alien:
“This is the collection designed for fans of these
entries into the Alien franchise as well as aficionados of the art of creatures
and monsters of iconic pedigree,” said Woodruff.
“The studioADI collection is our tribute to the films
that have been an important part of our legacy as artists. Each piece of art
reflects the same detail and passion we poured into the characters when we created
the original Alien films,” said Gillis.
Full descriptions and dimensions of all the art will be
available December 1. Some pieces will
be available as exclusive limited editions. The pieces will be priced from $250.00 -
Below are descriptions of two items:
“The Newborn” from Alien: Resurrection was the
terrifying mix of human and Alien DNA gone wrong. This Full-Scale Bust is cast
from hand-laid translucent polyester resin from ADI's original production molds
and is painted to the same exacting specifications by ADI's painter who painted
the character for the original film. The piece measures
“The Queen Alien Embryo” was seen in David Fincher's Alien³
was nestled next to the beating heart of Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver.
Cast in translucent urethane and hand painted by the same ADI artists who
created the piece for the film in 1991.
At 7" x 9" this piece of art is perfect for
The studioADI Collection launch on December 1, 2017 will
include the following art pieces, which are all hand-crafted and individually
made to order:
Alien Study Model from Alien: Resurrection
Alien Warrior Half Head from Alien: Resurrection
Newborn Alien Head from Alien: Resurrection
Scale Queen Alien Head from Alien: Resurrection
will celebrate their 30th Anniversary in 2018, and the launch of The studioADI
Collection is the first of many exciting announcements Gillis and Woodruff have
planned in conjunction with this historic milestone! Always in-demand, they move into their 30th
year riding high on the huge success of IT and their creature makeup creation
for Pennywise, an instant iconic Movie Monster. Upcoming projects include Bright, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, The
Predator, and Godzilla: King of Monsters.
are Academy Award winning creators of special characters and character effects.
Calling upon a diverse range of talents and techniques, we create prosthetic
make-ups, animatronic puppets, actor duplicates and replica animals. With over
twenty-five years of professional experience, we bring "real"
character effects to the set to interact with actors, lighting, and practical
atmosphere. We pride ourselves on working with the industry's leading cgi
companies to find the right balance of digital and practical effects. We
continue to provide film-makers with realistic and economical character effects
that best serve the story and the production.
20th Century Fox Consumer Products
20th Century Fox Consumer Products licenses and markets
properties worldwide on behalf of 20th Century Fox Film, 20th Century Fox
Television and FX Networks, as well as third party lines. The division is
aligned with 20th Century Fox Television, the flagship studio leading the
industry in supplying award-winning and blockbuster primetime television
programming and entertainment content and 20th Century Fox Film, one of the
world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures.
Writing on the Atlantic web site, Christopher Orr accuses Woody Allen of being essentially a lazy filmmaker whose work in recent years has been over-rated. Orr is no Woody-basher. In fact, he defends the filmmaker's earlier works but says that he is squandering his potential by continuing his eccentric habits which include keeping his cast members as disengaged from the films as possible and intentionally ensuring that he forms no personal bonds with them. Orr also says that Allen's penchant for having as few takes as possible often compromises the final product. Allen himself would seem to agree, having stated in a 2015 NPR interview "“I’m lazy and an imperfectionist. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese will work on the details until midnight and sweat it out, whereas for me, come 6 o’clock, I want to go home, I want to have dinner, I want to watch the ballgame. Filmmaking is not [the] end-all be-all of my existence.” Still, one might feel that Orr is being rather harsh with Allen's achievements, since he has made one film a year over the last fifty years. While Orr correctly states that many of Allen's efforts receive little attention or audience interest, he seems overly-dismissive of his biggest hit, "Midnight in Paris" as well as minor delights such as "To Rome with Love". In the end, it's up to the individual reader to render judgment as to whether Allen is still an invigorating force in the film industry or someone who has been living on past glories. Click here to read.
Now back in the "Star Wars" spotlight, Mark Hamill commands $295 per autograph- and another $286 to pose for a fan photo.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
The Washington Post takes a detour away from the endless political scandals with a front-page article by Amy B. Wang that explores the world of "Star Wars" autograph collectors and the soaring prices to obtain signatures from the series' stars. Wang attended a recent convention in New York City where collectors waited on line for hours to get the prized signatures- and paid dearly for the opportunity, with stars commanding in excess of $200 per autograph. Since Disney acquired the franchise, they have teamed with Topps to make available licensed autographed items in a systematic method via mail order. The advantage is that it eliminates the many fraudulent signatures that have coopted the on-line market but some fans complain that it also takes a good deal of fun out of the hobby by removing the "thrill of the hunt". Click here to read.
The "Last Jedi" roving mini vacuum depicts the image of Darth Vader.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
A couple of years ago I was in London to attend the royal premiere of "Spectre". While inside a Boots pharmacy, I came upon the official Gillette "Spectre" electric razor, which was amusing since there isn't a any reference or scene in the film relating to said razor. The box was also devoid of any imagery from the film except for the logo. I thought at the time that the obsession with manufacturers to tie their products to a hot movie franchise has reached an extreme. The release of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" only reinforces that belief- and I'm not alone. As Variety writer Matt Fernandez points out in a recent article, the products licensed to tie-in to the film are as surrealistic as any space alien seen in the franchise. Do people really buy bananas or a pineapple simply because there is a tag with the film's logo attached? The people at Dole certainly think so. They've made the connection between fruit and outer space with a campaign based on "Unite for a Healthy Galaxy". How about "Last Jedi" bags of salad or a mini roving vacuum with Darth Vader's image? Makeup tie-ins to the Bond franchise have been around for decades but at least that makes sense: 007 movies always feature gorgeous women dressed to the nines. But a "Last Jedi" make-up line? Really? I guess every lady wants to look her best while brandishing her light saber in an attempt to save the universe. Then there are the "Last Jedi" line of fine fountain pens, ice cream and, of course, the "Last Jedi" Storm Trooper line of razors from Phillips, which should fit snugly on your collectibles shelf next to the one you have from "Spectre". Click here to read.
A UK gun amnesty program yielded some unexpected results when, among the weapons turned in to law enforcement authorities, was the actual sub-machine gun film prop used by Clint Eastwood in the 1969 WWII classic "Where Eagles Dare". The gun was turned in by an anonymous man who claimed to have worked in the film industry. In the movie, Eastwood- disguised as a German soldier- wields the weapon with devastating effect as he, Richard Burton and Mary Ure wreak widespread destruction on a castle occupied by enemy forces. The prop gun will be donated to the Royal Armories Museum in Leeds. Click here for more (Thanks to reader Peter Davis for the heads up.)
The late Jerry Lewis made millions of people laugh over the decades- and accumulated millions of dollars in his substantial estate. However, his five children from his first marriage to Patti Palmer, to whom he was wed between the years 1944-1980. were specifically excluded from his will, which was drawn in 2012. Lewis later divorced Patti and married SanDee Pitnick and stayed married to her until his death in August. SanDee, along with their adopted daughter Danielle, inherited his entire estate. There had been strains in Lewis's relationship with his five children with Patti (a sixth son, Joseph, died in 2009 from a drug overdose. Lewis had virtually disowned him and refused to even pay for his funeral.) Whatever the reasons for the severed family ties, they extended to his grandchildren, who were also left out of the will. Early in his career, Lewis extolled the joys of family values, even as he had gained a reputation as a ladies man (which was ironically the title of one of his biggest hits). For more, click here.
They may be dinosaurs but there are still drive-in theaters hanging in there, mostly in rural America. Travel+Leisure has provided a list of the drive-ins that represent the best in the nation. Click here to read.
Hollywood studios are still licking their wounds over one of the worst years in memory in terms of boxoffice performance, though there are signs of a strong final quarter. Still, the guys and gals in the corner offices can't get out of a rut when it comes to lack of imagination. When they have a good thing, their only strategy seems to be to over-indulge in it. As David Sims writes in the Atlantic, Warner Bros. is planning three- yes, three- simultaneous comic book-related films featuring the Joker. The abundance of superhero films is the latest trend and, as usual, studios are over-indulging in it to the point that the bloom will come off the rose with audiences that are always seeking the next shiny object. Eventually, the quality of the films, which are all similar in content, begins to diminish and all the CGI effects imaginable can't make up for an uninspired script. There's already signs that audience exhaustion with superhero flicks is already setting in, despite the great success of some of the franchises. Universal is in the same dilemma: trying to dust off its classic Universal Monsters franchise for modern audiences despite anemic response to their updated version of "The Mummy" starring Tom Cruise. The recent remake of Stephen King's "It" indicates there is still a big market for horror films....but let's remember, the film is still a remake of a TV production. The lack of imagination and risk-taking among the major studios has left independent productions and art house films to dominate the market for mature audiences who want to see something a bit different than young women being pursued by maniacal killers. Perhaps the success of Christopher Nolan's "Dunkirk" might embolden the studios to have more faith in diversity- but I wouldn't be surprised to see a film about the battle of Gettysburg somehow involving Superman and Batman. Click here to read.
John Wayne's estate has recently launched a line of official liquors based on the Duke's drinking preferences. Wayne Enterprises, which is run by the Duke's son Ethan, produces brandy and bourbon in accordance with the Duke's taste. Wayne was from a generation of hard drinkers but never developed a dependency on liquor. In an article for the Daily Beast, Ethan recalls interesting anecdotes about his father's drinking habits. Contrary to his popular image, Wayne appreciated fine wines and champagnes...but he wasn't so sophisticated that he ever built his own wine cellar. Instead, he kept Dom Perignon and expensive wines stored in his garage! To read the article, click here. To visit the official site of Duke branded liquors, click here.
A new poll finds that the majority of Millennials are shockingly unfamiliar with older, classic movies. The posting on the Cinema Retro Facebook page has set off a spirited discussion among our readers. People who live in major metropolitan areas may take issue with the poll's findings since young people routinely attend screenings of classic movies at revival cinemas. The Alamo Drafthouse chain of cinemas has been especially effective at exposing younger audiences to retro movie classics and cult films. Yes, Netflix and other streaming services make plenty of retro movie classics available to viewers of all ages everywhere. But in major cities, younger people tend to view going to see a classic film from the past as a social activity, often going in groups to theaters with funky themes. It may be, however, that people who live in more rural areas don't have the same opportunities to see older films on the big screen, therefore they are not as familiar with them. Click here to read article.
Rich Hardy, writing on the New Atlas web site, explores the resurgence of interest in the long-dormant 70mm film format by today's retro movie-loving directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan. There was a time when Hollywood embraced the magnificent widescreen format for some of the most ambitious epics ever filmed. However the cost of shooting in 70mm made the format virtually extinct until recent years. Tarantino brought 70mm back for "The Hateful Eight" and had to practically move mountains to find a way to have his film projected properly, given that most of the equipment and venues that once were associated with the widescreen process were long-gone. Now Christopher Nolan is presenting his WWII epic "Dunkirk" in 70mm. This article provides short history of 70mm and some useful information about the various formats the movie is being shown in. Click here to read.
The legendary Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in the famed car chase from the 1968 classic "Bullitt" has apparently been found by accident in a Mexican junkyard. Watch video above for the fascinating story.
TMZ reports that a much-ballyhooed auction of items belonging to the late Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds is causing concern in some areas. On a high profile "Good Morning America" segment, the show took a tour around Fisher's home, guided by her brother Todd Fisher. In the segment, Todd-accompanied by the correspondent and the representative of the auction house, Profiles in History, take a cheery walk through Memory Lane, pointing out various items and relating anecdotes about them. The concerns raised relate to certain "Star Wars" collectibles that were being represented as having belonged to Carrie Fisher. TMZ reports that at least some of them appear to have been purchased by Todd at "Star Wars" auction that took place after his sister's death. Profiles in History had hired a firm, CGA, to verify the authenticity of the items but apparently the company ensured that, while the collectibles were legitimate, they were not actually owned by Carrie. TMZ reports that CGA is now asking to re-examine twenty "Star Wars" items to further examine their provenance. The auction is scheduled for September 23. Todd Fisher has promised that a portion of the proceeds will be donated to charity.
Elvis's bizarre and ill-conceived meeting with President Nixon was among the factors that detracted from his legacy as a musical legend. His garish wardrobe is what many younger people associate with his persona.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
In a report for the web site of The Guardian, writer Thomas Hobbs examines an inconvenient truth- as the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death approaches, the King's legacy is being diminished. Young people are not conversant in his achievements and relatively few listen to his music as opposed to other acts from decades past such as The Beatles. Part of the blame must be placed on Elvis himself, who in his later years, had squandered his 1968 comeback by becoming a benign lounge act in Las Vegas. He remained a popular draw but younger people regarded him as someone their parents and grandparents wanted to see. The world was changing rapidly but Elvis, under the Svengali-like control of Col. Tom Parker, was still attired in skin-tight, garish pants suits and appealing to the sexual fantasies of aging female fans. The unsavory circumstances of his death also worked against his legacy. Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin all died from drug overdoses but remain hip even to today's young people. Elvis had the misfortune of dying from drug-related problems while sitting on a toilet, something that has detracted from the tragedy of his death. Even the value of Elvis vintage record albums is declining precipitously. There's plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the Presley estate which greedily licensed virtually any product imaginable, allowing him image to be portrayed on many cheesy "collectibles". No one's making the argument that Elvis's legacy is heading towards oblivion- but it has been poorly served by the people who represent it. Hopefully, younger music lovers who can groove to retro rock will one day discover that Elvis was more than an amiable lounge act, but in fact, was a once-in-a-lifetime musical legend.
In a TV appearance on Stephen Colbert's show, Julie Andrews recalled filming "Mary Poppins" back in 1964. In one of her flying scenes, she began to sense that the harness that was supporting her in the air was not as stable as the technicians had assured her. Her fears proved justified: at one point the harness gave out and she plummeted to the floor of the studio. Although she miraculously escaped serious injury, the world's most beloved nanny apparently shouted out some not very Disney-like words to express her frustration. Click here to watch and to also view an interview with Dick Van Dyke about his role in the forthcoming new Mary Poppins film.
Director Sofia Coppola's remake of the 1971 film "The Beguiled" opens this summer. This new teaser trailer reveals that the film will stay reverent to the original movie which was directed by Don Siegel and starred Clint Eastwood in a gothic Civil War tale. Eastwood played a badly wounded Union soldier who is rescued, hidden and nursed back to health by the teachers and students at a quaint southern school for girls which eeks out an existence in the midst of the war. The film was a rare bomb for a Siegel/Eastwood collaboration but it remains one of the best films both have have been associated with. For Eastwood it was a rare opportunity to play a rather villainous role as the wounded soldier learns to exploit the sexual frustrations of the students and their headmistress, who was memorably played by Geraldine Page. His manipulative efforts wins him numerous bed mates but also leads to an unforeseen consequence. The original film was hard to market and was lacking in the kind of raw action that Eastwood fans expected back in 1971. The new film stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst. Coppola is a skilled director and may pull off the rare feat of overseeing a remake that rivals the classic original movie.
The new documentary "Batman & Bill" is sure to be controversial. It tackles the subject of who actually created the iconic world of Batman, who debuted in comic books way back in 1939. Conventional wisdom always gave sole credit to Bob Kane, who became a legend in the comic book industry and our pop culture as the Batman phenomenon stretched for decades. However, the documentary seeks to give credit to Bill Finger, a collaborator of Kane's who apparently created some of the most memorable characters in the Batman universe but who remained unheralded. The documentary debuts on Hulu on May 6 and the intriguing trailer indicates this truly will measure up to being "must-see TV".
Welles, Bogdanovich and Huston on the set of The Other Side of the Wind.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Netflix has ridden to the rescue to team with a crowdfunding effort that raised $400,000 to help complete Orson Welles' final film, "The Other Side of the Wind", which is perhaps the most legendary unseen movie of all time. Welles promised that the movie would mark his return to greatness but his independent financing sources were diverse and unreliable. The production of the movie dragged on for many years and Welles was trying to complete it when he died in 1985. The film's original production manager, producer Frank Marshall, will oversee completion of the project, working in conjunction with filmmaker Filip Jan Rymsza, who headed the fundraising effort. Director Peter Bogdanovich, a protege and friend of Welles who appeared in the film, has worked diligently for many years to complete the movie but always ran into obstacles. Bogdanovich will serve as a consultant on the Netflix project. The few people who have seen footage from the movie, which Welles had mostly completed at the time of his death, provided mixed emotions, with some saying it's a strange and off-putting movie while others proclaim it a work of genius. It is a scathing take down of hypocrisy in Hollywood. The film stars John Huston playing a once-great director who has fallen on hard times, thus leading some to speculate Welles viewed the character as his alter ego. While no one doubted Welles' genius, his prickly nature, offbeat projects and unreliable habits caused major studios to shun working with him. Welles had turned to finding independent funding from often shady sources that would sometimes dry up unexpectedly. Additionally when Welles did get a substantial sum infused into the film, he would often blow through it by spending it on expensive hotel suites, fine wines and upscale cigars. The highly unusual deal by Netflix is sure to win praise from classic movie lovers who have hungered to see "The Other Side of the Wind". For more click here.
"La La Land" lived up to its hype by earning 14 Oscar nominations, tying "Titanic" and "All About Eve" for the most ever. Other films with multiple major nominations include "Manchester by the Sea", "Arrival", "Fences", "Moonlight", "Lion", "Hell or High Water" and "Hacksaw Ridge". The Oscar telecast takes place on February 26. Click here for full list of nominations.
In 1924 a film titled "The City Without Jews" premiered in Vienna. The movie was an adaptation of a novel by Hugo Bettauer, who viewed it as a dark satire of what unchecked racism could lead to. In the novel, a fictional city named Utopia orchestrates a round-up and forced exile of all of the Jews who inhabit the city, making them scapegoats for all of the problems that have left residents frustrated. . However, after the quality of life deteriorates and services begin to fail, the city fathers issue a mea culpa and request that the exiles return to Utopia (which is an obvious metaphor for Vienna). The film was directed by Hans Karl Breslauer. It won acclaim but its legacy was to be defined by ironies and tragedies. Bettauer wrote the novel to denounce anti-Semitism even though he had already converted to Christianity. He would be murdered by an anti-Semite a year after the premiere of the film. The director of the film would never make another movie and join the Nazi party in 1940, although he may have done so because of political expediency since Nazi Germany took over the nation, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler, in the "anschluss", or annexation, of 1938. At the time the film premiered Adolf Hitler was serving a jail sentence for his failed coup against the Weimar Republic. While in jail, Hitler effectively used his status to become a martyr to ultra right-wing fringe groups who were growing increasingly militant amidst the economic catastrophe that was engulfing Germany. After Hitler was elected to national office, he would wait out the death of the beloved elderly president von Hindenburg. Upon von Hindenburg's passing, Hitler established himself as dictator and appealed to desperate people who would willingly cede their civil rights to a strongman who promised he could fix everything. One of the first casualties of the Nazi regime was freedom of speech. The propaganda ministry forbade the public display of any film or published work that might be viewed as undermining the totalitarian nature of the regime. Thus, "The City Without Jews" was pulled from circulation. This was not surprising, given the fact that the movie and its source novel predicted exactly what the Nazi government had in mind for the Jews of Europe: forced evacuations and ultimately mass exterminations.
"The City Without Jews" was presumed to be a "lost" movie until 1991 when an incomplete version was discovered and screened at the Vienna Film Festival. However it lacked its powerful final sequence in which the Jews are invited to return to Utopia. The Daily Beast reports that last year a complete version of the movie was improbably found at a Paris flea market. The Film Archive Austria is raising funds to protect and preserve it, as the movie existed on highly flammable nitrate stock. Those behind the effort to completely safeguard the film also feel the movie has an unfortunate parallel in today's world where hate crimes and intolerance of minorities is on the rise.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Mass. — Dec. 12, 2016 — For Immediate Release — The Film Detective announces
its classic movie app, streaming on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV. An established
leader in film restoration and distribution, with thousands of hours of
classic film and television restored from original elements, The Film Detective
offers viewers the chance to forgo DVDs or a cable subscription, while still
enjoying great entertainment. For a preview, visit thefilmdetective.tv
app launches with dozens of iconic titles, including rare silent films,
westerns, film noir, musicals and comedies. In addition to such golden age Hollywood
fare as Kansas City Confidential (1952), The Film Detective has
uncovered and restored such kitschy titles as Flash Gordon Conquers the
Universe (1940), The Vampire Bat (1933) and 20 episodes of The
New Howdy Doody Show (1976-77). The app refreshes content monthly for
timely programming around themes, holidays and anniversaries.
Film Detective also creates original, supplemental content, with legendary
broadcast veteran Dana Hersey (longtime star of Boston’s WSBK-TV’s
groundbreaking series, The Movie Loft), offering behind-the-scenes
information and fun-facts about the movies. The Film Detective’s original
content starts with The Outlaw: The Movie That Couldn’t Be Stopped, a
mini-documentary highlighting the film’s controversial journey to success.
addition, the app offers licensed content such as the recently discovered,
HD-restored, lost Ed Wood TV pilot Final Curtain (1957); the
Oscar-winning documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975); and
such beloved family classics as Sounder (1972). The Film Detective
has also licensed the Independent International Pictures library which includes
over 200 classic exploitation films, including the Al Adamson collection (Satan's
team is excited to bring vintage cinema to life in the digital age through The
Film Detective app. It gives consumers a library of content without purchasing
DVDs, Blu-rays or subscribing to cable. Viewers can now enjoy old favorites and
long-lost gems on demand. This is truly cutting the cord,” commented Phil
Hopkins, Founder of The Film Detective.
Film Detective uses Zype, the video distribution service for OTT, to manage and
publish their premium content and foster relationships with classic movie and
TV fans. “A premium subscription service is the natural progression for The
Film Detective,” said Zype’s CEO, Ed Laczynski. “Zype is thrilled to help The
Film Detective bring content to streaming media devices and to help
cord-cutters re-discover the classic film and television content they grew up
a free trial period with subscriptions starting as low as $3.99 per month or
$34.99 annually. Three films will stream free each month. iOS distribution will
be available in 2017.
The Film Detective:
Philip Elliott Hopkins – who has been a fixture in the entertainment industry
since 1999 – has channeled his life-long
passion for collecting classic films into The Film Detective, a leading
purveyor of restoration and distribution of broadcast-quality,
digitally-remastered programming, including feature films, television, foreign
imports, documentaries, special interest and audio. Since launching in 2014,
the Massachusetts-based company has distributed its extensive library of 3000+
hours on DVD, Blu-ray and through such leading digital and television broadcast
platforms as Turner Classic Movies, American Movie Classics, NBC, Bounce TV,
Hulu, Amazon, EPIX HD, MeTV, PBS and more. In 2016, the Film Detective launched
its OTT classic movies channel streaming on Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV. Visit
us online at www.TheFilmDetective.com
Let's hope that we never have another year in which we lose as much artistic talent as we did in 2016. Here is TCM's moving annual retrospective of those lost in film and TV during the year. Doubtless, you will have some unpleasant surprises when you realize that you weren't aware of the extent of how many great talents left us during the last twelve months- and this video was prepared before the passing of both Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. We do take consolation from the fact that, while these artists are no longer with us in the physical sense, their work is eternal.
Dick Van Dyke, who played Bert the chimney sweep opposite Julie Andrews in the 1964 Disney classic "Mary Poppins", will appear in "Mary Poppins Returns" which stars Emily Blunt as the magical nanny along with an all-star cast that includes Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury. Van Dyke, 91, won't be reprising the role of Bert, however. Instead he will be playing a new character, the son of a greedy banker. Van Dyke, who has jokingly "apologized" for his much-criticized Cockney accent in the first film, promises to have an even worse accent in the new movie. "I intend to represent a corner of London with my accent that has not yet been invented. I'm going to have the worst accent in the history of British accents-I'm going to sound like I'm from another planet". Julie Andrews will not be part of the new film but has given the project her blessing. The movie, directed by Rob Marshall, is intended for release on Christmas day, 2018. For more click here.
The National Film Registry has added 25 more titles to their list of film classics that will ensure they are preserved for generations to come. As usual, it's an appropriately eclectic mix of titles spanning from the silent era to recent years and includes some admirably quirky choices. Among them: Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" and John Boorman's "Point Blank". Click here for more (and the full list.)
A gaggle of writers for Rolling Stone have come up with their list of the top 50 characters to appear in the "Star Wars" franchise. Such lists are largely meaningless but they do elicit a lot of passion from readers who love to argue that the writers are either geniuses or clueless in terms of their selections and rankings. This article will do the same...C-3PO didn't even crack the top ten but at least we didn't see Jar Jar Binks included. Click here to read.
Cinema Retro has received the following announcement from Bondstars.com in the UK:
"In 2003, the renowned American artist Jeff Marshall
(known for his James Bond work) was commissioned to create a lithograph
for Daleon Enterprises (officially sanctioned by Hammer themselves)
featuring several famous Hammer actresses - Ingrid Pitt, Caroline Munro,
Valerie Leon and Martine Beswicke.
· The first 100 of these limited edition lithographs
were signed and numbered by Jeff himself and have never been available to
· We have 006 - 100 for sale, unfortunately we
cannot accommodate requests for specific numbers.
· The lithograph measures 20" x 30" and is
printed on museum quality acid-free paper.
· The lithograph will be shipped rolled in a sturdy
The web site www.filmbuffonline.com reports that the 1984 feature film "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension" is now the subject of a law suit between MGM and the film's director W.D. Richter and screenwriter Earl Mach Rauch. Richter and Rauch claim they should have ownership of rights to the characters they created for the movie. MGM disagrees and intends to proceed with a "Buckaroo" TV project that Richter and Rauch oppose on the basis that their permission has not been sought and that they would not be financially compensated. At the heart of their argument is that the contract for the 1984 film failed to include a standard clause that would have given Rauch underlying rights to the characters especially since some were created prior to the studio having even been approached to produce the film version. MGM has responded by filing suit in the hope that the studio will receive a declarative judgment affirming their rights to proceed with the TV project. Got all that? If so, then add this into the mix: director Kevin Smith was attached to the TV project but has now publicly stated that he is dropping out because he doesn't want to be part of any effort that Richter and Rauch are not involved with. The irony is that all this back-and-forth is over a movie that was a bomb with critics and the public at the time of its initial release but which has accumulated a loyal cult following over the years. For more, check out the filmbuffonline.com article by clicking here.
There is a reason that Toshiro Mifune still reigns as Japan's greatest screen actor despite the fact that he died in 1977. Mifune was pivotal in reawakening Japanese pride in the wake of the nation's disastrous defeat in WWII, but he also helped mainstream the power of Japan's burgeoning new wave cinema. Mifune, who collaborated with the legendary Japanese director Akira Kurasawa on seventeen films, starred in some of the most acclaimed movies ever made, among them "The Seven Samurai" and "Rashomon". Like most screen legends, Mifune was a larger-than-life figure both on screen and off. His sometimes reckless habits and short-temper would ultimately put him at odds with Kurosawa, destroying their creative collaborations- but not before the two had made screen history. Mifune is the subject of a major new documentary by Steven Okazaki, "Mifune: The Last Samurai", which is receiving wide acclaim. Daily Beast writer Nick Schager takes a look back at Mifune's life and career and the impact the of the new film. Click here to read.
Good taste and Dr. Phil McGraw have always walked separate paths. McGraw, known by one and all in avuncular terms as "Dr. Phil", has been a mainstay of American chat shows for years ever since being championed by Oprah Winfrey. McGraw is typical of syndicated talk show hosts in that he often features troubled people in vulnerable conditions to whom he dispenses homespun advice to improve their lives. At times McGraw appears sympathetic but he often plays to the audience by chastising those he deems to be slackers or responsible for their own predicaments. It seems to please those viewers who relish seeing a parade of individuals who are less well-off than they are. The latest person to receive Dr. Phil's attention is actress Shelley Duvall, who has been mostly out of sight for over a decade. Duvall appeared on a recent episode of the show and was barely recognizable. She admits to suffering from mental illness and made bizarre claims such as her belief that her friend and "Popeye" co-star Robin Willilams is not really dead. Duvall tells McGraw "I am very sick. I need help." McGraw says he did arrange for Duvall to be sent to a mental health clinic in California but she left after a few days. He said she returned to her home in Texas where she is now receiving treatment, presumably at McGraw's expense. Duvall's appearance on McGraw's show was too much for Vivian Kubrick, daughter of legendary director Stanley Kubrick, who directed Duvall in his 1980 hit "The Shining". Vivian Kubrick sent off a couple of Tweets to McGraw, accusing him of exploiting the troubled actress. She said that when her friend, filmmaker Lee Unkrich began researching a book about the making of "The Shining", he contacted Duvall and was shocked by her mental condition. Kubrick has now set up a Gofundme page to raise funds on behalf of Duvall. However, that page has also raised some questions because it is vague about specifically how the funds raised will be used. Some readers have expressed concern that the monies might be turned over to Scientology, which Vivian is an adherent of, and which disdains traditional psychological treatments for mentally ill people. Vivian has been estranged from the Kubrick family since her involvement with the controversial religion. There is also the matter that the first line in the description of the Gofundme page is rather bizarrely worded: "Like many older movie stars, embarrassed finances is not uncommon." For more click here.
MGM's remake of its 1959 blockbuster "Ben-Hur" proved the old adage that you can't go home again. The studio had hoped that the religious community would rally around the film in much the same way they had done for other faith-based films, primarily Mel Gibson's 2004 production of "The Passion of the Christ". However, this time around those audiences stayed away in droves, leading to a write-down of $48 million for the quarter. Part of the problem isn't the studio's fault: there simply aren't the type of old school, epic-leading actors like Charlton Heston, who won an Oscar for the original film. However, the marketing campaign didn't help matters. In an attempt to broaden the film's appeal to mainstream audiences, a poorly-conceived trailer tried to make the movie look like a Marvel super hero flick, with gimmicky editing and an emphasis on special effects that may have alienated the religious community. The film cost $100 to make and grossed $94 million worldwide. However, that doesn't include the tens of millions in marketing costs that will not be recouped. It should be noted that the film was released by Paramount but mostly financed by MGM. Paramount's losses are estimated to be in the range of $13 million. Click here for more.
Film legend Jackie Chan has been awarded an honorary Oscar at a ceremony at which he was introduced by Chris Tucker and Tom Hanks. Chan grew up dreaming of someday getting an Oscar and when he finally did, it was in recognition to his overall contributions to the film industry. Other legends also received honorary Oscars at the ceremony including editor Anne V. Coates, documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman and casting director Lynne Stalmaster. These are all great choices and the Academy deserves credit for honoring them but movie fans won't get to the see them accept their awards except for in a fast-moving compilation of the speeches that lasts about a minute. Years ago the Academy decided that viewers were bored by seeing honorary Oscars given out, even though these had been considered highlights of the broadcast by true film scholars. Instead, in a blatant attempt to cater to concerns over ratings rather than artistry, overblown production numbers and time-wasting comedy skits have eaten up much of the time that should be allocated to the real purpose of the ceremony: to honor respected artists in their fields. Sadly, the most legendary of those artists have now been relegated to a second-class tier. The Academy argues, with some justification, that the separate ceremony allows the recipients to not have have their career achievements boiled down to a few minutes each. Fair enough...but why not arrange for the awards to be telecast earlier in the day, perhaps on a cable network, so that movie fans can enjoy the goings-on?
"Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice"- no one seemed to like the film except the audience.
In an interesting article for the New York Times, reporter Brooks Barnes analyzes the hits and misses pertaining to Warner Brothers. Interviewing chief executive Kevin Tsujihara, Brooks addresses the conventional wisdom in Hollywood that WB is a studio in turmoil. Yet Tsuhihara points out that 2016 has been a highly successful year with record operating profits being posted. "Quietly, we've been having an amazing year", he says. Even critically lambasted "tent pole" productions like "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Suicide Squad" turned solid profits and the studio is banking heavily on the JK Rowling story "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" as a potential blockbuster (Rowling wrote the screenplay). Other major films in the pipeline include "Wonder Woman", "Kong: Skull Island" and "Justice League" not to mention Christopher Nolan's WWII epic "Dunkirk". The studio doesn't just rely on mega-budget productions, however. Clint Eastwood's "Sully" turned out a profit as did other modestly-budgeted films and the studio's TV division booming, turning out old favorites like "The Big Bang Theory" and the new HBO series "Westworld". Click here to read.
The latest Marvel comic book screen adaptation, "Doctor Strange", has opened strong at the boxoffice with $85, according to Variety. There was speculation that Marvel was now moving into its "B" list of superheroes and that the film might be met with apathy by audiences who may not be familiar with the character. It looks like those fears have been put to rest. "Strange" tested well in screenings and the resulting boxoffice indicates it could be a major hit. "Hacksaw Ridge", the story of a conscientious objector during WWII, also opened with a "respectable" $14.7 million. The film marks Mel Gibson's latest attempt to recover some boxoffice mojo after the scandals that derailed his career years ago involving some cringe-inducing personal behavior. Gibson directed the flick but doesn't star in it but the movie's modest $40 price tag indicates it might well prove to be profitable. For more click here.
Robert Downey Jr. is developing a third Sherlock Holmes big screen adventure though the project is still in its early stages. According to Variety writers are being hired and Guy Ritchie, director the previous two Holmes films, is expected to return along with Jude Law, who plays Dr. Watson. The two previous Holmes films starring Downey and Law have grossed more than $500 million worldwide, not blockbuster status by today's standards but then again the films don't have the mammoth budgets of many other action/adventure movies. For more click here