Sole is a production designer who has carved out a nice career for himself in
Hollywood, most notably on the television shows Veronica Mars (2004-7), Castle
(2009-16), and the reboot of MacGyver
(2017-18). Long before he chose that line of work however, he dabbled in the
world of film directing. His first film, the 1972 hardcore sex “comedy” Deep Sleep, must be seen to be believed
because despite a few flourishes of cinematic style and several humorous
sequences involving dialogue, it’s just a hardcore sex romp featuring folks no
one in their right mind would want to see naked let alone copulating. There is
absolutely nothing in this film to suggest that he would next direct one of the
greatest and most thematically disturbing thrillers of our time, 1976’s Communion, not to be confused with the
Christopher Walken/alien-probe-up-the-old-dirt-road 1989 outing based on Whitley
Strieber’s 1987 “non-fiction” book of the same name. His subsequent films,
1980’s Tanya’s Island with the late
and impossibly gorgeous Denise Matthews (credited as “D.D. Winters”) and 1982’s
star-studded comedy Pandemonium both
fared poorly at the box office, hence his career change. Thankfully Communion, with its high cinematic style
and deceptively low production budget, refused to die.
her screen debut, Brooke Shields plays Karen Spages (rhymes with “pages”), the
younger sister of Alice Spages, the latter brilliantly portrayed by New
Jersey-born actress Paula Sheppard. Karen is favored by everyone around her and
can do no wrong, mostly because Alice is a, forgive the pun, holy terror. Alice
teases Karen, locks her in a building to scare her, and mistreats her communion
veil. Why the horseplay? Alice was conceived out of wedlock and is not entitled
to receive the Holy Eucharist. As if this is her fault.
the day of her first communion Karen is brutally murdered right in the church
and all suspicion points to her sister after she finds the discarded veil and
wears it to the altar. This sets in motion some truly well-acted scenes wherein
the identity of the killer is constantly in question. Everyone suspects Alice,
even her neighbor Mr. Alphonse (Alphonse DeNoble), an obese monstrosity you
must see to believe. Karen and Alice’s mother Catherine (Linda Miller) is
grief-stricken and meets her ex-husband Dom (Niles McMaster) at the funeral. Afterwards,
there are suspicions about Alice’s whereabouts during Karen’s murder and Alice
submits to a polygraph which she mischievously pushes on to the floor. Her Aunt
Annie (Jane Lowry) battles with her sister and the latter accuses her of hating
Alice because of her sinful status. Annie refutes this until she herself is
attacked in a shockingly bloody sequence and fully believes that Alice is the
Alice takes place circa 1961 as evinced by the production design,
the old-style cars, the calendar on the wall, and the prevalence of a poster of
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) that
can be seen if one really looks for it. Originally reviled amid concerns that
it’s an attack against the Catholic Church (how can it not be?), the film was
met with lukewarm box office. Director Sole was rumored to have stated that the
church was simply the milieu he wanted to set the story against, but the
commentary infers otherwise. It’s one of the most Catholic-themed films I’ve
ever seen, even more so than William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973). It has a look, a feel, and an atmosphere all
its own. This film is quite simply one of the best low-budget American horror
films ever made. It boasts a superbly eerie score by Stephen Lawrence who scored
a handful of other films. Yours Truly has been wishing for a soundtrack album
of this music for years, however one has yet to surface. Great editing,
wonderful set design, and excellent music all come together to make Alice an enjoyable shocker that can
easily be viewed more than several times.
film has had a strange history. Filmed in Mr. Sole’s hometown of Paterson, NJ
in the summer of 1975, Alice
premiered in Paterson (Lou Costello’s old stomping grounds) under its original
title Communion on Saturday, November
13, 1976 at the Fabian Theater (now the Fabian Building). The event was met
with much fanfare, however a subsequent theatrical release failed to stir much
interest. Communion was dropped by
the original distributor, picked up by another, retitled Alice, Sweet Alice, re-cut and
redistributed in 1981 as Holy Terror
and played up Ms. Shields’s participation in response to the success of the
previous year’s The Blue Lagoon. It
then made its way to cable television and local independent stations where the
bulk of us caught up with it. Later on it was relegated to VHS collecting dust
in discount bins beginning in 1985 with Goodtimes Home Video, seemingly forever
to be lost within the public domain due to a legal snafu. I bought it for ten
dollars, which was unheard of in an era when the MSRP on a VHS tape was roughly
eighty dollars. In 1998, the film received a laserdisc release from the Roan
Group which sported a highly entertaining audio commentary from director Sole
and the film’s editor, Edward
Salier. The film was given two DVD releases later on, which ported over the
commentary. Even without the benefit of Sole's discussion, one can
easily see the influence that Nicolas Roeg's astonishing Don’t Look Now (1973) has on this
With the blatant "Die Hard" rip-off "Skyscraper" now in theaters, it's time to go back to a really good disaster film: producer Irwin Allen's 1974 blockbuster production of "The Towering Inferno", which benefited from having been made in an era in which it was possible to have genuine all-star casts. When it comes to this particular genre, they really don't make 'em like that anymore.
audience members under the age of forty will not recall motion picture
theatrical exhibition in the 1970s. It was a most interesting time when
drive-ins and even first-run movie theaters would pair up an older feature
film, generally one that was one to two years-old, with the main feature on a
double-bill. A handful of theaters in my area used to engage in midnight showings
of older films, too. One theater exclusively ran The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) for years while another
alternated between Stanley Kubrick's 2001:
A Space Odyssey (1968), Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards
(1971), Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains
the Same (1976), David Lynch's art-house favorite Eraserhead (1977) and Alan Parker's Pink Floyd The Wall (1982). Other showcases included uncensored
bloopers featuring Carol Burnett, the Three Stooges, and Abbott and Costello.
October 1978, Attack of the Killer
Tomatoes was unleashed upon the moviegoing public (filming had begun in
early 1977). The film is an effort to poke fun at the Japanese disaster and monster
invasion films of the 1950’s and 1960’s, movies that, according to director
John DeBello, were mostly unfamiliar to the moviegoing public. Billing itself
as a comedy, to today's eyes, it's really anything but that. Despite a few
laugh out-loud sequences the film, which runs nearly 90minutes, feels nearly twice that length. There are many films that came
out during this era that are disjointed and suffer from ineffective editing like
Attack. Black Socks (aka Video Vixens)
(1974) was an effort to introduce hardcore sex into a comedy and failed
miserably. The Groove Tube (1974) and
Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video (1979) are two
other inane attempts at hilarity. However, there are some truly funny films in
this vein, as 1977’s Kentucky Fried Movie
and Airplane! in 1980, can attest to.
In Attack, there is a humorous scene
wherein military officials all cram into a small room for an impromptu meeting
to discuss the best course of action against the tomato attack; a sequence
involving a blind traffic cop; a badly dubbed Japanese official; and the
requisite Jaws parody – bested by the
Attack recalls the similar premise of George
A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead
(1968) wherein dead bodies inexplicably are reanimated and begin feeding on
human flesh. The one major difference here is that the unsuspecting American
public is under attack by giant, killer tomatoes. The plot is almost too
convoluted to be believed for a send-up, but the basic premise involves the
government attempting to keep the seriousness of the tomato attacks under wraps
so as not to give way to mass hysteria and have to call in the military.
makes people laugh today is apparently different from what made people laugh forty
years ago. However, there are certain comedies that are timeless. No matter how
old I get, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, and the Three Stooges never
fail to make me laugh. There aren't too many films made in the last thirty to
forty years I can claim are able to do that. Even It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), with its television viewings
and innumerable home video releases, is still to this day laugh out-loud
hilarious. The interaction between all the characters is truly astonishing.
There is no such chemistry between anybody in Attack. I’ll admit it’s unfair to compare Stanley Kramer’s epic
comedy filled to the brim with comic geniuses who honed their talents for years
with a film put together by a group of movie fans who wanted to make a film. To
be fair, Attack probably was designed
to play at drive-ins where people had other things on their mind besides a
movie. And who can blame them? If you had to watch this film, you would do
better off filing your nails.
won't hold it against you if you're a fan of this film as I have my share of
guilty pleasures, and if you are a
fan then this DVD/Blu-ray is an absolute must-have. The restored, 4K transfer
is very colorful and the film has never looked batter. The 2003 DVD release had
several extras that have been ported over to this new release, and I will also
list the extras that for some reason fell by the wayside. I would love to see
half the number of extras lavished upon this film bestowed upon some of my
favorite and lesser-known films that I grew up watching. For a film of this
kind, the new DVD/Blu-ray combo set from MVD is jam-packed. It would have been nice if
they included a hilarious cut of the film itself!
has been a good year for fans of model and actress Laura Gemser. Recently, Severin
Films released a deluxe Blu-ray package of two of her films, a soundtrack CD, a
really cool t-shirt and an enamel pin, the last item appearing to be something
that is new and all the rage nowadays. We’ll take a look at the two films
featured in this collection.
and the Last Cannibals
Gemser, the high cheekbone-chiseled, dark-skinned Indonesian goddess born
Laurette Marcia Gemser who appeared opposite Jack Palance in Emmanuelle
and the Deadly Black Cobra
(1975), returns in Emanuelle and the Last
Cannibals as Emanuelle. Here she’s a photojournalist who goes undercover at
a mental hospital with a 35mm camera hidden within a creepy children’s doll
that takes photos when the eyes open and close. She’s looking to expose the
hospital’s treatment of the infirmed and witnesses a horrific event wherein a
patient tries to eat one of the nurses. Yes, you read that right. A tattoo on
the patient’s torso of a cannibal tribe’s logo stuns Emanuelle. She comes to
find out that the woman was raised by a tribe of cannibals called the Apiaca. Eager
to pursue this story, she consults with her newspaper editor, an older man who
is looped so poorly you practically never see his mouth move. In fact, the
whole movie is looped with foley effects and dialogue that all sound so
unnatural but hey, that’s part of the fun of these movies. The story compels
Emanuelle to seek out Dr. Mark Lester (Ms. Gemser’s late real-life husband,
Gabriele Tinti) who agrees to accompany her on a journey to investigate the
Apiaca. Before she leaves on her trip, however, she decides to make love to her
boyfriend in full view of the New York skyline, but this is the last we see of
him as she appears to be smitten with the older Dr. Lester. Mechanical and
joyless softcore sex scenes proliferate, even after the point following their
arrival in the jungle to pursue the tribe. They are offered assistance by a
group of others who go with them: Reverend Wilkes (Geoffrey Copleston),
Isabelle (Mónica Zanchi), an overly emotional Sister Angela (Annamaria
Clementi), Donald Mackenzie (Donald O’Brien), and his wife Maggie (Nieves
Navarro). They are on a mission to locate Father Morales who is supposedly the
only person not from the Amazon who has ever had any contact with the tribe. Unfortunately,
they only discover his remains, which sets poor Sister Angela into a terrible
Donald can’t seem to satisfy Maggie anymore, so when they stop to make camp she
elects to get it on with natives in the jungle. As one would expect from director
Aristide Massaccesi, better known as Joe D’Amato, the sex scenes are overdone,
artificial and completely lacking in passion. Even Emanuelle’s multiple romps
do little to exult in the wonder of her lithe figure. If ever there was an
award for Best Mechanical and Robotic Sex Scene, director D’Amato would surely
win every time.
the more the group hikes further into the jungle the more they expose
themselves to potentially being captured and eaten. This horrific fate befalls several
of the party, but Emanuelle thinks of an ingenious way to escape once they are surrounded.
The ending is silly and predictable, but you pretty much know what you’re
getting with this acting troupe.
difficult as it may seem to believe, cannibal films enjoyed a high level of
popularity back in the 1970s and 1980s, so it was inevitable that they would
make their way into other genres. If the title is unfamiliar to U.S. audiences,
it should be. Though shot in the summer of 1977, Last Cannibals didn’t make its way to American shores until 1984
when it was dumped on VHS under the title of Trap Them and Kill Them. Like most exploitation films of the
period, some of the action is shot in the streets of New York City and it’s a
real hoot to see what Manhattan looked like 41 years ago. One shot has the
comedy Kentucky Fried Movie displayed
prominently on the marquee of the long-gone Rivoli Theatre which was known for
its extended showcases of 2001: A Space
Odyssey (1968) and Jaws (1975).
The film has just made its way to Blu-ray via
of Severin Films and the results are so far above what we’re used to from VHS
bootlegs that it looks like a different movie. Presented
in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and given a 2K transfer from a good
print that significantly brightens up the image, Last Cannibals looks good enough to make one dump the inferior and
murky VHS bootlegs of over thirty years ago.
disc has an unusual amount of extras for this sort of title. Up first is The World of Nico Fidenco which runs
twenty-seven minutes. Signor Fidenco is the film’s composer and he has written
an upbeat score for the film. He’s very interesting to listen to and describes
how his stint in the military got in the way of his original ambition which was
to be a film director. After he was discharged, he learned the guitar and
studied singing and this led him to composing music for film. He collaborated
multiple times with director D’Amato. (Note:
if you’re a fan of the score, the first 3000 Blu-ray pressings in a special
edition contain a separate compact disc of the score. The end of this review
will fill you in on how to order it).
A Nun Among the Cannibals: An Interview with Actress Annamaria
Clementi (twenty-three minutes). While watching the interview, I couldn’t
believe that the woman speaking to the camera was the same woman who played Sister
Angela in the film. She was roughly twenty-three when she shot the film, and is
now sixty-five(?!) in the on-screen interview. This bespectacled beauty could
easily pass for thirty-eight. Perhaps the interview was shot years ago? It
looks new to me. She talks about how shy and aloof she was with lead actress
Gemser, and how director D’Amato wanted to put her in his next seven films which
she declined(!), as well as a chance encounter with Robert DeNiro when shooting
in New York City. She also explains that she was approached by Pino Pellegrino,
the man who would become her agent, casually on the street and he asked her if
she wanted to become an actress. Remarkably, she trusted him and they had a
good working relationship.
Dr. O’Brien MD: This eighteen-minute interview with Donald
O’Brien who played Donald Mackenzie reveals how he got his start in acting,
like most performers do, in the theatre. I was amazed at how much he had aged
whereas the aforementioned Annamaria Clementi looked so much younger.
From Switzerland to the Mato Grosso runs nearly nineteen minutes and
features Monika Zanchi whom genre fans will remember from the nutso 1977 outing
Hitch Hike with Franco Nero and the
incomparable David Hess. She also appeared in the ridiculous Spielberg spoof Very Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind
last featurette is called I Am Your Black
Queen which runs just over eleven minutes and is a poorly-recorded
audio interview with Laura Gemser which is subtitled. She talks about how she
began, like most attractive young actresses do, by modelling. This is how genre
favorite Caroline Munro got her start. Her first film, Free Love, was released in 1974. Perhaps not so surprisingly, she
refers to her embarrassment over her nude scenes. Of the few movies that I have
seen of her, she rarely if ever looks comfortable in her own skin, almost as if
disrobing is a chore.
of all is the requisite theatrical trailer.
I mentioned earlier, the first 3000 copies of this Blu-ray also include a
soundtrack CD of the film’s score. The running time on the 31-track CD is one
hour. It can be ordered here as part of The Laura Gemser Deluxe Bundle which includes a second film, Violence in a Women’s Prison.
Here's a gem from the 1952 Academy Awards, which were very low-key back in the day and defined by short acceptance speeches by the winners. Here Greer Garson presents Humphrey Bogart with the Best Actor Oscar for John Huston's "The African Queen".
My only memory of "Swashbuckler" was seeing it for the first time when it was already in release for a year. The occasion was that this was an in-flight movie on my first trip to Europe in the summer of 1977. In those ancient times, films were still shown on 16mm projectors on pull-down screens in the main cabin. I remember being unimpressed with the film but the distraction of the (then) free liquor service might have affected my opinion. As Cinema Retro's latest issue features coverage of the 1977 film "The Deep" starring Robert Shaw, I decided to revisit "Swashbuckler" largely because it also stars the estimable Shaw, who never gave a bad performance. I found my opinion of the pirate tale had improved considerably since the first viewing. It's a raucous, old-fashioned yarn that perhaps too earnestly tries to recapture the vim and vigor of those old screen adventures that would star Errol Flynn or young Burt Lancaster. Ably directed by James Goldstone, who takes full advantage of the lush Mexican locations (representing old Jamaica), the film opens in the court of Lord Durant (Peter Boyle), the corrupt British governor of Jamaica who rules the island like a tyrant. When honest nobleman Sir James Durant (Bernard Behrens) runs afoul of him, Durant has him arrested and imprisoned to await execution of a death sentence. He also commands that Durant's wife (Louisa Horton) and daughter Jane (Genevieve Bujold) be evicted from the family estate and forced to live in a tenement. Durant's main nemesis is the pirate Ned Lynch (Robert Shaw), who- along with his merry men- acts as a sort of Robin Hood, stealing from the corrupt rich and dispensing much of their fortunes to the poor. Predictably, Jane has an encounter with Ned and professes to loathe him, but as these things inevitably play out, we know the two are attracted to each other. After much griping and fighting that literally includes a duel between Jane and Ned, she implores him to come to the aid of her father, who is facing imminent execution. Ned and his men launch a full-throttle attack on Durant and- if you haven't guessed it- save the day.
"Swashbuckler" is undistinguished on most levels except for the fact that it is exciting and lives up to its title by including an abundance of terrific sword fights. Kudos to all the actors, who performed these extended and exhausting duels with great professionalism, including Bujold, whose slight build must have certainly posed an obstacle in filming these scenes. The supporting cast includes some esteemed names including Geoffrey Holder (in full "Live and Let Die" Baron Samedi mode) and Beau Bridges as a bumbling British army officer appropriately named Major Folly. The action is impressively filmed by cinematographer Philip H. Lathrop and it's all set to a lively score by John Addison. Shaw seems to be having the time of his life in what must have been a physically taxing role for him. Although the stuntmen are in abundance, it's quite clear he did many of his own action scenes. (Shaw says in the production featurette on the DVD that the film was more physically challenging than "Jaws"). Bujold does well as the gutsy young woman who defies sexual stereotypes and Peter Boyle is a great deal of fun as the evil Durant, even if he is miscast as a British nobleman. James Earl Jones has a prominent role as Ned Lynch's right-hand pirate. "Swashbuckler" wasn't designed to win awards or become a boxoffice blockbuster. It represents the kind of modest production that was designed to entertain and make a quick profit in an era before every release represented a major financial risk for the studio.
The Universal DVD features a very nice transfer and some welcome extras including an interesting original production featurette about the making of the film, cast and crew biographies and production notes and the original trailer. Recommended.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
for the Very First Time at Retail, the 6-Disc Set Features 24 Complete,
Remastered Episodes Loaded with Classic Sketches and Incredible Guest Stars Including Raquel Welch, Steve Allen, Johnny Cash,
Bing Crosby, Gene Hackman, Rita Hayworth, Hugh Hefner, Bob Hope, Liza Minnelli,
Carroll O’Connor, Carl Reiner, John Wayne, Henny Youngman and Many More!
correctness met its match with Rowan
& Martin’s Laugh-In, NBC-TV’s groundbreaking variety series that became
a cultural touchstone and part of the fabric of ‘60s-‘70s era America.Every Monday night at 8pm from 1968-1973, straight
man Dan Rowan and wisecracking co-host Dick Martin led a supremely talented
comic ensemble through a gut-busting assault of one-liners, skits, bits and non
sequiturs that left viewers in hysterics and disbelief.ROWAN
& MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON, from the award-winning TV
DVD archivists at Time Life, makes its retail debut on July 10 in an uproarious
set featuring all 24 re-mastered episodes from the fifth season (September
13,1971-March 20, 1972).
COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON, after years of shameless name dropping, Dick finally
gets his wish when bombshell Raquel Welch kicks off the new season with her
first and only appearance on the show.Former
Hogan’s Heroes POWs Richard Dawson
and Larry Hovis escaped CBS to join the cast. And, along with alumni Judy
Carne, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Jo Anne Worley and Teresa Graves, they help to
celebrate Laugh-In’s landmark 100th
episode (September 1, 1971).THE
COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON also trots out many of the 20th century’s greatest
talents, including Steve Allen, Johnny
Carson, Johnny Cash, Carol Channing, Charo, Petula Clark, Bing Crosby, Tony
Curtis, Henry Gibson, Gene Hackman, Rita Hayworth, Hugh Hefner, Bob Hope, Arte
Johnson, Paul Lynde, Liza Minnelli, Agnes Moorehead, Joe Namath, Carroll O’Connor,
Vincent Price, Carl Reiner, Debbie Reynolds, Sugar Ray Robinson, Bill Russell,
Vin Scully, Doc Severinsen, Jacqueline Susann, Tiny Tim, John Wayne, Raquel
Welch, Henny Youngman, and more!
COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON also includes such classic features as “Cocktail Party,”
“Fickle Finger of Fate,” “Joke Wall,” “Gladys and Tyrone,” “General Bull
Right,” “Big Al,” Lily Tomlin’s legendary “Ernestine” and “Edith Ann,”
“Tasteful Lady,” and “Ruth Buzzi’s Hollywood Report”.Additionally, Mod, Mod World takes on sports,
toys and games, families, politics, nutrition, leisure, year’s end, Manhattan,
television, small towns, crazy people, and the theater, Robert Goulet, Charo,
and Three Dog Night perform the Laugh-In
news song and there’s a hilarious “Salute to Santa” and a very modern Christmas
Dan Rowan, Dick Martin, Lily Tomlin, Ruth Buzzi, Arte
Johnson, Gary Owens, Alan Sues, Ann Elder, Dennis Allen, Barbara Sharma, Johnny Brown, Larry
Hovis, Richard Dawson
Format: DVD/6 Discs
Running Time: 1239 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
About Time Life
Time Life is one of
the world's pre-eminent creators and direct marketers of unique music and
video/DVD products, specializing in distinctive multi-media collections that
evoke memories of yesterday, capture the spirit of today, and can be enjoyed
for a lifetime. TIME LIFE and the TIME LIFE logo are registered trademarks of
Time Warner Inc. and affiliated companies used under license by Direct Holdings
Americas Inc., which is not affiliated with Time Warner Inc. or Time Inc.
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.
must confess that when I first settled down to read “Terror in the Desert: Dark
Cinema of the American Southwest”, a new book from McFarland by film-maker Brad
Sykes, it was with a distinctly doubtful attitude, insomuch that I couldn’t
quite believe there were enough films in existence to qualify its topic as an
authentic sub-genre. Surely it would be a padded affair...
an introduction in which the author outlines his discovery of and enthusiasm
for the films he identifies as “desert terrors” – distinguished specifically by
the dusty, inhospitable locations in which they’re set – if, just 6-pages in,
my doubts weren’t already being challenged, throughout the 275 ensuing pages
they were suitably quelled; by the end I was completely won over.
under-populated when compared to the staple sub-genres of slashers, vampires,
zombies, nature-gone-crazy and their ilk (most of which have members in their
community with facets that earn them a spot in the “desert terrors”
arena), there are nevertheless a surprising number of titles identified and
discussed in the book, many of which had previously slipped under my radar.
Quite a few of the films under examination have enjoyed their moment in the
mainstream sunshine, rendering them (if only in name) familiar even to
cinephiles with no interest in horror movies– From Dusk Till Dawn, Eight Legged
Freaks, Tremors, Duel, The Hills Have Eyes, The Hitcher – but it was the
intriguing-sounding entries I’d never heard of before which proved the most
intriguing aspect of Sykes’ book for me. There won’t be many with a passion for
cinematic terrors who, after having read about such titles as Raw Courage,
Mirage, Road Killers or The Sadist (the latter cited by the author as the one
which started it all back in 1963, and to which he devotes a whole chapter),
will be able to resist an online search into their availability.
discussing these films the text deigns to demonstrate, if I may quote the
author, “...how the genre has evolved over the years due to social, economic,
and political changes as well as stylistic technical transitions within the
movie industry.” If that makes it all sound rather hifalutin, be assured it
isn’t. Sykes writes authoritatively and informatively and never becomes bogged
down in thesis-style analytics. In fact, so readable is his relaxed writing
style that ultimately his enthusiasm becomes infectious.
in the Desert” is an engrossing – and for this reader, educational –
accomplishment and one that I’d not hesitate to recommend. There’s a handy A-Z
appendix at the back cataloguing over 150 key titles, and it was nice to be
reminded of movies I’d seen many moons ago, Sykes’ commentary about which
filled me with the incentive for a revisit; Death Valley, The Velvet Vampire,
Prey of the Chameleon, Ghost Town and Kingdom of the Spiders, to name but a
from the propensity to occasionally run a little too hot in recounting plot
detail – though fortunately it is only occasional – my one reservation in terms
of value for money with regard this slightly pricey volume is that pictorially
it’s pretty underwhelming, with an extensive number of its 100+ b/w images
being reproductions of (mostly) bland DVD sleeves and VHS cartons.
what did I take away with me from my immersion in “Terror in the Desert”? Definitely
a desire to widen my viewing ever further, but moreover that there really does
seem to be such a thing as the “desert terrors” sub-genre. Who knew? Certainly
Actor Tab Hunter has died at age 86 after sudden complications from a blood clot lead to a fatal heart attack. Hunter's blonde hair and hunky build made him a natural for the kind of beefcake leading men that characterized 1950s Hollywood. He was put under contract at Warner Brothers and became the studio's top grossing star during the years 1955-1959. Among Hunter's biggest hits of the era was the WWII film Battle Cry and the screen adaptation of the Broadway musical Damn Yankees. Hunter's popularity briefly extended to singing and his recording of "Young Love" was a smash hit, displacing Elvis Presley at the top of the charts. However, changing attitudes among fickle movie-goers in the 1960s swerved away from the traditional studio concept of a leading man. Hunter continued to work but in less-than-stellar productions. He did, however, have memorable cameos in big studio productions such as The Loved One and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. Hunter remained relevant by appearing on television shows and starring in two bizarre hit cult movies of the 1980s: Polyster and Lust in the Dust. Upon publication of his 2005 autobiography, he came out of the closet and stated he was gay. Hunter acknowledged the obvious: that had he done so back in his glory days, his career would have come to an abrupt end. He lamented how he would have to feign love affairs with actresses and be seen on faux dates. Hunter's late-in-life embrace of his sexuality was welcomed in the gay community and figures prominently in the 2015 documentary Tab Hunter Confidential, which was produced by his long-time romantic partner Allan Glaser. 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.
Here is newsreel footage from the 1966 Royal Film Performance of "Born Free" with Queen Elizabeth attending. Guests include the film's stars Virginia Mckenna and Bill Travers and celebs Rex Harrison and Rachel Roberts, Leslie Caron and Warren Beatty and Ursula Andress, along with Woody Allen, who were in London to film "Casino Royale". The event took place at the Odeon Theatre in Leicester Square, London. (Thanks to reader Dave Norris for the heads up on this. Dave served as chief projectionist at the Odeon for many years.)
Sam Spiegel was one of the most revered and accomplished producers in Hollywood history. His achievements included such classics as "On the Waterfront", "The African Queen", "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia". His body of work, though not nearly as extensive as that of some other producers, was notable in the sense that Spiegel thought big and shot for the moon when it came to bringing to the screen stories that spoke to the human condition. Following the triumphant release of "Lawrence" in 1962, Spiegel did not make another film for four years. When he did, the movie - "The Chase"- turned out to be a star-packed drama that won over neither critics or audiences. Spiegel had a more ambitious idea for his next production, a screen adaptation of the best-selling WWII thriller "The Night of the Generals" by Hans Helmut Kirst. Spiegel had the inspired idea of reuniting his "Lawrence of Arabia" co-stars Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif. They were reluctant to take on the project, but they certainly owed him. Both were virtual unknowns until Spiegel gave them the roles that made them international stars. Spiegel also added to the mix an impressive cast of esteemed British actors ranging from veterans such as Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray to up-and-coming young actors Tom Courtenay and Joanna Pettet. He chose Anatole Litvak to direct. Litvak had been making films for decades and had a few notable hits such as "Sorry, Wrong Number", "Anastasia" and "The Snake Pit". Spiegel being Spiegel ensured that the production benefited from a large budget and an appropriate running time (148 minutes) that would allow the story to unfold in a measured process.
"The Night of the Generals" is certainly a unique spin on WWII films. There are no battles or major action sequences, save for a harrowing sequence in which the German army systematically destroys part of the Warsaw Ghetto. Instead, it's very much a character study populated by characters who are, indeed, very interesting. The film opens with a tense sequence set in occupied Warsaw. The superintendent of an over-crowded apartment building accidentally overhears the brutal murder of a local prostitute in a room upstairs. From a hiding place he witnesses the killer walk past him. He does not see the man's face but recognizes his uniform: he is a general in the German army. The man keeps this information to himself on the logical assumption that divulging it might mean his death sentence. However, under questioning from the army investigator, Major Grau (Omar Sharif), he tells the shocking details of what he witnessed. From this moment, Grau becomes obsessed with finding the killer. Grau may be a German officer, but he is a pure cynic when it comes to the Nazi cause and the brutal methods being employed to win the war. He can't control the larger picture of how the war is being waged but he can control what is in his jurisdiction: bringing to justice the man who committed this one especially savage murder. Grau soon centers on three suspects. The first is General von Seiditz-Gabler (Charles Gray, channeling his future Blofeld), an effete, well-connected opportunist who is in a loveless marriage to his dominating wife Eleanore (Coral Browne). Then there is General Kahlenberg (Donald Pleasence), a man of slight build and low-key personality who has some eccentric personal habits that may include murder. Last, and most intriguing, is General Tanz (Peter O'Toole), a much-loathed and much-feared darling of Hitler's inner circle whose ruthless methods with dealing with civilian populations disgust his colleagues. Tanz has been sent to control or obliterate the Warsaw Ghetto.
The screenplay (which includes contributions by an uncredited Gore Vidal) is a bit disjointed and cuts back and forth to the present day in which we see a French police inspector, Morand (Phillippe Noiret), investigating the case twenty years later as he tries to tie together Grau's findings with dramatic developments that occurred during his handling of the case. Morand also appears in the war era sequences, having befriended Grau, who does not seem at all disturbed when he learns that Morand is actually a key figure in the French Resistance. Grau becomes particularly intrigued by General Ganz. He is an elitist snob who is devoid of any humor or compassion. A workaholic with seemingly no human weaknesses, Tanz is ostensibly under the command of his superior officer, Gabler, but it becomes clear that his political connections make him the top general in Warsaw. Major Grau interviews all three suspects and finds that any of them could be the murderer. When he becomes too intrusive, he is conveniently promoted and transferred to Paris, presumably to shut down his investigation. However, as the fortunes of war decline for the Third Reich, the top brass is eventually moved to Paris and Grau resumes his investigation when he discovers that prostitutes are being brutally murdered there as well. There is a parallel story that accompanies that of the murder investigation. It centers on Corporal Hartmann (Tom Courtenay), a young soldier who has been reluctantly acclaimed to be a national hero. It seems he was the last surviving member of his unit after a bloody battle. The brass used him as a propaganda tool, bestowing medals on him for heroic actions. In fact, he is a self-proclaimed coward whose only goal is to stay alive through the war. Hartmann confesses this to his superior, General Kahlenberg, who is amused by his honesty. He assigns him to be General Tanz's personal valet and orders him to show Tanz the history and sights of Paris. Neither he nor Tanz wants to partake in the venture, but Gabler orders Tanz to take a few days vacation, largely because he despises the man's presence. The scenes in which Hartmann tries to appease the mercurial Tanz without making any missteps are fraught with tension and suspense. Tanz is a fascinating character, presumably devoid of the vices most men have. However, in the course of their time together, Hartmann realizes that Tanz is somewhat of a fraud. He surreptitiously drinks to excess and changes into civilian clothes in order to meet with prostitutes in seedy bars. Although Tanz chews out Hartmann for every minor infraction, he seems to come to respect the younger man's professionalism. This sets in motion another complex plot development that also involves Hartmann's secret romance with General Gabler's free-spirited daughter Ulrike (Joanna Pettet).
Just trying to summarize the various plot strands of "The Night of the Generals" in this space is fairly exhausting. Oh, did I mention that another subplot involves Field Marshal Rommel (a cameo by Christopher Plummer) and the July, 1944 plot on the part of rebellious German officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler? Nevertheless, although the various story lines become quite complex, they are all tied together eventually in clever and compelling ways. The film is part "Whodunnit", part political statement and part war movie. The movie moves back to the present for its intense conclusion as Inspector Morand is finally able to solve the crime and attempt to bring the culprit to justice. When the killer is revealed it's about as shocking of a development as the revelation that the butler did it in one of those old British film noir mysteries. Still, director Litvak (who shares the producer credit with Sam Spiegel because he owned the screen rights to the novel) keeps the action flowing briskly running time and elicits outstanding performances from his cast. O'Toole, who would later capitalize on playing larger-than-life characters, was at this point in his career still very immersed in portraying introspective, quiet men. He is quite mesmerizing as General Tanz and quite terrifying as well. Sharif is, at least on the surface, badly cast. I'm not aware of any Egyptians who became prominent German officers. Sharif has the map of the Middle East on his face and lingering remnants of his native accent. It's to his credit that he overcomes these obstacles and gives a very fine performance as the charismatic investigator who doggedly pursues his suspects with Javert-like conviction. All of the other performances are equally outstanding, with Courtenay especially impressive- and one has to wonder why the very talented Joanna Pettet never became a bigger star. The international flavor of the cast gives the film a Tower of Babel-like effect. Some of the actors attempt to affect a quasi-German accent while others speak with British accents, and then we have the French and Poland-based sequences with even more diversity of languages. Still, if you could accept Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood speaking "German" in their native tongues in "Where Eagles Dare", you won't find this aspect of "The Night of the Generals" to be particularly distracting. I should also mention the impressive contributions of composer Maurice Jarre, cinematographer Henri Decae and main titles designer Robert Brownjohn (remember when films even had opening titles?) In summary, the film-which not successful with critics or the public- is a thoroughly intriguing experience and affords us the joy of watching some of the best actors of the period sharing the screen.
"The Night of the Generals" has been released as a limited edition (3,000 units) Blu-ray from Twilight Time. The transfer is gorgeous, giving full impact to the impressive cinematography and lush production design. There is also an isolated score track, the original trailer and an informative booklet by film historian Julie Kirgo, who examines Sam Spiegel's attempts to rebuild his career in subsequent years only to find that he was out of place in the new Hollywood.
Ahrya Fine Arts theater will be presenting a 50th anniversary
screening of Carol Reed’s Academy Award-winning 1968 film Oliver!The 153-minute film,
which stars Ron Moody, the late-great Oliver Reed, a very young Mark Lester,
and Shani Wallis, will be screened on Sunday, July 15, 2018 at 3:00 pm.
NOTE: At press time, actress Shani Wallis is scheduled to appear in person for
a discussion about the film prior to the screening.
She will be on hand at 2:30
pm in the lobby selling posters for $50.00 and photos for $20.00, and will also
autograph them. All proceeds will go to charity.
the press release:
Part of our Anniversary Classics series. For details, visit: laemmle.com/ac.
50th Anniversary Screening
Sunday, July 15, at 3 PM
Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre
Q&A with Actress Shani Wallis
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present a 50th anniversary
screening of the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1968, Oliver!, the much-loved film version
of Lionel Bart’s hit stage musical. The movie was nominated for 11 Academy
Awards and won six, also including Best Director Carol Reed and a special award
for choreographer Onna White. Reed, the acclaimed British director of such
classic films as The Third
Man and The Fallen
Idol, had been working since the 1930s and finally received the
Academy’s top honor for this late work.
Charles Dickens’ iconic 19th century novel, Oliver Twist, the heart-rending tale of an orphan who falls in
with a band of thieves in London, has been filmed many times over the years;
the first version was done in the silent era, and David Lean directed a
brilliant rendition in 1948, with Alec Guinness as Fagin. In 1960 Lionel Bart
wrote the book, music, and lyrics for a musical theater version of the novel
which scored an enormous success in London and later in New York. Ron Moody,
who had played the part of Fagin in London, reprised his role for the film
version, and the cast also included Shani Wallis as Nancy, Jack Wild as the
Artful Dodger, Oliver Reed (the director’s nephew) as the villainous Bill
Sikes, Oscar-winner Hugh Griffith as the Magistrate, and charming newcomer Mark
Lester as Oliver.
The 1960s was a great decade for movie musicals, with three earlier films—West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music—scoring Best
Picture wins. Oliver!,
however, turned out to be the last musical film to win the Academy’s top award
until Chicago took
the prize 34 years later. Reed’s film earned outstanding reviews from most
critics. Roger Ebert declared, “Sir Carol Reed’s Oliver! is a treasure of a movie.” Pauline Kael also
admired Reed’s achievement: “Oliver! has
been made by people who know how; it’s a civilized motion picture, not only
emotionally satisfying but so satisfyingly crafted that we can sit back and
enjoy what is going on…there’s something restorative about a movie that is made
for a mass audience and that respects that audience.”
Kael also had high praise for the
performers. “As Nancy,” Kael wrote, “Shani Wallis is an unexpected
pleasure—hearty (as Dickens described her), with a tough vitality that brings
poignancy to the role.” Wallis got to perform some of Bart’s best songs,
including the rousing “It’s A Fine Life” and the romantic ballad, “As Long As
He Needs Me.” Wallis has had an extensive career performing in musical theater
and in nightclubs, and she also has many credits in British and American
The Ahyra Fine
Arts is located at 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. The phone number is (310) 478-3836.
love it when The Criterion Collection produces a lavish boxed set containing
multiple features, an abundance of supplements, and a thick and illustrated
booklet. What better collection is there than one featuring the six Hollywood
films made between 1930 and 1935 by Josef von Sternberg and starring the
exquisite Marlene Dietrich? Hats off to producer Issa Clubb for overseeing what
could be one of Criterion’s better products.
adventure-romances showcased a star who immediately defined the word “exotic”—a
German-born, English-speaking, beautiful, sultry, seductress who could act,
sing, and dance. Like Greta Garbo, who had arrived in Hollywood during the
silent era, Marlene Dietrich exhibited a European mystery to American audiences
of the early Depression years. Her self-styled (with the help of her trusted
director, von Sternberg) gender-bending wardrobes and mannerisms, her sometimes
ambiguous but often overt sexuality, and her allure of “knowing something we
didn’t” made her an overnight star… for a while.
documented in the various supplements that appear over the six Blu-ray disks in
the set, Dietrich and von Sternberg enjoyed a successful and acclaimed period
during the Pre-Code days. It seemed, though, that as soon as the Production
Code went into effect in July 1934, the popularity of the star and the
director’s films waned. For the second half of the 1930s, Dietrich, like
several other leading ladies, became what was termed “box-office poison”—that
is, until she made a booming come-back in 1939’s Destry Rides Again.
and von Sternberg first worked together in the 1930 German-produced picture, The Blue Angel, which was filmed in both
the German language and in English. The director, already an established filmmaker
in Hollywood, convinced his studio, Paramount, to bring Dietrich over and sign
her to a multi-picture contract. The young star left Germany on the night The Blue Angel premiered in her native
country. Paramount held the U.S. release back until after the exhibition of her
first official Hollywood production, Morocco
(also 1930). This initial appearance in America proved to be a sensation. The
English-language version of The Blue
Angel was released a month later, and Marlene Dietrich had arrived.
historical importance of the films in Criterion’s new collection can be broken
down into three words—light, shadow, and Marlene. Josef von Sternberg was a
master of visual imagery in motion pictures at a time when black and white
cinematography was evolving as an art form. A cameraman himself, he was one of
the few directors in Hollywood who knew how to light a set and photograph it
(in fact, he is not only the director but also the cinematographer of the sixth
title in this set, The Devil is a Woman).
Von Sternberg’s use of German expressionism—heavy on the shadows, high contrast
between light and dark—did wonders for Marlene Dietrich’s cheekbones. An
actress was likely never photographed so beautifully as in those first few
films—not even Garbo. The greatest pleasure of the Dietrich & von Sternberg
boxed set is the gorgeousness of its images. While von Sternberg certainly had
much to say about how his films were photographed, many kudos must be given to
the other two cinematographers he worked with—Lee Garmes (three titles) and
Bert Glennon (two titles).
(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.
pushed back the publication date by a few weeks for our much-anticipated special
edition issue that pays tribute to the epic roadshow films of the 1960s.
This decision was made for a good reason: we have just come into
possession of some extremely rare and exciting photos and advertising
materials from the films we are covering. This new material is worth
redesigning certain sections to enhance the reader's experience. The issue will be now be shipping in August. Thanks to all who pre-ordered. Response has been great! For those who
didn't order, here are the details of this limited edition issue:'
Cinema Retro proudly announces its annual Movie Classics special
edition for 2018: Roadshow Epics of the '60s! This is an 80-page special
that provides in-depth coverage of the making of five memorable epic
Mutiny on the Bounty
Lawrence of Arabia
The Fall of the Roman Empire
The Greatest Story Ever Told
The behind-the-scenes struggles to bring these monumental productions
to the screen often equaled the events depicted in the screenplays.
Indeed, all but Lawrence of Arabia proved to be boxoffice
failures (or disasters). However, Cinema Retro provides compelling
evidence that all of them were superbly filmed and provided many grand,
memorable moments. This special edition provides fascinating insights
into the often seemingly insurmountable challenges directors, writers,
producers and actors had to overcome in order to bring the films to
completion. These are the kind of movies we think of when we hear it
said "They don't make 'em like that anymore!". This special Movie
Classics issue is packed with hundreds of rare production stills and
on-set photos, as well as rare international advertising and publicity
As with all Cinema Retro issues, this is a limited edition so pre-order now to reserve your copy!
(This Movie Classics special edition is not part of the subscription plan. It must be ordered separately.)
Lorber has released the obscure 1969 Western “More Dead Than Alive” in a
Blu-ray edition.Discharged from prison
in 1891 after serving an eighteen-year sentence for murder, legendary
gunslinger Cain (Clint Walker) determines to stay away from firearms, find
honest work, and save enough money to buy a ranch.But his reputation as “Killer” Cain precedes
him, and chances for employment are slim until he encounters conniving showman
Dan Ruffalo (Vincent Price).“People
would have something to talk about, if they could see you using this notched
Colt of yours,” Ruffalo chortles.He
encourages Cain to cash in on his notoriety and join Ruffalo’s traveling show
as its star sharpshooting attraction, relegating the show’s current marksman,
Billy (Paul Hampton), to a subsidiary role.Monica, a free-spirited artist (Anne Francis), strikes up a friendship
with Cain and thinks it’s a bad idea for him to pick up a gun again, however
limited his options.Meanwhile, the
reformed pistoleer’s old enemies hope to see him dead, including outlaw Santee
(Mike Henry), who carries a grudge from a botched jailbreak.
the sheer number of Westerns produced in 1969, it’s a sure bet that some
pictures released in the shadow of that year’s Big Four -- “The Wild Bunch,”
“Once Upon the Time in the West,” “True Grit,” and “Butch Cassidy and the
Sundance Kid” -- deserve rediscovery and reappraisal.In the case of “More Dead Than Alive,” fans
will welcome the chance to see Clint Walker, Vincent Price, Anne Francis, and
Mike Henry again in prime form.Script
and direction, not so much.The
action-packed poster, reprinted as the sleeve art for the Kino Lorber Blu-ray,
would lead you to expect a gritty, violent movie along the lines of “A Stranger
in Town,” “God Forgives -- I Dont!,” and other Italian Westerns that were
beginning to play widely that year in the U.S., following the breakout success
of Sergio Leone’s three “Dollars” movies.Instead, the gunplay and blood squibs are confined to the opening scene
and two sequences near the end.Otherwise, it’s a plodding, talky production that ambles from one
situation to the next without building up much momentum, like an episode from
one of the sedate television Westerns of the late ‘60s.The direction by TV veteran Robert Sparr is
dutiful but listless.Characters are
introduced whom we think will have major roles in the story (like a lady saloon
owner played by Beverly Powers), only to have them soon drop out of sight,
never to be seen again.Mike Henry’s
Santee is a terrific bad guy who stacks up believably against big Clint
Walker’s hero in size and macho presence, but he’s missing in action for most
of the picture.Once the script
remembers to bring him back, a well-staged, knock-down fistfight between the
two characters near the end of the movie injects a welcome jolt of energy that the
rest of the film could have used.
Kino Lorber Blu-ray offers “More Dead Than Alive” in an acceptable, 1920x1080p
encoding.As a bonus feature, the disc
includes an interview with the late Clint Walker, recorded in 2014.In discussing the film, his colleagues, and
his career in Hollywood, Walker is modest, dignified, and thoughtful --
qualities sadly lacking in today’s media parade of rancorous politicians,
Reality Show exhibitionists, and Internet provocateurs.
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.
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.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from MI6 Confidential magazine:
In 2017, after ten years of service, MI6 Confidential
introduced a new special format: a limited-run 100-page perfect bound issue of
the magazine taking a deep dive into one particular facet of the franchise. The
second release is co-authored by Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury whose
"Some Kind of Hero" is the 21st century's modern Bond bible.
Rather than recounting the production history of Sir
Roger's epic seven film run as 007 the authors instead turned the narrative
over to Moore's on-screen co-stars. The actor, philanthropist and true
gentleman touched the lives of many — and many of his Bond co-stars who have
said little or nothing about their work on the EON films since took this
opportunity to regale Field and Chowdhury with some remarkable stories about
Sir Roger Moore. No two stories are alike but each adds to a picture of a
warmhearted man, a consummate professional, who never took himself too
In This Special Issue
100 page special magazine; professionally printed;
A unique look at the life and work of Sir Roger Moore
through the eyes of his co-stars
More than 60 of Moore's colleagues share memories,
including: Christopher Walken, Yaphet Kotto, Tanya Roberts, Britt Ekland, Lois
Chiles, Gloria Hendry, Julian Glover, Charles Dance, Steven Berkoff, and Vijay
Over 100 rare and interesting photos of Sir Roger with
his Bond 'family', plus beautiful key art from each film
A full report from the opening of the Roger Moore Stage
at Pinewood, including reflections from Michael Wilson, Sir Michael Caine, and
Although I have a weak spot for Italian westerns of the 1960s and 1970s, most can be appropriately evaluated by paraphrasing Longfellow: "When they were good, they were very, very good, and when they were bad, they were horrid." "Blindman" is a curiosity from 1971 that I previously panned after viewing an allegedly "remastered" DVD edition that looked barely better than a VHS transfer. The film fits rather comfortably into the latter part of Longfellow's famous nursery rhyme. Although the movie has a devoted fan base, when I first reviewed it I call it "a pretty horrid experience and inexcusably amateurish in execution, given the well-seasoned people involved". The good news is that Abkco Films has released a truly remastered DVD version that considerably improves one's perception of the film. As the title implies, it's about...well, a blind man. He's played by Tony Anthony, who did rather well for himself as a sort of Clint Eastwood Lite character known as The Stranger in a series of Euro Westerns (Any similarity to Eastwood's Man With No Name must have been purely coincidental). Anthony went on to star in any number of lucrative, low-budget action films, the most notable being "Comin' At Ya!, a 3-D flick that has also built a loyal cult following. His co-star in "Blindman" is Ringo Starr. More about him later. The film was based on a Japanese movie titled "Zatoichi" about a blind samurai hero. As with "The Magnificent Seven", which was based on Kurasawa's "Seven Samurai", the story has been transplanted to the American west. When we first see the Blindman (whose name is never mentioned), he rides into a one-horse town and confronts his former partners. Seems they had a lucrative contract to deliver 50 mail order brides to some horny miners. However, a better offer was made from a Mexican bandito named Domingo (Lloyd Battista), who has exported them South 'O the Border to force them into prostitution. Blindman apparently has a sense of honor in terms of fulfilling the original contract. He manages to kill his former partners and sets off to Mexico to rescue the women, presumably so they can sold into another form of prostitution. At first the premise of this film intrigued me. How, after all, can you logically present a story about a blind gunslinger? The answer is you apparently can't. You could get away with it if the film was a satire, but there is surprisingly little overt humor in "Blindman". Yes, in true Eastwood fashion, the hero sometimes makes some snarky quips before, during and after dispatching his adversaries, but for the most part, the film takes itself far too seriously.
How does the Blindman find his way around? Well, he has his own "wonder horse" who seems more like a companion than a beast of burden. The hoofed hero is always at his disposal and seems to be able to do everything but read a map for him. Speaking of maps, Blindman gets to various destinations by running his finger over maps that engraved in leather...sort of a braille system. Given the fact that he has to navigate the state of Texas, then Mexico, one would think he would require maps the size of rolls of kitchen linoleum, but somehow he gets by with navigational tools that fit neatly into his pocket. When Blindman arrives in Mexico, he has numerous confrontations with the brutal Domingo and his army of thugs. He suffers the ritualistic beatings of any hero in the Italian western genre, but always manages to get the better hand by his deadly use of the rifle that he uses as a walking stick. Somehow the Blindman can use instinct and an uncanny hearing ability to gun down his would-be assassins with uncanny precision, though occasionally he does impose on some allies for advice. He also confronts Candy (Ringo Starr), Domingo's equally sadistic brother, who is keeping a captive woman as his mistress. What follows is a seemingly endless series of chases, confrontations and the obligatory imitation Morricone score, all of it under the pedestrian direction of Ferdinando Baldi, who has a revered reputation with some fans of the genre and does manage to set off some impressive explosions. (Amusingly, the concept of showing the "50" mail order brides must have taxed the limited budget so we only get to see them in small clusters.). There are a couple of sequences that stand out in terms of creativity. One involves the surprise slaughter of a barroom filled with Mexican soldiers. The other has a bit of suspense as the Blindman is served a food bowl that he doesn't realize contains a deadly snake. The finale of the film finds Blindman wrestling with Domingo, who has been blinded by a cigar! (Don't ask...) It's supposed to be a tense confrontation, but the sight of the two blind guys rolling around in the dirt looks like an outtake from a Monty Python sketch. The most intriguing aspect of the film is what led Ringo Starr into appearing in it. He had considerable on-screen charisma that he parlayed into a successful acting career. Here, however, his role is colorless and bland. He doesn't even play the main villain, but rather a supporting character who disappears from the story before the movie even reaches the one-hour mark. Starr supposedly was looking to jump-start his film career and worked with Tony Anthony to develop this production. While he acquits himself credibly, he might have at least given his character some memorable lines or characteristics.
The previously reviewed version of the film pointed out that the packaging had indicated the film had a running time of 105 minutes, which matches with the original timing cited on on the IMDB site. However, the screener we reviewed ran only 83 minutes and it looked like it had been edited with a meat cleaver. The ABCKO version is the actual 105 minute cut and the transfer is excellent, a vast improvement over the muddy mess we had previously reviewed. Seeing "Blindman" again under these conditions has allowed me to reevaluate my opinion of the film. While it certainly never rises to the standards of a Sergio Leone production, the movie's quirky premise and the amusing performance by Tony Anthony made the experience far more enjoyable the second time around.
Earlier this year, Acorn Media Enterprises with Free@Last TV
announced Acorn TV’s first sole commission with the return of Agatha Raisin,
Series 2 starring Ashley Jensen (Love, Lies & Records, Catastrophe), which
begins filming this summer.
“Lonely Boy: The Benny Hill Story” is an original drama that
spans the life and times of Benny Hill from his early days as a part of a
double-act to his heady height of fame as the most-loved British prime-time
comedian lauded on both sides of the Atlantic. The series will chart his tragic
decline and fall in the late 80’s as a new generation of rising stars usurped
Lonely Boy will follow the journey of a cripplingly insecure
young lad with a single-minded desire to make people laugh, through the dying
last days of variety and who is ultimately saved from obscurity by television. The
series will also examine the double-standards of the tabloid press.
Helping him achieve his goal will be a surrogate family; a
‘brother’ in comedy writer and lifelong friend Dave Freeman and a ‘father’ in
producer/director Ken Carter – and later Dennis Kirkland. These men believe in
Benny when no-one else does. They help him, hone him – emotionally and
An uplifting, deeply moving story with a universal truth at
its core; how our parents, for good or bad, shape who we are.
‘Lonely Boy’ takes
its name from one of Benny Hill’s classic 1960’s hits and was developed by
Free@Last TV’s David Walton in partnership with writer Caleb Ranson.
The series consultant is Hilary Bonner who was the co-author
of the Benny Hill biography 'Benny & Me' with Benny's long-term TV
collaborator Dennis Kirkland.
Barry Ryan, Creative Director of Free@Last TV noted, “Benny
Hill is a lost national treasure and a much-misunderstood man. Our drama will
reignite his legacy and address some of the misconceptions about the man and
his material while also chronicling the dying days of variety entertainment and
the birth of television”.
Writer Caleb Ranson said, “When I was a kid growing up in
the 70s and 80s I loved Benny Hill, his skits and wordplay and especially his
songs. Then as I got older, like the rest of the country, I fell out of love
with him. Why was that? What happened? Around the world he’s still revered but
here in the UK, he’s all but forgotten. A punchline to a bad joke. I want to
reclaim him from the comedy dustbin of history, to explore the Benny nobody
knows, the ahead of his time comedy genius of the 50s and 60s and why in his
twilight years he fell so hard and so quickly out of favour”.
Free @ Last TV was founded in 2000 by Barry Ryan and David
Walton. The company has produced over 450 hours of television for a variety of
channels including Gina Yashere: Gina Las Vegas, Martina Cole’s Lady Killers
and the comedy-drama Agatha Raisin. The company has a full development slate
including Reginald Hill’s thriller ‘Death of a Dormouse’, ‘The Charles Paris
Mysteries’ and ‘Spilsbury’ written by award-winning writer and actress Nichola
Acorn Media Enterprises commissions, co-produces and
acquires a diverse slate of international dramas for Acorn TV, North America’s
most popular streaming service for British and international television. This
news follows Acorn Media Enterprises and Acorn TV’s recent commission
announcements for the straight-to-series order of British drama London Kills Series
1 and 2 as well as a co-production announcements for Aussie comedy Sando and Irish
comedy Finding Joy from Amy Huberman, as well as the licensing of hit British
police procedural No Offence, Jack Irish, Season 2 starring Guy Pearce, and
Welsh drama Hidden. Read recent announcements at https://www.rljentertainment.com/press-room/
In 2018, Acorn Media Enterprises has already featured five
North American co-productions and Acorn TV Originals with Series 3 of
universally adored BBC comedy Detectorists starring Mackenzie Crook and Toby
Jones; Kay Mellor’s ITV drama Girlfriends starring Phyllis Logan (Downton
Abbey), Miranda Richardson (Stronger, And Then There Were None), and Zoe
Wanamaker (Agatha Christie’s Poirot); Irish legal drama Striking Out, Series 2
starring Amy Huberman; record-setting Welsh thriller Keeping Faith starring Eve
Myles (Torchwood, Broadchurch); and Aussie family comedy Sando.
Called “Netflix for the Anglophile” by NPR and featuring “the
most robust, reliable selection of European, British, Canadian and Australian
shows” by The New York Times, Acorn TV
exclusively premieres several new international series and/or seasons every
month from Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, and other
Steve Thompson's addictive blog 1966 My Favorite Year has a wealth of pop culture photos and videos pertaining to what was hot during that glorious one year period. There is an abundance of Batman-related posts including Batman "Sparking" Cola by Cott, which we confess we don't recall back in the day but was apparently marketed as the champagne of sodas. You'd need quite a few dollars in your utility belt to afford a can or bottle of this today. Click here to visit the blog...it's not only groovy, it's downright fab!
from a youth spent shooting their own movies on 8mm – the heartfelt intent and
burning enthusiasm for which sometimes (but not always) rendered the
made-for-pennies mini-epics amusingly watchable today – in 1987 the
enterprising Chiodo brothers finally got to stage their first feature film
production, which was released to decent acclaim in 1988. Produced and
co-written by Charles, Edward and Stephen Chiodo, with the latter occupying the
director’s chair, that film is every bit as bizarre as you’d expect of one
bearing the title Killer Klowns from
of Crescent Cove is under assault by alien beings, which appear in the form of
freakish clowns and whose spaceship adopts the facade of a circus tent. These
aliens are abducting the populace and cocooning them in a flesh-eating
substance resembling candyfloss. It’s up to local cop Dave Hansen (John Allen
Nelson), clean-cut lad Mike Tobacco (Grant Cramer) and a pair of simpleton ice
cream vendors – the Terenzi brothers (Michael Siegal and Peter Licassi) –
to rescue Mike’s girlfriend Debbie (Suzanne Snyder) from a horrible fate and
save the town.
hyperbolic to say that Killer Klowns from
Outer Space is a comic-horror caper like no other. A kooky, colourful
confection of chuckles and gore, the Chiodos lay on the (pop)corny gags and
cheesy SFX with unrestrained relish. How much fun there is to be found in
balloon animals coming to life, pieces of ‘living’ popcorn mutating into
aggressive clown-headed snake-creatures, human ventriloquist dummies,
acid-laced cream pies, and giant shadow puppets eating spectators is, of course,
entirely subjective. For this viewer it has to be said that by the time the
final reel unspools the silliness overload runs out of fizz, but there’s
certainly no faulting the imagination and passion at play here. And it’s hard
not to enjoy something that gifts John Vernon with a frothy bad guy role; although
for many (myself included) he’ll always be Animal
House’s Dean Vernon Wormer, he’s on good form here as a bully-boy cop who
gets his just desserts. Coulrophobics
should unquestionably avoid this one, for the titular Klowns are the ugliest,
most rotten-toothed bunch you’ll find this side of a Billy Smart’s Circus OAP
reunion. But for everyone else, as daft as the whole shebang may be, this is
post-pub Friday night fodder of the highest order.
Video has issued the film on Blu-ray with a Big Top’s worth of supplemental material,
though it’s as interested in the careers of the Chiodo brothers in general as
it is Klowns-specific. The key lure
is a documentary about the Chiodo’s passion for the home movies mentioned at
the start of this review, and HD transfers of the half a dozen titles shot
between 1968 and 1978 are included, technically proficient and evidencing their
love of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion monster animation. There’s also a tour of
Chiodo Bros Productions in the company of Stephen. Tied to Klowns itself there’s a feature-accompanying Chiodo commentary.
Interviews with actors Grant Cramer and Suzanne Snyder, along with theme song
performers The Dickies, are appended by archival pieces from Charles Chiodo,
effects supervisor Gene Warren, creature creator Dwight Roberts and composer
John Massari. There are 2 deleted scenes (with optional commentary), bloopers,
Klown auditions footage, a vintage trailer and a gallery of artwork,
storyboards and stills. It’s so par for the course now that it scarcely needs
mentioning, but the usual Arrow sugar-coating of a reversible sleeve is present
Jack London was an American literary phenomenon. He had a
rough and tumble childhood, but was always a voracious reader. Lacking the
money for college, he was basically self-educated. On his own he read Spencer,
Milton, Nietzsche, and Darwin and lived a life you only read about in story
books. He was a sailor, a hobo, a gold prospector in the Yukon, worked in a
Chinese laundry, and before he died at age 40, was the author of 50 books, at
least two of which are considered literary masterpieces: Call of the Wild, and The Sea
It was in The Sea
Wolf that he created one of fiction’s most unforgettable characters—Wolf
Larsen, the larger-than-life captain of a three-masted seal-hunting schooner,
who was London’s idea of the Nietzschean Superman. Many critics thought The Sea Wolf was written in praise of
Nietzsche’s ideas, but London maintained it was actually the opposite, and felt
that the public just didn’t get it. That may be the case, but there is no
ambiguity in Robert Rossen’s screenplay for Michael Curtiz’s 1941 film adaption
of the novel. In this version (one of about a dozen going back to the silent
era), Larsen (Edward G. Robinson) is portrayed as a sadistic monster, admirable
only for his ability to overcome storms at sea and mutiny by the sheer force of
In the novel the story is told through the eyes of Humphrey
Van Weyden (Alexander Knox), an effete intellectual, and an idealistic, or as
they called them in those days an altruist. His viewpoint is thrown into sharp contrast
with Larsen’s “might makes right” philosophy. In the film, George Leach (John
Garfield), a man on the run from the law, becomes the point of view narrator,
giving the story a slightly different angle. Thrown into the mix is Ruth
Brewster (Ida Lupino), a girl from the Barbary Coast who’s got a police record.
The film is set almost entirely on board the schooner, while the novel covers
more territory, including an island where Van Weyden and the girl are washed up
Rossen’s screenplay is a bit more sharply focused than
the novel. In a scene between Larsen and Van Weyden that takes place in the
captain’s cabin, we learn that Larsen is widely read, much like London himself.
He adopts a line from Milton’s Paradise
Lost as his motto, the words of Lucifer: “It is better to reign in hell,
than to serve in heaven.” In both book and movie, Larsen gets his kicks by
setting up his victims with what at first appears to be praise, only to turn it
into brutal humiliation. There is some discussion of morality and man’s place
in the universe, with Larsen maintaining aboard the ship he has the power of a
god over everyone on board and can make them do anything he wants. To which Van
Weyden replies: “But there is a price no one will pay to go on living.”
“The Sea Wolf” was made at a time when fascism was
sweeping over Europe. Nations were learning the price they had to pay in order
to survive in a world threatened by a brutal dictator. That message may be just
as pertinent today with similar political currents “infesting” world politics.
Robinson, Lupino, Garfield and Knox give first rate
performances, with Robinson especially good as the megalomaniac captain. He
manages to conjure up some sympathy for Larsen who suffers from headaches that
eventually make him blind, and as in the novel, you have to admire his ability
to overcome and dominate his environment as few men can.
Even though “The Sea Wolf” was once a staple on TV Late
Shows back in the Sixties, it never really got much attention when it aired.
One reason for its neglect was the fact that after its initial 1941 release the
movie was re-released in 1947 in a shorter version, with 14 minutes edited out
of it. For 70 years that was the only version available. Film archivists
searched for the lost footage for years and only recently discovered a 35 mm
nitrate element in a storage unit at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The
Warner Archive disc presents the full length version in 1080p high def. Picture detail is sharp and clean. Sol
Polito’s (“The Sea Hawk”) cinematography hasn’t looked this good since the
film’s original run. The 2.0 DTS mono soundtrack is first rate. Every word of
dialog is clear and every note of Eric Korngold’s dark, brooding score is heard
to full advantage. Extras include a theatrical trailer and the audio of a 1950
radio broadcast of Screen Director’s Playhouse’s truncated version of the film
starring Robinson.Highly recommended.
CLICK HERETO ORDER FROM THE CINEMA RETRO MOVIE STORE
John M. Whalen is the author of "Hunting Monsters is My Business: The Mordecai Slate Stories" . Click here to order the book from Amazon)
Criterion Collection has upgraded its 2006 DVD release of Ingmar Bergman’s
classic Oscar-winning drama, The Virgin Spring, to Blu-ray, and the results are,
film won Bergman his first of three Best Foreign Language Film Academy Awards,
and it can certainly be ranked among the Swedish filmmaker’s best works. Known
as a “rape and revenge tale,” the picture was so influential that it was the
inspiration for Wes Craven’s first horror-exploitation movie from 1972, The
Last House on the Left. Craven took the basic plotline, updated it, and turned
it into a gory (and some would say, sickening) fright fest.
film is easier to take, but one can imagine how harrowing it might have been in
1960. As a departure for the auteur, Bergman did not write the screenplay himself.
The script was adapted by Ulla Isaksson from a Swedish medieval ballad/legend
called “Töres döttrar I Wänge” (“Töre’s daughters in Vänge”). Like The Seventh
Seal before it, the story is set during the Dark Ages. It’s the only other
instance in which Bergman accurately and convincingly depicts this historical
period on film. This time, his visual collaborator is the great cinematographer
Sven Nykvist, who presents the stark, sharp black and white imagery with
story concerns Christian Töre (Max von Sydow) and his family—his wife, Märeta
(Birgitta Välberg), his teenage daughter Karin (Birgitta Pettersson), the
disturbed, unwed and pregnant servant Ingeri (Gunnel Lindblom), and other
household helpers. One morning, the virginal, innocent, and naïve Karin sets
off on horseback, accompanied by Ingeri, to deliver candles to a church some
miles away. After a frightening, chance encounter with a one-eyed man, Ingeri
separates from Karin, who soldiers on with the candles. She comes upon a motely
trio of creepy herdsmen—all brothers—with whom she offers to share her lunch.
The older two assault Karin, rape, and murder her. The younger brother, who
appears to be around twelve, watches in horror. Ingeri, hidden in the forest,
also witnesses the crime.
the herdsmen encounter Christian and his family, who are naturally worried
about Karin because she didn’t return home. To reveal what happens next would of
course be a spoiler—just know that Christian must make a hard decision and
summon a strength from within that he didn’t know he had.
all powerful stuff, and Bergman handles it with harsh realism and surprising
sensitivity. The assault scene is brief, breathtakingly shocking, and surely
something that jolted audiences at the time. Pettersson delivers a particularly
courageous performance, and the actress’ work is the heart of the movie. The
rest of the cast, especially von Sydow, Lindblom, and Välberg, are also
interesting is that the film can be interpreted as either a deeply religious or
an anti-religious one. Christianity is often a subject matter in Bergman’s oeuvre,
and his disdain for organized religion is usually palpable. In this case,
however, when the titular “virgin spring” appears in the picture, it just might
represent an acknowledgment of a higher power. It’s up to the viewer to decide.
again, the filmmaker recreates on what was surely a very low budget a medieval
world that is totally believable. The attention to detail is striking—P. A.
Lundgren’s production design and Marik Vos’ costume designs bring The Virgin
Spring to life (the latter was nominated for an Academy Award).
new 2K digital restoration looks gorgeous and is an improvement over the
earlier DVD release. It comes with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack and an
audio commentary from 2005 by Bergman scholar Birgitta Steene. The 2006
supplements are ported over: 2005 interviews with actors Lindblom and
Pettersson, a terrific introduction by director Ang Lee (who claims it was the
first art film he ever saw), and an interesting audio recording of a 1975
American Film Institute seminar by Bergman—in English! There is an alternate
English-dubbed soundtrack, but for my money Bergman films should always be
viewed in the original language. The booklet sports an essay by film scholar
Peter Cowie, reflections on the film by screenwriter Isaksson, and the text of
the original ballad upon which the picture is based.
the many masterpieces that Ingmar Bergman made, The Virgin Spring is a shining
gem. Don’t miss it.
We recently reported on the trials and tribulations
everyone associated with “Gotti” experienced over the seven years expended in
attempting to bring the biopic to the big screen (the film has more producers
credited than the entire population of Lichtenstein.) . When the film did open,
it earned the rare distinction of being unanimously panned by the critics
surveyed on Rotten Tomatoes. So, I guess I’m out there on my own when I say I
found the film to be quite satisfying on any number of levels. Mind you, I’m
also a defender of Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate”, so you should take that
into consideration. To read the reviews of this troubled production, one would
think it was genuinely awful. It isn’t. In fact, there is much to recommend
here, not the least of which is the very effective performance by John Travolta
as the titular New York crime boss John Gotti. It’s a bold performance by
Travolta, as he ages on screen from a young, aspiring mob member to an older
man dying from throat cancer while locked in solitary confinement in a federal
penitentiary. Travolta looks the part and captures the swagger of Gotti. His
performance here represents his most ambitious and impressive work on screen in
The film, directed by Kevin Connolly, rather
superficially chronicles Gotti’s rise from lowly Mafia henchman to a mid-range
boss under the command of Gambino crime family cappo du tutti capo Paul Castellano (Donald John Volpenhein). Gotti
is displeased with “Big Paul” because he inherited his status in the mob as
opposed to having coming up from the streets and earned respect the
old-fashioned way. Worse, Castellano resides in a mansion on a hill and has
never developed personal friendships with his underlings. That’s not only a
job-killer if you’re in the Mafia, it’s also a trait that doesn’t bode well for
anyone looking forward to enjoying old age. The film depicts Gotti plotting to
use a team of confederates to assassinate “Big Paul”, with the tacit approval
of his immediate superior and mentor Neil Dellacroce (marvelously played by
Stacy Keach), who everyone believes should hold the position “Big Paul” now
enjoys. But Dellacroce is terminally ill and he gives his blessing for Gotti to
“off” him which infamously occurred when the target and his driver were dining
at Sparks Steak House in Manhattan. Gotti is then established as the boss of
the Gambino crime family.
The screenplay by Lem Dobbs and Leo Rossi is admirable on
several counts. The dialogue rings true to anyone who grew up in or around New
York City (yes, I know guys who still joke “I wouldn’t fuck her with your dick”) and there are some powerful
scenes that truly resonate from a dramatic standpoint. But the writers err by
failing to tell the tale in a linear manner. Instead, events hopscotch all over
the decades. In one scene Gotti is a young hood looking to impress his bosses
by performing a hit. Next we see him as a middle-aged man trying to cope with
domestic problems and grieving over the death of his young son in a traffic
accident. (Gotti’s wife Victoria is played by Travolta’s real-life wife Kelly
Preston in a fine and convincing performance.) Next we see an almost
unrecognizable Gotti as a bloated older man fighting terminal throat cancer in
prison. The constant intermixing of varying eras is befuddling and matters
aren’t helped by an over-abundance of chyrons identifying various minor
characters who don’t play a major part in the goings-on.
The movie accurately portrays Gotti’s reputation in
Queens as that of a folk hero among the local working class. His annual ad-hoc,
unauthorized Fourth of July street fair and fireworks show involved dispensing
free food and drinks to anyone who showed up. When the police tried to stop the
extravaganzas, Gotti accused them of being unpatriotic and he was allowed to
continue. This manipulation of the middle class was essential in maintaining
his grass roots support. He wasn’t the first authoritarian figure to realize he
could manipulate naïve people by tossing them some crumbs while obtaining
significant ill-gotten gains for himself. He also wasn’t the first dictatorial
personality to wrap himself in faux patriotism, and history has proven he wouldn’t
be the last. One would think that working class people would resent a man who
wore expensive suits and lived the high life, but the image of the swaggering,
unapologetic narcissist only endeared him to his supporters. Where Gotti erred
was in not following the tradition of the older mob bosses who kept a low
profile, never gave interviews and avoided being photographed. Gotti couldn’t
resist playing to his image and loved seeing his face on TV and in the New York
tabloids. He also wasn’t a criminal mastermind. He continued to plot crimes at
his inconspicuous “social club” despite knowing the place was thoroughly bugged
by the FBI. He wasn’t a great judge of character and was ultimately the
betrayals by some of his closest confidants such as Sammy “The Bull” Gravano
that resulted in the “The Teflon Don”’s luck running out. His years of fame and
fortune paled in comparison to his lonely, painful death in prison, largely
estranged from his family.
Cinema Retro columnist and author Gareth Owen was employed for 16 years as Sir Roger Moore's personal assistant, primarily working out of Sir Roger's office at Pinewood Studios, London. However, they also enjoyed a close personal friendship that saw Gareth co-authoring several books with Sir Roger as well as traveling the world with him, often in relation to Sir Roger's very popular stage appearances. Those shows played to packed houses throughout the UK, with Gareth engaging Sir Roger in lighthearted and very funny interviews in which the iconic star delighted audiences with some surprising anecdotes. Click here to read the Daily Post's interview with Gareth and view some clips relating to Sir Roger's career.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
A film by
Kevin Brownlow &
Edition release, 23 July 2018
Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo’s immensely
powerful It Happened Here
depicts an alternative history in which England has been invaded and occupied
by Nazi Germany. Coming to Blu-ray for the first time, on 23 July 2018,
the film is presented in a new 2K remaster (from the original camera negative) by
the BFI National Archive, supervised by Kevin Brownlow, to mark his 80th
birthday. A raft of exceptional extras include previously unseen
behind-the-scenes footage, new interviews, news items, trailers and more.
‘The German invasion of England took place in July
1940 after the British retreat from Dunkirk. Strongly resisted at first, the
German army took months to restore order, but the resistance movement, lacking
outside support, was finally crushed. Then, in 1944, it reappeared.’
That is what happened when history was rewritten:
Nazi Germany has won the Second World War and England is under occupation. Kevin
Brownlow was only 18 when he and Andrew Mollo – just 16 – embarked on this
ambitious neorealist-tinged drama, which took eight years to complete, helped
along by financial support from Tony Richardson (Woodfall Films). Shot on both
16mm and 35mm, with a mainly amateur cast and with incredible attention to
detail, the impressively polished result is a chilling and timely reminder of
what might have been had Nazism not been defeated.
The newly remastered film will be premiered
on the big screen at a special Blu-ray/DVD launch event at BFI Southbank on its
release date, Monday 23 Julyat 6.00pm, followed by a discussion with Kevin
Brownlow and Andrew Mollo. More
details and tickets from www.bfi.org.uk/southbank
High Definition and Standard Definition
·Mirror on the World (1962, 10
mins): full version of fake German newsreel
·It Happened Here: Behind the Scenes (1956-66,22 mins):
previously unseen footage with a new commentary by Kevin Brownlow
·Original UK and
US trailers (1966)
·It Happened Here Again (1976, 7 mins): excerpt from a documentary on Winstanley
excerpt with the directors(2009, 2
·The Conquest of London (1964/2005, 4 mins): Italian TV item
·On Set With Brownlow and Mollo (2018, 12 mins):interview
with Production Assistant Johanna Roeber
·Kevin Brownlow Remembers It Happened Here (2018, 65 mins)
·Introduction to How It Happened Here: text of David Robinson’s foreword to the book (Downloadable PDF –
booklet with writing by Kevin Brownlow and new essays by Dr Josephine Botting,
DoP Peter Suschitzky and military historian EWW Fowler
RRP: £19.99/ Cat. no. BFIB1298 / Cert PG
/ 1964 / black and white / 100 mins / English language, with optional
hard-of-hearing subtitles / original aspect ratio 1.33:1 / BD50: 1080p, 24fps,
PCM 1.0 mono audio (48kHz/24-bit) / DVD9: PAL, 25fps, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono
Shameless has released the UK video debut of the 1978 cult film The Mountain of the Cannibal God as a Blu-ray special edition. (The film is also known as The Slave of the Cannibal God.) The plot is as follows: Susan Stevenson (Ursula Andress) and
her brother Manolo (Claudio Cassinelli), unable to get help from the New Guinea
authorities, hire former explorer Edward Foster (Stacy Keach) to help them find
her husband. He went missing months ago in the jungle whist on a quest to reach
the sacred mountain of Ra Ra Me. Susan clearly loves her husband and would do
anything to get him back. Foster agrees to take them, despite the obvious
difficulties ahead, not only from the dangerous animals, but also from the
legendary cannibal tribe said to be lurking within the darkness of the jungle canopy.
Along the way they find a cult-like village of local tribespeople watched over
by Father Moses (Franco Fantasia) and Arthur Weisser (Antonio Marsina), who is
also a jungle explorer. An affection seems to develop between Susan and Arthur,
despite her supposed devotion to her lost husband, and after some trouble in
the village when two locals are murdered by mysterious masked figures, they all
set off together to find the mountain. Along the way they experience Herzogian
levels of physical punishment as the game cast scramble down mountains, face an
eight-metre-long snake, and, in one astonishing sequence, attempt to climb up a
clearly deadly waterfall. It is a miracle that none of the cast were
Of course, the title of the film giving
it away somewhat, the exhausted group eventually run into cannibals and all
hell breaks loose. Susan discovers the fate of her husband and is stripped,
tied up and oiled by the cannibals who then indulge in a frenzied orgy that
would have made Caligula blush; even the livestock are not left out of the sexually-charged
proceedings. This energetic display is just the primer however for a darker
appetite which will soon be satisfied…
With Ursula Andress being surrounded by
sex, nudity, graphic violence, real snakes and a devious dwarf, it is no wonder
The Mountain of the Cannibal God has
developed something of a reputation over the last forty years. The 1970s Italian
cannibal films are notorious for their use of real onscreen animal killings,
something which became popular as a result of Mondo Cane (1962) and its many sequels and rip-offs over the
preceding decade. The directors have always claimed that these scenes were
added at the insistence of financially-minded producers, and debates continue
to rage amongst fans and scholars as to whether new releases of the films
should still include the footage, or whether it should now be removed. In the
UK this decision tends to be in the hands of the BBFC, where all films released
have to conform to The Cinematograph Act of 1937. The Mountain of the Cannibal God originally included a scene of a
monkey fighting a losing battle with a snake, as well as another snake fighting
a bird of prey, and other assorted real-life animal slaughter, all of which no
doubt contributed to its inclusion on the Video Nasties list in 1984. Two
minutes of these scenes have now been removed for this new Blu-ray restoration,
although not all animals get through the film unscathed; we still see a
tarantula get impaled on a knife, a large lizard is gutted, skinned and eaten
alive, and in one frenzied scene, dozens of green water snakes are grabbed and
eaten by hungry cannibal tribesmen.
Joe Dante's addictive Trailers from Hell presents producer Roger Corman narrating the trailer for his 1966 smash hit The Wild Angels starring Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra. Corman reveals some amusing anecdotes about the making of the film, including a death threat he received from the actual Hell's Angels. Watch the trailer and learn how the ever-resourceful Corman persuaded them that it wouldn't be financially profitable for the Angels to murder him.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE "TRAILERS FROM HELL" WEB SITE AND ENJOY HUNDREDS OF OTHER CLASSIC TRAILERS.
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Productions, LLC.
BY MARK CERULLI
Like the old-time movie
serials, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
picks up shortly after the previous film ends to keep the overall story
going.The famous resort is now in
shambles, slowly being reclaimed by the jungle and the surviving dinosaurs have
been left to die out on Isla Nublar.The
screenplay by Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow(who directed the previous film) cleverly incorporates
the current spirit of environmentalism with a raging debate to save the
remaining dinosaurs, or let them die out again.When the island’s volcano erupts (shades of the current situation in
Hawaii) a private foundation headed by the partner of the park’s original
founder, John Hammond, comes to the rescue...
Armed with deep pockets and
the best of intentions, the partner (James Cromwell) enlists former Jurassic
World staffers Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen (Chris Pratt) to round up
as many dinosaurs as possible for transfer to a sanctuary.Joined by a computer whiz (Justice Smith) to
help locate the valuable creatures, they meet up with a gritty capture team
headed by Jamie Gumb himself (Ted Levine). They have a, um, different
agenda:selling dinosaurs to the highest
bidder!Sure enough, a double-cross
ensues and the dinosaurs, including many of the most dangerous species, are on
their way to an auction deep below the partner’s remote mansion.Here the film combines the best of a Jurassic
Park adventure with elements of a haunted house – including that trailer clip
scene of a carnivore’s giant claw tapping on the floor.
Howard and Pratt, although
strong, are overshadowed by the real “heroes” of this film - the incredibly
lifelike CGI dinosaurs.In fact, they
carry most of the story as the human actors dodge lava explosions and giant
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. and Legendary Pictures Productions, LLC.
Director J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) keeps the action swift
and unrelenting – although he slows it enough to include a haunting scene of a
doomed brontosaurus left behind on the Island’s dock as the last transport ship
pulls out. Jeff Goldblum reprises his
role as the eccentric mathematician, Dr. Ian Malcolm – although his scenes are
confined to a senate hearing room.
While nothing can equal the
game-changing impact of the 1993 original, Jurassic
World: Fallen Kingdom is another high-octane installment of what will undoubtedly
be a long and successful franchise.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom opens nationwide on
Friday, June 22 From Universal Pictures.
What a year it was! In 1966, you could see the following movies playing locally in Winnipeg, Canada: Dean Martin as Matt Helm in The Silencers, James Coburn as Our Man Flint, The Trouble With Angels, Carry on Cleo, The Sound of Music and a quadruple feature of monsters flicks: Die Monster, Die, Eegah, Tomb of Ligeia and Planet of the Vampires.
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.
Kino Lorber has released a Blu-ray edition of the little-remembered 1970 romantic comedy "How Do I Love Thee?" The film's primary distinction is the interesting teaming of Jackie Gleason and Maureen O'Hara. By this point in his career, Gleason was a force of nature in the American entertainment business. When his variety show went off the air, CBS couldn't induce him to do another series so the network actually paid him not to work for any other network. When you get paid a fortune not to work, you know you're doing something right. Gleason had settled in Miami Beach in the early 1960s as one of the demands he made of CBS in return for doing his variety show. The location offered what Gleason liked most: sun, golf, plenty of drinking establishments and no shortage of beautiful young women. Gleason's impact on elevating Miami Beach's popularity was notable. It was widely believed that the city's rebirth as a hip destination as opposed to a retirement destination was due in part to Gleason referring to Miami Beach as "The sun and fun capital of the world!". Gleason, like his contemporary Dean Martin, had long ago tired of working very hard. If you wanted him, the mountain had to come to Mohammed, so to speak. Thus, it's no coincidence that "How Do I Love Thee?" was filmed in Miami Beach, thereby ensuring Gleason prime opportunities for maximizing his play time and minimizing his work before the cameras. (Gleason had a photographic memory and famously refused to rehearse very much, often to the consternation of his co-stars).
The film focuses on the character of Tom Waltz (Rick Lenz), a twenty-something professor who is rising up the ladder at his university. He's a got a nice house and a beautiful wife, Marion (Rosemary Forsyth) but when we first meet him, he's filled with anxiety. Seems that while visiting the "miracle" site of Lourdes in France, his father Walt (Jackie Gleason) has suffered a major health crisis. Tom's mother Elsie (Maureen O'Hara) implores Tom to race over to France and visit his father, who seems to be dying. Tom wants to go but Marion reminds him of the lifetime of contentious situations he has endured with his father and tells him that this is just another method of Walt trying to gain attention. Indeed, as we see through a series of flashbacks, Walt is a real handful. He owns his own moving company but still has to break his back loading and lifting furniture all day long. He has a pretty fractious relationship with Elsie, largely due to her strong religious convictions that conflict with his atheism. As young boy, Tom witnesses a lot of fighting in the household. When he accompanies his dad on jobs, he discovers that his father is not the devoted family man he thought he was- especially when he witnesses Walt trying to seduce a ditzy social activist and amateur photographer (Shelly Winters in typical over-the-top Shelly Winters mode) who is one of his clients. Walt is similar in nature to Willy Lohman of "Death of a Salesman" in that both men are past their prime but working harder than ever to provide for their family. Walt is a good man, but he's subject to self-imposed crises generally related to his short temper, drinking habits and flirtatious nature. Ultimately, Tom opts to take the trip to Lourdes, even though Marion threatening to divorce him over his decision. The majority of the tale is told in flashbacks that present some moderately amusing situations and some poignant dramatic scenes as well. There's also a good dose of sexual humor, typical for comedies of the era that were capitalizing on new-found screen freedoms.The direction by old pro Michael Gordon ("Pillow Talk") is fine but the screenplay, based on a novel by Peter De Vries, punts in the final scenes, tossing in an improbable extended joke about cars going amiss on their way to a funeral and a feel-good ending that wraps everything up quickly in a style more befitting a sitcom episode of the era. Still, the performances are fun with Lenz and Forsyth quite good as the young couple and Gleason and O'Hara registering some genuine chemistry on screen.
The Blu-ray transfer is generally fine but around the 80-minute mark some speckling and artifacts appear during the final reel, although it isn't distracting enough to bother the average viewer. The bonus extras don't include the trailer for the feature film but do present trailers for other KL comedy releases including "Avanti!", "The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!" and " The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother".
It wasn't an unusual practice for movie studio's to exploit an actor's popularity by reissuing an old film under a new title. Case in point: director Michael Winner's 1972 crime thriller "The Mechanic" starring Charles Bronson. It's a top notch action flick and did reasonably well on its first release. However, in the wake of Winner and Bronson's massive 1974 hit "Death Wish", United Artists reissued the film under the title "Killer of Killers", an obvious attempt to make it appear as though Bronson was again appearing as a vigilante. In fact, the marketing campaign was deceptive because in "The Mechanic" he plays a criminal...a professional assassin, to be precise. Yes, he's taking out some bad guys but not on the basis of morality but simply because he wants a fat paycheck from other bad guys. The campaign resulted in this interesting, if dishonest, trailer.
Note: I reviewed the Criterion
Collection’s 2008 DVD release of this film here at Cinema Retro. The product has now been upgraded to
Blu-ray by the company. Much of the following is excerpted and/or revised from
the original review, while also addressing the new Blu-ray.
Schrader has always opined that Mishima—A
Life in Four Chapters is his best film as a director, and I must agree.
Originally released in 1985 (and executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola and
George Lucas), the film is a fascinating bio-pic about controversial Japanese
author/actor Yukio Mishima. Schrader, a successful screenwriter who has also
had an interesting hit-and-miss career as a director, co-wrote the film with
his brother Leonard and filmed it in Japan with a Japanese cast and crew.
Ironically, the film was banned in Japan upon its release due to the
controversial nature of Mishima’s infamously public display of seppuku (suicide) in 1970.
despite Mishima’s questionable act, there is no doubt that he was a formidable
novelist, poet, and artist—certainly one of his country’s greatest. Schrader’s
film attempts to visualize Mishima’s life and work, as well as make sense of his
final days in three different stylistic approaches that are beautiful to behold
and brilliant in conception.
“present” (that is, 1970) is in color, filmed realistically, almost
documentary-like, as we follow Mishima (expertly played by Ken Ogata) and his
cadets travel to and subsequently take control of a Japanese military base in
Tokyo so that he can deliver his public manifesto and commit seppuku. The past—the events of
Mishima’s childhood and rise to fame—is in black and white, almost as if we are
watching film noir. The motion
picture also presents dramatizations of scenes from some of the author’s
novels. These are presented in a highly stylized theatricality, in color, with
stage sets and “actors.” The narrative ingeniously jumps between these three
arcs, revealing the psyche of a complicated, but brilliant, artist. Why would
he kill himself as an artistic statement? Mishima—A
Life in Four Chapters attempts to explain this enigma.
Glass provides one of his most admirable motion picture scores to date, John
Bailey’s cinematography is exquisitely gorgeous, and Eiko Ishioka’s production
designs are perfectly suited to Schrader’s sensibilities. Whether or not you
know anything about Yukio Mishima, you will find the picture to be an
extraordinary cinematic experience.
Criterion Collection has done another outstanding job of producing a new,
restored 4K digital transfer of the director’s cut, which was supervised and
approved by Schrader and Bailey. There are optional English and Japanese
voiceover narrations (by Roy Scheider and Ken Ogata, respectively—the U.S.
theatrical release only had the Scheider narration). Personally, I agree with
Schrader’s view that the English-language narration by Scheider is preferable;
otherwise there are too many subtitles on the screen when simultaneously
translating the narration as well as the Japanese speakers. (There is an
additional “early” Scheider narration that I’m not sure adds much to the
viewing experience.) The film comes with an audio commentary by Schrader and
producer Alan Poul, recorded in 2006.
supplements are ported over from the original DVD release. This wealth of material
includes the excellent 1985 BBC documentary The
Strange Case of Yukio Mishima. There are vintage video interviews with
Mishima himself; more recent segments with Mishima’s biographers and
translators, Philip Glass, John Bailey, and other members of the film crew; and
the trailer. The booklet features an essay by critic Kevin Jackson, a piece on
the film’s censorship in Japan, and photographs of Ishioka’s sets.
Mishima—A Life in
Four Chapters is
a beautiful, emotionally-powerful film that is an immersive, visual and aural
treat. Highly recommended.
In 1973, director William Friedkin adapted William Peter Blatty's bestselling novel "The Exorcist" for the screen. The film shocked the industry by becoming an international phenomenon and the movie's impact continues to resonate with audiences of all ages even today. In 2016 Friedkin decided to return to the subject of demonic possession by personally filming the rite of exorcism performed by a priest, Father Amorth, the Chief Exorcist of the Diocese of Rome. The result is his new documentary "The Devil and Father Amorth", which has enjoyed some limited art house screenings while simultaneously being released on DVD. Before we go any further, it is appropriate when covering a film of this type for the reviewer to state his/her personal beliefs or lack thereof in terms of the subject matter. After all, Friedkin does the same in his film, stating that he is predisposed to believe in the possibility of demonic possession. I'm not. Friedkin is clearly a man of religious faith. I'm not, having happily lived most of my life as an agnostic who keeps an open mind but who has never seen an inkling of evidence that a higher being presides over the universe. So there we are....with one additional caveat. Although I have never met William Friedkin, I have conducted two separate, extensive interviews with him for Cinema Retro regarding his films "Cruising" and "Sorcerer", both of which I believe were very underrated. Based on those interviews, I can say that I like Friedkin and greatly respect him as a filmmaker.
With those explanatory remarks out of the way, let's delve into "The Devil and Father Amorth". Friedkiin acts as an on camera host of the movie, which opens with some brief archival interviews with William Peter Blatty, who relates that he was a student at Georgetown University in 1949 when he read a remarkable account in the Washington Post about a 14 year-old boy who had undergone the rite of exorcism. Other respected news outlets picked up on the story and it became a sensation. Blatty was fascinated by the alleged possession and hoped to write a non-fiction account of the incident. However, the priest who performed the exorcism refused to release the identity of the boy or his family and imposed upon him to respect their privacy. Blatty went the fictional route and turned the victim into a 12 year-old girl. The rest, as they say, is history- except that over the decades, the incident has been studied by skeptics who point out that there is scant evidence that the exorcism involved anything other than a boy who had a vivid imagination and that he may well have simply staged the incidents for those predisposed to believe in possession. (The boy's late aunt was a "spiritualist" who had influenced the boy's interest in the supernatural.) Whatever one thinks of the historical facts and theories, Blatty's book was a chilling page-turner and Friedkin's film version would motivate even the most headstrong skeptic to sleep with a nightlight on. Friedkin's documentary has some early scenes of him returning to actual locations from "The Exorcist". The action then shifts to Rome, where he introduces us to Father Amorth, then 91 years-old and proud of his position as Chief Exorcist, claiming to have performed the ritual thousands of times. Friedkin also interviews a woman who underwent the rite and who claims to have been saved by Father Amorth. Her brother, who went on to become Father Amorth's assistant, relates disturbing and fantastic accounts of his sister's alleged possession. Father Amorth gave Friedkin rare permission to film an actual exorcism on the provision that there would be no artificial lighting employed or any crew members present. Friedkin agreed to shoot the rite himself using just a small, hand-held camera.
The subject of the exorcism is Christina, a 46 year-old architect who has been bedeviled by what she claims are frequent instances in which she becomes possessed by a demon. She claims not to remember the occurrences but those who surround her relate that, when possessed, she speaks in strange languages, exhibits Herculean strength and shouts threats in a voice that is not her own. We learn that the exorcism Father Amorth is to perform will be the ninth time he has conducted the rite in relation to Christina. When we finally do get to observe what Friedkin is filming it certainly is disturbing. Christina is restrained by two men as she wriggles and resists their grip, all the while shouting insults at the priest in an unfamiliar voice. Unlike the famous scenes of the ritual depicted in "The Exorcist", the real-life exorcism is performed in front of a room full of people, presumably friends and relatives of the victim. We watch as Father Amorth doggedly remains fixated on reciting the religious phrases that are supposed to expel the demons. (At one point, the "possessed" Christina identifies herself as Satan.) The Friedkin footage seems relatively brief and he doesn't provide any context as to how much footage may have been edited out of the final cut. While the episode we witness is certainly "harrowing" (as Friedkin describes it) and the affected Christina is clearly suffering from severe disorder, there is nothing in the footage that is likely to convince skeptics that they have just seen proof of a supernatural event. There are no signs of superhuman strength and the admittedly frightening voice Christina speak in could clearly be her own, since every person on earth is able to significantly alter their manner of speaking. Furthermore, there is no context provided regarding whether Christina ever sought professional psychiatric help. Friedkin asks her if she did, but her answer is vague. She simply says that doctors can't cure her, leaving it ambiguous as to whether she ever underwent a psychiatric diagnosis. This is a pivotal point that is not pursued. If she did seek medical help, it would be imperative to interview her doctors. If she did not, then her affliction is one that is self-diagnosed. Friedkin interviews prestigious doctors in America to get their views of the case, having shown them the footage. They all give the answer that people of science would be expected to give: we can't explain it without having examined the patient. They profess to keep an open mind but none will go on record as endorsing the premise that demonic possession could really be behind the victim's affliction. At the end of the film, Friedkin himself stops short of stating for certain that he believes he has witnessed a supernatural event, but the implication is that he clearly thinks he has.
The unexpected success of Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum in "The Greatest Showman" has obviously provided Mill Creek Entertainment to release the largely forgotten 1986 production "Barnum" on DVD. The made-for-television production has one distinction: it stars Burt Lancaster as the legendary marketing genius. I found I liked the Jackman film more than I suspected I would, though I doubt I'll ever have the yearning to view it again. It made many concessions to modern audiences that robbed the film of its authenticity. (I loathe the gimmick found in many period dramas in which the characters speak in present-day vernacular.) "Barnum" is much more low-key and seems to make a sincere effort at presenting the titular figure's fascinating life with some degree of accuracy. Not being a Barnum scholar, I'll take for granted there's plenty of "artistic license" on display here as well. The movie opens with Barnum as a young boy, influenced by his uncle's encouragement to see and embrace the more fantastical aspects of life. The action quickly cuts to him as a young man (played by John Roney, who bears absolutely no resemblance to Lancaster at any stage of his life) working in a dead end job in a small town general store. He finds a way to turn a quick profit by engineering a sweepstakes in which the winner will get a substantial credit at the store. The result is a significant profit for the delighted owner, who shares the proceeds with him. The story meanders a bit through Barnum's early years as he falls in love with Charity (Laura Press), who he married at age 19. The couple would remain together for 50 years until her death. The film is interspersed with occasional scenes of elderly Barnum breaking the "Fourth Wall" and addressing viewers directly. The production gets a boost when Lancaster is finally on screen for the remainder of the tale. The screenplay clearly wants to present the showman in a favorable light and he's seen as a kindly, honest figure who delights in using hyperbole to sell his presentations of nature's oddities (including animals and people.) The script takes pains to point out that Barnum always resented being labeled as the man who said "There's a sucker born every minute" and we see him rage against this "quote" that was made up by a newspaper columnist. In the film, Barnum admits to using creative marketing techniques but stresses he treasures and respects his audiences. The movie addresses some of his personal shortcomings, as well. Apparently, the great showman was also a lousy businessman, and we see him make and lose fortunes due to dubious financial dealings with dubious partners. The film chronicles his career highlights from making the little person he dubbed Tom Thumb (Sandor Raski) into an international phenomenon who was invited to meet Queen Victoria. There was also the building of his museums, both of which burned down (once by arson). In his later years, he rebounds and it's interesting to note that Barnum never owned a circus until he was over 60 years old. His importation from England of the giant, trained elephant Jumbo elevated his reputation once again. The film also compellingly shows how he audaciously signed singer Jenny Lind (well played by Hanna Scygulla)to tour America without ever having heard her sing a note. When he discovers no one in America ever heard of her, he embarks on an aggressive marketing campaign that made audiences salivate for the eventual arrival of the woman dubbed "The Swedish Nightingale". (The film avoids any of the speculation that he engaged in a romance with her, a historical debate that is given prominence in the Hugh Jackman movie.)
"Barnum" was directed by Lee Philips, a respected television director whose work here is efficient but unremarkable. The production values are impressive but the pace is often pedantic and unexciting. The strategy of having Barnum address the viewer to relate the highs and lows of his life chronologically looks like an attempt to check off the boxes by rote in order to cram facts into a production that had to make room for commercial breaks. Still there are areas of interest. Following his first wife's death, for example, Barnum found wedded bliss again by marrying at age 64 to a woman who was 40 years younger. The story ends with the formation of his partnership with James Baily to create the famed circus that bore their names (though it doesn't delve into their many business disputes.) The TV movie rests almost entirely on Burt Lancaster's broad shoulders and even at age 72, he still had the trademark toothy smile and distinctive laugh and charisma. Lancaster never gave a bad performance he brings gentle dignity to the role of Barnum.
The Mill Creek transfer is disappointing and at times looks like it was mastered from a VHS tape. Doubtless, the company used the best transfer available but there should be a disclaimer saying as much at the beginning, a policy the Warner Archive often employs. As with most Mill Creek releases there are no bonus features. However, the company is generous in providing digital copies of their releases and this is the case with "Barnum" as well- and it's most welcome.
summer of 1992 I visited a neighborhood thrift store that rented obscure videos
of movies made all over the world. Foreign films on laserdisc imported from
Japan were transferred to VHS and rented long before “online downloading” became
a household term. One of the films was relatively new yet unfamiliar to me
although the cover art featured actress Jennifer Connelly on it. I already knew
of her from her roles in Dario Argento’s Phenomena
(1985), Seven Minutes in Heaven
(1985), Labyrinth (1986), Some Girls (1988), and The Hot (yowzah) Spot (1990), but this title looked quite different. Etoile, the French word for “star”, is
the title of director Peter Del Monte’s relatively unknown and overlong 1989
dramatic thriller that easily calls to mind Darren Aronofsky’s superior Black Swan (2010) due to its theme of a
troubled ballerina. I would almost consider Etoile
to be a “lost” Jennifer Connelly film in that most people are unaware of it. Even
this video tribute to her
on Youtube skips it completely. Although Italian and filmed in spoken
English, the film was not released in either Italy or the United States. Ms. Connelly, who premiered at the age of twelve in Sergio
Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America
(1984) as a dancer, plays Claire, a New York-based ballerina visiting Budapest
to audition for Swan Lake. Like in
the opening of Phenomena, her
character is arriving in a foreign land by way of aviation and finally by taxi.
She bumps into a fellow New Yorker named Jason (Gary McCleery) after dropping
her slipper in the hotel she is staying at. He’s instantly smitten with her,
and who wouldn’t be? At just seventeen, Ms. Connelly is utterly breathtaking. The
ballet school is run by Marius Balakin (Laurent Terzieff, who bears a striking
resemblance to Pierre Clementi for those Bertolucci fans of you out there). Claire
ventures out into an old, decrepit theater and dances alone until she locks
eyes with Balakin who is sitting in a seat, looking around at the theater. She
bolts. In the meantime, Jason is learning the antiques business from his Uncle
Joshua (an unlikely Charles Durning), but cannot stop thinking about Claire and
sneaks off, accompanying her on a sojourn to an abandoned old house that used
to belong to a ballerina who danced in Swan
Lake. Compelled to succeed, Claire decides to audition.
this point the film takes a turn into seemingly supernatural territory when
Claire finds flowers delivered to her room and addressed to “Natalie”. Despite
her best efforts, she cannot locate anyone else in the hotel with that name. In
the middle of the night, she receives a visit from her teacher’s choreographer
and another dancer; understandably freaked out, she then decides to return to
New York. While at the airport, a P.A. page for a one “Natalie Horvath” sends
her into a trance and she almost willingly assumes the “role” of this person
and transforms into a ballerina, with no memory of Claire, her former self. Jason
locates her sitting by a lake and is hurt and bewildered by her demeanor and
failure to recognize him. Determined to get to the bottom of this, he goes to
great lengths to uncover this very obvious transformation that he is powerless
to explain let alone comprehend.
Peter Del Monte’s best-known film to Americans is indubitably Julia and Julia, the 1987 Sting-Kathleen
Turner outing that was touted as the first film to be shot in high definition
(it was later transferred to 35mm for theatrical exhibition). The premise of
that film also called into mind the sanity of the protagonist, however here
Claire merely appears to be a confused and unwilling participant in a world
that simply pulls her into it. Although Claire and Jason’s love story isn’t
very compelling, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for him and ended up rooting
for him. The ending is trite, even by the director’s own admission, which he
found unsatisfying. Jurgen Knieper, the film’s composer who has done some
wonderful work for Wim Wenders, provides a very effective and haunting score
that remained with me days after seeing the film, in particular the main theme.
The cinematography is also quite stellar as Acácio de Almeida’s camera reveals much
more than the laserdisc ever showed, mostly because this new transfer to DVD is
made from a new 2K scan of the original film elements with extensive color
correction performed. The image is framed at 1.85:1.
DVD from Scorpion has several extras. First up is an eighteen-minute interview with the
film’s director who discusses the challenges that he was forced to deal with
while making the film. He took the job as the producer gave him an advance,
which is something that he never had before. However, there were many
disagreements regarding the film’s tone, etc.
second extra is an on-screen interview with the film’s executive producer, Claudio
Mancini, who has far less positive things to say about the cast and the whole
experience. This runs just shy of ten minutes.
final section contains trailers for the following films: Etoile (1989), Barbarosa
(1981), City on Fire (1979), Steaming (1985), and Ten Little Indians (1974).
would recommend Etoile wholeheartedly
to Jennifer Connelly completists.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
MPI Home Video and The George Carlin Estate are proud to
announce a special gift to his fans today – the GEORGE CARLIN COMMEMORATIVE
COLLECTION, a 10-disc must-have DVD, CD and Blu-Ray boxed set which features
more than five hours of previously unreleased bonus material including rare performance
footage from Carlin’s personal archive. The GEORGE CARLIN COMMEMORATIVE
COLLECTION will be released on Tuesday, June 12th and the announcement was made
upon the occasion of what would have been Carlin’s 81st Birthday.Carlin was born May 12, 1937 and passed away
at the age of 71 in June of 2008.
George Carlin’s daughter, Kelly, who helped compile
material for the Box Set commented, “While digging around in dad’s stuff, we
found a few gems that we just couldn’t keep for ourselves. It’s amazing to
think that ten years after his death, we keep finding stuff I’d never seen
George Carlin was not only one of America’s greatest
comedians whose albums topped the charts, he was a pioneer of cable TV’s concert
format that has become a benchmark of success for all humorists ever since.
And now, all of Carlin’s pointed, often controversial but
always hilarious specials originally shown on HBO have been gathered for the
first time in the GEORGE CARLIN COMMEMORATIVE COLLECTION. Encompassing over
five decades of George Carlin’s groundbreaking career, all 14 of the legendary funnyman’s
Emmy nominated HBO specials are now available in one package – a remarkable set
that also contains a previously unreleased HBO special entitled 40 Years of
Comedy hosted by Jon Stewart plus Carlin’s posthumous audio release, I Kinda
Like It When a Lotta People Die.
One of the key bonus pieces of material is Carlin’s first
stand-up special from 1973, The Real George Carlin which has not been seen
since it first aired. Additional bonus material includes APT 2C (a never-aired HBO
pilot from the ’80s) plus two one-hour stand-up comedy club performances that
features material performed by Carlin for the first time.There is also never-before-released material
from the 1960s – when Carlin was a clean-cut, suit-wearing guest on the variety
shows such as Talent Scouts, The Jackie Gleason Show and Hollywood Palace.
The box set features also includes both DVD and Blu-ray discs
of the HBO specials Life Is Worth Losing and It’s Bad for Ya plus liner notes
written by comedian Patton Oswalt.
George Carlin, a fearless commentator on society and a champion
of free speech, now finally gets the boxed set he and fans of great, enduring
comedy deserve and the GEORGE CARLIN COMMEMORATIVE COLLECTION represents the
most complete collection of Carlin performances to date.
About George Carlin
George Carlin was a Grammy-winning American stand-up
comedian, actor and best-selling author whose career spanned more than five
decades and literally changed the face of stand-up comedian. His most famous
routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" sparked a free
speech controversy that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2008, Carlin was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for
American Humor, and in 2017, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him the “Second Best
Stand-up Comic of All Time.” To date, Carlin is also the only comedian to have
a dedicated SiriusXM radio channel solely to his work.
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
Loving ode to a VHS galaxy not that far, far away.
fantastic personal account of one of the greatest chapters in movie history. An
Gatiss (Doctor Who, Sherlock)
Ready Player One and Stranger Things proves the retro might of
VHS era cinema, Watching Skies: Star Wars, Spielberg and Us is a universal and
affectionate tale about the pop cultural remembrances stuck in all our R2
many a British kid in an '80s world of VCRs, Reagan and Atari, Mark O'Connell
wanted to be one of the mop-haired kids on the Star Wars toy commercials. Jaws,
Close Encounters of the Third Kind,E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman and of course Star Wars weren't just changing cinema -
they were making lasting highways into our childhoods, toy boxes and video
stores like never before,
this energetic and insightful memoir-through-cinema, Mark O'Connell flies a
gilded X-Wing through a universe of bedroom remakes of Return of the Jedi, close encounters with Christopher Reeve,
sticker album swaps, a honeymoon on Amity Island and the trauma of losing an
entire Star Wars figure collection.
unique study on how a rich galaxy of movie continue shaping big and vital
cinema to this day, Watching Skies is for all Star
Wars kids - whatever their era.
is about how George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, a shark, two motherships, some
gremlins, ghostbusters, and a man made of steel jumped a whole generation to
figures not included).
by The History Press. Paperback. 368 pages. Illustrated.
O'Connell is an award-winning writer and author. As a comedy writer he has
written for a wide range of actors, performers, titles, and media. As a
warm-witted pop culture pundit, he has written and guested for Variety, Sky Movies, The Times, The Guardian, OUT magazine,
Channel Four, Five, Yahoo Movies and across BBC radio and television. He was
one of the official storytellers of London 2012, owns one tenth of a BAFTA,
once got praised by the Coen Brothers, and now travel writes. He is the author
of Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond
The folks at the web site Flashbak alerted the world at large about the existence of this rare video with young Kurt Russell in the mid-1960s when he starred in TV ads for Mattel's line of generic spy toys under the banner Agent Zero-M. With the spy rage booming at the time, some companies decided to save the licensing fees they would have to spend to market official James Bond and Man from U.N.C.L.E. toys and simply made up similar items that they owned the copyright to. It should be noted that young Kurt also guest-starred in a first season episode of U.N.C.L.E.: "The Finny Foot Affair" broadcast in 1964 during the show's first season. Click here to visit the Flashbak web site for more Agent Zero-M info.
Actress Eunice Gayson, who made screen history by playing the first love interest of James Bond on the big screen, has passed away at age 90. Gayson played the sexy, single woman Sean Connery's 007 encounters at a high end gambling club in the first Bond thriller "Dr. No" in 1962. Gayson's character set the standard for future "Bond Girls" by portraying an independent, self-assured woman who had no pangs of guilt in regard to engaging in a sexual relationship for the pure pleasure of it. In fact, it is she who seduces Bond, turning up in his apartment and putting a golf ball while clad only in one of his shirts. The character, Sylvia Trench, also appeared in a brief love scene with Bond in the second film in the series, "From Russia with Love". Gayson got the role because she had worked with director Terence Young previously in the 1958 production "Zarak". The original idea was to have Trench appear in each of the films as a recurring character but that idea was dropped when Young, the director of the first two films, temporarily left the series and Guy Hamilton took over. Gayson also appeared in the Hammer Films production "The Revenge of Frankenstein" as well as many other feature films and TV series including "The Saint", "The Avengers" and "Danger Man". On a personal level, we at Cinema Retro mourn her passing. Eunice was a lovely, talented lady with a wonderful wit and sense of humor. We treasure the many hours we spent with her over the years and we are grateful that we saw her again recently at the memorial service for her old friend, Sir Roger Moore, which was held at Pinewood Studios last October. Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have issued the following statement:
"We are so sad
to learn that Eunice Gayson, our very first 'Bond girl' who played Sylvia
Trench in DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE has passed away. Our sincere
thoughts are with her family."
For more about Eunice Gayson's career, click here.
The date was Wednesday, March 27, 1974.
The film premiering that night at Radio City Music Hall was Mame. This first public screening of the
lavishly produced and choreographed story, which took Broadway by storm in the
1960s, was a laborious experience for everyone involved. With its much
anticipated release, cast and crew alike showed up to offer their support and
to delight in the audience’s appreciation. Even the star, Lucille Ball,
attended this highly publicized event. For the first time, fans got a different
glimpse of their favorite television personality. That evening, she arrived not
as the ravishing redhead people were used to seeing, but as a black-haired
beauty in a white dress, which was quite short and just happened to be featured
in the film. Moviegoers were getting a preview of what was to come.
And what an entertaining extravaganza
it was! The alluring ambiance in every scene, as well as the divine dancing and
sensational singing, kept viewers enthralled for the entire two hours and
twelve minutes of the picture. Everybody except the critics, of course.
For the most part, the reviewers did
not have nice things to say about Mame
or its featured players. Some noticed the sentimentality that came through
during certain moments, such as the scene in which the main character and
Patrick, her young nephew, sing “My Best Girl”. However, the majority of them
failed to properly acknowledge a movie that took two years to complete and cost
around $12,000,000 to produce. This was especially true with Lucille Ball’s
performance. Considering the faith Warner Brothers had in their chosen leading
lady, the negative notices were a major letdown to the studio and to the
Playing Mame meant so much to Lucille.
She saw the role as her last chance to prove to the world that she possessed
what it took to be a glamorous movie star. Never one to pass up an opportunity,
Lucille made it her ultimate goal to win the producers over. Indeed, they saw
something special in her that no other actress could radiate.
Once she nabbed the covered part,
Lucille put a lot of effort into creating her own interpretation of the
character. Unfortunately, all of this hard work came to a halt when she broke
her leg while skiing in Colorado. Lucille felt bad about holding up production.
When producers learned about her fear of being replaced, they quickly assured
her they would wait for her return.
With projects featuring such big names
as Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, Warner Brothers cranked out movies that
were popular among the younger crowds. When the company purchased the rights to
the musical version of Mame, they
envisioned it as a picture everyone could enjoy. Therefore, finding a seasoned
entertainer who had plenty of clout became necessary. At the time, Lucille was one
of the most influential women in Hollywood, due to her achievements behind the
scenes as much as on camera. This factor made it practically impossible for her
fellow contenders to be chosen over her.
All of the power in the world could not
prevent the barrage of crass comments made by the critics. They took aim at
everything from her gravelly voice to her extreme thinness. Despite the harsh
remarks, Lucille refused to let her anguish interfere with the promotional tour
she embarked on soon after filming wrapped. She willingly posed for
photographs, endured the mundane task of answering repetitive questions asked
by inquisitive reporters, and appeared on talk shows like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny
Carson and Phil Donahue.
Suddenly, the most recognizable female in the field of physical comedy was
popping up everywhere.
The cheerful facade occasionally
slipped, allowing her candor to reveal itself. Blaming photographers, Lucille
once admitted to a journalist that she felt old. Tired of seeing unflattering
images of herself every time she picked up a newspaper or magazine and the
press stomping on her already crushed ego, she vented her vexation at anyone
who would listen.
Having devoted such a huge chunk of
time to understanding the inner workings of an outspoken woman began affecting
what she said when discussing other topics as well. Always thought of as brash,
the ordeal that came with making and advertising Mame only hardened Lucille, solidifying her opinion of the changing
industry. Interviewers expecting her jocular side were shocked when she
unabashedly addressed her abhorrence for movies containing excessive nudity and
Those familiar with the bygone era of
the studio system comprehended Lucille’s belief that family friendly films had
the capability to restore traditional values that they felt had been tossed
aside for far too long. This wholesomeness started when she worked at MGM.
Louis B. Mayer prided himself on preserving the pristine illusion so
meticulously maintained by all who flourished under his supervision.
took on a deeper meaning for those who could remember that simpler, carefree
time in history. Just as they had done during the Great Depression, people
forgot about their worries and eagerly embraced the energy exuded on camera.
They listened with a gleam in their eyes and hope in their hearts as Lucille
sang the lyrics to “Open A New Window”.
Women related to her optimism. They
felt the movie catered to their tastes. In actuality, it was produced with them
in mind. When speaking about Mame,
Lucille expressed a strong urge to please the ladies who waited in line to see
the film. She wanted them to know it was their picture. Finally given the
respect they deserved, their gratitude poured out. If only Lucille Ball and Mame had received the same reverence.
(Considered highly knowledgeable in the vintage film
era, Barbara Irvin has written for Classic Images. Most recently, she wrote a
very detailed profile about Angela Lansbury and her husband, Peter Shaw. This
is her first article for Cinema Retro.)
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from the Warner Archive:
Burbank, Calif., (May 17, 2018) Get ready for one of the liveliest, leaping-est, sassiest
and happiest musicals ever, as Warner Archive Collection proudly unveils its
Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray™ release of the Oscar-winning 1954 MGM classic
Brides for Seven Brothers.
by Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain),
and starring Jane Powell (Royal Wedding,
Hit the Deck) and Howard Keel (Annie Get Your Gun, Kiss Me Kate),Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was
nominated for four Academy Awards® and won for Best Scoring of a
Musical Picture. This Western musical is distinguished by a wonderful score of
original songs by composer Gene de Paul and lyricist by Johnny Mercer (Li’l Abner) along with brilliant,
acrobatic dancing scenes choreographed by Michael Kidd (The Band Wagon,Guys and
for the first time on Blu-ray, featuring a new 1080p HD master from a 2018 2K
scan in its original 2.55 CinemaScope aspect ratio, with DTS-HD Master Audio
5.1 audio t (based on the original 4 track magnetic mix, but re-built from
recording session masters and original stems), the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray has extras to please every mountain
man or woman, including the rarely-seen alternate widescreen (1.77 aspect
ratio) alternate version presented for the first time in 1080p HD, a commentary
from the film’s director Stanley Donen, a comprehensive cast & crew
documentary, vintage featurettes including the famous “MGM Jubilee Overture”
short (presented in its original CinemaScope 2.55 aspect ratio for the first
time in 1080p HD with 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio sound), premiere newsreel footage
note is that two versions of the film exist, one in CinemaScope and the other
in traditional widescreen. In 1953 when
Cinemascope was brand new, MGM was concerned that if it was a fad they would
have an unusable film in the long-run, so for protection they shot the film
twice. Two different takes of each shot with different staging was filmed which
reflect the different frame size of traditional widescreen (which is less wide
and more rectangular) and CinemaScope. By the time the film was released,
CinemaScope had proven a huge success and the alternate version was rarely seen
until its release on DVD in 2004.
About the Film
Brides for Seven Brothers, Adam (Howard Keel), the eldest of seven
brothers, goes to town to get a wife. He convinces Milly (Jane Powell) to marry
him that same day. After they return to his backwoods home she discovers he has
six brothers -- all living in his cabin. Milly sets out to reform the uncouth
siblings, who are anxious to get wives of their own. Then, after reading about
the Roman capture of the Sabine women, Adam develops an inspired solution to
his brothers' loneliness... kidnap the women they want from the surrounding villages.
by studio executives during production as a ‘second-tier musical’, the film
suffered budget cuts during production that precluded location shooting.
Overcoming these circumstances, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was
an obvious hit in the making when previewed, and opened to great reviews at
huge box office success at New York’s famed Radio City Music Hall. This film
was so successful that it was theatrically re-issued for many years thereafter,
and holds the achievement as one of the highest-grossing musicals ever produced
by M-G-M’s “dream factory”. The unique story behind the making of the film is
well chronicled by director Donen’s commentary, as well as the comprehensive
documentary on the disc, hosted by star Howard Keel, and including interviews
with co-stars Jane Powell, Tommy Rall, Russ Tamblyn, and Jacques d’Amboise, as
well as director Donen, choreographer Kidd, and Musical Supervisor Saul Chaplin (who earned an
Oscar for his contribution), among others.
Disc One: (BD50)
·Audio Commentary by Stanley Donen
·Short Subject shot in CinemaScope and Color,
featuring the M-G-M Symphony Orchestra, led by Johnny Green, playing a medley
of eleven well-known songs used in some of the studio's best-known musicals. (Remastered
in 1080p HD, 16x9 2.55 anamorphic aspect ratio with 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio)
·Documentary "Sobbin' Women: The
Making of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," hosted by Howard Keel
(Produced 1996, updated and revised 2004)-SD
·Radio City Music Hall Premiere - July
22, 1954 (SD)