Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Frank Kramer on his beginnings.

Gianfranco Parolini: I'm a different person on set. The set is my whole life.
Let's go back to the start. I lived in a house with a leaky roof in the centre of Rome, near the Trevi Fountain. I used to write thrillers back then. I wrote a hundred of those books that are a hundred pages long. I didn't have any heating and in winter it was freezing, so I used to put newspapers in these big boxes to keep my feet warm while I wrote. They were published by someone called Cantarella.
I started working with Giuseppe D'Amato, an important producer with an office on Via Sistina. I was a director's assistant. I worked on YVONNE OF THE NIGHT, TOMORROW IS TOO LATE and THE FLOWERS OF ST.FRANCIS with Rossellini. And lots of others. I was an assistant on CLEOPATRA and I was disgusted by the way money was wasted. I remember Elizabeth Taylor with pleasure: those violet eyes that changed colour, even though she wasn't anything that special physically. But above all, I was crazy about Richard Burton as an actor. He had a lot of character, he bowled me over. He was splendid!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sergio Leone and Time Magazine

Sergio Leone: When I went to America after FISTFUL OFDOLLARS and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, and stayed at the Plaza, a journalist from Time came to visit me. Every week, Time publishes a color insert, with articles and exceptional photos. And so, while the photographer readied his Nagra, he dropped this insert on the end table, and I began to leaf through it, almost mechanically, past the introductory pages until I reached at the very center some very interesting pictures snapped during a riot in New York. As in a cinematic sequence the photos showed in succession: the entrance of two blacks into a burned out store. Then, we see the two taking a case of beer. Next, the police waiting outside by the exit of the store. Then the youths leaving with their bottles. And the police unleashing a volley of gunfire upon the two in flight. Then The killing of one of the pair. And in the last shot, a policeman with his foot on top of an agonized black man, looking around with the same satisfied expression as a lion hunter in the jungle.
Well, I'd just barely finished surveying this chilling photo sequence, when the photographer turned his Nagra on me and fired away with his first question: " Mr. Leone, how come there's so much violence in your films?" My only response was to ask him if he hadn't yet leafed through the magazine he worked for. It's clear that certain films can be detrimental. RIFIFI might encourage burglary etc. But a certain type of violence belongs to life, it's life that informs art, and not the other way around. Otherwise, it would be sufficient to make only films like CINDERELLA and SNOW WHITE, and we'd have solved all our problems concerning sin and virtue.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Director Duccio Tessari on the Ringo films

Duccio Tessari: Originally, I thought of doing an (ironic) anti-Western, with an actor who did things unconventionally. That is, a hero who shot his enemies in the back because it's much less dangerous than shooting face to face; who'd be inclined to sell himself to the highest bidder; who'd bring an ironic attitude to the character and to the situations he got involved with; committed to a constant jousting between himself and the other characters. I hadn't thought of an actual story yet, but I had some ideas in mind. Then I left for a trip to Spain, I saw a certain house, and I changed my idea completely, because it reminded me of DESPERATE HOURS with Humphrey Bogart. (None of us invents anything. Homer and Tolstoy invented everything, and everyone else just continues to recycle their ideas). So I redid DESPERATE HOURS as a Western, and having written it that way, I did a second draft in a completely ironic anti-Western vein.
Gemma had no difficulties with the acting in UNA PISTOLA PER RINGO (A PISTOL FOR RINGO). Gemma's a young guy who's completely attuned to irony. I must say that having chosen him as the actor ahead of time, writing the part with him in mind made my job much easier. On my first encounter with Gemma I was struck by a man who treated himself and his affairs with a full measure of irony, always taking any situation easily in stride. For IL RITORNO DI RINGO (THE RETURN OF RINGO) I was inspired instead by The Odyssey, blatantly retelling the tale of Ulysses' return home, with Penelope, the Suitors and all the rest. Homer was stupendous at writing stories, so why bother making the effort to think up one of my own? The Odyssey came spontaneously to mind as a source. It's not like I had to torture my intellect to come up with the notion. I truly love the classics, and any time that there's an excuse to retell one of them, I leap at the chance.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

In Praise of Canadian Actresses

I've been struck recently to realise that a good many of the female performers in Movies and TV that fascinate me are from that country north of the USA. This has inspired me to list some of them along with where they first captured my attention. These are mostly recent attention grabbers, so I'm not including Fay Wray, Genevieve Bujold and Lois Maxwell.

Mia Kirshner (pictured above - Wolf Lake, TV series)
Jessalyn Gilsig (Boston Public, TV series)
Laura Regan (THEY)
Polly Shannon (THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, TV movie)
Jewel Staite (Firefly, TV series)
Emily Perkins (GINGER SNAPS)
Katharine Isabelle (GINGER SNAPS)
Sonja Bennett (PUNCH)
Neve Campbell (SCREAM)
Emmanuelle Chriqui (SNOW DAY)
Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls, TV series)
Laura Harris (Dead Like Me, TV series)
Leslie Hope (Line of Fire, TV series)
Missy Peregrym (Reaper, TV series)
Carrie-Anne Moss (THE MATRIX)
Kari Matchette (Invasion, TV series)
Rachel McAdams (Slings & Arrows, TV series)
Ellen Page (JUNO)
Molly Parker (INTENSITY, TV movie)
Sarah Strange (Da Vinci's Inquest, TV series)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dollhouse #6 "Man On the Street"

I finally took the time to catch up with last week's episode and it "knocked my socks off". I laughed, I teared-up and it didn't cost me nothing. I look forward to tonight's episode with a great deal of anticipation.

Look what I found at the Central Burbank Library on Glenoaks.

I've been thrilled at the selection of DVDs at the Burbank libraries, but was quite astonished to find the unrated DVD version of CALIGULA on the shelf.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sergio Leone on Clint Eastwood

Sergio Leone: Clint Eastwood was a champion swimmer, and then he spent nine years as second lead on one of those American television series that survive through sheer force of inertia. Of our first meeting, I recall his indolence, the posture and attitudes of a cat-like man. And there was his lazy gait, he moved almost like a sleepwalker. I'd chosen him after the studio turned down James Coburn claiming he was too expensive (at one point, I'd also thought of Henry Fonda, however). Back then, Coburn was asking 25,000 dollars a picture. Clint was prepared to accept 15,000. Naturally, I changed the character to suit him. I had no particular problems directing him. The major difficulty was convincing him that his character ought to clench a cigar between his lips. Eastwood didn't smoke: the smell turned his stomach. I wore myself out teaching him the various tricks of a seasoned cigar aficionado. I also recall that whenever he wasn't needed on the set, he was inclined to nap, and that, although almost two meters tall, he'd found a system of curling himself up into a "topolino" (tiny car), and sleeping as if in the most comfortable of beds. But when the moment came to act, he suddenly acquired dynamism, an incredible speed, in strict contrast with the rest of his personality.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Richard Wyler on THE BOUNTY KILLER

Interviewed by Robert Monell

Q: THE BOUNTY KILLER, aka THE UGLY ONES, has become a sort of cult film over the years.

A: I didn't know that. It was a very good film. I did it right after COPLAN, I think. Eugenio Martin, the director, was connected by family ties to General Franco, the Spanish dictator at the time, and seemed to have an unlimited budget. I was met at the airport by a welcoming committee and a limousine and driven right to the set. It was a good story and I think it's my best European film, the characters that Tomas Milian and myself played really had some chemistry. I really got a chance to act.

Q: Tomas Milian also has a following among Spaghetti Western fans.

A: I didn't get along with him, but he was a very good actor. I thought he an obnoxious person, but once he got into his role he really was totally professional. We really were allowed to get into our characters and that's why it worked. It was all shot in the desert, in Spain.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Directed by Luigi Capuano 1963
Cast: Mickey Hargitay (Flabius), Jose Greci (Priscilla), Livio Lorenzon (Genseri), Renato Baldini (General Aetius), Nerio Bernardi (Pizo), Andreina Paul (Calpurnia), Mirko Ellis (Wilfried), Bruno Scipioni (c.s.c., as Cracius Agripa), Giulio Tomei, Dante Maggio,
I Gladiatori (The Gladiators)
Benito Stefanelli (Audentius), Giovanni Cianfriglia, Giulio Maculani, Aldo Canti, Aldo Cristiani, Franco Daddi,
In Ordine Alfabetico (In Alphabetical Order)
Luigi Casellato, Antonio Corevi, Andrea Costa, Pasquale De Filippo, Emilia Della Rocca, Gino Marturano, Amedeo Trilli
e con (and with)
Andrea Checchi (Gavinius)
e con (and with)
Rolando Lupi (Valentinian III)
Uncredited: Giovanni Scarciofolo (aka Jeff Cameron, as wrestler) and Riccardo Pizzuti
James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff present
Story by Luigi Capuano, Arpad De Riso
Screenplay by Arpad De Riso, Roberto Gianviti
Music by Giuseppe Piccillo
Edizioni Musicali Nazionalmusic
Unit Manager Giulio Pappagalla
Co-director Gianfranco Baldanello
Camera Operator Mario Sensi
Assistant Production Secretary Laura Cella
Stunt Coordinator Benito Stefanelli
Continuity Olga Pehai
Costumes Elio Micheli
Set Decorator Camillo Del Signora
Set Designer Giuseppe Ranieri (c.s.c.)
Film Editor Antonietta Zita
Sound Technicians Franco Groppioni, Raffaele del Monte
Head Makeup Pierantonio Mecacci
Makeup and Hairdresser Luisa Bargini, Otello Santangela
Costumes Casa D’Arte di Firenza
Furnishings Rocchetti
Footwear Pompeii
Weapons Rancati
Director of Photography Raffaele Masciocchi
Executive Producer Ferdinando Felicioni
Studio Teatri Di Posa De Paolis – IN. CI. R.
Optical Effects S.P.E.S.
Dir. E. Catalucci
Eastmancolor Euroscope
Sound Editing Fono Roma
98 mins
Prod. Reg. 3396
Additions from Dizionario Del Cinema Italiano/Dictionario Gremese:
Assistant Editor Olga Pedrini
Sound Editor Laura Curreli
Sound Franco Borni
Set at the end of the reign of Roman Emperor Valentinian III, this film might have been a sequel to ATTILA as its hero is the son of the Roman General Aetius – the general credited with defeating the invading Hun. However, these filmmakers weren’t interested in doing that; they were only interested in the standard kind of sword fighting action. Why they decided to set the film at a time when Christian Rome fell to the Vandals – thus depriving themselves of the standard evil Rome versus pious Christian tale but still indulging in some Christian victimization imagery - is puzziling. If you’re going to avoid the usual cliches of time and situation, it would seem necessary to make an effort to establish the new milieu. Instead, these filmmakers quickly rewrite history to fit a simple corruption scenario, which only gives them the barest excuses for the action scenes they really want.
Here’s what the annoymous historian for Wikipedia has to say about Flavius Placidius Valentinianus:
Born in the western capital of Ravenna, Valentinian was the only son of later Emperor Constantius III and Galla Placidia, daughter of the Emperor Theodosius I and granddaughter of Emperor Valentinian I. After the death of his father (421), he followed his mother and his sister (Justa Grata Honoria) to Constantinople, when Galla broke with her brother, Emperor Honorius, and went to live at the court of Theodosius II.
423, Honorius died, and the usurper Joannes took the power in Rome. To counter this menace, Theodosius nominated Valentinian Caesar of the west (October 23, 424), and betrothed him to his own daughter Licinia Eudoxia (Valentinian would marry her in 437). In 425, after Joannes had been defeated in war, Valentinian was installed Western Emperor in Rome, on October 23, at the age of six.
Given his minority, the new
Augustus ruled under the control first of his mother, and then, after 433, of the Magister militum Flavius Aëtius. Valentinian's reign is marked by the dismemberment of the Western Empire; the conquest of the province of Africa by the Vandals in 439; the final abandonment of Britain in 446; the loss of great portions of Spain and Gaul, in which the barbarians had established themselves; and the ravaging of Sicily and of the western coasts of the Mediterranean Sea by the fleets of Gaiseric.
As an off-set against these calamities, there was the great victory of Aëtius over
Attila the Hun in 451 near Chalons, and his successful campaigns against the Visigoths in southern Gaul (426, 429, 436), and against various invaders on the Rhine and Danube (428-431).
The burden of taxation became more and more intolerable as the power of Rome decreased, and the loyalty of its remaining provinces was seriously impaired in consequence. Ravenna was Valentinian's usual residence; but he fled to Rome on the approach of Attila, who, after ravaging the north of Italy, died in the following year (
454 Aëtius, whose son had married a daughter of the emperor, was treacherously murdered by Valentinian. On March 16 of the following year, however, the emperor himself was assassinated in Rome, by two of the barbarian followers of Aëtius. These retainers may have been put up to the act by Petronius Maximus, a wealthy senator who the following day March 17 had himself proclaimed emperor by the remnants of the Western Roman army after the paying of a large donative. He was not as prepared as he thought to take over and restabilize the depleted empire, however; after a reign of eleven weeks, Maximus was murdered by a Roman mob. King Gaiseric and his Vandals captured Rome a few days later and sacked it for two weeks.
Valentinian not only lacked the ability to govern the empire in a time of crisis, but aggravated its dangers by his self-indulgence and vindictiveness.
From this history, the screenwriters created a romance between Flabius, son of Aetius, and Priscilla, daughter of Valentinian, threatened by the corrupt actions of Valentinian’s wife, Calpurnia – which is odd considering that the real Emperor’s wife was named Licinia Eudoxia, and two men – Crassius Agripa and Pizo, who scheme to make money by stealing the supplies being sent to Aetius’ legions and selling it to the invading Gaiseric and his Vandals. When their plot is thwarted by Flabius in cooperation with the Six Invincibles – an undefeated gladiator squad, the evil conspirators decide to suggest a marriage between Gaiseric’s son and Priscilla; reasoning that since the elder Valentinian is sure to die soon of old age, Gaiseric’s son would soon be able to inherit the throne of Emperor. Aside from the fact, that the real Valentinian was only 35 when he was assassinated, it is interesting to note that he had two daughters (Eudocia and Placidia) – and one married Aetius’ son (Gaudentius) and the other married Gaiseric’s son; thus avoiding the violent romantic conflict the movie portrays. And wouldn’t a potentially more interesting movie be about how after Valentinian’s murder, his wife was under pressure to marry the usurper so she appealed for help to her daughter’s future father-in-law – which led to the Vandal’s sack of Rome? Of course, that scenario doesn’t have any obvious room for a group of six heroic gladiators.
In any case, the screenplay is really only there to give excuse for the action. The film opens with reused battle footage from CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS to illustrate Aetius’ defeat of the Vandals. Next comes a scene at an arena in Rome played partly by a shot reused from IL GLADIATORE CHE SFIDO L’IMPERO, aka CHALLENGE OF THE GLADIATOR featuring Walter Barnes. (Surely, this dinky little theater isn’t supposed to be the Coluseum is it?) While the actors in the Royal viewing area sketch in the plot, the Six Invincibles, an undefeated gladiator troupe, march in and illustrate why this movie was made.
Stunt coordinator Benito Stefanelli plays the leader of the Six Invincibles and while Mickey Hargitay is credited as this film’s star, Benito gives himself all the best battle scenes and even a fine death. On the other hand, Mickey gets to wear a loin cloth and almost get crucified by the villains.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Watching SUNSET BOULEVARD with my wife inspired me to finally read Gloria Swanson's autobiography which someone gave me about a decade ago. It's a great read and particularly interesting as an "I was there" report on early Hollywood.

After making SUNSET BOULEVARD, Swanson appeared on Broadway with Jose Ferrer in a revival of TWENTIETH CENTURY - and he threw the party at which they listened to the radio broadcast of the Academy Awards during which Jose got Best Actor for CYRANO DE BERGERAC and Gloria lost Best Actress to Judy Holliday for BORN YESTERDAY.

Swanson then made THREE FOR BEDROOM C, which wasn't successful.

"My next picture, called NERO'S MISTRESS, had a stellar international cast, including Brigitte Bardot, Vittorio De Sica, and Alberto Sordi, but it was so bad that six years elapsed between the shooting in Italy in 1956 and the picture's release in a dubbed version in the United States in 1962."
Has anyone got a copy of NERO'S MISTRESS?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Natasha Richardson

Natasha Richardson with her mother Vanessa Redgrave and her sister Joely Richardson.

I just watched BLOW DRY recently, so hearing that Natasha Richardson died seemed more tragic than the usual news story about the death of an actor I'd never met. In the film, Natasha played a woman dying of cancer who tried to bring together all of the people in her life that she loved by involving them in an hair-styling competition. It was not a great movie, but the cast was quite charming - particularly Natasha. The vulnerability she showed as she pulled off her wig to expose the hair loss from chemotherapy was moving. The filmmakers wanted you to fall in love with the character, and many viewers probably fell in love with the actress. Natasha Richardson had an impressive list of Film and TV credits that I can still enjoy finding and watching, but it is easy to imagine that her sudden departure from the lives of those close to her is something from which they may never really recover.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


by Julian Granger

Thomas Hunter: DEATH RIDES IN LAREDO - or THREE GOLDEN BOYS [the shooting title – JG; released in Italy as 3 PISTOLS AGAINST CAESAR - WTC]. We shot it in Algeria. I was shooting in some of what would become probably some of the most dangerous places in the world.

JG: Do you know anything about the director of DEATH RIDES IN LAREDO - Enzo Peri? I know only of a documentary he made before that [IL PIACERE E IL MISTERO (1964)].

TH: He had never directed [actors] before in his life. He had no idea. He was just wanted to see if he could do it, I think. I helped Enzo. I re-wrote the ending for Enzo on that movie. It needed an upbeat ending. It sort of whiffled off into the ether the way it was written and I suggested something and he used it.... I liked Enzo. He was a wealthy kid, came from a very wealthy family, and he wanted to do this. That was what I heard. I think he is in finances or something. The picture made money 'cos it was the first comedy western. It took a twist toward the funny.
It was a very odd choice of places to do it. And we had Saadi. I think he was the hero of the Casbah, one of the people on the ground with a submachine gun shooting at the French. He took me to the Casbah and showed me all the French bullet holes in the big doors, the broken glass... This wasn't too long after. Nice-looking guy too. Looked like he was right for the part. Very quick on his feet and incredibly coordinated. Managed to dodge a lot of French bullets. He was the producer on the Algerian side [Yacef Saadi and his company Casbah Films had co-produced Gillo Pontecorvo's THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS the previous year - JG]. He also played a small part [as an actor]. Two things I remember about the shoot: there is a scene where they had me tied up by my feet swinging me over a fire - the bad guys caught me - and I could feel my hair starting to get pretty hot. I said "Hey, we gotta get some water and throw it at me to keep the flames from setting my hair on fire" and they got the water from a little creek nearby and it was contaminated. They were taking the water in their mouths and spitting it at me. I'm upside down so this stuff is going right up my nose and into my sinuses; right behind my eyes. I got the worst case of conjunctivitis you have ever seen. My eyes turned bright red and I looked like something from a vampire movie.
As soon as we were finished, I was standing there at the airport with my two producers, the Bologna brothers [Carmine and Domenico] - I remember them well! - and I can't wait to get out of there and the plane is waiting out on the runway and somebody comes up to them and hands them something. They're shaking their heads and getting angry with this person, who gets angry with them back, and one of them sort of slinks up to me and says "I hate to tell you this but your visa is expired".
I said "Well, that was your job" and they said "Yeah, but you can't go on the flight." I said "No, no. If I can't go on the flight, you can't go on the flight." He said "But we have to go" -- very Italian, right?
So I went crazy. "This is the best performance I ever gave." I said "Look, I'm going on that plane and I'm going with you." And they said "No, you can't because there is a guard here with a submachine gun right in front of us".
I said, 'Fuck him! If they want to shoot me, they can shoot me but I'm going on that plane". And they are looking at me with wide eyes [laughs]. And then I started having an argument with this guy with the submachine gun - which was not a real smart idea. Then somebody comes over. I don't know who the hell he was but he looked like [famed Swedish economist and 2nd Secretary General to the United Nations] Dag Hammarskjøld; he was tall, stately and spoke English with a Scandinavian accent, and he made the peace. He settled it. I was saying "If I don't get on that plane, you'll never make another production with Italy, or America, or Germany, or..." [laughs] They thought I was absolutely bonkers, which I was. I got on the plane then I almost pooped in my pants. I thought to myself "What the hell were you thinking about? This was the performance that could have cost you... you know, your life."

JG: It has a very interesting cast.

TH: We had Jimmy Shigeta, the guy who played the Frenchman [Nadir Moretti], Enrico Maria Salerno....

JG: A great Italian actor!

TH: He was as good as the script allowed him to be with his white eye and everything. I kept saying "Are you sure you want this line in about Caesar owning all the land to the West of the Mississippi? I said "That's a lot of land!". This was before I had the balls to suggest changing the script. It was the first comedy western. Built for the yucks, you know?
And there were Russians there [in Algeria] and this Russian made me drink a toast with him, this palm wine, and I had diarrhea for three days afterwards.

JG: You really suffered for your art, Tom.

TH: I did! I lost about ten pounds in three days. And in the desert, it was so hot.
The first night I went to sleep in the Transatlantique Hotel in Bou Saâda, and I woke up in the middle of the night and took a pitcher of water and poured it all over mattress and then I woke up again some time later and my mattress had dried out, and I poured another pitcher... There was no air conditioning in that hotel.
It was the hottest... You know, I'm from Savannah, Georgia so I'm used to the heat but I think it was the hottest weather I've been in.

La Adelita

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"La Adelita" is one of the most famous corridos (folk songs) to come out of the Mexican Revolution. It is the story of a young woman in love with a sergeant who travels with him and his regiment.
The song is supposed to be based on a real-life character, the identity of whom, however, has not been yet established beyond doubt. Some claim her real name was Altagracia Martinez, also known as Marieta Martinez, while others maintain she was, in fact, Adela Velarde, who actually took part in military action in the capacity of nurse, not out of infatuation with a sergeant, as a popular myth goes.
"La Adelita" came to be an archetype of a woman warrior in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. An Adelita was a soldadera, or woman soldier, who not only cooked and cared for the wounded but also actually fought in battles against Mexican government forces. In time the word adelita was used for all the soldaderas, who became a vital force in the revolutionary war efforts.
The term La Adelita has since come to signify a woman of strength and courage.


En lo alto de la abrupta serranía
acampado se encontraba un regimiento
y una musa que valiente los seguía
locamente enamorada del sargento.

In the heights of a steep mountainous range
a regiment was encamped
and a bright woman bravely follows them
madly in love with the sergeant.

Popular entre la tropa era Adelita
la mujer que el sargento idolatraba
y además de ser valiente era bonita
que hasta el mismo Coronel la respetaba.

Popular among the troop was Adelita
the woman that the sergeant idolized
and besides being brave she was pretty
that even the Colonel respected her.

Y se oía, que decía, aquel que tanto la quería:
Y si Adelita quisiera ser mi novia
y si Adelita fuera mi mujer
le compraría un vestido de seda
para llevarla a bailar al cuartel.

And it was heard, that he, who loved her so much, said:
If Adelita would like to be my girlfriend
If Adelita would be my wife
I'd buy her a silk dress
to take her to the barrack's dance.

Y si Adelita se fuera con otro
la seguiría por tierra y por mar
si por mar en un buque de guerra
si por tierra en un tren militar.

If Adelita would leave with another man
I'd follow her by land and sea
by sea in a war ship
by land in a military train.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Finally caught up with the last two episodes of Dollhouse...

and they're terrific. I prefered #4 "Gray Hour" to #5 "True Believer", but enjoyed both more than most of what I see on TV. Both featured actors that I've enjoyed in other shows: #4 has Anson Mount of Line of Fire and #5 has Brian Bloom from ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. Expectations are building for #6 airing next friday as it is written by series creator Joss Whedon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Steve Reeves offered HERCULES

The Perfect Vision: What brought you to Italy for the Hercules films?

Steve Reeves: Pietro Francisci, the director of Hercules. He wrote the script also, and he had I been looking for Hercules for about five years. Around' Italy, he'd find somebody who was good looking and tall, but had no body. Or someone who was good looking but short, and had a great body. He just couldn't find the right combination.
One day his daughter, who was 13, went to the theater and saw Athena [MGM, 1954, starring Jane Powell, in which Reeves appeared], which had gotten to Italy by then. And she ran home and said, 'Daddy, I think I have your Hercules.' He went to the theater the next day, pictured me with a goatee and moustache, and felt I would be his man. At the time I was working for American Health Studios in public relations. I'd go to Riverside and open up a fitness studio with the mayor and Miss Riverside, then wait another two weeks or so and open another one someplace else. I had a good job with them, it didn't use too much of my time, and the owner made me promise I'd forget about show business if I worked with him. So when the Hercules offer came, I just ignored it. Then Francisci wrote me another letter and said 'Look, this is serious. Here's an airplane ticket.' There was also an advance of $5000, which in those days was quite an advance. I realized the guy was serious. I started growing a moustache and goatee on my job. This way I didn't have to have something glued on, which is terrible. My boss asked me what I was doing it for, and I said I wanted to look more distinguished.
I was only paid $10,000 for Hercules and I had no percentage. The film cost a half million to make, and it earned $40 million in the United States alone. It was the box office champion of 1959. I outgrossed John Wayne, Rock Hudson, and Doris Day, who were the big money makers at the time. And I was the biggest box office star, not only in the United States, but around the world.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New episode of Dollhouse tonight.

I've been so busy I've not had a chance to watch last week's episode yet, but episode five is going to be on Fox-TV tonight.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gianfranco Parolini on Herculations

Gianfranco Parolini: I had a peplum foisted on me, by my employer, a man called Giuseppe Maggi. I wasn't that convinced about it. The producer, who was risking his money, before starting, before the script was written, said to me (It was the time of 'Herculations'): "Let's have plenty of them !" I tried to limit that stuff as much as possible, it was ridiculous. Even in GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS, when he moves the mountain... It's ridiculous, but it works. The public, especially the kids, love to see 'Herculations'. GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS was handed to me when poor old Malatesta, the director, lost the plot. How can I talk about the dead like that? The editor, who was called Mario Sansoni, made up a rhyme that went: "Edit Malatesta and your brain will start to fester. Edit Parolini and the time and effort's teeny."
He could just cut off the slate and edit because I'm basically an editor, I come from the cutting room. I worked my way up in editing and that's very important. You don't waste time and money and it gives you an idea of the rhythm of the film.
I do a lot of set ups. I've done up to 50 set ups a day ! That's what saves me, because otherwise... to finish you have to do a pan shot with people spouting dialogue... What a drag ! You can't create a rhythm, that's the point.
Why was poor old Malatesta fired (from GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS) ? I respected and liked him. He'd asked the producer to build a ship for the scene in which the dragon eats the little boy. Then I stepped in, but I didn't take credit for it. I didn't want to, I wasn't the director of the film. I shot everything with just a mast, a quarterdeck and stern, three pieces ! I joined them up by cutting. I shot the storm in the pool at Cinecitta, with the ship capsizing and everything. I shot it for almost nothing. He would've needed 50 million just to build the ship.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tonino delli Colli on Sergio Leone for Nighteagle

Tonino delli Colli: I have worked in so many films that I do not remember many anecdotes. Maybe a few funny ones. We shot the part where Blondie is hospitalized after his "suntanning" in the desert, in a monastery a few kilometers from the GBU bridge location. The monks were seriously concerned that the upcoming explosion would create some damage to the ancient building.
Another one, which I know from Leone himself, as I was not present, is when Rod Steiger worked in DUCK YOU SUCKER. He was a crazy guy, unpredictable... He was so obsessed by the legendary close-ups that Leone used to take, the faces , the eyes... he loved that... that he showed up several times in underwear, no pants, just underwear, to make sure that the cameraman would indeed shoot a close-up. What a guy! Concerning close-ups alla Leone: the longest close-ups work we did was during THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY duel , or trial, as we say here in Italy. The face/eyes close-ups of Tuco, Biondo and Sentenza required, believe it or not, one full day of work.
Working with Leone was also physically demanding. Sometimes we worked until 9 o´clock at night, with the setting sun, he liked long shadows. We were shattered, tired, exhausted, but I must say, the American actors were outstanding; not a complaint, no arguing, just perfect professionals, in contrast to the distribution guys.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blue Underground's A MAN CALLED BLADE

With the 1976 boxoffice success of KEOMA, Italian moviemakers discovered that Westerns could still attract enthusiastic audiences and producer Luciano Martino suggested that his writer/director brother Sergio take a break from the violent thrillers on which they had both built a solid career. While Sergio had made one previous Western – 1970’s ARIZONA SI SCATENO E IL FECE FUORI TUTTI/ARIZONA – it was his following film, 1971's LO STRANO VIZIO DELLA SIGNORA WARDH/THE NEXT VICTIM (which helped to make a star of the sexy Edwige Fenech) that brought him real success.

Rather than the ironic tone of the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood collaborations that inspired most of the Italian Westerns of the 1960s, Sergio Martino chose a grim atmosphere similar to KEOMA's. Additionally, the Martinos hired KEOMA music composers Guido and Maurizio De Angelis as well as Irish actor Donal O'Brien (who is frequently mis-credited as "Donald"). For his star, Sergio cast Franco Nero look-a-like Maurizio Merli. However, while Merli's resemblance to the bigger star probably helped lift him from his career on TV to the big screen – particularly when taking over from Nero as the lead in a ZANNA BIANCA/WHITE FANG sequel – Merli had established himself at the box office in a number of successful police thrillers including 1975's ROMA VIOLENTA, from which Sergio also chose his main villain, John Steiner. While Steiner had begun his acting career in England, where he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for Peter Brooks' production of MARAT/SADE, his film career really began during a vacation in Italy. During this vacation, Steiner was shocked to discover how popular the film version of MARAT/SADE had been in Italy, and how eager Italian filmmakers were to work with him. His paring with Merli in director Marino Girolami's ROMA VIOLENTA ensured him steady film work for many years to follow.

While KEOMA obviously provided inspiration for MANNAJA, Sergio Martinodid not try to copy that film's attempt at a "Shakespearean family tragedy". Instead he came up with a straightforward narrative involving a bounty killer known for using a hatchet to disarm (Or is that dis-hand?) his opponents. While seeking a sheriff to turn in his latest captive, Blade becomes entangled in a plot to take over a silver mine owned by the man who caused his father's death. In the terrific featurette on this DVD, Sergio says that the film is filled with fog and rain to help hide the disrepair into which the Western town set had fallen. While this is no doubt true, it is also strikingly similar to the gothic atmosphere he created for his notorious 1973 giallo I CORPI PRESENTANO TRACCE DI VIOLENZA CARNALE/TORSO. Whatever the reason, this look helps to make MANNAJA a wonderful visual experience as well as one of the last great films of the Spaghetti Western genre. It is a shame that Sergio Martino did not make another Western after this; he had a real flare for it.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Director - Lee W. Beaver (aka Carlo Lizzani) 1966
Cast: Thomas Hunter (Jerry Brewster; aka Jim Houston), Henry Silva (Garcia Mendez), Dan Duryea (Winnie Getz), Nando Gazzolo (Ken Seagall, aka Milton), Nicoletta Machiavelli (Mary Ann), Gianna Serra (Hattie), Loris Loddi (Tim), Geoffrey Copleston (Horner), Sandro Dori, Guido Celano (Burger), Paolo Magalotti (Stayne), Gianluigi Crescenzi c.s.c. (Carson), Tiberio Mitri (Union Sergeant), Lucio De Santis, Fiorella Ferrero, Guglielmo Spoletini (Pedro), Vittorio Bonos (First Dice Player), Puccio Ceccarelli, Goffredo Matassi, Mirko Valentin (Sancho), Piero Morgia, Mauro Mannatrizio (Mitch), John M. Gaskins, Luigi Scavran.
A Dino De Laurentiis Production
Story and Screenplay by Dean Craig
Director of Photography Toni Secchi A.I.C.
Technicolor and Techniscope
Musical score Leo Nichols (aka Ennio Morricone)
Conducted by the Author
The song "Home To My Love" by Nichols-Nohra
Sung by "gino" and recorded on "Ricordi" recording
Edizioni Musicali "Dino"
Art Director Aurelio Crugnola
Costumes by Elio Micheli
Film Editor Ornella Micheli
Production Manager Alfonso Donati
Assistant Director Giorgio Gentili
Casting Director Harrieth White Medin
Script Girl Evelina D'Amico
Master At Arms Goffredo Unger
Set Dressing Franco Fumagalli
Sound Mixer Bruno Brunacci
Special Effects Eros Bacciucchi
Cameraman Giovanni Ciarlo
Production Assistants Ennio Di Meo, Eros Lafranconi
Make-up Supervisor Giuliano Laurenti
Hairdresser Elda Magnanti
Assistant Costume Designer Alida Cappellini
Assistant Art Directors Gisella Longo C.S.C., Angelo Santucci
This Picture was filmed in the Dino De Laurentiis Studios - Rome
Westrex Recording System
Copyright MCMLXVI "Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica S.p.A."
All Rights Reserved
(Not credited on print: General Organization Nino Crisman Unit Manager Marcello Lizzani)
Produced by Ermanno Donati, Luigi Carpentieri For Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica
Ital. Distrib. Dear-United Artists
Prod. Reg. 3720
U.S. Distrib. United Artists

While obviously inspired by American Westerns, the best Italian Westerns did not too closely emulate their look and feel. THE HILLS RUN RED did, resulting in a film filled with cliches. However, a terrific musical score and capable filmmaking helped to make the viewing experience enjoyable. And then there was Henry Silva's marvelously flamboyant performance.

Italian action film directors were notorious for urging their stars to give "big" performances, and one wonders how much of Thomas Hunter's over-the-top effort can be blamed on director Carlo Lizzani. THE HILLS RUN RED could have been his first feature film, but after becoming known in a Dino De Laurentiis production, he soon worked not only with other Italians, but with Germans and Spaniards as well. During this time, he got only one known American gig on a David L. Wolper TV show - the 1972 "Showdown At O.K. Corral" episode of Appointment With Destiny. He concluded his on-screen career with an Italian based film he cowrote about terrorists called THE HUMAN FACTOR (1975), starring George Kennedy. After that, he got story credit for THE FINAL COUNTDOWN (1979) starring Kirk Douglas. In 1979, Hunter worked in Hollywood as an acting teacher but has since disappeared from public view.

Possibly, Lizzani deliberately sought something different from what Sergio Leone had done with Clint Eastwood; so instead of a laconic and cool killer, Lizzani wanted an excitable and hot-blooded avenger. Unfortunately, the emotionalism, especially when captured in a huge Techniscope close-up, invited titters from sophisticated audiences. But what was the inspiration for that silly and over-elaborate "lucky" sign our hero made?

While Hunter's work verged on hysteria, Silva's contribution was equally lacking in subtlety. However, Silva exuded such a crazed joy that his performance didn't seem false; just over-expressive. And the wit shown in it, which wasn't as strong in the rest of the film, gave the impression that the actor may have contributed unique ideas to his role.

(As 12-year-olds, my best friend and I adored Henry Silva's performance as the villain's henchman Garcia Mendez. We could count on each other to join-in when one of us would spontaneously launch into our favorite speech, complete with heavy Mexican accent: "I will not kill you gringo, because you are a champion, and you don't kill champions. You race them. Bravo! Bueno! Bueno!")

This film was Dan Duryea's only contribution to Italian cinema, which suggested that his participation was specifically requested. Perhaps in keeping with the concept of making a rather traditional Western, the filmmakers wanted a traditional Western star. In any case, his performance was a respite from the intensity coming from Hunter and Silva, and he added an appreciated sense of warm humor. Tiberio Mitri, the European middleweight boxing champion who was the first contender to challenge Jake La Motta for the World crown in 1950, made an early appearance in this film as the Yankee Sergeant who captured our hero. Our hero was Jerry Brewster, a former Confederate who helped to steal $600,000 in government funds. Calling himself Jim Huston, Brewster sought to distract the Yankees while his friend, Ken Seagall, got away with the money. Using a riding crop, the Sergeant tried to get Brewster to talk - and Mitri was given a few lines to speak.

(After retiring from boxing in 1957, Mitri took up acting in films, painting, writing - two autobiographies, and divorcing his second and third wives. Living alone in the poor section of Rome, suffering from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's deseases, as well as hearing loss and alcoholism, Mitri was killed by a commuter train in the early morning hours of February 12, 2001 at the age of 74.)

After five years behind bars at Fort Wilson, Brewster went back to his homestead to only find ruins. A note left by our hero's wife revealed that not only did Seagall break his promise to take care of her and the baby boy, but that the bank had foreclosed and sent the family packing. Luckily, the villain sent over two gunmen from whom Brewster - with the help of a seeming bum named Getz sleeping in the barn - could get more updated information before they died. The bum decided to help our hero in his revenge plan, by going to the villain's ranch with evidence of our hero's death, and getting a job, thus enabling him to work on the inside.

Almost completely by accident, Brewster finds his boy, Tim, who was played by Loris Loddi. This beautiful, blond and blue-eyed kid had not only played Julius Caesar's son in the gigantic 1963 release of CLEOPATRA, he was Hercules' son in 1963's ERCOLE SFIDA SANSONE (aka HERCULES, SAMSON AND ULYSSES), and co-starred in 1965's big Western hit 100,000 DOLLARI PER RINGO (aka $100,000 FOR RINGO) with Richard Harrison.

Tim informed his unknown father that his mother had died years ago. Living with a blacksmith, Tim would be used by his father in his plot against the villain, and would even save his father from being bushwacked thanks to his trusty slingshot.

Having changed his name to Ken Milton, the villain used the stolen money to set himself up as a rich landowner. Not content with two-thirds of the area, Milton was aggressively agitating for the rest, and had the town sheriff murdered. Only Horner, the saloon owner, was interested in organizing the opposition. After seeing Brewster kill two of Milton's men following a brawl, Horner believed that he found the man to lead his force.

Talking about being hired by Dino De Laurentiis to make NAVAJO JOE, Burt Reynolds commented on the producer's desire to make Westerns that were more successful than the ones directed by Sergio Leone. When Reynolds learned that he would have to return to the U.S. for a TV commitment, his director, Sergio Corbucci, reportedly worried that he wouldn't have enough time to film Reynolds killing enough bad guys. Then he had a brainstorm; he'd have Reynolds use dynamite - so he could kill the bad guys more quickly.

Considering how the big battle in THE HILLS RUN RED was staged, it would be interesting to know which film went into production first. Did Corbucci get his idea from Lizzani's film, or vice versa? In any case, Brewster and Getz end up taking on Mendez and his men in the deserted town of Austin using sticks and sticks of explosives. The stuntwork coordinated by Goffredo (aka Freddy) Unger was very impressive, as was the pyrotechnic efforts by Eros Bacciucchi. If no one was injured during the shooting of this sequence, then this production's safety record was alot better than many other like productions.

Unger appeared in this film's final scene as the Yankee Officer to whom Getz reported the conclusion of his mission. Rather than being a "Good Samaratan", Getz turned out to be an helpful Government agent ordered to shadow Brewster until the stolen money was located. Reporting that both Seagall and Brewster were dead, Getz appointed our hero the new sheriff of Austin, under this alias of Jim Houston. This left our hero to stand looking bewildered with his son by his side for the final fade-out.

While his name wasn't in this film's credits, Nazzareno Zamperla appeared to be Thomas Hunter's stunt double for at least the punch-up in the river. In addition to filming at about the same time - with NAVAJO JOE mostly shooting in Spain and THE HILLS RUN RED shooting in Italy, Dino De Laurtentiis' two Western productions also shared the lovely presence of Nicoletta Machiavelli. Her film debut was under Lizzani's direction in 1965's THRILLING, produced by De Laurentiis. And while she was not a strong actress, her beauty ensured her more film offers. De Laurentiis teamed her up again with Henry Silva for the comedic spy film MATCHLESS. She did another Western supporting role in UN MINUTO PER PREGARE, UN ISTANTE PER MORIRE (aka A MINUTE TO PRAY, A SECOND TO DIE) before becoming one of the few women to play the action hero in a Western. The film was called GIARRETTIERA COLT (aka GARTER COLT), which was the only Western to be shot in Sardinia. Machiavelli also appeared in the more famous films CANDY and THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR JAUNTY JALOPIES (aka MONTE CARLO OR BUST). Another element shared by De Laurentiis' two 1966 Westerns was the Leo Nichols pseudonym used by composer Ennio Morricone. Morricone's score for PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI (aka A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS) had become popular under the pseudonym of Dan Savio, but his equally popular score for 1965's PER QUALCHE DOLLARO IN PIU (FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE) had been a hit under his real name. So how could anyone think it to be a good idea to give him a new pseudonym for these two films? Screenwriter Dean Craig was another person who worked on both De Laurentiis Westerns. Interestingly, while the DIZIONARIO DEL CINEMA ITALIANO had no trouble with reporting Craig's real name as being Piero Regnoli for the NAVAJO JOE listing, for the HILLS RUN RED listing, it quibbled about some believing Craig to be either Piero Regnoli, Piero Pierotti or Mario Pierotti.

Among the familiar faces in the supporting cast was Guglielmo Spoletini as Pedro, one of the villain's gang. In 1968, Spoletini would adopt the pseudonym William Bogart and star in ...E INTORNO A LUI FU MORTE (aka TIERRA BRAVA). He went on to play the hero in five or six more Westerns, and a recent documentary was made about his career - AMERICANO IN ROMA. Most of the faults found in Carlo Lizzani's direction of THE HILLS RUN RED were not evident in the other films made by this former film critic. Begun in 1949, Lizzani's career consisted mostly of serious subjects, and even his other Western, REQUIESCANT (aka LET THEM REST), did not burst with the melodrama of this movie. His best known films in the U.S. were on historical subjects: BANDITI A MILANO (aka THE VIOLENT FOUR, 1968 - which got a good review from Pauline Kael), CRAZY JOE (1973) and MUSSOLINI ULTIMO ATTO (aka THE LAST FOUR DAYS, 1974).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Jacques Tourneur on THE GIANT OF MARATHON

Jacques Tourneur: My agent was in Rome and ran into Mr. Muscle, you know, Steve Reeves. They spoke about cinema, Steve Reeves said he adored the legend of the archer of fire (Robin Hood) and wanted to do a film like that. My agent told him that I was a director and that he was my agent. At the time I was a writer for which I was paid lavishly, but I did it because, after all they wanted to work with me. It was one of those films (LA BATTAGLIA DI MARATONA - THE GIANT OF MARATHON) in which the actors speak different languages, and this makes the film unsupportably static. The girl speaks in French, Steve Reeves answers it in English, and that's the way it goes.
I began to shoot the dramatic scenes. I had a contract of eight weeks, and my remuneration was apportioned for those eight weeks. But I didn't know that they worked so slowly in Italy. At the end of the eight weeks, I would be paid pro-rata, at so much per day.
It happened that at the end of the eight weeks I had shot all the dramatic scenes, but there still remained the underwater scenes to do (However, for me, going underwater was impossible). And there was also the run, the famous run (which gave us the word "marathon" to describe a long-distance race), in effect all those scenes that were not dialogue scenes. The producers then re-examined my contract, and they discovered that they had no obligation to keep me on, and therefore no need to pay through the nose for me to do any further days of work. The run ended up being shot by (Bruno) Vailati, and all of the finale (the underwater shots) by Vailati and (Mario) Bava. Why should they be obliged to hang on to me for filming these disputed underwater or running sequences. Anybody could do it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mario Bava on Raoul Walsh

Mario Bava: I always filmed in a hurry. Twelve days at the maximum to do a film. With all the shots already in my head. Then I turned to the editing, which I also had clearly in my head, and I wasted nothing, not even a meter of film. I have made a movie with only 8000 meters of film at my disposal. The Americans, (Raoul) Walsh for example, "covered himself," as they say. The single pre-occupation was not to be inventive, but " to cover," that is to be sure to have got everything. They shot the same scene twenty times for fear of making a mistake. Once I said to Walsh, on the set of ESTHER AND THE KING, "Why don't you throw all the pages of the script that you've filmed into a brazier, that way you'll be sure you haven't forgotten anything?"
He took the hint and laughed.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I like Asia Argento.

Can you name this film?

Tomas Milian on Franco Nero

Tomas Milian: I acted with Franco Nero in VAMOS A MATAR, COMPANEROS. A very nice man. Also, very ambitious, and very professional. He was very proud of his good looks, of his acting technique, and of his American appearance. When we acted together in Westerns there was some bad blood, but only because I drew on my clownish talents, and he suffered from the fact that comedy wasn't part of his actor's bag of tricks. The character I was playing teased him a lot, but I – personally - always did this affectionately because he was a sweetheart. But he got pissed off; he confused cinematic fiction with life, and was convinced that I was mocking him off the set, as well.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Milian and Volonte FACE TO FACE

Sergio Sollima: Gian Maria Volonte arrived with the reputation of a ball-breaker, but he seemed to me to be an excellent professional, splendid to work with. He does have ideas of his own. He's a thoughtful person who, if he has things to propose, says them. And very often they are good ideas that serve the character. He always does this in a way that's not disturbing. He liked the character, he agreed with his political ideas; he did it for that as well. There was no problem at all with me; the problems were between the two stars, Gian Maria and Tomas. Tomas was convinced that Gian Maria wasn't supportive, not true at all according to me, and as one sulk provoked another, they eventually came to blows. Problems of character, of vanity were involved. It's well known that actresses too can be vain, but it's something more openly declared, accepted. You don't expect vanity from a man. And male stars seek to hide it, but then it leaks out: he starts thinking the makeup person isn't spending as much time with him as with the other guy, things of this sort. The men are even worse this way than the women.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Corbucci wanted to be taken seriously.

Sergio Corbucci: In my westerns there was always a bit of political reference, there were always revolutionary subtexts, a theme never really fathomed or truly appreciated by the Italian critics, in contrast to those elsewhere. Especially in Germany, where they've discovered me to be the head of a school of moviemaking, and famous intellectuals have dedicated incredible words to me. Moreover, my heroes were always slightly physically handicapped. In IL GRANDE SILENZIO (THE GREAT SILENCE), he was mute because his vocal cords had been cut. In MINNESOTA CLAY he was blind. I always wanted them impaired because the idea of a disabled hero intrigued me, made certain solutions more difficult, required more thinking and study, allowed for some coups de theatre and striking initial premises that made the hero more interesting than the usual stereotype. THE GREAT SILENCE was a film that caused an outcry because it was the first time in a Western that the hero died in the final duel with the villain: Jean Louis Trintignant was killed by Klaus Kinski, who then rode off into the distance. In Paris, somebody shot at the screen, they all carried on like madmen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Mario Bava: The battle of Marathon was filmed in Yugoslavia, but I didn't want to go, I preferred to stay with my friends in Ponza.
Then the material of the battle started to arrive, and I had to view it and cut it. There were moments when I could have fainted with laughter. It was such a comic film. Four thousand extras of the Yugoslavian army with their sandals worn over their army boots. The charioteers who drove the wagons of the king in vests and with cigarettes in their mouths; followed by crowds of little dog bastards that always strolled about on the sets of the films in Yugoslavia. All useless stuff. The producer wanted to commit suicide. They put the film in my hand. We had only ten days. So, first to Rome. I shot 287 scenes in a single week with only the grips. Then to Grottarossa with a hundred extras who almost died from the cold of the north wind, and who were made to appear like twenty thousand. The hand-to-hand fighting, which had seemed like caresses because the Yugoslavian extras were afraid of hurting themselves, I fixed by shooting at 5 fps instead of the normal 24. From these desperate measures came the real battle.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone and Polly Shannon

I'm not a fan of Tom Selleck, but I liked him in his "I didn't get to make RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK" adventure film HIGH ROAD TO CHINA, the Michael Crichton sci-fi thriller RUNAWAY and his bit in IN & OUT. I tuned in for the first Jesse Stone TV movie STONE COLD because it featured Polly Shannon, and after seeing her in the Canadian TV Movie THE GIRL NEXT DOOR I'll watch her in anything. That her character was killed midway through the movie was balanced out by the fact that Jane Adams - who I really liked in the short-lived TV series Citizen Baines - was half of the psycho couple that did the deed. Anyway, in the character of Jesse Stone, Selleck proved to be terrific, nicely infusing the role with melancholia. Later, I also enjoyed Selleck in IKE: COUNTDOWN TO D-DAY. Anyway, I've recorded the other Jesse Stone TV movies, but have only watched the new one that aired last night JESSE STONE: THIN ICE. As with STONE COLD, the atmosphere and characters were more compelling than the plotting, but the film was satisfying - partly thanks to nice support from Leslie Hope - who I first became aware of during the first season of 24 but became a fan of from the short-lived TV series Line of Fire, Kathy Baker and William Devane. And they're reportedly in production on JESSE STONE: NO REMORSE returning Selleck, Baker, Devane, Stephen McHattie and William Sadler. That sounds promising - all the more because also returning is Joe the Dog.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Angharad Rees

For years I only knew this British actress as the star of Hammer Films' HANDS OF THE RIPPER. Now, thanks to the Burbank Central Library, I've been able to catch up on Poldark, a BBC TV mini-series from the 1970s. She is enchanting in it. A quick internet search turned up that she's now designing jewelry for her own company: http://angharadrees.com/v3/ - and that some of her stuff was worn in the recent movie ELIZABETH THE GOLDEN AGE.

Well, part of the dream came true.

When I was 13, I declared that I had a dream to become a successful film director and to make a movie in Italy. And for that movie in Italy, I would desire in payment only a print of my favorite movie SE SEI VIVO SPARA - which I had seen 8 times when it played the Japanese film circuit on Okinawa. By having my own print, I could see it anytime I wanted - and maybe hire someone to translate the dialogue into English as I had been watching it in Italian with Japanese subtitles.

I never became a successful film director, nor did I make a movie in Italy, but, thanks to Blue Underground, I have a terrific DVD copy of IF YOU LIVE SHOOT - with the title DJANGO KILL - and it has English subtitles. So, part of my dream came true.