Friday, May 8, 2020

Week of May 9 - 15, 2020

To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

What Terence Hill Western project was partly inspired by an American autobiography?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which Italian actor, born in Venice, appeared in an American TV sit-com episode along with Umberto Raho?
George Grimes knew it was Mino Doro.

Which Italian actor, born in Bari, Italy, played a Mexican guitar player in an Italian Western?
George Grimes knew that it was Umberto Raho.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which Italian actress worked for directors Piero Tellini, Federico Fellini, Vittorio Cottafavi, Bruno Paolinelli, Mario Bava, Luchino Visconti and Giorgio Ferroni?
Which French actor worked for directors Sergio Corbucci, Giorgio Ferroni, Franco Giraldi, Marino Girolami, Umberto Lenzi, Alberto De Martino and Raffaella Matarazzo?
Which French actress worked for directors Rod Amateau, Lino Del Fra, Mario Caiano, Vittorio Cottafavi, Andrew L. Stone and Raffaello Matarazzo?

Name the movies from which these images came.

George Grimes, Rick Garibaldi and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's frame grab of Adolfo Celli in YANKEE.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand Van Wonterghem and Charles Gilbert identified last week's frame grab of Tony Russel and Renato Rossini, aka Howard Ross, aka Red Ross, in LA RIVOLTA DEI SETTE, aka THE SECRET SEVEN.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came? 

George Grimes identified last week's frame grab from director Bernardo Bertolucci's THE DREAMERS.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Ric Meyers, 833P and George Grimes identified last week's photo from YOJIMBO.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

I am interested in knowing what movies you have watched and what you enjoyed or not. So please send me an email at if you'd like to share. Here's what I watched last week:


WAIT FOR YOUR LAUGH (2017) - A marvelous profile of Rose Marie. Thank you to David Deal for telling me about this.

Betty White First Lady of Television (2018)

Scandal: The Trial of Mary Astor (2018)

Washington (2020) - A three part History Channel documentary with re-enactments. It is curious to see YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES actor Nicholas Rowe playing George Washington.

Mildly enjoyed:

THE SATAN BUG (1965) - As a ten year old, I found the premise that an unseen virus could destroy all life on Earth terrifying. I was also upset that my hero from Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea, Richard Basehart, turned out to be the bad guy. Seeing the movie now, I am struck at the number of elements which reminded me of one of my favorite movies THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN. While credited screenwriters James Clavell and Edward Anhalt did an acceptable job of changing the locale from England to America, and altering the premise from the bank robbery scenario in the book - which might have inspired DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, they must take part of the blame for not being able to sustain the suspense of the premise. And they fail to come up with a reasonable excuse for the villains not killing the hero the first time he falls into their hands. (If they killed the hero so soon the movie would be too short.) John Sturges produced and directed. The credited writer of the novel, Ian Stuart, turned out to be Alistair MacLean using a pseudonym.

American Experience "George W. Bush" (2020)

American Masters "Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin" (2018)

Line of Duty season one (2012) - AMC has begun to show "one of the best BBC shows of all time". But, season one created a number of characters that we are given to hate, and then doesn't kill them, which made for a very unsatisfying experience. I am interested in seeing more of Vicky McClure, and Keeley Hawes comes on in seasons two and three.

BLUE NOTE RECORDS BEYOND THE NOTES (2019) - Most of what I know of jazz is from music used on movie soundtracks. The only Miles Davis music I have is on a compilation of French Movie Soundtracks. While I found this documentary enjoyable, I didn't find the music very compelling. And then finding out that a lot of hip-hop music samples old Blue Note recordings was interesting, but I don't find hip-hop music very compelling either. 

Did not enjoy:

AMANDA (2009) - On his 40th birthday, Randy Ryan worries that finding love is a faded dream. But, in walks Ariana Dubynin and after 30 minutes of screen time they marry. After they marry, Ariana tells Randy that she was born a man and underwent a sex change operation. He walks out on her only to find, over the next 30 minutes of screen time, that he can't forget her. His best friend convinces him that she has moved out of town. Eventually, he finds out that his best friend has been lying and has been dating her. Randy comes to realize that he loves her and when he swears he loves her unconditionally, an elderly businessman steps out of a car and orders them to be in his office the next day. The elderly man is Ariana's father who was convinced that his daughter would grow up damaged after being raised by his ex-wife and her lesbian lover. Now that Randy has declared he loves Ariana no matter what, it is revealed that the sex change story was a ploy to test our hero's love - and that she was born a female. She is also set to inherit $200 million. Randy and Ariana drive up to their new mansion and declare that they will raise normal kids. Considering how low-buget this movie is, that it ends with characters becoming filthy rich feels especially bogus. While showing acceptable production value, the movie suffers from not having a single convincing acting performance. 

THE DEVIL DOLL (1936) - It is surprising to me that in 1936 there were mad scientists, in France no less, trying to solve the problem of feeding the world by shrinking people. It is less surprising that an escaped convict would misuse this experiment to get revenge on the three men who sent him to prison. It is surprising to me that a MGM Tod Browing flick would seemingly quote Universal's BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, with doll-size people, a shock of white in a woman's frizzed out hair and a threat to blow everything to atoms. It is not surprising that Tod Browning would reuse a bit from THE UNHOLY THREE by having a criminal disguise himself as a woman.

THE IVORY-HANDLED GUN (1935) - Buck Jones plays Buck Ward, who turns down a gunfight with Pat Moore, played by Joseph Girard, but punches The Wolverine Kid, played by Walter Miller, unconscious. It all started years ago when Buck's father married the woman both Pat Moore and the Kid's father wanted. The Kid's father shot Buck's father using an ivory-handled gun and paralyzed him - but not before Buck's father choked him to death. The Wolverine Kid swore that peace would only come when his ivory-handled gun is reunited with the ivory-handled gun Buck's father now has. When Buck rides over to talk with Pat Moore, he arrives just in time for the Wolverine Kid to murder Moore. Moore's daughter, Paddy, played by Charlotte Wynters, accuses Buck of the killing, but the sheriff finds the deadly bullet and knows that it came from the Kid's gun. It turns out that the Kid is plotting to take over Moore's land in order to replace the cow herds with sheep. When Buck goes looking for the Kid in the sheep town of Broady, Squint Barlow, played by Stan Blystone, meets our hero in the street and dies. At least there's an excuse for why the bad guys don't kill our hero right away when they catch him: the Kid offers $500 for our hero alive, while Paddy offers $1,000. Eventually, Paddy sides with Buck and prevents the cow boys from falling into the Wolverine Kid's trap. Finally, Buck grapples with the Kid while the bad guy seems about to repeat on Buck what happened to Buck's father. But when the gun goes off, it is into the Kid's face, not Buck's back.

THE LONG ROPE (1961) - Written by Robert Hamner, directed by William Witney and produced by Margia Dean, THE LONG ROPE has a number of unique bits. Steve Welles rides up to a stable at night and ties the front legs of his horse together. Robert Wilke rides up later and ties his horse's reins to the saddle sturup of Welles' horse. Later, while John Alonzo (later to become the Director of Photography of CHINATOWN) is in jail for the murder of Welles, William Kerwin and Jeff Morris show up to lynch him. Unable to get into the cell, the two guys try to lasso Alonzo to hang him from the other side of the bars. When Sheriff Alan Hall Jr. stops them, they go out on the street and try to string up the first Mexican they see. Judge Hugh Marlowe unsuccessfully tries to stop them, but gunman Chris Robinson arrives and scares the bad guys away. Marlowe investigates and reveals the real murderer in court. Despite being hired by Wilke to kill Marlowe, Robinson comes to our hero's rescue when the bad guys decide to contest the court's ruling. At the finale, Robinson elects to ride out of town with Marlowe saying that for a grown man he needs a lot of taking care of.

MERTON OF THE MOVIES (1947) - This was the third movie version of the 1922 novel and play and I don't see the appeal of the material.

MAGIC MIKE XXL (2015) - In some ways this is better than MAGIC MIKE, but among its disappointments is that Channing Tatum's best dance happens at about the mid-point in the film. Still, Elizabeth Banks makes a welcome appearance.

MUSIC FOR MILLIONS (1944) - Little Margaret O'Brien arrives by train at New York's Grand Central Station expecting her sister to be there waiting for her. The sister isn't there, but Margaret won't talk to strangers until a cop suggests that they go to the police station. Margaret pulls a poster out of her suitcase showing the orchestra. Pointing out her sister, June Allyson, in the poster, Margaret is then escorted to Symphony Hall. Conductor Jose Iturbi is unbelievably forgiving when Margaret disrupts the orchestra's performance, but everyone celebrates the reunion of sisters. Eventually, it becomes clear that June is pregnant and is worried sick about her husband who is overseas fighting in the war. When a telegram from the War Department shows up, the other women in the orchestra decide to hide it from June to protect the welfare of the unborn baby. At one point, one of the musicians suggests getting her uncle, Hugh Herbert, who is a forger, to write a phony letter pretending to be the husband. A letter arrives saying that the husband is recovering from wounds in an hospital, so June goes into maternity in good spirits. When the forger uncle shows up to get money from the niece to leave town, all of the women musicians thank him for the timely letter. It turns out that he never wrote the phony letter because he had been arrested - which means that the letter was actually from the still living husband. The orchestra performs the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah while June rests with her baby boy in her arms. Jimmy Durante is part of the orchestra support team and provides some relief from Margaret O'Brien's efforts to make viewers cry. This is an early effort by the great cinematographer Robert Surtees.

THE UNSUSPECTED (1947) - This film was much more cinematically stylish than the usual Michael Curtiz effort. Was he trying to emulate Alfred Hitchcock's style or was this just another post World War II crime flick? For the first two thirds this movie worked very well, but then it became tiresome. 

YOU CAN'T GET AWAY WITH MURDER (1939) - Warden Lewis E. Lawes of Sing Sing Prison wrote a play called CHALKED OUT with Jonathan Finn, which is the basis of this movie. Shopgirl Gale Page tells her Nightwatchman fiance Harvey Stephens that she's worried about her younger brother Billy Halop hanging out with hoodlum Humphrey Bogart. Bogart and Halop successfully hold up a gas station. Halop then steals Stephens' pistol for Bogart to hold up a pawnshop. Bogart kills the pawnshop owner and leaves the pistol. When the cops nab Bogart and Halop for the gas station robbery, they gladly accept their prison sentences. When Stephens is sentenced to death for the pawnshop murder, Bogart worries that Halop won't be able to keep quiet. Bogart and Halop plan to join a prison escape on the night of Stephens' execution. Bogart finds the confession that Halop leaves behind, so when the escape fails, Bogart shots Halop for betrayal. Luckily, Halop lives long enough to testify to Stephens innocence. Lewis Seiler also directed YOU'RE IN THE ARMY NOW.

YOU'RE IN THE ARMY NOW (1941) - Released after the draft was instated, but before the outbreak of World War II, this service comedy is unique. With the song "I'm Glad My Number Was Called", the film tries to sell the idea that women, particularly Jane Wyman, are attracted to men who have been drafted into the Armed Forces. The film tells the story of two vacuum cleaner salesmen, Phil Silvers and Jimmy Durante, who inadvertently enlist in the Army when they think they're making a sale at an enlistment office. The USO musical numbers don't occur until 45 minutes into the film, but the movie isn't a musical. It is mostly the sort of comedy which Silvers and Durante did on the radio. The Army wants to mechanize the U.S. Cavalry and the film sports some clever miniature effects as a tank is shown dragging a house across town, a train narrowly missing the house when it gets stuck on the railroad tracks and the house teetering on the edge of a cliff. Lewis Seiler also direced YOU CAN'T GET AWAY WITH MURDER.


David Deal enjoyed:


LONG RIDE FROM HELL (68) - There's a cool extra on the Blu-ray (about 15 minutes) where a couple of Italian fans visit Steve Reeves at his ranch.  An interesting look at the man away from the movie industry.


THIEF (71) - Richard Crenna, Cam the Man, and Angie Dickenson in this prime slice of downbeat TV angst that is one of my faves. A keeper.


DANGER ROUTE (68) - See The Eurospy Guide book for a complete review of this top-notch Eurospy entry.


TERROR IN THE DARK (72) - From 2006: "Jose Antonio Nieves Conde's HISTORIA DE UNA TRAICION is another nonsensical and totally enjoyable slice of Eurotrash cinema. Marisa Mell, Stephen Boyd, Massimo Serato, Fernando Rey, and Sylva Koscina glide through the twists and turns while some groovy tunes by Carlo Savina play on the soundtrack. I really don't need much more than that to be very happy indeed."  UPDATE: My tape from ETC is lousy and ends abruptly.  Would be nice to see a decent presentation.

Mildly enjoyed:

CHOP SOCKY: Cinema Hong Kong (04) - Hour-long documentary scratches the surface of the genre but manages chats with Jackie Chan, Samo Hung, and Jet Li.  A good starter.

THE GOLDEN EYE (48) - Roland Winters as Charlie Chan visits a western dude ranch to solve the mystery of a suddenly profitable mine and the threatened owner.  Serviceable late cycle series entry with Victor Sen Young and Mantan Moreland.


Charles Gilbert watched:

MORE DEAD THAN ALIVE (1969) Ex convict 'Killer' Cain (Clint Walker) tries to reform in 1890 West but can only find gainful employment as a sharpshooter in the Ruffalo (Vincent Price) travelling marksman show. He is befriended by amateur artist Anne Francis. Surprise ending.

THE MOON IS DOWN (1943) B&W. World War 2 Germans drop into Norway to occupy a mining town for their ore resources. They find the pacifist citizenry a bit unnerving. John Banner (Hogan's Heroes Sergeant Shultz) has a bit part, as does little Natalie Wood. Sir Cedric Hardwicke plays the Nazi general. Director Irving Pichel has an integral part as the tavern keeper. I'd been curious about this film since it was featured on an all-night movie marathon circa 1966 accompanied by another Hardwicke film GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN. First time viewing.

ASYLUM (1972) Another collection of short stories of the macabre from Amicus. Four mentally halt patients tell their incredible stories to a young doctor interviewing for a position at an English asylum who gets the job if he can identify the patient who had been a doctor there. Barry Morse, Robert Powell, Peter Cushing, Britt Eckland,  Barbara Parkins.

Seconds From Disaster - EXPLOSION IN THE NORTH SEA. On oil platform Piper Alpha 167 men lost their life the night of July 6 1988 when a fire erupts subsequent to faulty maintenance practice.


Bertrand Van Wonterghem enjoyed:

White feather (1954, Robert D. Webb)

Swooni (2011, Kaat Beels)

Baleari, operazione oro (1966, Jose Maria Forque)

Madigan episode « the Naples beat » (1972, Boris Sagal)

Y manana ? (1966, Emile Degelin)

Department S  episode « a cellar full of silence » (1968, John Gilling)

Mildly enjoyed:

The Norliss tapes (1973, Dan Curtis)

The green hornet episodes « give ‘em enough rope » with gorgeous Diana Hyland (1966, Seymour Robbie) and « programmed for death » (1966, Larry Peerce)

Jungle goddess (1948, Lewis D. Collins)

Karaoglan – Bizansli zorba (1966, Suat Yalaz)


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