Friday, August 28, 2020

Week of August 29 - September 4, 2020


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which Spanish star of Italian Westerns played Sara Montiel's manager in one of her most successful movies?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was Armando Calvo in EL ULTIMO CUPLE, aka THE LAST TORCH SONG.

In which Italian Western does Rosalba Neri play Corrine Marchand's sister?
George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it is ARIZONA COLT, aka THE MAN FROM NOWHERE.

In which Italian Western does Giuliano Gemma wear the same size clothes as Giovanni Pazzafini?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was ARIZONA COLT, aka THE MAN FROM NOWHERE.

Which Italian Western starring Giuliano Gemma was co-written by his co-star?
George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it is AMICO, STAMMI LONTANO ALMENO UN PALMO, aka AMIGO, STAY AWAY and BEN & CHARLIE. 

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which actor, born in Italy, worked with directors Alfonso Balcazar, Antonio Isasi, Jose Antonio de la Loma, Miguel Lluch, Mark Stevens, Jaime Jesus Balcazar, Nick Nostro, Juan Xiol and Franz Josef Gottlieb? 
Can you name two Westerns in which Jason Robards asks our hero to leave and not watch him die?
In the English version of which Italian Western does the villain complain that the stupid gringos "change the names of everything"?

Name the movies from which these images came.

George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Dan Vadis in DEGUEYO, aka DEGUEJO.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

No one identified the above photo of Gordon Mitchell in IL GIGANTE DI METROPOLIS, aka THE GIANT OF METROPOLIS.

George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Claudia Cardinale in LA VIACCIA, aka THE LOVEMAKERS.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes, Bertrand Van Wonterghem and Charles Gilbert identified last week's frame grab of Bruce Lee in THE BIG BOSS, aka FISTS OF FURY.
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:


AD ASTRA, aka TO THE STARS (2019) - Kind of a space HEART OF DARKNESS, AD ASTRA tells the story of a son, Brad Pitt, venturing to the orbit of Neptune to terminate the mission on which his father, Tommy Lee Jones, supposedly died decades prior. Co-writer and director James Gray successfully creates a contemplative atmosphere with Pitt giving a compelling narration. Some of the action bits seem to stray from the narrative trust, but are welcome - particularly the idea of highway men on the Moon. The movie looks elegant and is absorbing. It is fun seeing Liv Tyler, Natasha Lyonne, Donald Sutherland and Ruth Negga among the supporting cast.

BIGGER The Joe Weider Story (2018) - It is a bit odd that a movie about a Canadian starting a magazine in New York City and then becoming a phenomenon in Los Angeles was produced in Alabama. George Gallo directed this fictionalized biographical film about Joe Weider, who helped to spread the doctrine of health and body building in the 20th century. Robert Forster plays Weider attending the funeral of his younger brother Ben. He is interviewed about his life by DJ Qualls, where he recalls his physical abuse by his mother and getting beaten up by anti-Semitic bullies on the streets of 1930s Montreal. Wanting to get bigger so that the bullies will leave him alone, young Joe, played by Christian Finlayson, begins reading Muscle magazines and studying nutrition. When he gets older and is played by Tyler Hoechlin (currently TV's Superman), Joe wants to make his own magazine because the current ones don't impart the health information he thinks is important. He faces resistance from the current Muscle hierarchy, personified by the fictional character of Bill Hauk, played by Kevin Durand. Hauk not only doesn't want competition from Joe, but he's also a racist. Eventually, Joe overcomes the demons of his past with the help of his second wife, Betty, played by Julianne Hough. He is also able to triumph over his competition with a worldwide circulation for his magazines and the creation of the Mr. Olympia competition. He also makes a star champion out of Arnold Schwarzenegger, played by Calum Von Moger. Director George Gallo tells this tale with a compelling pace and sincerity that gets over any melodramatic bumps that occur. Famous fitness figures like Reg Park, Sergio Olivia, Jack Lalanne, and Bill Pearl are portrayed in the film. Interestingly, while Steve Reeves is never mentioned in the film nor listed in the end credits, the IMDb has Jared Motyl listed as playing him. There is also no mention of Joe Gold, though one shot shows Calum Von Moger working out under a "Gold's Gym" sign.

Ice Cold Passion: Leni Riefenstahl and Arnold Fanck Between Hitler and Hollywood (2018) - Fanck family members and film historians comment on how unfortunate it is that Arnold Fanck has been forgotten while Riefenstahl remains a cinematic icon.

Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story (2014) - Normally I don't enjoy documentaries that heavily rely upon re-enactments with actors, but this is a story worth telling.

Mildly enjoyed:

ATOMIC BLONDE (2017) - Director David Leitch seems to be more interested in being visually clever and in filling the soundtrack with pop songs than in telling story. At one point he seems determined to beat director Alfonso Cuarón in creating a "single-take" action scene and that works well, though one worries about star Charlize Theron in addition to being impressed. The plot would not be mistaken for something by John Le Carre, or Len Deighton or even Ian Fleming, but more in line with one of the Italian spy movies from the 1960s with alot of double and triple crosses. However, the denouement is satisfying, so the convoluted trip ends up feeling worthwhile. This was based on a graphic novel by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart.

CHARLIE'S ANGELS (2019) - I was never a Charlie's Angels fan. Back when it was "jiggle TV" I gave it a chance because I really liked Kate Jackson in NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS, but I quickly gave up. I liked the performers in the Drew Barrymore produced movies, but the dumb action formula was more annoying than entertaining. I do not share writer/director/co-star Elizabeth Banks' perspective on the positive female message this franchise exhibits, but the new movie sure beats the hell out of the Sumaru movies, IN LIKE FLINT and 10 VIOLENT WOMEN. The female leads in this movie all look terrific and the fun they seem to share in making the movie is infectious. I kept trying to decide if the action stuff was more MISSION IMPOSSIBLE or Jason Bourne or James Bond, but could never relax and enjoy it. The highlight of the movie for me was when Elizabeth Banks mentions Burt Lancaster and BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ, which leads to a comment about BIRDMAN starred Michael Keaton which leads to a comment about Michael Keaton is Batman which leads to the question is Ben Affleck Batman? It is good to see Jonathan Tucker in this, but I would rather watch STATESIDE again.

DOCTOR SLEEP (2019) - Aside from all of the visual allusions to the Stanley Kubrick version of THE SHINING, I was enjoying this until the final scenes. Putting the original ending of THE SHINING onto the ending of this seemed dorky. At least they didn't put Ewan MacGregor into an old photograph. I appreciate that director Mike Flanagan has made me aware of Kyliegh Curran, Rebecca Ferguson and Emily Alyn Lind.

EXECUTIVE SUITE (1954) - Cameron Hawley's novel was the first title published by Ballantine Books in both hardback for bookstores and paperback for newsstands. Its success changed the publishing business and so MGM decided to make a movie of it. Writer Ernest Lehman was given the chance to write his first screenplay based on the book and he does his best to turn the scheming to elect a new president of a furniture company into a suspense film. Director Robert Wise helps out, but it soon become a melodrama that ends with a speech about the importance of work giving a man pride not just profit. 

WYATT EARP (1994) - You can't accuse co-writer/director Lawrence Kasdan of not being ambitious with this 3 hour movie, so why not be more accurate factually? The film feels long and the music by James Newton Howard doesn't help at all. I kept wondering if an Elmer Bernstein or John Barry score would have helped. Reportedly, this project started as a six-hour TV mini-series, which would have better realized the intentions.

THE HOUR OF THE GUN (1967) - This movie has a music score by Jerry Goldsmith and what a difference it makes. Perhaps to correct the false impression of Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the O.K. corral presented in his GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL (1957), director John Sturges returns to the material with a screenplay by Edward Anhalt from Douglas D. Martin's novel TOMBSTONE EPITAPH. Despite having a caption at the beginning proclaiming: "This picture is based on fact. This is the way it happened." this version of the Earp story is just as inaccurate as most of them. Even more so than GUNFIGHT, this movie is remarkably lacking in women. Holiday, played by Jason Robards, doesn't even have Kate tagging along. While WYATT EARP has all of the women connected to the Earp brothers coming together to complain about Wyatt, this version only shows Morgan's widow as his body is being put on a train taking  him back to his parents in California. As with previous Earp movies, the main bad guy is Ike Clanton, played by Robert Ryan. However, here he is presented as a rich landowner who wants to build an empire before "the East" comes West and takes over everything. In MY DARLING CLEMENTINE and GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, Ike gets killed at the O.K. Corral, which isn't true. Here, as factually reported, he is unarmed at the event. But here he's the boss orchestrating the event, and even ordering the sheriff (Why change Johnny Behan to Jimmy Bryan?) to charge Wyatt with murder. Unlike TOMBSTONE and WYATT EARP where Wyatt goes on a "vendetta ride" after the murder of Morgan, here Wyatt's able to get arrest warrants, and he only kills everybody when they fail to surrender. Those familiar with Powers Booth in TOMBSTONE and Lewis Smith in WYATT EARP as Curly Bill Brocius will not recognized the character as played by Jon Voight here. Unlike every other version of the story, here Wyatt, played by James Garner, goes down to Mexico to kill Ike Clanton in a traditional fastdraw gunfight.

DOC (1971) - Pete Hamill was a respected journalist. Why did he want to write this incredibly inaccurate version of the events at the O.K. Corral? Is it because he wanted to highlight the political race for Sheriff of Tombstone - which also figures in THE HOUR OF THE GUN, but there the race is between Virgil Earp and the corrupt Sheriff Jimmy Bryan. Here Sheriff John Behan is ineffectual but not corrupt. And Wyatt, played by Harris Yulin, wants the job so that he can corrupt it. Rather than Doc, played by Stacy Keach, following Wyatt where ever he goes - as is portrayed in every other color version of the story, here Doc is sent for by Wyatt to help him run the gambling in Tombstone. In every other version, Kate, played by Jo Van Fleet in GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, Joanna Pacula in TOMBSTONE and Isabella Rossellini in WYATT EARP, is a long time girlfriend of Doc's. Here, played by Faye Dunaway, she is found by Doc in the arms of Ike Clanton, played by Michael Witney, as Doc is making his way through the desert to Tombstone. Rather than the tempestuous relationship presented in every other film, Doc and Kate have a sweet romance - until she starts talking about the future she wants with him. Did Hamill write this script so that he could include Doc visiting an opium den? Hamill seems to have invented the character of "The Kid", played by Denver John Collins, just so that Doc can be shown being sympathetic with a young man - until the young man reminds himself of himself, and so he murders him. At the O.K. Corral, the three Earps and Doc all carry shotguns and they shoot first. The bad guy is again Ike Clanton, but Hamill only suggests that Wyatt hates him because he sees him as competition, not because he is a villain. Both Ike and Morgan are killed at the O.K. Corral, and I understand Hamill wanted to telescope events because the film was ending right away with Doc abandoning everything to ride off. This film is of interest for fans of Westerns shot in Spain, but the locations in Almeria pale besides the Arizona locations for TOMBSTONE and THE GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, the Nevada locations for WYATT EARP and the Mexican locations for HOUR OF THE GUN. Seeing German actor Dan van Husen pop up to be killed at the O.K. Corral is fun, though it's noticeable that he didn't appear in any prior scenes. If Luis Barboo is in this movie, I didn't see him.

Did not enjoy:

THE DEADLY FEMALES (1976) - Writer/director Donovan Winter proves the you can make a movie about part-time female assassins that is deadly dull. A former actor, Winter turned into a maker of nudie movies in 1962 with WORLD WITHOUT SHAME. If the sexy bits in DEADLY FEMALES are any indication, Winter's films were rather lame though he has no qualms about showing flacid male genitalia. After appearing in this film, Tracy Reed - who was in DR. STRANGELOVE: OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB - gave up her film career.

THE GREAT AMERICAN PASTIME (1956) - Talking to the audience, as he did in THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT, Tom Ewell lets us know that once again he plays a fellow who feels that his life is a disappointment. He narrates the film which is told in flashback. The fellow in his office who used to coach the little league baseball team called The Panthers is being transferred, so Ewell is volunteered to take over. Even with assist from Dean Jones, Ewell proves to be a poor manager. Even so, widow Ann Miller is keen on having her son play, to the point that Ewell's wife, Anne Francis, becomes jealous of Miller's attention to her husband. After a night of drinking with buddy Bob Jellison, Ewell brings a real Panther to the next game and inspires his team with a speech about how playing your best is more important than winning. So the team wins and the flashback ends. Ewell feels that no one appreciates his efforts, so he's not going to volunteer ever again. Naturally, everyone shows up for a surprise victory party and Ewell gets excited about becoming the new Boy Scout leader. Herman Hoffman directs. The highlight of movie is when Anne Francis takes a bubble bath.

INTO THE STORM (2014) - I suppose it was bound to occur to someone to do a version of TWISTER with mostly "found footage" material, and Steven Quale directed it. While female lead Sarah Wayne Callies had just been killed on on The Walkind Dead, supporting female Alycia Debnam-Carey was just about to start appearing on Fear the Walking Dead.

Gamle Mænd i Nye Biler, aka OLD MEN IN NEW CARS (2002) - Directed by Lasse Spang Olsen, this Danish action comedy suggests that even though I enjoy dark comedies, I don't quite share the Danish sense of humor. Kim Bodnia (of Killing Eve) gets out of prison and is harrassed by an old associate to whom he owes money. However, news comes that Jens Okking is dying of liver failure and his last wish is to see the son he never met. The son, Torkel Petersson, is a serial killer of women and is incarcerated in a Swedish prison. Bullying Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Tomas Villum Jensen into helping him, Bodnia breaks the reluctant Petersson out and drags him to see his father. On the way, Petersson murders two women. Hearing that an illegal liver transplant is possible in Equador, Bodnia decides to rob a bank with Petersson. When the police show up, Bodnia and Petersson grab Iben Hjejle as an hostage, which doesn't bother her too much as she was planning to kill herself anyway. After a whole lot of police cars are destroyed in spectacular crashes, our main characters agree to pay off the old associate by helping to steal a plane carrying a currency shipment. Petersson discovers that being with a living woman is pleasurable and asks Hjejle to marry him. During a gunfight with the old associate, Bodnia sees that a bullet has killed Okking, so he gives up his effort to go to Equador. Petersson and Hjejle drive off, nervous about the future together, while Bodnia continues to bully Kaas and Jensen. Aside from identifying a tune as a Scandanavian version of "Limbo Rock", the only pleasure I got from this movie was seeing the gorgeous Iben Hjejle again, but I'd prefer re-watching HIGH FIDELITY for that treat. OLD MEN IN NEW CARS is considered a prequel to 1999's IN CHINA THEY EAT DOGS, also starring Kim Bodnia.

HET BOMBARDEMENT, aka THE BLITZ, aka THE ROTTERDAM BOMBING (2012) - After some lovely touristy shots of present-day Rotterdam, we see an elderly man watching TV when a news report about another unexploded Nazi bomb from 70s years ago being found. This reminds the elderly man of his young self, played by Jan Smit, when he was a baker's assistant and part-time bell hop in 1940. While working as a bell hop, he meets the beautiful Roos van Erkel, who is about to marry a rich Dutch industrialist inorder to get a safe haven for her family who are refugees from Nazi Germany. The lower class boy falling in love with the upper class girl with the backdrop of an historical disaster reminds one of director James Cameron's TITANIC - for which Dutch critics heavily attacked the film. It has been quite a while since I've seen a movie use as much old black & white stock footage as this film does and the English language soundtrack is one of the worst I've heard. I found myself unable to watch this movie without pushing the fast-forward button alot, but I also admired what seemed an ambitious project working with very little money. In fact the end credits lists so many "sponsors" that it looked to have been produced with "Go Fund Me" money as well as government tax benefits. Ate de Jong, who directed DROP DEAD FRED, co-wrote and directed THE BLITZ and also published the story as a novel.

THE VANISHING, aka KEEPERS (2018) - Based on the 1900 disappearance of three lighthouse keepers on Flannan Isles, this rather dull suspenser postulates that a man washed ashore with a treasure chest. The lighthouse keepers decide to keep the chest and trouble arises when some bad guys come looking for it. Danish TV director Kristoffer Nyholm made his feature film debut with this flick.


Charles Gilbert watched:

THE UPTURNED GLASS (1947) B&W. James Mason stars as a college professor relaying the ensuing story to a psychology class in England studying the criminal mind to determine sanity in crime (chemical formulae on the blackboard). The story: A married but separated surgeon (who is actually Mason) falls in love with a woman on whose daughter he operates to heal an eye malady. The affair is short lived as they realize the futility. Soon after termination, he learns that Emma (Rosamund John), said paramour, dies from an upper story fall at her home, regarded by the authorities as suicide. But the surgeon suspects foul play. He targets the decedent's selfish sister-in-law by luring her to the same house where the fall occurred. The story ends for the college class. But the surgeon begins to carry out the revenge. While driving to dispose of the body he is stopped by another doctor and helps him successfully operate on another injured girl. In the end he's still uncertain about his sanity. At the white cliffs of Dover he surveys the dumping scene, but gets too close to the edge.

SCARLET STREET (1945) B&W. Lonely kind-hearted artist, with a day job as bank clerk, Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson) becomes dupe to swindlers Kitty, with whom he falls in love, and her ratchet-jawed boyfriend Johnny (Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea). The two scamps secretly sell his paintings to the art gallery that only become a sensation. Chris finds out and initially is happy that Kitty, while nervously trying to explain to the critics she's authentic, forged them. An opportunity to escape his overbearing wife arises when her "deceased" husband shows up demanding money to take her back. He embezzles for that purpose as he did $1200 previously for Kitty. Now free for Kitty (and relieved of his job) , despite knowing her affair with Johnny, Chris proposes, only to be berated mercilessly. Enraged, he ice picks her to death in her bed, Circumstantial evidence, though, convicts Johnny who summarily gets the chair. Chris tries to end his life from the guilt, but fails, and walks the streets in poverty at Christmas as cues of  'Come All Ye Faithful' and 'Jingle Bells' is heard.

THE GREEN GLOVE (1951) B&W. Glenn Ford is a paratrooper serving in WW2 France who conceals a sacred jewel-encrusted gauntlet coveted by the enemy. He comes back after the war to retrieve and return the icon to the church sanctuary from which it came, but is pursued by his old arch enemy Nazi agent (George MacReady).  Along the way he meets a Parisian guide (Geraldine Brooks) on the Eiffel tower who thenceforth accompanies him.  In the end villagers consider him a miracle-worker as the chapel bell tolls.


David Deal enjoyed:



CAPER OF THE GOLDEN BULLS (67) - Ex-professional thief Stephen Boyd gets roped into one last heist; an impossible plan to steal jewels from the Spanish National Bank in Pamplona during the running of the bulls.  Entertaining second-tier Euro crime with a recognizable cast and enough enthusiasm to keep the average viewer engaged.


Mildly enjoyed:

TOMORROW AT SEVEN (33) - Crime author/amateur detective Chester Morris investigates the "Black Ace" murders.  Frank McHugh and Allen Jenkins are the dumb cops and Charles Middleton is a mysterious creepy guy.  This has the usual old dark house elements and a small percentage of the McHugh/Jenkins patter is amusing, but for the most part it's just annoying.

DEADLY RECORD (59) - Lee Patterson wakes up to a dead wife, so in order to save his skin from murder charges, he investigates on his own.  Adequate Brit mystery featuring not enough of Barbary Shelley.







Bertrand Van Wonterghem enjoyed:

Him-ssen yeao-ya Do Bong-soon / Strong girl Bong-soon – season 1 – episodes 5 to 16

The old guard (2019, Gina Prince- Bythewood)

The wrong Missy (2019, Tyler Spindel)

Moonlightning – season 1 – episode « The murder’s in the mail » (1984, Peter Werner)

Teoneol / Tunnel – season 1 – episodes 1 to 4

Eobiseu / Abyss – season 1 – episode 1

Mildly enjoyed:

The umbrella academy - season 2 - episodes 2 to 9

Batwoman – season 1 – episode « Grinning from ear to ear » (2019, Michael C. Blundell)

Una pistola per cento bare (1968, Umberto Lenzi)

Zeder (1983, Pupi Avati)

10 000 dollari per un massacro (1966, Romolo Guerrieri)

Dog eat dog (2015, Paul Schrader)

Did not enjoy:

Cult of Chucky (2017, Don Mancini)

Dead awake (2015, Philip Guzman)

La morte non conta i dollari (1967, Riccardo Freda)

Don’t knock twice (2016, Caradog W. James)


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