Friday, August 7, 2020

Week of August 8 - 14, 2020


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which American actor, who played Hercules, was awarded the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Award on February 9, 1978?
It was Steve Reeves.

What John Ford directed movie featured a plot idea also used in A REASON TO LIVE A REASON TO DIE?
No one has answered this question yet.

In which Italian Western does the villain recruit new members of his gang by freeing the prisoners from a prision?
No one has answered this question yet.

In which Italian Western does our hero crack open a coconut with a ball on an elastic string?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which American actor who played Hercules was awarded "The Greatest Physical Culturalist of All-Time" in 1973?
George Grimes and John Black knew that it was Steve Reeves.

And now for some new brain teasers:

In which Italian Western does our hero demand a reward of $500.00 and the saloon keeper's daughter?
In which mythological movie is Giuliano Gemma the smallest of his brothers?
Which actor who played Hercules posed for a billboard advertising Weber's Bread in 1953?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Bertrand Van Wonterghem and George Grimes identified last week's photo of Mark Damon as JOHNNY ORO, aka RINGO AND HIS GOLDEN PISTOL.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

No one has identified the above photo yet.
Can you name from what movie it came? 

Bertrand Van Wonterghem, Charles Gilbert, John Black and George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Genevieve Grad in SANDOKAN LE TIGRE DI MOMPRACEM, aka SANDOKAN THE GREAT.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

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:


Shanghai 1937: Where World War II Began (2018)

BEL CANTO (2018) - Based on Ann Patchett's celebrated novel, this film was directed by Paul Weitz and was inspired by the Japanese embassy hostage crisis of 1996. Japanese businessman Ken Watanabe is lured to a business dinner in an unnamed Latin American country so that he can hear his favorite opera singer, Julianna Moore, in intimate surroundings. Vice President J. Eddie Martinez complains that he's always having to make excuses for the President not showing up, and finds it even harder when rebel guerrillas burst in expecting to take the President hostage. The guerrillas end up taking everyone hostage, though they eventually release all of the servants, the sick and the women, except for the famous opera singer. Some complained about the novel's "magical realism" in how the hostages and the captors bond together over the months of the crisis, but the filmmakers succeed in making the drama both convincing and compelling. The audience knows this isn't going to end well, but enjoys the experience of the story. Christopher Lambert makes a strong impressive playing the French Ambassador as does Sebastian Koch as a Red Cross representative.


HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (2004) - The critics touted that director Alfonso Cuaron brought a more artistic sensibility to the series. Possibly, but clarity didn't seem to be his concern.





KONDOM DES GRAUENS, aka KILLER CONDOM (1996) - Based on the Condom of Horror comic book by Ralf Konig, Martin Walz's film is an enjoyable horror comedy. Who is making condoms that bite off the penises of men about to have sex? Sicilian born NYPD Detective Luigi Mackeroni, played by Udo Samel, wants to know. The trouble starts at the Hotel Quickie, but soon spreads throughout the city, with one even biting off the nose of a woman in the park. In addition to fending off the romantic advances of ex-cop turned transvestite performer Leonard Lansink, Mackeroni (translated as Macaroni in the subtitles) is pursuing a romance with rent-boy Marc Richter. When fellow cop Peter Lohmeyer is ordered to go undercover at a leather bar, it appears that the filmmakers enjoyed CRUISING and they inform the audience what the red handkerchief means. Rolf Wolter, a veteran of four Winnetou films starring Pierre Brice, is a welcome sight in a small role. If you've been waiting for a movie that features a transvestite badly lip-syncing to Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly", this is the movie for you. This is one of the best releases ever to come from Troma. In addition to some design work by H.R. Giger, the special effects are handled by NEKROMANTIK director Jorg Buttgereit.

Mildly enjoyed:

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (2016) - Between this and ALIEN: COVENANT I now know who Katherine Waterston is.

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (2018) - J.K. Rowling seems unable to write female characters that aren't irritating.

The Mandalorian (2019) - It wasn't until the last episode, #8, that this show was any fun. And that's the episode directed by Taika Waititi.

PROMETHEUS (2012) - For the first time in the Alien series, this film seems a set-up for a sequel, which is ironic because it is a prequel.

BETTER LIVING THROUGH CIRCUITRY (1999) - It was good to see Wolfgang Flur of Kraftwerk making an appearance in this documentary about electronic dance music and rave culture.

Did not enjoy:

ALIEN: COVENANT (2017) - So Alien Engineers create humanity on Earth. After a while, they create the Alien Killer Creatures to destroy humanity, but fail to reach Earth. A man-made synthetic A.I. named David comes into possession of the Engineers' space craft, lets loose the Killer Creatures on their creators and perfects the Alien Creature (that we know and love) so that when an Earth colony ship named Covenant seeks out the source of a transmission playing John Denver's "Take Me Home (Country Roads)", he can continue the Engineers plan to destroy humanity. What's to enjoy?

A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951) - Poor relation Montgomery Clift gets a job at his rich uncle's factory and instantly falls in love with Elizabeth Taylor, who belongs to the upper class. Lonely, he has an affair with factory worker Shelley Winters, but then his uncle decides to include him in the posh social circle. Taylor meets and falls in love with Clift just as Winters informs him that she's "in trouble". Efforts to find a doctor "to help" fail, and Winters demands that Clift marry her. Clift contemplates taking Winters out into the middle of a lake and drowning her, but she stands up in the boat and accidentally drowns. However, Clift decides to pretend nothing happened, so District Attorney Raymond Burr quickly puts together a case for murder against Clift. Fred Clark defends Clift before Judge Ted de Corsia and of course loses. At least Clift gets words of comfort from Rev. Paul Frees as he walks to the electric chair. Undeniably historically significant, this film seems rather quaint nowadays with no one wanting to say "pregnant". What is most odd about this film, is that it tries very hard to get the audience to identify with Clift's love for Taylor. She probably never looked as gorgeous before or after this movie, and director George Stevens seems to want us to long for her as much as Clift - making this a tragic love story rather than a sordid murder case in which our "hero" finally admits that he truly wanted Winters dead. Screenwriter Michael Wilson came to this project after laboring on Hopalong Cassidy Westerns. He and Harry Brown got to receive Academy Awards for this film before Wilson was outed as a Communist and fled to Europe where he co-wrote THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI but couldn't accept his Oscar because his name wasn't credited.

BORDERLINE (1980) - Even though he had a minor role in COMA (1978), Ed Harris got an "Introducing" credit for this film as an ex-Marine named Hotchkiss who is part of an operation running illegal immigrants from Mexico to California. When border patrol agent A. Wilford Brimley catches Harris in a truck filled with illegals, Harris blasts Brimley with a shotgun. Unfortunately, young illegal immigrant Pachito Gomez was standing nearby and Harris murders him, too. Finding an address in Gomez's hand, border agent Charles Bronson finds Gomez's mother, Karmin Murcelo, and gets her help in illegally crossing the border from Mexico using the same operation as her son did. Unfortunately, this plan fails when border bandits attack the illegal immigrants and Bronson can't follow the guide to the base of operations. Luckily a cop on loan from New York, played by Bruno Kirby, gets a clue from a tomato found near Brimley's body. The pesticide on the tomato is only used by six farmers in the area; one of whom is played by Bert Remsen, who employs Harris, and works for Michael Lerner. Bronson clobbers information from Enrique Castillo about a plan to move 2,000 illegals in one day, so our hero is ready to take everyone into custody. Harris makes a run for it and, after a chase, Bronson puts him down. Narrative titles at the end show that Remsen is only sentenced to a few years and that Lerner is found not guilty due to insufficient evidence. Bronson assures Kirby that while the operation will be up and running again, so will they. According to director Jerrold Freedman, this film was originally to be produced by Michael Douglas with Gene Hackman starring. When Hackman dropped out and Bronson was hired, Douglas dropped out because he didn't want to make a "Charlie Bronson movie". Bronson is good in this role, where he gets to be sympathetic and gentle in addition to rough and tough. Brimley's funeral scene was filmed at the Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery at Point Loma, San Diego, which is a terrific site to visit. Luis Contreras, who appears in the opening scene of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, plays one of the border bandits here.

THE KING OF THE KICKBOXERS, aka NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER 4 (1990) - There is a certain nostalgic charm in finally watching this film. It brings back memories of Ng See-yuen, the former Shaw Brothers executive who became an independent producer and finally made a star of Jackie Chan with SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW. He was the fellow who produced the KARATE KID rip-off NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER that made Jean-Claude Van Damme a star. Loren Avedon came onto the scene when Kurt McKinney backed out of making RAGING THUNDER, which became known as NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER 2. Avedon didn't achieve the notoriety of Van Damme or Chan, even though he made two more Seasonal Films: BLOOD BROTHERS, aka NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER 3, and THE KING OF THE KICKBOXERS. Screenwriter Keith W. Strandberg churned out all of these movies, while Lucas Lowe took over the directing chores with BLOOD BROTHERS. To provide some acting, Richard Jaeckel and Don Stroud were added to the cast, but weren't requited to do much except express their disapproval of Avedon's actions. According to this movie, there's an audience in Asia for martial arts snuff films shot in Thailand. Americans are lured to Bangkok hoping for kickboxing fame, and then lured into making a movie with Billy Banks, who is half Thai and hates Americans because his father abandoned his mother. Banks then beats the Americans to death on camera. Avedon is a member of the NYPD, who goes to Thailand because all of the Interpol agents on the case have been killed. Avedon wants revenge for the murder of his brother, Michael Depasquale Jr., by Banks years ago. When it becomes obvious that Avedon isn't good enough yet, he trains with Keith Cooke, and starts a relationship with Sherrie Rose. Eventually, everyone ends up in the bamboo dome fighting cage in the jungle. There's a cute moment in the film when Avedon watches a video tape of BLOOD BROTHERS, but calls it a Bruce Lee movie without Bruce Lee; a waste of time. Avedon left Seasonal after this but kept working for less well known producers. When Seasonal made AMERICAN SHAOLIN in 1991, Trent Bushey played the hero, but some distributors insisted on calling the film THE KING OF THE KICKBOXERS II.

THRASHIN' (1986) - WEST SIDE STORY dancer David Winters became quite the film impresario in the 1980s directing trendy flicks like this where a skate boarder on Venice Beach tells a guy spinning on his head "Breakin' is a memory". I'll watch just about anything featuring Pamela Gidley, and this was her "introducing" credit. Reportedly, Winters wanted Johnny Depp to star in this film, but the producers said no. Instead he got Josh Brolin along with Sherilyn Fenn and Chuck McCann. The Red Hot Chili Peppers appear with an introduction by that guy who used to appear with Peter Ivers on New Wave Theatre. You just know that Brolin and Gidley are made for each other when they are the only conventionally dressed people at a punk rock club. Unfortunately, Gidley is the sister visiting from Indiana of the head of a rival skater gang called "The Daggers". The filmmakers nod to THE WILD ONE with this dialogue exchange: 
"Well, what do you Thrash?" 
"Whadda ya got?" 
"What do you think you're a wild one, or something?" 
At a skate board competition, a Dagger drops metal jacks to cause Brolin to fall. Fans of 1980s Hollywood Blvd. may enjoy seeing our heroes boarding infront of the Chinese Theater and Hollywood and Highland before that big shopping mall was erected. You can even see the old B. Dalton book store. THE HITCHER is playing at the Paramount Theater and the Pussycat Theater is still playing porn. After breaking his arm in a skate board duel with the head of The Daggers, Brolin worries that he won't be able to compete in the "L.A. Massacre" downhill race. Of course he wins not only the race but the respect of his rivals and the love of Gidley. If you ever wanted to see a skate board chase scene down Southern Californian streets at night scored by The Circle Jerks' song "Wild In the Streets" then this is the movie for you. Pleasant Gehman appears as a "Daggerette". Future TWILIGHT director Catherine Hardwicke was the production designer on THRASHIN' and would return to its milieu with her second directing credit: 2005's LORDS OF DOGTOWN.

3 NINJAS (1992) - Grandpa Victor Wong teaches his three male grandkids how to be ninjas. Gangster Rand Kingsley's arms selling scheme is thwarted by Wong's son-in-law, who is an F.B.I. agent. Kingsley decides that his gangster ninjas aren't good enough and so wants Wong to train them. Wong refuses, so Kingsley orders the boys kidnapped. The three men hired are bumbling surfer dudes who sound like "Bill and Ted" and the middle section of the film is a variation on HOME ALONE, with the three boys clobbering the witless kidnappers. Eventually, Toru Tanaka shows up with a squad of ninjas and the kidnapping is accomplished. Wong teams up with the F.B.I. to rescue the boys from a cargo ship which is Kingsley's strong hold. The three boys look good in the fight scenes, and stunt coordinator Rick Avery delivers better fight scenes than Mike Stone did for ENTER THE NINJA in 1981. The fights are often played for laughs, but are still impressive, and sometimes even funny. Reportedly, when Disney picked this film up for distribution, they added cartoon sound effects to soften the violence of the fighting. Director Jon Turteltaub went on to make WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING in 1995 and PHENOMENON in 1996. The sequel, 3 NINJAS KNUCKLE UP, was directed by South Korean filmmaker Sang-ok Shin, who had only recently gained asylum in the U.S. after years in North Korea to where he had been kidnapped to make movies for Kim Jong Il.

3 NINJAS KNUCKLE UP (1995) - Under the name Simon S. Sheen, Sang-ok Shin, the director of PULGASARI, ended his career with this film. All three kids from the first film are back, but martial arts specialist Tsung-Hsi Jen and stunt coordinators Al Jones and Brett A. Jones are not able to make them look as good as Rick Avery did in the first film. Did someone see BILLY JACK and decide that the heroes should be defending Native Americans for this film? Or was it various news stories of contractors ignoring the health issues of toxic land fills? In any case, the three kids and granddad get their feet flying against Charles Napier and his bad guys in an effort to present evidence to close down a garbage dump. The lesson of this film: "In helping people you should make as much noise a flower blooming".

3 NINJAS: HIGH NOON AT MEGA MOUNTAIN (1998) -  Only Victor Wong remains of the original cast in this installment, and this proved to be his final movie. Deciding to keep the characters the same age as in the original from six years ago required hiring a new set of kids, who don't get a chance to display the ability of the original guys. Wanting to see the final live performance of Dave Dragon, played by Hulk Hogan, and the Star Force 5, our three heroes go to the Mega Mountain amusement park. Unfortunately, villains Loni Anderson, Jim Varney and their men pick that day to take over the park and hold all attendees as hostages demanding a ten million dollar ransom from owner Pat Mahoney. With the help of Hogan and computer wiz Chelsey Earlywine, our heroes thwart the plan. This effort makes the 1992 film look like a well made movie. Sean McNamara directed.


Charles Gilbert watched:

COUNT FIVE AND DIE (1957) B&W. World War 2 cloak-and-dagger set in London as American espionage officer Jeffrey Hunter collaborates with the British intelligence to fool the Third Reich into expecting an invasion to occur in a location (Holland) than otherwise planned (Normandy). One of the female operatives (Annemarie Duringer) working with them as a decoder is a Nazi plant, to whom the American is attracted. Title refers to instructions for ingesting cynade pills to evade interrogation.

THE CHASE (1946) B&W. Psychological melodrama with Robert ((Love That Bob) Cummings penniless on the street, just discharged from the Navy. He finds a lost wallet and returns it to owner Steve Cochran living large as a mobster in Miami, with henchman/servant Peter Lorre and James Westerfield. He's offered a job as chauffer driving a car that can be controlled from the back seat with accelerator and speedometer on the floor (?) Michele Morgan is the unhappy moll that wants to get away to Havana with the hapless chauffer. About three fourths of the way through the movie the plot gets super convoluted and you realize from the kaleidoscope of scenes that the protagonist experiences hallucinations. Quirky.


David Deal enjoyed:

THE OUTCAST (54) - John Derek returns home to take back the ranch that is rightfully his from his bad news uncle, Jim Davis.  Expert director William Whitney's western is surprisingly fun and features Joan Evans, Slim Pickens (in a standout role), and Bob Steele as a bad guy.  Recommended.

PASSION (54) - Cornel Wilde goes revengin' for the slaughter of his family.  Alan Dwan's top-notch high country western was shot by John "The Big Combo" Alton and features Yvonne De Carlo as twins!.  The deep cast includes Raymond Burr and Lon Chaney Jr.

RAZZIA SUR LA CHNOUF (55) - After spending time in America to pick up some of our criminal subtleties, drug racket tough guy Jean Gabin returns to Paris to shore up the French organization.  Gabin is teamed up with Lino Ventura again (after Touchez Pas au Grisbi) for a crime film with some exotic overtones as they probe the opium underworld.  Looks great and has a terrific jazz score.

WINNETOU I (63) - Pierre Brice and Lex Barker team up to defeat Mario Adorf's unethical villain who aims to take over Native American land for the railroad.  Harald Reinl helms this colorful, action-filled Karl May western that features a small role for Walter Barnes and one righteous comeuppance for Adorf.

THE PHANTOM SPEAKS (45) - Tom Powers, executed for killing his wife's lover, vows to return from the grave.  He enters the body of physician Stanley Ridges and continues his murder spree while Richard Arlen investigates.  Strange supernatural horror worth checking out.

Mildly enjoyed:

MY BLOOD RUNS COLD (65) - Wealthy Joey Heatherton meets up with strange Troy Donahue who thinks she's her reincarnated great-grandmother and he is the grandmother's reincarnated lover.  A modern Gothic that puts ingenue Joey in a peril that director William Conrad cannot make compelling.

NO MAN'S WOMAN (55) - Greedy, scheming Marie Windsor is murdered and the police have five suspects.  A not bad mystery that estranged husband (and suspect) John Archer solves.  Features Patrick Knowles (The Wolf Man).

MY GUN IS QUICK (57) - Mike Hammer shows his softer side by beating up a pimp and when his whore is found murdered, Mike tracks down her killers and busts the jewel smuggling racket that involved her.  No frills Mickey Spillane adaptation finds the right attitude and was shot on the streets of LA for grittiness, but isn't an undiscovered classic.

THE SPIDER (58) - AKA Earth vs the Spider.  Professor Ed Kemmer (Space Patrol) teams up with cops and kids to kill a mutant spider.  Bert I Gordon's giant bug movie is a cookie-cutter affair with no cast hook or special effects finesse to make it special.


Bertrand Van Wonterghem enjoyed:

12 Meter ohne Kopf (2009, Sven Taddicken)

Dead still – season 1 –  episode « daguerreotype » (2019, Imogen Murphy)

Doom patrol – season 2 – episode  « Tyme patrol » (2019, Harry Jierjian)

Him-ssen yeao-ya Do Bong-soon / Strong girl Bong-soon – season 1 – episode 1

The invisible man (2019, Leigh Whannell)

DC’s legends of tomorrow – season 4 – episodes « Hell no, Dolly » (2018, April Mullen) & « Legends of To-Meow-Meow » (2018, Ben Hernandez Bray)

Preacher – season 4 – episodes « Masada » (2019, John Grillo) & « Last supper » (2019, John Grillo)

Umbrella academy – season 2 episode « Right back where we started » (2019, Sylvain White)

Will Penny (1967, Tom Gries)

Mildly enjoyed:

Future man - season 2 - episodes 11, 12 & 13

Gotham - season 5 – episode 2

Bluebeard « 1972, Edward Dmytryk)

Verbrande brug (1975, Guido Henderickx)

Riders of vengeance (1952, Lesley Selander)

Nieve negra (2016, Martin Hodara)

Brussels by night (1983, Marc Didden)

Did not enjoy

Boule et Bill 2 (2016, Pascal Bourdiaux)


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