Friday, September 11, 2020

September 12 - 18, 2020


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

In the English version of which Italian Western does the villain complain that the stupid gringos "change the names of everything"?
No one has answered this one yet.

Which British actress who became a star in Italian movies reportedly attempted suicide because of a failed affair with a Papal Prince?
George Grimes and Charles Gilbert knew that it was Belinda Lee.

Why was Franco Nero not available to be in VIVA DJANGO?
George Grimes knew that it was because he went to the U.S. to make CAMELOT.

On whose couch did Albert Band stay when he first arrived in Rome?
No one answered this question yet.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which star of Italian Westerns was born in Bogota, Colombia in 1943?
Which actor who appeared in both Italian Westerns and sword and sandal flicks was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1923?
Which actor who appeared in both Italian and Spanish Westerns as well as a Mexican Santo flick was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1922?

Name the movies from which these images came.

George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's frame grab of Lou Castel in REQUIESCANT, aka KILL AND PRAY.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes identified last week's photo of Luciana Gilli in IL CONQUISTATORE DI ATLANTIDE, aka THE CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

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

George Grimes identified last week's photo of Shintaro Katsu and Masayo Banri in ZATOICHI MONOGATARI, aka  THE TALE OF ZATOICHI.
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:


A&E Biography "I Want My MTV" (2020) - Is A&E bringing back Biography? That would be terrific.

DOWN A DARK HALL (2018) - I was impressed by AnnaSophia Robb back in 2004 when I saw her in Samantha: An American Girl Holiday and in 2007's BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, so I picked up DOWN A DARK HALL from the library. I would have grabbed it more quickly if I knew that Jodhi May was also in it, but Jodhi's role is rather small. Another Spanish based supernatural thriller, this film was directed by Rodrigo Cortes but based on the American novel by Lois Duncan - which had be optioned for the screen by Stephenie Meyer, the author of TWILIGHT. Why have five teenage girls with behavioral problems been selected to attended the Blackwood Boarding School, run by Uma Thurman? Why do these five girls suddenly begin to show signs of genius? This film has all of the elements of the usual "haunted house" movie, but it moves well and no one does the obviously stupid thing.

ON ANY SUNDAY (1971) - Seeing Steve McQueen riding a motorcycle in THE GREAT ESCAPE, director Bruce Brown, of ENDLESS SUMMER acclaim, took up motorcycle riding. Eventually, he befriended McQueen and the two thought a documentary on motorcycle racing should be made. This is a splendid documentary showing the variety of events and personalities that use motorcycles and communicates the joy of riding. Even better, on the Pacific Arts "Director's Cut" laser disc, is the touching tribute to Steve McQueen that Brown made after the star's passing. Dominic Frontiere wrote the music which goes through a wide variety of styles in the movie, and only once hints at his theme to HANG 'EM HIGH.

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR (2018) - I wasn't a fan of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, but this documentary gave me alot of respect for the man.

Mildly enjoyed:

DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (1965) - I remember when I saw this at the age of nine in a movie theater and I found it scary. I don't find it scary anymore, but have a nostalgic feeling toward it. It is curious that American International Pictures gave Suzan Farmer an "Introducing" credit since she had already co-starred in two Hammer Films and a movie starring Cliff Robertson. Director Daniel Haller had been the art director on most of the Roger Corman directed movies based on Edgar Allan Poe stories, and many feel that this film may have used the H.P. Lovecraft story as a jumping off point, but that the film was a continuation of the Poe film genre. 

JUST GETTING STARTED (2017) - Ron Shelton's big hit was his directoral debut BULL DURHAM, which was about a romantic triangle. There's a bit of that in this flick, with Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones vying for Rene Russo's attention. Instead of a baseball mileu, this film is set in a Palm Springs retirement community, to which Freeman, who is in the Federal Witness Protection Program, has become a manager. A TV clip shows Freeman at the community, so Jane Seymour, the wife of a Mafia boss doing time in prison, puts out an order for Freeman's death. When Jones shows up, the audience wonders if he's the killer. When Russo shows up, suspicion falls on her, too. But the crime stuff gets shoved into the background as the romantic competition heats up. The film feels like it spent more than the usual time in editing, having an uneven flow and with a number of plot threads dangling. The film delivers a few laughs and is pleasant viewing, particularly if you enjoy seeing old faces again: including Glenne Headly (who died before the film came out and to whom the movie is dedicated), Sheryl Lee Ralph, Elizabeth Ashley, Joe Pantoliano, George Wallace and Johnny Mathis. Though set in Palm Springs, the movie was shot in Utah.

KNIVES OUT (2019) - I don't much like who-dun-its, but writer/director Rian Johnson laced this one with enough humor to keep me going. He assembled a terrific cast with Daniel Craig and Ana De Armas being lot of fun. And it is always nice to see Riki Lindhome. 

Uncnsrd: Larenz Tate (2020)

A POEM IS A NAKED PERSON (2015) - Documentarian Les Blank hung out with Leon Russell from 1972 to 1974, put this movie together and then spent 40 years trying to overcome creative differences and music clearance issues. He died in 2013, but his son, Harrod, soldiered on until the film could be released two years after his death. Leon Russell died the next year in 2016. Like most of Blank's films, this is filled with what some might see as distractions, but Blank was never interested in films that focused only on one subject. So you get a discussion how everyone should write and paint on the walls of their homes, part of song done by Willie Nelson, part of a song by George Jones, various fairs and a marching band. 

Did not enjoy:

10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983) - It is hard to believe that at the beginning of his career, director J. Lee Thompson was considered one of the "bright lights" of the British Cinema. Both he and director Michael Winner ended their careers directing pot boilers starring Charles Bronson. This installment of the Bronson cannon is one of the worst. Gene Davis - who gets some credit for not being afraid to spend alot of the movie running around completely naked - is a serial killer of young women. Charles Bronson is the detective who knows Davis is guilty, but can't prove it, so he sneaks into the villain's apartment and plants a victim's blood on the man's clothes. Andrew Stevens is Bronson's partner who discovers Bronson's wrong-doing which gets the Davis arrest thrown out. Eventually, Davis tries to throw Bronson off his trail by hiring a prostitute and checking into an hotel. Meanwhile, Davis sneaks out the window to kill Bronson's daughter Lisa Elbacher. Bronson discovers the ruse, but telephones too late to prevent Elbacher's roommate Kelly Palzis (soon to become Kelly Preston) from opening the door. Elbacher hides in the kitchen and does nothing to prevent Davis from killing her three roommates; Palzis, Ola Ray (who appeared in Michael Jackson's Thriller video and is seen topless in a shower here) and Cosie Costa. After running around the apartment a few times, Elbacher runs out of the building and onto the street with Davis in pursuit. Bronson finally arrives and holds Davis at gunpoint. As the rest of the police force arrive, Davis taunts Bronson by saying that since he's crazy, he'll eventually get out and the world will hear from him again. (Obviously, he thinks he's Fu Manchu.) "No, we won't," replies Bronson before shooting Davis in the head. The camera cranes up and pulls back inorder to not show Bronson being arrested for murder. Gene Davis garnered attention by playing a male prostitute in CRUISING, but 10 TO MIDNIGHT did not lead to alot of work. As a resident of Hollywood in the early 1980s, it is fun to see so many places that aren't there anymore like The Wonderful World of Video, The Cave Theater and Howard Johnsons on Hollywood Blvd. It is also nice to see the Los Angeles County Court House play the Los Angeles County Court House whereas most films use City Hall as a substitute.

DAMSEL (2017) - Have you ever seen a Western that starts off with two men sitting on a bench in the middle of the desert waiting for a stagecoach to arrive? Robert Forster is one of the men, who gets tired of waiting, strips off to his long johns and heads out into the wilderness crying that he's going to his Lord. For the opening credits, we see Robert Pattinson having a wonderful time at a dance with Mia Wasikowska. Then we see Pattinson rowing a boat ashore with a small crate on it. On the beach, Pattison opens the crate and out comes a miniature pony. Wearing a shoulder holster for his pistol and knife, a guitar and a rifle plus a suitcase, Pattison leads the pony into a nearby town looking for the Parson who is to meet him there. After finding David Zellner drunk in a sand dune, Pattison outfits them for a trip into the countryside to find his bride. As they leave the town, the two pass a man wearing only a water barrel being hung from the gallows. After about 30 minutes, Pattison is washing a piece of cloth in a river when he sees Nathan Zellner cutting the head off a fish on the other side. They shoot at each other, miss, and then there is a chase which ends when Nathan Zellner runs off a cliff. Hearing the gunshots, David Zellner wants an explanation, so Pattison reports that they are on their way to rescue Mia Wasikowska from the clutches of Gabe Casdorph. Finding Casdorph's cabin, Pattison gives David Zellner his rifle, while he sneaks around with his pistol. Nervous and shaking, Zellner sees Casdorph urinating into a wood pile and accidentally fires the rifle. Have you ever seen a Western inwhich a man has his head blown open, falls to the ground, and lies there bleeding and pissing in the same shot? Soon, a rifle barrel pokes out of the cabin trying to shoot the attackers. Pattison shoots the rifle barrel and then pulls the shooter outside. It is Wasikowska, and she wasn't a damsel in distress. She loved the man she was with and was hoping to have a child with him. Rejected, Pattison goes into the outhouse and kills himself. Have you ever seen a Western inwhich a woman forces a Parson to dig a grave while holding a rifle with a bent barrel on him? After burying her man, Wasikowska dynamites their cabin, puts a dynamite necklace on the Parson and begins a journey  back to town. Along the way, the duo come upon Nathan Zellner, who didn't die in the fall from the cliff. Suffering from a head injury, he is undecided as whether to blame Wasikowska for his brother's death. An Indian arrow hits him in the back which leads to his falling on the discarded dynamite necklace and blowing up. Wasikowska asks the Indian, Joseph Billingiere, why he did that and the Indian says because she was in danger. In the night, the Parson asks the Indian to take him away and teach him the ancient Indian ways. The Indian asks, "What is wrong with you?" In the morning, Wasikowska awakens the Parson to say that the Indian stole the Parson's horse and her mule in the night. When they reach the town, Wasikowska decides to part ways with the Parson and leave him the pony. Finding Pattison's wedding ring in his pocket, the Parson proposes to Wasikowska, which causes her to dismount her horse, pick up a large rock with which to hit him in the face, and then takes the pony with her as she departs. In town, the Parson has to wait for everyone to finish being frozen for an old time picture taking before he can get a drink. The film ends with Wasikowska on the beach. And then she's in the row boat with the pony heading out to sea. Now just where Pattison came from that he could row a boat to "the West" and just where Wasikowska was going that she could row a boat away from "the West" is an open question. Certainly a unique film, this might have been enjoyable if it wasn't paced like a dirge. This almost seems like a response to a movie like BRIMSTONE in which every woman is in distress due to a violent Parson. Here's the woman is capable of taking care of herself, yet every man is convinced she is in distress. And the Parson is an ineffectual boob suffering from his wife dying in childbirth and looking for a fresh start. Reportedly Pattison and Wasikowska were at one time attached to BRIMSTONE.

THE DOMESTICS (2017) - What's the story behind MGM reactivating the Orion Classics label? Written and directed by Mike P. Nelson, this movie has such a satisfying ending that I almost forgive it for inspiring me to fast-forward through most of it. The ad quote on the DVD case from Dread Central says this is "MAD MAX meets THE PURGE". I've not watched THE PURGE so my reference is that this is like The Walking Dead without zombies. For some unexplained reason, the U.S. government drops a poisonous chemical agent from low flying planes on the entire population of the nation. Those that aren't killed by the chemicals either join murderous gangs, or try to survive on their own - and are referred to as Domestics. In an attempt to save his marriage, Tyler Hoechin agrees to drive his wife, Kate Bosworth, to see her folks in Milwaukee. An alternate title for this movie could be HOW THE APOCALYPSE SAVED MY MARRIAGE. I almost always enjoy seeing Lance Reddick, but prefer not seeing him playing a cannibalistic family man. The film was shot in Louisana.

EVERY SECRET THING (2014) - You can't accuse this production of not pulling together some very impressive women to work on it. From co-producer Frances McDormand, to director Amy J. Berg (best known for documentary films), to screenwriter Nicole Holofcener, to actors Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks and Dakota Fanning, there is alot of proven talent here. Why they thought this award-winning novel by Laura Lippman would make a satisfying movie is the mystery. Aside from portraying how awful young girls can be to each other, and how misguided mothers can lead to broken young women, this movie seems pointlessly gloomy. This is a story about a police investigation in which the guilty party isn't brought to justice and an injured innocent party isn't found innocent in the end. Plus the storytelling is plodding.

Frontier Days (1945) - Back when she was still a brunette, Dorothy Malone appeared in this Warner Bros. 17 minute short film filled with lies about the old West, especially about the massacre of the buffalo. Using footage from DODGE CITY, producer/director Jack School fashioned this story of Indian agent Robert Shayne putting away the Stacy gang for illegally killing buffalo. When he finds out that Stacy and his men were released from jail and probably murdered the sheriff of the town called Civilization, he accepts the new job of lawman. However, the sheriff's daughter, Malone, won't turn over the office until her father's murderers are brought to justice. 

GLASS (2019) - So you think that putting video on the internet will defeat the secret organization bent on keeping secret that some people have super powers?

ROMA. L'ANTICA CHIAVE DEI SENSI, aka LES ORGIES DE CALIGULA, aka ORGIES OF CALIGULA, aka CALIGULA'S SLAVES (1984) Because of one pre-release bit of publicity, most internet sites, including the IMDb, report that Aldo Sambrell is in this movie. He is not. The film credits "Un film de Frank Kramer" but "realisation Laurence Webber". Reportedly Webber is actually Lorernzo Onorati, who made a lot of softcore skin flicks. I hope they are more coherent than this mess. Written by Dan Kelly and John F. Littlewords, this film features storytelling so befuddled that I find it hard to believe an actual screenplay was followed. Reportedly Littlewords is actually Frank Kramer, who is actually Gianfranco Parolini, who directed a number of the old 1960s sword and sandal flicks from which footage was taken to give the impression that this film had a budget. I recognized bits from 79 A.D. which reused bits from THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII. Considering that this was an attempt to cash-in on director Tinto Brass' CALIGULA, it is remarkably tame. Much tamer than director David HIlls' THE EMPEROR CALIGULA THE UNTOLD STORY. Here Caligula bounces back and forth from being a wild eye sadist to a simpering boy wanting his mother. Sandra Venturini gets a job as a female "aphrodisiac herbs, honey and ass'es milk" wrestler to get the emperor's attention with the idea that she will kill him in revenge for something his father did. But, when she gets the chance, she falls in love with him because he's calling for his mother in his sleep. Caligula's big hang-up is that he saw his brother perform cunnilingus on a woman he fancied. At the end of the film, Caligula goes down on Venturini, while she's standing up, and her orgasm ends the film. That's right. Caligula isn't even assassinated in this version of the story. 

SWEETIE (1989) - Australian director Jane Campion started her feature film career with this story about Karen Colston who seeks out the advice of a tea leaf reader. The reader tells her that she will meet an important man with a question mark on his face. At work, Colston is introduced to Tom Lycos, whose engagement to one of Colston's co-workers has just been announced. A spit curl on Lycos' forehead comes down towards a mole and forms a question mark, so Colston quickly seduces him away from his betrothed. To celebrate moving in together, Lycos pulls out the backyard clothesline inorder to plant a tree. Colston is afraid of trees because she grew up with a little sister who was pampered by her father with a treehouse which Colston was not allowed to enter. In the middle of the night, Colston pulls up the new tree and hides it in her closet. This begins a period of estrangement between Colston and Lycos, which is made even worse when they find that Colston's sister, Genevieve Lemon, has broken into their house with Michael Lake, who is supposed to be a producer able to launch Lemon's performing career. Lemon and Lake won't move out, and things get worse when Colston's mother, Dorothy Barry, leaves Colston's father, Jon Darling, and the father moves in to be close to Lemon. The problem with Lake is solved when Darling takes him to dinner and he dies of an overdose. Colston gets a call from Barry inviting her to visit her in the Jackaroo camp where she's found work as a cook. Tricking Lemon out of the car, the trio leave to visit with Barry. Barry agrees to come back to Darling if they can something about Lemon. Returning to Colston's house, they find that Lemon has pretty much destroyed everything, and as Lyco is helping to clean up, he finds the tree that Colston pulled out and hid. Lycos, feeling betrayed, leaves Colston. Barry and Darling take Lemon back to their house where the disturbed woman quickly retreats to her treehouse. In an effort to get Lemon down, Colston brings over her neighbor's son, with whom Lemon was a playmate. Jumping up and down in defiance, Lemon brings the treehouse crashing down, which kills her. After the funeral, Lycos returns to Colston and Darling deals with the death of his daughter by remembering her as a child singing "With Every Beat of Your Heart". Well, this is certainly a singular film, and since it was directed by a woman it became rather celebrated. Once again I realized that Australian humor is different from my own. Karen Colston is very appealing in her role, and would work for Campion again on THE PIANO.

UNKNOWN PLEASURES (2002) - Chinese director Jia Zhangke made his third feature film independent from government control with backing from Japan's Office Kitano and T-Mark, China's Hu Tong Communications, France's Lumen Films and South Korea's E-Pictures. A portrait of three young adults in modern day China, these listless people make Buster Keaton look like Jerry Lewis. And you thought Michelangelo Antonioni made boring movies about disaffected people.

WE DIE YOUNG (2019) - In this film Jean-Claude Van Damme makes an effort to become a character actor, playing a veteran who was badly injured in Afghanistan so that he can't talk - which solves the problem of the actor's accent. He's addicted to Oxycontin which he buys from young Elijah Rodriguez, who works for the MS-13 gang operating in the barrio of Washington D.C. Rodriguez narrates the beginning of the film and it's his story. His older brother was a "green card soldier" for the U.S. Army, but was killed in Iraq before getting citizenship. Rodriguez and his younger brother, Nicholas Sean Johnny, were taken under the wing of MS-13 boss David Castaneda, but Rodriguez wants Johnny to go to baseball camp and not join the gang. Castaneda's second in command, Charlie MacGechan, is jealous of his boss' affection for Rodriguez and tries to kill him. When that fails, he accuses Rodriguez of stealing drugs and money. Van Damme steps in to save the two boys. In the usual Van Damme film, the star would be an extraordinary fighter who could take out villains with ease. Here, he is a physical wreck who barely can keep himself alive. Co-writer and director Lior Geller, who started his career in Israeli TV, shoots most of the movie with "shakey cam" and then edits with spastic energy so alot of the action is hard to comprehend. Then it is intercut with flashbacks which often include black frames making the viewing experience rather painful. Reportedly shot mostly in Bulgaria, this movie has a music track credited by Erez Koskas which sounds like really irritating Spanish Hip-Hop.

Women Make Film (2018) Chapers 4, 5, 6


Charles Gilbert watched:

NEVADA SMITH (1966) Odyssey of half-breed Max Sands (Steve McQueen) on the pursuit of three killers (Martin Landau, Arthur Kennedy, and Karl Malden) of his parents in the old west. Suzanne Pleshette is second-billed but gets but a fraction of screen time.

DIRTY DOZEN (1967)  First time viewing the entirety. I especially like the clash between Lee Marvin and Robert Ryan. The Savalas character could have been developed further. THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE is a bit more interesting to me. Several big named stars are upstaged byJohn Cassavettes.

HOUR OF THE GUN (1967) Ten years after his signature western with Burt Lancaster in the role of Wyatt Earp, director John Sturges presents a sequel with James Garner as the lawman. Bullets flying everywhere, not a moment's rest for the side that won the street shootout finale of the original. Here Clanton's (Robert Ryan) gang snipe Wyatt's brothers Virgil and Morgan, leaving one dead and the other paralyzed. So Wyatt follows him into Mexico purposing revenge. Musical score by Jerry Goldsmith is even better.


David Deal enjoyed:

IN FABRIC (18) - A haunted dress sold by a mysterious and popular store dooms those who wear it.  Another stylish and confounding work by Peter Strickland, whose Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy share the same meticulous and unknowable traits.





WINNETOU II (64) - Oil baron Anthony Steel would prefer it if the peace between the local tribes and the white folk failed.  Pierre Brice and Lex Barker work to keep it.  Another wide-open, colorful Karl May western featuring Karin Dor, Klaus Kinski (he's Steel's right-hand bad guy), and Terence Hill. 

MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (33) - The Blu-ray looks great.

Mildly enjoyed:



Bertrand Van Wonterghem enjoyed:

Teoneol / Tunnel – season 1 – episodes 14 to 16

Ted Lasso – season 1 – episodes 2 to 4

Eobiseu / Abyss – season 1 – episodes 2 to 4

The tick – season 2 – episodes 2 to 6

Chomyeon-e Saranghamnida / The secret life of my secretary – season 1 – episode 1

Free fire (2016, Ben Wheatley)

Get the girl (2015, Eric England)

Going in style (2016, Zach Braff)

Goldstone (2016, Ivan Sen)

DC’s legends of tomorrow – season 4 – episodes « Séance and sensibility » (2018, Alexandra La Roche)

Did not enjoy:

Herrin des Welt (1960,Wilhelm Dieterle)


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