Friday, September 25, 2020

Week of September 26 - October 2, 2020


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

On whose couch did Albert Band stay when he first arrived in Rome?
Richard Harrison.

Which American star of Italian Westerns said that he was up for a role in DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, but couldn't accept it because of a contract with Warner Bros.?
No one has answered this one yet.

Which American star of Italian Westerns was part owner of a bar that catered to Americans in Rome?
No one has answered this one yet.

Which American star of Italian Westerns became an acting coach in Los Angeles in the late 1970s?
No one has answered this one yet.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which American actor who played Hercules also played a Sioux Chief?
Which Spanish actor, who made Westerns, retired to become a painter?
Which American actor who made Italian Westerns remembers getting along with Klaus Kinski both on and off the set?

Name the movies from which these images came.

George Grimes, Rick Garibaldi and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's frame grab of Klaus Kinski in E DIO DISSE A CAINO, aka AND GOD SAID TO CAIN.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand Van Wonterghem and George Grimes identified last week's photo of Lang Jeffries and Cristina Gaioni in L'INCENDIO DI ROMA, aka FIRE OVER ROME.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand Van Wonterghem and George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Mickey Rooney in L'ARCIDIAVOLO, aka THE DEVIL IN LOVE.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand Van Wonterghem and George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Bob Hoskins and Jet Li in UNLEASHED, aka DANNY THE DOG.
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:


DAMSELS IN DISTRESS (2011) - I've not before seen a film written and directed by Whit Stillman. Are the other four as uniquely witty and quirky as this? Greta Gerwig, Analeigh Tipton, Carrie MacLemore, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Caitlin FitzGerald and Aubrey Plaza are all quite charming in this odd comedy about college life.

Men In Trees #1 "Pilot" (2006) - I really liked this show and I wish I kept more episodes. Anne Heche, Emily Bergl, Suleka Mathew, Sarah Strange and Cynthia Stevenson are a pleasure to watch. 

Mildly enjoyed:

THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987) - Even though Timothy Dalton is still more Action Man than Spy, it is so refreshing to have James Bond become more human in this installment, even in comparison with the more recent "spy" movies. And Maryam d'Abo is gorgeous, though turning her into Action Woman toward the end is silly. In fact, if this movie had ended around the 90 minute mark, I would rate it higher. The entire Afghanistan story just seems a means to stretch the film out to over two hours.

LICENCE TO KILL (1989) - One of the surprises of rewatching THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS is how well it handled the romance between Dalton and d'Abo. That is not the case with LICENCE TO KILL. Carey Lowell is gorgeous and has a better excuse for being an Action Woman, but all of her assertive bits and her jealous bits come off as stupid. Even though the premise of the movie is that Dalton's personal feelings have overridden his professional intelligence, he is less human than in DAYLIGHTS and is almost completely Action Man. I had forgotten that Benicio del Toro was a good-looking young man. Seeing David Hedison back in the role of Felix Leiter is a surprise. While Hedison played the character in 1973's LIVE AND LET DIE, John Terry has just played the part in DAYLIGHTS. Why bring Hedison back? It isn't much of a role, but seeing Claudio Brook in a Bond movie is a positive.

THE CAVE OF THE YELLOW DOG (2005) - This could also be called A MONGOLIAN GIRL AND HER DOG. Returning to her nomadic family after a semester in the city at school, Nansal Batchuluuny is sent by her mother to collect dung to be used in curing meat. While collecting in the countryside, she hears a noise from a cave and finds a dog inside. She wants to keep the dog, but her father fears that the dog may have been living with wolves which would make the animal a danger to their sheep herd. As the father motorcycles to the city to sell the skins of two sheep killed by wolves, Nansal keeps the dog, who is also beloved by her younger sister and brother. While she is supposed to be taking care of the sheep on horseback, Nansal and the dog get caught in the rain and are given shelter by an older woman. The older woman tells the story of The Cave of the Yellow Dog, which is charming but not relevant to the film's story. When the father returns, it is time for the family to pack their Yurt onto carts pulled by cattle and move. The father ties the dog to a stake and Nansal sadly watches as they leave him. On the road, the mother notices that the baby boy is missing. The father gallops off to backtrack and find him. The boy has made his way back to the dog, but is distracted by a flock of vultures feasting on a dead sheep. Before the vultures can attack the boy, the dog pulls up the stake and chases the birds away. When the father arrives, he is so grateful to the dog, that he allows Nansai to keep him. Director Byambasuren Davaa is a Mongolian woman who moved to Germany to study filmmaking and began her career there. YELLOW DOG is the third of four feature films she has made that are Mongolian/German coproductions. Cinematographer Daniel Schoenauer beautifully captures the landscape in which the Batchuluuny family live, and seemingly effortlessly gets wonderful close-ups of the family who are completely natural in front of the camera. Considering the gentleness of the material, it is not surprising that the film has a leisurely pace. 

COME AND SEE (1985) - With all of the films and TV mini-series about the Nazi efforts to exterminate the Jews, Soviet filmmakers must have felt that it was time to remind everyone about the Nazi efforts to exterminate the Slavs of Belorussia. Based on the 1978 book I AM FROM THE FIERY VILLAGE by Ales Adamovich, Janka Bryl and Vladimir Kolesnik, director Elem Klimov's film tells of a teenage boy, played by Aleksei Kravchenko, eager to join the partisans to fight the Nazis. When the partisan camp is destroyed, he takes fellow survivor, Olga Mironova, to his home town, expecting to find shelter with his mother and younger twin sisters. Does he go crazy and refuse to acknowledge that his family has been murdered along with his whole village, or does he really believe that he will find them alive on an island in the middle of a bog? Those who have found refuge on the island, get him to understand, and he eventually sets off with three men to get food for the refugees. The three men fail in their efforts and die, while Kravchenko is taken in by a farmer. Unfortunately, that farmer's village is set upon by the Nazis. By humiliating himself, Kravchenko survives the massacre. Later, he wanders into the aftermath of a battle where in the partisans have taken revenge for the massacre. He also finds Mironova, who seems to have become deranged due to unspecified horrors which cause her to wander about covered in blood. (Interestingly, the fellow who wrote up this film for Wikipedia didn't identify this woman as Mironova, but as the woman from the last village pulled into a Nazi troop transport to be raped.) At the beginning of the film, Kravchenko was digging into an old battlefield to find a rifle because the partisans wouldn't let him join them without a weapon. He had been carrying the weapon throughout the 2 hour plus running time of the film without ever shooting it. In the end, he finds a portrait of Adolph Hitler with the legend "Hitler is the Liberator" and begins to shoot it. Before each shot, we are shown newsreel footage of World War 2 playing in reverse - starting at the end of the war and going back to a portrait of Hitler as a baby with his mother. Finally, Kravchenko slings his rifle over his shoulder and is absorbed into the partisan army marching in the forest. "628 Belorussian villages were destroyed, along with all their inhabitants." This final editorial flourish with newsreel footage played backwards is irritating because I was more interested in whether Kravchenko, or anyone else, was attempting to take care of Mironova, but she disappears from the film right after our hero sees her in such a bad state. Klimov treats this material as in an Art film, and not a War film, with abrupt scene changes and long takes which requires the audience to figure out what is happening. This is a perfectly viable decision, but does keep the viewer at an objective distance from our hero, except for a few POV shots. Suspense is continuous throughout the film by having a musical tone (rhythmically amorphous) always on the soundtrack.

Uncnsrd. "Tyrese Gibson" (2020)

Uncnsrd. "Eve" (2020)

Van der Valk "Love In Amsterdam" (2020) - This is the first episode of a reboot of a series which originally aired on the British network ITV beginning in 1972. The series is based on novels written by British novelist Nicolas Freeling who lived in France. After 11 books featuring Amsterdam detective Van der Valk, the author killed off his hero and replaced him with our hero's widow for two books. Then he created a French detective named Henri Castang for 16 books, but has those books have yet to be made into a TV series. I may always think of actor Marc Warren as the guy who played Mr. Teatime in the 2006 TV movie HOGFATHER, but he is quite good here. Maimie McCoy is very appealing and I hope to see more of her. Stephanie Leonidas is also very appealing, and I am struck by the knowledge that I've seen her in previous shows, but she didn't stick out until this one. Colin Teague directed this episode.

WOMEN WHO LOVED CINEMA (2002) - Rather than a straight-forward documentary about the female pioneers in Egyptian Cinema, this movie starts off with Nadia Wassef chatting with three other women about how it is still almost impossible to get into the business. Alot of screen time is taken up with Wassef wandering about Egypt trying to find people and places to talk about the important female filmmakers of the past. I would have preferred a standard documentary about Aziza Amir, Fatma Roushdi and Behidja Hafez complete with a narrator.

Did not enjoy:

ANOTHER MAN'S POISON (1951) - Producers Daniel M. Angel and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., decided to make a film version of the play DEADLOCK by Leslie Sands. Val Guest wrote the screenplay and originally Barbara Stanwyck was to star. Stanwyck pulled out of the project after it was discovered that her husband, Robert Taylor, had been unfaithful to her while making QUO VADIS. The producers then went to Gloria Swanson, but she opted to do TWENTIETH CENTURY on Broadway instead. Even though Leo Genn had been cast as the male lead, when the producers discovered that they could get Bette Davis and her husband Gary Merrill, Genn was out. During production, Davis became disenchanted with the script and turned to co-star Emlyn Williams, who had written the play THE CORN IS GREEN, to help her with uncredited rewrites. Anyway, the film turned out to be a rather mediocre thriller, though Barbara Murray is very attractive. I am always surprised to see Philip Martell credited as the musical director on films not from Hammer, but he had over ten years of credits before he began working for Hammer.

BEAUTY SHOP (2005) - I know that I am not the intended audience for this film, but I thought I'd give it a look. After an argument with snotty beauty shop owner Kevin Bacon, Queen Latifah, reprising her role from BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS (2004), quits and ends up starting her own shop in her neighborhood. Promising white beautician Alicia Silverstone follows her to the new shop and has difficulty understanding why some of the black women don't want to work with her. Electrician Djimon Hounsou tells Latifah that she needs many thousands of dollars to fix the problems in her shop, and inspector Jim Holmes shows up to lay a fine on her. Neighborhood wannabe star Lil' JJ videotapes Bacon paying off Holmes which solves that plot. Latifah's daughter, Paige Hurd, has lost her interest in playing the piano after her father died, so Latifah's new romance with Hounsou solves that plot. Silverstone allows the black hairdressers to give her a make-over, which solves that plot. When a desperate woman comes in to get an emergency hair fix, she turns out to be local radio talk-show personality Adele Givens, and the film ends with everyone celebrating the new fame which comes with being mentioned on the radio. If you've been wanting to see Alicia Silverstone twerk with Bryce Wilson, this is the movie for you. Director Bille Woodruff got his start with music videos and then made his feature film debut with HONEY (2003) before being hired by Ice Cube and Co. to make this spinoff of the successful BARBERSHOP series. While BEAUTY SHOP did okay money, they did not make a sequel. Also appearing in this film are Andie MacDowell, Alfred Woodard, Mena Suvari, Della Reese, Octavia Spencer, Sherri Shepherd, Sheryl Underwood and Wilmer Valderrama.

A BIGGER SPLASH (2015) - When I started this movie, I didn't know that it was a remake of LA PISCINE, a film directed by Jacques Deray with which I have had a 50 year plus relationship. There are no opening credits, so it wasn't until the end credits that it was confirmed that this was a remake, but all through the running time of A BIGGER SPLASH I kept wondering why director Luca Guadagnino had the desire to remake a film that he said was "legendary iconic". Filmed on the island of Pantelleria, an island between Sicily and Africa, A BIGGER SPLASH is basically the same story but with needless complications added along with flashbacks. Matthias Schoenaerts has the Alain Delon role, Tilda Swinton has the Romy Schneider part, Ralph Fiennes replaces Maurice Ronet and Dakota Johnson has the Jane Birkin role. The characters are not the same as in the original film, but they play their parts in the story identically, though Johnson's character is slyly manipulative while Birkin was dripping with innocence. LA PISCINE, aka THE SWIMMING POOL, was condemned by the Catholic Office of Motion Pictures when it was released in the U.S., and I would guess that A BIGGER SPLASH would probably receive the same classification, though immorality is much more accepted nowadays. LA PISCINE featured a tremendous music score by Michel Legrand with which A BIGGER SPLASH doesn't try to compete. If you've wanted to hear Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into the Fire" over shots of two men having a race in a swimming pool, then this if the movie for you. If you felt that you need to see more shots of Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson naked, this movie maybe for you. Aurore Clement has a small role.

DIAL 1119 (1950) - In 1950, was it customary for bus drivers to have loaded automatic pistols in their sun visors, which they leave unattended? Marshall Thompson is a crazed killer who escapes from lock up to seek out the psychiatrist who ruled him insane and thus saved him from execution. Since it is late at night, Thompson finds the doctor's office closed. He ends up in the only place open at that hour, a bar run by William Conrad. The bar advertises a TV set, which is played by a back screen projection rig. A bulletin appears on the TV alerting people to watch out for Thompson, and the killer shoots Conrad in the back when he tries to dial 1119. Alerted by a witness to the gunshot, police surround the bar and Thompson calls the drug store near where the police are massing to issue his demand - send for the psychiatrist or he'll kill the five men and women hostages in the bar. Director Gerald Mayer tries to inject some stylish camerawork into this B-picture, but the cliched screenplay can not be made better. 

EXPERIMENT PERILOUS (1944) - There is some fun miniature work in this film version of the novel by Margaret Carpenter - particularly a train trip during a stormy night. George Brent seems almost working to take away Buster Keaton's title of "stone face" in his portrayal of a psychiatrist who meets a worried woman on a train who is secretly writing a biography of her brother. When her bag with the biography ends up in Brent's home, he reads it and realizes that not only is her brother, Paul Lukas, insane, but that he is also a muderer. Brent sets out to save Lukas' wife, Hedy Lamarr, and son. Lukas suspects that the boy might not be his own, so he attempts to convince his wife that she is the crazy one. If you don't like movies in which our hero spends alot of time speaking an inner monologue, then avoid this movie. Director Jacques Tourneur brings some visual style to the flick, but the chief pleasure in seeing this movie is staring at Hedy Lamarr.

LOOKING GLASS, aka THE WATCHER, aka DARK SIDE (2018) - After the accidental death of their daughter, Nicholas Cage and Robin Tunney buy a motel in the desert. They begin to suspect that something isn't right when the man who sold them the motel isn't there to hand over the keys. He left them outside the office in an envelope. When Cage discovers a room that is chained and padlocked, he gets bolt cutters and gets in. After poking around, he finds that there is a tunnel in the basement, which leads to a place where a voyeur can watched what goes on in room #10 through a one-way mirror. Deputy Sheriff Mark Blucas starts showing up for free coffee. Eventually, Blucas informs Cage that he's working on a the murder case of a local girl who was killed the night after Cage first came over to see the motel before buying it. Things get complicated when Cage watches Kassia Conway in room #10 tying up and choking another woman during sex. The first time he watches this, he gets horny and goes back to his room and has sex with his wife. He misses that after Conway leaves room #10, a masked person murders Conway's sexual partner. The second time he watches this, he notices that there's someone else in the room watching the couple. Eventually, Cage tracks down the man who sold him the motel, who is then shot dead by a sniper. As Cage races back to the motel, Tunney is tied up and gagged by Blucas, who was the murderer in both the case he was investigating and the new case. Seeing that the light is on in room #10, Cage sneaks back to look through the one-way mirror and sizes up the situation. Jumping through the mirror, Cage wrestles with Blucas, eventually grabbing his gun and killing the villain. The film ends stupidly with Cage and Tunney driving away from the crime scene instead of contacting the police. Tim Hunter looked like a director to watch with 1982's TEX, and 1986's RIVER'S EDGE, but after decades of toiling in TV, he disproves the auteur theory.

THE NIGHT DIGGER, aka THE ROAD BUILDER (1971) - Though based on the novel NEST IN A FALLEN TREE by Joy Cowley, this movie seems almost a remake of NIGHT MUST FALL, but instead of the daughter unmasking the killer for the police, she puts her mother away in a home, gets all of the money out of the bank, and goes off to live with him in a cottage on the coast. I guess when she catches him about to ride off on his motorcycle in the night, which is what he usually does when he seeks out young women to rape and murder, he feels bad about disappointing her and drives off a cliff. Though most of the movie is pretty standard and obvious, that finale is a bit of a head-scratcher. Scripted by Roald Dahl, the film stars his wife Patricia Neal, as a spinsterish woman who has devoted most of her life to caring for her blind mother, played by Pamela Brown. While Brown is nine years older than Neal, Neal actually looks older than Brown even though she is only 45. While this film gives Nicholas Clay an "introducing" credit, he previously appeared in THESE ARE THE DAMNED as Nicolas Clay and quite a bit of TV. Is this the first bed scene for Neal? The title refers to Clay's practice of burying his victims in the night on a roadway being constructed, so that the bodies are covered by cement (or asphalt) in the morning. Alastair Reid, who previously directed BABY LOVE with Linda Hayden, gets some nice atmospheric photography with cinematographer Alex Thomson, but the film's plot is so predictable that it is hard to enjoy it. Bernard Herrmann provided the not memorable music score.

TAMANGO (1958) - Black listed American film director John Berry made this film about a doomed revolt aboard a slave ship in the 1820s as a French/Italian coproduction. While a film about captured Africans fighting back while being transported across the Atlantic may be an interesting subject for a movie, these filmmakers didn't make it. Dorothy Dandridge plays a light skinned slave that Captain Curt Jurgens keeps as a mistress who is finally moved to join the revolt, even though it means certain death. The drama of the story would seem to be how she becomes committed to the cause, but the plodding storytelling fails to make the story involving. At the time of its release, the film was considered controversial because of the interracial relationship between Jurgens and Dandridge. Jean Servais and Roger Hanin play members of Jurgen's crew, while "introducing" Alex Cressan played the title character - the doomed leader of the slave revolt.

XALA (1975) - There is no denying the historic importance of this film - the fourth feature film made by Senegalese author and director Ousmane Sembene, but I found it a drag to sit through. Celebrations erupt in the streets of Dakar as the French government is replaced by an all African chamber of commerce, but the white guy quickly returns giving each member of the committee a briefcase filled with money. Chamber member Thierno Leye celebrates his good fortune by taking a third wife, saying that while French is still the official language of the nation, we must not lose our African customs. His second wife, Younouss Seye, is angry, but the first wife, Seune Samb, councils patience, which is what she learned when Leye took Seye as the second wife. Leye's daughter by his first wife, Miriam Niang, is also pissed because, even at home, her father won't speak the native Wolof language, but instead speaks only in French. On the wedding night, Leye finds that he can't "get it up". Believing that he has been given a Xala curse, Leye spends most of the movie seeking help from holy men, letting his business and family relations suffer in attempting to regain his "manhood". When the government decides to remove him from his cabinet post, he defends himself with a speech about how everyone else in the room is guilty of the misdeeds he has committed. Eventually, he discovers that the curse was placed on him by a beggar he passed every day on the street and didn't recognize as the man he swindled early on in his career. Using a bureaucratic trick, Leye got the man sent to prison. The beggar says that the only way for the curse to be lifted is to let all of the cripples and beggars on the street spit on Leye, which they are doing when the film ends with a freeze frame. Seeing this movie has imparted to me more information about Senegal then I've ever before been given, but the film is slowly paced and uninvolving. Was Evian Water a backer for this film, or was the prominent placement of bottles, with the labels always turned toward the camera for easy identification, meant as a symbol of foreign corruption? 

Women Make Film (2019) 9. Staging, 10. Journey, 11. Discovery


Charles Gilbert watched:

SIX PACK (1982)  A bit of southern picaresque as Texas race car driver Kenny Rogers chases down Diane Lane and her mischevious potty mouth under-age brothers all of whom are orphans and strip cars to survive. He attempts to shed their company, but they prove an asset with mechanical skills prepping his hotrod for the big time Atlanta International Race.

CHARRO! (1969) Elvis Presley doesn't sing, but Hugo Montenegro conducts a pretty good score in thus oater about gang loyalty and a stolen Mexican cannon. Contrived performances.

JUNGLE GIRL (1941) B&W. Republic Pictures serial starring Francis Gifford overdressed for the jungle with leather long sleeves. Her doctor father (Trevor Bardette in dual role) has an evil twin brother of whom she is unaware. Sinister Gerald Mohr flies in with good guy Tom Neal (He wasn't a good guy in real life)  to pilfer diamonds from the resident natives. 


David Deal enjoyed:

THAT MAN FROM RIO (64) - When Francoise Dorleac is kidnapped by Jean Servais because of her knowledge of the location of an ancient statue, her boyfriend, Jean-Paul Belmondo, follows her to Rio to rescue her.  Many adventures occur before the Raiders of the Lost Ark-type ending.  Pleasant enough action-packed comedy thriller with Belmondo performing many, many stunts.  Features Adolfo Celi and lots of time spent in the then-new city of Brasilia.

A TATTERED WEB (71) - Cop Lloyd Bridges accidentally kills his son-in-law's mistress, and thus begins his descent into hell.  Fun TV film noir with a helluva cast: Frank Converse, Murray Hamilton, Broderick Crawford (good performance), Whit Bissell, Ellen Corby, and James "I just do eyes" Hong.


SHADOW OF THE CAT (61) - Andre Morell and the family servants kill his wife for her money but they can't find the will.  The family cat witnessed the murder and drives the conspirators crazy.  Barbara Shelly is the nice relative dropped into the middle of the mayhem.  John Gilling's Gothic tale is rather silly but lots of fun to watch unfold.

Mildly enjoyed:

CODE 7 VICTIM 5 (64)




Bertrand Van Wonterghem enjoyed:

Ted Lasso – season 1 – episode 6 & 7

Eobiseu / Abyss – season 1 – episodes  9 to 11

The avengers –  season 4 - episode « Death at bargain prices » (1965, Charles Crichton)

Hacksaw ridge (2016, Mel Gibson)

Hidden figures (2016, Theodore Melfi)

How to be a latin lover (2017, Ken Marino)

Moonraker (1979, Lewis Gilbert)

Inside Moonraker (2000, John Cork)

DC’s legends of tomorrow – season 4 – episodes « The eggplant, the witch & the wardrobe » (2018, Mairzee Almas )       « Egg MacGuffin » (2018, Christopher Tammaro)

Mildly enjoyed:

The boys – season 2 – episodes 3 to 5

Brutus vs Cesar (2019, Kheiron)

Ratched – season 1 – episode 1

Did not enjoy:

Hypersomnia (2016, Gabriel Grieco)

Inconceivable (2017, Jonathan Baker)


No comments:

Post a Comment