Friday, September 4, 2020

Week of September 5 - 11, 2020


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

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? 
George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was Gustavo Re.

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"?
No one has answered this one yet.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which British actress who became a star in Italian movies reportedly attempted suicide because of a failed affair with a Papal Prince?
Why was Franco Nero not available to be in VIVA DJANGO?
On whose couch did Albert Band stay when he first arrived in Rome?

Name the movies from which these images came.

George Grimes, Rick Garibaldi and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's frame grab of John Phillip Law in DA UOMO A UOMA, aka DEATH RIDES A HORSE.
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?

George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Silvana Mangano in LE STREGHE, aka THE WITCHES.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's frame grab of Ti Chin and Nora Miao in THE WAY OF THE DRAGON.
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:


MIDWAY (2019) - Director Roland Emmerich got this one right with a convincing sense of authenticity. He does play out a moment of suspense reminiscent of PATRIOT but I accepted it in that movie and I accept it here.

Mildly enjoyed:

BIRDS OF PREY AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN (2020) - I'll watch just about anything featuring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Margot Robbie seems to be having alot of fun, but too much of this is too nasty for me to accept the larky tone for which they seem to be going. I know that the villains have to be shown to be bad guys, especially in an R rated flick, but suggesting that they are going to peel a teenage girl's face off while she is still alive spoils whatever fun is supposed to be had. Those who criticized the new CHARLIE'S ANGELS movie for only having one male who isn't a bad guy, probably won't be happy to find that this movie has no male good guys. Okay, the sandwich maker didn't get a chance to betray them.

CAPTIVE STATE (2019) - Co-writer and director Rupert Wyatt says that this film was partly inspired by director Jean-Pierre Melville's L'ARMEE DES OMBRES, but the French Resistance to the Nazis was not what came to my mind while watching it. I was reminded of the TV series V and episodes of the new version of Battlestar Galactica. Aliens from Outer Space have been in control of the Earth for nine years. A resistance group in Chicago is plotting a terrorist attack with the hope of inciting an insurgency. The filmmakers do a good job of not letting you know where the plot is going, but at close to two hours of humorless gloom, the going isn't very enjoyable. 

JUST FRIENDS (2005) - I'll watch Amy Smart in just about anything. Thanks to DEADPOOL, I now enjoy Ryan Reynolds, too. And Anna Faris is fun. The filmmakers pile on Reynolds' frustration and humiliation so long that it becomes annoying, but the cast is charming.

TERMINATOR DARK FATE (2019) - I really enjoy watching Mackenzie Davis in action wearing a muscle shirt. I just wish the movie around her didn't seem so much a rehash of TERMINATOR 2 JUDGEMENT DAY. I also wish that they didn't make Linda Hamilton's character so bitter that she becomes unlikable. 

UNBREAKABLE (2000) - I didn't remember much about this film from a decade or so ago, but it plays pretty well. It just isn't a lot of fun.

SANTO VS. LAS MUJERES VAMPIRO, aka SAMSON VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN (1962) - Did you, like me, turn on late night TV when you were a kid hoping to see an Italian sword and sandal film only to be disappointed by a slow paced black & white Mexican horror movie with a masked wrestler hero? I've only seen the AIP TV English language version made by K. Gordon Murray, and it holds a certain nostalgic quality with its' atmospheric visual elements which seem inspired by director Mario Bava's BLACK SABBATH. I guess it makes sense that the vampire women's male henchmen are all wearing capes since our hero fights wearing his cape, too. Alfonso Corona Blake directed the original film, and whatever faults  can be found with it, it is far more entertaining then any of the later films directed by Rene Cardona.

Did not enjoy:

LAS MUJERES PANTERAS, aka THE PANTHER WOMEN (1967) - Director Rene Cardona had already taken over the Santo series, so why did he want to introduce another masked wrestler named "Angel" in this Wrestling Women flick? And if you've got Wrestling Women, why have them rescued by guys? And why call a magic sword a "Druid Sword" since Druids are not known to combating the forces of evil - particularly a Panther cult? Margarita Ortega is credited for the makeup on this film, so I guess she gets the blame not only for the laughable scary makeup, but for the dreadful beauty makeup which prevents any of the women in this flick from looking attractive. She got better in time for TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA.

IL MERCANTE DI PIETRE, aka THE STONE MERCHANT (2006) - Based on a novel by Corrado Calabro, THE STONE MERCHANT seems intended to be a wake-up call to the West that Radical Islamic Fundamentalism is a real threat. Co-writer, producer and director Renzo Martinelli seems to be a little late with that message, and to cloak it in a laborious two hour long romantic melodrama is a drag. The film starts with Jane March boarding the ferry from Calais to Dover in her car. Her companion is missing, but the camera lets us know that under her car is a bomb. Jordi Molia (a Spanish actor best known for appearing in Bigas Luna films before appearing in American movies like BAD BOYS II and ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE) is an Italian college professor lecturing on Islamic Terrorism after a bombing of the U.S. embassy of Kenya took off both of his legs. With his wife, Jane March, he vacations in Turkey, where they meet F. Murray Abraham and a stone merchant played by Harvey Keitel. Keitel follows Molia and March back to Rome, where he successfully seduces March. Both Abraham and Keitel plan to use March to smuggle the bomb aboard the ferry. Molia knows that something is wrong, but March decides that she will leave her husband for Keitel. Having fallen in love with March, Keitel decides to board the ferry with her, but he is dragged off by other members of the conspiracy so that Abraham alone will be martyred. It turns out that the bomb is dirty with radioactive material contaminating the air in Dover. Keitel prays for forgiveness and is executed by the other members of the conspiracy. The film ends with Molia illustrating his lecture with video of the downing of the World Trade Center. He feels that even with that event, the West still doesn't realize how Islam has been waiting for centuries to try and resume the attempted conquest of the West. Featuring SyFy Channel quality CGI, THE STONE MERCHANT is not compelling cinema. Not surprising Jane March appears naked in bed with Keitel. 

BRIGHTBURN (2019) - Calling this a "superhero horror film" is disgusting. I'll accept a supervillain horror movie, but this is another movie that thinks it is more clever than it really is. Basically it is Superboy turns 12 and instead of Jor-El telling him to become a hero, an unidentified being in his spaceship tells him to "take the world". Pa and Ma Kent try to prevent him from killing more people but fail. So, this is an alien-from-outerspace spin on THE BAD SEED without lightning striking in the end. If you want to subvert the Superman story, I recommend SUPERMAN III.

FAST COMPANY (1953) - This is one of the B pictures that director John Sturges made before his hit in 1955 with BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK. Howard Keel plays an horse trainer who wants to buy Gay Fleet for less than what it's worth, so he orders the jockey, Joaquin Garay, to come in last for every race. Polly Bergen is the owner of Gay Fleet now that her father has died. She leaves behind her career in advertising in New York City to see what can be done about the horse. Keel almost has her convinced to sell him the horse, when other buyers step in and blow Keel's plot. However, the other buyers have their own swindle to pull on Bergen. When fellow horse owner Marjorie Main alerts Bergen to the new schemes, Bergen turns to Keel for help. Unfortunately little Carol Nugent is hospitalized after falling from her horse, and Keel sells Gay Fleet to the very rich Nina Foch, without Bergen's permission, to pay the hospital bills. Main convinces Bergen to bet all of the money she still has on Gay Fleet to win and they brow beat Garay to stop making the horse lose. It turns out that if Garay sings in the horse's ear during the race, it is the fastest one on the track. Keel fears that if Bergen wins her bet, she'll leave to return to New York City, so he threatens Garay to ensure that the horse loses again. The other swindlers order their jockey to perform a dirty trick if it looks like Gay Fleet will win. During the race, Garay worries about what to do, but decides that if Bergen loses her bet, she'll stay with Keel and Garay will have to baby-sit their children. When Keel is ready to attack Garay in the winner's circle, the jockey yells, "I won't baby-sit!" Bergen pays Keel's debt to Foch, who finds a new boyfriend, and convinces Keel that he should marry our heroine. Every female in the movie talks about how handsome Keel is, which I don't see. But I have a low tolerance for "lovable louses".

FILTH (2013) - This could be seen as James McAvoy preparing to make SPLIT, and he won a Best Actor award from the British Independent Film Awards playing the part of an incredibly nasty Detective Sergeant in Edinburgh not taking his medication for bipolar disorder. After establishing the character as despicable, the filmmakers seem to want us to find him funny and a little sympathetic, which they failed to do with me. I'm willing to give anything featuring Imogen Poots a chance but her role here is too small to have much impact. It is odd to consider that this film was partly made with money from the Scotish Government, when you would think that the Scotish Tourist Bureau would want to see it banned. Do the Scots take pride in presenting themselves so badly? Based on a novel by Irvine Welsh, who also wrote TRAINSPOTTING, this film would seem to be courting the success of that film, but failed. This film attracted an impressive cast including Jamie Bell, Eddie Marsan, Jim Broadbent, Joanne Froggatt, Kate Dickie, Iain De Caestecker and Shirley Henderson. One can't help but wonder how they came to cast David Soul as a "punter" who picks up McAvoy walking the street in hooker drag. Director Jon S. Baird would go on to make STAN & OLLIE.

HIGH TIME (1960) - Garson Kanin is credited with this story about a fifty year old businessman deciding to become the first member of his family to go to college. Originally, Gary Cooper was intended to star, but his terminal illness forced a change to Bing Crosby and rewrites. You know you're watching a movie made in 1960 when a widower spends time with an age appropriate teacher, Nicole Maurey, and they act like virgins. Director Blake Edwards livens up the proceedings with all kinds of cute visual gags like annoucing each of the four school years with on-screen graphics. Crosby befriends three fellow freshmen as he begins his college career and they are played by Richard Beymer (after DIARY OF ANN FRANK and before WEST SIDE STORY), Tuesday Weld (around the time she was on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis), Patrick Adiarte (though Filipino he plays an Asian Indian) and Fabian (after HOUND DOG MAN and before NORTH TO ALASKA). Fabian gets to sing the first song in the movie, but later Bing sings "The Second Time Around" which got nominated for an Oscar. Later they both participate in an hayride sing-a-long as well as a Christmas carol. Shot in California, but set in North Carolina, the film features one Asian student and two Black maids. There are no Black males anywhere to be seen. If you ever wanted to see Bing Crosby in a state of undress, you'll get that here. You'll also see him in full Southern Belle drag as part of a college fraternity pledge. It is not until his Senior Year that Bing realizes that maybe he can marry again, which is metaphorically shown by his being hooked up to wires and flying over the graduating class. Even though it is shown to be a wire gag, Bing is only shown with optical visual effects. 

SHADOW (2009) - You know an Italian film is intended for export when not only is it shot in English, but the original title is in English. Quoted as saying that he wanted to make a film in the tradition of Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci and  Dario Argeno, co-writer/director Federico Zampaglione, known mostly as a musician and this being his second movie, came up with something that starts out like DELIVERANCE, then becomes WOLF CREEK, and ends up like JACOB'S LADDER. And I hate JACOB'S LADDER. There is a bit that's right out of TENEBRAE, and it makes even less sense here that it does in that movie. The first assistant director for this film is Roy Bava, aka Fabrizio Bava, the son of Lamberto Bava, who has quite the resume having worked for both grandfather Mario Bava, his father Lamberto and Dario Argento. For the music score, which sounds a bit like Goblin, the director created The Alvarius, which consists of himself, his brother Francesco and Andrea Moscianese. The director credits horror film fans with helping to get his film released, and so gives a special thank you in the end credits to: Alan Jones, Paul McEvoy and all the Fright Fest guys, Colin Geddes, Claudia Gerini, Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Paolo Sorrentino, Matteo Garrone, Tim Peternel, John Schneider, Ruggero Deodato, Xavier Gens, Manlio Gomarasca, Raffaella DeLaurentiis, Luca Cianchetta, Bill Rubinstein, Linda Zampaglione, Rosa Enginoli and My family and all horror fans. There's an odd moment when we see an autographed photo of Leni Riefenstahl in a frame on a desk. Even more odd is when our hero goes down an hallway featuring large portraits of Adolph Hitler, Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush.

Women Make Film 1.1 "Introductions", 1.2 "Openings" and 1.3 "Tone". (2018) - For a collection of clips, this documentary has alot of blah blah blah narration. This reminds me of a screening of METROPOLIS during which the college professor yelled out "Notice the clock" during a close-up of a clock. Nothing in the narration indicates how anything we've seen relates to the question of how women filmmakers differ from men or the history of why women filmmakers aren't more celebrated. This is like a course on how to watch movies using only clips from movies directed by women.


Charles Gilbert watched:

CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1964) Colorful and blustery American impresario (Fred Clark) wants to display a recent archeological dig featuring the mummy Ra-Antef for his travelling show, but meets resistance in the expedition's underwriter (Jack Gwillim) who wants it in a museum. The royal brother to the mummy has survived centuries also but actively among the living. The Shepperton sound stage serves as a poor stand- in for the sands of Egypt.

THE PRESIDENT'S MISTRESS (1978) TV movie with Beau Bridges and Karen Grassle as brother and sister who work in D.C. government, only she in a 'special' capacity. Aides close to POTUS begin to suspect she is an agent for the Kremlin, attempt to bug her apartment, and accidentally kill her. Little brother investigates. Also stars Larry Hagman and Don Porter,  but the President is not portrayed.

JOHNNY O'CLOCK (1947) B&W. Dick Powell not convincing as the quip-proned brains of an illicit casino, working with the muscle Thomas Gomez. Detective Lee J. Cobb rides them when a girl in their employ is murdered. Her sister (Evelyn Keyes) shows up in mourning but eventually falls for the heretofore noncommittal ladies man Johnny. Jeff Chandler has a small role.

WHITE LINE FEVER (1975) Carroll Joe Hummer (Jan-Michael Vincent) is back from Air Force service, steals a kiss from girlfriend Kay Lenz off the plane, and promptly goes out and buys a Ford W9000 cabover with special paint job emblazoned as "The Blue Mule". On his first trucking haul he quickly learns his deceased father's business partner Duane (Slim Pickens) is a shill for big time racketeering. Hummer refuses to haul the contraband shipments of cigarettes and slot machines, and becomes a target for thuggery. At the helm of the illicit operation is corporate captain Don Porter, living in the big mansion, with strong arm L.Q. Jones his front, and corrupt DA R. G. Armstrong on the take. They kill Duane and frame Carroll Joe. But the grand jury is sympathetic to C. J.'s cause, as is the whole town.

KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL (1952) B&W. Florist deliveryman John Payne gets framed for a bank heist because the get away truck looked like his. Half way through the film it's revealed that vindictive ex-cop Preston Foster is the mastermind  His law student daughter (Colleen Gray) does know. Includes three of my favorite  'bad guy' actors Neville Brand, Jack Elam, and Lee Van Cleef.

LAWMAN (1971) Flint-faced, flute-playing Marshal Maddox (Burt Lancaster) arrives in Sabbath to arrest cattlemen led by Lee J. Cobb who are responsible for mayhem and death while revelling in the town of Bannock during a cattle drive. He gets little help from the town's sheriff (Robert Ryan). Albert Salmi, Robert Duvall, John Beck, Ralph Waite, and J. D. Cannon all face his gun.


David Deal enjoyed:

KING COHEN (17) - Documentary on writer/producer/director Larry Cohen.

ASHER (18) - Aging hit man Ron Perlman wants out.  Good looking, by-the-numbers noir with a solid cast and ambiguous ending.  Good performances from Perlman, Richard Dreyfuss, and Famke Jenssen.

THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (61) - Newspaper men Leo McKern and Edward Judd investigate the weird London weather and discover that the US and Russians both exploded nuclear devices at the opposite ends of the globe at the same time.  This shifted the earth's axis and plunged us toward the sun.  Janet Munro is the love interest.  Saw this quite a while back and was impressed.  It is quite good and logical in the British way and I recommend it.

OLD SHATTERHAND (64) - The army and a few bad guys team up to frame the local Apaches for some deadly occurrences, and Lex Barker and Pierre Brice aim to uncover the truth.  Dahlia Lavi is a half-breed who falls for Lex and Rick Battaglia and Guy Madison are on the wrong side.  Thanks, Bill, for making this entertaining Winnetou western available to me.


THE TRAP SNAPS SHUT AT MIDNIGHT (65) - See The Eurospy Guide book for a full review of this creative Jerry Cotton thriller.

Mildly enjoyed:

THE BIG ZAPPER (73) - Linda Marlowe (as Harriet Zapper) is hired to find three siblings, the children of her wealthy client.  She discovers a vicious pimp, his counterfeiting plans, and the brutal murders of many.  This is supposedly based on an adult British comic strip but, regardless, the film is flat-footed, painfully unfunny, and generally mean-spirited.  I have no doubt the comic would be more entertaining.

THE THING THAT COULDN'T DIE (58) - The disembodied head of an evil guy from the past is dug up on a farm and exerts supernatural power on the local yokels.  William Reynolds and water witch Carolyn Kearney endeavor to unravel the goings on.  Occasionally atmospheric, this also-ran from Universal International is no more than a supporting effort.


Bertrand Van Wonterghem enjoyed:

Teoneol / Tunnel – season 1 – episodes 5 to 13

The avengers – season 4 – episodes « the town of no return » (1965, Roy Ward Baker) & « the gravediggers » (1965, Quentin Lawrence)

TedLasso – season 1 – episode 1

Mildly enjoyed:

Arizona Colt (1966, Michele Lupo)

C’e Sartana… vendi la pistola e comprati la bara ! (1970, Giuliano Carnimeo)

Fury at smuggler’s bay (1960, John Gilling)

Did not enjoy:

Drone (2017, Jason Bourque)


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