Friday, October 16, 2020

Week of October 17 - 23, 2020


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which American star of Italian Westerns became an acting coach in Los Angeles in the late 1970s?
Tom Betts thought it was Jack Betts, aka Hunt Powers. I know it was Thomas Hunter.

Which Spanish actor, who made Westerns, retired to become a painter?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which American actor who made Italian Westerns remembers getting along with Klaus Kinski both on and off the set?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which Italian actress who made an Italian Western found Klaus Kinski very easy and charming with which to work?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which American actress who made an Italian Western was reported by Klaus Kinski to be the object of lust from Marlon Brando?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which Italian actress who worked with Terence Hill also appeared in a Daniel Craig James Bond movie?
George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew it was Caterina Murino  from CASINO ROYALE (2006) and in episode "il passato ritorna" of Don Matteo (2002).

Which American director of a Western made in Spain used to be a film editor at Universal Pictures?
No one has answered this one yet.

Which Mexican actress appeared in an Italian Epic film alongside an actor born in Spain to a Puerto Rican father?
No one has answered this one yet.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Complete the lyric: "Clayton. Oh, Clayton. ______ ____ ____>"
Which actress born in France to Russian aristocracy appeared in movies about Spartacus, Mata Hari and Attila the Hun?
Which American actor made an Italian Western, a Spanish crime thriller, an Hammer film, an Amicus Production and played both Scrooge and Long John Silver?

Name the movies from which these images came.

George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Craig Hill in LO VOGLIO MORTO, aka I WANT HIM DEAD.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

No one identified the above photo.
It shows Massimo Girotti and Vittorio Sanipoli in SPARTACO, aka SINS OF ROME.

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

George Grimes identified last week's photo of Jet Li in KIDS FROM SHAOLIN.
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:


FREE THE NIPPLE (2014) - I didn't know that Lola Kirke was the daughter of Simon Kirke, the drummer for Bad Company and Free. I just know her as the star of the Amazon series Mozart In the Jungle. Liking her there, I wanted to see her in other things, so I watched this. Advocating for the ability of women to be topless in public may not seem to be a burning issue, but, as part of an effort to break the religious right's control of censorship in the U.S. it has meaning. "My body's not your's to feel ashamed of." Co-producer, director and star Lina Esco put this together to send a political message, and inserted it into a dramatic comedy that doesn't quite feel complete. But Esco and Kirke are enjoyable to watch as is the rest of the cast. One can't help but wonder why the film opens with a group of topless women in public in which their nipples are blurred. This seems odd for a movie advocating the right of women to expose their breasts in public. Later on we see Esco topless and uncensored in New York's Time Square. I'd like to know why some scenes have blurred images and other do not, but there is no commentary track on the DVD. Janeane Garofalo has a small role seemingly inspired by co-producer Lisa Azuelos, who directed the English language remake of her French film LOL starring Miley Cyrus and Lina Esco. In her scene, Garofalo complains about how the MPAA censored her film. FREE THE NIPPLE is probably the only film ever made with a special thanks including Harvey Weinstein and Miley Cyrus.

Mildly enjoyed:

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "Fashion's Roots w/ Diane von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriquez and RuPaul Charles" (2020)

Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs (2008) 

MIDWAY (1976) - I didn't go to see this when it was new in the theaters because it looked like a mess and seemed to exist only as an excuse to exploit the Sensurround system. It is a mess, with the editors trying to make sequences out of piles of stock footage - including a surprising number of shots from TORA! TORA! TORA! which didn't use any stock footage. This stock footage is augmented by new stuff featuring awful backscreen projection which the filmmakers try to tie together with alot of voice over dialogue. I guess the filmmakers worried that audiences would want a romance, so a fictional story featuring Charlton Heston and Edward Albert was added to also bring in the story of Japanese-Americans being arrested during the war. This whole story line comes to nothing unless you need to see Heston die heroically again. And what's the point of having Toshiro Mifune once again playing Admiral Yamamoto and then getting Paul Frees to dub all of his lines? The 2019 version, directed by Roland Emmerich is decidedly the better of the two films.

NEEDFUL THINGS (1993) - Stephen King stories tend to be about cruelty, but when director Brian De Palma did CARRIE, he tossed in alot of humor to suck an audience into his telling. This movie does not resort to such trickery, and so you get almost two hours of unpleasantness only relieved by a good ending. A good cast and good production values do little to make this enjoyable.

STAN & OLLIE (2018) - Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly perform credibly as Laurel & Hardy while Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda lend nice support as their wives. The film, written by Jeff Pope and directed by Jon S. Baird is affectionate and warm and very minor.

TRAFICANTES DE PANICO, aka PANIC MAKERS, aka UNDER SIEGE, aka HOSTAGES (1980) - The deal behind this movie may be more interesting than the movie. A Co-production of Re-Al Productions International, Lotus Films (Spain), Herald Films and Angelo Iacono (Italy), Poleo Urdaneta (Venezuela), Filmadora Chapultepec, S.A. (Mexico), Cinematografica Jalisco, S.A. (Mexico), Rodgers International, Inc. (Panama) and Conacine, S.A. de C.V. (Mexico). This film starts with a violent robbery of a casino in Puerto Rico. The gang takes an hostage before they flee, and soon they break up and multiple car chases ensue. One trio of robbers end up hiding out in a rich man's house and the film becomes something like THE DESPERATE HOURS. Stuart Whitman, fresh from director Rene Cardona Jr.'s GUYANA: CULT OF THE DAMNED, plays the cop incharge of the case, but Hugo Stiglitz does most of the action. Francisco Rabal is the father of the family made hostages in their own home and Marisa Mell is the mother. They have three gorgeous daughters including Antonella Interlenghi. Gianni Macchia is the leader of the home invasion thugs, with brothers Mario and Fernando Almada in support. Victoria Vera is quite fetching as a machine gun firing robber who takes over a crowded bus forcing Stiglitz to do a DIRTY HARRY jump onto the roof. There's a lot of well photographed and well produced action in this and it doesn't get too stupid or repetitive. 

Uncnsrd "Jenifer Lewis" (2020)

Did not enjoy:

BILAL: A NEW BREED OF HERO (2015) - Bilal ibn Rabah was a black slave who became an early follower of Muhammad. Because of his lovely voice, he became the first "caller to prayer" for the faithful. This computer animated 3D film was produced by the United Arab Emirates, with assistance from New Zealand, and reminded me of the kind of film they would show us in Catechism class - though of a much higher production quality. A title at the beginning of the film assures the viewer that while some plot elements may not be historically correct, the story is a true story. The problem for me is that I've seen many slave rebellion stories and they work better for me with live actors. Perhaps the filmmakers intended this to appeal to children, or maybe they wanted to attract the 300 audience. For certain, no film seen in Catechism class had such a lavish battle scene. I know this story from MOHAMMAD, MESSENGER OF GOD, aka THE MESSAGE, in which Johnny Sekka played Bilal, and being a film with live actors, THE MESSAGE worked much better for me. And while THE MESSAGE didn't show Muhammad, or even have an actor speaking for him, BILAL doesn't even mention him. The emphasis is on "the new movement, "all men are brothers" and "there is only one God." Imagine a movie about the early Christians in which no one says "Jesus". There is alot to respect about BILAL: A NEW BREED OF HERO, but I did not enjoy watching it. It seems natural that Ian McShane got the job of voicing Bilal's slave master Umayyah. In order to make this dream project, producer Ayman Jamal had to build his own "state of the art" studio. Co-directing the film was Pakistani born Khurram H. Alavi.

BOO! (2018) - The film starts on Halloween night 1980 in Detroit. While trick or treaters fill the street, a Black man brings his car to a stop. He ignores a paper bag on which is written "BOO!", gets a shotgun out of the trunk of the car and goes into an house. Lights flicker on and off as we hear gunshots. Now it is present day Detroit and we are introduced to an inter-racial family that is not getting along with each other. The doorbell rings and father Rob Zabrecky answers the door to find a paper bag with "BOO!" written on it. Young boy Jaden Piner explains that if you get "booed" you have to pass it on or bad things will happen. The father burns the paper bag as the son begs him to take the curse seriously. Spooky things begin to happen to Zabrecky, Piner, older sister Aurora Perrineau and mother Jill Marie Jones but they try to ignore them, and each other, until the last half hour of the movie when they admit that something bad is happening. Piner is missing when the other three confess that they really love each other and decide to fight what is happening together. However, they are locked in the house, while Piner is outside having lit the house on fire. You can't accuse co-writer and director Luke Jaden of piling up random bodies, but you also can't accuse him of making an interesting movie. 

DRUNK PARENTS (2019) - Alec Baldwin and Salma Hayek star in this unfunny comedy about a couple who have sent their daughter to college while trying to cover-up that they don't have any money any more. Fred Wolf was the former Saturday Night Live writer turned director of this.

THE FROG PRINCE (1986) - A Cannon Movietale, this is an example of Golan-Globus trying to get into entertainment for children. I am not a member of the audience for which this is intended, and I didn't enjoy it much. The production values are unimpressive, but with the cast is pretty good: Aileen Quinn from the movie version of ANNIE, Helen Hunt, Clive Revill and John Paragon from Pee-Wee's Playhouse. After making this film for Golan-Globus, writer/director Jackson Hunsicker made one more movie - ODDBALL HALL for producer Harry Alan Towers. For unknown reason, the IMDb lists Amanda Pays as being in this, but I did not see her, and why would a production shot in Israel bring over an actress from England who had already played lead roles to be an extra? Whatever became of Seagull Cohen?

THE GHOUL (1933) - Reportedly this is based on the same novel as WHAT A CARVE UP!, but, aside from potential heirs gathering in an house only to find that the dearly departed isn't departed, this has just about nothing in common with the other. Boris Karloff stars in this movie as an Egyptologist who believes that the jewel called "The Eternal Light" will help him achieve immortality after he dies. Servant Ernest Thesiger is to bury the jewel with Karloff in the Egyptian styled Tomb in his backyard, in which is also a statue of Anubis. After being threatened by Egyptian D.A. Clarke-Smith, Harold Huth, who was the fellow who took the jewel out of Egypt and then sold it to Karloff, joins a plot to steal back the jewel after Karloff dies. Karloff's lawyer, Cedric Hardwicke, informs the potential heirs, Anthony Bushell and Dorothy Hyson, that Karloff died and they rush off to the house thinking Hardwicke isn't being forthcoming about their inheritance. Kathleen Harrison tags along with Hyson since it would be unseemly for her to go off with a man unaccompanied. Along the way, they run into Parson Ralph Richardson, who didn't approved of Karloff's pagan burial. As the full moon hits the tomb door, Karloff rises from his sarcophagus. Finding the Eternal Light missing, Karloff sets off to find and kill Thesiger. Thesiger sees Karloff first, then pulls the jewel out of the coffee can in which he hid it, and puts it in Hyson's suitcase. After killing Clarke-Smith hiding in the woods, Karloff catches Thesiger and the servant tells him that Hyson has it. Eventually, Karloff gets the jewel to the statue of Anubis, but dies without satisfaction. Parson Richardson turns out to be a thief also after the jewel, but Bushell gets it from him. Then Huth steals it from him and locks his rivals in the tomb. Just after Hardwicke pulls a gun on him, Huth finds that the jewel fell out of his pocket and Harrison picks it up. Cops show up to arrest all of the bad guys, just as an explosive charge Richardson placed in the door of the tomb explodes freeing our heroes. Well, actually, there are no heroes in this movie, and while Bushell and Hyson are designed to be the love interest, they don't come off very sympathetically. The only character to win audience sympathy is Karloff, and one wishes that he killed off more of the scoundrels than he does. Despite a talented cast and terrific photography by Gunther Krampf, this movie is very dull and the slow pacing doesn't help to hold one's interest. T. Hayes Hunter is the director and one can occupy one's mind by trying to identify from which Wagnerian opera Louis Levy lifted the music cues.

GUERRA DE SEXOS (1978) - Having just become aware of Mexican film star Ana Luisa Peluffo because of 1972's TRIANGULO starring Claudio Brook, I felt the need to get a look at another of her movies when it showed up on KWHY-TV. The timing was good as October 9th was her birthday and the station gave her a special birthday greeting. The IMDb informed me that Peluffo pioneered nudity in Mexican films, and this 1978 sex comedy showed that she was still getting undraped in her late forties. She wasn't alone in this flick which featured nudity by most of the female cast members - digitally blurred for broadcast TV. Billed as El Mimo, or Lalo El Mimo on the poster, Eduardo de la Pena is not the kind of comedy actor that I find funny, even if I knew what he was saying. The production values and photography on this flick are poor. This was the last film made by writer/director Raul de Anda after a career that started in 1938. A few weeks ago I saw his 1954 movie CON EL DIABLO EN EL CUERPO because it starred Linda Cristal.

HEAT (1986) - Well, now I understand why Jason Statham wanted to remake this project with 2015's WILD CARD. So much of this is almost identical to the remake, but the remake does it so much better. Reportedly, this film was to have been directed by Robert Altman, but after the director could not get the cinematographer he wanted, he left the project. Production on this film began with director Dick Richards, but he left after star Burt Reynolds punched him. Jerry Jameson came aboard but eventually was replaced when Richards came back. Richards left again after falling off a camera crane. Screenwriter William Goldman reported that six directors "toiled on what was only a thirty-six day shoot."

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II (2000) - Arrgh! John Woo and his birds piss me off. If they had done away with all of the slow motion, this might have been an enjoyable 90 minute movie. Thandie Newton looked gorgeous, and these guys handled the romance angle better than most of the James Bond movies, but I had forgotten how much I hated the whole complete face mask identity bit. During the final chase and the duel on motorcycles, I was reminded how much I hated the motorcycle crap in the modern day Hong Kong films like STREETS OF HONG KONG. If Brian De Palma had directed this I would have accused it of being a rip-off of NOTORIOUS.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT (2018) - These movies are just getting worse.

ORLAK EL INFIERNO DE FRANKENSTEIN, aka THE HELL OF FRANKENSTEIN (1960) - At the beginning of the film, Professor Frankenstein, played by Andres Soler, is stealing a body from the cemetery with the help of his assistant, who has half of his face hideously scarred by burns. Suddenly, Inspector Santos, played by Armando Calvo, appears and the Professor is sent to prison. In prison, Frankenstein meets career criminal Jaime Rojas, played by Joaquin Cordero. Rojas is about to be released and promises to help Frankenstein escape. With the help of Gaston, played by David Reynoso, Rojas succeeds in springing Frankenstein and they move into his basement laboratory to resume work on his creature. With the help of the Professor's assistant, Rojas murders a man on the street inorder to get required biological materials. Frankenstein's new man is moulded with Rojas' face, and is controlled by a hand-help radio. Rojas uses the new man, called Orlak, to get revenge on everyone who betrayed him. Knowing that Inspector Santos is keeping an eye on him, Rojas is careful to always be with someone who can provide him with an alibi when some witness reports seeing his face committing some crime. Eventually, Rojas sets his romantic sites on Elvira Davalos, played by Irma Dorantes, and the Professor perfects control of Orlak by telepathy. Rojas puts on a pair of glasses, which enables him to order Orlak into murdering some people. After Gaston is killed breaking into the laboratory, his friends grab Rojas and are beating on him demanding to know Gaston's whereabouts. When Rojas loses his glasses, Orlak starts to think for himself, and when Elvira sees him, she thinks it is Rojas and is sweet with him. Eventually, Rojas gets the glasses back on and orders Orlak to rescue him. Later on, when Rojas can not put on his glasses because the police are talking with him, Orlak visits Elvira again, but gets too close to the fireplace and his face starts to melt. Orlak's melted face bears an uncanny resemblence to the make up on Ricardo Valle in 1962's GRITOS EN LA NOCHE, aka THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF. Seeing Orlak's melted face causes Elvira to faint, and the new man carries her to the laboratory. Eventually, everyone ends up at the laboratory where Rojas shoots the assistant and Frankenstein gets the glasses and orders Orlak to get Rojas. A chase ensues and, later, while Rojas is dying, he gets the glasses and orders Orlak to kill everyone. The villagers riot with burning torches and trap Orlak in a burning ruin. However, Rojas dies and Orlak can think for himself and saves a little girl from also being killed in the flames. With strong production design by Arcadi Artis Gener and atmospheric photography by Fernando Colin, producer/director Rafael Baledon succeeds in achieving the look of the better Universal Horrors of the 1940s. 

WHEN HE'S NOT A STRANGER (1989) - Annabeth Gish is usually enjoyable to watch, but this TV movie about a football jock raping a college girl and almost getting away with it is a drag. At least it gave Kevin Dillon the chance to play a nice guy. Writer/director John Gray would later do the 2004 remake of HELTER SKELTER and create the series Ghost Whisperer.

Women Make Film - 18. Bodies, 19. Sex.


Charles Gilbert watched:

SALOME WHERE SHE DANCED (1945) A fanciful western for Universal Pictures in contrast to their monster flicks. I mistakenly presumed from the title that it was about the biblical character. Garrulous war correspondent Jim Steed (Rod Cameron) covers the end of the American Civil War, with Prussian officer Count Erik Von Bohlen (Albert Dekker) observing as a student the conflict and surrender of General Lee (John Litel) at Appomatox.  Shortly thereafter, they meet again as audience to Viennese  dancer Anna Marie (Yvonne DeCarlo) during her performance for Berlin high society. Upon acquaintance, Steed immediately recruits Anna to interdiction espionage, suspecting the Count wants to invade Austria. Their efforts are futile and they fear retribution, so they, with avuncular aide Professor Max (J. Edward Bromberg), escape to the American western frontier to a town called Drinkman Wells. There she performs at the Red Dog Saloon...and here comes Cleve (David Bruce), an outlaw who was introduced in the beginning as a  pensive confederate soldier, and his gang robbing the entire audience, and making off with the starlet. But on the trail, with twinkle in her eyes she persuades him to repent of his evil ways, return the money, and accompany her entourage to San Francisco where opportunity awaits. Displaying gratitute the town graciously changes its name to 'Salome Where She Danced'. Her fame increases under the tutelage in Frisco of wealthy magnate Dimitrioff (Walter Slezak) and his sagacious Oriental Doctor Ling (Abner Bieberman),  but Von Bohlen returns from her past with sanction to take her back to Berlin. Cleve, possessor of her affections,  kills the Count in a fencing duel, and finally, with much help from his friends, both coattailed and cowboy, gets his wish to take her home to Virginia.

RINGO'S BIG NIGHT (1966) William Berger plays a gunslinger looking for stolen $200,000 and the gang of thieves tied to the town's (Tombstone) leading citizens. Corny script and overly simplified dialogue make it barely watchable.

FASTHAND (1973) A trim Alan Steel plays Union officer Jeff Madison who swaps his uniform for an all black attire while tracking down unhinged rogue soldier Macheda (William Berger) and his murderous thievin' gang. They had found occasion to torture him and disable his shootin' hand, but in the end he displays an improvisational device to victory. With Frank Brana and Lorenzo Robledo.


David Deal enjoyed:

PLANET EARTH (74) - See Genesis II.  Dylan Hunt (John Saxon this time), now an accepted member of Pax in the 22nd century, becomes enslaved by a savage matriarchal society in this sci-fi adventure. The second try for Gene Roddenberry's TV show concept.  This is entertaining enough for its type, but it was no more successful than Genesis II at spawning a series.


TROUBADOURS (11) - Documentary on the LA pub that was the singer/songwriter hotspot in the late 60s and early 70s.



Mildly enjoyed:



Bertrand Van Wonterghem enjoyed:

Chomyeon-e Saranghamnida / The secret life of my secretary – season 1 – episodes 7 to 10

13 ghosts (1960, William Castle)

Tell them Willie Boy is here (1969, Abraham Polonsky)

Pocket money (1971, Stuart Rosenberg)

Fawlty Towers - season 1 - episode « The wedding party » (1975, John Howard Davies)

The avengers – season - 4 episode « The master minds » (1965, Peter Graham Scott)

Watchmen (2008, Zack Snyder)

Mildly enjoyed:

De la part des copains (1970, Terence Young)

Cobra kai – season 1 – episodes 1 to 8

Hubie Halloween (2019, Steven Brill)

The kid from Texas (1949, Kurt Neumann)


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