Friday, November 27, 2020

Week of November 28 - December 4, 2020


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which actor who appeared in Spanish Westerns, was born to Spanish parents on an ocean liner while on the way to Uruguay?
It was Gustavo Rojo.

Which Italian actress, who did a Western, appeared in a British spy comedy frequently sipping out of a Coke bottle with a straw?
No on has answered this question yet.

Which American actor married an Italian woman he demanded producer Dino De Laurentiis work for the actor?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which American producer bought Dinocitta after it was abandoned by Dino de Laurentiis?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which Italian actor, whose first film role was in an Italian Western, appeared in a big budget movie version of a hit Broadway musical?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which Italian actor turned down an offer to make an Italian Western inorder to appear in a big budget movie version of a hit Broadway musical?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which Spanish actor, who appeared in movies about ancient Rome and in Westerns, was born to a Puerto Rican father and a Spanish mother?
No one has answered this question yet.

And now for some new brain teasers:

What Mexican actor went from playing a fictional Mexican revolutionary general in an Italian film to portraying Emiliano Zapata's brother in a Mexican film?
What automobile company has an ad on TV using the theme music from I GIORNI DELL'IRA? 
Which American actor who appeared in Italian Westerns got eaten by a shark in a Mexican disaster movie?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Bertrand Van Wonterghem and George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Lars Bloch, Harry Baird and Alberto dell'Acqua in TRINITA E SARTANA, FIGLI DI..., aka TRINITY AND SARTANA SONS OF...., aka TRINITY AND SARTANA ARE COMING.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's frame grab of Alberto dell'Acqua in I GIGANTI DI ROMA, aka THE GIANTS OF ROME.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

David Deal and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's frame grab of Anthony Steffen in SETTE SCIALLI DI SETA GIALLA, aka THE CRIMES OF THE BLACK CAT.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Tatsuya Nakadai in KAGEMUSHA.
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:


BEIRUT, aka THE NEGOTIATOR (2017) - Tony Gilroy originally wrote this as HIGH WIRE ACT in 1991, but I would have guessed that it was his success in writing the Bourne movies that convinced the producers to dust off the script. Actually, it was the success of ARGO that made the project viable. Brad Anderson directed in a style reminiscent of what Paul Greengrass was doing with the Bourne films even though the material had fewer action scenes. Jon Hamm is quite good as the man brought in to negotiate the release of an old friend kidnapped by terrorists. There are alot of plot twists which aren't outrageous and Rosamund Pike provides able support. 

Charlie Russell's Old West (2020)

Girls Like Us (1997) - Tina Di Feliciantonio and Jane C. Wagner documented the lives of four teenage girls in South Philadelphia for four years; from age 14 to 18. 

A Happy Mother's Day (1963) - Richard Leacock's short film documents how the birth of the Fischer quintuplets changes the lives not only of the parents, but of the entire city of Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Mildly enjoyed:

A BOY. A GIRL. A DREAM. (2018) - I became aware of Meagan Good on the TV series Minority Report, so I was interested in seeing her in other stuff. Considering how much stuff she's been in, it is odd that this would be the next thing in which I saw her. At the very least, co-writer and director Qasim Basir shows that he has ambition in making his third film an 89 minute single shot feature film that goes from the street, into a club, back on to the street, into a Lyft vehicle, into an house party in the Hollywood Hills, back into the Lyft and ending up at Mel's Diner on the Sunset Strip. It's fun seeing the Sunset Strip through the window of the Lyft vehicle and to know that it's not a green screen effect. Of course, looking out the back window you can see a billboard for GHOST IN THE SHELL starring Scarlett Johansson which gives away that this movie set on election night 2016 was shot in 2017. The gimmick of having the film be just a single shot does distract from the story being told - one becomes so aware of the effort of how transitions from interiors to exteriors are being handled that the deepening depression everyone is feeling knowing that the hope generated by the Obama presidency is being dashed by the election of Donald Trump becomes less important. Omari Hardwick plays an aspiring filmmaker who won't show his new film because it's not finished yet. He meets Good near a club into which he is going, and is so taken with her that he invites her to join him. The next hour or so involves their attraction and repulsion as they slowly open up to each other and talk about their aspirations and dreams. There's alot of good stuff here that might play better if the material could have been tightened up, but the single shot gimmick prevents that. The idea that Hardwick shows his film to Good on his cell phone makes one wonder just how long it is, but his reaction to watching her watch it is something with which every filmmaker can identify. A BOY. A GIRL. A DREAM. is compelling viewing and Good looks terrific. 

IRVING BERLIN'S HOLIDAY INN: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL (2017) - Universal Pictures and Goodspeed Musicals collaborated on putting on a stage show based on the movie at the Roundtable Theater Company's Studio 54 and captured on video by PBS' Great Performances - a co-production of BroadwayHD and Thirteen Productions LLC for WNET. Like most broadway shows based on movies, the new makers stuffed more songs into the project and turned the corny plot into something campy. There's no faulting the talent and professionalism of the performers, but it is uninvolving though impressive.

Uncnsrd. "The Big Break" (2020) - Tasha Smith, Kirk Franklin, Jon Drummond, Tammy Franklin, Nick Cannon, James Cannon, Ne-Yo, Loraine Smith, Jermaine Dupri, Michael Mauldin, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer and Eddie Griffin. 

Did not enjoy:

ALLEY CAT (1982 copyright, 1984 release) - The making of this movie is probably more interesting that the movie itself. Shot in the less touristy spots of Hollywood, particularly around Gower and Wilcox near Santa Monica - near the Movie Tech Studio which gets a credit for "Post Production Services" (I've used Movie Tech's editing facility myself.), this movie has five associate producers, three of whom are actors in the movie. It appears that a group of aspiring moviemakers pooled their resources to get this flick made, and technically it looks good; this isn't Andy Milligan quality. Why there are three directors credited would be of interest - one being the writer, another a veteran of Filipino movies, and one an actor. At first this seems to be a female DEATH WISH, except she doesn't kill the creeps. As a matter of fact, she gets arrested for assault, and eventually gets time in the slammer for contempt of court. The Woman's Prison scenario isn't very long, but includes a shower scene and a fight to prevent a lesbian experience. Eventually, she baits the bad guys to attack her, and there is lightning to highlight the action. Karin Mani stars and is attractive, but is less than convincing as a martial artist. Shortly after this, she gave up acting and became the wife of the very successful music video and TV producer Paul Flattery. Robert Torti plays her police officer boyfriend and he's the one person associated with the movie to have a healthy career after it. This movie is kind of fun for anyone who lived in that area of Hollywood, and is interesting that there are only white people shown to live there.

EL ARDIENTE DESEO, aka THE BURNING DESIRE (1970) - By 1970, Jorge Mistral was working steadily in Mexico, and so was German born Christa Linder. Here director Raúl de Anda hijo has them co-star with Rodolfo de Anda in an erotic thriller. Godson de Anda suggests that he should move out of their house when Mistral returns from Europe with Linder, his new wife, but Mistral insists that there is enough room. Shortly, Linder begins to throw herself at de Anda, and, eventually, she suggests that they kill Mistral. De Anda rigs an underwater light in the pool to malfunction, so what when Mistral takes his late night swim, Linder can switch it on and electrocute the older man. When de Anda finds out that Linder has given the police evidence suggesting that de Anda ploted the murder alone, he surprises her, says "I love you" and shoots her to death. With such predictable plotting, the filmmakers would have to be very inventive to make this interesting, and they don't. 

THE CONNECTION (1961) - Based on Jack Gelber's play, which was originally produced by The Living Theatre, director Shirley Clarke's movie is a faux documentary about making a documentary about a day in the life of heroin junkies in New York City. For 1961, the film was raw in its language and the producers had to go to court inorder to get it shown. While this was a blow against censorship, particularly for the use of the word "shit" in referring to drugs, this film also casually shows nudie magazines and comments on a character being "queer". For a movie about junkies, it is remarkable that there is only one on-screen fix, most of them happening behind a closed toilet door. Like many movies of historic interest, THE CONNECTION is better read about than actually watched. Few of the performances are really credible and the dialogue is rather theatrical. The makers of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT did a more convincing job of creating faux documentary footage. Here Clarke pretends to have handheld cameras when mostly they are obviously on dollies and tripods. This is a positive as the movie isn't hard on the eyes, but a movie about junkies sitting around the first half waiting to get well, and then nodding off after getting "fixed" is pretty dull. This film also does nothing to dispel the idea that jazz=junk. Pianist Freddie Redd was part of the original stage production and with Jackie McLean, Michael Mattos and Larry Ritichie recorded an album's worth of material. Director Clarke began a relationship with actor Carl Lee which lasted until his death in 1986 after he got AIDS from his real life drug usage. Notably, the production designer was Richard Sylbert who went on to do THE GRADUATE, CATCH-22 and CHINATOWN.  Director of photography Arthur J. Ornitz went on to make alot of high profile films like CHARLY, THE BOYS IN THE BAND and SERPICO. Where in hell did the IMDb get the idea that Linda Veras had anything to do with this movie or that there is someone called a "Siren" here? The only sirens in THE CONNECTION are from some off-screen police cars.

CICLON, aka CYCLONE (1978) - After the international success of SURVIVE!, director René Cardona Jr. must have felt he could do it again, but this time with well-known actors. So with Arthur Kennedy, Carroll Baker and Lionel Stander joining with Mexican favorites like Andrés García, Hugo Stigliz, Mario Almada and even daddy René Cardona, he made this tale of another group of stranded survivors forced into cannibalism. Greek born Olga Karlatos also joins in the fun. One group of survivors is on a glass bottom tourist boat, one group is on a fishing boat and one group is in an airplane which crashes into the Caribbean when the storm hits. They all end up in the tourist boat. The authorities have given up searching for survivors in the shark infested waters, so these people run out of supplies. At first one guy gets the idea of slaughtering Baker's dog for food. Later, they decide to flay one of the dead passengers. Luckily, it rains so they have water. A small group sets off in a small boat for which they've rigged a sail, and it is the small boat that is found by another passing boat. They radio for help, but a stupid fight breaks out on the tour boat which smashes the glass bottom. Everyone ends up in the water, just as a school of sharks turn up and start picking off the humans. Two rescue sea planes arrive, but many of the humans become shark food before they can climb into the planes. The direction and editing is so poor that it is unclear who survives and who doesn't. And the film doesn't have an ending scene where the ultimate survivors gather so that we can see for certain who didn't make it. Not one of Ritz Ortolani's better scores. (That's how they spelled it in the credits.)

EMILIANO ZAPATA (1970) - With 70mm photography by the masterful Alex Phillips Jr., this film obviously has a good budget featuring alot of extras for the battle scenes. Unfortunately, the battle scenes aren't particularly well-staged by director Felipe Cazals. Antonio Aguilar not only produced and co-wrote this film, he also stars as Zapata, reportedly his favorite revolutionary character. Unfortunately, his performance is so stone-faced that the character exhibits little humanity - even on his wedding night. In any case, the Association of Latin Entertainment Critics gave him the Best Actor trophy for 1970. Oddly, as Mexican films usually were made with synchronized sound shot on location, this film looks and sounds alot like the made-in-Spain movies about the Mexican Revolution with post production audio. Most of what I know about the Mexican Revolution was from Italian and Spanish movies, so it is reassuring that this Mexican movie jibes with films like QUIEN SABE? and TEPEPA. It also shares the usual discrepancy of many of the revolutionaries wearing bandoliers with ammunition for Mauser rifles, while carrying winchesters.

Great Performances At the Met "Wagner: Tristan and Isolde" (2009) - I am not very knowledgeable about opera, and the interviews with the singers makes it sound more like an athletic event than an artistic effort. I love the overture, but enjoy it more when it's put on a movie. None of the sung material appeals to me, and at four hours this isn't very rewarding. I accept that the plot comes from an ancient legend, and maybe the poetry is more effective if I knew German, but Wagner's idea of melding great poetry with great music isn't evident to me. The television direction by Barbara Willis Sweete assists whomever staged the live performance to try and distract the viewer from noticing that mostly what you see is people standing still singing loudly. There are many split screen images for television while the stage lighting and scenery go through all kinds of acrobatics. But it comes down to characters you don't like doing dumb things because of a magic potion and misunderstandings. Plus Isolde, played by Deborah Voigt, doesn't drop dead at the end like I understand she is supposed to do.

TROOPER HOOK (1957) - Charles Marquis Warren is celebrated by Western fans for helping to turn the Gunsmoke radio show into a TV series, and for helping to get Rawhide on the air. However, his feature films, mostly Westerns, are bad. Jack Schaefer of SHANE and MONTE WALSH fame wrote the short story on which TROOPER HOOK is based. It shares some plot elements with T.V. Olsen's novel THE STALKING MOON but to a completely different effect. TROOPER started off by showing Apaches executing a group of soldiers just as cavalry reinforcements arrived. It wasn't until later that we hear that the soldiers were the first wave of a dawn attack on the Indian village. Joel McCrea, played the title role, was part of the reinforcements who captured Chief Rudolfo Acosta and the other Apaches. Among the prisoners was found Barbara Stanwyck, a white woman who turned out to be the mother of Acosta's son Terry Lawrence. McCrea was sympathetic towards a woman ostracized by most whites for submitting rather than killing herself. Stanwyck came out West to join her husband, John Dehner, but was kidnapped on the way. Dehner was located and McCrea was ordered to escort Stanwyck to him, but she wouldn't go without her son, so he had to take both of them. Royal Dano, under heavy old age makeup, was the stagecoach driver taking them. Along the way, they picked up friendly Earl Holliman and antagonistic Edward Andrews. Word reached them that Acosta had escaped and was searching for his son. Eventually, McCrea got Stanwyck to Dehner, but he rejected taking in the boy. Luckily, Acosta attacked and killed Dehner, but not before Dehner killed him back. So the film ends as director Warren had been leading us to hope - with McCrea making plans to be with Stanwyck and Lawrence after his enlistment ended. Future Rawhide cast member Sheb Wooley had a small role as a bigot hasseling Stanwyck.

MIS TRES VIUDAS ALEGRES, aka MY THREE MERRY WIDOWS (1953) - Cuban rumbera Amalia Aguilar became a star in Mexico and soon began making films in 1945. Mexican actress Lilia del Valle was teamed with Aguilar in the very popular films LAS TRES ALEGRES COMADRES (1952) and LAS INTERESADAS (1952). The third star of those two films was Mexican actress Lilia Prado, who also made SUBIDA AL CIELO, aka MEXICAN BUS RIDE, for director Luis Bunuel in 1952. For some reason, Prado was replaced for MIS TRES VIUDAS ALEGRES by Mexican actress Silvia Pinal (who is why I watched this movie). The film starts with Resortes as an old rich scientist (with a poor white wig) marrying the much younger Pinal, but dying of an heart attack before he can consummate the marriage. Now a rich widow, Pinal faces a line of suitors offering solace at the funeral, until del Valle shows up saying that she is the widow. In the lawyer's office, it is reveals that while the old man married Pinal in Mexico, but died before consummation, the old man married del Valle in Paris, but had to rush out of the apartment after a phone call before consummation. Soon they are joined by Aguilar whom the old man married in Cuba, but he was kidnapped from the honeymoon suite before consummation. The widows agree to share the inheritance, but they have to wait five years - so they establish a musical entertainment/fashion show together. The singing and dancing of the first part of the film fills about half of the running time, before it is revealed that the old man had a son with a maid. The widows are excited to mother a child, but the son turns out to be a full grown Resortes acting like Jerry Lewis. After the four of them do a song about how the boy has fleas, the plot of the film is finally revealed. There are Russian spies, including the lawyer, after a secret atomic formula secreted somewhere in the old scientist's home. At the end of the film, after the formula is found, everyone seems to accept that love is more important so the espionage plot is forgotten. Fernando Cortés directed.

YO COY MUY MACHO (1953) - When her pilot brother and partner in her aviation business gets arrested, Silvia Pinal pretends to be him to fulfill a contract. Naturally, the macho captain she works for in the jungle begins to doubt his masculinity when she/he begins to look attractive to him. When the captain passes out from being drunk, Pinal can't resist kissing him, which wakes him up and he slugs her before running away. The doctor comes to to help the unconscious Pinal, and discovers her secret. The contract over, Pinal flies home and the doctor convinces the Captain to follow inorder to sort out his confusion. At Pinal's home, the captain finds the brother, who slugs the Captain. Luckily, the now feminine Pinal is there to make everything alright. José Díaz Morales, who was born in Spain but spent his entire professional career in Mexico, directed. In 1964 and 1965, he directed four Santo movies.

Women Make Film (2020) 35. Life Inside. It is good to see Debra Winger, who is the only narrator to get her face on the screen. 36. The Meaning of Life. 37. Love.


Charles Gilbert watched:

THE RAWHIDE YEARS (1955) Aboard the riverboat 'Montana Belle' young Ben Matthews (Tony Curtis) serves as a shill to the resident gambler (Donald Randolph), except he's developed sympathy for the men he's swindled, leaving his boss furious. River pirates raid the paddlewheeler as Ben happens upon a murder in the dark, attacking the assailants, and then becomes the suspect after a fight that left him overboard and  subsequently on the lam. Changing his name to Ben Martin he takes jobs in the West as a cow hand. His stache from labor as he cashes a check at the bank attracts silver tongued, fast and loose Rick Harper (Arthur Kennedy) who becomes his tentative friend. Ben catches up with girlfriend Zoe (Colleen Miller) who is siren of the show at the local dancehall, and Ben suspects her employer, the sophisticated Andre Boucher (Peter Van Eyk), is behind the pirating, along with ostensibly respectable rancher Brand Comfort (William 'Uncle Charlie' Demarest). Ben realizes the stolen gold from the pirate raids is hidden in a wooden indian at Comfort's ranch, and gets into gunplay with ranch hands. Harper saves his skin but is captured and hauled back in town to be strung up. A showdown with all the townsfolk to witness finally clears Ben's name, and frees Harper.

WINTERHAWK (1975) Legendary Indian chief (lantern jawed Michael Dante) must appeal to white men for medicine to save his people from a small pox outbreak decimating his tribe including his wife and son. Deception from a trade impels him to abduct white woman Clayanna (Dawn Wells who intermittently narrates) and her kid brother Cotton (director Chuck Pierce's son Chuck Jr.), who eventually begins to admire the statuesque chief. Meanwhile, the settlers form a possee of mountain men to pursue the Blackfoots who are headed to Canada with their captives.. They include old cadgers Guthrie (Leif Erickson), Big Rude (Woody Strode), Arkansas ( Denver Pyle), and Clayanna's uncle Finley (Elisha Cooke, Jr.). A stop at old McClusky's (Arthur Hunnicut) and Guthrie finds that in his abscence from home his indian wife was violated and murdered by two of the settlers Gates and Scoby (L.Q. Jones and Dennis Fimple). They had sold her pony here and traded her furs, giving themselves away to the observant old man. Guthrie finds their camp and settles a score. In the finale Guthrie also must face his old friend Winterhawk, but the outcome is unexpectedly poignant. Magnificent Montana and Colorado scenery. Recommended.


Bertrand Van Wonterghem Highly enjoyed:

The goes wrong show – season 1 – episode 5

Black books – season 1 – episode « Cooking the books » (2000, Graham Linehan & Nick Wood)


Johnny English (2003, Peter Howitt)

Charles Trénet, l’ombre au tableau (doc) (2013, Daisy d’Errata et Karl Zero)

Ku Klux Klan, une histoire américaine – naissance d’un empire invisible (doc) (David Korn-Brzoza)

Last of the redmen (1947, George Sherman)

Revolt (2017, Joe Miale)

Science Fiction, volume one – the Osiris child (2016, Shane Abbess)

The good lord bird – season 1 – episode 2

Supernatural – season 15 – episode 16

Lost in space – season 2 – episode « The thief from outer space » (1966, Sobey Martin)

Voyage to the bottom of the sea - season 2 – episode « the silent saboteurs » (1965, Sobey Martin)

Temple (2016, Michael Barrett)

Au service de la France – season 2 – episode 5

Mildly enjoyed:

Vivement dimanche (1983, François Truffaut)

L’inconnu de Shandigor (1967, Jean-Claude Roy)

Did not enjoy:

Some freaks (2016, Ian Macallister – McDonald)

Suite 313 (2017, Aaron Pederis)


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