Friday, December 18, 2020

Week of December 19 - 25, 2020


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which American producer bought Dinocitta after it was abandoned by Dino de Laurentiis?
It was Albert Band's son Charles Band, who made it his base of operation for Empire Pictures from 1986 until 1988.

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 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.

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?
No one has answered this one yet.

What automobile company has an ad on TV using the theme music from I GIORNI DELL'IRA? 
No one has answered this one yet.

Which German born actress who worked with Giuliano Gemma and Jorge Mistral was in a movie where she was shot to death by Rodolfo de Anda?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which Italian actress who worked with Dario Argento, Luchino Visconti and Mario Bava was once under contract in the U.S. to David O. Selznick?
Kurt Von Holfmanstein knew that it was Alida Valli.

Which American actor started his screen career in an Italian Western before continuing his career on American TV shows like Police Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man, Emergency! and Dallas?
No one has answered this question yet.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which Italian actor, who never made an Italian Western, appeared in a Mexican film about the Revolution? 
Which Greek born actress appeared in two Italian Westerns as well as a film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci?
Which Italian actress, who made Sword & Sandal movies, received the Nastro D'Argento Award for Best Actress in 1967 from the Sindacato Nazionale dei Giornalisti Cinematografici Italiani?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Julian Ugarte, Karen Yeh and Lee Van Cleef in EL KARATE, EL COLT Y EL IMPOSTER, aka THE STRANGER AND THE GUNFIGHTER.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

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

Bertrand Van Wonterghem and Kurt Von Holfmanstein identified last week's picture of Giancarlo Giannini and Laura Antonelli in L'INNOCENTE, aka THE INNOCENT.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Pat Ha in AN AMOROUS WOMAN OF TANG DYNASTY.
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:


THE BABY AND THE BATTLESHIP (1956) - A thoroughly enjoyable service comedy that is so filled with familiar British actors that you wonder if those not in the movie were disappointed. John Mills and Richard Attenborough lead the cast with Lisa Gastoni making her 9th appearance in a British production since she started her acting career. Based on the novel by Anthony Thorne, this film was Jay Lewis' second effort as a feature film director, and obviously the Royal Navy pitched in to help. On shore leave in Naples, Attenborough introduces former boxer Mills to the family of a baker who kept trying to have a baby boy. After twelve girls, there is finally a baby boy, which daughter Gastoni takes with her as she does out at night with the two British sailors. Mills is given the baby to watch as Gastoni and Attenborough dance, which leads to his being ridiculed by two other sailors - played by Barry Foster and Vincent Ball. Riled up, Mills sets the baby down and begins a dust-up. Soon the police arrive to clear the square, leaving behind the baby and Mills, who was under some furniture. Needing to report back to his ship and not knowing where to take the baby, Mills ends up sneaking the baby aboard ship figuring that when Attenborough arrives he'll sort it out. Unfortunately, the ship gets underway before Attenborough returns. Mills ends up hooking the other men in his mess, including Bryan Forbes, Gordon Jackson and Lionel Jeffries, to help in keeping the baby fed and secreted away from officers like Michael Horden, Thorley Walters and Duncan Lamont. Things get more complicated when the ship is visited by foreign dignitaries Andre Morell, Ferdy Mayne and John Le Mesurier. Meanwhile, Gastoni's uncles - Carlo Giustini, Vince Barbi and Vittorio Vittori - threaten violence if Attenborough doesn't quickly produce the missing baby. Reportedly Yvonne Romain played one of Gastoni's sisters.

THE KINGMAKER (2019) - Lauren Greenfield's documentary is an harrowing account of how Imelda Marcos is attempting to restore her family's power in the Philippines.

WHAT SHE SAID The Art of Pauline Kael (2018) - My late friend Garth Lambrecht turned me onto reading Kael, which I frequently enjoyed even if I found her opinion wrong-headed. Then came the two full page review ad for THE FURY. I loved director Brian De Palma's film of CARRIE and then loved the revival of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE. OBESSSION came to town and I hated that - and that was even before I had a chance to see VERTIGO. I enjoyed SISTERS, so Kael made me rush to see THE FURY. After that dreadful experience, I could not take Kael seriously again. And after DRESSED TO KILL, I vowed to never give money to a De Palma movie again. Kael had been important in my life, and her's was a unique story in the history of Film. This film answered the questions I had about what happened during her experience in working in Hollywood. Considering Peter Bogdanovich's comments about THE CITIZEN KANE BOOK, I wonder what his reaction is to the HBO film MANK.

Mildly enjoyed:

DIGGING FOR FIRE (2015) - Having bonded during the making of DRINKING BUDDIES, actor Jake Johnson and director Joe Swanberg decided to turn an incident in Johnson's life into a movie. Most movies that start off with a man finding a rusty gun in the backyard of a house, and then finding what looks to be an human bone, would turn into a thriller. The old adage is "if you show a gun at the beginning of a movie then that gun has to go off before the ending of the movie" doesn't fit in with Swanberg's interests. It does establish a sense of danger though, which lays an undercurrent for the whole film. Later on, when a neighbor comes by and warns Johnson to not keep digging, that's a bit which most filmmakers would feel has to be paid off before the ending. But, once again, that is not where Swanberg's interest is. What Swanberg is interested in is creating a sense of what life is really like and not making a film that is plot driven. The film also feels like is a party inwhich the filmmakers invite all these people they know, or people with whom they would like to work, and see what they bring to bare outline provided. And they come up with alot of good actors: Rosemarie DeWitt, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick (also of DRINKING BUDDIES), Orlando Bloom, Mike Birbiglia, Sam Elliot, Judith Light, Ron Livingston (also of DRINKING BUDDIES, but who also did the splendid TV series Standoff with DeWitt with whom he married), Melanie Lynskey (of HAPPY CHRISTMAS), Jenny Slate, Chris Messina (who is DeWitt's real life ex-husband) and Jane Adams. Swanberg dedicated DIGGING FOR FIRE to the late director Paul Mazursky.


GOING ATTRACTIONS: THE DEFINITIVE STORY OF MOVIE PALACES (2019) - While it is fun seeing some movie theaters that I've been in featured in this documentary, alot of the material feels repetitive.

FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES The Story of American Film Criticism (2009)

Did not enjoy:

ALMA DE ACERO, aka SOULOF STEEL (1957) - Based loosely on Alexandre Dumas' THE CORSICAN BROTHERS, this movie starts like a Western with Luis Aguilar riding into town on horseback and getting revenge on the man who killed his father. Like a Gene Autry movie, life in the city is modern with Luis Aguilar driving a car and singing in a nightclub. Lina Salome is the female performer at the club and is introduced doing a "cha-cha" number. The citified Aguilar has to return to his family ranch when he learns that his twin brother is in trouble. As much as mother Ada Carrasco pleads, the city twin can not disuade the country twin from continuing his life as an outlaw. When Aguilar returns to the city, Salome alerts him that his partner, Victor Parra, is trying to steal his business. Citified Aguilar confronts Parra and is shot dead. Salome is bullied into silence but sings a sad song in the club. Country Aguilar feels the bullet that enters his brother's body and goes to the city. There, Salome meets with Aguilar and tells him the whole story. Aguilar confronts Parra, and the country boy shoots first. Salome is despondent that the twin's body is nowhere to be found, but the mystical bond of the surviving twin allows him to find where he is buried. I don't know of any Hollywood singing cowboy who shoots bad guys in the forehead, but Luis Aguilar does it twice. He does four songs in the picture while Lina Salome gets three. Cuban born, Salome was promoted as a sex symbol, and her costumes in this picture are often skin tight, showing her rather unusually shaped breasts. Whether this had anything to do with her film career ending after only 8 films is unknown. Also in the cast are Fernando Soto "Mantequilla" of ILLUSION TRAVELS BY STREETCAR, Arturo "Bigoton" Castro of NAZARIN, Enrique Garcia Alvarez of THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL and SIMON OF THE DESERT, Salvador Terroba of NAZARIN, Guillermo A. Bianchi of THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL, Francisco Ledesma of EL BRUTO, ILLUSION TRAVELS BY STREETCAR and THE CRIMINAL LIFE OF ARCHIBALDO DE LA CRUZ, Emilio Garibay of GRAN CASINO and ROBINSON CRUSOE and Jose Chavez of THE GREAT MADCAP, EL BRUTO, ILLUSION TRAVELS BY STREETCAR, NAZARIN, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and THE WILD BUNCH. Miguel Morayta directs.

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (2017) - No, this isn't quite "someone moved PATRICK into THE AMITYVILLE HORROR house". But it certainly doesn't match the found footage scenario originally announced - and can still be found on the TV listings. Possibly the real tragedy is that Jennifer Jason Leigh is doing stuff like this two years after all of the award nominations. On the plus side, I'd before never seen Bella Thorne and that was pleasant. I didn't hate this as much as I hated director Franck Khalfoun's previous films P2 (2007) and MANIAC (2012). Some call this film "meta" because it takes place in the "real world" where they even watch a DVD of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979). They decide not to watch AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION or the 2005 remake.

IL CAPITAL UMANO, aka HUMAN CAPITAL (2013) - Human capital is what an insurance company calls a cash settlement after a fatal accident. The sum is computed by considering the person's life expectancy, earning capacity and quantity and quality of emotional bonds. Director Paolo Virzi based his film on the American novel by Stephen Amidon. He divided his film into 4 chapters, corresponding to three of the main characters, with the final chapter entitled "Human Capital". Sometimes the chapters will go over the same scenes we've already watched, but this time from a different perspective. Virzi's film is well produced and well performed, but, in the end, doesn't really amount to much - except to show how rich people's friends are willing to turn against you when times are rough, and then pretend that nothing bad happened when times return to good. The catalyst for the plot is an hit and run incident in which a car knocks a bicyclist off the road on a rainy night. Suddenly, we jump back six months to the beginning of the first chapter about "Dino" who tries to use his daughter's friendship with a rich man's son to invest in a business deal. Jumping ahead to six months, the deal isn't going as well as expected and the rich man isn't taking Dino's phone calls anymore. News of the accident throws everyone into turmoil. The second chapter is "Carla", the rich man's wife. She is hoping to use her husband's money to save a theater that's for sale and rescue her dream of being an actress. When her son is suspected of causing the accident, her friends shun her. The third chapter is "Serena", Dino's daughter, and how her relationship with the rich man's son isn't what people think it is. The police know that she knows who was driving the car in the accident, but she won't talk. The final chapter is "Human Capital" in which Dino is able to solve his financial problems by betraying his daughter's confidence by selling information to Carla. In the end, everyone seems to have weathered the incident well, except for the cyclist who dies in the hospital. The best development is for Dino's new pregnant wife, played by the beautiful Valeria Golino, who is finally able to breech the emotional wall between her and Serena. Perhaps the moral of the story is how money corrupts people so that even a man's life has a price tag. (Isn't that the moral of the majority of Italian Westerns?) At the 59th David di Donatello Awards, HUMAN CAPITAL won Best Film, Best Script, Best Actress for Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Best Supporting Actor for Fabrizio Gifuni, Best Supporting Actress for Valeria Golino, Best Editing and Best Sound. It was submitted to the Academy Awards, but didn't win a nomination. In 2019, this was remade in the U.S. starring Marisa Tomei and Liev Schreiber.

THE HOUSE (2017) - I don't know how much of this was actually written by Brendan O'Brien and director Andrew Jay Cohen, but the movie seems like the filmmakers hired Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler and then expected them to come up with the funny. After City Councilor Nick Kroll announces that the scholarship Ferrell and Poehler were counting on to send their daughter, Ryan Simpkins, to college, our heroes allow Jason Mantzoukas to convince them to set up an illegal casino because "the house always wins". Hijinks ensue, including their setting a local gangster, Jeremy Renner, on fire. Kroll uses local law man Rob Huebel to confiscate our heroes' winnings, with which he plans to start a new life with married City Treasurer Allison Tolman (of the Fargo TV series). Huebel realizes that Kroll is a crook and helps our heroes, who pull their daughter into the scheme, to steal back their ill gotten gains. Later, after dropping their daughter off at college, Ferrell and Poehler use their new gangster skills to intimidate the driver blocking their way on the street. Interestingly, President Donald J. Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is listed as one of the executive producers of this unfunny and unpleasant flick. Michaela Watkins of the TV series The Unicorn plays Mantzoukas' estranged wife.

MR LOVE (1985) - I know Barry Jackson from 76 episodes of Midsomer Murders. To find that he starred in a movie is a surprise. Normally, when a movie starts off with a widow at her husband's funeral surprised to find a large group of unknown women in attendance, the movie is a sex farce. MR LOVE is not a sex farce. If you want to call it a comedy, you have to admit that it is so low key as to venture close to being boring in a gentle and whimsical way. Maurice Denham, a seemingly homeless friend of the deceased Barry Jackson, narrates the story of how a mild mannered public park groundskeeper ended up becoming the pleasant male companion to every lonely woman in a small town. A man who married a woman so that they would be seem "normal", and had a girl child who grew up to be a woman who avoided her father because "he was a joke", Jackson yearns to be loved. His life changes when he catches the owner of the local movie theater trying to have sex in a parked car. The theater owner bullies Jackson into agreeing to work at the movie theater twice a week, where he meets aspiring actress Julia Deakin. Denham puts Jackson onto Linda Marlowe, the local prostitute. Failing to have sex, Jackson meets Marlowe's daughter, Christina Collier, who is having trouble getting her child, Janine Roberts, to eat. When Marlowe refuses to help look after her grandchild, Jackson volunteers as it reminds him of when he and his daughter got along. Soon, he agrees to partner with Deakin as she practices acting in the projection booth of the movie theater. Margaret Tyzack leaves her book on a park bench and then has tea with Jackson when he brings it to her home. She seeks him out to help tend her lilies. Helen Cotterill meets Jackson in the park and asks him to join in studying spiders. When the projection system at the theater breaks down during a showing of CASABLANCA, Deakin gets to be an actress on the stage playing the end of the movie with Jackson. After a lesson on driving at car at night, Collier asks Jackson for help in getting to London for an audition. She kisses him and says "I love you." They spend the night in the car, with Jackson driving in the morning. Avoiding a critter in the road, Jackson loses control of the car. Collier is thrown clear, but Jackson hits a statue of Queen Victoria, that topples over and crushes him to death. Now dead, Jackson becomes the toast of the town, with the hotel being renamed in his honor and romantic tours being conducted to honor the man who "conquered" so many women. Probably the best thing about this movie is the song "Mr. Love" written by Willy and Ruth Russell, featuring an ethereal vocal by Rebecca Storm. The direction by Roy Battersby emphasizes the gentleness of the hero written by Kenneth Eastaugh to such an extent that the film seems inert and lifeless.

LOS RECUERDOS DEL PORVENIR, aka MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE (1968) - Based on Elena Garro's novel, which some call the greatest Mexican novel of the 20th Century, director Arturo Ripstein has fashioned a fairly standard melodrama completely lacking in the "magical realism" for which the novel is celebrated. Why Italian actor Renato Salvatori was hired to play Colonel Francisco Rosas is a mystery, unless the producers felt this would improve export sales potential. Salvatori pretty much makes his character a standard villain - the brutal soldier assigned to keep putting revolutionaries up against a wall. He easily flies into jealous rages regarding his mistress Susana Dosamantes. Does he really allow his mistress to ride off unharmed with the man she loves? While most movies about the Mexican Revolution are concerned with the peasants versus the soldiers, here the main characters are the women of a rich family. These women are exploited and abused by the officers, but Daniela Rosen lusts after Salvatori. After Dosamantes leaves, Rosen moves in and later hopes to convince him not to shoot her brother. She succeeds, and Captain Pedro Armendariz Jr. tells the brother to flee. But the brother refuses to leave his friends who are being executed, so Rosen throws herself down a cliff. Both the author, Garro, and the director, Ripstein, would later call the film "horrible". Ripstein, who worked as an assistant on EL ANGEL EXTERMINADOR, dedicates this movie to director Luis Bunuel.

SEVEN POUNDS (2008) - Do you feel the need for a two hour commercial for organ donation? The film starts off letting us know that Will Smith has committed suicide. Writer Grant Nieporte and director Gabriele Muccino then use a fractured story structure cutting between past and further past to turn the story into a mystery. What is Smith doing and why is he doing it? Alert viewers should be able to solve the mystery fairly early on. Smith blames himself for an auto accident which killed seven people, including his fiancee. Though it's not mentioned in the film, a line from William Shakespeare's THE MERCHANT OF VENICE calls for a pound of flesh to pay off a debt. So, Smith seeks out seven people to help as an act of redemption. Rosario Dawson looks lovely at the woman needing a heart transplant. Blind Woody Harrelson ends up wearing brown eyed contact lenses. I never before heard of suicide by box jellyfish. 

STAR OF INDIA (1954) - The opening of this film states 'Raymond Stross presents in association with "Titanus" Roma.' Set in France, but shot in England with a British cast and crew, the only Italian elements of this picture is the music score by Nino Rota and the presence of Greek born Yvonne Sanson. More of a heist film than a swashbuckler, STAR OF INDIA stars Cornel Wilde as a French nobleman returning from five years of soldiering in India. He discovers that his estate has been sold by local governor Herbert Lom to a man who gave him a gem stolen from India. The man has died, and Jean Wallace (Cornel Wilde's off-screen wife) now has possession of the estate. Wallace offers to return the estate to Wilde if he can steal back the gem. After a few plot twists, it is revealed that Wallace is working for the King of Holland, who wants to return the gem to India to prevent an uprising of those who worship the stone. At first Wilde thinks he will steal the gem for the King of France, but after meeting him at an banquet thrown by Lom, he decides that Wallace's plan is better. Eventually, the film climaxes with various sword fights aboard the ship set to sail for Holland. Not surprisingly, the good guys win and Wilde and Wallace decide to share the estate together. Director Arthur Lubin, who had made the Francis the Talking Mule movies, would go on to make the 1961 THIEF OF BAGHDAD with Steve Reeves and THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET with Don Knotts. Reportedly some of the location work for this film was done in Italy.

THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933) - Fay Wray and Lionel Atwill had an hit with Warner Bros.' DOCTOR X, and had finished shooting MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, when low budget studio Majestic Pictures hired them to make a quickie to be released before MYSTERY hit the theaters. Using sets still standing at Universal Studios for FRANKENSTEIN and THE OLD DARK HOUSE, Majestic director Frank R. Strayer was able to get some good production value on the screen, including some location work at Bronson Canyon. Dwight Frye provided another Renfield-like performance while Melvyn Douglas as the hero also helped to make this look like a bigger picture than it was. Bodies drained of blood sparked fears of  vampirism in the village of Kleinschloss. Inspector Douglas didn't believe in vampires, but evil scientist Atwill liked the superstition because it covered up his experiments in growing life in his laboratory. Atwill used a CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI-like mind control over Robert Frazer to have him fetch the victims. Eventually Wray and Douglas discovered the truth and Atwill and Frazer were dead, though how it happened off-screen was ambiguous. The filmmakers figured the audience could be distracted by the comedic antics of Maude Eburne, which took up way too much of the film's running time.

WHEELY: FAST & HILARIOUS (2018) - Animation filmmakers from Malaysia, Martinique, Maldives, Djibouti and Brunei decided that a knock-off of CARS was the way to showcase their talents. They added a plot about automotive vehicles kidnapping cars to ship overseas, and our heroic taxi must save his female luxury car by dodging shipping containers and flying through the air to rescue her. 


Charles Gilbert watched:

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN The last Connery Bond film was not produced by Eon, and it's evident. He was 23 years senior to heroine Kim Basinger. Not a hint of the John Barry cues.

VIEW TO A KILL (1985) Last one for Roger Moore is panned by critics for his age, but I think he still had the flair for the role. I especially like the leit motif melodization of the title tune by Duran Duran. More exciting than Connery's films, albeit with the extra humor elements. First Bond film for me was Moore's third (TSWLM) that I saw aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz in the Mediterranean in 1977. And it's still my favorite.

RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1943) B&W. Bela Lugosi returns as the Dracula figure but Columbia Pictures was forbidden to use said name. This one includes a werewolf that talks as the beast..

Bela Lugosi : Return of Dracula. Not a review of the 1943 film but a tribute to the star who was disrespected by the studios that refused to compensate him justly.

'Deadly Air Cargo' on the Smithsonian Channel. On August 7, 1997. Flight 101 in Miami crashes due to improper cargo loading, killing 4 crew and one on the ground.

David Deal enjoyed:

CREEM (19) - Good documentary on "America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine" out of Detroit.

OSS 117 LOST IN RIO (09)




Mildly enjoyed:

FURY OF THE WOLF MAN (72) - The Scorpion Blu-ray's "Extended Cut" (which we thank them for) includes some inserts of lesser image quality, but they offer racier scenes.  The downside of this is a couple of mid-rampage wardrobe changes for Naschy's beast!  At best tho, this is a sloppy, second-tier entry in the great man's catalogue.




Bertrand Van Wonterghem Highly enjoyed:

The vast of night (2019, Andrew Patterson)


Voyage to a prehistoric planet (1964, Curtis Harrington & Pavel Klushantsev)

Uncle Frank (2019, Alan Ball)

The bad batch (2016, Ana Lily Amirpour)

Dick Tracy meets Gruesome (1947, John Rawlins)

Shark night (2011, David R. Ellis)

The goes wrong show –season 1 – episode 6

Marina (2013, Stijn Coninx)

Mildly enjoyed:

Phantom from space (1953, W. Lee Wilder)

Teenagers from outer space (1959, Tom Graeff)

The incredible petrified world (1957, Jerry Warren)

The dungeon of Harrow (1962, Pat Boyette)

Urufu gai: Moero ôkami-otoko / Wolfguy enraged lycanthrope (1975, Kazuhiko Yamagachi)

The crucifixion (2016, Xavier Gens)

Terra formars (2016, Takashi Miike)

Did not enjoy:

The over-the-hill gang (1969, Jean Yarbrough)


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