Friday, December 25, 2020

Week of December 26, 2020 - January 1, 2021


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which Italian actor, whose first film role was in an Italian Western, appeared in a big budget movie version of a hit Broadway musical?
Antony Hasler knew that it was Ray Lovelock in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.

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? 
Antony Hasler knew that it was Nissan in their ads featuring Brie Larson.

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?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem and Rick Garibaldi knew that it was Christa Linder.

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?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was Robin Clarke.

Which Italian actor, who never made an Italian Western, appeared in a Mexican film about the Revolution? 
No one has answered this question yet.

Which Greek born actress appeared in two Italian Westerns as well as a film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was Yvonne Sanson.

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?
Kurt Von Holfmanstein and Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was Lisa Gastoni.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which French actor who appeared in Italian Westerns has a small role in the first feature film directed by a former writer for Cahiers du Cinema?
Which French actress who appeared in an Italian Western also appeared in film directed by Vittorio De Sica based on a play by Jean-Paul Sartre?
By what name is actress Ana Maria Cazorla Vega better known?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Eduardo Fajardo in CHE L'ENTRIAMO NOI CON LA RIVOLUZIONE, aka WHAT AM I DOING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE REVOLUTION?.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Kurt Von Holfmanstein and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Lorella de Luca and Jacques Sernas in NEL SEGNO DI ROMA, aka SIGN OF THE GLADIATOR.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's frame grab of Mimsy Farmer and Michael Brandon in 4 MOSCHE DI VELUTO GRIGIO, aka FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

No one identified that above photo yet.
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:

Highly enjoyed:

Arena concerto (2002) - Conducted by Ennio Morricone, this performance recorded at the Arena of Verona, September 28, 2002 was captured on DVD by Video Italia.


THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY (1964) - I certainly wasn't old enough when I first saw this movie at the age of eight. For one thing, I was unhappy with the acceptance of sex outside of marriage. For another thing, the ridicule of heroism in war just seemed wrong. Those things don't bother me now at the age of sixty-four. Now I'm bothered that James Coburn's character doesn't die a painful death. And I'm bothered by how much authentic war footage is used to flesh out the D-Day invasion sequence. Julie Andrews is wonderfully sexy in this movie - much more so than in the films directed by her husband Blake Edwards. Loosely based on a novel by William Bradford Huie, Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay is filled with speeches, as most of his film scripts are, but they are marvelously witty here. Called a "Dog Robber", James Garner's character is more or less a procurer for Admiral Melvyn Douglas, and I can't think of an actor who can take the odor off such a role as well as Garner. To a degree, Garner played a similar role in THE GREAT ESCAPE, though there he was called a scrounger. Produced by Martin Ransohoff, I'm not surprised to learn that Sharon Tate is supposed to be in this movie, but I didn't see her. I was surprised to find two future Laugh-In stars, Alan Sues and Judy Carne, featured. This is one of director Arthur Hiller's good ones.

Mildly enjoyed:

A HAPPENING OF MONUMENTAL PROPORTIONS (2017) - Gary Lundy has not had a notable acting career, but in 2017 his screenplay was chosen to be made by a bunch of producers, including Chris and Paul Weitz, and it became the directoral debut of actress Judy Greer. The result was not very successful, but it held my attention - partly because it juggled so many plots and characters that I couldn't fast-forward for fear of not following where things went. For whatever reason - I'd like to think it was because everyone loved Judy Greer and wanted to help, this film was filled with terrific actors willing to do small bits. There was Allison Janney, Common, Jennifer Garner, Bradley Whitford, Katie Holmes, Fran Kranz, Lola Glaudini, John Cho, Kumail Nanjiani, Marla Sokoloff and Keanu Reeves among many others. Common is worried about having to speak at his daughter's (Storm Reid) Career Day at school. Meanwhile school administrators Allison Janney and Rob Riggle are trying to find some place to put the dead body of the school gardner so that it doesn't freak out the students and their parents coming to Career Day. Jennifer Garner's husband finds out about her sexual liason with Common and wants a face-to-face. Meanwhile, newly arrived office boss Bradley Whitford decides to have the entire office staff questioned about someone cutting the power cord to the office coffee maker. Whitford's son (Marcus Eckert) faces another first day in a new school after finding out that an old friend in another country doesn't want to Facetime with him every morning any more, and his nanny is leaving to start a new job. 

Opus n' Bill "A Wish for Wings That Work" (1991) - In 1991, Berkeley Breathed published a children's book based on characters from his strips Bloom County and Outland. Amblin' Television and Universal Cartoon Studios thought it would be a good Christmas special for CBS and hired Skip Jones to direct. Breathed wasn't happy with the result, accusing the director of slipping in inappropriate gags. But, where else can you see a clip from director Frank Capra's LOST HORIZON with Opus the Penguin taking over as the pilot? Where else would you see Santa Claus flying through the air to the tune of "The Magnificent Seven"? Reportedly, Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman agreed to voice minor characters in this during the production of HOOK.

Sanditon (2019) - Jane Austin left this novel unfinished, so it made sense that rather than another TV mini-series based on one of her finished works, Andrew Davies - who had adapted many of those previously made TV mini-series - was hired to adapt the material and give it an ending. Most of the eight episodes are quite enjoyable, but Davies decided to end the last part leaving two of the main characters with unresolved storylines. Were there plans for a second season? In any case, that really spoils this show. Still, thank you producers for making me aware of Rose Williams, Crystal Clarke, Charlotte Spencer and Lily Sacofsky. I hope to see them in future productions.

Did not enjoy:


DRAGON BALL SUPER: BROLY (2018) - I'm not an anime fan, and this effort hasn't peaked my interest in becoming one. Having successfully established an hateful villain in Lord Frieza, who starts the story by ordering all of the Saiyans to return to their home planet of Vegeta inorder to destroy all of them and their planet when he creates a deadly astroid, the filmmakers don't satisfy this viewer's desire by obliterating his existence. But, I guess, he's the main villain of the series so he's going nowhere. Frieza destroys the Saiyan race from fear that the legend of a Super Saiyan may come true. What he doesn't know is that such a child, named Broly, has been born, but the King of the Saiyan has exiled him to an inhospitable planet from fear that he tests stronger then the King's son. Broly's father joins his son on the planet and raises him with the desire for revenge. The series begins with a Saiyan father fearing that Frieza will do what he does do, sending his son, Kakarot - aka Goku, to Earth - a la Superman. Later on, Kakarot is joined on Earth by other Saiyan survivors. This is the 20th feature in the Dragon Ball cinematic series based on the manga by Akira Toriyama, but the first to be branded Dragon Ball Super. In it, Broly and his father are found by Frieza force members Cheelai and Lemo and taken to Frieza. The villain sees Broly as someone who can defeat our heroes, and the 100 minute movie spends about 40 minutes showing animated battle that only concludes when Cheelai and Lemo steal seven dragon balls inorder to wish Broly back to the planet from where he came - thus saving him from death by Frieza. So, Frieza is still at large while Goku makes friends with Broly inorder to continue sparring with him to gain more strength. The Broly character was actually introduced outside the Dragon Ball series in 1993's BROLY - THE LEGENDARY SUPER SAIYAN, followed by BROLY - THE SECOND COMING and BIO-BROLY, so this film brought him into the main Dragon Ball canon. And you thought American comic books got needlessly complicated.

GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS (2019) - So, Legendary Pictures Productions LLC decided to follow up GODZILLA (2014) and KONG SKULL ISLAND (2017) with a remake of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS as part of their "MonsterVerse" program. Obviously more inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe than the Toho Godzilla series, the 2019 film even had the villains operating with a Thanos-like justification for mass destruction. Despite all of the high-tech computer wizardary, these new films lacked the design beauty of the original 1960s Toho films. And while it was nice of them to throw in some of the Akira Ifukube music themes and even a remake of the Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla", all of their "call-backs" were incredibly irritating. Long time fans can spend the new movie trying to list all of the plot elements recycled from older more enjoyable flicks, and that was more fun than putting up with a Godzilla movie that boils down to parents fighting over how to live with the death of their son and custody of their daughter. Any sympathy the filmmakers intended for the Vera Farmiga character was lost after the first massacre, and they really should have given her a more painful death rather than allowing her to have a noble sacrificial one. The producers have assembled a terrific cast, who do some good work on lousy material. I just about went hysterical when Admiral David Strathairn announced that the military had a new secret weapon they were going to deploy without warning called the "Oxygen Destroyer". But it came as no surprise when Ken Watanabe, as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, later opted to have a noble sacrificial death. Sheesh, who would have thought GODZILLA MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK and the idea of Guardian Monsters would be so attractive to the guys at Legendary Pictures Productions LLC. From all of the dialogue about ancient Titans in this movie, I figured that Legendary was wrapping their Godzilla movies in with their CLASH OF THE TITANS remakes.

GENIO Y FIGURA, aka GENIUS AND FIGURE (1953) - Linda Cristal is furious that her boyfriend, Luis Aguilar, and his brother, Antonio Badu, are out galavanting while Badu's wife, Esther Fernandez, is suffering from a difficult pregnancy. After leaving the two young ladies with whom they've been riding horses, Aguilar and Badu come home with a mariachi band to serenade their women. Her doctor advises that Fernandez should get special care in Mexico City, so the two couples head to the city - with the two men still wearing their holsters and pistols. Cristal stays with Fernandez while she's seeing her doctor, Aguilar and Fernandez meet Evangelina Elizondo and Gloria Mestre at the hotel bar. The two women are nightclub showgirls, so the brothers attend their performances. Coming home drunk to the hotel, Aguilar and Fernandez drag along another mariachi band to serenade their women awakening complaining guests. They are told that their women are at the hospital, so the brothers take off. After a nervous night at the hospital, a baby is born. This doesn't stop the brothers from going out to the nightclub again. Leaving the club, the brothers and Elizondo are robbed of everything but their underwear. A picture of them being booked at the police station makes the front page of the newspaper, so Badu is embarrassed about visiting the hospital, where Aguilar gets yelled at. Aguilar seeks out Badu at the nightclub, and when he tries to convince the new father to visit his wife, they scuffle and Aguilar slugs Badu. Instinctively, Badu shoots Aguilar. Ashamed, Badu allows Aguilar to drag him to the hospital where they are informed that the baby may not survive the night because of an heart problem. Badu, Fernandez and Cristal hold a vigil for the baby through the night with Aguilar, who won't tell anyone that he's been shot. Badu prays to a statue of the Virgin that he will change his ways if the baby survives. In the morning, the doctor reports that the baby will survive, and only then does Aguilar fall to the ground bleeding. Cristal cradles his head in her lap saying that she'll forgive him. Not too long later, Aguilar is recovered enough in an hospital bed to attempt to seduce a nurse. Badu and Fernandez with their baby and Cristal enter the hospital room which stops Aguilar. And this is supposed to be funny. There is quite a bit of singing and dancing in this film and no real moral judgement of the men's behavior.

MISS BALA (2019) - Since this movie is based on the 2011 Mexican submission to the 84th Academy Awards, I can't complain that here is another American film unpromoting Tijuana tourism. Plus the fact that much of the movie is shot in Tijuana with the cooperation of the local authorities. I've not seen director Gerardo Naranjo's original, but from what I've read of that film, the American moviemakers have polished off alot of the original's rough edges and have even given it an (kinda) happy ending. I can understand why actress Gina Rodriguez and director Catherine Hardwicke wanted to make this film - people who make action films get paid more money than the average moviemaker. Did they really hope to turn this into a franchise? One of the changes in the Americanized version is to have our heroine be an American, born in Tijuana, but working as a make-up artist in Los Angeles. It is her best friend Cristina Rodlo, who lives in Tijuana, who wants to be in the Miss Baja, California beauty pagent. Rodlo thinks that her chances will improve if she catches the eye of Police Chief Damian Alcazar, so Rodlo and Rodriguez go to the Millennium Club. Unfortunately, that night, drug dealer Noe Hernandez, decides to attempt to kill Alcazar. In the shootout, Rodlo and Rodriguez get seperated. When Rodriguez asks a cop for help in finding Rodlo, she finds herself kidnapped by Hernandez' people. After being forced to park a car on a corner, Rodriguez is horrified to discover that she's delivered a car bomb. Later, when she alludes her kidnappers, she is kidnapped by American DEA agents who force her to set a trap for Hernandez. When it becomes obvious that the DEA isn't concerned for her safety, Rodriguez decides to help Hernandez escape inorder to save herself. Hernandez arranges for Rodriguez to enter and win the beauty pageant inorder for her to be invited to Alcazar's after party. He also tells her that Alcazar kidnapped Rodlo and that she, too, will be at the party. At the party, Rodriguez learns that truth that it was Hernandez who kidnapped Rodlo, so she warns Alcazar of Hernandez' coming attack. During the shootout, Rodriguez rescues Rodlo and helps Hernandez to kill Alcazar, and then kills Hernandez. Things don't look good for our heroines when they are taken into police custody, but luckily C.I.A. agent Anthony Mackie shows up to recruit Rodriguez to The Company. Rodriguez ensures that Rodlo is reunited with her family before allowing Mackie to drive off with her.

Next season one (2020) - Please, please, please don't continue this torture.

THE OTHER SIDE OF HELL (1978) - Alan Arkin gives a convincing performance as a man sentenced to an asylum for the criminally insane. He wants to go because he knows he needs help, but he doesn't get help inside. Instead, he's at the mercy of vicious guards and vicious fellow inmates. He befriends fellow inmate Roger E. Mosley, so you can bet Mosley will end up dead before the end. Directed for NBC-TV by Hungarian born Jan Kadar, this is a bleak view of the system and the viewer ends with a feeling of helplessness. Leonard Roseman's music score is as unnerving as usual.

PARIS NOUS APPARTIENT, aka PARIS BELONGS TO US, aka PARIS IS OURS (1961) - Some feel that director Jacques Rivette's first feature film perfectly captures the "bohemian paranoia" of the youth in late 1950s Paris. To me, it is a badly acted and miserably paced would be thriller that relies upon the music by Philippe Arthuys to suggest menace to which the performers and director are unable. As Betty Schneider is unable to evoke audience sympathy, her character's nonsensical fascination for a paranoid conspiracy is uninteresting. Seeing this for its historical value is the only pleasure, such as spotting future directors like Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Demy and producer Claude Chabrol in minor roles. When actual actors like Jean-Claude Brialy and François Maistre pop up, it only points out how inadequate the main cast is. At one point there's a party in which a silent copy of director Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS is shown.

REVENTON EN ACAPULCO (1982) - Born in Uruguay, Gustavo Rojo started his film career in Cuba in 1938, before moving to Mexico, where he worked steadily until 1951 when his European career took off. He would also work often in Hollywood, until 1971 when he returned to Mexico to mostly work in TV shows until his death in 2017 at the age of 93. He did this movie around the age of 59 and still looks pretty good, though seeing him in this low-brow juke box musical makes one wonder if he didn't miss the years he was producer Sidney Pink's go-to guy. Everyone wants to go to Acapulco, even if they are a poor family that has to sleep on the beach. Rojo plays a rich guy whose large busted woman is looking for excitement with a younger man. Later on, when the young man returns, he finds Rojo alone, and Rojo shows an interest in the young man, too. In the end, the couple takes the young man with them when the leave Acapulco. The film is mostly an excuse to feature a plethora of Mexican musical  and comedy performers of whom I am unfamiliar and nothing seen here inspires me to want to investigate them further. One gag involves  a drunken man heading down to the beach with his large busted female and running into a group of men. The woman runs away, but the group is more interested in the man and drag him off camera. Later, he can barely sit down in the taxi to leave town.

VALERIE (1957) - While Anita Ekberg and Anthony Steel were married, they made one Western together. The film starts with Sterling Hayden and a ranchhand walking into a house in the country. Hayden's brother, Jerry Barclay, stands with the three horses outside. There are gunshots and Hayden exits the house alone with a shoulder wound.  He and Barclay ride away while a dog enters the house to find four bodies. Reverend Anthony Steel seeks out Doctor Stanley Adams and finds that Hayden's wife, Anita Ekberg is still alive. Sheriff Malcolm Atterbury arrests Hayden and he confesses to the shooting but says that it was because his wife was cheating on him. Eventually, there is a trial in which the Reverend tells, in a long flashback, what he knows of the story - that Hayden abused his wife and considered the baby she was carrying not to be his. Hayden takes the stand, in another long flashback, and accuses his wife of being unfaithful with his brother, Peter Walker, and the Reverend. Surprisingly, Ekberg recovers enough to be able to give testimony from her hospital bed. She exposes that she married Hayden as part of a business deal between her father, John Wengraf, and Hayden. Since they were newly arrived immigrants, they hoped that the marriage would get them accepted by the community. A drunkard, Hayden abused his wife before forcing himself on her. When she sought company with his nicer brother, Hayden became jealous and eventually plotted to make it seem that Ekberg was trying to run away with the Reverend. He hoped to catch Steel and Ekberg together at Ekberg's parents home to kill them all, but Wengraf pulled  his gun and killed Hayden's man and wounded the villain before dying. To prove her testimony, the doctor reveals the cigar burns on Ekberg's back. Barclay and Hayden pull guns and try to escape dragging Ekberg with them, but Walker steps up and kills the bad guys while sustaining a wound himself. Director Gerd Oswald gets some nice compositions with Cameraman Ernest Laszlo, but poor acting and a talky script result in an unexciting flick.

WW84 (2020)


Charles Gilbert watched:

RINGO AND HIS GOLDEN PISTOL aka JOHNNY ORO (1966). Staid Sheriff Bill Norton (Ettore Manni) of Coldstone attempts to keep the peace as bounty killer Johnny Ringo (Mark Damon) eliminates much of the ruthless Perez clan, who have since recruited support from Apaches and their chief Sebastian (Giovanni Cianfriglia). Although on the same side of justice, Norton's probity clashes with the brash Oro who winds up in Coldstone's jail for an infraction, but where he's safe from the gang and the indians. In the finale the town of  Coldstone faces their vengeful raid to get Ringo from jail, and suffers great loss from a whale of an explosion he initiates to end the battle. With Andrea Aureli and little Loris Loddi.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1971) Probably the weakest of the Moore films, but most memorable for the amusing finale with PM 'Margaret Thatcher' calling from her kitchen to congratulate Bond on his success in thwarting the Russians. She doesn't realize she's conversing with a parrot while James is busy doing what he always does to end the film.

THE TALL T  (1957) Randolph Scott oater with Maureen O'Sullivan in a subdued role as a newlywed to John Hubbard. On a stagecoach driven by Arthur Hunnicutt,  they are robbed by outlaws Richard Boone  Skip Homier, and Henry Silva.

Tales of Wells Fargo episode "Deadwood" . Agent Jim Hardie (Dale Robertson) suspects, because the victims were shot in the back, that gunslinger Billy Reno (Richard Crane) is being framed for a stagecoach holdup and murders. Not Billy's style. Turns out the assailant to be his fiancee Bess Hollister (Mari Aldon) who wanted the bounty from a mine they shared to be hers alone.

SANTA CLAUS aka SANTA VS. THE DEVIL (1959) "Now Showing" on Imaginative Mexican Christmas tale from Rene Cardona. A comically mischievious demon named Pitch is commissioned by Lucifer in the Sulfuric Confines to thwart Santa's efforts on Christmas Eve. (Santa gets treed by a guard dog). Pays tribute to children from cultures around the world.

David Deal enjoyed:

TOM HORN (80) - Much maligned western works fine for me.


DARK INTRUDER (65) - Dandy Leslie Nielsen is actually a noted occult investigator who is called in to solve a series of murders where statues of a Sumarian god are left behind at each crime scene.  Failed TV pilot is an enjoyable period piece with a Wild Wild West flavor but the subject matter is a few years ahead of its time.




Bertrand Van Wonterghem Highly enjoyed:

Black books – season 2 - episodes 1 & 2


The lost city of Z (2016, James Gray)

Star Trek - episode « The return of the Archons » (1966, Joseph Pevney)

Open range (2003, Kevin Costner)

Unlocked (2016, Michael Apted)

Ejdeha vared mishavad ! / A dragon arrives ! (2015, Mani Haghighi)

Ghosts – season 2 – episode 4

What happened to Monday (2016, Tommy Wirkola)

Mildly enjoyed:

Les mille et une vies de Yul Brynner (doc) (2020, Benoît Gautier and Jean-Frédéric Thibault)


Kurt Von Holfmanstein wrote:

 I recommend some rarely seen films from director Mario Soldati.
    1/ Eugenia Grandet (1947) with Alida Valli,
      adapted from French XIXth century novelist Balzac. A classical
      story set in Touraine (France) where a rich miser's daughter helps
      an upstart make a mariage into the nobility in spite of a previous
      promise of marriage, for the ruin of that man (the plot is more
      complicated though).
    2/ Il sogno di Zorro (1952) with Walter
        Chiari, Vittorio Gassman, an appearance of Sophia Loren.
      It's a humorous rendering of the legend of Zorro under the
      appearance of an effeminate son of a good Spanish hidalgo family
      who refuses a nice marriage. My italian and my impatience didn't
      allow me to understand the upshot. But the scenes and the decors
      are wonderful, dialogues witty. I wonder if Zorro is not portrayed
      in this films an homosexual ( a rare hypothesis in the 50s in the
      cinema). Hence the ambiguous title The dream of Zorro
    3/ Mandrin (1952) with Raf Vallone. It's a cape
      and sword film adapted from the famous case of the French XVIIIth
      century bandit in the Savoie region astride modern Italy and
      Modern France. Mario Soldati's best history film, a lot of humor,
      nice stunts and sword scenes, a very good rendering of pre
      revolutionary France, and Raf Vallone at the highest of his career
      as the perfect gentleman that he was.
    I've seen others from Soldati, nice movie maker.


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