Friday, December 4, 2020

Week of December 5 - 11, 2020


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which Italian actress, who did a Western, appeared in a British spy comedy frequently sipping out of a Coke bottle with a straw?
It was Marisa Mell in MASQUERADE.

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?
George Grimes knew that it was Franco Nero who turned down PREPARATI LA BARA! to make CAMELOT.

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 American actor who appeared in Italian Westerns got eaten by a shark in a Mexican disaster movie?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew it was Lionel Stander in CICLON, aka CYCLONE.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Charles Gilbert asks, "What former Italian model turned actor was born Luciano Stella?
Which actress born in Bavaria worked with directors Lucio Fulci, Gianfranco Parolini, Sidney Pink, Tonino Valerii and Rene Cardona Jr.?
In what Western does Tomas Milian play O'Hara the Albino?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Bertrand Van Wonterghem and George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Alberto dell’Acqua and Franco Nero in TEXAS ADDIO, aka TEXAS GOODBYE.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand Van Wonterghem, George Grimes and Charles Gilbert identified last week's photo of Mylène Demongeot and Roger Moore in IL RATTO DELLE SABINE, aka THE RAPE OF THE SABINES, aka ROMULUS AND THE SABINES.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand Van Wonterghem and George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of the late Daria Nicolodi in SHOCK.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Angela Mao in HAPKIDO, aka LADY KUNG FU.
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:


BELUSHI (2020) - There was so much publicity about the woman who reportedly gave John Belushi the fatal injection on March 5, 1982, that I wasn't aware that he was married. This documentary, by R.J. Cutler, gives his widow, Judith, and others who knew him a chance to create an oral history of his life, his career and his death - with no mention of the woman who capitalized on his death. There are lots of rare footage including a show during which he played drums for The Dead Boys. There is no mention of his getting Fear on Saturday Night Live, nor of his sharing cocaine with The Go-Gos.

BLACK '47 - Possibly the first action film set during the Irish Famine of 1847, BLACK '47 may seem to some to trivialize an historic tragedy, but the weight of that tragedy is solemnly presented while the movie uses it as a plot device to justify our hero's quest for revenge.

MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY (2020) - After writing her book TRIPPING THE BARDO WITH TIMOTHY LEARY: MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY, Joanna Harcourt-Smith collaborated with filmmaker Errol Morris on a documentary based on her book prior to her death on 11 October, 2020. She felt there was a mystery still surrounding her, particularly regarding Leary's decision to cooperate with the D.E.A. in 1974.

EL SECRETO DE SUE OJOS, aka THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (2009) - Director Juan Jose Campanella delivered a movie worthy of winning the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for 2010. A Spanish-Argentinian coproduction set in Argentina, the film starts with a retired judiciary employee considering writing a novel based on a past case. The first half of the movie seems to be a crime thriller, but the second half becomes something more complex. Headed by Ricardo Darin and Soledad Villamil, the cast delivers powerful performances captured by Felix Monti's camerawork.

SENTENZA DI MORTE, aka DEATH SENTENCE (1968) - Director Mario Lafrancia's Western is a bit demented, which can put off viewers wanting a straight-forward action flick. It is pretty straight-forward in its plot - our hero wants revenge on four bad guys for the murder of his brother, but the presentation of that plot gets weird. American actor Robin Clarke only made one Western in Europe, and he looks good. The four villains are all stars - Richard Conte, Enrico Maria Salerno, Adolfo Celli and Tomas Milian. How Clarke gets his revenge never seems like the most reasonable way to get it done, but it plays well. This movie shows the stupidity of emptying a revolver and then tossing it away. It also shows that pulling the lead off of a bullet cartridge with one hand may be impressive, but it provides ammunition to someone willing to dig the lead out of a bullet wound in his leg. Whomever was in charge of continuity on this film failed to keep track of the guns. Our hero seems to have a different pistol in every scene.

Mildly enjoyed:

CORALINE (2009) - Based on the novella by Neil Gaiman, writer/director Henry Selick's stop-motion animated feature is visually inventive but not emotionally involving. 

FROZEN (2013) - When I first saw this movie, I did not enjoy it. But it has become such a popular success I felt the need to give it another chance. Well, now I can point to the moment when I hated this movie - Elsa's throwing out Anna and creating the snow monster at around the 58 minute mark. Visiting with the Trolls is okay, but Elsa's stupidity colors my enjoyment until the 87 minute mark when the conflict is resolved. The audience is supposed to forgive Elsa at this point, but I still want her to be smacked down hard.

Did not enjoy:

ARENA (2011) - The question which probably occurs to everyone watching this is "Why did Samuel L. Jackson agree to be in this movie?" This isn't that big of a come-down for James Remar and Daniel Dae Kim, but surely the money couldn't have been that good for Jackson? Was this a favor for someone? After proving himself in HBO's Generation Kill and the TWILIGHT movies, Kellan Lutz gets the lead role here and shows off his physique alot. Also showing off her physique is Swedish born Katia Winter, which is a plus for the movie even if she's not as buff as Lutz. The film starts with Lutz losing his pregnant wife, Bulgarian born Nina Dobrev, in a car crash. We next see Lutz in a Mexican bar getting drunk and exhibiting fighting skills. Winter picks him up, and at first the movie looks to be a variation on HOSTEL. However, rather than people being kidnapped to be tortured to death, Lutz is kidnapped to fight to the death in an underground internet Death Game. Jackson runs the game from a secret location in Mexico, which I am certain thrills the Mexican Tourist Association. Jackson's partner, Johnny Messner, uses the name The Executioner as he is the guy who carries out the on-line voting sentence of whether the losing combatant is allowed to live or has to die. Lutz proves to be a winner and works to get ten wins inorder to personally combat The Executioner. Winter comes to regret putting Lutz in this situation, and telephones Remar. It turns out that Lutz deliberately went undercover to be a part of Death Game inorder to take it down. Lutz gets to kill Messner, but is stopped from killing Jackson when the special agents arrive - seemingly allowing the filmmakers to hope for a sequel. Special effects man Jonah Loop made his directorial debut with this ugly looking direct to video feature which doesn't overcome its dull scripting with any exciting fight choreography. I do hope to see more of Katia Winter in the future.

THE 'BURBS (1989) - Hey, what do ya know? I was right to have avoided this movie for over thirty years.

La Cigarette (1919) - There is no disputing the historic importance of director Germaine Dulac, but this short film about an elderly Egyptologist suspecting his younger wife of having an affair isn't very interesting. The idea of poisoning a cigarette to commit suicide is a bit odd. Why did Turner Classic Movies play this film without putting English subtitles on the many intertitles? If the filmmaker didn't feel that they served a narrative purpose, I certain she wouldn't have put so many on her film.

HOLLY DAY (2018) - Are you interested in a predominately black female cast version of A Christmas Carol set in modern day L.A.? If yes, then BET Her has what you're looking for. Robinne Lee is a very successful event planner who doesn't want to do her court ordered community service. She won't give her assistant Latarsha Rose time off to spend Christmas with her family and she's given up on romance after her groom left her on her wedding day to run off with the marriage planner. After twisting her ankle on a piece of candy on the floor, Lee meets a sexy doctor who tells her take it easy and let him know if she has hallucinations. First she's visited by the ghost of her dead business partner who is suffering in Hell dressed in thirft store clothing and sleeping on a 60 count bed sheet. Then she's visited by her younger self, who takes her to her mother's death bed and we discover that she was named Holly Day because she was born on Christmas. Next we see her father, who is living with his mother, regretting the alcoholic spiral he fell into after the death of his wife and the neglect which led to Lee running away. Later she meets Rose's dead grandmother who shows her how Rose's family spends Christmas missing her. Eventually she sees her future in which all of her wealth is taken away because of all of the lawsuits caused by her abusive behavior and how she ends up alone in an old folk's home celebrating her "birthmass" by herself. With Rose's help, Lee organizes a successful charity fundraiser that keeps a care facility for the elderly open. She also sparks a romantic feeling with the sexy doctor, gives an hardworking employee a chance to take Rose on a vaction, and rewards Rose by flying in her brother on leave from the military. Rick Walls directed.

MICHAEL TODD JR.'S HOLIDAY IN SPAIN, aka SCENT OF MYSTERY (1960) - Was this originally shown "in Glorious Smell-O-Vision!"? If you want a travelogue of Spain in the guise of a thriller, I recommend A SPANISH AFFAIR, directed by Don Siegel. If nothing else, the Siegel film features Spanish actors. HOLIDAY features a country populated mostly by Brits and Americans. The most interesting thing about HOLIDAY is its presentation on Turner Classic Movies. The CINERAMA company had this film transferred to video to replicate the experience of seeing the film at the Cinerama Dome with the overture playing over the image of the curtained screen at the theater. As the overture ends, the curtains start to pull open as the film begins. You see the curtains moving over the opening of the film - which is how you would see it in that theater if the film was being projected. The curvature of the Cinerama screen is duplicated instead of the usual "letterboxed" image. When the intermission comes, we see the curtain close over the projected image, and it remains closed as the intermission music plays. When the film starts up again, we see the curtain being pulled open. Needless to say, when the film ends, we see the curtain close and we see the curtained front of the theater as the exit music is played. I wish the actual movie was as interesting as the presentation. Perhaps for the only time in his career, Denholm Elliot plays a character referred to as "an attractive young man". He's a British ex-service man turned writer of detective fiction on vacation in Spain. He becomes aware of a conspiracy to murder a woman on the eve of her inheritance and with the assistance of taxi driver Peter Lorre, comically thwarts the effort. Perhaps because he was one of the best cinematographers in the business, Jack Cardiff got the job to direct the 70mm feature, but John Von Kotze gets the credit as director of photography. Mario Nascimbene contributed the music, which is filled with "mickey mouse" comedy bits. Not surprising, producer Michael Todd Sr.'s best friend Eddie Fisher gets to sing the song, and Todd's widow and Fisher's next wife Elizabeth Taylor, makes a cameo appearance under the name Liz Rolyat. Among the supporting players are Beverly Bentley, Paul Lukas, Liam Redmond, Leo McKern, Peter Arne and Diana Dors. Redmond is killed when a cask of wine is rolled down on him. Did this inspire Mario Brega's death in PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI?

SIMON BLANCO (1975) - Five years after his big budget film about EMILIANO ZAPATA, Antonio Aguilar returns to the Mexican Revolution with a much smaller budget with less ambition. Antonio Aguilar is in love with Jacqueline Andere, but her father, Mario Almada, is a land owner and hates out hero. If you thought Gene Autry sang alot in his movies, you will be astounded by the number of songs Aguilar and co. pack into this flick. Eventually, Almada threatens to kill the son of Aguilar's friend, so our hero is invited to a baptism and assassinated. At least, Aguilar gets off a shot before he dies and kills Almada. Frequent Aguilar collaborator Mario Hernandez directs this.

THE WARPED ONES, aka THE WEIRD LOVE MAKERS, aka SEASON OF HEAT (1960) - Many Japanese melodramas model themselves after the German expressionist films of the 1930s. Mix in a plot involving juvenile deliquents and you get the kind of overheated stuff that director Koreyoshi Kurahara serves here. The film was such a success in Japan that they made a sequel, BLACK SUN, in 1964. The film is of interest because of the influence of jazz music on the main characters and how the filmmakers use the soundtrack to propel the action. This was the film debut of Chico Roland, aka Chico Lourant, who had married a Japanese woman and became a go-to Black man in Japanese films, especially from Nikkatsu Studios. He returned for BLACK SUN, and comes off better under Kurahara's direction than he does under Kazui Nihonmatsu in 1968's GENOCIDE.

Women Make Film (2020) 38. Death 39. Endings. 40. Song and Dance.


Charles Gilbert watched:

FIGHTERS OF AVE MARIA (1970) The travelling 'Circus Splendor' is staffed by athletic performing brothers Tony Kendall, Pietro Torrisi, and Alberto del 'Aqua, who moonlight as crusaders against corrupt leading citizen of Goldfield and interim sheriff John Parker (Alberto Farnese). With ambitions toward a local mine, he's responsible for the shooting death of the former sheriff, and awaiting arrival of replacement (Attilio Dottesio).

GUNMAN OF AVE MARIA (1969) Boyhood friends Sebastian Carrasco and Rafael Garcia (Leonard Mann -reminds me of Eric Trump-and Peter Martell) unite again as adults after many years. He learns that sister Isabella (Pilar Velasquez) had witnesssed the murder of their father army general Carrasco by their mother (Luciana Paluzza) and her lover Thomas (Alberto de Mendoza). With a backdrop of mom's palacial estate afire in the finale, she reveals in her dying breath that she is not their real mother, but they are the offspring of a servant girl. Much darker tone than 'FIGHTERS OF AVE MARIA'.

THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) B&W. Is it typical Howard Hawks filming for the actors to talk over each other? It's pervasive in this film. Imperturbably pragmatic Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) overrides scientist (Robert Cornthwaite) on the disposition of an alien (James Arness) they discovered in the Arctic ice.

THE CONTENDER (1944) B&W. Truck driver Gary Farrel (Buster Crabbe) realizes he cannot continue paying for his son's military school tuition on his meager salary, so he hatches the notion to enter the trucking company's boxing tournament for the prize money. Success leads to full time as a professional, but his victories compromise his integrity. 

RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1964) B&W. Expert diver Ken Scott plans to rob a Catalina bank. His unwitting wife Merry Anders only wants him to boot his voyeuristic younger brother out of the house, but he's part of the gang of four, along with Booth Coleman and Russ Bender. Rather misleading title.

NIGHT OF EVIL (1962) B&W. Foster teen girl (Lisa Gaye) grows to a fetching twenty something and becomes caught up in a whirlwind of success as a beauty contestant who meets suave Chuck Logan (William Campbell) that she secretly marries. While she campaigns her advertising contracts, oblivious to his perverse ways, he's masterminding a kidnapping for ransom of a police officer. He is summarily captured.  Suddenly she is thrust into a maelstrom of depression upon investigation of her relationship with the escaped convict. She descends into activities of  the red light district becoming object of abuse, hawks for a gun, considers suicide, and robs a drug store for survival. Upon arrest she stands trial but is granted clemency for her life's hard luck.

DR. NO (1962) First time viewing. Title villain doesn't apoear until 1 hour 27 minutes into run time. That "dragon" contraption on the island must have been inspiration for the menace in the episode of The Wild, Wild West "The Night of the Juggernaut" with guest star Floyd Patterson. Joseph Wiseman and Jack Lord were high school classmates in New York.

THE PURPLE MASK (1955) Tony Curtis and Collen Miller are teamed again (THE RAWHIDE YEARS) with him in the title role of the dashingly insouciant Frenchman championing royalists opposed to Napoleanic (Robert Cornthwaite) 'republic' rule. Socially he pretends to be inept, but in the end defeats all with the rapier. With Angela Lansbury and Gene Barry.

David Deal enjoyed:





THE PASSENGER (75) - Antonioni's mysterious adventure is underrated in my view.  It has the casual devastation of his earlier films.




Mildly enjoyed:




Bertrand Van Wonterghem Highly enjoyed:

Black books – season 1 – episodes 2 to 5


Supernatural – season 15 – episode 17

Ku Klux Klan, une histoire américaine – résurrections (David Korn-Brzoza)

DC’s legends of tomorrow – season 4 – episodes « Miss me, kiss me, love me » (2018, David Geddes)

Boyz in the wood (2019, Ninian Doff)

Mildly enjoyed:

Code 404 – season 1 – episode 1

The last posse (1953, Alfred L. Werker)

The flight attendant -  season 1 - episode 1

Ildan Ddeugeobge Chungsohara / Clean for passion for now – season 1 – episode 8

Did not enjoy:

Pierre Richard, le discret (doc) (2018, Gregory Monro)

Légitime défense (2011, Pierre Lacan)

Drums in the deep south (1951, William Cameron Menzies)


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