Friday, January 15, 2021

Week of January 16 - 22, 2021



To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which Italian actor, who never made an Italian Western, appeared in a Mexican film about the Revolution? 

Which American body builder used to be a room mate to Steve Reeves before either of them started making movies in Italy?
No one has answered this question yet.

On what film was director Vittorio Cottafavi reportedly replaced by Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem and George Grimes knew that it was LE VERGINI DI ROMA, aka AMAZONS OF ROME.

On what film did director Sergio Corbucci say that he started production before being replaced by Antonio Margheriti?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was DANZA MACABRE, aka CASTLE OF BLOOD.

On what film directed by Sergio Leone did Antonio Margheriti work?
Bertrand Van Wonterghem and George Grimes knew that it was GIU LA TESTA, aka DUCK YOU SUCKER!

And now for some new brain teasers:

During the making of what Western did director Sergio Corbucci see a UFO?
For which Western did Franco Nero reject the idea of hiring Sergio Corbucci to direct?
During the making of which movie did Mickey Knox decide that he wouldn't work with Sergio Leone anymore?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Luis Davila, Laura Granados, Aldo Sambrell, Jose Guardiola, Alex Nichol and Lorenzo Robledo in RELEVO PARA UN PISTOLERO, aka RELAY FOR A GUNMAN.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Mario Novelli in GLI INVINCIBILI FRATELLI MACISTE, aka THE INVINCIBLE MACISTE BROTHERS.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Angel Rivera, George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Karin Black, James Franciscus, Margaux Hemingway and Lee Majors in KILLER FISH.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

No one identified the above photo from BLACK TAVERN.

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:


NEW YORK STORIES (1989) - How did this project come about? Allen says just about nothing about it in his autobiography, and Tom Shone doesn't even mention the film in WOODY ALLEN A RETROSPECTIVE. In WOODY ALLEN A BIOGRAPHY, John Baxter reports that Allen's producer Robert Greenhut conceived of the project and that they hoped to get Federico Fellini to participate in a film in which different directors would contribute short films giving a portrait of New York City. Obviously this was partly inspired by anthology movies like L'AMORE IN CITTA which Fellini contributed to in 1953 along with five other directors. The effort to get European directors failed, so American directors Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg were substituted. Spielberg left the project to concentrate on producing WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?, and Francis Coppola came aboard. How the film switched from being released by Orion Pictures to Touchstone Pictures is probably linked to the distribution deals Scoresese and Coppola had in place. Each of the three short films were made by different production companies with seperate casts and crews - aside from actor Paul Herman who has bit parts in all three films. At the time this came out, Scorsese's "Life Lessons" was hailed as the best part of the trilogy, with Allen's "Oedipus Wrecks" second best and Coppola's "Life Without Zoe" as possibly the worst film he'd ever made. Seeing this now, "Life Lessons" is another irritating portrait of a tortured artist who inflicts his misery on young aspiring female artists as fuel for his work. Aside from some sexy shots of Rosanna Arquette - with whom Scorsese had previously worked on AFTER HOURS and whom the director convinced to not only show her feet, which she hated to do, but to also have Nick Nolte say that he wanted to kiss them - and some lovely close-ups of Brigitte Bako (captured by the former cameraman for Francois Truffaut Néstor Almendros), the fun of this segment are the cameos by Scorsese's girlfriend at the time Illeana Douglas, Peter Gabriel and Deborah Harry. There is also fun in seeing Steve Buscemi do his one man performance show. Now that Sofia Coppola is a respected filmmaker, "Life Without Zoe", which she co-wrote with her dad, can now be appreciated as a charming little tale, supposedly inspired by Kay Thompson's Eloise books.  Vittorio Storaro again wonderfully collaborates with Coppola. Heather McComb is wonderful as the 12 year old left alone with valet Don Novello to live in a posh New York hotel while her father Giancarlo Giannini and mother Talia Shire travel the world for their careers. The lovely Carole Bouquet appears as a Princess. Chris Elliott shows up as someone robbing the hotel's safety deposit boxes. The director's dad, Carmine, plays a street musician, as well as contributing to the music score along with Kid Creole and The Coconuts. Adrien Brody and Holly Marie Combs reportedly also appear in Coppola's film, but I didn't notice them. "Oedipus Wrecks" is Woody Allen returning to sketch comedy as a Jewish lawyer trying to pass in a gentile world by changing his name and marrying Mia Farrow. Mae Questel, who used to be the voice of Betty Boop in the 1930s, and the voice of Olive Oyl in the 1940s, and who voiced a role in ZELIG, plays Allen's mother who drives her son crazy and doesn't approve of Farrow as a daughter-in-law. Allen tells his analyst that he wishes his mother would just disappear, which she does when she is pulled on stage by a magician for the Chinese box trick. Allen finds that his life is so much better with his mother gone, until she appears in the sky over Manhattan as a giant face to tell everyone about her relationship with her son. In an effort to rid himself of his mother, who has become a media sensation, Allen consults psychic Julie Kavner. Farrow finally flees New York City because the mother keeps bad mouthing her, and Allen falls in love with Kavner. The mother approves of Kavner and resumes her normal human form, much to Allen's confusion. "Oedipus" features Larry David, Mayor Ed Koch (as himself) and Kirsten Dunst's film debut as one of Farrow's children. Reportedly also appearing is Allen's adopted daughter Dylan.

CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS (1989) - It seems ironic that the first Woody Allen film to have something like a suspense plot would have a clip of director Alfred Hitchcock's one attempt at a sophisticated comedy, MR. & MRS. SMITH - which most regard as a failure. Clips from THE LAST GANGSTER, THIS GUN FOR HIRE, FRANCIS (the talking mule) and HAPPY GO LUCKY also are used, but even though Allen shows Mia Farrow SINGING IN THE RAIN on a Steenbeck editing table we don't get to see any of it. Usually when Allen ends a film with a voice over that seems to tell us the lesson to be learned from the story, the voice over seems a little humorous. Here, Allen has created a fictional philosophy professor, played by psychologist Martin S. Bergmann, who, once again, tells us that humans are the only species trying to create meaning in life with love. The philosophy professor is the subject of a film that small-time documentary filmmaker Allen is making, and of whom Allen has made an hero. Not only does the professor's unexpected suicide makes Allen's unfinished documentary meaningless, it contributes to Allen's sense that life is just misery, as his unhappy marriage to Joanna Gleason is ending and the object of his romantic infatuation, Mia Farrow, has chosen to marry TV producer Alan Alda (reportedly based on Larry Gelbart) - whom Allen attempted to make a documentary about comparing him to Benito Mussolini. The ending for Allen's character isn't as bleak as the one in THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO because he at least has a good relationship with his neurotic sister Caroline Aaron and his adorable teenage niece Jenny Nichols, who shares his love of old movies. (Jenny Nichols is the daughter of Mike Nichols and Annabel Davis-Goff. She also appeared in the Coppola section of NEW YORK STORIES and in RAGTIME.) The other half of the movie seems partly inspired by Fyodor Dostoevsky's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and concerns Martin Landau plotting with his brother Jerry Orbach to murder mistress Angelica Huston who is threatening to reveal Landau's misdeeds to wife Claire Bloom. Unlike the main character in Dostoevsky's book, Landau finally gets over his feelings that God is watching and judging him, and continues with his successful family life and career seemingly guilt free. Also appearing in this remarkable cast are Sam Waterston and Frances Conroy, with cameos by Nora Ephron, Daryl Hannah, Mercedes Ruehl and Allen's adopted daughter Dylan. Originally the film was to begin with Allen and Farrow making a documentary about an old folks home. It didn't work, so Allen rewrote and reshot and so Sean Young's appearance was lost.

ALICE (1990) - There is a shock at the very beginning of this movie. Mia Farrow is wearing a fur coat - and no one runs into camera throwing red paint on her. There has always been alot of Jewishness in Woody Allen's films, but CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS had more than most, so I guess it made sense that his next film would change things up a bit and deal with Catholic guilt. Unfortunately, Allen has not lived a Catholic childhood, so I guess he got second hand information from Farrow, who has not been living the life of a nun - though with her adoptions she seems to think of herself as something like Mother Teresa. (It is interesting that Farrow and William Hurt pronounce Teresa differently in a single conversation. What this a conscious decision or did it just happen?) Allen's personal friend John Doumanian's wife Jean saw a Chinese medical practitioner, which inspired this film. Farrow plays the unhappy wife of rich man William Hurt, who can't find relief from her maladies, and after the fifth referral to a Chinese medical practitioner, she sees Keye Luke in Chinatown. Farrow found herself attracted to Joe Mantegna while picking her children - Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow and Matthew H. Williamson - up from pre-school, but couldn't bring herself to talk to him. Luke gives her an herb to drink, and the next day she suddenly finds herself not only flirting with him, but also incredibly knowledgeable about the saxophone and jazz music when she finds out that he's a musician. She fails to show up for the date she set with Mantegna because she doesn't know anything about him, so Luke gives her another herb which makes her invisible. Unseen, Farrow follows Mantegna as he visits his ex-wife Judy Davis at her office, and they end up making love on her couch. Various other high jinks ensue, including burning some herbs which makes the ghost of old boyfriend Alec Baldwin appear inorder to have a SUPERMAN-like fly over Manhattan. Introducing Mantegna to her invisibility herb, Farrow and he follow two of her girlfriends into a clothing store. While invisible Mantegna follows Elle Macpherson into a dressing room, Farrow overhears how her husband has been frequently unfaithful over the last 15 years. Farrow decides to leave her husband to work with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, but the film ends with her former friends gossiping about how she's moved back to New York to live in a poorer neighborhood raising her kids on her own and doing charity work. They can believe that she's given up her husband, but they can't believe that she's given up her maid, cook and chauffeur. After three films with cinematographer Sven Nykvist, Allen is back working with Carlo Di Palma. Some feel that ALICE is inspired by director Federico Fellini's JULIET OF THE SPIRITS, but aside from a certain belief in magic, the films have little in common. This time Farrow's mother is played by Gwen Verdon, (I wonder if Maureen O'Sullivan was unhappy about being replaced on SEPTEMBER?) and her father by Patrick O'Neal (who was in the Scorsese segment of NEW YORK STORIES). Other cast members include Julie Kavner, Cybil Shepherd, Blythe Danner (from ANOTHER WOMAN), Rachel Miner (in her screen debut), Caroline Aaron (from CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS), James Toback, Bernadette Peters, Lisa Marie, Bob Balaban, Peter Tolan and Judith Ivey. 

SCENES FROM A MALL (1991) - Going from Marlene Dietrich's dirge like version of "You Do Something To Me" to Bette Midler's big band version kind of sums of this advertisement for the Beverly Center. Why parts of this were filmed at the Stamford Town Center in Connecticut and the Kaufman Asotria Studios in New York is mystifying. It is hard not to see this movie as director Paul Mazursky's L.A. version of a Woody Allen movie, and having Woody Allen, wearing a pony tail, threatening violence against someone who might run down L.A. in favor of New York sounds like a deliberate echo. So does using two Nino Rota pieces from Fellini's AMARCORD and JULIET OF THE SPIRITS. Actually Paul Mazursky beat Allen into making a film inspired by director Federico Fellini with 1970's ALEX IN WONDERLAND, and Mazursky even got Fellini to make an appearance. Obviously, the film's title plays on Ingmar Bergman's SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE, but while also dealing with a marriage seeming to be falling apart, Mazursky's film would never be mistaken as a Bergman homage. Mazursky's movie is a fairly standard romantic comedy about incredibly rich people throwing money around, which seems to have shocked film critics at the time for the film got mostly bad reviews. Perhaps they expected something more substantial from the director of ENEMIES: A LOVE STORY working with the actor from CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. Allen said he made the film as a favor to Disney executive Jeff Katzenberg, and he enjoyed working with Bette Midler and Paul Mazursky, but that he never saw the movie and that he had heard it was not very good. If nothing else, it might have sold some tickets to SALAAM BOMBAY! as that's the movie Midler and Allen go into while arguing and end up having satisfying sex near the back row. A couple of obvious differences between this and a Woody Allen film include the number of black people to be seen - including Joe Cool & the Coolers rapping in the mall, and Woody Allen saying "fuck" a couple of times. Soon-Yi Previn and Fabio make cameo appearances, while the director shows up on a TV screen praising Midler's book. It is later revealed that he is the man with whom Midler is having an affair. Mazursky's wife, Betsy, has a small role as an Information Woman at the Mall. In this film, everyone has a car phone or a pager and Midler might be the only actress who is shorter than Allen.

SHADOWS AND FOG (1991) - "There's only one kind of love that lasts - that's unrequited love. It stays with you forever." For a movie that is remembered as an homage to German Expressionist cinema with a Franz Kafka plot, it is odd that one of its best lines is about the nature of love, spoken by Jodie Foster playing a prostitute. She gets another great line, "There's only one thing men will brave murder for - that little furry animal between our legs." While much has been made about this film trying to look like a 1930s German film, with alot of music by Kurt Weill to assist, this is less like a film by director Fritz Lang and more like an Universal horror movie made by expatriate Germans. Carlo Di Palma delivers some nice black and white images, but he's not Karl Freund and the film lacks the high contrast images of the best German expressionist films. Reportedly based on his one-act play Death, Woody Allen sets the film in an unnamed village on a single foggy night. Allen gets awakened in the night by a vigilante group saying that he must be a part of the plan. After he dresses and go out on the street, Allen finds that none of the other men are about and no one has explained to him about the plan. An homicidal maniac is on the loose, and the authorities naturally begin to round up the Jews. Meanwhile, at a nearby circus, sword swallower Mia Farrow finds her fiance, the clown John Malkovich, in the wagon of the tightrope walker Madonna. Packing her bag, Farrow sets out into the dangerous night, but is taken under the wing of street walker Lily Tomlin, who takes her back to the bordello for a warm meal. As in THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, Allen portrays the prostitutes as wise women with hearts of gold. With an actual suspense plot, Allen proves able to generate tension while still delivering laughs. And he fills the screen with remarkable actors including Kathy Bates, Julie Kavner, William H. Macy, Wallace Shawn, Kurtwood Smith, Fred Gwynee, Kenneth Mars, Donald Pleasence, John Cusack, Kate Nelligan, John C. Reilly and David Ogden Stiers. For the first time in a Woody Allen movie, his character fails to perform sexually. The usual "you were wonderful" after sex dialogue is shared by Cusack and Farrow. This was the last movie Allen made for Orion Pictures which would soon go into bankruptcy.

HUSBANDS AND WIVES (1992) - I wonder if "Reality TV" was an influence on this flick. It is another faux documentary, but it includes moments which could only have been captured on film or tape if these people had been followed by handheld cameras 24 hours a day for years. Unlike ZELIG, no one ever acknowledges the camera and there is no logical reason why much of this material would be available to the makers of a documentary. Now that Orion Pictures was no more, TriStar stepped up to release Woody Allen's picture, with his final-cut deal still in place and his crew still together. It was during the making of HUSBANDS that the relationship between Mia Farrow and Allen blew up, and while the film doesn't seem at all autobiographical, Allen has a line that retrospectively sounds autobiographical:  "How could I be 100% honest with Judy? I felt that I loved her and I didn't want to hurt her. So what am I going to say? That I feel myself becoming infatuated with a 20 year old girl and that I see myself sleepwalking into a mess and that I've learned nothing over the years?" At the beginning of the film, Allen and Farrow play a married couple hosting a get-together with another married couple, Sydney Pollack and Judy Davis. When Pollack and Davis announce that they are separating, it throws Farrow into an highly emotional spiral. While trying to set Davis up with a fellow at work, Liam Neeson, Farrow realizes her own desire for Neeson. Pollack moves in with Lysette Anthony, who is the opposite of Davis, and that's fine for a while. Allen, who tells us that he's never cheated on Farrow, begins to respond to his adoring student Juliette Lewis, who confesses to a series of affairs with older men. This material is very familiar from Allen's previous movies, and there's not much overt humor, but after what many perceive as his "perfectionism" during the last few productions, he is deliberately loose this time. Encouraging improvisation from his cast and cameraman, Allen achieves rich performances from a great cast including himself, Farrow, Davis, Pollack, Lewis, Ron Rifkin, Bruce Jay Friedman, John Doumanian, Blythe Danner, Brian McConnachie (who looks like Michael Crichton), Jerry Zaks, Caroline Aaron, Nora Ephron (though I didn't see her) and Fred Melamed. Reportedly Allen wanted Jane Fonda for the Judy Davis role, and Emily Lloyd originally had the role played by Juliette Lewis. Allen and Farrow talk about watching WILD STRAWBERRIES on TV while Pollack and Anthony are seen coming out of a theater showing RAN. As they walk, Pollack explains to Anthony that Shakespeare only wrote KING LEAR, not KING LEO, and Anthony responds that he was English, not Japanese. While not Allen's first R-Rated movie, this is the first film written by him in which characters say "fuck". And you get a quick peak at one of Judy Davis' nipples.

MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY (1993) - In his autobiography, Woody Allen writes "Originally I had planned to make MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY with me and Mia, but relations had since curdled into Roquefort cheese, and of course it was obvious we would never work together again. Mia surprised everybody by wanting to do the movie, and threatened to sue me if I didn't use her in the part. This, after swearing to the world I raped, molested, both Soon-Yi and Dylan. I guess acting was in her blood." Continuing with Carlo Di Palma doing handheld camerawork, Allen dropped not only the faux documentary format, but also voice-over narration. Co-writing with Marshall Brickman again, Allen delivers an homage to the light comedy mystery movies he loved as a kid, though he shows clips from DOUBLE INDEMITY and THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI which are not light comedies. When Allen's wife Diane Keaton becomes obsessed with the possibility that the neighbor Jerry Adler might have murdered his wife Lynn Cohen, she turns to playwrite Alan Alda for advice since Allen doesn't want her to investigate. As in HUSBANDS AND WIVES, Allen fancies Angelica Houston with whom he works, but deflects his interest by trying to set her up with recently single Alda. As Alda and Keaton compare notes, he finally confesses to her that he fancies her. When Houston and Alda hit it off, Keaton finds herself jealous not only of Alda, but also of Allen. This mystery story looks like it will spin off into the usual Allen neurotic sexual roundelay, but a dead body turns up and the mystery gets back on track. This is a fun film where the humor doesn't spoil the suspense. Also in the cast are Joy Behar, Ron Rifkin (of HUSBANDS AND WIVES), John Doumanian (again), Sylvia Kauders (of CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS), Ira Wheeler (of HANNAH AND HER SISTERS), George J. Manos (of THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO), Aida Turturro, Philip Levy (of HUSBANDS AND WIVES), Steve Randazzo (of HUSBANDS AND WIVES), David Boston (of HUSBANDS AND WIVES), Vincent Pastore and 17 year old Zach Braff who plays Allen and Keaton's son visiting from college. 
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY (1994) - "So I decided to write a screenplay with Doug McGrath, another funny and very astute friend. Writing with someone mitigates the intense loneliness. Doug married my former assistant, Jane Martin, who had worked with me for over a decade... I came to Doug with several ideas to do together. My personal first choice was a political satire with the idea for BULLETS lower on the list.... He sparked to BULLETS and maintained his conviction.... To me, it sounded a little hackneyed. Still, I succumbed to Doug's rabid confidence, and as it turned out, I'm thankful I listened to him." His deal with TriStar ended and Allen's new movie was picked up by Miramax. "Incidentally, despite what was printed in the newspapers, Harvey Weinstein never produced any movies of mine. Never backed me. He only distributed a few already completed films and distributed them well... Still, I would never have allowed Harvey to back or produce a film of mine because he was a hands-on producer who changed and recut a director's movie. We never could have worked together." Allen's long time friends John and Jean Doumanian split up and Jean took up with Brazilian investment banker Jacqui Safra. Under the name J.E. Beaucaire, Safra set up Sweetland Films which backed eight Woody Allen films as well as other filmmakers like David Mamet. John Cusack had already become well known before he appeared in his first film for Woody Allen, SHADOWS AND FOG. In his second collaboration, Allen cast him as the lead and it takes awhile before one doesn't see Cusack as performing as Allen's stand-in. Another film set in the 1920s, Allen gets to use the music from that period, though using "Let's Misbehave" immediately reminds me of EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX*. Allen resists having a voice over until about 20 minutes in when it sounds like Cusack is reading from his memoirs. Chazz Palminteri is wonderful as the criminal goon who turns out to be a better dramatist than our playwright hero, and Dianne Wiest deserved the Oscar for her performance as a Broadway star of a certain age. Jennifer Tilly got an Oscar nomination for being a believably annoying gangster's girlfriend who yearns to be a star. There's a terrific supporting cast including Mary-Louise Parker, Jack Warden (of SEPTEMBER), Joe Viterelli, Rob Reiner, Tracey Ullman, Jim Broadbent, Harvey Fierstein Stacey Nelkin (an old girlfriend of Allen's, she is thought to be the inspiration for Tracy in MANHATTAN), Brian McConnachie (of HUSBANDS AND WIVES), Tony Sirico, Peter Castellotti (in his 4th Allen film), Paul Herman (of RADIO DAYS), Annie-Joe Edwards (of THE PURPLE ROSE OF CARIO), John Doumanian (in his 9th Allen film), Howard Erskine (of ZELIG), Ken Roberts (of RADIO DAYS), Peter McRobbie (of SHADOWS AND FOG) and Molly Regan (of NEW YORK STORIES). Edie Falco, Dayle Haddon and Debi Mazar reportedly are also in this film, but I didn't spot them. Again, there is only one black person in the film and she is a maid. This was the first film Woody Allen's sister, Letty Aronson, took a credit on - as co-executive producer. Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnella started work in 2000 to turn BULLETS OVER BROADWAY into a theatrical musical, but it wasn't until 2012 that Susan Stroman came onto the project as director. Allen rejected all of the new music written for the show, but liked his sister's idea of turning it into a "jukebox musical" using old standards instead of new songs. When the show opened on April 10, 2014, the lead role was played by Zach Braff. It ran for 156 performances.

DON'T DRINK THE WATER (1994) - After finally watching the 1969 film version, Woody Allen agreed to do a remake of his first Broadway play for ABC-TV. Right from the beginning, the remake is an improvement over the feature film version by having the American embassy look like an American embassy. While the 1969 version tacked on opening scenes trying to find humor in packing up and going on a trip, and then adding an airplane hijacking to explain the family ending up behind the Iron Curtain, the 1994 version opened with documentary footage, narrated by Ed Herlihy from ZELIG, setting the play in the early 1960s and explaining the Cold War to a potentially ignorant audience. Working with the same crew he used on his theatrical features, Allen delivers a good looking film, though sometimes the handheld camera work distracts and kills some of the jokes. Woody Allen stars as well as writes and directs, and is ably assisted by Michael J. Fox, Julie Kavner (in her 6th Allen project), Josef Sommer (in his 3rd Allen project), Edward Herrmann (of THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO), Rosemary Murphy (of SEPTEMBER), Austin Pendleton, Dom DeLuise, John Doumanian (in his 10th Allen project), Brian McConnachie (in his 3rd Allen project) and Frederick Rolf. This time the only noticable black person in the film is the Marine guard at the Embassy. Mayim Bialik may never have looked more lovely than she does in this. Having played Kilroy, it is good to see Edward Herrmann do the character justice.

American Experience "The Codebreaker" (2021) - Elizebeth Smith became the premier cryptanalyst of the United States during the first World War, helped to bring down gangsters in the 1930s and Nazi spies during World War 2.

Mildly enjoyed:

THE SUNSHINE BOYS (1996) - On the IMDb, this is listed as the year after MIGHTY APHRODITE, but in his autobiography, Woody Allen says that he knocked this off before APHRODITE. I'm not a fan of the Neil Simon play, nor the 1975 film version, because I don't like the Willy Clark character. In this new version for TV, Sarah Jessica Parker plays Clark's agent/niece and she's so likable that you do start to like Peter Falk a little. As you would expect, Woody Allen brings a very different energy to the character of Al Lewis than George Burns does, and he's likable, but I don't find two old men being stupid cranky at each other at all amusing. Simon changes the new script so that the two comics are now to do a scene in a Warner Bros. movie, and not an old skit on a TV special. This doesn't change the material very much, but the ending also changes. Rather than Lewis and Clark facing the prospect of ending up in the same retirement home, here the two face the prospect of them both moving to Los Angeles and possibly hanging out at the Friar's Club. John Erman produced and directed this for the Hallmark Hall of Fame on CBS for RHI Entertainment. Reportedly, the producer of the 1975 film offered Allen a chance to direct the film, but he was more interested in playing the Al Lewis role. Twenty years later, he got to play Al Lewis. Also in the cast is Edie Falco (of BULLETS OVER BROADWAY), Liev Schreiber, Michael McKean, Whoopi Goldberg (who does not receive an on-screen credit), Michael Badalucco (of BROADWAY DANNY ROSE), Peter Appel (of SHADOWS AND FOG), David Lipman (of STARDUST MEMORIES) and Kirk Acevedo.

Did not enjoy:

DON'T DRINK THE WATER (1969) - During the making of CASINO ROYALE, Woody Allen used his down time to write a Broadway play. It premiered on November 17, 1966 with Lou Jacobi, Kay Medford, Anita Gillette and was the first time Allen became aware of Tony Roberts. Even though his producers, Charles H. Joffe and Jack Rollins, made the film for Joseph E. Levine, Allen had nothing to do with it. It was extensively re-written by R.S. Allen and Harvey Bullock and directed by comedy actor Howard Morris to include alot of extreme close-ups of Jackie Gleason mugging. The only actor from the stage production to be included in the movie was Richard Libertini. When I saw this as a kid, I had such a crush on Joan Delaney - who also appeared in THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST and later in SCENES FROM A MALL. I seem to remember this was funny to me when I was twelve years old. I appeared in a production of the play when I was fifteen, so when I resaw the movie, I was appalled at how badly the film adapted the play. Ted Bessell played the role Tony Roberts did on stage, with Estelle Parsons, Michael Constantine, Howard St. John, Avery Schreiber and Phil Leeds also in the cast. Coincidentally, while editor Ralph Rosenblum was brought into save TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN around this same time, he couldn't save DON'T DRINK with all of the editing tricks he pulled. The filmmakers even put in a Mission Impossible gag.

THE DALTON GIRLS (1957) - I am amazed that I was unaware of The Dalton Brothers until I watched Terence Hill's Lucky Luke series. Proof of their notoriety can be found in that Bel-Air Productions decided that slapping the name "Dalton" on this low budget Western would help boost ticket sales. Reginald Le Borg directed this fantasy about four adult daughters becoming outlaws after one, Merry Anders, killed an undertaker - who was charging 25 cents for people to see her dead father - who attempted to rape her. As the young women rob a stagecoach, passenger John Russell became smitten with Penny Edwards to the point that he wouldn't testify that the robbers were women; they could have been men dressed as women. Russell kept crossing paths with the Daltons even though Lisa Davis was eager to kill him. You've never seen outlaws dress and undress more often than these four women, and one even got to take a bath on camera. But this was not an "adults only" entertainment, though it might have been more fun if it had been. In the final shootout, the youngest daughter, Sue George, was killed, as was the kill-crazy daughter, Lisa Davis, before Anders surrenders. Russell put an handkerchief on the wound in Edwards' shoulder - like that was going to help - and the film faded out like there was a possibility that the two could possibly live happily ever after. Les Baxter wrote the music for this oater, and with Jim Baxter contributed the song "A Gun Is My True Love" for Merry Anders to sing. Luckily, movies about singing outlaw women did not become a genre.

HONEY 3 (2016) - Sometimes "Dare To Dance" is added to the title, but "Dare To Visit Cape Town, South Africa" seems to be the film's real message. I am not the intended audience for this movie, but did the intended audience want to see an Hip Hop ballet production of Romeo and Juliet with a new happy ending? Obviously, Universal Pictures was happy enough with its performance to produce a fourth Honey movie.

THE JOE LOUIS STORY (1953) - Real life boxer Coley Wallace plays Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis is this low-budget film produced by future Oscar winner Stirling Silliphant. After Louis loses his fight with Rocky Marciano (whom Wallace beat in an amateur bout), sports writer Paul Stewart sits down to type out his column telling the real story of Joe Louis. He narrates the tale of a young man from Alabama who was taught how to box by James Edwards in Detroit. Later, as Edwards was dying, John Marley took over. During the war, he boxed for the Army. After the war, it turned out he owe the IRS $200,000, so he kept fighting to pay his debts while his friends advised him to quit. The film ends with Louis walking away after the loss, and Stewart using a line actually written by Jimmy Cannon: "Joe Louis was a credit to his race - the human race." Future Woody Allen collaborator Norman Rose plays a lieutenant and Ossie Davis reportedly makes an appearance, but I didn't see him. There is alot of newsreel archive footage of the fights including the real Joe Louis, Max Baer and Primo Carnera.

KRUSH GROOVE (1985) - Reportedly inspired by the real story of the birth of Def Jam Recordings with Blair Underwood playing a fictionalized version of Russell Simmons, who appears in the film as a club owner, KRUSH GROOVE features performances by Run DMC, Sheila E., New Edition, Beastie Boys, The Fat Boys and Kurtis Blow. Among the actors are LisaGay Hamilton, LL Cool J, Richard E. Gant and Chris Rock. Of course, Underwood gets mixed up with gangsters to finance his record company, which leads to trouble. Michael Schultz directed.

PRIVATE (2004) - After working on TV documentaries, Italian director Saverio Costanzo decided to make his feature film debut with a portrait of a Palestinian family dealing with Israeli troops that seize their house to make it a lookout post. The father refuses to become a refugee, so he demands that his family stay in their house, even though they are restricted to the first floor while the soldiers occupy the second. A growing sense of anger in the family ebs and flows during the days of occupation as the family waits for the soldiers to leave. Unfortunately, in the end, the first group of soldiers are replaced by another group, so what ever understanding that has been achieved has to begin again.

HUNGRY HEARTS (2014) - You can't accuse writer/director Saverio Costanzo of making movies on conventional subjects. From the plight of oppressed Palestinians in PRIVATE, to the anguish of a father who believes his wife is starving his son in an attempt to keep his body "pure", Costanzo is obviously not interested in making popular blockbusters. Based on the novel IL BAMBINO INDACO by Marco Franzoso, HUNGRY HEARTS is an Italian film set in New York City with a mostly English soundtrack. Adam Driver and Alba Rohrwacher meet when they are both trapped behind a stuck door in the restroom of a Chinese restaurant. They become lovers and then marry after she becomes pregnant. Rohrwacher is having a difficult pregnancy so she seeks advice from a fortune teller who says the baby is an "Indigo Child" - one that possesses extraordinary abilities. When her pediatrician Jake Weber warns her that her unstable diet is affecting the unborn child, Rohrwacher refuses to see him again and seeks out a doctor who uses alternative medicine. Eventually, after the baby is born, Driver worries that the baby is not thriving and takes to feeding him in secret. He seeks out help from the city's child services, but the wife counters by accusing him of abuse and taking sole custody of the boy. Eventually, Driver's mother, Roberta Maxwell murders Rohrwacher so that Driver can raise the child with an healthy diet. Driver and Rohrwacher won the acting awards at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.

THE SQUARE PEG (1958) - Honor Blackman looks gorgeous in this annoying World War 2 comedy starring Norman Wisdom. Blackman is parachuted into Nazi occupied France on a mission. Accidentally, Wisdom and Edward Chapman soon join her. Luckily, Wisdom also plays the local Nazi General, so our hero can impersonate the villain and help everyone to escape. John Paddy Carstairs directed.


Charles Gilbert watched:

The History of Godzilla (1954) The first one from Toho was inspired by KING KONG (1933) and THE BEAST FROM 20 000 FATHOMS. But man-in-suit sfx was adopted in lieu of the meticulous animation.

THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS (1946) Peter Lorre with J. Carroll Naish who humorously ends this who-done-it by "breaking the fourth wall".

THE BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE (1959) Stalwart ski instructor Michael Forest takes Frank Wolf and his group cross country, not realizing they engineered a gold heist in town. A local mine cave meanwhile is inhabited by a viscious evanescent monster on their prowl.

JACK THE GIANT KILLER (1962) Entertaining "Super dynamation" despite Harryhausen's absence.  Kerwin Mathews and Torin Thatcher reunite.

The Untouchables S04E25 "The Giant Killer" Torin Thatcher guest stars in title similarity to the aforementioned movie.

David Deal enjoyed:

VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (60) - For Barbara Shelley.

THE WITCH'S MIRROR (60) - From 2006: "I liked this "clean floor" shocker from Mexico. Things really pick up when the medical horror kicks in."

Mildly enjoyed:


THE RYGSECK MYSTERY (60) - Inspector Palmu investigates the locked-room death of an aristocrat.  Entertaining mystery from Finland.

ATLANTIS, THE LOST CONTINENT (49) - AKA Siren of Atlantis. Foreign Legionnaires Jean-Pierre Aumont and Dennis O'Keefe discover Atlantis in the Sahara, ruled by beautiful, ruthless queen Maria Montez.  Interesting dark fantasy also features Henry Daniell in a standout role.

TENET (20) - Christopher Nolan's movies look great.


Bertrand Van Wonterghem Highly enjoyed:

Carry on sergeant (1958, Gerald Thomas)


Dirk Gently – seasons 1 & 2

Mindhorn (2017, Sean Foley)

Kol / The call (2019, Lee Chung-hyun)

Future man – season 3

Mildly enjoyed:

Lupin – season 1 – episode 1


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