Friday, January 1, 2021

Week of January 2 - 8, 2021


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which Spanish actor, who appeared in movies about ancient Rome and in Westerns, was born to a Puerto Rican father and a Spanish mother?
It was Jorge Mistral.

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.

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 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?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which French actress who appeared in an Italian Western also appeared in a film directed by Vittorio De Sica based on a play by Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kurt Von Holfmanstein knew that it was Françoise Prévost

By what name is actress Ana Maria Cazorla Vega better known?
Charles Gilbert knew that it is Diana Lorys.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which American body builder used to be a room mate to Steve Reeves before either of them started making movies in Italy?
Which American body builder used to live with Gordon Mitchell when he first arrived in Rome?
 By what name is Isabel Apolonia Garcia Hernandez better known?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Kurt Von Holfmanstein identified last week's frame grab of Jack Palance in IL MERCENARIO, aka THE MERCENARY, aka A PROFESSIONAL GUN.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Charles Gilbert identified last week's photo of Mark Forest in MACISTE NELLA VALLE DEI REI, aka SON OF SAMSON.
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?

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:


TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN (1969) - From his autobiography, Woody Allen wrote, "...but both the WHAT'S NEW and the WHAT'S UP movies humiliated me before my mirror, and I vowed that I would never work in movies again unless I had total control, which I've always had since. On the first few movies I had it because the people who hired me were enlightened men and they respected directors, and soon after it became a must in my contracts." After the first screening, Allen knew he was in trouble with TAKE, but it was suggested that respected film editor Ralph Rosenblum be consulted. Rosenblum took a liking to Allen and the two collaborated on all of Allen's future films with INTERIORS in 1978 being their last. Roseblum respected that Allen listened to his suggestions and was very willing to make needed changes. Janet Margolin is adorable in this film. Walter Hill is listed as an assistant director.

BANANAS (1971) - As with TAKE. Woody Allen collaborated on the screenplay for this with high school buddy Mickey Rose. Rose also worked on TIGER LILY and, prior to that, wrote material for Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop. After BANANAS, Rose moved to California and worked on a variety of TV shows and even directed the movie STUDENT BODIES in 1981. In his autobiography, Allen says that the success of TAKE and his Broadway play PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM, convinced United Artists to give him a three picture deal. The first project Allen suggested was a drama, which is not what UA wanted from a comedy filmmaker. So, he and Rose came up with BANANAS. Though they had UA purchase the film rights to DON QUIXOTE U.S.A. by Richard P. Powell, nothing from that novel is used in the film. Allen cast Louise Lasser, from whom he had recently divorced, as the film's love interest, though Spanish model Natividad Abascal is easily the movie's real knock-out. This film features a dream sequence obviously inspired by Ingmar Bergman featuring Allen Garfield, a BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN gag, an uncredited Sylvester Stallone as a thug on the subway and a romantic montage similar to what Allen had in TAKE and what was pretty standard in American movies at the time. Another collaborater from TAKE was composer Marvin Hamlisch, who would go to get Oscars working for other directors. Reportedly, this film was condemned by the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures because of the cigarette commercial spoof featuring Dan Frazer as a priest. I think it was because of ABC Wide World of Sports reporting on our heroes wedding night. For me, his performance in this film is the high point of Howard Cosell's career. Reportedly, editor Ralph Rosenblum convinced Allen to not use a "Black Face" gag he had shot.

PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM (1972) - While working on CASINO ROYALE, Woody Allen wrote his second play, which opened on Broadway in 1969. It was a big success, and along with his movie TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN solidified the direction of his career. It was during auditions for SAM that Allen met Diane Keaton and during rehearsals they became lovers. Allen left the play and was replaced by Bob Denver and Keaton decided to move to California, ending her time with Allen. She ended up making THE GODFATHER and then Arthur P. Jacobs bought the rights to the play and set up a production at Paramount Pictures. Much of the cast from the original Broadway production came aboard and Allen was hired to write the screenplay. Allen doesn't mention the movie version of SAM in his autobiography, but it successfully sold the public on his being a romantic lead - something that he had been working towards with TAKE and BANANAS. Tony Roberts had been nominated for a Tony Award, as did Keaton, for the original production and became a long time friend of Allen's. Herbert Ross directed the film, and with cameraman Owen Roizman set Allen's comedy in a well photographed Hollywood production for the first time. What with Allen's character getting romantic advice from Humphrey Bogart, played by Jerry Lacy, SAM is rife with movie quotes and even has an Italian movie spoof. 

EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX* *BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK (1972) - Reportedly Woody Allen heard author Dr. David Reuben on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson answer the question "Is sex dirty?" with a line Allen wrote for TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN: "It is if you're doing it right." That inspired Allen to conceive of a movie featuring seven sketches based on seven questions in the book. With this structure, Allen was able to parody seven different genres - from Shakespeare, to Michelangelo Antonioni, to TV game shows, to Horror movies and to Science Fiction. Once again he cast ex-wife Louise Lasser along with alot of others including the beautiful Heather MacRae. I was shocked watching this again and not seeing Ralph Rosenblum in the credits. Why did he sit out this one Allen film?

SLEEPER (1973) - Originally conceived as an epic comedy in two parts with an intermission, SLEEPER ended up not having the first part set in the present, and instead only had the second part set in the future. Allen collaborated on the script with Marshall Brickman and decided to cast Diane Keaton as the female lead. With Keaton, Allen finally had an on-screen partner just as interesting as he. Keaton: "Oh, I see. You don't believe in science. And you also don't believe that political systems work. And you don't believe in God, huh? So, then, what do you believe in?" Allen: "Sex and death. Two things that come once in a lifetime. But at least after death you're not nauseous." There were not European movie movie references in SLEEPER. Instead there were bits from STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY's Douglas Rain voicing a different computer, Marx Brothers, Bob Hope and Buster Keaton films. It also has echoes of Allen's earlier works - like the revolutionary song originally used in BANANAS, the reference to sex making you nauseous from BANANAS and the speech about science being a dead end from EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX. If you've been waiting for a Science Fiction movie set to New Orleans Jazz music, this if the movie for you. With Ralph Rosenblum back in charge of the editing, Allen again doesn't get to die.

LOVE AND DEATH (1975) - Perhaps echoing the last line of SLEEPER, Woody Allen's next feature was LOVE AND DEATH, though that title may have more to do with his parody of WAR AND PEACE. Like SLEEPER, LOVE AND DEATH involves an assassination plot, but that also comes from WAR AND PEACE. In the midst of Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Sergei Eisenstein gags, Allen indulges in Ingmar Bergman imagery. Reportedly, Allen tried putting music by Igor Stavinsky on the film, but found it killed the humor. The music by Sergei Prokofiev that was used is exceptional, and it took me years to find that the main theme came from the Lieutenant Kije Suite. There are also bits from Mozart and Luigi Boccherini. In addition to Allen and Diane Keaton, the cast has ADIEU L'AMI's Olga Georges-Picot, INSERTS' Jessica Harper, PUSSYCAT's Howard Vernon, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE's Aubrey Morris and BLINDMAN's Lloyd Battista. In a break from how comedies were usually made, Allen decided that he wanted this film to look beautiful and so hired Belgium-born Ghislain Cloquet, who shot a number of films for French director Jacques Demy, to be his director of photography.

THE FRONT (1976) - I can't remember if I was aware of the Hollywood Blacklist when I first saw this movie. It is hard for me to believe that I didn't considering how many movie talents worked in European films because of it. In any case, writer Walter Bernstein and director Martin Ritt turned to Woody Allen to help put across this piece of history to the larger American public and it worked. Like many films directed by Ritt, the film's conscience is quite obvious, but like the last few Allen films, the romance with Andrea Marcovicci gets the strongest emphasis. Zero Mostel is quite effective as the suicidal performer and it is on this film that Allen became friends with Michael Murphy, whom he would later cast in MANHATTAN - but I can't help but feel it was his role in AN UNMARRIED WOMAN that clinched the deal for MANHATTAN. It is interesting to watch this soon after re-seeing THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY where our hero is talked out of doing the right thing and going to prison - but Ritt was never as cynical as Paddy Chayefsky. Having heard his voice as Death in LOVE AND DEATH, it is shocking to see that voice coming out of  Norman Rose's face. 

Mildly enjoyed:

COLD MOUNTAIN (2003) - While the presentation of war is exceptional, the love story is rather predictable, and the introduction of the supernatural is an irritant. 

The Mandalorian season two (2020) - And they used to complain that Italian Westerns were too violent. Well, I guess this is Star WARS, so the carnage is war-like.

WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT (1965) - This movie is a incoherent mess in the way many comedies of the mid-1960s are. It's taken me over 50 years to figure out what the story is. "Madcap" was desired and director Richard Lester's A HARD DAY'S NIGHT became a template for how to achieve it. Warren Beatty got the ball rolling when he talked with producer Charles Feldman about making a comedy about male sex addiciton. They brought in first time screenwriter Woody Allen to write it and offered him an opportunity to appear in it. Allen remembers that "Feldman thought it was funny but winced at everything fresh in it and responded best to its few cliches. Warren felt that the lead role that was written for him was not as funny as the small role I had written for myself." Beatty reportedly threatened to quit the project because the script wasn't to his satisfaction and that Feldman wouldn't hire his girlfriend Leslie Caron. "I diva'ed my way out of the movie. I walked off WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT? thinking they couldn't do it without me. I was wrong".  (Instead, Beatty and Caron made PROMISE HER ANYTHING which also tried to be a "madcap" comedy featuring jokes about European films.) When Peter O'Toole accepted the role, Allen had to rewrite the script to make the character English. When Peter Sellers came aboard, Allen felt that no one could control him. While Allen liked director Clive Donner, he felt Donner was "no match for Feldman or the two Peters, who were full of ideas. Seller's were funny, but wrong for this script. Feldman, a hands-on producer, was a weird combination of risk taking and also a hack. He'd take chances on who he might hire, but then get in their way. Or at least in my way." In his book, JUST TELL ME WHEN TO CRY, director Richard Fleischer detailed his problems with Feldman and Feldman's obsession with Capucine, who has a good role in PUSSYCAT. This film features Allen's first reference to director Federico Fellini's 8 1/2. I'm am certain the box office success of PUSSYCAT owes alot to composer Burt Bacharach's music, which scored hits for Tom Jones, Dionne Warwick and Manfred Mann. The film has a collection of some of Europe's favorite performers including Romy Schneider, Ursula Andress, Howard Vernon, Sabine Sun, Francoise Hardy and Tanya Lopert. Paula Prentiss also makes a welcome appearance. 

WHAT'S UP, TIGER LILY? (1966) - Reportedly Woody Allen originally recorded only an hour of material, but the producers added enough new stuff, including all of the performances of The Lovin' Spoonful, to get this to a feature length. Allen barely mentions this project in his autobiography. After shooting his part in CASINO ROYALE, "some guy had purchased a Japanese movie and asked me if I'd dub it into a comedy. It's not a comedy, but if we put our voices in when the Japanese actors speak, we can make it funny. Sounded interesting. So I got some pals, including my wife (Louise Lasser), went into a studio, put the film up on a screen and ad-libbed the track of this serious adventure movie, making it into a comedy. When I was unavailable to change a few lines, the producer hired someone else to add them. The project turned out not just uninteresting but dumb. My work on it was not very good, and the added few lines by whoever were embarrassing to me. I sued to get my name off, but when the movie came out with the venal title WHAT'S UP TIGER LILLY?, it was a hit." Obviously, Allen downplays his participation in the project - not mentioning his on-camera appearances and getting Mort Sahl's future wife, China Lee, to appear for the strip tease at the end. When I was a kid, this was considered a dirty movie, partly because of Allen's association with Hugh Hefner's Playboy Club. Did the producers of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE see this when they decided to cast Akiko Wakabayashi and Mie Hama for their film, or was it just that those two actresses were the sexy women working for Toho at the time?

CASINO ROYALE (1967) - In his autobiography, Woody Allen has little to say about CASINO ROYALE except that he thought producer Charles K. Feldman had hired him for a small role inorder to hit him up for some funny lines if he ran into trouble. Well, Feldman ran into big trouble, but didn't hit up Allen. Instead he relied up on writer/director Val Guest to fix things. Allen doesn't mention Guest in his book, but Guest reported that Allen was a pleasure with which to work. Guest ended up threatening Feldman with a lawsuit if Feldman credited him as a coordnator, because nothing about CASINO ROYALE was coordinated. Guest says that Feldman wanted a "psychedelic" movie, so "Madcap" and incoherent were again desired, with five different directors shooting five different parts of the movie with no consideration on how the thing was to fit together. There are at least two obvious references to WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT? in the film, and again the music by Burt Bacharach helped to put the movie over to the public. This time the hit records came from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and Dusty Springfield. There are more beautiful actresses in CASINO than in any of the "canon" Bond films, but why were Barbara Bouchet and Jacky Bisset revoiced by others? This was the first film inwhich bodybuilder Dave Prowse would appear as Frankenstein's monster, with make-up similar to what the Universal films had. He would later appear in HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN and FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL. Milton Reid makes a small appearance. Reportedly, Geraldine Chaplin, Anjelica Huston and Caroline Munro appear, but I didn't see them. I thought that I saw Susan Denberg among the machine gun toting women, but no source confirms that. Ian Fleming said that he thought David Niven should play James Bond, but I don't think this is what he had in mind. So, director Ken Hughes is responsible for the Caligari-like sequence in Berlin? I wonder how much composer John Barry was paid for the music bit from BORN FREE for the shot of the lion on top of the car. Some feel the production problems on this film contributed to producer Feldman's death in 1968. Plus there was no role for Capucine?

Did not enjoy:

 A CHRISTMAS KISS II (2014) - In 1974, editor Kevin Connor began a career as a film director with FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE. His big hit was THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, but then the bottom fell out of the British film industry and Connor moved into working on TV. In the early 2000s, Connor started working for the Hallmark Channel, and later Marvista. A CHRISTMAS KISS II was pretty much what you'd expect it to be with the usual message of "Take A Chance On Love". I watched it because I like looking at Elisabeth Harnois and Lola Glaudini and Elisabeth Rohm. Unfortunately, none of them got to do more than what you'd expect in something like this.

THE SOUND, aka LOWER BAY (2016) - Rose McGowan is a ghost debunker who feels that infrasound, or low frequency sound, is the cause of hallucinations and what most people think of as hauntings. Getting a text about a supposed haunted subway station in Toronto, she says "goodbye" to her husband and rushes off to debunk. This is one of those movies in which everything might be a hallucination, so that's enough of an explanation for alot of mysterious goings-on that don't need to add up to anything. Spoiler - It turns out that McGowan's effort at ghost debunking isn't because of a dead girl named Emily. Emily is the name she gave herself as a way of distancing herself from childhood abuse she suffered. Writer, director and co-producer Jenna Mattison takes responsibility for this irritating and dull film which is briefly enlivened by Nicholas Campbell appearing as a taxi driver, and Christopher Lloyd as a supposed ghost who proves that he can be creepy giving a suble performance.


Charles Gilbert watched:

Columbo S03E07 "Swan Song" Johnny Cash plays a popular gospel singer with a precarious marriage to evangelist Ida Lupino. He stages a small plane crash that kills her and his under age lover as he pilots, then parachutes to safety. 

The Life and Sad Ending of Diana Hyland. Does not mention her role in HERCULES AND THE PRINCESS OF TROY.

END OF THE WORLD (1977) Just another extraterrestrial occupation where the marooned invaders seek to return home, but need a "variance crystal", and a scientist's (Professor Boran played by Kirk Scott) help to retrieve it ; detaining his wife (Sue Lyons) until it's done. The aliens are hold up in a convent having eliminated Father Pergado (Christopher Lee) and attendant nuns replaced with clones. In the 'end' they declare Earth to be corrupted with disease, a threat to the universe, and invite the two honorable earthlings to accompany them as indeed the earth is obliterated.

HANG'EM HIGH (1968) Shown on Grit-tv repeatedly for the holidays.

David Deal enjoyed:

RAIDERS OF THE SEVEN SEAS (53) - John Payne is the famous pirate Barbarosa who terrorizes the Caribbean and romances Donna Reed.  Fun, old-school adventure with a budget and a good cast.

THE OUTFIT (73) - This little crime flick is underrated in my view.




2001 (68)




Mildly enjoyed:

THE SPECIALISTS (69) - Johnny Hallyday, who wears a chain mail vest, is the revenging hero in this spaghetti featuring a band of hippies and other counterculture types.  Corbucci's high country western boasts assets like the lovely Francoise Fabian, Gastone Moschin, and Mario Adorf but it nonetheless left me cold.

LEONARD COHEN I'M YOUR MAN (05) - Part documentary and part concert featuring guest artists doing Cohen's influential songs.


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