Friday, April 9, 2021

Week of April 10 - 16, 2021




To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which American actor who worked in Italian films chose to do so inorder to avoid paying U.S. income tax?
John Black knew that it was Gordon Scott.

Which American actor who worked in Italian films was divorced by his American actor wife because he hadn't told her that he had been previously married and had a child by that union?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which American actor who worked in Italian films was offered a role by director Fred Olen Ray, but never showed up to work?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which American body builder who made movies in Italy ran for mayor of Palm Springs?
Tom Betts knew that it was Richard Harrison.

By what name is John Warrell better known?
Tom Betts, George Grimes and Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was Giovanni Vari.

Which actor, born in Venezuela, worked with directors Primo Zeglio, Antonio Leonviola, Giorgio Simonelli, Sergio Sollima, Enzo G. Castellari and John Korty?
Tom Betts and Bertrand Van Wonterghem knew that it was Jose Torres.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which Italian actress went from playing Snow White to Ophelia to Nausicaa to "the face that launched a thousand ships"?
Which Italian actress was born in Libya and died in Rome?
Which classical Greek character was played by Piero Lulli, Gordon Mitchell and Stanley Baker?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Tom Betts, Angel Rivera, Bertrand Van Wonterghem and George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Lee Van Cleef and Lo Lieh in EL KARATE EL COLT Y EL IMPOSTOR, aka THE STRANGER AND THE GUNFIGHTER, aka BLOOD MONEY.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Angel Rivera and Charles Gilbert identified last week's frame grab of Juliette Mayniel in LA GUERRA DI TROIA, aka THE TROJAN HORSE.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

John Black, Angel Rivera, Charles Gilbert and George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Edy Vessel, aka Hedy Vessel, in IL LADRO DI BAGDAD, aka THIEF OF BAGHDAD.
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 Joey Wang and Leslie Cheung in A CHINESE GHOST STORY.
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:


American Masters "Never Too Late The Doc Severinsen Story" (2021)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season two (2018) 

Mildly enjoyed:

Hemingway (2021) - A three hour documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

HITMAN (2007) - As to be expected in a movie based on a video game, the script, by Skip Woods, is simplistic and frivolous. Timothy Olyphant, as expected, brings intensity to the role of an assassin who is highly skilled but basically an unformed child sociologically. So when he is saddled with Olga Kurylenko, it results in alot of sexy fun - though he has no knowledge or interest in sex. Xavier Gens repeats alot of the kind of action you've seen in John Woo or Luc Besson films and delivers a snappy and fun thriller that has no sense of reality. For me, seeing Kurylenko naked makes the film worthwhile. Reportedly, the flashbacks in this film were shots taken from the Dark Angel TV series.

TERROR FROM THE YEAR 5000 (1958) - Reportedly writer/producer/director Robert J. Gurney, Jr. stole this story from Henry Slesar's short story "Bottle Baby". This incredibly low-budget flick was made in Florida and is fun for those who have a fondness for these old black and white American International Pictures. Archaeologist Ward Costello gets a statue in the mail from Florida with a request from an old colleague to carbon date it. Confused that his results are that the statue is minus 3000 years old - meaning that it came from the year 5200 A.D., Costello sends it for metallurgical and chemical analysis. Discovering that the statue is highly radioactive, the lab doesn't proceed with testing it and suggest that perhaps someone is trying to kill the archaeologist. Hopping on a plane to Florida, Costello seeks out his old colleague and is tracked down by the daughter Joyce Holden. Eventually, it is revealed that the old colleague, Frederic Downs, with financing from John Stratton, have built a machine that has broken the time barrier. They place objects in the machine, run the machine, and someone from the future swaps the object with something from their time. Downs wants to proceed cautiously, but Stratton runs the machine on his own experimenting with live things. Eventually, a mutant woman, Salome Jens, arrives with the mission to being back with her an healthy man with whom to improve the gene pool in the future. Finally, a movie inwhich the object of desire is a man. Of course, that also happens in A BOY AND HIS DOG, but not for another 17 years. At one point, Jens uses a rubber face mask to cover her mutated face and assume a dead woman's identity. And this was 8 years before the Mission Impossible TV series. The various bits showing Joyce Holden undressing are pretty tame, even for 1958, but one scene in which she gives Costello "the eye" is pretty darn sexy. This was her last feature film. She became a Jehovah's Witness, married a real estate broker and retired from acting. This is the only credit for John Stratton, while most of the rest of the cast had long careers. The most interesting name in the credits is Dede Allen, who would go on to become one of the most celebrated film editors in the business.

Unsung "Hezekiah Walker" (2021)

Uncnsrd "Donnie McClurkin" (2021)

THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG (1960) - You know your work has had a cultural impact when decades later it is decried for foisting cultural stereotypes. Published in 1957 by British novelist Richard Mason, SUZIE WONG tells the story of a white man trying to be a painter in Hong Kong who falls in love with a Chinese prostitute and despite cultural problems face an hopeful future as a married couple. The novel was so successful that Paul Osborn turned it into an hit Broadway play. Of course producer Ray Stark couldn't let a hit Broadway play not be turned into a movie and John Patrick was hired to write the screenplay. The film went into production under the direction of Jean Negulesco with France Nuyen in the title role. Unfortunately, Nuyen soon became out of control due to her relationship with Marlon Brando, so Nancy Kwan was brought in and Richard Quine replaced Negulesco. Mason wasn't happy about his main character being turned into an American and played by William Holden, which reminded some of 1955's LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING - also scripted by John Patrick. However, the extensive location photography captured 1959's Hong Kong probably better than any other film, though some complain that it gets some of the geography wrong. A straight-forward story about a man overcoming his reluctance to fall in love with a "tainted" woman with a positive anti-racist message, SUZIE WONG would later be condemned for portraying "American imperialism" in that our heroine would so easily fall in love with an American. From a certain perspective, the film is only racist because the woman is Chinese. In most romantic movies of this time, the woman would also easily fall in love with our hero, but that would just be "sexist". A surprising element in the film is Suzie's secret love child which she keeps hidden from our hero. A rather annoying contrivance of the standard romantic plot is that our couple breaks up inorder for our hero to realize how much he loves our heroine. He can't find her until Hong Kong is hit by a massive rain which causes the makeshift housing on the hills to crumble. Kwan seeks out Holden to help rescue her baby and the film has a rather spectacular disaster sequence. I'll watch anything featuring Sylvia Syms and she looks terrific as the white woman trying to convince Holden to not be ridiculous. Betcha didn't know that there was a Jacqui Chan in this movie, and she is terrific.
Did not enjoy:

ALEX OF VENICE (2014) - I'll watch anything featuring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and she is radiant in this feature film directorial debut by co-star Chris Messina. While the film achieves a believable sense of the rhythms of life, the screenplay by Jessica Goldberg, Katie Nehra and Justin Shilton is not compelling and aside from the four letter words isn't all that different from a TV movie - except that it doesn't really seem to have a point to make. Househusband Chris Messina feels neglected by his environmental lawyer wife Winstead, so he leaves her with the care of their son, Skylar Gaertner. Also at home is Winstead's father, Don Johnson - a former TV actor hoping to perform on stage in THE CHERRY ORCHARD, who may be showing signs of Alzheimer's. Johnson's friend, Reg E. Cathey, helps to keep Johnson company, but Winstead can't juggle getting Gaertner to school and doing her job with Jennifer Jason Leigh. Winstead's estranged younger sister Katie Nehra joins the household to help with the little boy, but ultimately proves unreliable. Winstead has an affair with Derek Luke, who turns out to be the developer she is to fight in court. It is always good to find Marin Hinkle in a movie. Here she plays another actor in the production of THE CHERRY ORCHARD. The film ends with Messina and Winstead coming together not as a married couple, but as the parents of their boy - though there is no suggestion as to how either adult is going to make a living.

LOS CHICOS DEL PREU (1967) - As embarrassing as it is to watch the Hollywood films trying to appeal to the "youth audience" in the mid 1960s - like GET YOURSELF A COLLEGE GIRL and A SWINGIN' SUMMER, the films made in Europe are doubly so. This Spanish film doesn't seem to understand the meaning of "lip sync" for the musical numbers, even if all of the dialogue was done in post production. For one song, the instrumentation is obviously filled with horns, but the band on stage, with guys wearing ill-fitting long hair wigs, doesn't include horns. And while the female singer is jumping around in a spirited fashion, her mouth doesn't begin to approximate the vocal. I'm guessing that "pre-university" in Spain equals American "prep school", and the film concerns the emotional lives of a group of young people trying to grow up. Nothing too serious happens. Even when a chemistry experiment blows up in a young woman's face, and they are afraid that she's blind, the film ends with her taking off her dark glasses, with not only her vision restored, but not even showing a scar. If nothing else, producer Pedro Maso assembled a marvelously photogenic group which cinematographer Juan Marine lovingly captured on film. Director Pedro Lazaga is mostly known for comedies, but was given the director's credit on LOS SIETE ESPARTANOS, aka GLADIATORS SEVEN, inorder for that production to gain financial favor in Spain. Anton Garcia Abril is credited with the music score, which bears no resemblance to what he did for TEXAS ADIOS. The cast includes Cristina Galbo. The very end of the film features a train going through the countryside, which looks like a train seen in many Westerns shot in Spain.

MARC MATO AGENTE S 077, aka ESPIONAGE IN TANGIERS (1965) - This is easily one of the worst Spanish made Spy flicks ever made. Sure the photography is good and the cast is attractive, especially José Greci, but the script is nonsensical and stupid. Famously, the Italians call James Bond "Kiss-Kiss, Bang-Bang". These filmmakers go for Kiss-Kiss Punch-Kick, and can't come up with a single well staged fight scene. Nor can they come up with a reasonable excuse for yet another punch-up. With this and 1968's ASSIGNMENT SKYBOLT, Greek born director Gregg Tallas gives every indication that he likes his foreplay to included slapping the woman around. Luis Dávila is singularly unappealing as the hero with a perpetual smirk, and a big grin on his face as he puts a blowtorch to villain Alberto Dalbés' feet or throws a knife into a thug's neck. The filmmakers seem to think they are being amusing, but I found the film sleep-inducing. Also in the cast are Perla Cristal, Tomás Blanco, Alfonso Rojas, Barta Barri, Joe Camel and others who look better in the Westerns they made about this same time. It is incredible that eight writers are credited on this project. Benedetto Ghiglia (mispelled Chiglia on the English language print I saw) has written some of my favorite movie music, but his score here is particularly annoying. Betcha didn't know that the U.N. Security Council had it's own spy organization. Betcha never saw a man tortured by having a wire wrapped around his belly and twisted tighter until it bled. Is that a prayer book that saves our hero from an assassin's bullet? After establishing this book, why do we never see it again? I don't know if the Spanish language copy of this movie that I have has the original credits for Spain or different credits for Mexico, but on that print José Greci is billed as Joseph Greci.

UN PROPHETE, aka A PROPHET (2009) - Based on an original idea by Abdel Raouf Dafri, this tells the story of a 19 year old French/Algerian man who ends up in prison for petty theft. He tries to keep his nose clean in a place run by a Corsican gang in opposition to the Muslim prisoners. Forced, on threat of death, by the Corsicans to kill a Muslim, Tahar Rahim soon finds himself a slave to Niels Arestrup. He is paid in privileges, including day passes, during which he is forced to do errands for Arestrup. However, even though he is haunted by the spirit of the man he murdered, Rahim sees an opportunity to set up his own criminal enterprise with a prisoner given early release because of testicular cancer. Due to a new government policy to house Corsican prisoners closer to Corsica, Arestrup finds himself pretty much alone except for Rahim. Arestrup wants Rahim to kill his boss, but Rahim betrays the plot to the Corsican boss, and Rahim joins the Muslim faction. When he has finally served his prison sentence, Rahim takes on the responsibility of caring for the widow and child of the partner who has died of cancer. Thomas Bidegain and director Jacques Audiard wrote the screenplay for this prison drama.The film won the BAFTA for Best Film Not In the English language, 9 Cesar awards including Best Film, Director, Actor and Supporting Actor, the Grand Prix at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, Best Film at the 53rd London Film Festival. It was nominated for the Best Foreign Film at the 82nd Academy Awards, but lost to the Argentinian film EL SECRETO DE SUS OJOS, aka THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES.

SABAN'S POWER RANGERS (2017) - This is my first real exposure to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers after ignoring it on TV for decades. The Toei Company in Japan issued Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger in 1992, which was purchased by Israeli/American producer Haim Saban in 1993. He had the Japanese actors replaced by Americans and created the series for Fox TV. It ran for three seasons and spawned two feature films. After seeing what executive producer Steven Spielberg was able to do with the animated Transformers franchise, Saban decided to make a big budget feature film, too. Dean Israelite was  hired to direct and promised "it's going to feel very grounded at the same time, and very contemporary and have a real edge to it, and a real gut to it. It's going to be a fun, joyful [movie] but one that feels completely grounded in a real world, with real characters going through real things." So, what he delivered is something like "THE BREAKFAST CLUB become superheroes after leaving detention". All of the current teenage movie cliches are used, but with pre-teen dialogue. These guys don't "morph" until about one hour and twenty eight minutes into this two hour movie. I'll watch just about anything featuring Elizabeth Banks, but with all of the "evil alien" makeup covering her face, it isn't much fun seeing her here. With all of the effort to "ground' this material and play it straight-faced, keeping the villain's name of Rita Repulsa kind of blows it. Bryan Cranston plays Zordon, which isn't nearly as laughable a name. Reportedly, this film didn't do the box office desired so a sequel was cancelled - so the mention of Tommy Oliver during the end credits was for naught. But, Paramount may be planning a reboot. There is at least one Transformer and one Marvel comics gag in the film, which seems to have been co-sponsored by Krispy Kreme. The theme to the TV show sneaks in for about a minute when the team finally goes into action. Obviously Elizabeth Banks was impressed by Naomi Scott because she cast her in 2019's CHARLIE'S ANGELS.

SPECIAL (2006) - Lonely, comic book reading, parking violation officer Michael Rappaport agrees to participate in a drug trial program for a pill that will hopefully make you feel "special". Does he actually develop super powers or is he delusional? Writers/directors Hal Haberman & Jeremy Passmore don't seem to have made up their minds, so the viewer is invited to come to their own conclusion. I'll watch just about anything featuring Alexandra Holden, and she is very appealing in her very small role. That's what I got out of watching this. If the filmmakers intended to impart something more, it was lost to me.

THESE THOUSAND HILLS (1959) - Based on the novel by A.B. Guthrie Jr., this effort by director Richard Fleischer tells of young cowboy Don Murray, who yearns to be somebody important. Joining Harold J. Stone's cattle drive, Murray befriends Stuart Whitman and Royal Dano. After the drive, Murray enters into an horse race sponsored by Richard Egan, whose Native American rider cheats to win. However, Albert Dekker is the town's banker and he declares Murray the winner. Egan is also sore that his favorite saloon gal Lee Remick prefers Murray over him. Murray decides that the way to quickly earn the money he needs to buy a ranch is to spend the winter hunting wolf hides with partner Whitman. A party of Native Americans shoot Murray and steal his hides. Thankfully, Whitman is able to rescue Murray and takes him back to town to be nursed back to health by Remick. Despondent that he doesn't have the money for his ranch, Murray complains to Remick, who offers him the money she had been saving for a marriage dowry. Murray uses the money to buy some land, with which he has the collateral to get a bank loan from Dekker to buy cattle. As Murray prospers, Dekker introduces him to niece Patricia Owens. Becoming respectable, Murray stays away from Remick. When Whitman tells him that he plans to marry saloon girl Jean Willes, Murray advises him to find a respectable woman. Insulted, Whitman punches Murray, reminds him that he owes everything to Remick, and quits the partnership. Married with child, Murray is encouraged by Dekker to enter politics. One night Egan shows up and demands Murray join a vigilante group going after some horse thieves. Murray agrees, as long as the thieves are taken to town for trial. Not surprising, Whitman turns out to be one of the horse thieves and when Murray tries to stop them from hanging him, Egan knocks Murray down. Dano tries to shoot the hanging rope, but Whitman dies from a broken neck after the horse was whipped out from under him. Dispirited, Murray goes home to find that Egan has been abusing Remick. Owens threatens Murray that she'll leave if he goes to that woman, but Murray confesses that he owes her. Murray and Egan brawl in the saloon, which bursts into the muddy street. Egan pulls his Winchester from saddle holster, but Remick appears and shoots him dead. Back at home, Murray finds that Owens hasn't left. He tells her that he's going to testify in Remick's defense, and Owens accepts that. Coming between his great successes with THE VIKINGS and COMPULSION, director Fleischer doesn't even mention this film in his memoir JUST TELL ME WHEN TO CRY. Reportedly, in 1988, Lee Remick said this was her least favorite film role.


Charles Gilbert watched:

THE UNDEAD (1957) B&W. Roger Corman delves into reincarnation with a story book tale involving hypnotism. A prostitute (Pamela Duncan) assumes the couch and is hearkened to a medieval time as a gal being persecuted by a witch (Allison Hayes), while romanced by a knight (Richard Garland). Hammy performances by Richard Devon as the devil, and Mel Welles as a rhyming bard. And of course Dick Miller is in there.

THE SEARCH FOR BRIDEY MURPHY (1956) This film is referenced by the previous for subject matter. Louis Hayward (His voice reminds me of George MacReady's) plays a novice hypnotist that solicits the wife (Teresa Wright) of his friend (Kenneth Tobey) as subject of his memory probing. She returns to the past in her mind as a lass revealing her life in Cork Ireland. He almost loses her at the end when her mind lingers in the past a bit too long.

THE PLUNDERERS (1948) Rod Cameron goes underground pretending to kill the sheriff (George Cleveland) in order to infiltrate an ore stealing gang led by Forest Tucker. They become friends, but as an Army officer he must  deliver him for hanging. He's spared the unsavory duty when an indian raid gets the job done in the end. Interesting to see Ilona Massey in one of her few films. Here in elegant gowns she's Lin Connor "Your Favorite Songstress" and sings a couple numbers on stage for the cowboys. Despite her pulchritude she always seemed like the granny-type due to her Hungarian accent. 

EL CID (1961) Epic tale of an exceptionally noble Spanish knight who rubs everyone the wrong way at times; even his wife. But then she had a good reason when Cid killed her father in duel. Look for Frank Thring who plays another decadent, and peplum trooper Massimo Serato. How did they secure a deadman upright to his horse for the finale?

Highway Patrol S03E30 'Psycho'. William Hudson plays a gunman with a rifle perched on a hillside who has suffered an odious reaction to medication. Mathews (Broderick Crawford) displays sympathy to the guy whose psychiatrist doctor arrives on scene for some explanation.

David Deal enjoyed:






AMMONITE (20) - Loner paleontologist Kate Winslet is forced to attend to a sickly and despondent Saoirse Ronan and affection blooms between them.  Story of forbidden love in 19th century England is interesting, well-acted, and features a couple of sex scenes that will get your attention.


Mildly enjoyed:






Bertrand Van Wonterghem Highly enjoyed:

Et moi j’te dit qu’elle t’a fait de l’œil (1950, Maurice Gleize)


Skinny tiger and fatty dragon (1990, Chia-Yung Liu)

Maeumui sori / The sound of your heart – season 1 – episodes 4 to 9

Godzilla vs Kong (2020, Adam Wingard)

Viy (1967, Konstantin Ershov and Georgiy Kropachyov)

Mildly enjoyed:

The new legends of monkey – season 2 – episodes 8 to 10

Ma Waraa Al Tabiaa  / Paranormal – season 1 – episodes 1 & 2

Did not enjoy:

Flatliners (2017, Niels Arden Oplev)


Angel Rivera noted:

While watching an episode of "Bonanza" titled, "The Decision"from 1962, the guest cast included the two actors who portrayed The Enterprise's Chief Medical Officer on Star Trek.
In the episode, Hoss is gravely injured and needs a doctor badly. Ben who is traveling with his son come upon a town where the only doctor in town is about to be hanged because the judge in the town who holds the doctor responsible for his wife's death has convicted the doctor unfairly to death.
The judge was portrayed by John Hoyt who played the Enterprise's doctor, Dr. Boyce in the original Star Trek pilot. Portraying the unfairly convicted doctor is the Enterprise's Chief Medical Officer, DeForest Kelley.
Needless to say Ben gets the judge to release the doctor out of jail long enough for him to operate successfully on Hoss and then Ben is able to convince the judge that he was bias in his judgement of the doctor who only killed a man in self-defense and actually did all he could to save the judge's wife who was terminally ill. The episode holds up well and is a good example of why the series. "Bonanza" lasted so long on TV.
I also recently purchased a DVD  copy of the 1964 Tony Randall vehicle, "The Brass Bottle" which also starred Burl Ives and Barbara Eden. (It is said the film inspired Eden's hit sitcom. "I Dream of Jeannie".) While the movie is a bit juvenile at times it was still fun to watch and brought back some fond memories. I also learned the female genie in the film was portrayed by Chuck Connor's  then wife, Kamala Devi.
Well I have watched other films, but I'll leave that for another time.


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