Friday, June 11, 2021

June 12 - 18, 2021

To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Which Italian director went from making his second Western to making a dramatic film featuring Richard Harrison?
No one has answered this question yet.

By what name is Leo Coleman better known?
George Grimes knew that it is Leopoldo Savona.

By what name is Peter Carter better known?
George Grimes knew that it is Piero Lulli.

By what name is Andrew Rey better known?
George Grimes knew that it is Andrea Aureli.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which Italian director made a Western in 1943?
Which Italian director worked with Steve Reeves, Mark Forest, Gordon Scott, Giuliano Gemma and Ray Danton?
Which movie starring Gordon Scott and Rosalba Neri uses the same story as a play by William Shakespeare?

Name the movies from which these images came.

George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of John Richardson in EXECUTION.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes and Charles Gilbert identified last week's photo of Kirk Morris and Helene Chanel in MACISTE ALL'INFERNO, aka MACISTE IN HELL, and THE WITCH'S CURSE.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes identified last week's photo of Kitty Swan in GUNGALA LA VERGINE DELLA GIUNGLA, aka VIRGIN OF THE JUNGLE.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

No one identified the 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:


Bob Fosse: It's Showtime! (2019)

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING (2018) - Even though I bristle every time someone calls THELMA AND LOUISE an important film, I got over that to appreciate the information about the gender bias in the film and TV business. Made in association with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender In Media, Artemis Rising Foundation, David Yurman and Lyft Entertainment, director Tom Donahue's film provides a lot of historical information about cinema and many interesting people giving testimony.

Mildly enjoyed:

THE BROKEN (2008) - Eight years before making ANTHROPOID, British director Sean Ellis already proved that he can work with French producers with this chiller. I ended up not fast-forwarding through this for two reasons: the strength of Lena Headey's performance and the possibility that the explanation for look-a-likes, who seem to have their hearts on the wrong side of the chest, replacing the members of this family might be given subtlety. No explanation is given at all. There is also no explanation about how the look-a-likes avoid detection since they don't seem to have a procedure to dispose of the original bodies - a la INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. There's a quote from Edgar Allan Poe at the beginning of the film which suggests that this might have been inspired by "William Wilson", which makes director Louis Malle's contribution to HISTOIRES EXTRAORDINAIRES D'APRES EDGAR ALLAN POE look even better.

CRASH (1996) - As I have never had a driver's license, it is impossible for me to identify with people who become obsessed with being in car crashes. I may have thought that I was a  sexually obsessed, but these characters are complete maniacs. First we are introduced to Deborah Kara Unger, who gets turned on by rubbing herself against the fuselage of a small plane. A man comes up behind her to engage in sex. Meanwhile, her husband, James Spader, is in the closet off the film set at which he works trying to have sex with a female crew member. The two later meet back at their apartment to have rear entry sex on the balcony where they report that their earlier encounters were unsatisfying. Later, Spader is in a head-on collision with another car that kills Holly Hunter's husband and exposes her left breast as she tries to take off her seat belt. In the hospital, Unger and Spader try to masturbate each other while he's still recovering in bed. Considering their own sexual perversions, it is not surprising that the couple finds Elias Koteas' equating automobile accidents and sex to be alluring, particularly if Hunter and Rosanna Arguette are willing to expose one breast and finger each other. Ultimately, everyone seems to decide that the only real satisfaction can be had by dying in a car crash. How this is to be warning by original author J.G. Ballard about "a new sexuality, born from a perverse technology" is not communicated by the movie. The 1996 Cannes Film Festival Jury, headed by Francis Ford Coppola, gave the film a "Special Jury Prize for originality, for daring and for audacity", but noted that a number of jury members "did abstain very passionately". Reportedly, Coppola was among those hated the movie. Beautifully photographed by Peter Suschitzky, the film has a certain erotic charge but it seems to indicate that director David Cronenberg prefers exposing only one female breast and likes manual manipulation of the sexual organs. I kind-of wished that the movie was actually pornographic just to clarify if and how these people orgasmed. If nothing else, this film makes more sense than NAKED LUNCH.

THE KISS BEFORE THE MIRROR (1933) - James Whale directed this rather cynical suspense film. Based on the 1932 play by Ladislas Fodor, the film doesn't disguise its stage origins, but that's not surprising considering when it was made. Paul Lukas follows his wife, Gloria Stuart, to the bedroom of her lover, Walter Pidgeon, and shoots her to death as she undresses. Lukas admits his guilt, but his best friend, Frank Morgan, will act as the defense attorney to plead mitigating circumstances. Lukas describes how he knew his wife was cheating on him by the way that she prepared herself before her dressing table mirrors prior to going out. When Morgan notices that his wife, Nancy Carroll, exhibits the same behavior, he follows her and discovers that she, too, has a lover. Morgan informs Lukas that he plans to kill Carroll as soon as he finishes the court case. Carroll begins to realize that Morgan knows about her infidelity, and as her husband speaks in Lukas' defense, she fears for her life. She faints in court as Morgan talks about who wouldn't kill his wife after she destroys her husband's honor and the trust which is needed for a marriage. Doesn't his killing her prove just how much he loved her?

Did not enjoy:

THE CARELESS YEARS (1957) - The title is ironic for this is another troubled teenagers movie. Why Kirk Douglas' company Bryna, wanted to make this film is unknown. It did launch the film career of director Arthur Hiller. Those interested in seeing Natalie Trundy before her husband Arthur P. Jacobs cast her in the four PLANET OF THE APES sequels may enjoy seeing her as a 17 year old. 21 year old Dean Stockwell still made a convincing teenager. Well bred Trundy wants Stockwell, but doesn't want to give herself to him before marriage. Her friend gave herself to Stockwell's friend, and isn't happy about it. Stockwell plans to elope with Trundy, but their parents finally convince her not to go. When Stockwell returns to town, he realizes that they were right, and that he and Trundy should wait. He will finish school and get a good job and then they should consider marriage. Barbara Billingsley plays Trundy's mom, and if you ever wanted to see Mrs. Cleaver trying on dresses with Natalie Trundy, this is the movie for you.

THE CONJURING (2013) - Inspired by THE AMITYVILLE HORROR investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, this stew of elements from THE EXORCIST, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and POLTERGEIST - with a pinch of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, can't be faulted for hiring good actors. But I hate seeing Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston in this drek. I give the film some points for not tacking on a CARRIE-like ending.

ANNABELLE (2014) - Some criticized THE CONJURING for suggesting that a woman who escaped being killed during the Salem Witch Trials was actually a witch. I criticize this flick for using the Manson murders to give credence to a story of a Satanic cult summoning demons. At least in CHILD'S PLAY, the demon possessed doll was responsible for action. Here it is just a set up for a replay of the ending of THE EXORCIST, except that it isn't the priest who goes out the window. James Wan and the producers turn over this prequel to director John R. Leonetti and writer Gary Dauberman. Curiously, they cast actor Annabelle Wallis as the tormented mother. While the new filmmakers reuse alternate footage from THE CONJURING of the Annabelle story, they make sure not to use any footage of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson so as not to generate another pay day for those actors. Alfre Woodard also appears. 

DIARY OF A HIGH SCHOOL BRIDE (1959) - Producer/director Burt Topper started his career in 1958 with a low-budget war film called HELL SQUAD, which was picked up for distribution by American International Pictures and turned a profit. He followed that with TANK COMMANDOS, and then DIARY OF A HIGH SCHOOL BRIDE. His career continued until 1979 and he never made a good movie. Reportedly star Anita Sands had never acted before this movie, but she went on to do a lot of television until she got married in 1963. Later, she became an astrologer in Hollywood. Ronald Foster plays a 23 year old law student, who convinces 17 year old Sands to marry over the objections of her parents. The girls in high school think it's funny to spread the rumor that she "had to get married", and her friends wonder why she is still going to school. Sands' main problem is that her ex-boyfriend, Chris Robinson - who would go on to be a series regular on 12 O'Clock High, can't leave her alone. Robinson succeeds in making Foster jealous, so Sands moves back in with her parents. Sands begs Robinson to tell Foster the truth, which he says he will if they all meet in his father's office at the movie studio - played by the old Charlie Chaplin studio on La Brea. Robinson doesn't tell Foster inorder to lure Sands, but Robinson's jealous high school girlfriend, Wendy Wilde, tells Foster. The studio office boasts the original paintings for the posters to THE SCREAMING SKULL, as well as HELL SQUAD. Sands runs away from the office and ends up in the catwalks above the sound stage. Robinson menaces her when Foster arrives. In trying to run away, Robinson hits the high voltage wires above the sound stage and dies. The cop who takes their statements tells Sands that 17 is a little young to be married. She agrees. 

GABRIEL (2007) - For his directorial debut, Shane Abbess seems to have absorbed the Frank Miller aesthetic but instead of the usual "fallen angels" bullshit of crime fiction, his story is about fallen angels fighting over souls in purgatory. Actually, we see just about no effort to lead the human souls in limbo towards the heavenly light. What we get is archangels assuming human form and becoming corrupted by being human. Gabriel (Andy Whitfield) is the last of the archangels now falling to purgatory to rid it of the evil fallen angels. But his real desire is to rescue the angels who were sent before him. What follows is a lot like SIN CITY, with images that have a bit more color and look less cartoony. UNDERWORLD seems to have established that even supernatural creatures use automatic weapons and know Asian martial arts.The theology given in the dialog is at best confusing and keeps slowing the pace down. Andy Whitfield became best known for starring in the first season of Showtime's Spartacus: Blood and Sand in 2010 - but was soon diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and died. Abbess followed this film with INFINI and THE OSIRIS CHILD.

HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS (1958) - Mark and Jan Lowell are credited as the writers of this "nice girl pressured into joining a girl gang" flick. As usual, Yvonne Lime's parents are neglectful. The gang hangs out in a deserted movie theater where they plot into what kind of trouble to get Lime. Good guy coffee shop waiter Brett Halsey soon begins to date Lime and he tries to warn her away from the gang. At a co-ed house party, a "turn out the lights" game results in Jana Lund dying when she falls down the basement stairs. Eventually Detective Robert Anderson shows up at the school to investigate Lund's disappearance. Suzanne Sydney takes over the leadship of the gang, lures Lime to the theater where she confesses that she pushed Lund to her death, and plans to do the same to our heroine from the balcony. Naturally, Sydney succeeds only in killing herself and the police and Halsey show up late. Edward Bernds provided the dull direction. His next film was QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE.

HORROR HIGH (1973) - Surely they intended the credit "original screenplay by Jack Fowler" to be ironic. Twenty years earlier this could have been entitled I WAS A HIGH SCHOOL DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE.  Former child actor Pat Cardi quit the acting business after starring in this. Co-star Rosie Holotik made two movies before HORROR HIGH, but after this she didn't appear on the screen again for almost twenty years. This film also ended the directing career for Larry N. Stouffer. I knew I wasn't going to enjoy this movie when it began with "Vernon's Theme" written and performed by Jerry Coward with lyrics by Joy Buxton. Bullied science nerd Cardi works on a formula to turn his pet guinea pig into a ferocious beast, possibly inspired by his witchy English teacher's lessons on the Robert Stevenson classic. The formula works and the guinea pig kills the school janitor's cat, so the janitor kills the pig and makes Cardi drink the formula. Needless to say, the janitor ends up in the science department's acid vat. Next Cardi takes out the English teacher who is threatening to fail him and keep him out of college. Classmate Rosie Holotik gets sweet for Cardi, which angers football jock Mike McHenry. When Coach John Niland tries to force Cardi to help McHenry pass his chemistry class, the next two victims are spotlit. In the end, Detective Austin Stoker, who appeared with Cardi in BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, shows up to ensure that "Vernon's Theme" will be heard again as the end credits appear over our hero's bloody body. I wonder if this film will be dragged out at some point at a festival celebrating the work of female directors of photography, but the work seen here by Janis P. Valtenbergs is awful. 

MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (2011) - Writer/director Ava DuVernay decided to make a film about those who suffer on the outside while their loved ones are in prison. Emayatzy Corinealdi played the wife of Omari Hardwick. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, so she figured that if he did "good time" he would be out in five. She was a registered nurse hoping to become a doctor, but those plans were set aside as she spent most of her time visiting him in far away prison and trying to keep lawyer Sharon Lawrence on top of the case. Bus driver David Oyelowo made a play for Corinealdi, before realizing her devotion to her husband. At the husband's parole hearing, Corinealdi discovered that not only was he lying to her about what had been going on in prison, he also had a consensual sexual liaison with a female prison guard - who was subsequently fired. Devistated by this information, Corinealdi sought out Oyelowo, and she found that he could enjoy watching independent and foreign films like she did. While her mother and her sister told her to divorce Hardwick, who had at least four years added to his time for an assault in prison, the film ended with Corinealdi still uncertain about what to do - except that she turned over the documents for her husband's case to him, as she won't be doing all that work anymore. At 2012 Sundance Film Festival, DuVernay won the directing award for U.S. dramatic film. The film won Best Actress, Best Independent Film, Best Music and Best Screenplay from the African-American Film Critics. It won Outstanding Director and Outstanding Screenplay from the Black Reel Awards. Corinealdi won the Breakthrough Actor prize at the Gotham Awards. The Independent Spirit Awards gave DuVernay the John Cassavetes Award. The Women Film Critics Circle gave her the Josephine Baker Award. DuVernay created the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement for her earlier film I WILL FOLLOW, which also handled MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. The group has changed from AFFRM to ARRAY.

MOBILE HOMES (2017) - This is the kind of film that makes one wonder "why did they make this movie"? Did director Vladimir de Fontenay know a mother as fucked up as the character played by Imogen Poots? The movie starts with Poots trying to put her 8 year old son, Frank Oulton, into foster care, but the woman at the office asks too many questions. So she takes the boy back to living in motel rooms and inside a van that her boyfriend, Callum Turner, uses for his various criminal activities. Turner is teaching Oulton how to be a criminal, but Poots only leaves Turner when his abuse inspires Oulton to run away with their fighting rooster. The mother, son and rooster hide in an unfinished mobile home, and are surprised to wake up and find themselves on the road. Callum Keith Rennie plays the owner of the mobile home, who finally suggests that Poots work for him in exchange for a place to live. Eventually, Turner finds Poots and lures her away from Rennie's efforts to help her. Stealing a tractor pulling a mobile home naturally leads to catastrophe and the rooster is killed. Pulling themselves from an icy lake, the mother and son find a bus station to clean up. Poots decides that it would be best to get the security guard to put Oulton on a bus. As she stumbles away from the station sobbing, Poots is surprised to find that Oulton didn't get on the bus. As much as I enjoy watching Imogen Poots and Callum Keith Rennie, I don't enjoy watching a slowly paced movie about unsympathetic people being stupid.

SKYLIN3S (2020) - Okay. Now the extraterrestrials are called "the harvesters" and the "hybrids" with human brains in alien bodies are called "pilots". Our hybrid heroine, played again by Lindsey Morgan, has used her powers to make the pilots human friendly and led the forces to destroy the harvester spaceships. However, because she destroyed an earthship caught in a crossfire, Morgan has gone into hiding for five years out of guilt. A virus has erupted which is turning the good red eyed pilots back into evil blue eyed pilots. The military hunts Morgan down in order to force her to join a mission to attack the harvesters' planet, named Colbalt One. Morgan explains that using her powers accelerators her aging process, but they need her to get a power core from Colbalt One in order to stop the virus from killing all of the pilots. Though filmed mostly in Lithuania and the United Kingdom, SKYLIN3S seems more than ever to be inspired by martial arts movies in which the fighting goes on and on and on. Naturally, there is a major double cross towards the end which makes this the longest of the SKYLINE trilogy at 110 minutes - but it feels longer. Writer/director Liam O'Donnell is in control again. Yayan Ruhian of THE RAID REDEMPTION and JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM returns as his character from BEYOND SKYLINE and also did the martial arts choreography.


David Deal enjoyed:


THE SHELTERING SKY (90) - I couldn't wait any longer for the Blu-ray to come out so I watched my old DVD.  Now the Blu-ray will come out.

OPERATION COUNTERSPY (65) - Check out The Eurospy Guide book for a complete review of this fave George Ardisson entry.


Mildly enjoyed:


SWEENY 2 (78) - The second movie based on the popular British crime TV show is more hard-hitting, politically incorrect action.  Fans won't be disappointed.


Charles Gilbert watched:

ZERO HOUR (1957) B&W. Pensive ex military fly boy Ted Stryker (Dana Andrews) with PTSD syndrome finds himself aboard a commercial flight when both pilots succumb to food poisoning as do passengers that ate the fish for dinner. Reluctantly he takes over the controls with his wife (Linda Darnell) by his side as makeshift radio operator, and old war buddy airline ace Sterling Hayden coaching him from the ground. Dana Andrews also appeared as a pilot in two other air disaster films. In CROWDED SKY he piloted an airliner struck by a fighter jet flown by Efram Zimbalist, Jr. In AIRPORT 75 the two reversed roles.

HIS NAME WAS KING (1971) Bounty hunter John "King" Marley (Richard Harrison) gets caught up in an arms smuggling operation when he pursues the Benson gang (Geoffrey Unger et. al) who murdered his brother on his honeymoon. Sheriff Foster (Klaus Kinski) is mastermind of the scheme.  Vassili Karis plays his ornerous deputy.

HERCULES THE INVINCIBLE (1964) Contains more footage than you'll see in the Sons of Hercules version. I always wondered why Vadis didn"t get to kiss the leading lady Spela Rozin, but he does near the beginning with the surplus minutes of film restored. A bit of discontinuity occurs when the hero is being pursued in the caverns and his wardrobe color changes from white to red. But it's a favorite of mine with a rousing exhibition of Vadis' prowess. Red Ross and Ken Clark are in there but don't get to display their physique.


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