Friday, July 9, 2021

Week of July 10 - 16, 2021


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Can you name two Westerns directed by Sergio Corbucci in which the hero uses a Mauser semi-automatic pistol?
Bertrand van Wonterghem knew of one: IL GRANDE SILENZIO, aka GREAT SILENCE.
Tom Betts knew that the other film was IL MERCENARIO, aka THE MERCENARY, aka A PROFESSIONAL GUN.

Which American actor who made Italian Westerns committed suicide at the Airport Hilton in Rome, 1971?
Tom Betts, George Grimes, Charles Gilbert and Bertrand van Wonterghem knew that it was Frank Wolff.

Which American actress worked in movies featuring Renzo Montagnani, Klaus Kinski, Sidney Poitier, Tony Kendall and Clint Eastwood?
Bertrand van Wonterghem knew that it was Vonetta McGee.

Can you name two actors who made Italian Westerns who had daughters who made movies accused of being child pornography?
No one has answered this question yet.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Which Italian director worked as an assistant to directors Silvio Amadio, Mario Amendola, Alberto De Martino and Mario Caiano before getting his first "un film de" credit in 1964?
Which American actor, born in 1942, acted in films with Marie-Jose Nat, Aldo Sambrell, Rafael Albaicin, Vonetta McGee, Peter O'Toole, Claudia Cardinale and Harrison Muller?
Which American actor had a seven year run of making movies in Italy from 1982 until 1989 while working  with Al Cliver, Sabrina Siani, Pia Zadora, Henry Silva and Carole Andre?

Name the movies from which these images came.

Bertrand van Wonterghem and George Grimes identified last week's photo of Lou Castel in REQUIESCANT, aka KILL AND PRAY.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Charles Gilbert identified last week's frame grab of Luciana Gilli in IL CONQUISTATORE DI ATLANTIDE, aka THE CONQUEROR OF ATLANTIS.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

 George Grimes identified last week's photo of Luciana Paluzzi and Brett Halsey in RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Gordon Liu and Conan Lee in TIGER ON BEAT.
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:


ODD THOMAS (2013) - I am not a fan of films directed by Stephen Sommers, but I really enjoyed this one - though I could have done without the poignant ending. Based on a novel by Dean Koontz, which became a series of novels, ODD THOMAS feels more like SCOTT PILGRIM AGAINST THE WORLD than VAN HELSING, and that's a good thing. Addison Timlin is adorable and so is Anton Yelchin. 

Mildly enjoyed:

KUROI AME, aka BLACK RAIN (1988) - In 1965, Japanese writer Masuji Ibuse published his novel serially in the magazine Shincho. Over twenty years later, director Shohei Imamura adapted it to film. The film starts right before the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima. Young woman Yoshiko Tanaka is helping to get valued family items out of the city to her Uncle's mother's home in the country. Uncle Kazuo Kitamura boards a tram to get to work as the bomb explodes. While most around him are dead, or painfully dying, Kitamura is able to get home to find his wife, Etsuko Ichihara, seemingly unhurt. Tanaka rushes back to the city to be pelted by a mysterious black rain. In 1950, the three live peacefully together in the country. Kitamura has been diagnosed with radiation disease, as are most of his male friends. The uncle and aunt copy their diaries in order to dispel rumors that Tanaka will soon fall ill to radiation disease. The rumors have prevented her from getting married. While the flashbacks to Hiroshima are done in a realistic manner, when a soldier suffering from battle fatigue tells of his experience, the film suddenly adopts a theatrical lighting effect as he speaks a monologue. Imamura chooses to present his story in a slow and quiet fashion, keeping the sense of horror at a distance. The black and white cinematography of Takashi Kawamata surrounds the cast with lovely pastoral imagery, highlighting how what is killing these people can't be seen. Ultraman fans might have trouble recognizing a fifty year old Akiji Kobayashi as one of Kitamura's friends. Future director Takashi Miike was an assistant on this film. Toru Takemitsu delivered another effective music score.

KEETJE TIPPEL, aka KATIE TIPPEL (1975) - Director Howard Hawks once complained about doing LAND OF THE PHAROAHS saying that he had no idea how people went to the toilet in those times. Well, director Paul Verhoeven not only knows how they did it in 1881 Amsterdam, he shows us. Based on the memoirs of Neel Doff, Verhoeven and screenwriter Gerard Soeteman, who co-wrote Verhoeven's TURKISH DELIGHT, give us a blunt view of how a young woman from a poor family finds that being young and pretty is her only collateral in a capitalist society. Future director Jan de Bont returns as Verhoeven's cinematographer from TURKISH DELIGHT as do actors Monique van de Ven and Rutger Hauer. Originally, Verhoeven wanted the film to also show the rise of Socialism in the Netherlands, but the budget prevented that. Our heroine's comment that "money turns people into rats" was supposed to pay off when, in the end, she is living with a rich man and closes the window so as not to hear the pleas of those starving outside.

Midsomer Murders "The Curse of the Ninth" (2016)

IL GIORNO DEL FURORE, aka ONE RUSSIAN SUMMER, aka FURY (1973) - One of the remarkable elements of this adaption of Mikhail Lermontov's unfinished 1832 novel VADIM is that it does not include any opening narration to establish the time and place of the story. For an American audience, this would be bewildering unless they independently knew of the 1773 peasant uprising led by Yemelyan Pugachev. Or, perhaps, they read Alexander Pushkin's 1936 novella The Captain's Daughter or saw the 1958 film version called TEMPEST in the U.S. (which is how I was informed). The film starts with John McEnery seeing a crowd of peasants assembled outside the monstary (though we don't know it is such) hoping to get some of the coins that rich landowner Oliver Reed tosses out as he leaves church. McEnery begs Reed to employ him, which Reed does because it amuses him. At home, we see that Reed is a tyrant who mistreats his wife, Zora Velcova, while lusting after his ward, Carole Andre. McEnery soon begins a program of subversion, stirring up dissatisfaction among the peasants and telling Andre that she shouldn't think as Reed of being like a father to her. It isn't until about the half hour mark that McEnery shares with Andre that he is her brother and that Reed murdered their parents. McEnery is counting on help from Pugachev's revolt to get his revenge on Reed. Things get complicated with Reed's son, Ray Lovelock, returns after being away for six years. Andre and Lovelock grew up together, but they no longer feel like siblings. Andre does not explain that Reed had tried to rape her, which is why she deflects Lovelock's romantic efforts. As Reed leaves to go on an hunting trip, but is actually visiting his mistress Claudia Cardinale, Andre accepts Lovelock's love in a wheat field. Even though McEnery is told to wait two days before some men from Pugachev will arrive, the peasants are stirred up to violence. All of the rich landlords, including Velcova, are murdered leaving church, and so are the priests. Lovelock and Andre were away and so escape. Joining Reed, the young couple warn him to hide. Lovelock leaves Andre in the care of his father as he sets off to find the Czar's soldiers. Knowing that his wife is dead, Reed feels that promising to marry Andre justifies finally raping her. Lovelock finds the Czar's soldiers dead after an attack by Pugachev, and so he returns to find that Andre is now insane. McEnery arrives to watch Reed fight with his son and laughs when Reed inadvertently kills Lovelock. McEnery ignores Andre as he humiliates Reed, while Pugachev's men abuse and then finally shoot Andre to death. While McEnery suddenly remembers to check on his sister, Pugachev's men kill Reed. The film ends with McEnery wailing that Reed's death was to be by his hand. This was the only feature film written and directed by Antonio Calenda who finished his short career working in TV. The storytelling is unclear, which makes me wonder if there was material cut out to keep the running time under two hours. An Italian/British coproduction, the film starts with the credit "Marcello Danon and Harry Saltzman presents". While Danon is credited as the producer, Saltzman isn't. The film sounds to have been shot with everyone speaking English, and Riz Ortolani delivers another stirring music score.

ROCK ALL NIGHT (1957) - I never knew that Roger Corman produced and directed a "jukebox musical". He didn't. Even though The Platters appear and sing a couple of numbers, and there are contributions from The Blockbusters, this is actually a small drama that was originally a 25 minute episode of The Jane Wyman Show from 1955 called "The Little Guy". That TV episode won the future director of PAJAMA PARTY Don Weis a Directors Guild Award for Best Director of a TV Play. Corman bought the rights to the TV Play and had writer Charles B. Griffith add about 36 minutes of new material. With Dick Miller as a wise-ass short man and Mel Welles as a hip talking promoter, this can be seen as a precursor to 1959's A BUCKET OF BLOOD - without the horror aspect. Naturally, Griffith injects enough of his odd humor to make this TV drama into a weird stew that hardly works as a drama, but is too melodramatic to be a comedy. In addition to Miller and Welles, other Corman actors appear like Abby Dalton, Russell Johnson, Richard Cutting, Jonathan Haze, Barboura Morris, Bruno VeSota and Ed Nelson.

TAKEN extended version (2007) - This film is a simple, straight-forward thriller that makes THE TRANSPORTER seem complex. Producer Luc Besson gathered together many of his former collaborators to make another movie, but casting Liam Neeson in a role turned down by Jeff Bridges seems to have changed everything. Suddenly, Neeson is considered an "action star" and two sequels and a tv series followed. Having his ex-wife, Famke Janssen, being bitchy while his daughter, Maggie Grace, being loving but distracted, sets the audience completely on Neeson's side. Of course, we know from the beginning that Neeson is a super hero, and having Grace's singing idol, Holly Valance, recognize that helps to set up Neeson's eventual explosion. So, the lessons to be learned from this film include: 1) female tourists should not agree to share a cab ride with an handsome young man at Orly Airport, 2) Vice in Paris is run by Albanians, 3) Parisian authorities are on the take from Albanians, 4) Albanaians are supplying women to Arab shieks and 5) kidnapped young women are all very attractive and immediately tied to beds in order to turn them into heroin addicts. The one surprise in this film is that Neeson doesn't fly his car onto the escaping yacht. The big disappointment in this film is that unlike PRIME CUT our hero doesn't liberate all of the enslaved women. 

TAKEN 2 (2012) - Olivier Megaton takes over the director's chair, but nothing really changes from the first film, except this time Neeson and Janssen are taken while visiting Istanbul and Grace has to help rescue them. Croatian actor Rade Serbedzija plays the Albanian father of a man Neeson killed in the first film who wants revenge. I kept waiting for Neeson to say, "Thank you for sending more Albanians for me to kill", but he doesn't. I also kept waiting for someone to suggest calling in an airstrike on the bad guy's home town of Tropoje, but no one does. It's nice to know that the filmmakers seem to feel that the police in Istanbul are just as corrupt as those in Paris. Neither film seems to have been commissioned by a tourist bureau. Thankfully the villain charged with cutting Janssen into little pieces is sadistically enjoying the moment so much that he takes his time so that he never actually gets farther than cutting up some of her clothes. The real mystery is why did D.B. Sweeney replace David Warshofsky as Neeson's drinking buddy Bernie only to have Warshofsky return to the role in TAKEN 3?

TAK3N (2014) - I suppose if you're going to do a third film, you'll feel compelled to do something different, but turning what had been an action thriller into a murder mystery didn't work for me. Olivier Megaton returns as director, but this time Liam Neeson is making a mess of Los Angeles. In some ways, it feels like the filmmakers were hoping to start a new franchise with Forest Whitaker as a rubber band spinning detective. Albanians are given a pass this time with the gangsters being Russian. Dougray Scott takes over the role of Famke Janssen's second husband from Xander Berkeley from the first film.

Did not enjoy:

Angst essen Seele auf, aka FEAR EAT SOUL UP, aka ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL (1974) - An older German woman, Brigitte Mira, meets a Morroccan man, El Hedi ben Salem, in a German bar who is about twenty years younger than she. Everyone is shocked that the couple gets along and they don't approve. Reportedly this was inspired by director Douglas Sirk's 1955 film ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, though that film was about class prejudice not racial. German racism seems the theme of the movie for the first hour, and then, as her neighbors and family begin to accept her new husband, the Moroccan decides to move out, seeming to accept the behavior many expected of him. She forgives him, and they seem to reconcile when he falls to the floor. The doctor tells her that he has a perforated stomach ulcer, not uncommon among immigrants because of their unique stresses. The doctor tells her that her husband will get better, but will be back in the hospital in six months. She declares that she will take care of him to prevent that happening. Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder's use of non professional actors doesn't help his effort to make an engrossing drama.

EAT A BOWL OF TEA (1989) - After a narrator fills us in on the difficulties of Chinese males in the first half of the 20th century, being forbidden by law to bring women to the U.S., we are told that World War 2 changed everything. Russell Wong finishes his stint in the U.S. Army and is allowed to go to China to find a bride. He comes back with Cora Miao and faces the pressure of the entire community eagerly awaiting their first born. Naturally, Wong is rendered impotent by the pressure, so "buddy" Eric Tsang puts the moves on Miao and she becomes pregnant. Wong's father, Victor Wong, and Miao's father, Sau-Kei Lee, are elated, until the rumor goes around that Tsang is the real father. Eventually, Wong Sr. cuts off Tsang's left ear and Miao gets a packet of tea from her mother back in China which is guaranteed to solve Wong Jr.'s problem. The film ends with the family reunited in San Francisco having an American style BBQ with multiple children and Miao pregnant again. Based on the novel by Louis Chu, the film suffers from obvious plotting and some poor performances. The most interesting aspect of the film is the number of Hong Kong film veterans playing Chinese-Americans: including Miao (who married director Wayne Wang), Tsang, Lee and Philip Chan. A special note should be made for Jessica Harper's uncredited cameo appearance.

GLORIFYING THE AMERICAN GIRL (1929) - Getting in a Broadway show produced by Florenz Ziegfeld was considered the height of success in the 1920s, so it was not surprising that Adolph Zukor of Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation made a deal to capture part of his show on motion picture film. Of course, since this was a movie there had to be a story, which was concocted by J.P. McEvoy and Millard Webb. Webb also directed. Mary Eaton dreamed of being in a Ziegfeld show while singing at a sheet music counter in a New York store. Eventually, she catches the eye of an horny Dan Healy, whose previous partner Kaye Renard quit. With money hungry mother Sarah Edwards pushing her, Eaton finally gets the attention of a Ziegfeld talent scout and gets on the Broadway stage. But will she be able to shuffle off Healy and his contract which grants him 50% of her earnings? While Eaton gets the applause, mousy Gloria Shea wins Edward Crandall hand in marriage. It was surprising that a movie celebrating a Ziegfeld show would actually be a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of wanting a showbiz career. Our heroine ends the film triumphant on stage, but still stuck with a manipulative mother, a greedy ex-partner and with no romantic prospects. The Ziegfeld show looked like a girlie show with expensive costumes and speciality acts like Rudy Vallee, Helen Morgan and Eddie Cantor that exhibit nothing to explain their popularity. Cantor would be a lot more fun in ROMAN SCANDALS (1933) and the backstage story better told in 42nd STREET (1933). 

13 EERIE (2013) - It seems to me that if you're going to make another "flesh eating undead" movie, you should figure out something different for the "flesh eating undead" to do - not just figure out a different reason for there to be "flesh eating undead". The film begins with a group of college types on a boat heading up a river. This is intercut with shots of dead bodies being laid out. So, I figure the "zombie apocalypse" must have already happened. It takes a while before I learned that these guys are studying to become forensic scientists, and Professor Michael Shanks has picked a remote former prison called Eerie Strait for where these guys will carry out a field exam using three corpses borrowed from a morgue. Naturally, it turns out that the prison lifers had been experimented on by the government with 28 DAYS like results. The prison had been closed, but some of those on whom were experimented had been left behind. The students become concerned when instead of three bodies, they find four. And then the fourth gets up and tries to eat them. Two more show up and everyone is running around screaming, with irritating idiots like the Professor refusing to listen to the warnings until they are almost bitten. Of the students, Katharine Isabelle turns out to be the most resourceful, but even she does a "whoops" by shooting Brendan Fehr in the back accidentally. On the DVD commentary, director Lowell Dean and producer Mark Montague talk about how this film came to be when executive producer Roger Christian found himself unable to make the movie he wanted to make because the financing didn't came together. And so Dean got to make his feature film debut, which he would follow with WOLFCOP featuring Sarah Lind. All hail moviemaking in Saskatchewan.

VOODOO WOMAN (1957) - Here's a movie that needs a disclaimer about "cultural insensitivities". Because of his theories about changing people into invulnerable creatures, mad scientist Tom Conway has taken up with a voodoo tribe deep in the jungle. While their voodoo magic can transform young women into monsters during a spell, Conway hopes to make the change permanent and then control the monster with the power of his will. Needless to say Conway's wife, Mary Ellen Kay, becomes convinced that her husband plans to kill her, but he has big Emmett Smith constantly guarding her to keep her inside their house. Meanwhile, at Paul Dubov's jungle bar, Marla English and Lance Fuller are trying to get Norman Willis to let them know what is the treasure they're going after. Ransacking Willis' room, they find a voodoo doll with gold in it, so they kill Willis and plan to use the arriving guide, Touch Connors, to take them into the jungle. English is used to being able to manipulate men to do her bidding, but Connors won't. In the night, Fuller bumps into Jean Davis, who has been the subject of Conway's experiments. Fuller tries to rape Davis, but after she bites him, he kills her. The natives want justice, so English kills Fuller. English then volunteers to be Conway's new subject after he promises her gold. Eventually, Connors decides to rescue Kay, a transformed English kills Conway and voodoo witch doctor Martin Wilkins trips and falls into the bubbling pit next to his gold idol. English transforms back to her human self in time to slip into that same bubbling pit. Connors and Kay make it back to the bar, but Dubov seems correct when he says that he's certain that English isn't dead. Her monster self, played by Paul Blaisdell, is seen crawling out of the pit as "The ? End" appears on the screen. An Alex Gordon production for Carmel Productions and American International, this film was directed by Edward L. Cahn, who did much better with IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE. This movie seems to have convinced Marla English to stop acting.


David Deal enjoyed:



CROW HOLLOW (51) - Young bride Natasha Parry moves with her husband to his ancestral estate to live with his three eccentric aunts.  It isn't long before attempts on Natasha's life begin.  British Gothic mystery is slow to get going but has a good ending and loads of atmosphere.

THE THIRD ALIBI (61) - Pressured composer Laurence Payne runs down a man in a hit and run while with his wife's stepsister, with whom he's having an affair.  When Laurence can't get a divorce, the couple plan to kill his wife using an elaborate plan that his wife overhears.  British film noir with a good build up and a nice twisty ending as Laurence's alibis fall apart.

GORDON LIGHTFOOT: IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND (20) - Excellent documentary on Canada's poet laureate.

SMOKESCREEN (54) - When a burning car flies off a cliff into the sea but no body is found, insurance investigator Peter Vaughn (Straw Dogs) is called in to determine if a scam is in the works.  Highly entertaining British thriller that contains smart levity and neat plotting.  Recommended.


Mildly enjoyed:



WITNESS IN THE DARK (59) - Thief Nigel Green murders an old woman but fails to find her valuable brooch.  On his way out he brushes past Patricia Dainton, a blind tenant in the building.  When the papers report that Patricia inherited the brooch, Nigel comes back.  British blind-girl-in-peril flick has a few tense moments before the satisfactory ending.



Charles Gilbert watched:

KILL SWITCH (2009) Policeman Steven Seagal and coroner Isaac Hayes investigate a manical serial killer. Ultra choppy action sequences. One could never learn Seagal's moves with such editing.

SHIELD FOR MURDER (1954) B&W. Edmond O'Brien co-directs and stars as rogue cop Barney Nolan who pockets $125 K after shooting a hood in the back. A witness proves troublesome even though he is deaf and dumb, so he must be eliminated. Precinct pal John Agar begins to suspect his buddy has gone sour after 16 years on the force and attempts to arrest him, but us overtaken. A dragnet lpins him down at a model subdivision home in the suburbs where he stowed the cash, and where he wanted to settle down with babe Marla English. Caroline Jones is a brief diversion for him on the lam.

THE INCREDIBLE PETRIFIED WORLD (1959) B&W. It's just a subterranean cavern that two men and two women discover when their diving bell separates from its cable. John Carradine, Robert Clarke, and Phyllis Coates.

D.O.A. (1949) B&W. Frank Bigelow (Edmond O'Brien) heads to San Francisco for a brief business break  and winds up at a bar where someone slips him a concoction that, according to the doctors, gives him only a day or two to finish his life. In that time he embarks on an odyssey to find out who had it in for him.


Bertrand van Wonterghem enjoyed:

Willy’s wonderland (2020, Kevin Lewis)

Yi guyeokui michin X / Mad for each other – season 1 (2020) - episodes 5 to 13

Paranormal – season 1 (2020) – episodes 4 to 6

The high commissioner / Nobody runs forever (1968, Ralph Thomas)

Gojira tai Megaro / Godzilla vs Megalon (1973, Jun Fukuda)

Journal 64 (2018, Christoffer Boe)

Mildly enjoy:

Last woman on earth (1960, Roger Corman)

Wartezimmer zum Jenseits (1964, Alfred Vohrer)

Did not enjoy:

Jupiter’s legacy – season 1 – episodes 6 to 8


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