Friday, May 20, 2022

Week of May 21 - 27, 2022

 


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at scinema@earthlink.net.

Brain Teasers:

What movie was director Giulio Questi preparing to make when the financing for SE SEI VIVO SPARA came through?
George Grimes knew that it was LA MORTE HA FATTO 'UOVO, aka DEATH LAID AN EGG, aka PLUCKED!

Can you name five American bodybuilders who worked with Mae West that made movies in Italy?
George Grimes named: Reg Lewis, Gordon Mitchell, Mickey Hargitay, Ed Fury and Mark Forest.
Charles Gilbert named: Reg Lewis, Gordon Mitchell, Mickey Hargitay, Ed Fury and Dan Vadis.
Bertrand van Wonterghem got the five I wanted plus one: Mickey Hargitay, Gordon Mitchell, Ed Fury, Reg Lewis, Mark Forest and Dan Vadis.
Although there is a famous photo of Mae posing with Ed and Reg as Reg won Mr. Universe, I've found no evidence that Ed was ever part of Mae West's show.
Angel Rivera got four right: Gordon Mitchell, Reg Lewis, Mickey Hargitay and Lou Degni/Mark Forest.

Which American bodybuilder had a gym in his Roman penthouse apartment for his friends to use?
No one has answered this question yet.

And now for some new brain teasers:

Complete the lyric: "I am a lone and _____ man."
What film did director Raoul Walsh make in Italy that was not mentioned in the documentary THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF RAOUL WALSH?
Which Italian actress worked for directors Jess Franco, Raoul Walsh, Gianfranco Baldanello, Michele Lupo, Steve Carver, Mel Welles and Camillo Bazzoni?

Name the movies from which these images came.


Bertrand van Wonterghem, and George Grimes identified last week's photo of Tony Anthony and Magda Konopka in BLINDMAN.
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 Enrico Maria Salerno in L'ASSEDIO DI SIRACUSA, aka SIEGE OF SYRACUSE.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?


No one identified the above photo. It shows Sylva Koscina in FEMMINE DI LUSSO, aka LOVE THE ITALIAN WAY.


George Grimes and Angel Rivera identified last weeks' frame grab of Gordon Liu in THE 36THE CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN, aka MASTER KILLER.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

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I am interested in knowing what movies you have watched and what you enjoyed or not. So please send me an email at scinema@earthlink.net if you'd like to share. Here's what I watched last week:

Enjoyed:

THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF RAOUL WALSH (2014) - Marilyn Ann Moss wrote the biography of American film director Raoul Walsh and helped to put together this documentary based on her book, which is filled with clips.

Mildly enjoyed:

ANYTHING GOES (2021) - Filmed live at the Barbican Theatre in London, this is a lushy produced staging of the classic musical, with an updated book filled with sexual gags. It is no surprise how marvelous Sutton Foster is with this material, but I had no idea that Robert Lindsay is a song and dance man. And it is a surprise seeing Felicty Kendal not playing Rosemary Boxer. However splendid this is, I still don't respond strongly to this kind of musical comedy and some of the classic Cole Porter songs could have been dropped.

EVERY THING WILL BE FINE (2015) - This movie seems to have been made by someone use to watching movies on DVD with a "chapter skip" button. Director Wim Wenders stages long takes of star James Franco walking around looking unhappy, something happens and then the film jumps ahead in time, without a complete scene. This creates confusion in the viewer and a bit of suspense as to what happened. Just when the viewer begins to figure out what they've not seen, the film jumps ahead "two years", and the struggle to understand begins again. If you decide to watch this movie because of Rachel McAdams or Charlotte Gainsbourg, you will probably be frustrated because their story lines are very fragmented. Eventually, the story covers about 17 years, but never communicates what is it about. Is it about how different people respond to tragedy? Is it about how a writer's talent is informed by tragedy? Is it about how a writer can unfairly benefit from bad things happening to other people? This was director Wenders second film in 3D, and I don't know if watching it in 2D ruined the experience, but I don't understand how stereoscopic imagery would have improved the storytelling.

UNA BARA PER LO SCERIFFO, aka A COFFIN FOR THE SHERIFF (1965) - This is like an Italian Western version of Hopalong Cassidy, though star Anthony Steffen isn't as well groomed as William Boyd. Like Hopalong, Steffen doesn't sing and he doesn't have much time for women, though three of them are obviously turned on by him. Riding into town, Steffen tells everyone to call him "Shenandoah", though some remark that he doesn't look like a guy from Virginia. Passing around counterfeit money, Steffen comes to the attention of the Lupe Rojo gang, but it isn't until Steffen rescues a gang member wounded during their midnight bank robbery that the gang considers letting him join. But first he has to pass an initiation by playing a lethal game of hide-and-seek with gang member Lucio De Santis. It eventually is revealed that Steffen is actually Marshal Joe Logan seeking to find out which member of the Rojo gang murdered his wife during the robbery of a stagecoach to Omaha two years ago. Not too surprisingly, it turns out to be Eduardo Fajardo, who is directed to act real crazy in close up. There are stark differences between this and an Hopalong Cassidy flick - Cassidy never shot anyone in the back, Cassidy never got beaten to a bloody mess and Cassidy never set fire to a saloon in order to drive a villain out of hiding. Director Mario Caiano delivers a rather mediocre action film and the presence of a "Gabby" Hayes type character played by Jesus Tordesillas is irritating. Seeing so many familiar faces in the cast makes this a fun watch. Also appearing are Arturo Dominici, Luciana Gilli, Jorge Rigaud, Miguel del Castillo, Tomas Torres, Miguel de la Riva, Francisco Brana and Armando Calvo. This is not one of Francesco De Masi's best music scores.

Did not enjoy:

BROTHER JOHN (1971) - White doc Will Geer is sad to note that black woman Lynn Hamilton is dying of cancer, and wonders if anyone knows how to contact her brother, Sidney Poitier. Poitier has been missing for 17 years, but, mysteriously, he always shows up at the death bed of a relative. He shows up at Hamilton's death bed, but won't answer any of Geer's questions. He came into this small Alabama town on a Trailways bus, and has a few days before his next bus leaves, so there's enough time for him to upset everyone's lives. Town boss Bradford Dillman wonders if he's an "outside agitator" arriving to help Lincoln Kilpatrick's effort to unionize workers. Because of that, he's ordered the local law to illegally investigate Poitier, where they find that he's been all around the world. Meanwhile, single school teacher Beverly Todd takes a liking of Poitier, which drives her admirer, Paul Winfield, to violence. Finally, Dillman has Poitier put in jail to try and force him to clear up his mystery. Geer visits him in jail, on the day Poitier is scheduled to leave town, where it is suggested that Poitier is here to witness humanity and report. After mentioning all of the evils he's witnessed, Poitier doesn't repond to Geer's question, "How much time do we have left? Is there anything we can do?" Miraculously, Poitier leaves town on the next Trailways bus. If you need another movie teaching you about how people are going to be negatively judged for their evil ways, this is the movie for you. Ernest Kinoy would go on to write Poitier's next film - BUCK AND THE PREACHER, and I didn't like that much either. James Goldstone's credit list is filled with movies I don't like.

KANSAS RAIDERS (1950) - More bullshit about Jesse James, this time played by Audie Murphy. The most remarkable thing about this movie is that Tony Curtis, as Kit Dalton, plays a supporting role in an Audie Murphy Western. Even though this story is set during the Civil War, everyone is costumed as if this was an average Western with six shooters that haven't been made yet. And why are all of the Raiders wearing bandoliers with bullets not made for the guns they use. It is also remarkable that everyone calls Murphy a kid, even though most soldiers in that war were barely 18. Brian Donlevy plays Quantrill, Scott Brady plays Bill Anderson, Richard Long as Frank James, James Best as Cole Younger and Dewey Martin as James Younger, with Richard Arlen and Richard Egan as yankees. Marguerite Chapman is thrown into this mess playing a woman hanging around Quantrill's Raiders but not approving of his actions. David Bauer is a familiar face from movies like TORTURE GARDEN and DARK OF THE SUN, so it is a surprise to see him in an American film. But he was an American actor who moved to England during the days of the Hollywood Blacklist. Ray Enright directed the script by Robert L. Richards.

THE KILLER IS LOOSE (1956) - Cop Joseph Cotton figures that the Savings & Loan hold-up was an inside job, and so has Wendell Corey's phone tapped. When Corey slips up on a phone call, Cotton and his team move in on Corey's apartment. After Corey shoots at the cops, the cops return fire, but kill Corey's wife. Corey swears revenge on Cotton with the idea of killing Cotton's wife Rhonda Fleming. After two years of good behavior in prison, Corey is sent to an honor farm, from which he quickly escapes and begins a murder spree. Cotton pampers his wife to such a degree, he doesn't inform her that she's in danger for fear of worrying her. He packs her off to stay with her mother, where she is informed of how protective her husband is. Wanting to join her husband, Fleming breaks cover and screws up the trap Cotton has set up for Corey. Obviously intended to be a nail-biter, THE KILLER IS LOOSE has both enough bad dialogue and predictable plotting to be no fun at all. This was the last film directed by Budd Boetticher before he began a series of Westerns starring Randolph Scott which would make him a cult figure. While it is nice to see Michael Pate not playing a Native American, I did not enjoy this movie.

THE SPOILERS (1955)  - The fist fight between John Wayne and Randolph Scott at the end of the 1942 version of this story was legendary as the most exciting ever put on film. Like most everything about this remake, the fight between Jeff Chandler and Rory Calhoun - or rather their very obvious stunt doubles - wasn't as impressive. And Anne Baxter was a poor substitute for Marlene Dietrich. Rex Beach published the novel in 1906. Soon after it was adapted into a stage play, and then a movie in 1914 starring William Farnum. In 1923, another version of the story was made starring Milton Sills. Gary Cooper starred in the 1930 version, and John Wayne in the 1942 production. Technicolor seems to be the only reason someone thought there should be another remake. Ross Hunter was becoming quite a success with a series of films starring Rock Hudson, so Universal Pictures decided that he should step in for this project. Former USC football star Jesse Hibbs took a break from making Audie Murphy movies to helm this production, which was not to be one of his most celebrated. Basically the story was based on what Beach witnessed while prospecting for gold in Alaska - how swindlers used legal tactics to steal claims. The cast also included Barbara Britton, Ray Danton, John McIntire, Wallace Ford, Bob Steele and Eddie Parker.

WALL OF NOISE (1963) - Horse trainer Ty Hardin stakes his future, including his relationship with model Dorothy Provine, on the horse Frank's Future winning a race. However, before the race, Hardin finds that the horse is injured and so pulls the horse out of the race, pissing off the owner, Simon Oakland. Provine felt something would go wrong, so she didn't bet the money Hardin wanted her to, which pisses off Hardin who takes it as a personal betrayal. Ralph Meeker likes Hardin's integrity, so he hires Hardin to train his horse. Meeker's unhappy wife, Suzanne Pleshette, starts an affair with Hardin and conspires with him to buy an horse without Meeker's permission. Meeker fires Hardin, so our hero is stuck having to pay for the new horse. Hardin goes to Oakland for a loan, with the horse as collateral. Once again, before the big race, Hardin finds that his horse is injured, but he refuses to pull him out of the race. Meanwhile, Provine tries to pay off Hardin's debt to Oakland by agreeing to give herself to Oakland. Hardin's horse collapses during the race, causing our hero great remorse. Provine resigns herself to a life with Oakland, when he has a fatal heart attack trying to leave the race track parking lot. Since Oakland signed the note saying the debt was "paid in full", Provine joins Hardin in watching over the injured horse's recovery. Hardin scowls his way through the movie, and Provine proves to be his equal in looking angry. Pleshette gets top billing and proves her worth by being both charming and beautiful. Writer/producer Joseph Landon thought that there was a good drama in Daniel Michael Stein's novel, but director Richard Wilson wasn't able to put it on the screen. The film looks terrific though with cinematography by Lucien Ballard.

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Charles Gilbert watched:

THE ABOMINABLE DT. PHIBES (1971) Vincenr Ptice in a Grand Guignol setting exacts revenge on the doctors responsible for the death of his wife who never appears in the film, except for her photo (Carolyn Munro uncredited) and a corpse double. With assistant Virginia North around he otherwise seems to be doing quite well in wife's absence. With Joseph Cotton and Hugh Griffith.Charles Gilbert

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David Deal Enjoyed:

KINDAR THE INVULNERABLE (64)

THE BODY SNATCHER (45)

RIFIFI IN THE CITY (63) - A newspaper man doggedly persues Jean Servais, a gangster turned politician, trying to connect him to the drugs and murder he commands. The second film in the Franco Noir two-pack and like its companion, Death Whistles the Blues, it is a good little crime drama that looks great and has good tunes.

OSS 117 MISSION FOR A KILLER (65)

MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (64)

Mildly enjoyed:

THE THIRTEENTH HOUR (47) - Trucking company owner Richard Dix pisses off the competition, so they frame him for murdering a cop. On the run, Dix finally puts two and two together and the true murderer is revealed. The last film for Dix, and his 100th credit. Competent Whistler entry is a fine number to go out on.

RETURN OF THE WHISTLER (48) - When Michael Duane's French fiance (Lenore Aubert) disappears, he endeavors to unravel the mystery.  Competent mystery has a bland but not unlikeable lead, and several recognizable character actors. Not a bad series end, all around.

TIGHTROPE (84) - New Orleans cop (and dad to two daughters) Clint Eastwood is investigating a series of sex killings. Right there you can tell Clint's character is not going to be Harry-esque, as it were. This time, Clint is conflicted and begins to act out latent sexual fantasies during his investigations, while exposing his daughters to potential harm.  I saw this in the theater when it first came out and I don't think I've seen it since. It is plenty sleazy and has its moments of frisson, but I found it a bit languid and overlong.

ASSIGNMENT: PARIS (52) - Newspaper man Dana Andrews, attached to the Herald Tribune in Paris, is working on a story about an American captured for spying in Hungary. Soon he is in hot water and his boss, George Sanders works to free him. Entertaining enough Cold War adventure.

CORPSE MANIA (81) - Inspector Chang is trying to catch a necrophiliac killer who is murdering prostitutes. Odd giallo-style period piece crime film from Hong Kong with Fulci-esque death scenes and a colorful palette. 

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Bertrand van Wonterghem Enjoyed:

E per tetto un cielo di stelle (1969, Giulio Petroni)

The pentaverate – season 1 – episodes 2 to 4

Section spéciale (1975, Costa-Gavras)

Mildly enjoyed:

Uchujin Tokyo ni arawaru / Warning from space (1956, Koji Shima)

Vertige pour un tueur (1970, Jean-Pierre Desagnat)

Défense de savoir (1972, Nadine Trintignant)

Did not enjoy:

Das Todesaugen von Ceylan (1963, Gerd Oswald)

Performance (1970, Nicolas Roeg & Donald Cammell)

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Angel Rivera enjoyed:

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" (2022-pilot episode)
The original Star Trek pilot with Jeffrey Hunter is one of my favorite sci-fi films. (Known as "The Cage" which was its original working title. When filming began its title was changed to "The Menagerie" but is now known as "The Cage" to avoid confusion with its TV edited version.) Spoiler Alerts:
This reboot is interesting to see how much was changed for the new series. There is a scene in the original pilot when Jeffrey Hunter has met his new yeoman played by Laurel Goodwin and is informed by his second-in-command, Number One portrayed by Majel Barrett that the new yeoman is replacing his former recently deceased yeoman. His response is "She does a good job, alright. I just can't get used to having a woman on the bridge." After realizing Number One is "a woman", he responds, "You're different, of course!" In the new episode, the bridge is almost entirely "manned" by women.
The episode begins with Captain Pike portrayed by Anson Mount viewing "The Day Earth Stood Still" (my all-time favorite sci-fi film) while making breakfast for a female companion (who also happens to be a Federation Captain.) Spoiler Alert: the sci-fi classic slightly parallels the theme of the episode.
Members of the original pilot cast who appear in this episode are: Mr Spock and Number One. Members of the original show who are also on the ship with Captain Pike are: Uhura and Nurse (or is it Doctor) Chapel. [Interesting note is that both Number One and Nurse Chapel were portrayed by Majel Barrett. This is because when the original pilot was shown to the network executives, they objected to Roddenberry having given a lead role to his then girlfriend, Majel Barrett; not because she was portraying a character in an authoritative role, but because some of the executives felt she was a bad actress. Roddenberry later gave her a role playing McCoy's nurse who had an unrequited love for Mr. Spock.]
Back to the plot: Admiral April orders Pike back to captain the Enterprise and go on a rescue mission. (April was the original name Roddenberry had chosen for the captain before it evolved to Pike. April was also a name Roddenberry used in at least two of his scripts for the show, "Have Gun, Will Travel")
In the original pilot Pike's main confidant was Doctor Boyce portrayed by veteran character actor John Hoyt. In the new series the Chief Medical Officer is Dr. M'Benga, a character who appeared in two episodes of the original series. Here probably added to add more diversity to the show as the character and actor are black. Here Mr. Spock is made to be a close confidant to the Captain rather the doctor.
So the episode introduces the new cast of characters and has a nice theme which fits in with the spirit of Star Trek. The make-up and special visual effects are state-of-the-art and along with the music "fascinating".

"Iron Fists & Kung Fu Kicks"--a 2019 Australian documentary which chronicles the history of the making of martial arts films in Hong Kong and their influence on the world. The history is interesting, beginning where originally the protagonists of the films were actually women combatants because the films where originally made for women and the producers of the films did not want the female audience lusting after the male stars. The documentary further goes on to tell the tale of the two major studios whose output would become martial arts films. Those studios would be: Shaw Brothers, headed by Run Run Shaw and rival studio, Golden Harvest formed by former executives from Shaw Brothers. Two major stars who were presented to Run Run Shaw and were then turned down by Shaw were: Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, who would then become big money makers for Golden Harvest. The "doc' also features a lot of information about Hong Kong and its industries before it stopped being a colony of Great Britain and turned over to the main-land Chinese government. Also shown is how the films were distributed not only in the US, but also Australia. In the US, it is shown how the films were welcomed by African-American communities where in the seventies blaxploitation films where released on a double bill with martial arts films. It concludes with how  the influence of the use of martial arts in the "Matrix" films changed the use of martial arts in mainstream films. Also a little bit about martial art style action in films in other countries outside of Hong Kong and China. But because the "doc" is mostly about the films made in Hong Kong, there is no mention of Sonny Chiba or Japan. Still it is an interesting and entertaining documentary.


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Friday, May 13, 2022

Week of May 14 - 20, 2022

 



To answer these trivia questions, please email me at scinema@earthlink.net.

Brain Teasers:

Which Italian actress worked with directors Peter R. Hunt, Giuliano Montaldo, Sergio Martino, Calvin Floyd, Allen Baron, Duccio Tessari and Alfonso Brescia?
Bertrand van Wonterghem and George Grimes knew that it was Marilu Tolo.

Which Italian director did four movies set in Outer Space with Yanti Somer?
Bertrand van Wonterghem, George Grimes and Angel Rivera knew that it was Alfonso Brescia.

Which English actor worked with directors Michele Soavi, Neri Parenti, Riccardo Freda, Marius Mattei, Umberto Lenzi and Armando Crispino?
Bertrand van Wonterghem, George Grimes and Angel Rivera knew that it was John Richardson.

And now for some new brain teasers:

What movie was director Giulio Questi preparing to make when the financing for SE SEI VIVO SPARA came through?
Can you name five American bodybuilders who worked with Mae West that made movies in Italy?
Which American bodybuilder had a gym in his Roman penthouse apartment for his friends to use?

Name the movies from which these images came.


Bertrand van Wonterghem, and George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Tomas Milian and Marilu Tolo in SE SEI VIVO SPARA, aka ORO HONDO, aka IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT!, aka DJANGO KILL!.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?


Bertrand van Wonterghem, George Grimes and Charles Gilbert identified last week's photo of Marilu Tolo in IL TRIONFO DI ERCOLE, aka THE TRIUMPH OF HERCULES.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?


No one has identified the above photo yet.
Can you name from what movie it came?


George Grimes identified last weeks' frame grab from THE BASTARD SWORDSMAN.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

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I am interested in knowing what movies you have watched and what you enjoyed or not. So please send me an email at scinema@earthlink.net if you'd like to share. Here's what I watched last week:

Enjoyed:

THE WILD RIDE OF OUTLAW BIKERS Real and Imagined (1999) - In the late 1990s, producer Peter Jones decided to do a documentary exploring the reality and myths surrounding the motorcycle clubs created by veterans of World War II. The Boozefighters was created by Wino Willie Forkner Jr. when he was kicked out of the 13 Rebels motorcycle club for a drunken brawl. When the news people and police over reacted to an incident in Hollister, California in 1947, the myth of the violent biker gang began which was popularized by THE WILD ONE in 1953. Forkner initially consulted on the movie, but quit because the movie was bullshit. However, the image was set and helped to inspire the creation of the Hell's Angels club. Producer Roger Corman saw an article in Life magazine about a biker funeral and was inspired to make THE WILD ANGELS. Members of the Hell's Angels of Venice California helped out, but later sued Corman for "defamation of character". The spectacular success of THE WILD ANGELS inspired the new genre of "biker movies", which is covered with clips from Something Weird Video. The history of motorcycle manufacturers Harley Davidson and Triumph is covered as well as the competition from Japanese companies. Later, the work motorcycle clubs are currently doing for charities and the popularity among rich people like Malcolm Forbes have changed the image of riders, but the allure of being an outlaw still remains.

Mildly enjoyed:

BRUCE LE'S GREATEST REVENGE, aka WAY OF THE DRAGON 2 (1978) - Probably because there already was a FIST OF FURY 2, somebody decided to call this WAY OF THE DRAGON 2, but it has nothing to do with Chinese in modern day Rome. I wasn't enjoying this very much, but the final fight scenes in this are fun. Bruce Le is sent by his mother to live with his Uncle Hok-Nin Lau at a Kung Fu school. The Japanese are running things in the Uncle's city, and the Chinese dock workers ask the Uncle to help stop Japanese abuse. The Uncle promises the Chinese authorities to not make trouble, but Le can't stand the humiliation and fights back. The Uncle sends Le out of town, just before the Japanese invite the Uncle to dinner to discuss peace. The Japanese poison the Uncle and then attack the funeral at the school. Le returns after the school is torn apart and attacks the Japanese villa. I understand that the Japanese have brought in a Mongolian fighter played by Bolo Yeung, but is Kwai Shan supposed to be from Tibet? And why is White guy Bill Lake there? Yeh Fang makes for an unconvincing Japanese, and Ku Feng is only a little bit better. Why is Yeh Fang allowed to escape alive? Was he originally supposed to return with armed soldiers for a proper FIST OF FURY ending? Fighting on board a ship, Ku Feng finds that he can't beat Bruce Le, so he jumps overboard and swims to shore. On the shore, Feng finds himself facing Kwok Choi Hon and Tong Yim-Chan who have weapons against the unarmed Feng. Feng disarms both opponents, but Hon pulls off Feng's testicles and squeezes them like an egg. The film ends with the Uncle's school being reopened, but Le has vanished from the story. Lu-Po Tu directed this around the time he did FIST OF FURY III with Bruce Li.

THE CLUB, aka WU TING (1981) - Kirk Wong's directoral debut is a surprisingly realistic modern day gangster film that seems more like a Yakuza movie than an Hong Kong actioner. Unfortunately, the Ocean Shores VHS is so dark that at times it is hard to figure out what is happening. Yeh Fang is the Big Brother who owns a very successful nightclub with Michael Wai-Man Chan. They are visited by Norman Chu (aka Shao-Chiang Hsu) who assures them that he is on their side. Two rivals want to buy Fang's club, and Fang is interested in selling to the owner of a property development company as long as he gets a seat on the board of directors. He threatens to expose the owner's part in a murder inorder to get the new position. Needless to say, Fang is murdered and Wai-Man Chan doesn't know who did it, but he wants revenge. Eventually when he figures out who did it, he goes into battle with Chu suddenly showing up to fight alongside. This film features a number of beautiful women who get naked; Wai-Man Chan has two bed scenes, plus the nightclub features a long act by two naked women. The film also features a number of Western pop songs which the producers might not have gotten the rights to use: Sound + Vision by David Bowie, Tusk by Fleetwood Mac, Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits and Van Halen's version of You Really Got Me. Pursued by two assassins with an axe and a machete, Fang tears the cover off of a large rotating fan in defense. They leave but come back with two power saws. No one in this movie has a gun, so like an old-time Yakuza film our hero goes into battle with a sword and the villains respond with other edged weapons - mostly machetes.

FRANKIE (2019) - Aside from being a wonderful tourist advertisement for Sintra, Portugal, there doesn't seem to really be a point to this movie directed and co-written by Ira Sachs. Isabelle Huppert stars as the movie star Frankie, who has invited all of the disparate members of her family to gather for a vacation on the Portuguese Riviera. There's her teenage granddaughter Sennia Nanua, her daughter Vinette Robinson, her son-in-law Ariyon Bakare, her husband Brendan Gleeson, her gay ex-husband Pascal Greggory and her son Jérémie Renier. She also invited her make-up artist friend Marisa Tomei, supposedly to introduce her to Renier. But Tomei shows up with her boyfriend Greg Kinnear. It isn't until a half hour into the film that the audience learns that Huppert is dying of cancer. Everyone contemplates life changing choices, but the only resolution we get is Kinnear leaving Tomei after a failed marriage request. And, maybe, Nanua having her first sexual experience with a young local lad she meets on the beach. There is a suggestion at the end that Huppert didn't really intend Tomei for Renier, but for her soon to be widowed husband. The photography is beautiful, the acting in pleasantly low-key and the location is enchanting, but it doesn't seem to go anywhere. How does a French Portuguese Co-production become supported by The Tax Shelter of the Federal Government of Belgium?

Did not enjoy:

CAVEGIRL (1985) - Possibly inspired by 1980's CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR or 1981's CAVEMAN, Phil Groves wrote a screenplay called PRIMAL URGE. Producer, director and screenwriter David Oliver Pfeil turned it into this  annoying teen sex comedy with a difference - our nerdy hero goes back in time to find the girl of his dreams in a prehistoric setting. Daniel Roebuck is completely unconvincing as a clumsy high school student, who is picked on ruthlessly by a group of his peers. At one point, they trick him into going into the girl's locker room, where a gaggle of gorgeous topless women, including Michelle Bauer, chase him around and finally out. He's almost late to catch the bus going on a school scientific field trip to some old caves. This coincides with a military helicopter exercise, which gets thrown off when Roebuck touches a strange crystal in the cave. After being knocked unconscious, Roebuck awakens to find himself in a strange land. Eventually, he gets sniffed by the beautiful blond Cindy Ann Thompson who likes the smell of his deodorant. Thompson may be a cavegirl, but she's in full modern day make-up, has no body hair, sports an hair perm, and wears something that looks like torn-up clothes. The nearby brunette cave tribe all wear animal skins, and take a while to warm up to this stranger. Roebuck tries to teach English to Thompson, especially the phrase "May I sit on your face." Eventually, Thompson invites Roebuck to have sex by taking off her top. Suddenly all of the cave people are captured by a female led tribe of cannibals. Using some fireworks in his backpack, Roebuck rescues everyone in time to figure out that if he goes back into the cave, he might be able to return to his own time. He does, but everyone ridicules him so he goes back into the cave to return to Thompson. 

CLEOPATRA The Romance of a Woman and a Queen (1912) - Turner Classic Movies paid for the restoration of this movie, but the original score by Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida put on it makes it hard to sit through. Adapted from the French play by Victorien Sardou and directed by Charles L. Gaskill, this film tells a rather peculiar version of the history. There is no mention of Julius Caesar or of any children. The film starts with a slave fisherman named Pharon, played by "Mr. Howard", picking flowers to show his love for Queen Cleopatra, played by Helen Gardner. The Queen's attendant, Iras, played by Pearl Sindelar, is in love with Pharon and fears what will happen if he catches the Queen's eye. At first the Queen orders his execution, but after he declares his undying love for her, she grants him ten days to be her lover, after which he is to die. He accepts. After five days, the Queen's cousin, Diomedes, played by "Mr. Osborne", comes to ask her to marry him and to mention that Pharon is his slave. Offended, the Queen orders Diomedes to be flogged. After ten days, Pharon is given poisoned wine and told to go off and drink it. He does, but Iras has stolen the antidote and brings him back to life. Iras convinces Pharon that the Queen didn't want him dead, but to leave Egypt. Before Pharon can get too far, he sees a Roman messenger from Marc Antony arriving, which convinces the slave that he can't leave because Cleopatra is in danger. Marc Antony, played by Charles Sindelar, orders Cleopatra to meet him in Tarsus to answer charges of conspiracy against Rome. Performed in one long 20 minute set-up, the meeting in Tarsus looks like a stage play with the arrival of Cleopatra's barge in the background and the scene continuing until Antony boards the barge and it sails off. Diomedes shows up to try and blacken the Queen's character to Antony's right-hand man Venditius, played by James R. Waite, but Pharon shows up to declare that his Queen "is the mental and moral superior of this Roman debauche!" While Antony and Cleopatra are having a good time "in the land of the Lotus", she is shocked to see Pharon sneaking into the Palace through an hole in the wall. She orders the Captain of the Guards Kephren, played by Harry Knowles, to kill him, but Pharon jumps in front of a spear meant to kill Antony. Declaring that "I love the woman you love so well -- that I'd give my life -- for the man -- she loves!", Pharon gets a pardon from Cleopatra. Venditius arrives to tell Antony that his wife, back in Rome, has died and that he needs to return to stop Octavius' grab for power. Cleopatra tries to stop his leaving, but finally agrees if he promises to not forget her. When word reaches Cleopatra that Antony has married Octavius' sister as part of a peace deal, it is Pharon who convinces her that Antony still loves her. Antony sends a message begging Cleopatra to bring her fleet to join him at Actium. Meanwhile, at Actium, Octavia, played by "Miss Robson", convinces her new husband to not battle with her brother. As she leaves, Octavia is confronted by Cleopatra which the Queen finds upsetting. Ventidius favors peace and so gets Diomedes to bad-mouth Cleopatra to Antony. Cleopatra calls Diomedes a liar, and Antony challenges her to prove him a liar by poisoning him. She does, Antony believes her and Octavia is sent away with no peace deal. "The Battle of Actium. Fearing if Antony wins the battle that his love of power will be greater than his love for her, Cleopatra orders her ships to retreat." (Huh?) The battle of Actium is presented by alternating close-ups of Cleopatra and Antony (the only close-ups in the movie) against sails with some water and smoke tossed on them. "Antony, weakly suspecting Cleopatra of treachery orders his ships to follow, thus losing the battle..." At first, Antony and Ventidius plot to attack Alexandria to punish Cleopatra for her treachery. But, in the morning, Cleopatra prays for Antony to come to her so she can express her grief. The prayer works and Antony arrives in the Palace just as the news comes that Octavius is preparing to attack. Antony and Ventidius then get set to defend Alexandria. As the battle is lost, Antony is told that "The Queen is dead." Antony then demands that Ventidius make good on his promise to help him die. Ventidius, instead, stabs himself to death. Antony follows by stabbing himself, just as Kephren arrives to report that "She is alive". Cleopatra is hiding in her tomb, and while Antony must be lifted up by restraints to enter the tomb by a window, Octavius strolls in confidently. The Queen plots with Kephren to assassinate Octavius, but the slowly dying Antony prevents the effort. Octavius, himself, stops Cleopatra from trying to stab him and orders the Roman guards to prevent her from harming herself. Naturally, it is Pharon, disguised as a priest, who delivers a basket of fruit for the Queen, which has a serpent hidden inside. As this was produced by The Helen Gardner Picture Players. it is not surprising that Helen Gardner gave herself the title role. I wonder if audiences in 1912 found her alluring for she may be the heaviest actress to ever play the part. Reportedly, this was one of the first six-reel feature films ever made in the U.S., and the first feature about Cleopatra after a short French film on the subject in 1910. Most of the film was shot as if it were being performed on a proscenium stage, except for the battle of Actium, which consists of only a few close-ups.

Silent Shakespeare (2000) - This collection of silent films based on plays by William Shakespeare, preserved by the National Archive of the British Film Institute, are of historic value, but are no fun to sit through. Many of the seven films are incomplete and, of course, lacking the words which makes Shakespeare memorable. 
1) KING JOHN (UK, 1899) - We get one and a half minutes of Herbert Beerbohm Tree's death scene. 
2) THE TEMPEST (UK, 1908) - Much of this story is told in 12 minutes with many camera tricks to rival George Meles.
3) A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (USA, 1909) - In 11 minutes, you get most of the story played as if it is set in Ancient Rome. 
4) KING LEAR (Italy, 1910) - The 15 minutes existing of this movie exhibits hand colored images and features Francesca Bertini, one of the great performers of the silent cinema, as Cordelia. 
5) TWELFTH NIGHT (USA, 1910) - Here are 12 mnutes of this comedy. 
6) THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (Italy, 1910) - Francesca Bertini plays Jessica in the nine minutes existing of this hand colored movie which looks to be partly filmed on location in Venice. It is a shame that close-ups weren't being done yet. 
7) RICHARD III (U.K., 1911) - This looks to be a 23 minute record of a stage production.

The Deceived (2020) -This started like a version of REBECCA, then it became something like GASLIGHT. By the end it was four 40 something minute long episodes that was really stupid. Having stolen a novel written by a female student and published it under his own name, a Cambridge lecturer finds that his wife has accidentally killed the student when the student turns up at their home trying to find the copy of her manuscript she left with the lecturer. As she is a bit unstable, the wife allows her husband to convince her to spirit the dead body from Cambridge to Ireland, where the wife's mother burns the body in an house fire and passes off the charred remains as her daughter. Another female student, shows up in Ireland to tell the lecturer that she is carrying his baby and proceeds to be convinced that she is crazy. Eventually, when the lecturer decides to kill the pregnant student, his wife kills him. The three women then proceed to make it look like the lecturer killed his wife, so that she can leave the country to start a new life with a fake passport. Writers Tobias Beer and Lisa McGee are to blame for this.

30 NIGHTS OF PARANORMAL ACTIVITY WITH THE DEVIL INSIDE THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2013) - Return with me to a bygone era when the Donald Trump jokes were based on his show The Apprentice. Kathryn Fiore is very appealing, but the film is not.

HOT TIMES, aka A HARD DAY FOR ARCHIE (1974) - Was this the first R-Rated teenage sex comedy? Though billed as AMERICAN GRAFFITTI with nudity, this seems to have been intended as a live-action Archie comic book with sex. Written and directed by Jim McBride, the film stars Henry Cory as Archie Anders who wants to get off at least once on New Year's Eve. Steve Curry plays Mughead, who narrates the tale of how Archie's girlfriend Bette, played by the gorgeous Amy Farber, has come under the influence of an Indian Guru who promotes sex without ejaculation. Ronnie, played by Gail Lorber, seems to be a good prospect since she is shooting an "Adult Movie" in an hotel room. After the two hired male "talent" finish without pulling out (one is played by Adult Film star Eric Edwards - who doesn't take off his underwear), our hero is called in for action, but things go wrong when the hotel manager bangs on the door and the shoot ends. There are many more misadventures, none of which are fun except for some very attractive nude females. At the end, Archie achieves satisfaction, and Mughead tells us he got arrested for it. Starting his career in 1967 with DAVID HOLZMAN'S DIARY, McBride made two documentarys before his second feature GLEN AND RANDA in 1971. After HOT TIMES, McBride didn't make another feature until 1983 with a big budget Hollywood remake of BREATHLESS starring Richard Gere. How did McBride jump from low-budget New York based movies to become an Hollywood professional?

SAVAGE ATTRACTION, aka HOSTAGE The Christine Maresch Story (1983) - Based on the true story of Australian Christine Lewis, who married German Walter Maresch without knowing that he was a Nazi bank robber. As presented in the movie, Kerry Mack was on the road when a carny driver offered her a ride in his truck. Mack got a job at the carnival and soon came to the attention of Ralph Schicha. After having sex with Mack, Schicha proposed marriage. She refused and he shot himself. In the hospital, Schicha refused life-saving treatment unless Mack married him. Years later, with a daughter, Schicha takes Mack to Germany, supposedly to a better life. Mack soon realizes that Schicha belongs to a group hoping to revive the Nazi party. The Nazi organization doesn't trust Mack, so Schicha hides his daughter from Mack to force her to help rob a bank. Even though the bank job goes well, the party still doesn't trust the couple and gives them the money to go to Turkey. In Turkey, they are stopped by bandits who want Schicha to sell them his wife and daughter. Schicha kills one of the bandits as they escape towards Iran. Mack doesn't have the paperwork to cross the border to Iran, so they are forced back to Isanbul. Schicha allows Mack and the daughter to return to Australia, and when he re-joins them, he wants to rob another bank. Threatening to blow everybody up with dynamite, Schicha forces Mack to do a new bank job. Afterwards, when Mack tries to run away, Schicha shoots her in the leg. Thinking he wants to return to Germany, Schicha takes his family to a marina and buys a sail boat. On board, the little girl finds a crossbow. During an argument, Schicha shoots Mack in the back with the crossbow. Mack pulls the arrow out of her back and threatens Schicha with it. Backing away, he falls overboard. Mack can't leave the bastard to drown, and so rescues him, but takes away his rifle to force him to return to land. As the boat hits the shore, Mack drops the rifle, grabs her daughter and makes a run for it on a beach filled with people. Schicha shoots after her until they both stop and face each other. He threatens to kill her. She tells him to go ahead. A narrative title comes up to inform us that the Mareschs were both arrested. Walter got 14 years in prison, while Chrstine got probation. The little girl was returned to Christine's custody when the trials were over. Co-writer and director Frank Shields fails to make the story compelling and the film feels much longer than the 93 minute running time.

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Charles Gilbert watched:

THE LONGEST DRIVE : THE QUEST Buckskinned Kurt Russell and physician brother Tim Matheson riding the range help rancher Dan O'Herlihy find cowpunchers to drive a herd of cattle 1000 miles to Pueblo. With Woody Strode, Gary Lockwood, and Keenan Wynn.

The Rise and Fall of Justin Bieber 

Pastor Carl Lentz. NYC version of Hillsong church is rocked by scandal as another "holiness" preacher falls from grace.

The Hillsong Scandal : Meet the Cast. Another documentary on the corruption in Brian Houston's charismatic church in Australia.

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David Deal enjoyed:

THE BODY OF MY ENEMY (76) - Jean-Paul Belmondo is out for revenge after being framed for a double murder. Clever and funny slow-burn tale of the rich and powerful meeting their comeuppance.  No stunts for Jean-Paul and very little in the way of action, this Henri Verneuil crime number is enjoyable for its script and the undeniable charm of its star.

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (54)

MASSACRE TIME (66)

PRINCE VALIANT (54)

THE KING'S MAN (21)

THE SAINT TAKES OVER (40)

Mildly enjoyed:

EL ESCAPULARIO (68) - Supernatural story from Mexico centers on the history of a medal scapular (a piece of Catholic jewelry) as it travels from brother to brother. Beautifully shot in black and white by Oscar-nominated (for The Night of the Iguana) cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, this tale has the expected horror overtones, reminding me of The Saragossa Manuscript.  And it's one gorgeous flick too.

CRISTIANA DEVIL NUN (72) - Another blasphemous nun flick, this time with a few hardcore inserts. It is what it is.

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Bertrand van Wonterghem enjoyed:

Assassino sul Tevere (1979, Bruno Corbucci)

Naeil / Tomorrow – season 1 – episodes 7 & 8

Ultraman (anime) – season 2- episode 2

Jekyll & Hyde (2021, Steve Lawson)

Ripper untold (2021, Steve Lawson)

Desire (1936, Frank Borzage)

Radar men from the moon(1952) – episodes 1 & 2

Hollywoodland (2006, Allen Coulter)

Intent to kill (1958, Jack Cardiff)

The pentaverate – season 1 – episode 1

The bold caballero (1936, Wells Root)

Mildly enjoyed:

People will talk (1951, Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

The rise and fall of Legs Diamond (1959, Budd Boetticher)

Rawhide (1951, Henry Hathaway)

City streets (1931, Rouben Mamoulian)

Cado dalle nubi (2009, Gennaro Nunziante)

The servant (1963, Joseph Losey)

Gojira tai Desutoroia / Godzilla vs Destoroyah (1995, Takao Okawara)

Did not enjoy:

Outer range – season 1 – episodes 5 to 8

Coplan FX18 casse tout (1965, Riccardo Freda)

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Angel Rivera enjoyed:

"Classic Stars You Didn't Know Were Racists"(2021)
It begins by mentioning Mel Gibson's anti-semantic drunken rant. It then focuses on five different well known personalities and actors: William Frawley, TV's Fred Mertz; Walter Brennan, TV's "The Real McCoy" and what was a surprise to me: James Stewart. According to the item among his racists acts was giving Woody Strode a hard time on the set of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance". The other two were: John Wayne and Walt Disney.

"Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes" (2022)
This documentary provides "unheard tapes" author Anthony Summers who wrote a biography of Monroe used and these were the tapes of people he used as source material for his book. If you have read as many bios on  Monroe as I have, as I am a big Marilyn fan, then there is nothing new in this documentary. Ironically I have never read Summers book.

"Fireball Xl5", the animated series".(2017-2022) a computer animated remake of the 1960s Supermarionation series.  The episode I watched was an animated remake of a "Fireball XL5 episode titled, "Space Monster". The artwork seemed to resemble the artwork of the late illustrator, Richard Corben, whose work appeared in the "Heavy Metal" movie and magazine. His artwork also appeared in the Warren Magazines "Creepy"; "Eerie" and "Vampirella". In this remake one of the characters is Black and "Fireball XL5" character, "Venus" was shown dancing in a bikini with a body no puppet in the sixties ever had. I also watched the original which was cute, but nothing like the animated remake.

I also watched the new Spider-Man movie, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" (2022). An action-comedy which starts out as a comedy.Meaning here a lot of jokes and funny scenes. Spoiler alert: Spider-Man 's secret identity is revealed to the world causing a lot of problems for Peter Parker and friends. To change this, Peter goes to Dr. Strange and asks him to cast a spell that will change everything back to the way it was before his identity was exposed. Here is where problems arise. [Side note: "In 1985, DC Comics had writer Marv Wolfman and the recently deceased artist George Perez create a story which collapsed DC's Multiverse into one universe where they could publish stories where all their characters could appear in one universe. ] In this movie, Marvel has taken the multiverse story line to bring together characters introduced in other Spider-Man movies. So we have guest starring in this movie: Willem Dafoe: Jamie Foxx; Alfred Molina; Thomas Haden; all who have played villains in different Spider-Man movies. Also along for the ride are the other two actors who have played Spider-Man--Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. There is a lot action as this is one of those comic book movies that performs like a comic book come to life. So it is mildly entertaining.

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