Friday, March 25, 2022

Week of March 26 - April 1, 2022


To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:
Why did producer Emimmo Salvi refuse to hire Luciano Marin after I TARTARI?
Because he sexually assaulted Bella Cortez, who was Salvi's girlfriend at the time.

Why did Aldo Sambrell stop working with director Sergio Corbucci?
No one has answered this question yet.

Which script by Franco Solinas was originally intended to be a modern day story but the producer turned it into a Western?
No one has answered this one yet.

What LP album with music by Stelvio Cipriani came out on Apple Records?
George Grimes knew that it was COMETOGETHER.

By what name is Cole Kitosh better known?
George Grimes, Angel Rivera and Bertrand van Wonterghem knew that it was Alberto Dell'Acqua

In which Italian Western does Nino Castelnuovo play Franco Nero's half-brother?
George Grimes, Angel Rivera and Bertrand van Wonterghem knew that it was LE COLT CANTARONO LA MORTE E FU... TEMPO DI MASSACRO, aka MASSACRE TIME, aka THE BRUTE AND THE BEAST.

And now for some new brain teasers:

In what film did Cole Kitosh play Franco Nero's half-brother?
In what film did George Hilton play Franco Nero's half-brother?
In what film did Luciana Paluzzi play Leonard Mann's mother?

Name the movies from which these images came.

George Grimes identified last week's frame grab of Gianni Garko's feet in $10,000 FOR A MASSACRE.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes, Charles Gilbert and Bertrand van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of ?, Emilio Messina, Helga Line, Armando Bottin, Dan Vadis, Stellio Candelli, Enzo Fiermonte and Frank Oliveras in IL TRIONFO DEI DIECI GLADIATORI, aka TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

George Grimes and Bertrand van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Jacques Perrin and Claudia Cardinale in LA RAGAZZA CON LA VALIGIA, aka GIRL WITH A SUITCASE.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

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:

Highly enjoyed:

Firefly the complete series (2002)


ATAME!, aka TIE ME!, aka TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! (1989) - I would have enjoyed this film more if it didn't seem to encourage stalker's fantasies. Antonio Banderas (in his 5th Almodovar film) has just been legally released from the mental hospital, from which he had previous escaped many times but returned to be the stud to the female staff. In one of his previous escapes, he met former pornographic performer and junkie Victoria Abril (who reportedly made a cameo appearance in LA LEY DEL DESEO) at a bar and spent the night with her. Since then he decided that he would kidnap her, get her to fall in love and marry him so that he could father two or three babies with her. Reading that she was making a new horror film for director Francisco Rabal, who is confined to an electric wheelchair because of a stroke, Banderas finds her. He follows her home and puts his plan into action. Things get complicated because she has a bad toothache. She's willing to have sex with him, but he doesn't want to until she falls in love with him. Threatening to kill her and himself if she tries to escape, he takes her to dentist Maria Barranco (in her 2nd Almodovar film) for a prescription for pain pills. The local druggist can't fill the prescription and tells them to see the illegal drug dealer in the square. Banderas takes Abril back to her apartment where he ties her up on her bed so he can go and get the drugs. Pusher Rossy de Palma (in her 3rd Almodovar film) has for what he is looking, but he decides to beat her up and take them from her rather than give her money. Eventually, de Palma and two guys see Banderas on the street and get even for the beating. Seeing a battered Banderas finally inspires sympathy in Abril and a rather explicit bed scene ensues without any bondage occuring. Perhaps because of his work with Dario Argento, Ennio Morricone was hired by writer/director Pedro Almodovar to write the music for this film, which, reportedly, Almodovar found too similar to the score to FRANTIC, and so only used half of what was written. What he used is lovely and effective, especially when the film becomes a suspense thriller when it seems that Abril's sister, Loles Leon (of MUJERES AL BORDE DE UN ATAQUE DE "NERVIOS"), might be in danger. In the editing room used by Rabal, is the American poster for the original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, and, at one point, Abril watches NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on TV, but the original's music has been replaced by Morricone's score. Perhaps the most moving element of the movie is the portrayal of the aging film director by Rabal, who senses that this will be his last film and so doesn't want to complete the editing. He also doesn't want the sexual charge he gets from working with Abril to end, and watches an early pornographic video she made while he's at home. Julieta Serrano makes her 4th appearance in an Almodovar film. As usual with an Almodovar film, there is a comedic TV advertisement, this time for a fictional Gerobank Retirement Plan.

TACONES LEJANOS, aka HIGH HEELS (1991) - Having used elements of thrillers and horror movies in the past, writer/director Pedro Almodovar decided to completely embrace melodrama with some elements of a mystery movie for his 9th professional feature film. The film starts off as a straight melodrama with TV newswoman Victoria Abril (in her 2nd starring role in an Almodovar film) axiously awaiting the arrival of her mother, actress Marisa Paredes (of ENTRE TINIEBLAS), at the airport. In flashbacks, we see Abril as a child, played by Rocio Munoz, suffering in her mother's marriage to stepfather Pedro Diez del Corral. Paredes wants to accept an offer to perform in Mexico, but del Corral won't allow his wife to work - so Munoz switches the pills in the stepfather's uppers and downers bottles. After del Corral in killed (off screen) in an automobile accident, Munoz expects to go with her mother to Mexico, but Paredes denies her and leaves her with her biological father Nacho Martinez (of LA LEY DEL DESEO). The airport reunion is the first time Abril and Paredes have seen each other in fifteen years. Having learned that Abril has married TV station owner Feodor Atkine, Paredes argues with her daughter, but doesn't admit that Atkine was an old lover of her's. Atkine wants to revive his sexual relationship with Paredes, but agrees to go along with Abril who wants to take her mother to see drag queen Miguel Bose (of director Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA), who does an impersonation of Paredes. Abril goes backstage to help Bose get out of his drag, and soon finds herself being the object of the lust of a man dressed as her mother. As she hasn't had sex in many months, Abril succumbs to his cunnilingal assault while hanging from an overhead pipe and has sex, afterward insisting that it will never happen again. A month later, Atkine has been murdered and the judge faces the last three women reported to have seen him that night. The first is Miriam Diaz Aroca, who works as the sign language interpreter next to Abril on TV. She was having an affair with Atkine, hoping to move up to a news reader job. Next is Paredes, who admits to having resumed having sex with her son-in-law, but came to break it off with Atkine. Lastly it is Abril, who says she found her husband already dead. Abril meets Cristina Marcos when she goes to a shop to pick up her newly developed photographs. The clerk gets their two orders mixed up, and when looking through Marcos' pictures, she thinks she recognizes Marcos' boyfriend, who is missing. Abril meets Marcos again in prison, where Marcos volunteers to help the inmates. Abril confesses to having murdered Atkine live on the air during a newscast, which causes Aroca to flee the set and the judge to order Abril's arrest. There is a slight tongue-in-cheek quality to Almodovar's storytelling, but he pulls no melodramatic punches when Abril confronts Paredes with her neglect and cites writer/director Ingmar Bergman's film AUTUMN SONATA in comparison. For the most part, Almodovar plays the melodrama straight, but can't resist having the other women in prison break into a spirited dance routine led by Bibi Andersen (in her 3rd Almodovar film). Why does the judge work to disprove Abril's confession? What does this have to do with Marcos' missing boyfriend? What clues does the judge's mother, Mayrata O'Wisiedo, have in her celebrity scrapbooks? There is a surprise revelation towards the end of the film that seemed obvious to me early on, but that doesn't ruin the fun. Moving on from Ennio Morricone on the previous film, Almodovar got Ryuichi Sakamoto to do the music for this film and, again, he wasn't happy, so he used two themes by George Fenton from DANGEROUS LIAISONS and some old bits from Miles Davis. Lupe Barrado makes her 4th appearances in an Almodovar film, while Eva Siva makes her 6th. Antonio Banderas is noticibly absent from this movie, but Javier Bardem has a small part as a TV floor manager. Montse G. Romeu, Rodolfo Montero and Angelina Llongueras of ATAME! also appear. This is Francisco Peramos' second uncredited appearance after ATAME!

KIKA (1993) - While again making a comedy mystery thriller, writer/director Pedro Almodovar leaves behind the melodrama of his recent films to embrace the outrageous elements of his earlier flicks, including a rape scene played for laughs.In the title role, Veronica Forque won her second Goya Award for Best Actress (the first was for writer/director Fernando Colomo's LA VIDA ALEGRE), making her the second actress to get this award in an Almodovar film (the first was Carmen Maura for MUJERES AL BORDE DE UN ATAQUE DE "NERVIOS"). This is kind of surprising because Forque's role isn't particularly interesting and her character doesn't really matter in the plot. Referencing director Joseph Losey's THE PROWLER, seen on a TV set, and using music from Bernard Hermann's score for PSYCHO, Almodovar, as usual, throws a lot of disparate stuff into the film, but unlike his previous work, it doesn't coalesce into a satisfying whole. Perhaps this is because his central character, a make-up artist, is a lame brain who doesn't really understand what is happening all around her. The film starts and we see professional photographer Alex Casanovas working with model Claudia Aros on a lingerie campaign which at first he stages with voyeuristic images and then as soft-core pornography. (David Hemmings in BLOWUP is totally professional by comparison.) Casanovas arrives at the family home in the country to be told by his bleeding stepfather, Peter Coyote, that his mother, Charo Lopez, shot Coyote before finally succeeded in killing herself with a pistol. Three years later, we meet Forque teaching a class in eye make up. She ends up telling the class about an incident two years ago when she met American writer Coyote who was appearing on the TV show "You Have To Read More" promoting his first book in Spanish I FELL IN LOVE WITH A FRAUD - which was inspired by failure of the police to prove that he murdered his wife. (Francisca Caballero, the director's mother, plays the host of the show in her fourth and final appearance in an Almodovar movie.) Watching the interview while drinking Pepsi, Forque and Anabel Alonso are obviously smitten with Coyote. She tells the class that she left the studio with Coyote, and that when he called her soon after to come over to his house, she thought it was for more sex. Instead, he wanted her to make up Casanovas, who had died in the night from an heart attack, so that he looked good before being taken to the morgue. (Huh? Are sudden unexpected deaths in Spain handled so differently than they are in the English speaking world?) Anyway, while putting make up on Casanovas, he awakens from a catatonic state. Now in the present, Coyote returns from two years in Latin America and is met by Casanovas and Forque. The stepson invites Coyote to move into the upstairs room of his apartment in Madrid - which features a poster for director Michael Powell's PEEPING TOM. Later, Casanovas proposes marriage to Forque, who is hesistant to accept because she has resumed her affair with Coyote. Meanwhile, Coyote is also having an affair with Alonso, but Forque is too distracted by the knowledge that she is pregnant to notice her friend sneaking out of Coyote's room. They both notice Bibi Andersen (in her fourth Almodovar movie)  going into the building after ringing Coyote's buzzer. The most interesting character in the film is played by Victoria Abril (in her fourth Almodovar movie), the host of a tabloid TV show called "Today's Worst". Decked out in outrageous costumes designed by Jean Paul Gaultier - including a leather outfit with a video camera atop a helmet, Abril uses the name Andrea Scarface who seems to be stalking ex-lover Casanovas. Things are complicated by the escape of former porno star and convicted rapist Santiago Lajusticia, who seeks help from his sister Rossy de Palma (in her fourth Almodovar movie), who is the maid at Forque and Casanovas' home. Who telephones the incompetent cops - Jesus Bonilla and Karra Elejalde - during Lajusticia's rape of Forque? Who videotapes the rape for later broadcast on "Today's Worst"? How is it discovered that one of our main characters is a serial killer? What is in the unread diaries that Casanovas kept of his dead mother? Will Forque ever understand what is going on around her? Manuel Bandera of ATAME! also appeared. In a small role can be found Joaquin Climent of MUJERES AL BORDE DE UN ATAQUE DE "NERVIOS". While Javier Bardem did not rejoin Almodovar for this film, his sister Monica Bardem had a small role.Having not been happy with the original music he commissioned for his last two features, Almodovar opts to use pre-existing music for this film, including Perez Prado's "Concierto para Bongo". Many members of KIKA's cast appeared in director Alex de la Iglesia's ACCION MUTANTE around this same time. Reportedly Peter Coyote was very upset that after working for three months to get his Spanish dialogue down pat, Almodovar chose to replace him on the soundtrack with a Spanish voice actor.

ETERNALS (2021) - I'll forgive the use of a Foreigner song at the end because of the use of Pink Floyd's "Time" at the beginning. I'm choosing not to be bothered by a Celestial creating such a racially diverse set of Eternals. I was confused by all of the references to DC comic book characters, but I enjoyed them.

Frontline "Pelosi's Power" (2022)

THE REVENGER'S COMEDIES, aka SWEET REVENGE (1998) - In 1989, playwrite Alan Ayckbourn presented a five hour play, designed to be performed in two parts, called THE REVENGER'S COMEDIES - a nod to THE REVENGER'S TRAGEDY, a revenge play from 1606. Partly inspired by the movie STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, which was based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith - but closer to the remake ONCE YOU KISS A STRANGER, the play tells of a man and a woman who agree to "swap revenges". Malcolm Mowbray took on the task of making a movie version, but going from a five hour play to a 90 minute film required some fiddling. Sam Neill wants revenge on the man who took his job, Steve Coogan. Helena Bonham Carter wants revenge on Kristin Scott Thomas, for taking back her husband, Martin Clunes, after his affair with Carter. While Thomas' scheming effort to ruin Coogan's marriage to Sandra Reinton proceeds smoothly, Neill discovers that Thomas is a lovely person and that Clunes moved on from Carter to have an affair with Zoe Hilson. When Neill reveals that he's fallen in love with Thomas, Carter has a new target for revenge. Rupert Graves charmingly plays Carter's eccentric brother while John Wood, Liz Smith and Adrian Scarborough provide able support.

Mildly enjoyed:

THE BATMAN (2022) - Much has been made of the effort to downplay the "superhero" aspects of the franchise and to bring in a mystery/thriller perspective, which is perhaps why I kept thinking this movie should have been a 90-minute black and white effort. The mystery is in the style of a 1940s flick, designed to introduce the usual Batman villains in a reimagined way, as if they all stepped out of a gangster film directed by Martin Scorsese. But why design a three hour movie that is anti-fun?

Uncnsrd "Percy 'Master P' Miller (2022)

Unsung "Thelma Houston" (2022)


David Deal Enjoyed:

THE NIGHT STRANGLER (73) - See the Television Fright Films of the 1970s book for a complete review of this Kolchak adventure.

MURDER PARTY (62) From 2018 "A man who just murdered his mistress bumps into a friend and realizes he must kill his friend to cover his tracks.  They end up at a party where a parlor game gives him an opportunity.  Helmuth Ashley's Hitchcockian thriller unfolds in a modern environment as ice cold as its characters."

DEAD MEN RIDE (70) - From 2017 "Fabio Testi goes revengin’ for a man he met in prison who was framed for a gold robbery and did not survive their escape.  Technically competent spaghetti hits the required notes and offers up some panache besides.  Bruno Nicolai’s score is also superior and reminiscent of other westerns and gialli."


MASTER STROKE (66) - See The Eurospy Guide book for a complete review of this premier example of the genre.


PHARAOH'S CURSE (57) - From 2010 "Good old fashioned clean-floor horror about a mummy's spirit who takes over an expedition guide.  Horror ensues.  Fun stuff despite the no name cast (Mark Dana, for instance) due to solid atmosphere and hitting the right marks."



CLASSE TOUS RISQUES (60) - Gangster Lino Ventura makes his way back to Paris from Italy with the help of Jean-Paul Belmondo but Lino's other friends leave him high and dry. Claude Sautet's film noir is full of nice touches and will satisfy any fan of Jean-Pierre Melville. Recommended.

Mildly Enjoyed

VOICE OF THE WHISTLER (45) - Wealthy Richard Dix is so lonely that it's affecting his health. When advised to get away, he convinces a local nurse to go with him, telling her he'll leave her all his dough. When the nurse's old finace comes poking around, murderous intensions arise. What begins as a feel-good entry in the series about the effects of not having any friends, turns dark at the halfway point when all these schemers get their comeuppance.

THE BROTHERHOOD (68) - Producer Kirk Douglas and Alex Cord are old time Mafioso brothers who end up at odds about the future of The Brotherhood. It does not end well. Heavy on characterization (especially Douglas), Martin Ritt's - and one would assumes Douglas's - take on the Italian-American crime drama still holds interest, even if the violence is fairly low key. It's a great time capsule and you could do worse.

CLOSE-UP (48) - In NYC, fashion photographer Alan Baxter accidentally takes a picture of a thought-dead Nazi coming out of a bank, and sure enough pretty soon the Nazi wants it back. Feels breezy but talky, this low-budget crime thriller, shot on location, has more twists and turns than a Franzbrotchen.

CLAP YOU'RE DEAD (74) - Inspector George Ardisson investigates a series of murders involving actors making a film. Definitely second tier stuff but there is something to be had with the frequent nudity and the poking fun at the self-important characters.


Bertrand van Wonterghem Enjoyed:

The guardians of justice – season 1 – episodes 5 to 7

Hobson’s choice (1953, David Lean)

Mr Lucky (1943, H.C. Potter)

The mouthpiece (1932, James Flood & Elliott Nugent)

Mildly enjoyed:

Bulgasal, immortal souls – season 1 – episodes 15 & 16

L’assassinat de Trotsky (1972, Joseph Losey)

Arena (1953, Richard Fleischer)

Did not enjoy:

The Adam project (2021, Shawn Levy)


Charles Gilbert watched:

SCANDAL SHEET (1952) B&W. Mark Chapman (Broderick Crawford) is chief of a tabloid employing John Derek and Donna Reed. His deserted wife catches up with him after he had  changed his name and became editor. An argument between the two leads to violence and her death that he attempts to cover up. But his dogged associate persists in finding the killer when a colleague becomes victim number 2. 

SCANDAL SHEET (1985) TV movie with Burt Lancaster at his nadir playing a publisher of tabloid. Mr. Fallon targets  a washed up actor (Robert Urich) by hiring his friend Pamela Reed desperately in need of a job.  Far inferior to the 52 namesake.

THE GLASS TOMB (1955) B&W. John Ireland is in London as a circus impressario promoting "cynosure" Sapolio "The World Champion Starving Man" He has stipulated 70 days in a glass tomb without food where the paying public gazes upon purchasing a ticket. Just prior to the act they throw a party while a girl is murdered upstairs. Mysteriously Sapolio is poisoned while performing. With Honor Blackman and Geoffry Keen.


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