Friday, April 1, 2022

Week of April 2 - 8, 2022



To answer these trivia questions, please email me at

Brain Teasers:

Why did Aldo Sambrell stop working with director Sergio Corbucci?
Aldo told me that he didn't feel Corbucci was as serious a director as Sergio Leone. In fact, Aldo didn't like the fact that Corbucci was willing to stop work early in order to go to a bull fight.

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.

In what film did Cole Kitosh play Franco Nero's half-brother?
Bertrand van Wonterghem, Rick Garibaldi and Angel Rivera knew that it was TEXAS ADDIO.

In what film did George Hilton play Franco Nero's half-brother?
Bertrand van Wonterghem, Rick Garibaldi and Angel Rivera knew it was LE COLT CANTARONO LA MORTE E FU... TEMPO DI MASSACRO, aka MASSACRE TIME, aka THE BRUTE AND BEAST.

In what film did Luciana Paluzzi play Leonard Mann's mother?
Bertrand van Wonterghem and Angel Rivera knew it was IL PISTOLERO DELL'AVE MARIA, aka THE FORGOTTEN PISTOLERO.

And now for some new brain teasers:

In which movie does Gordon Scott fight Gordon Scott?
In which movie does Joseph Cotton play Gordon Scott's father?
In which movie does Jim Mitchum play Gordon Scott's brother?

Name the movies from which these images came.

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

Charles Gilbert and Bertrand van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Brad Harris in LA FURIA DI ERCOLE, aka THE FURY OF HERCULES.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand van Wonterghem identified last week's photo of Jeff Cooper, Ricardo Palacios and Raf Vallone in LA ESCLAVA DEL PARAISO, aka 1001 NIGHTS.
Above is a new photo.
Can you name from what movie it came?

Bertrand van Wonterghem and Angel Rivera identified last week's photo of Chow Yun-Fat in HARD BOILED.
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:

SERENITY (2005) - There was real  hope that the feature film based on Firefly would be such an hit that many sequels would follow. The public failed in its job to show up at the box office, and I may never forgive them for that.


CORKI DANCINGU, aka DAUGHTERS OF DISCO (DANCING), aka THE LURE (2015) - I am not an expert on Polish Cinema, but much of what I've seen has been unconventional. Nothing is more unconventional than a Polish musical horror movie. I am not an expert on mermaid lore, but director Agnieszka Smoczynska's idea of mixing Han Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" with classical portrayals of sirens that eat humans is also extremely singular. Reportedly writer Robert Bolesto wanted to do a film about young girls who grow up backstage at a restaurant which featured adult entertainment and dancing - based on the experiences of director Smoczynska and songwriters Barbara and Zuzanna Wronska during the time of Communist repression in the 1980s. The Wronska sisters didn't want that, but when Smoczynska came up with the idea of having the sisters be mermaids who want to be human, the Wronskas signed on. Songs were written as the script was being written, and then sound designer Marcin Lenarczyk was brought in to consider how everything should mesh. Lenarczyk suggested that they first create the film's soundtrack as if it was a radio play. With the soundtrack pretty much set, the filmmakers began to create the images. Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska emerge from a river to see Kinga Preis, Jakub Gierszal and Andrzej Konopka cooking sausages. The two mermaids entice the two men to help them ashore, promising not the eat them. As the trio are nightclub performers, they take the girls to the club Adria and introduce them to their boss, Zygmunt Malanowicz. As the song "I Feel Love" is playing, the filmmakers seem to be establishing that this story takes place during the 1970s or '80s, but no mention of the country's political situation is ever made. Konopka shows that while the mermaids now have human looking legs, they have no genitals. When wet, a vagina-like opening can be found in their monstrous tails. Malanowicz hires the girls as back-up singers and strippers, but Konopka collects the money. When Mazurek starts to show that she's fallen in love with Gierszal, Olszanska reminds her that if a mermaid falls in love with an human who then marries someone else, the mermaid will turn into sea foam unless she eats the human. Mazurek hopes to win Gierszal's love by undergoing an operation in which she exchanges the lower part of her body with a woman who wants the mermaid's tale, but this not only results in a bad sexual experience, it also results in Mazurek losing her voice. Things also get complicated when Olszanska sneaks off to feed on a man and is then picked up by female cop Katarzyna Herman. Along the way, the mermaids also meet Triton, played by Marcin Kowalczyk, who is passing himself off as the human singer of a punk metal band. Few of the Eastern European movies that I've seen have happy endings, and this one doesn't either. But few of the Eastern European movies that I've seen are as much fun as this one. On the Criterion DVD is a "behind the scenes" documentary that reports that the filmmakers took inspiration from a 1980s Polish Children's Musical called AKAEMIA PANA KLEKSA which looks like something worth seeing.

LA FLOR DE MI SECRETO, aka THE FLOWER OF MY SECRET (1995) - After so much alarming material in KIKA, writer/director Pedro Almodovar seems to have decided to make a mostly straight-forward romantic melodrama as a follow-up. Two doctors are having trouble getting a grieving mother to understand that her son is brain dead. Meanwhile, Marisa Paredes (in her third Almodovar movie) is hoping that wearing a pair of boots given to her by her husband, Imanol Arias (of LABERINTO DE PASIONES), will help inspire her writing. The boots hurt and she can't get them off by herself. She tries telephoning her housekeeper, Manuela Vargas (who danced on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966), who has the day off, but Vargas is with her son, Joaquin Cortes (who appeared in director Carlos Saura's FLAMENCO), who is practicing flamenco dancing, and the stomping drowns out the sound of the telephone ringing. Leaving her apartment, Paredes is accosted by a young man on the street who asks for 1,000 pesetas. She agrees to give him 500 if he helps her take off her boots. He struggles mightily but fails. When it starts to rain, Paredes gives him the money to get him to go away. In a nearby bar, Paredes telephones the office of her psychologist friend Carme Elias, at the National Transplant Organization, and it told that Elias is teaching a seminar at the Community Hotel School. When Paredes tracks Elias down, we discover that the scene in which the doctors are talking to the grieving mother is part of the seminar training doctors in how to ask for permission to use a brain dead patient's loved ones to authorize organ transplants. After the class breaks up, Paredes asks Elias' help in getting her boots off. Elias sets up a job meeting for Paredes with newspaper Eli Pais' editor Juan Echanove. She says that she'd like a column to write about women writers, and Echanove suggests that she write about Romance novelist Amanda Gris. Paredes hates Amanda Gris, and storms out of the office. Shortly thereafter, Paredes visits publisher Gloria Munoz and we discover that Paredes is Amanda Gris. The publisher rejects her new novel PAIN AND LIFE as not in the style of Amanda Gris, but since her Spanish Army officer husband has been away dealing with the war in Bosnia, Paredes can't write a Romance novel. Meanwhile, Paredes has to deal with her mother Chus Lampreave (in her fourth Almodovar movie) who lives with her sister Rossy de Palma (in her fifth Almodovar movie) and who are constantly arguing - especially whether if every woman in their family is crazy. Echanove telephones Paredes to say that he loved the column she wrote accusing Paredes of not being a novelist, but just a typist, and did she know that Spanish director Bigas Lunas is going to make a movie that sounds very close to the unpublished novel she submitted to him as a writing sample? Is this an example of plagiarism, or is Paredes the plagiarist? Arias comes home on leave, at which point Paredes finally realizes that her marriage is over. She attempts suicide with a half bottle of tranquilizers, but is awaken by her mother leaving a telephone message that she's tired of living with de Palma and that she's going home to the village where she, and Paredes, were born. Rescued by Echanove from a student street demonstration, Paredes decides to return to her village with her mother who says, "When we women lose our husband, because he's died or left with another woman, we have to return to the place where we were born." After a respite, Paredes returns to Madrid where Echanove wants to re-enact a scene from CASABLANCA, but ends with Paredes wanting to re-enact a scene from RICH AND FAMOUS. Because Paredes mentions Dorothy Parker as one of the women writers she admires, some viewers like to think of THE FLOWER OF MY SECRET as an unofficial version of Parker's short story "The Lovely Leave", but that would only be a very minor element of this very rich concoction. There are an handful of shots in which Marisa Paredes is given the "glamour" treatment, but she always looks lovely and delivers a moving performance. The assistant director on this film is Pedro Lazaga, the son of the Spanish film director given credit on I SETTE GLADIATORI - but which star Richard Harrison tells me was actually directed by Alberto De Martino. Lazaga Jr. was also an assistant director on INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE and OPERATION CONDOR before collaborating with Almodovar on his next three films.

Mildly enjoyed:

THE BLACK WINDMILL (1974) - My disappointment at first seeing this movie in a theater was partly because of high expectations for the combination of the director of DIRTY HARRY and the star of THE IPCRESS FILE. Seeing it after close to 47 years, I can see the problems are all in the script. I don't know what the original novel by Clive Egleton (SEVEN DAYS TO A KILLING) is like, but the screenplay - credited to Leigh Vance, is way too complicated and filled with illogical bits. If you're going to kidnap a school boy playing hookie, why go through the charade of doing it on a disused military base with thugs in uniforms that you pay, and then kill anyway? The public display of blowing the thugs up may help the credibility of your kidnapping plot, but this all seems incredibly ruthless when the final revelation of who is behind it all comes about. It does set up the ultimate fate of Delphine Seyrig perhaps. And any plot that requires two illogical scenes near the end to explain it, is too complicated to be satisfactory. Michael Caine brings a convincing intensity to the role of an MI6 operative who is determined to rescue his son. That the villain's plot relies upon Caine to disobey orders and steal the ransom from his boss, Donald Pleasence, strains credibility. And the exposition so that Caine knows how to steal the ransom is rather flat-footed. The intensity of Caine's performance makes the few attempts at humor rather jarring - such as Pleasence accidentally identifying the enemy as "Sean Connery" rather than "Sean Kelly". There is fun in seeing many fine British actors in roles, but many of them are superfluous, such as the future "Dr. Watson" Edward Hardwicke as Caine's partner who doesn't figure in the plot after 20 minutes. Clive Revill shows up as a Scotland Yard detective, whose only purpose is to find the fake evidence planted to discredit Caine - but also doesn't figure into the climactic action. Is there a specific point to everyone who has a mustache frequently tugging on it? John Vernon (of DIRTY HARRY) makes an agreeable villain. John Rhys-Davies has an uncredited role as one of the kidnapping thugs. Catherine Schell is given a surprising amount of screen time as Joseph O'Conor's wife, and it isn't until the end of the movie that the viewer understands why. I wonder if they enlarged her role as Caine's estranged wife after Janet Suzman was cast, because she is too accomplished an actress for such a small role. However, it seems that Caine should be a resourceful enough agent to figure things out without her help in the end. Has anyone complained about the presentation on how easy it seems to sneak into England from France without being detected? The film comes to an abrupt conclusion without giving the audience the satisfaction of Caine proving everyone who thought him a traitor to be wrong. Or even a shot showing the retrieval of the ransom. On the plus side, we get to see how the Dominion Theatre in London advertised its engagement of BATTLE OF BRITAIN.

2022 Oscars (2022) - Well, that was a show. A show that started with a big musical number to "lift my head with pride" from a tennis court in Compton. It didn't quite end with Will Smith assaulting Chris Rock, but that became the most memorable moment. I was tickled to see Wesley Snipes and Elliot Page seemingly being welcomed back into the mainstream movie world and was pleased to get an update on Liza Minnelli. I was surprised when fashion people were asked about what the fashion theme seemed to be that they didn't comment on how much of the female breast was exposed. It went beyond cleavage. For some women the only part of the breast that wasn't on display was the nipple. For me, Lily James, in a comparatively demure dress, was the most pleasant vision of the show, though I'm not used to the brunette hair. For those of us not on Twitter, having fan favorite polls seems irrelevant and giving "most cheer-worthy moment" to ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE doubly so. For all of the talk about changing the format, the show still ran 40 some minutes long. They need to hire someone who can better time out the script.

Frontline "Plot To Overturn the Election" (2022)

Unsung Presents The Hit Makers "Pete Rock" (2022)

Uncnsrd "Taye Diggs" (2022)

Did not enjoy:

CISCO PIKE (1971) - Reportedly producer Gerald Ayres insisted that Robert Towne come in to help first time writer/director Bill L. Norton with the screenplay and it was Towne who created the cop character played by Gene Hackman. That character brings tension into the plot, so I imagine that without him the script would have been more listless meanderings by the unlikable characters. In the title role, Kris Kristofferson is a former rock star who is now a failed weed dealer. He's hoping that the return to L.A. of his former partner, Harry Dean Stanton, will restart their music careers. Meanwhile, girlfriend Karen Black tells him that after his two drug busts, she will leave him if he starts dealing again. If cop Hackman doesn't show up to force him to deal the weed he's gotten, then where does Kristofferson get the stuff that he spends the rest of the movie trying to move? Fans of the film like the gritty portrait of early 1970s L.A. and the various people in the drug scene. The cop gives the story a deadline: $10,000 in two days. What was the driving force in the original script? Or was it just about Cisco Pike's sense of futility?

THUNDERBIRDS (2004) - Completely misunderstanding the popularity of the Supermarionation TV series, this live action version is an incredibly banal string of cliches pulled from the "movies for kids" files. On the plus side, Vanessa Hudgens and Sophia Myles are fetching. Brady Corbet plays the son of Bill Paxton and both are annoying in this. Corbet made a much better impression in director Gregg Araki's MYSTERIOUS SKIN. In 2018, the movie he wrote and directed starring Natalie Portman called VOX LUX was released.


David Deal Enjoyed:


THE CLOUDED YELLOW (50) - Ousted British Secret Service man Trevor Howard takes a job in the country cataloging butterflies (hence the title) where he stumbles into a family plot to drive young Jean Simmons mad and incriminate her in a murder. Howard uses his skills to take Simmons on the run to find the true killer of the local handyman. Supremely logical in the British way, this part psychological thriller and part chase flick is quite good actually, with a thrilling climax too boot.



Mildly Enjoyed

ROOM 237 (13)



Bertrand van Wonterghem Enjoyed:

The barbarian (1933, Sam Wood)

The last of the secret agents ? (1966, Norman Abbott)

The outer limits - episode « the form of things unknown » (1963, Gerd Oswald)

Private detective 62 (1933, Michael Curtiz)

Mildly enjoyed:

Le roi de cœur (1966, Philippe de Broca)

The invisible menace (1938, John Farrow)

The raven (1935, Louis Friendlander aka Lew Landers)

The outer limits - episode « the chameleon » (1963, Gerd Oswald)

Night must fall (1964, Karel Reisz)

The night digger (1971, Alastair Reid)

Did not enjoy:

l’Atlantide (tv movie) (1972, Jean Kerchbron)

Hitler’s madman (1943, Douglas Sirk)

The outer limits - episode « a feasibility study » (1963, Byron Haskin)

The outer limits - episode « production and decay of strange particles » (1963, Leslie Stevens)


Charles Gilbert watched:

BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS (1946) B&W. Wealthy eccentric Englishman living in Italy is wheelchair bound and missing a hand. His piano preoccupation ends when he suddenly dies from a tumble down a flight of stairs not long after reviewing his last will and testament with friends and attorney. Seemingly an animated severed hand commits mayhem for those remaining in the old house observed by the crazed librarian Hillary (Peter Lorre) only to be attributed to his devices. Elegant gothic sets impart an upscale quality to the film. J. Carroll Naish breaks the fourth wall to end the film.. Robert Alda and Andrea King. Spot Patricia Barry.

OPERATION BIKINI (1963) B&W except for oneiric song sequences of Frankie Avalon torn in his mind about being loyal to the 'girl back home'; and the finale featuring two bikini-clad lasses on the beach. That much is in color.. A UDT team of sailors led by Tab Hunter hitches a ride on a submarine with Scott Brady as skipper. Destination is Bikini Atoll where the mission is to find and destroy the U.S.S.  Greyfin before the Japanese can salvage strategic equipment from the sunken sub. Good film from Nicholson - Arkoff and American International. Look for a young Aki Aleong (MISSING IN ACTION 3).

THE SCARLET CLAW (1944) B&W. Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) skeptic of the occult, investigates the murder of a lady in Quebec Canada whose throat was cut with an instrument resembling a garden weeder. Residents at the pub believe it was a ghost. Holmes proves the culprit used phosphorus to glow in the dark. Recycled H.J. Salter music cues.


Angel Rivera watched:

I finally saw Steven Spielberg's re-imagining of "West Side Story"! Now I remember the director, John Huston saying, "One should never remake a classic film, only a bad film."
So I went into to this film first trying to ascertain its authenticity.
First this version takes place in 1957 in  a Puerto Rican community in NYC called "San Juan Hill" which no longer exists today  As I googled later the neighborhood was on the west side of Manhattan and was demolished to make room for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, a/large complex housing concert and theatrical stages and auditoriums for audiences, which now sits where the community once was.
The first thing  I noticed was the abundance of Puerto Rican flags hanging from windows. Now I am first generation Puerto Rican, meaning my parents were born on the island Puerto Rico and I was of the first generation to be born on what is  known as the main land USA, primarily the island of Manhattan known as New York City. I lived in what is known as the Upper West 'Side of Manhattan until I was three. Then I lived in a total Puerto Rican community in the 1960s and 1970s in what has been called the scenic South Bronx (another borough of NYC) and the only time I remember seeing that many Puerto Rican flags was usually on the day of the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade which is held usually on the first Sunday of June.  I don't remember ever seeing a Puerto Rican flag hanging from any window. (But I admit this is just my memory and may not reflect other peoples memories or experiences.)
Then in the movie, the Sharks sang a version of the Puerto Rican anthem I had never heard. I googled the anthem and learned that the version they sang was the original lyrics written when the island was still trying to revolt from Spanish rule. The lyrics I know were written much later and were the lyrics used when the song, titled "La Borinquena" was adopted as Puerto Rico's national anthem. While I was not born on the island, I don't know many people who were, would know those lyrics which are a call to action to fight for independence from the 19th century; where as the established lyrics from the 20th century tell of the beauty of the island--a source of pride.
Then the use of the word "gringo" whenever discussing non-Puerto Ricans. I don't remember ever hearing that word said at all in my neighborhood, at least as far as I can recall.. When referencing non-Puerto Ricans, as far as I recall they usually used the word "americano" like Cubans  do, such as in the television program, "Que Pasa, USA!" which aired on some PBS stations in the seventies and eighties and was a bi-lingual show (in English and Spanish) which took place in a Cuban community in Miami.
Aside from those little seeming anomalies, there was a lot of chemistry between the main leads, the actors portraying Maria and Tony. The music is still great.
Much has been said about the actors using their own singing voices and none were dubbed by other voices. [I own a copy of a special DVD two disc edition of the 1961 original film which has a making of ... documentary. It features original versions of the performance of Natalie Wood, among others who were dubbed and it seems she was not terrible, but her voice was deemed not strong enough to be heard in the film. Also even Rita Moreno was dubbed in the "A Boy Like That" number because she could not hit the notes in the lower register needed for the song.  Even Russ Tamblyn was dubbed in the song "When You're A Jet."]
The dance numbers were much larger in the Spielberg version, such as in the "Amercia" number which takes to the streets and the whole block is seen dancing as opposed to the original where the scene takes place on a rooftop. Also Spielberg went to great lengths to hire Hispanic actors, if not all Puerto Rican actors, to play Puerto Ricans in the film. All in all the film is worth seeing and in this case Spielberg may have made a film for today's sensibilities and today's audiences who may not have seen the original.

I also saw a film which I found searching for films on YouTube starring Ed Fury, like a wide-screen version of "Mighty Ursus". (There is one, but in French.)
But the film I'm referring to is titled, "Colossus and the Amazon Queen"(1960).  Now I had heard of the title and thought it might be a Maciste film. But what it turns out to be is a farce were many famous female stars of Peplum are featured. and it also stars Rod Taylor. When I first saw his name in the credits I said that name sounds familiar, then I remembered him as the star of George Pal's "The Time Machine". In this film he is dubbed and on a Rod Taylor website he is quoted as having done the film for the money and to get to Italy because at the time of filming he was having an affair with Anita Ekberg. The film has a jazz score rather than a more classical sounding score one would associate with sword ans sandal films.  Also no one is named "Colossus" in the movie. The film is really off-beat, but can be enjoyed  mostly for the sight of all the pulchritude of the "Amazons".

Oh and because you referenced it in your quiz, I watched, "Hard-Boiled"(1992) which I haven't seen since the nineties. Luckily there was a good copy on YouTube. Great action film directed by the great John Woo.


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