1930S, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, Action Adventure, Adventure, Art house, book, BOOK REVIEW, books, CLASSIC, crime drama, cult, fantasy, film, FILM HISTORY, FILM NOIR, genre, ghosts, gore, Horror, international, Italian, McFarland, monsters, Mystery, rare, review, reviews, SPAGHETTI WESTERN, studio history, thriller, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, VAMPIRES, Western, wierd

Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker

Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker
Roberto Curti Price: $45.00 40 photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
376pp. softcover (7 x 10)McFarland  2017                                                http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-1-4766-6970-0

Like many American film fans, my knowledge of director Ricardo Freda was mostly limited to his
Horror films I Vampiri /THE DEVIL’S COMMANDMENT (Titanus,1957),Caltiki il mostro immortale /CALTIKI,THE IMMORTAL MONSTER(Lux,1959),L’orrible segreto del Dr. Hichcock /THE HORRIBLE DOCTOR HITCHCOCK(Panda,1962) and Lo specttro /THE GHOST (Panda,1963).

• However, Freda had a career in cinema that lasted from 1937 (Lasciate ogni speranza /LEAVE ALL HOPE ,Juventus Film) until 1994 (La fille de d’Artagnan /REVENGE OF THE MUSKETEERS ,Canal+ )starting and ending his career as a writer.

• Writer Roberto Curti of Cortona Italy has done a remarkable job tracking down an amazing amount of information on Freda’s life and career.His love for the subject comes though with his very detailed synopses of these rarely seen (outside of certain countries), providing the history behind many of them, production facts, and their success or failure in various territories as well as changes made to them .

Curti uses Freda’s memoir Divoratori di celluloide (Emme Edizioni (1981),164 pages)as a starting point ,but also researching though film magazines and newspapers from several countries, as well as tracking down and watching the titles from the director’s long career. Curti points out that the director could often be petty and recall incidents that might not always match the facts.Curti’s interviews and research sometimes contradicts what Freda put into his book.

• Still ,the Egyptian born Italian director lived La Dolce Vita, being an extravagant personal spender and gambler as well as womanizer. It is ironic that he despised films like Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (Riama,1960) as well as the entire neo-realist movement of films like Ladri di biciclette/THE BICYCLE THIEF(Ente Nazionale,1948).

He was more a storyteller who felt that film should be escapist,and take us out of reality. Not only did he have those skills, he was also able to make limited budgets look richer than they were, due to his understanding of film editing and camera placement ,as well as working with innovators like the great Mario Bava. Indeed, the short tempered Freda walked off the set of a I Vampiri ,leavinng it to be  finished by Bava. We see throughout the book that Freda had a habit of walking off set, much to the detriment of his films and career.  I Vampiri has an important place in Italian horror films ,as it was the country’s first true sound horror film (the first Italian horror film may have been Il monstro di Frankenstein(1920) a now sadly lost silent picture).

Freda had prior to I Vampiri had done a lot of regional comedies ( he cared little for the comics in many of his films ,but put in many physical gags inspired by the likes of Buster Keaton ,historical dramas and swashbucklers . Indeed ,his love of classic novels and adventure tales seemed to have merged into Caccia all’umo /LES MISERABLES( Lux,1952) ,making it more of an action thriller!

His swashbucklers seemed to have broken new ground in storytelling in Italy, being more inspired by American filmmakers than the home grown artisans. His love of tracking shots to get a lot of detail within a long take was developed during this period .Having reviewed the Italian historical drama La cena delle beffe / THE JESTER’s SUPPER* (Società Italiana Cines,1942 ,not by Freda, but by a contemporary),I would love to see more these  rarely motion pictures                (see review at https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/the-jesters-supper-dvd/ ) .

Freda also was one of the first to leap into the sword and sandal films ,even telling an earlier version of the tale of SPARTACUS(Spartaco(API,1953),released in the U.S. by RKO as SINS OF ROME ). He hopped from genre to genre with various budgets and varying success. Comedy (at which he seemed to have a lot of success),drama ,spy thrillers ,Krimi( he faced off and WON against the antagonistic Klaus Kinski) ,swashbucklers,historicals, and of course horror.

His indifference to some parts of the movies he made show with some sloppy work (in ROGER LA HONTE( Comptoir Francais du Film Production ,1966,one of his later films with a decent budget, he allows a major stunt to show clearly that a “woman” passenger is actually a stunt man since his trousers are clearly visible ),as well as his indifference to actors (he was notorious for using doubles when actors gave him any grief). Yet in staging ,he often surpassed the budget with strong imagery and tracking shots that convey a lot of information .Plus several actors who worked with him praised the director .

Curti’s book makes me want to revisit several of Freda’s films and seek out some of his rarities. Curti has done what any film researcher should do, and that is evaluate and place into historical context the work of the subject.

McFarland is to be commended once again for putting out such a detailed volume about a filmmaker not as well known as perhaps he should be. Each film has b&w illustrations of the film posters or on set photographs, The graphics are sharp and easy to see.

This is a MUST HAVE for lovers of film, especially for those who love Euro-Cinema.

Highly Recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick

 

                  "Acquista il libro o ti farò del male ..."

Standard
1970s, Action Adventure, cult, dvd, film, genre, international, Italian, obscure, rare, review, RINGO STARR, SPAGHETTI WESTERN, TONY ANTHONY, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, Western, westerns, wierd

BLINDMAN – ABKCO dvd review

blindman-movie-poster-1972-1020377327BLINDMAN (Il Cieco ,Italy, November 15,1971 /U.S. release by 20th Century Fox Jan.15,1972)-color -105 minutes-release by ABKCO -$12.99-release date November 4,2016

https://www.amazon.com/Blindman-Ringo-Starr/dp/B01LXU311M/ref=pd_sbs_74_img_0/166-8333352-5114628?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=HTM8B2YSKEX4QFHXZ38R

“I want my fifty women.”

blindman-1

The Spaghetti Western reigned from about 1964 until sometimes into the mid-1970s. While there had been, westerns filmed in Europe before and after that time, Sergio Leone’s Per un pugno di dollari/Por un puñado de dólares/Für eine Handvoll Dollar, best known as A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (released in Italy in September 12,1964, released in the U.S by United Artists) was the first international success of the Euro Western. Many of these films were produced multi-nationally via German, Yugoslavian, Spain, the U.S., even Israel, along with Italian producers.blindman-2

 

Usually in the Spaghetti Western, the definition of bad guys and the good guys, unlike the classic American films, became blurred. The level of violence also escalated. As the westerns went along, they also developed interesting eccentricities and characterizations. Also, a dark sense of humor permeated a lot of them. DJANGO (1966 Euro International) and the coffin exemplified these.
However, by the 1970s, Kung Fu films became the rage, and the westerns slowly rode off into the cinematic sunset. Before they did, they left us with BLINDMAN (ABKCO FILMS, released in 1971 in Italy,1972 U.S. via 20th Century Fox).

a70-1147

BLINDMAN was a bit more violent than many of the westerns and had a great deal more nudity. The original American release was pared down to 84 minutes in some areas. I saw it upon its original release, due to the casting of Ringo Star as a Mexican Bandito(!)and seeing this new release from ABKCO, I do not recall the film being as explicit .westward_the_women

Many of the Spaghetti Westerns had inspirations in other films, and BLINDMAN seems inspired by WESTWARD THE WOMEN(MGM,1951). In WESTWARD, Robert Taylor (WATERLOO BRIDGE, MGM 1940) is consigned to deliver 140 (not 200 as the poster declares) mail order brides to California. Indian attacks, renegades, even natural disasters, dwindle the numbers. The film was a huge hit when it came out, though it is not well remembered today.

title

Tony Anthony an American born actor who had a good career in Italian Westerns, and later help bring about the 3D revival with his film COMIN’ AT YA (U.S. release Filmways ,1981), stars as the title character and who also wrote the screenplay for BLINDMAN, however, seemed to have been at least partially inspired by it. For good measure, he mixed into the blend a bit of the legend of the blind masseuse/ swordsman, Zatoichi. First filmed in 1962 as THE TALE OF ZATOICHI ( Dalei Studios ),the long running series had already had 22 entries by the time BLINDMAN was into production.

SONY DSC

The Blindman (he seems to have no other name), it seems, was contracted to bring fifty women to some miners in Texas. However, his partners double cross him and bring the women to Mexico. Blindman thus needs to hunt down his associates, who often end up dead, as he tries to regain his female consignment and honor his contract.

Blindman sets up the film by establishing that he is indeed blind ,but no less deadly, when he blows up a character named Skunk(an unbilled Renato Romano, DEATH LAID AN EGG / La morteha fatto l’uovo,Italy 1968) and an unnamed compatriot and woman companion after Skunk lets Blindman know his cargo is now in Mexico with Domingo(American born Lloyd Batista,who had appeared in Tony Anthony ‘s THE STRANGER/Lo straniero di silenzio,Italy 1968 ),his brother Candy(Ringo Starr* )and their sister called Sweet Mama(Magda Konopka,WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH,WB 1970) and their gang.

ringo-and-pilar-agneta-eckmyrblindman-ringo

The bandits shower down the kidnapped women while Sweet Mama and Dominic discuss if Candy might want one of the captives. However, Candy is sweet (sorry about pun) on Pilar (Agneta Eckemyr, later to appear in ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD (Disney, Dec 20,1974)). The women are being offered to a General (Raf Baldassare, who appeared in Mario Bava’s ERIK THE CONQUEROR/Gli Invasari, Italy 1961) and his drunken battalion.

8405135758_c6dcbba93c_m

However, even more double crosses happen and El General is captured for ransom. More betrayals occur and more characters end up dead (including Ringo!), and The Blindman is at times caught and tortured.blindman12

The actors seem to be having a good time in their various roles. The women, however, to be blunt, are for the most part, sex objects, and spend a great deal of time being naked and pawed by the various cast members. Konopka, hints at a sick sadistic pleasure of watching this, and that she is closer to her brother Dominic that would be considered acceptable.cropped

The at times surreal western was directed by Ferdinando Baldi was a very busy in the 1960s through 1980s, jumping genres but most comfortable in the oater genre. He later would direct the two 3-D films that Anthony would write and star in. The film was lensed in Almeria, Spain, a desert like stretch that was used in numerous westerns as well as films like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (Columbia ,1962) and HOW I WON THE WAR (U.A. ,1967). In fact, Ringo had visited John Lennon on location there while Lennon was filming HOW I WON

blindman-ringo-starr-western-movie-dbbdfaf3-85d2-4abe-bce5-e21abfa10640

Music by Stelvio Cipriati, who had scored THE STRANGER RETURNS (Italy,1967) and is still scoring films today, does a Ennio Morricone -like score with a lot of jangly sounds and odd vocals. Ringo did not contribute to the soundtrack, though on the flipside of his song single “Back Off Boogaloo”, he wrote and performs a song called ‘Blindman” that sounds inspired by Cipriati’s score https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5EXfCMyibw

sights_to_behold_01

Allen Klein, the head of ABKCO Films, was the former manager whom Paul McCartney blames for his exit from The Beatles. Ringo obviously had no ill will to Klein, and took the supporting role. Being the most famous name in the film, his prominence in ads and trailers was expanded. Ringo acquits himself quite well in the atypical bad guy role. (See trailer : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5454Qe6uoaM )ringo-starr-and-allen-klein-holding-gun-spain-july-1971

     Ringo & Klein(holding gun) clowning on set.

The DVD transfer shows off cinematographer Riccardo Pallottini (CASTLE OF BLOOD/ Danza macabra, Italy,1964) sharp images, thanks to a HD transfer from an original 35mm negative. The film is also available as a digital download, though no word of any planned BLU RAY release (if they do ,perhaps a commentary by Anthony, or even Ringo?). Sound quality is a 5.1 transfer with no noticeable pops or hiss. The only extra on the DVD is a trailer.mpw-20184

BLINDMAN was one of those films that had been available on the gray market in variable quality prints. In fact, SCARLET reader John Crummett informed us when BLINDMAN was first announced for DVD that some time ago he had attended a screening of GET MEAN**(Italy ,1975, U.S. release through Cinemation)  at the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood and director Tony Anthony himself doubted there would ever be an ever be an official release due to all the bootlegs. ( You can see how bad a typical bootleg looked here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l95IUUNnpjg )

mpw-20182

I am glad that Tony Anthony was wrong about that, and that the film is finally available in a good quality print. One small note about the ABKCO website- they really don’t sell their DVDs very well, concentrating more on their musical releases. The most important thing, though, is you can finally get BLINDMAN in a high-quality release.

blindman-le-justicier-aveugle-blindman-10-05-1972-5-g

Recommended for Italian Western Fans, as well as Beatles completists.
Kevin G Shinnick

*-Was Ringo’s name CANDY a reference to his first non-Beatles film, CANDY (A.B.C/Cinerama ,1968)?candy1968

**-GET MEAN, also directed by Baldi with performances from Baldassare and Battista, is available on BLU RAY from BLUE UNDERGROUND.blu-bd-8005_l

PLEASE “LIKE ‘ and SHARE SCARLETTHEFILMMAGAZINE on WORD PRESS, as well as SCARLET THE FILM MAGAZINE REVIEWS on FACEBOOK, to get our latest reviews and articles. Also ,check out our earlier reviews and articles starting with https://scarletthefilmmagazine.wordpress.com/2015/10/

660px-blindmanshooting

Standard
1950s, CARL FOREMAN, CLASSIC, cult, dvd, FLOYD CROSBY, Gary Cooper, genre, GRACE KELLY, HIGH NOON, LON CHANEY JR, review, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, UNITED ARTISTS, Western, westerns

HIGH NOON – Olive Films Blu Ray and DVD Signature Release

high-noon-boxHigh Noon -1952 United Artists. b&w 82 minutes. – (Olive Films Signature Edition) Blu-ray $39.95

http://store.olivefilms.com/Western.68/Olive_Films.38/High_Noon___Olive_Signature__Blu-Ray_.6289.html

Also on DVD $19.95 http://store.olivefilms.com/Classic_Cinema.62/Olive_Films.38/High_Noon__DVD_.5412.html

HIGH NOON to me is one of the great westerns yet until the very end it has little in the way of out and out action. Instead, the film is a very tense thriller that literally uses a ticking clock leading up to an explosion of violence. Instead the movie is a tense character study of what makes a hero.maxresdefault-1

The film was done on a modest budget ($750,000) on a 31 day shooting schedule, by a behind the camera team who had never done a western before. The modest film upon release became the 8th most profitable films of 1952 (in a year that gave us SINGING IN THE RAIN(MGM), THE BAD & THE BEAUTIFUL (MGM)THE QUIET MAN (Republic), and THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (Paramount).

pgm-rca52

Then fifty-one-year-old star Gary Cooper was in poor health (yet continued to star in 14 more films and one uncredited cameo over the next nine years) and took a pay cut for a percentage of the profits when he took the role of Sheriff Marshall Will Kane. His 22-year-old leading lady (Grace Kelly) had made only one film prior (and several TV roles) to starring with this cinematic icon, yet her personal charm kept her from becoming a merely decorative character.9402c4104d6186400401d879d33830e5

The filmmakers surrounded the leads with marvelous supporting players, such as veterans like Lon Chaney Jr (in one of his most subtle and moving performances that it still surprises me that he was not even nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar) and Thomas Mitchell as well as rising character performers as Jack Elam (here playing a town drunk) and making his film debut in a silent but important role, Lee Van Cleef.high_noon_lon_chaney_jr

The production partnership of Stanley Kramer and Carl Foreman, as well as writer Herbie Baker, publicist George Glass formed Screen Plays, Inc. in 1947. Their first film SO THIS IS NEW YORK (MGM,1948) flopped but their second CHAMPION(U.A.,1949) was a big hit both critically and financially. CHAMPION won an Academy Award for film editing as well as nominations for star Kirk Douglas and screenplay writer Carl Foreman (both of their first two films were Foreman’s adaptations of two Ring Lardner stories).

highnoon

The team went on to produce HOME OF THE BRAVE(U.A.,1949), the first of the social dramas that Stanley Kramer would be known for and again written and co-produced by Foreman. Next came THE MEN(U.A.,1950), with an original screenplay by Foreman and the first time that Kramer would work with director Fred Zinnemann. Their string of hits continued with CYRANO DE BERGERAC (U.A.,1950), based upon the 1897 Edmond Rostand, translated by Brian Hooker and a screenplay by Carl Foreman and an uncredited Orson Welles. The film flopped at the box office but earned an Oscar for star Jose Ferrer.

high-noon-1

Columbia Pictures offered the production team a five-year contract to form a production unit to make films of their choosing for roughly a million dollars each movie. The offer was accepted but first they had to complete their final independent production,
HIGH NOON.high-noon2-1952Ironically, for a film about a man who stands up for what he believes in as others abandon him, Kramer abandoned his partner Carl Foreman and his personal ideals for commerce. Foreman had been a member of the Communist Party ten years earlier and was called before the House of Un-American Activities (HUAC). He was considered an “uncooperative witness” by the committee. To save his deal with Columbia, Kramer dissolved their partnership. He still gave Foreman credit for his screenplay, but did not let him get a producer’s credit.

carl-foreman-july-23-1914-june-26-1984-kramers-producing-partner-and-writer-of-high-noon-testifying-before-the-house-un-american-activities-committee-huac-in-1951-during-the-productio                                                                                                                                     (Foreman before the HUAC committee)

 

Kramer went on to be a major Liberal voice in his films until 1979, making many films that have become classics of cinema. His treatment of his former partner is a black eye to his memory, though, to be fair, few could stand up to the monster that was HUAC. The partners never spoke again. Foreman took his family to England, as did many who were blacklisted, and continued to write screenplays for such classic as BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (ironically for Columbia ,1958, and Foreman was only awarded his Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay posthumously).

stanley-earl-kramer-9-29-1913-february-19-2001was-an-american-film-director-and-producerresponsible-for-making-many-of-hollywoods-most-famous-message-films

(producer Stanley Kramer)  

The film’s story is simple enough. Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald, who had appeared in WHITE HEAT, WB ,1949, as the truck driver who recognized undercover agent Edmond O’Brien), a criminal whom Sheriff Will Kane (Cooper, looking world weary) sent away is being released from prison and will be arriving in the small town that day on the noon train. He has vowed to kill Kane in revenge. Kane has also just married his Quaker wife Amy (Grace Kelly) who urges him to leave the town. Kane wants to stand his ground, and ties to organize the townspeople to stand up to the criminal and his gang. However, the town is more than willing to leave Kane handle things alone if it will ultimately bring peace to the town. Only a shaky eye patched man is willing to stand by Kane and he of course would be of little help. The former sheriff, Martin HoweLon Chaney Jr )would like to help but his illnesses prevent him from being of any use either. Kane sends his wife away as the time for the confrontation draws near. The sheriff now must stand alone against the murderous outlaws as the time arrives.

4334441020a1

The simple description above does not do justice to this wonderful film. The acting, the direction by Fred Zimmerman , the cinematography (by Floyd Crosby, who won a Golden Globe for his work on this classic, later ended up lensing a lot of A.I.P.’s horror and science fiction classics, and by the way is the father of David Cosby of THE BYRDS fame), the editing and the music all work perfectly to tell this tale of courage.

006-high-noon-theredlist

Critics at the time were rather mixed in their reception to the film. Even John Wayne (who turned down the role of the Sheriff) attacked the film, and often said that he and Howard Hawks made RIO BRAVO (WB,1959) in response.fred-zinnemann-seated-floyd-crosby-gary-cooper-and-the-crew-ofhigh-noon-michael-j-cinema

 

Audiences, however, flocked to the film, and the film made $3.4 million dollars on its $730,000 investment. The film also won many awards, including four Oscars (Best Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Music (Dimitri Tiomkin) and best song (Dimitri Tiomkin & Ned Washington for “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’”, sung by Tex Ritter). Incongruously, John Wayne accepted the Oscar for Gary Cooper. Here is a clip from the 25th Academy Award, held March 19,1953, and the first one televised:

john-wayne-accepting-the-oscar-for-gary-cooper

 

The film was nominated for but lost Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing/Screenplay. Katy Jurado won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Helen Ramírez, the first Mexican actress to receive the award. Crosby’s cinematography also was a Golden Globe recipient.

high_noon_poster

The OLIVE FILMS BLU RAY reviewed here puts CRITERION on notice that there is another company that knows how to give classic films the Deluxe Treatment they deserve. HIGH NOON and JOHNNY GUITAR (not seen by this reviewer) are the premiere films from Olive Films’ Signature series, and if this film is any indication, film lovers will be happily paying to get these collectible treasures for their collections.

italian161-2

HIGH NOON has been beautifully presented in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. You will note black bars or both the left and right side of the screen but after a few moments, you will cease noticing them. The 1080p 4 K scan brings out the very rich black and white details, letting you see the beads of sweat on Cooper as he desperately seeks out his posse, as well as detailing in the costuming and the sets clearer than they have been seen in years.

1ff08a48c7b2ce44ab310680dbc707c0

The sound is presented in its original mono audio in a hiss free DTS-HD Master Audio track. Whether using the television sound or outside speakers, the sound is rich and clear. The yellow subtitles are clean and follow the action and dialogue perfectly.

544d83084d999b34edaf0e7f7a589183

The work above would make the Olive Films Signature Release worth having, but they have added some superior extras.

3d5ccbf2aab82a0e9728e1b4d99f1282

Inside the cardboard cover is a clear digipack slipcase containing the single disc. The cover art can be reversed and used with a panoramic view of Cooper walking the town’s empty streets.

960

Besides the disc is a nice little booklet written by Nick James of Sight & Sound Magazine called ‘Uncitizened Kane “wherein it talks about Cooper in THE VIRGINIAN (Paramount,1929) and the Cooper in this classic film. This is also available on the disc to read by skimming through using your directional arrows.

1ff08a48c7b2ce44ab310680dbc707c0

Also on the Disc:

“A Ticking Clock” – Director (THE PUNISHER, New World,1989) / Editor Mark Goldblatt talks in detail about the importance of the editing of HIGH NOON.

 

0-9k1qsxyvcewdq5hx

“A Stanley Kramer Production”-Producer Michael Schlessinger (DARK & STORMY NIGHT, Shout Factory,2009) talks about Producer/Director Kramer and his career.

270bba7f140524fbe0dca211af20c318

Ulcers & Oscars: The Production History of High Noon” – the late Anton Yelchin (Chekov in STAR TREK: BEYOND, Paramount ,2016) narrates this marvelous behind the scenes story.

54ae1b8c88a8523f9d5ce51b993d554f

Trailer – Not the original 1952 trailer (“Stanley Kramer’s Masterpiece of Suspense!”, Presented by World Entertainment Corp.), this gives you an idea how the film used to appear before the painstaking restoration.

6582e0725e86e092d1c767334a6aff22

The only quibble (am I too greedy?) that I had is that I wish that they had found and added the 2 hour PBS documentary “Darkness at High Noon: The Carl Foreman Documents “(PBS,2002), though it was made when all the people involved were long dead, and perhaps unable to defend themselves against various charges (it was not very favorable to Kramer). Perhaps someone will release the documentary as its own separate disc.

highnoonwide

Still, this is a must have for any collector of classic American Films.

HIGH NOON continues to resonate in society today. A Polish Political Poster in 1989 even used the iconic Cooper sheriff image.w_samo_poludnie_4_6_89-tomasz_sarnecki

There have been indirect sequels and remakes for television, and it was recently announced that Relativity Pictures is remaking the film, though setting it Present Day. http://variety.com/2016/film/news/relativity-remaking-high-noon-present-day-1201862842/

tightly-directed-by-fred-zinnemann-and-written-by-the-blacklisted-carl-foreman-earned-the-hatred-of-1950s-mccarthyists-including-john-wayne-and-howard-hawks

However, none of these have come close to the film that was the first film selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

xnoontv460-jpg-pagespeed-ic-qgktcyzvrr

Rush out and get the Olive Films Signature Release of HIGH NOON.

mv5bmtq4mza3oduxnv5bml5banbnxkftztcwmda0ndu3nq-_v1_sx640_sy720_

HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.

-Kevin G Shinnick

high-noon-featured-720x340

Standard
1930S, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, book, BOOK REVIEW, books, cult, Encyclopedia, fantasy, genre, Horror, humor, McFarland, obscure, rare, review, rpg, SCIENCE FICTION, Silent, SILENTS, t.v., tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, Western, westerns, wierd

Encyclopedia Of Weird Westerns -a SCARLET book review

wierd westerns cover

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WEIRD WESTERNS by Paul Green (McFarland, publication February 2016) 320 pages-softcover $39.95 www.mcfarlandpub.com .

RqwYh

 

Ever since seeing PHANTOM EMPIRE (1935, Mascot) on television, I have enjoyed westerns that not your typical gunslinger tale. It seems that I am not alone in my enjoyment of these genre mash ups, as author /comic artist Paul Green has tracked down horror, fantasy, sci fi tales of the Old West (or western tinged tales).

Green casts a wide lasso to hog tie in film, stories, games, and comic books that touch on these hybrid tales.

Some of the titles may raise a few eyebrows for their inclusion (STAR WARS, Fox 1977) as Space Westerns, and a few for their omission (THE TERROR OF TINY TOWN, Principal 1938) though the author clarifies why he feels certain titles don’t fall under the definition “Weird Western”. However, where is GHOST TOWN (Empire,1988)? He lists several other Charles Band produced films so I am surprised he missed this one.

 

big

(GHOST TOWN disappeared from the book )

Most fascinating was how far back in literature these oddball oaters went. In 1868, “The Huge Hunter or The Steam Man of the Prairies “by Edward Sylvester Ellis was published, featuring a steam powered robot (true STEAM punk!) . Dime novels, pulps, and magazine serials all spun out tales of when the uncanny went West.

images(3)

I do recall in the 1960s a lot of comic books have science fantasy and outright horror stories mixed in with the six gun slinging chronicles. Many of these inspired big (and not so big) budget films and tv series such as COWBOYS & ALIENS (Universal ,2011).

THE DARK

There are even several role playing games for those so inclined ,such as DEADLANDS (Pinnacle Entertainment Group,1996 )and it’s follow ups.

ad2f4ad2679b1b8387d6a07c2fbadce5-d6tenpg
Author Green choses some pretty choice illustrations for the comic art, giving small bios on artists like John Severin who did a lot of work in the craft. Likewise, he provides some rare lobby cards and photos from the cinematic world.

All and all, a pretty good research book on this subgenre of sage brush strangeness.

Kevin G Shinnick

SpaceWestern40

 

Standard
1930S, book, british, Classic Hollywood, cult, dvd, fantasy, Horror, Karloff, obscure, rare, review, SCIENCE FICTION, SILENTS, t.v., tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, Western

Fantastic Films of the Decades – Volume 2: The 30s

Front Cover only-1Fantastic Films of the Decades – Volume 2: The 30s by Wayne Kinsey .
256 pages. Limited run 500 copies . ORDER NOW Only £32 + p&p
http://peverilpublishing.co.uk/fantastic-films-of-the-decades-the-30s/

Following is one person’s take on The Good, The Bad and, uh, The Neutral of Fantastic Films of the Decades – Volume 2: The 30s by Wayne Kinsey.

First comes a mainly here-nor-there random observation. Readers of Volume I will feel comfortable with the first portion of Volume II. The early 30s are full of films that redid characters and themes from the silent era. To wit, right off the bat we have Alraune (1930), The Bat Whispers (1930), The Cat Creeps (1930) and The Gorilla (1930) not to mention a couple of Fu Manchu movies, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Dracula (US and Spanish versions from 1931 and both essentially Nosferatu redone) and, of course, Frankenstein (1931).

Section-5-19-640x480

Actually, rather than log that item as a neutral, maybe it should be entered slightly to the Credit Side of the Ledger insofar as the reader can pick out trends like this; these volumes are well organized.

That leads us to the rest of the “Good” of Volume II. A genre fan can certainly learn a lot from it. For instance, I’m not sure I’ve ever even heard of the all-but-lost Gorilla film called Ingagi (1931 and one of the few early 30s pictures not redoing material) and read the full page write-up eagerly. A number of pages later is a fine ½ page bio of Gorilla impersonator extraordinaire Charles Gemora (yes, he played in Ingagi) which was equally illuminating. The author has definite a knack for giving appropriate coverage; the more key the topic or individual, the more words are spent. Boredom is minimized.

Some other items among many that rate as personal highlights: the coverage of production starts and stops of The Invisible Man (1933), The “Did you know?” tidbits of The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), the lowdown on changing censor ship guidelines in the United States and the United Kingdom during the 30s, the recycled props of the Flash Gordon serial and on and on.

Another aspect that I enjoyed is that if the film under discussion was an adaption of a book or play or was later done in film and other media, it’s noted.

Like the previous Volume, this one is generously illustrated with some fine color.

Section-6-18-640x480

 

Now, on to the “not so good”. When I think of the term “fantastic” in regards to moving pictures, I think of three sub-genres: Horror, Sci Fi and Fantasy. Despite the fact that the 30s experienced a famed cycle of horror films, Volume II seems even more unbalanced in its coverage than Volume I when it comes to the non-horror entries.

Section-9-12-640x480

As a glaring example, I – as a sci fi geek – was left wondering after reading Volume I whether the well-known futuristic 1929 film High Treason might be covered in Volume II (since it was both a sound and silent film). It was not and even director Maurice Elvey’s Volume II mini-biography compounded the oversight with “Despite his long CV, his genre films were few; The Lodger [1932] and The Clairvoyant (1934)”. It seems that if “Gold” is of the “Haunted” variety as in Haunted Gold (1932) coverage is warranted but the well-known dual-language science fiction based Gold (1934) with Genre Queen Brigitte Helm is neglected. A quick glance at a recent Sinister Cinema Catalog in the “Science Fiction and Fantasy” section indicates other obvious omissions: La Fin Du monde / The End of the World (1931), F.P. 1 Doesn’t Answer (1931 in French, German and English), Der Herr der Welt a.k.a. The Master of the World (1934) featuring an enormous electric robot, yet another Maurice Elvey (!) s.f. work called Transatlantic Tunnel (1935) and its earlier German parallel Der Tunnel (1933), Gibel Sensatsii a.k.a. The Robots of Ripley (1935) and Bílá nemoc a.k.a. The White Plague (1937 based on famed a work by S.F. author Karel Capek). That’s quite a lot of heavy hitters to be excluded. Perhaps if the basically superfluous 10 full pages devoted to News Headlines of the Year had been jettisoned, room for these items may have been available.

Section-7-6-640x480 (1)

When someone has a passion and possesses an affinity for a topic, it’s always refreshing. It seems clear that the author possesses same toward the horror genre but it seems equally clear that his interest in the other genres is only in passing. Whether this book is right for you depends on where your interests lie as well.

Fantastic Films of the Decades – Volume 2 is limited to only 500 copies and only available direct from http://www.peverilpublishing.co.uk

Front Cover only-1

Standard
Blu Ray, BOOK REVIEW, Classic Hollywood, dvd, fantasy, FILM NOIR, Hammer Films, Horror, Karloff, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, Western

Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion

ARROW_BOOK_COVER

CULT CINEMA: AN ARROW VIDEO COMPANION – (published by ARROW FILMS,www.arrowfilms.co.uk) 246 pgs. Limited Edition $69.95 Available U.K. at http://www.arrowfilms.co.uk/cultcinemabook/ and  in the U.S.   http://mvdshop.com/products/cult-cinema-an-arrow-video-companion-limited-edition-hardback-book-book

An interesting book that has various well respected authors commenting on and
expounding on the virtues of many of the films that were released by UK
Video distributor ARROW VIDEO. As the intro tells us, ARROW FILMS has been the
Leading distributor of Blu Ray and DVD releases of cult movies.

With an introduction by filmmaker Ben Wheatley (the intriguing A FIELD IN ENGLAND (2013), who has also added some thoughtful commentaries on several Arrow Video releases) the book gathers 25 well respected authors covering various topics near and dear to their hearts.

ben wheatley

My personal favorite is David De Valles’s tribute to Vincent Price, Paul Corupe on Canuxploitation (Canadian horror), and Tim Lucas wonderful piece on the 1961 classic THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, though I eagerly devoured the other pieces throughout the book.

Original artwork by The Twins of Evil (artists Luke Insect and Kenn Goodall), Graham Humphreys, and others as well as superb posters and production stills make this a thoughtful collection for the cult cinema. While there is the most emphasis on horror, spaghetti westerns, Italian porn (a la Tinto Brass), Asian Cinema, and the Video Nasties controversy also are covered in an intelligent and interesting fashion.

Ligeia_packshot_599.jpg by the twins of evll

I had for years heard of the quality of Arrow Films, but had not had an opportunity to see any of their releases until their recent wonderful AMERICAN HORROR PROJECT Vol 1 (currently available in a limited edition from MVD in the U. S). That one release showed me that this was a company who went the extra mile and then some in their product. This book continues the high quality and attention to detail that the company gives to projects that major studios have little time for.

I recommend this book as indeed a companion for these films (all released by the studio in the U.K.) or just for some wonderful writing on the cult cinema.

ARROW_BOOK_OPEN2
-Recommended.

Kevin G Shinnick
Scarlet The Film Mag

Standard
3-D, Classic Hollywood, tv film radio books theatremusic storytelling horror mystery fantasy science fiction thrillers drama, Uncategorized, Western

COMIN’ AT YA (1981)

                    BLURAY COMIN                                                                      COMIN’ AT YA (1981) -BLU RAY- MVD VISUALS-  $24.99

http://www.amazon.com/Comin-At-Ya-Blu-Ray-3D/dp/B015CVRPL8

People rave over Quentin Tarantino’s self-indulgent crap while forgetting that Q.T. rips off films like this and claims they are merely homages.  Well, yours truly prefers to see the original films.   They aren’t classics, and many are not original, but also they are not self-important. They are ENTERTAINMENT.

One of those films that was made to entertain was the 3-D packed COMIN’ AT YA (1981).

Comin-At-Ya

A huge hit when it came out (supposedly it was briefly withdrawn during its initial run due to running out of 3-D glasses!), this was the third western from star Tony Anthony and director Ferninando Baldi (their previous collaborations were BLINDMAN (1971) costarring Ringo Starr and GET MEAN (1975).    COMIN’ AT YA was their biggest hit together, which was followed up by another 3-D film, TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS (1983), an Indiana Jones clone.

treasure

Tony Antony had been born Roger Pettito in the U.S., but his frustration in minor American films (FORCE OF IMPULSE (61), which he wrote and starred in using the Tony Anthony moniker and which co-starred Robert Alda and John Carroll Naish) seemed to have led him like many American actors to a career in Italy (La ragazza in prestito/Engagement Italiano (1964) had him working with Rossano Brazzi).

In 1967, he was cast for the first time as “The Stranger” in ‘Un dollar tar i denti’/ A DOLLAR BETWEEN THE TEETH (1967). The Spaghetti Western had taken off fully after Clint Eastwood did A FISTFUL OF DOLLAR /’Per un pugno di dollar’ (1964).    There had been Italian made westerns as early as the 1950s, but after Eastwood’s film did rake in fistfuls of dollars worldwide, the floodgates truly opened.  Westerns were popular still in the U.S., but the John Wayne style western were not making the box office splash of those made in Italy and Spain. There was an energy, edginess, more explosive violence and cinematic language that these films had that brought audiences in.

maybe this poster inspired anthony to use 3d   released in s[pecial edition by blue undergorund(Maybe this poster for GET MEAN inspired Anthony to try 3-D? (Blue Underground released the 2 disc special edition blue ray/dvd combo set ) .

However, by the mid-1970s, Westerns had begun to lose their appeal, so that fewer and fewer were being made either here or abroad.

3-D had also had waves of popularity from the 1950s, with sputters during the 1960s and 1970s (FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN,1973 perhaps the most popular).  It was a gimmick that mostly seemed confined to soft core porn films.

hondo

Suddenly, 3-D came back into vogue, thanks to COMIN’ AT YA.  This was not the first 3-D western (there were several in 1953, including John Wayne’s HONDO) but this may be the first Spaghetti western in the process. A co-production by U.S. film and television production company Filmways (who acquired American International Pictures in 1979) and Lupo-Anthony Productions with monies coming from various countries, it was filmed in a single strip 3-D system. Two Techniscope frames, one for left eye and one right eye, were stacked one above each other in the same area as one ordinary Techniscope -format frame. The problem with this system is that it had to be projected through a polarizing filter, and then being viewed through glasses meant there was a huge loss of light, resulting in a dimmer image on screen when projected.    Thus a lot of these films looked somewhat dark to the average movie goer.  It didn’t hurt the box office for the film, as it was such a hit they had to withdraw temporarily as they ran out of 3d glasses!   Anthony seems to have pretty much retired after making TREASURE OF THE FOUR CROWNS in 1983, so I am sure he did pretty well for himself with these movies.

The restoration of the current BLU RAY release by MVD does much to correct the problem of dark images from screenings past.  The restoration was supervised under the direction of Tony Anthony, and it seems that a lot of original elements as possible were used. It is a shame they didn’t include a commentary track with Anthony, because I am sure he would have been full of fascinating stories. The only real extra is a trailer and a 3-d promo reel. Oddly, they do not include the original trailer used for the U.S., as that had no footage from the film but instead explained the 3-D process.

MPW-39666

Still the real prize is getting this film in such fine condition 35 years on. To view it in 3-D, you must have a Blu-Ray Player and Television 3-D system to see the full effects. Watching it in 2-D, I was able to enjoy the film fine and saw a lot of effects where the images were thrust toward the audience.

 

 (1950s matinee with kids enjoy 3-d leaping right out at you!)

The first ten minutes are dialogue free, and are mostly a black and white flashback of Anthony’s character H.H. Hart (who at times, looks like a thinner Burt Young) is about to be married to Abilene (Spanish actress Victoria Abril, who was Queen Isabella in the 1976 film ROBIN & MARIAN, and later an Almodovar regular). Through the door burst two gunslingers, brothers Pike (co-screenwriter Gene Quintano) and Polk (Ricardo Palacios). They shoot and kill the unfortunate priest and wound Hart (a neat effect has the blood in bright red shooting out).  The two baddies then grab the bride and storm out.  Pike by the way has the word “Love “written on his fingers, which makes me think they were harkening back to the classic NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955).

GENE QUINTANO

 

Hart survives and spends the rest of the film trying to get her back, killing the members of their gang as he inches closer and closer to them.  He meets a crazy Scotsman (Lewis Gordon, who would work with Anthony on his next film) who seems to know a lot for some odd reason and lets H.H. know why his wife was kidnapped (we have no idea how much time has passed, but it seems it is only a short time, meaning that H.H. heals very quickly!)  The outlaws, it seems kidnap women and sell them to brothels down in Mexico.

Comin_At_Ya_review_Fantastic_Fest_featured_photo_gallery (1)

A big scene has a group of frightened and abused female captives in an old tower attacked by a swarm of bats (inspired perhaps by KISS OF THE VAMPIRE,1963, with faker looking bats if you can believe it. Many is the time that you can see the string as they bob up and down and flying toward the lens *). Later, when H.H. kills Polk, Pike kills all the women except Abilene, hoping to have his revenge on our hero.

s-l300

That pretty much is the plot of the film.  Then again, most spaghetti westerns pretty much were revenge films, often with a nasty streak to them so it pretty much follows the formula.   The multi-dimensional effects are what made this film stand. Like so many 3-D films, the quality of the effects go from “Wow, cool” to “oh I see the wires “.

1454906330_1

A major problem that man people have with the film is its dependence on a LOT of slow motion. I mean, a LOT!    Since Peckinpah created the bloody ballet of violence in THE WILD BUNCH (1969) a lot of filmmakers tried to emulate it with varying degrees of success.   This was not one of the more successful uses of it, but it does pad the film’s meager plot line to barely feature length (87 minutes, not the 91 listed, and that includes the long title sequence at the end).   Also , a lot of scenes switch to black & white for no reason.

 wax

Still, it is a well-made film that does what it promises, it has things coming’ at ya. Snakes, yo-yos (shades of HOUSE OF WAX,1953!), grain, guns, flaming arrows, spears, orange peels, a baby’s bottom, and more.

The score by Carlo Savina has an epic full orchestral feel, mixed with harmonica, a la Ennio Morricone. Savina is best known for his score for Mario Bava’s  Lisa e il diavolo /  LISA & THE DEVIL (1973).

Spanish cinematographer (the film it seems was lensed in Spain) Fernando Arribas had shot films like THE BLOOD SPLATTERED BRIDE (1972) to the arthouse “La casa de Bernarda Alba”/THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA (1987). Thanks to MVD’s restoration, the color and brightness is restored so we can truly appreciate his cinematography.    The film does have some speckling, including certain spots that appear to be from the lens and transferred over to the negative image.

comin at Ya 1

The film is far from a classic but you must appreciate that this movie reignited, for better or worse, the 3-D craze of the 1980s.

*-The screams heard in the bat sequence supposedly were lifted from the English dub track of Dario Argento’s INFERNO (1980)

“WARNING: The Management Is Not Responsible For Where The Screen Ends And You Begin!”.  (tagline on one of the film’s posters)

-Kevin G Shinnick

comingatya1

Standard