13 items from 2017
In regards to his filmic output, director Michael Winner was wildly inconsistent at his worst and wholly divisive at his best (and vice versa). The remarkable thing is that those two extreme opinions can be about the same film; some find the kinetic sleaze of Death Wish (1974) powerful and disturbing, others find its ham-fisted social grazing problematic and off-putting. But it was a big hit, so naturally Universal let him ride the satanic tide with The Sentinel (1977), a Good vs. Evil, Portal to Hell potboiler that warms this Fulci-loving heart three years before Lucio even set foot in New Orleans.
Given a limited release in January stateside, The Sentinel barely broke even on its $4 million budget, and the critics hated it, deeming it lurid, reprehensible trash. Which it is; but it’s also ridiculously entertaining and has a few truly haunting moments. Turns out Winner could do horror—and yet »
- Scott Drebit
In the latest instalment of Flickering Myth’s film class, Tom Jolliffe looks at how to pull off an ensemble film…
The art in pulling off the ensemble film. It’s a tricking balance. In the vast majority of cinema you may be limited to one or two clearly defined protagonists with a cast of supporting artists. On occasions though, a writer wants to create an ensemble piece. It may have one particular character who dominates the screen a little more than the others, but you could have four or more characters who share screen near equally.
How do you do it right? Well firstly, whether you have four characters, six, ten, or whatever, the most important element is to have clearly definable characters. You could call them archetypes certainly, but it is important to ensure that ‘character one’ is different from the rest. If you craft one character who »
- Tom Jolliffe
There’s nothing revelatory or new about adding a dose of the comedic to a crime picture, but the heist comedy is just a small corner of a vast and beloved cinematic landscape, as of recently, dominated by one filmmaker: Steven Soderbergh.
Responsible for four acclaimed entries in the genre, including Out of Sight and the Ocean’s 11 trilogy, Soderbergh has thankfully ended his so-called retirement and returned to film and the world of heist comedies with his newest, Logan Lucky, now playing in theaters. The film’s plot follows Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) a family man who plans to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, only to find he and his crew (Adam Driver, Daniel Craig and Riley Keough) must do the job while a Nascar race is underway.
To celebrate Soderbergh’s return with Logan Lucky, we’ve decided to look back at the greatest heist comedies of all-time. »
- Tony Hinds
(See previous post: “Gay Pride Movie Series Comes to a Close: From Heterosexual Angst to Indonesian Coup.”) Ken Russell's Valentino (1977) is notable for starring ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev as silent era icon Rudolph Valentino, whose sexual orientation, despite countless gay rumors, seems to have been, according to the available evidence, heterosexual. (Valentino's supposed affair with fellow “Latin Lover” Ramon Novarro has no basis in reality.) The female cast is also impressive: Veteran Leslie Caron (Lili, Gigi) as stage and screen star Alla Nazimova, ex-The Mamas & the Papas singer Michelle Phillips as Valentino wife and Nazimova protégée Natacha Rambova, Felicity Kendal as screenwriter/producer June Mathis (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse), and Carol Kane – lately of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fame. Bob Fosse's Cabaret (1972) is notable as one of the greatest musicals ever made. As a 1930s Cabaret presenter – and the Spirit of Germany – Joel Grey was the year's Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner. Liza Minnelli »
- Andre Soares
On the day a U.S. appeals court lifted an injunction that blocked a Mississippi “religious freedom” law – i.e., giving Christian extremists the right to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, etc. – not to mention the publication of a Republican-backed health care bill targeting the poor, the sick, the elderly, and those with “pre-existing conditions” – which would include HIV-infected people, a large chunk of whom are gay and bisexual men, so the wealthy in the U.S. can get a massive tax cut, Turner Classic Movies' 2017 Gay Pride or Lgbt Month celebration continues (into tomorrow morning, Thursday & Friday, June 22–23) with the presentation of movies by or featuring an eclectic – though seemingly all male – group: Montgomery Clift, Anthony Perkins, Tab Hunter, Dirk Bogarde, John Schlesinger, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Arthur Laurents, and Jerome Robbins. After all, one assumes that, rumors or no, the presence of Mercedes McCambridge in one »
- Andre Soares
Al Capone is America’s best known gangster and the single greatest symbol of the collapse of law and order in the United States during the 1920s Prohibition era. Capone had a leading role in the illegal activities that lent Chicago its reputation as a lawless city and an interesting variety of Hollywood stars have had the leading role as Al Capone in the many films that have been made that featured him as a character.
The first film about Capone was produced when he was still making headlines. The main character may be named Antonio Camonte, but there’s little doubt as to who producer Howard Hughes had in mind when he and director Howard Hawks filmed Scarface during the Great Depression. Camonte shares more than the same initials with one Al Capone, who was about to begin his eleven-year sentence for tax evasion when the movie was released »
- Tom Stockman
This time they may have gotten it right! If a knife or a straight razor won’t do, how about killing a victim with 500-pound metal artwork studded with spikes? Dario Argento distilled a new kind of slick, visually fetishistic horror who-dunnit thriller subgenre with this shocker, aided by the dreamy cinematography of Vittorio Storaro.
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Blu-ray + DVD
Arrow Video USA
1971 / Color / 2:35 widescreen / 96 min. / Street Date June 20, 2017 / L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo / Available from Arrow Video/ 49.95
Starring: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi, Umberto Raho, Raf Valenti, Giuseppe Castellano, Mario Adorf, Pino Patti, Gildo Di Marco, Rosita Torosh, Omar Bonaro, Fulvio Mingozzi, Werner Peters, Karen Valenti, Carla Mancini, Reggie Nalder.
Cinematography: Vittorio Storaro
Film Editor: Franco Fraticelli
Original Music: Ennio Morricone
Directed by Dario Argento »
- Glenn Erickson
June 17 marks the 45th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, a seemingly low-profile incident that quickly ballooned into an international incident and exposed a huge web of deceit. Among the many results was the eventual resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.
Five men were arrested while breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in 1972. The Carl Bernstein-Bob Woodward book, “All the President’s Men,” came out only two years later, and in 1976, Warner Bros. released the acclaimed film from director Alan Pakula, writer William Goldman, and starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.
Redford was a driving force behind the film, which is remarkable for the speed of its completion. Most ripped-from-the-headlines projects end up as quickie TV movies, or else they languish in studio development for years.
11 Best Newspaper Movies
The Watergate events electrified the world and people became addicted to the TV coverage, »
- Tim Gray
It’s the hottest day of the year and a dozen men – not universally perturbed at this point – are put in a room and asked to consider the guilt of a young man accused of killing his father. It’s premeditated murder in the first degree and the sentence is death. The jury takes their first vote and it’s unanimous. Almost.
Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) is the sole dissenting voice. It’s not that he believes the kid did not do it; he’s just not sure. Over the next 90 real-time minutes, #8 will test his doubts against the others, to understand whether or not those doubts are reasonable.
12 Angry Men began life as a teleplay. Written by Reginald Rose (inspired by his own experiences as a juror »
- Rupert Harvey
Unsung actress Beverly Garland becomes TV’s first lady cop, in what’s claimed to be the first TV show filmed on the streets of New York City. This one-season wonder from 1957 has vintage locations, fairly tough-minded storylines and solid performances, from Bev and a vast gallery of stage and TV actors on the way up.
Film Chest Media
1957-’58 / B&W / 1:33 flat full frame (TV) / 39 x 30 min. / Street Date May 30, 2017 / 19.98
Starring: Beverly Garland
Art Direction (some episodes): Mel Bourne
Original Music: Wladimir Selinsky
How did I experience »
- Glenn Erickson
The most-read book since Gone with the Wind looked at the coming of age struggle of an ambitious, upwardly mobile Jewish girl in the 1930s. This glossy film version gives Natalie Wood an ‘adult’ role and provides Gene Kelly with the seemingly optimal character of a troubled theatrical artiste. Good intentions aside, the show lacks guidance — and may have harmed Kelly’s acting career.
Kl Studio Classics
1958 / Color / 1:85 widescreen / 128 min. / Street Date May 9, 2017 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95
Starring: Natalie Wood, Gene Kelly, Claire Trevor, Everett Sloane, Martin Milner, Carolyn Jones, Martin Balsam, Edd Byrnes, George Tobias, Jesse White, Paul Picerni, Ruta Lee, Shelley Fabares, Lana Wood.
Cinematography: Harry Stradling
Film Editor: Folmar Blangsted
Original Music: Max Steiner
Produced by Milton Sperling
Directed by Irving Rapper
When doing interviews for West Side Story we found out that »
- Glenn Erickson
A military coup in the U.S.? General Burt Lancaster’s scheme would be flawless if not for true blue Marine Kirk Douglas, who snitches to the White House. Now Burt’s whole expensive clandestine army might go to waste – Sad! John Frankenheimer and Rod Serling are behind this nifty paranoid conspiracy thriller.
1964 / B&W / 1:85 widescreen / 118 min. / Street Date May 8, 2017 / available through the WBshop / 21.99
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Martin Balsam, Andrew Duggan, John Houseman, Hugh Marlowe, Whit Bissell, George Macready, Richard Anderson, Malcolm Atterbury, William Challee, Colette Jackson, John Larkin, Kent McCord, Tyler McVey, Jack Mullaney, Fredd Wayne, Ferris Webster.
Cinematography: Ellsworth Fredericks
Film Editor: Ferris Webster
Original Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Produced by Edward Lewis
Directed by John Frankenheimer »
- Glenn Erickson
As A Lawyer, Ralph Bellamy Was Indefensible
It’s a good thing this story wasn’t part of the actual series. Otherwise we might not all be here right now.
I’m so old, I watched Perry Mason first run not on the reruns playing on every channel this side of C-span. But it’s not why I became a lawyer. Perry Mason was unrealistic. A murder trial every week where the real murderer was dumb enough to sit in the courtroom and watch. No, Perry Mason didn’t make me want to become a lawyer. The Defenders did.
The Defenders was a show about a middle-aged attorney – played by E.G. Marshall – and his fresh-out-of-law-school son – played by a young, pre-permed Robert Reed. Although the show had some murder mystery episodes, most dealt with some of the complex and serious issues of the time; abortion, religious intolerance, capital punishment, civil rights, »
- Bob Ingersoll
13 items from 2017
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