19 items from 2015
Rome – Versatile Italian director and screenwriter Sergio Sollima, who gained international cult status with a trio of groundbreaking spaghetti Westerns comprising Lee Van Cleef-starrer “The Big Gundown,” but was best known in Italy for exotic Indian pirate miniseries “Sandokan,” died on Wednesday in Rome. He was 94.
During the course of a five-decade career Sollima worked masterfully in a multitude of genres, retaining a signature style often infused with socio-political overtones.
Sollima’s work spanned from screenwriter on sword and sandals epics, among which “Goliath Against the Giants” toplining Brad Harris, to directing so-called Eurospy pics that tried to capitalize on the Bond craze, such as “Agent 3s3: Passport to Hell,” followed by his spaghetti Westerns, packed with a political punch, then fast-paced crimers, including New Orleans-set “Violent City,” toplining Charles Bronson. And finally smash hit TV skein “Sandokan,” with current Bollywood superstar Kabir Bedi.
Born in Rome in »
- Nick Vivarelli
Not as well-known stateside as other Spaghetti Western Sergios such as Leone and Corbucci, but the passing of director Sergio Sollima is notable to cult film fans. His The Big Gundown (1966) with Lee Van Cleef and Face To Face (1967) are considered classics of the sub-genre but in my book his masterpiece is the gritty 1970 crime thriller Violent City, a film that made it all the way to #3 on my list of ‘Top Ten Charles Bronson Movies’ (read the list Here)
In Violent City, produced in Italy with some New Orleans exteriors, Sollima, working from a script by future art-house helmer Lina Wertmüller, directed Charles Bronson just as he was exiting his career as a character actor and phasing into his role as a megastar. Violent City found Bronson a vengeance-minded hit-man after a former flame (Jill Ireland at her sexiest) and her mob boss boyfriend (Telly Savalas) who’d conspired to send him to prison. »
- Tom Stockman
High Noon (1952) is considered a classic for good reason. It’s about a man not too different from us, who faces an enemy from his past alone precisely because no one else will if he doesn’t. High Noon gets me just with the cast alone. Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell, Lee Van Cleef, and Lon Chaney. I mean come on, that’s a fantastic cast. They all add to the movie in one way or another. Cooper is absolutely superb as Will Kane – the weary marshal who’s reluctant to give up his star. He anchors the movie. It’s his journey as high noon approaches quickly and we’re spellbound by his plight. Kelly plays his newlywed wife and is less naive than you’d think. Thomas Mitchell is the mayor of this small town and his scene at church is a highlight of the film. Then »
- Tom Stockman
It's fitting that Clint Eastwood and John Wayne both have the same birthday week. (Wayne, who died in 1979, was born May 26, 1907, while Eastwood turns 85 on May 31). After all, these two all-American actors' careers span the history of that most American of movie genres, the western.
Both iconic actors were top box office draws for decades, both seldom stretched from their familiar personas, and both played macho, conservative cowboy heroes who let their firearms do most of the talking. Each represented one of two very different strains of western, the traditional and the revisionist.
As a birthday present to Hollywood's biggest heroes of the Wild West, here are the top 57 westerns you need to see.
57. 'Meek's Cutoff' (2010)
Indie filmmaker Kelly Reichardt and her frequent leading lady, Michelle Williams, are the talents behind this sparse, docudrama about an 1845 wagon train whose Oregon Trail journey goes horribly awry. It's an intense »
- Gary Susman
Since 1962, the James Bond franchise has come to define the spy genre, for good or ill. More broadly, every thriller and action film that comes out now either uses them as inspiration, or attempts to ignore or re-work the tropes that have come to be associated with the series.
Coming off the release of Kingsman: The Secret Service, and with the release of a new Bond film this year, now seems like the perfect time to take a look at a sample of the films which have been inspired by James Bond — either as homages, parodies or reactions.
The Ipcress File (1965)
Produced by James Bond producer Harry Saltzman as a more grounded alternative to the largesse of Bond, The Ipcress File is more concerned with the intricacies of real spy-work — the endless paperwork, »
After revisiting John Carpenter's Escape From New York, I am pleased to say that this thrilling dystopian masterpiece still holds up great and maintains its tough cynical bite at authority, appropriately reflecting the mistrust society still has with political authority today. What truly makes Snake Plissken remain an iconic character is not just his nihilistic manner and rebellious attitude, it's mostly the mystery that surrounds him. With Hollywood's urgent need today to over-explain every character and world in popular entertainment properties till every sense of awe and wonder that made these movies great die with one last desperate gasp, it's refreshing to revisit a time that respected the power of mystery and mythology.
Snake is a lone gunslinger with combat skills, an Eastwood growl, and an eyepatch who's seen some crazy shit and is thrown into a dangerous situation with his life on the line—that's all this movie needs to explain, »
- Sean McClannahan
Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson on the Oscars' Red Carpet Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson at the Academy Awards Eli Wallach and wife Anne Jackson are seen above arriving at the 2011 Academy Awards ceremony, held on Sunday, Feb. 27, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. The 95-year-old Wallach had received an Honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards in November 2010. See also: "Doris Day Inexplicably Snubbed by Academy," "Maureen O'Hara Honorary Oscar," "Honorary Oscars: Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo Among Rare Women Recipients," and "Hayao Miyazaki Getting Honorary Oscar." Delayed film debut The Actors Studio-trained Eli Wallach was to have made his film debut in Fred Zinnemann's Academy Award-winning 1953 blockbuster From Here to Eternity. Ultimately, however, Frank Sinatra – then a has-been following a string of box office duds – was cast for a pittance, getting beaten to a pulp by a pre-stardom Ernest Borgnine. For his bloodied efforts, Sinatra went on »
- D. Zhea
Escape from New York, 1981.
Directed by John Carpenter.
In 1997, when the Us President crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in for a rescue.
Conversations about major big budget genre filmmakers of the 70s and 80s tend to center around Lucas and Spielberg, with Kubrick usually thrown into the mix, but John Carpenter deserves a spot in those talks too, even if he typically worked with a much smaller budget than those guys. Look at Halloween, The Fog, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, They Live, and this review’s subject, Escape from New York: That’s quite a run of films that are well remembered by many fans today, even if they didn’t all set the box office ablaze. »
- Gary Collinson
Stars: Lee Van Cleef, Giuliano Gemma, Walter Rilla, Christa Linder, Yvonne Sanson, Lukas Ammann, Andrea Bosic, Ennio Balbo, José Calvo, Giorgio Gargiullo | Written by Ernesto Gastaldi, Tonino Valerii, Renzo Genta | Directed by Tonino Valerii
When it comes to cult Italian movies we tend to know them for two things, horror and the Spaghetti Western. This is probably why Arrow Video looked to the western for one of their latest releases with Day of Anger. Starring Lee Van Cleef who had somewhat of a career comeback with the Italian westerns is it about time to take another look at this movie?
Scott Mary (Giuliano Gemma) is at the bottom of the social ladder in the perfect little town of Clifton. Bullied and made to do the jobs like cleaning out the toilets, picking up trash and sweeping the floors he dreams of a better life. When an ageing gunfighter Frank Talby »
- Paul Metcalf
In the enduring, boundless shadow of Sergio Leone’s legacy, a deluge of neglected and forgotten Italian genre titles languish undeservedly, ready for rediscovery. Arrow Video has dusted off a masterful example long overdue, Tonino Valerii’s 1967 sophomore feature, Day of Anger (aka Gunlaw). Valerii worked as Leone’s assistant on A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More before launching his own directorial career, re-fashioning the villainous energy of Lee Van Cleef in the actor’s effort to break out on his own. Scripted by Italian genre regular Ernesto Gastaldi (who worked with many masters of giallo film, including Mario Bava, and Sergio Martino), the overtly familiar narrative does little to hamper the enjoyable performances of Van Cleef and Giuliano Gemma, replete with several memorable action sequences and set pieces that assist in elevating the title to its deserved reputation.
- Nicholas Bell
Senior Staff Writer Scott Davis continues his weekly look at what’s new in the world of Blu-ray…
One of the biggest films of last year with a worldwide gross of over $670 million, Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster opus Interstellar flies its way on to Blu-ray and DVD. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine and a whole host of others, Interstellar is a complex but magnificent science-fiction film that deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.
You can read our review here.
The world loves Bill Murray. Especially if Bill Murray is doing grouchy comedy, like he is here in the charming St. Vincent, where he plays a loveable grouch who’s humdrum life is turn upside down by the arrival of Melissa McCarthy and her son, who he takes under his wing. Naomi Watts and Chris O’Dowd co-star. »
- Scott J. Davis
Scream Factory has announced the April 21, 2015 release of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (Collector’s Edition) on Blu-ray. The new edition of the 1981 cult classic starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Season Hubley, Harry Dean Stanton, and Adrienne Barbeau includes several bonus features including a new 2K scan of the inter-positive, struck from the original negative.
A thrilling landmark film that jolts along … Continue reading →
“Snake Plissken… I’ve heard of you. I heard you were dead.” Scream Factory's out to prove The Duke of New York City wrong with the resurrection of Kurt Russell's awesome anti-hero in their Escape From New York Collector’s Edition Blu-ray that hits shelves on April 21st, complete with 2k digital restoration. Last month, Scream Factory debuted the cover art for the new release of John Carpenter's 1981 cult classic, and now they've unveiled the Blu-ray's bountiful bonus features, including a new audio commentary with actress Adrienne Barbeau and directory of photography Dean Cundey, additional interviews with the crew, and much more:
Press Release - "Los Angeles, CA – Scream Factory has announced the April 21, 2015 release of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York (Collector’s Edition) on Blu-ray. The new edition of the 1981 cult classic starring Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Season Hubley, »
- Derek Anderson
"I'm a whore. All actors are whores. We sell our bodies to the highest bidder."- William Holden
Cinema Retro columnist Dean Brierly has launched a blog dedicated to memorable quotes from hard-bitten movie actors of days past. The site provides rare insights and observations culled from interviews with the likes of William Holden, Robert Ryan, Barbara Stanwyck, Jan Sterling, Fred MacMurray, Lee Van Cleef and many others. Click here to check it out. »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
Those groovy exploitation dealers at Grindhouse Releasing are finally releasing Duke Mitchell’s Gone With The Pope. I have been waiting to see this film for some time and missed the only theatrical showing in St. Louis because it was shown at a different theater on the same nights I did a Late Nite Grindhouse show 5 years ago. This is awesome news for fans coupled with the release of Duke Mitchell’s later film, Massacre Mafia Style, hitting Blu-Ray later this month.
Trailer From Grindhouse Releasing’s website:
Lost for over 30 years, Gone With The Pope stars famed nightclub performer Duke Mitchell as Paul, a paroled gangster with an unholy scheme: to kidnap the Pope and charge “a dollar from every Catholic in the world” as the ransom.
- Andy Triefenbach
Mvd Entertainment Group will distribute 'cult titles' from the UK's Arrow Video with deluxe restored material, pioneering packaging solutions and newly commissioned artwork:
Launch titles include Tonino Valerii's 'spaghetti western', "Day of Anger" aka "Gunlaw" (1967) starring Lee Van Cleef and Giuliano Gemma, available March 17, Michael Armstrong's "Mark of the Devil" (1970) available March 24 and "Blind Woman's Curse" (1970) available March 31.
"...with music by Riz Ortolani punctuated by gunfire, 'Day Of Anger', presented here in an exclusive high-definition restoration from the original 'Techniscope' negative stars Lee Van Cleef ('The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'), as master gunfighter 'Frank Talby' and Giuliano Gemma as street cleaner 'Scott Mary', relentlessly bullied by the people of the small town of 'Clifton'. When Talby rides into town, Scott seizes the opportunity to lift himself out of the gutter, and possibly even surpass Talby's own skills. But what is Talby doing in Clifton in the first place? »
- Michael Stevens
UK residents have been enjoying Arrow Video Blu-ray releases of cult films like Maniac Cop and The Funhouse for years, and soon horror hounds living stateside can enjoy the diligent distributor’s offerings now that Arrow Video is expanding to the Us. To commemorate their growth, Arrow Video has announced upcoming North American Blu-ray releases of Mark of the Devil, Blind Woman’s Curse, and more.
Making their Blu-ray debuts in the Us, 1970’s Mark of the Devil will come out on March 17th and 1971’s Blind Woman’s Curse (aka Black Cat’s Revenge on March 24th. Arrow Video will also release the Blu-ray of Blood and Black Lace on April 14th and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne to Blu-ray on April 21st. All four releases will include a DVD copy, as well. We have the official press release with full details, as well as »
- Derek Anderson
“I heard you were dead.” This enduring line from co-writer/director John Carpenter’s Escape From New York nicely sums up the long in-the-works remake of the 1981 cult classic film. But, like its tough-as-nails anti-hero, Snake Plissken, the potential reboot keeps getting back up just when fans of the franchise think it might be down for the count. True to form, the project is moving forward with some force now that Fox has purchased the rights to remake the Kurt Russell-starring sci-fi action film, with Carpenter offering creative input on the new take.
According to Deadline, Fox came out on top in a competitive purchasing scramble for the rights to remake Escape From New York. The studio is looking to reboot the cult classic and potentially expand the property into a multi-film series. Fans of the original Escape From New York can take solace in the fact that John Carpenter »
- Derek Anderson
Kurt Russell starred as the iconic one-eyed anti-hero Snake Plissken in the original Dystopian action film, released by Avco Embassy in 1981. Studiocanal owned the rights to the film, which had several suitors, and was won by Fox’s Mike Ireland on the back of the studio’s competitive bid.
Also Read: ‘Alphaville’ Remake in the Works From ‘Twin Peaks’ Cinematographer, Studiocanal (Exclusive)
- Travis Reilly
19 items from 2015
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