20 items from 2016
Stanley Kubrick’s hypnotic masterpiece looks just as good 40 years on, as it follows the fluctuating fortunes of Ryan O’Neal’s humble Irish hero
Stanley Kubrick’s rereleased Barry Lyndon, based on Thackeray’s 1844 novel about a roguish adventurer, is more than 40 years old. What is so striking now isn’t Ken Adam’s sumptuous production design, with those painterly candlelit interiors. It’s the eerie, hypnotic adagio of the pace – a Kubrick signature, very different from, say, the rollicking world of Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones (1963).
Taking the 18th-century tale at a steady, relentless drumbeat, and with a seductively cool detachment, Kubrick guides you through his hero’s rise and fall, bookended by two sensational duelling scenes. He brings about a slow, mysterious shift from comedy to tragedy; a tidal advance and retreat in fortune.
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- Peter Bradshaw
1977 is our "Year of the Month" for July. So we'll be celebrating its films randomly throughout the month. Here's Daniel Walber...
Looking back at the films of '77, the clear production design stand-out is Star Wars. It won the Oscar and changed the world, though not necessarily in that order. Science fiction was crossing over, pushed even further by fellow nominee Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But why talk about harder sci-fi when you could focus on the futuristic gadgetry and technological excess of the James Bond franchise?
The Spy Who Loved Me is a remarkable showcase for legendary production designer Ken Adam, who passed away earlier this year. He built models of the Pyramids, a cavernous office for the head of the Kgb and a decadent underwater lair for nefarious shipping magnate Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens). But the real showstopper is the interior of the Liparus supertanker, the »
- Daniel Walber
“Purity Of Essence”
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is such an iconic motion picture that most readers of Cinema Retro, I would bet, already own a copy of this brilliant keepsake of the 1960s on DVD or Blu-ray. The film has been released several times before, but now it gets the Criterion treatment. Believe me—fans of the movie and of director Stanley Kubrick will still want to get this edition. It is definitely an upgrade in quality and the disk also comes with a plethora of fascinating supplements and some terrific goodies in the packaging.
Unless you’ve haven’t been paying attention to the lists of Great Movies You Should See Before You Die, you know that Dr. Strangelove is the story of how an air force general (Sterling Hayden) goes “a little funny in the head. »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
The Nazis can't even keep the National Socialist propaganda out of a simple science fiction fable. Hans Albers is the Aryan King Midas as a scientist, and gorgeous Brigitte Helm the Englishwoman who thinks he's peachy keen. The climax is pure Sci-Fi heaven, an unstable 'Atomic Fracturing' installation, wa-ay deep down in a mineshaft under the ocean. Gold (1934) Blu-ray Kino Classics 1934 / B&W / 1:33 flat Full Frame / 117 min. / Street Date June 14, 2016 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95 Starring Hans Albers, Friedrich Kayßler, Brigitte Helm, Michael Bohnen, Ernst Karchow, Lien Deyers, Eberhard Leithoff, Rudolf Platte. Cinematography Otto Baecker, Werner Bohne, Günther Rittau Art Direction Otto Hunte Film Editor Wolfgang Becker Original Music Hans-Otto Borgmann Written by Rolf E. Vanloo Produced by Alfred Zeisler Directed by Karl Hartl
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
The Hardy Encyclopedia of Science Fiction still teases Sci-fi fans that want to see everything listed in its pages. Thankfully, videodisc companies catering to collectors make possible the sale of titles that might never show up on some (authorized) streaming service. Video disc has brought us the original Der Schweigende Stern and Alraune from Germany, and I hope to someday see good copies of Kurt Siodmak and Karl Hartl's F.P. 1 Does Not Answer and the Harry Piel Sci-fi trilogy An Invisible Man Roams the City, The World Unmasked (an X-ray television camera) and Master of the World (a robot with a death ray). I've read about Karl Hartl's 1934 Gold for at least fifty years, since John Baxter's Science Fiction in the Cinema told us (not quite correctly) that its final reel had been borrowed for the conclusion of Ivan Tors' 1953 Sci-fi picture The Magnetic Monster. As it turns out, Kino is releasing both movies in the same week. Sometimes referred to as the Nazi Metropolis, Hartl's Gold is a follow-up to the director's very successful F.P.1. Does Not Answer, a spy thriller about a fantastic airport in the mid-Atlantic called Floating Platform One. Both pictures were filmed in simultaneous foreign versions to maximize the box office take. The German original of F.P. 1 starred matinee idol Hans Albers (The Blue Angel) Sybille Schmitz (Vampyr) and Peter Lorre, while a concurrent French version used Charles Boyer, Danièle Parola and Pierre Brasseur. A third English version starred Conrad Veidt, Jill Esmond and Donald Calthrop. The French version starred Brigitte Helm in the same role, but star Hans Albers reportedly rebelled at making two movies for the price of one. According to reports, the exceedingly expensive Gold was in production for fifteen months. We can see the cost immediately in the enormous main set for the 'atomic fracturing' machine built to transmute lead into gold. Otto Hunte and Günther Rittau designed and filmed special effects for Metropolis and the impressive set is very much in the same style. Off the top of my head I can't think of any technical apparatus quite so elaborate (and solid-looking) built for a film until the 1960s and Ken Adam's outlandish settings for UA's James Bond films. Writer Rolf E. Vanloo had worked on the silent classic Asphalt and is the sole writer credited on the popular Marlene Dietrich vehicle I Kiss Your Hand, Madame. His screenplay for Gold is tight and credible, even if its theme is even more simplistic than -- and somewhat similar to -- that of Thea von Harbou for Metropolis. Scientist Werner Holk (Hans Albers) aids the visionary Professor Achenbach (Friedrich Kayßler) in testing what looks like an electric atom smasher. The experiment: to turn lead into gold. The 'Atomic Fracturer' explodes, killing the old genius, whose work is discredited. Holk barely survives, thanks to a blood transfusion from his faithful girlfriend Margit Moller (Lien Deyers). When agents for the fabulously wealthy Englishman John Wills (Michael Bohnen) contact Holk, he realizes that the experiment was sabotaged. Werner allows himself to be taken to a fabulous yacht and from there to a Scottish castle, where, hundreds of feet under the ocean, Wills has constructed his own, far larger atom smasher with plans stolen from Achenbach. Split between his need for revenge and a desire to prove the dead Achenbach's theories, Holk goes through with the experiment. Wills' daughter Florence (Brigitte Helm), a gorgeous playgirl, is attracted to the German visitor, Holk finds that the workers' foreman, Schwarz (Rudolf Platte) is of a like mind on economic issues. But Wills' engineer Harris (Eberhard Leithoff) is jealous of Holk's talent, and cannot be trusted. Gold begins by repeating the 'big money hostile takeover of science' theme from Fritz Lang's Frau im mond: a pioneering German scientific exploit is siezed by an unscrupulous international business entity. The unspoken message is that the weakened Germany is being cheated in the world economy because it lacks the resources to exploit its superior technology. The avaricious John Wills makes big financial decisions all day long. There's no gray area in this conflict, as Wells murders, steals and spies on people to get what he wants. We've seen his ruthless agents wreck Achenbach's original, modest experiment. This 'England plays dirty' theme mirrors Germany's bitterness toward England for at least the better part of a century of colonial, naval and financial competition. Versailles and WW1 aren't mentioned, but that had to be on the minds of the audience as well: Germany innovates and works hard, but is consistently handed a raw deal. The scenes with the sleek, fascinating Brigitte Helm would be better if they went somewhere; her Florence does what she can to entice Herr Holk but withdraws when he declares his love for his faithful girl back home, the one whose life blood now flows in his veins. 'Das Blut' cannot be dishonored, even if Holk is half convinced that Wills is going to have him murdered after the giant machine starts turning out Gold by the ton. Act Two instead becomes a conflict between Big Capitalism and the lowly-but-virtuous Working Man. Down in the underground warren of tunnels (another Metropolis parallel) Wills' Scottish workforce of sandhogs and technicians side with Holk against their boss. After a preliminary test yields a tiny bit of gold, we get the expected montages of worldwide economic panic, standard material in socially oriented sci-fi as diverse as La fin du monde and Red Planet Mars. Wells plans to grow rich by flooding the world with his artificially produced gold, a strategy that will have to be explained to me. Gold is the world's standard of value precisely because it's rare; it can't be printed up like money. Thirty years later, the surprisingly sophisticated scheme of Auric Goldfinger is to increase the value of his stash of gold bullion by rendering America's gold reserves radioactive, and therefore worthless. If scarcity raises the value of the element, making more should do the opposite. (On the other hand, what about artificial diamonds? Is there any correspondence there?) [I'm acutely aware that discussing the subject matter of movies mainly points up how much I don't know, about anything but movies.] The Incredible Holk convinces the mob of workers that he represents their interests better than the greedy John Wills. The idea that rich English capitalists need to be rejected in favor of honest German morality is the only real message here. It's as simple as the 'heart mediating between the hands and the brain' slogan of Metropolis, but with a slightly arrogant nationalism added. The lavishly produced Gold was filmed on a series of truly impressive sets, including Wills' enormous Scottish mansion. But the giant setting for the climax, deep in a mine under the ocean floor, is the stuff of core Sci-fi. Millions of volts of electricity are harnessed to transmute lead into Gold. That's got to be a heck of an electricity bill; factor in the other enormous overhead costs and we wonder if Wills will ever turn a profit. The special effects for this sequence are sensational. The enormous apparatus is suspended on huge oversized porcelain insulators. The giant glass tubes atop the specimen stage are apparently visualized with mattes and foreground miniatures. But the camera pans and trucks all over the hangar-sized set; it all looks real, with bolts of electricity flashing like crazy. It's a dynamic special effect highlight of the 1930s. The actors sell the conflict well. Beefy Hans Albers sometimes looks like George C. Scott. He exudes personal integrity and a calm force of will. Lien Dyers is as wholesome here as she was wantonly sexualized six years earlier in Fritz Lang's Spies. Michael Bohnen is more than convincing as a powerful man trying to corner all business on an international scale. Although mostly in for decoration, Brigitte Helm is a sophisticated dazzler. Those penciled eyebrows remind us that she had become the Marlene Dietrich that didn't go to Hollywood. Although she did have offers, Helm wanted to stay in Germany. The Nazification of the film industry and the appalling political climate motivated her to leave for Switzerland in 1935, abandoning her career. Although the gist of Gold fits in with Josef Goebbels' National Socialist propaganda aims, the movie doesn't attack England directly. Ufa may have held hopes of foreign distribution. The one man in Scotland that Holk knows he can trust is the captain of Wills' yacht, a fellow German. Nine years later, Josef Goebbels' anti-British version of Titanic would make a German the single ethical person in authority on the doomed ocean liner. The fellow is constantly badmouthing the craven captain and the venal English ship owner. When Hans Albers finishes this movie with a ten-cent moral about love being the only real treasure, the show seems plenty dumb. But that amazing special effect set piece is too good to dismiss so easily. Gold is a classic of giddy '30s science fiction. The Kino Classics Blu-ray of Gold (1934) is a good encoding of the Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung's best copy of this once-rare item. The print we see is intact and with has good audio, but the contrast is rough. It shifts and flutters a bit, especially in some scenes in the middle. I did notice that the final special effects sequences looked better than much of the rest of this surviving print. But the parts of the movie repurposed for The Magnetic Monster look better on that 1953 science fiction film than they do here. In his book Film in the Third Reich David Stewart Hull explains that when the occupation forces reviewed the recovered German films, they ordered this one destroyed. They were concerned that the Alchemy / Atomic Fracturing machine might have some connection to Germany's wartime nuclear program. So how could Ivan Tors have bought the footage from Ufa, if the U.S. Army had seized it? I have a feeling - just idle speculation -- that it might have been obtained in a special deal made through government connections. Since the image looks much better on The Magnetic Monster, Ivan Tors might even have cut up Gold's only existing printing element to make his movie. After finally seeing Gold, one more thing impresses me besides the grandiose special effects. It's sort of a 'brain-drain' movie. In the '30s, Germany had a reputation for the best precision engineering in the world. Werner Holk is semi-kidnapped to serve John Wills' greedy science project, which was pirated from Germany in the first place. Also in awe of German scientific prowess is Brigitte Helm's Florence. The playgirl finds Werner Wolk's brilliance and clarity of mission irresistible. He's both smarter and more ethical than her father. Holk just stands there looking like he's posing for a statue, and Florence is carried away. Ms. Helm is terrific, but it would be nice if her character had a more central role to play in the story. On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Gold (1934) Blu-ray rates: Movie: Very Good Video: Fair + This may be a rare surviving print. Sound: Good - Minus Supplements: none Deaf and Hearing Impaired Friendly? Yes; Subtitles: English Packaging: Keep case Reviewed: June 10, 2016 (5137)
Visit DVD Savant's Main Column Page Glenn Erickson answers most reader mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Text © Copyright 2016 Glenn Erickson
- Glenn Erickson
Criterion's special edition of Stanley Kubrick's doomsday comedy is more powerful than ever in a 4K remaster; and it even comes with a top-secret mission profile package and a partial-contents survival kit. A Kubrick fan can have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff. Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb Blu-ray The Criterion Collection 821 1964 / B&W / 1:66 widescreen / 95 min. / available through The Criterion Collection / Street Date June 28, 2016 / 39.95 Starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn, Slim Pickens, Peter Bull, James Earl Jones, Tracy Reed Cinematography Gilbert Taylor Production Designer Ken Adam Art Direction Peter Murton Film Editor Anthony Harvey Original Music Laurie Johnson Written by Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George from his book Red Alert Produced by Stanley Kubrick, Leon Minoff Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
When I heard that Criterion was putting out a Blu-ray of Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb I thought that there already was a disc out there from The Collection. Nope, Sony released a Blu-ray in 2009, and back around 2000, a DVD. I was thinking of a deluxe laserdisc from Criterion sometime in the early 1990s. I remember being impressed by its extras, which included documentary materials about the Bomb in the Cold War years. Potential new fans of Kubrick's wickedly funny movie are being born every year, which leaves those of us for whom Strangelove was an important part of growing up having to remind ourselves just how good it still is. I remember recording the soundtrack off TV in high school and memorizing all of the dialogue; this has to be the most quotable movie of its decade. I also can remember my father's reaction when we watched it together on network TV, ABC, I think. An Air Force lifer who wouldn't discuss politics (or much of anything), the Old Sarge had little use for 'defeatist' movies like On the Beach. But he thought the premise of Seven Days in May wasn't really farfetched, having worked with Hap Arnold and Curtis LeMay. He shook his head after seeing Dr. Strangelove but I could tell that he found it very funny. It's too bad the two of us couldn't have gotten our senses of humor more in sync -- as soon as I wore my hair long, I think he stopped trusting me. I believe that Dr. Strangelove is one of few movies that 'made a difference' in that it redirected American public opinion about a major life issue. From that point forward only the ignorant and Shoot First fanatics talked about nuclear war as win-able, at least not until the neo-con Millennium. 1963 audiences had little use for suspect 'pacifist' movies that ended in masochistic doom, like On the Beach. The nuclear crisis was such a hot topic that that the low-key English science fiction film The Day the Earth Caught Fire was a surprise hit. Strangelove is more realistic than the straight atom nightmare movies. We're told that when Ronald Reagan was briefed at the start of his first term in office, he asked where the White House elevator to the War Room was. He figured it was there because he saw it in the movie. The decision to opt for broad comedy was Kubrick's inspired stroke. Dr. Strangelove may be the first hit film that was a bona-fide black comedy; I don't recall anybody even using the expression before it came out. It's not a crazy comedy where anything funny is okay. The backbone of the story remains 100% serious, while the jokes relentlessly demolish the death-cult logic of our Nuclear Deterrent. Kubrick and Terry Southern populate Peter George's credible cold-sweat crisis with insane caricatures given ridiculous names. The scary part is that, no matter how stupid they behave, none are really that exaggerated. Peter Sellers serves triple duty in a trio of characterizations, effectively outdoing previous champion film chameleon Alec Guinness. George C. Scott steals the show as an infantile Air Force General who acts like a Looney Tunes cartoon character. And the rest of the inspired cast nails their highly original quasi-comic characters. Every joke is a gallows joke; we're never allowed to forget that we all have an atomic noose around our necks. I almost envy the dead viewers still unfamiliar with Dr. Strangelove, as seeing it for the first time was a mind-opening experience. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden), the commander of Burpelson Air Force Base, orders a flight of B-52s to attack Russia. He then seals off Burpelson to prevent a recall of the planes. Exchange officer Group Captain Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) tries to talk him into divulging the recall code. Holding court in the War Room, President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers) is horrified to discover that such a Snafu is even possible. He orders General Buck Turgidson (George C. Scott) to take Burpelson Air Base by force and recall the planes, and gets on the hotline with the Soviet Premier. Up in the lead B-52, Major 'King' Kong (Slim Pickens) receives Ripper's orders, coded 'Wing Attack Plan R.' He urges his crew to avoid Russian defenses and reach their primary target, while Turgidson tries to talk Muffley into launching an all-out attack. Advising in the War Room is ex-Nazi scientist Dr. Strangelove, a grinning theoretician already fantasizing about the sexual recreation for the ruling elite in the VIP bomb shelters, where America's chosen high officials will be living for the next 93 years. Dr. Strangelove divides its time between three main locations, each with its own deadly serious function and each overlaid with a different comedic tone. In his locked executive office in the Alaskan Air Force Base, the sexually obsessed American General Ripper faces off with a veddy proper English officer in a farcical one-act. Beady-eyed and intense in his anti-Communist convictions, Sterling Hayden contrasts beautifully with Seller's genial Group Captain, who can't fathom the depth of his commanding officer's madness. The action in the B-52 is a throwback to those gung-ho WW2 action films in which a racially and ethnically diverse attack team uses brains and guts to barrel through their suicide mission. Even though their pilot is a cowboy clown (Slim Pickens doing his only characterization, Slim Pickens) they're an admirable bunch, seemingly the only humans capable of doing anything without red tape or Coca-Cola machines getting in their way. The horror is that our heroes' mission is totally against every moral precept ever imagined. The docu feeling in the B-52 is further amplified by the gritty newsreel-like footage of the taking of Burpelson Afb, with American troops fighting American troops. In 1964 these were traumatic, subversive scenes. U.S. troops on film are supposed to fight for freedom and righteousness, not kill each other. Kubrick has the audacity to place in the middle of it all a big sign that reads, 'Peace is our Profession.' The grainy authenticity of these scenes would come back to haunt us when similar footage started being seen nightly on television, fresh from Vietnam. The center of activities is the War Room, a Camelot-like round table of Death located in the basement of the White House. The rational President Merkin Muffley trips over an ideological roadblock in the form of Buck Turgidson, a gum-chewing military nutcase itching to go to war and overjoyed that Jack Ripper has 'exceeded his authority.' The President is hardly in charge of foreign policy, and none of fifty advisors come to his aid with any original thinking. An amateur among experts, Muffley must be shepherded through protocol by an assistant. Here's where Southern and Kubrick make their biggest points, basically asserting that a showdown with the Russkies is inevitable because the American stance is a military one -- Sac just wants the peacenik in the Oval Office to get out of their way. The comedy is all over the place, and it's a miracle that it works. The stand-up humor on the hot line to Moscow is very much like a Bob Newhart routine. At Burpelson, it's the Goon Show all over again. Sellers' Mandrake cannot sway General Ripper, and the moronic Major Bat Guano (Keenan Wynn) suspects the Raf officer of being a 'deviated prevert.' Up in the bomber, Mad Magazine craziness is grafted onto combat realism. Previous looks at the Air Force's flying deterrent were enlistment booster films like Strategic Air Command. Kubrick drove his English craftsmen to fake the entire bomber interior right down to the switches and gauges. The aerial combat is more realistic than that in escapist films, even with inadequate models used for exteriors of the jet bomber in flight. Dr. Strangelove maintains a nervous tension between absurd comedy and morbid unease. Kubrick's main career themes -- sexual madness, treacherous technology and the folly of human planning -- come into strong relief. We're motivated to root for the fliers that are going to destroy the world. Then we fret over the President's pitiful lack of control. Dour, glowering Russian Ambassador De Sadesky (Peter Bull) informs the War Room about his country's solution to the costly Arms Race, the dreaded Doomsday Machine. Security advisor Dr. Strangelove enters the film in the last act to serve as sort of an angel of Death. Based loosely on Rand-corporation experts that calculated eventualities in nuclear war scenarios, Sellers' vision of Strangelove is a throwback to German Expressionism. A Mabuse in a wheelchair, he's black-gloved like the brilliant but mad Rotwang of Metropolis. Strangelove enters like the specter of Death itself; his grin looks like a skull. Contemplating 'megadeaths' gives him sexual pleasure. The detonation of the first bomb seems to liberate Strangelove, and he finds he can walk again. The character is straight from the Siegfried Kracauer playbook. The evil of nuclear war has restored the representative of apocalyptic Nazi vengeance to full power. Twenty years after his death, we all get to join Hitler in his suicide bunker. First-time viewers are usually floored by the audacious Dr. Strangelove. Only the truly uninformed will not recognize baritone James Earl Jones as one of Major Kong's flight crew. Those going back for a repeated peek will derive added enjoyment from Kubrick's deft juggling of his several visual styles and his avoidance of anything that might deflate tension: we hear about the recall code being issued but are spared any view of the responsible military personnel that must have sent it. Some of the best fun is finding details in designer Ken Adam's impressive War Room, such as the pies already laid out in preparation for the aborted pie-fight finale. Even better is watching the War room extras as they strain to maintain straight faces no matter how funny Sellers and Scott get; that contrast is what makes the comedy so brilliant. Watch Peter Bull carefully. In one extended take he starts to smile at Sellers, more than once. He catches himself and then is clearly on the verge of cracking up, forcing Kubrick to cut away. The Criterion Collection's Blu-ray of Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is the expected sterling transfer of this Kubrick classic, a 4K digital transfer. I put it up against Sony's old Blu-ray and the difference is not so great as to recommend that a trade-up is necessary. However, it looks extremely good. The Kubrick faithful out there will be thinking, 'I must not allow a disc shelf gap.' The HD picture makes quite a bit of difference in understanding Kubrick's photographic strategy. Not only do the hand-held Burpelson combat sequences approximate the look of documentary footage, a more contrasty and grainy film stock has been used. Switching "film looks" later became a fad for directors looking to be viewed as artists. The idea perhaps reached its zenith in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. Back in 1964 the effect of imitating a news film look was quite stunning -- audiences reacted to the combat scenes as if they were real. I'm glad that we're finally beyond the frustrating early DVD years, when someone (at Warner Home Video?) claimed that Stanley Kubrick insisted that his films be shown at the old 1:33 aspect ratio for TV and disc. Even if they wangled a note from Kubrick to that effect, I still believe that the aspect ratio games were played because Kubrick was too busy to oversee new masters of his films, and Whv wanted to market them in a hurry at a minimum of cost. That's all old news now, but there was also the interesting aspect ratio question concerning Strangelove. At least one disc iteration -- Criterion's laserdisc, I'm fairly sure -- was released in a completely un-original dual-ratio scan. Kubrick apparently said that he preferred to see the War Room scenes at a full-frame 1:37, and so this one transfer of the film popped back and forth between ratios. I've never heard of anything like this before or after. Criterion's British 1:66 framing for this disc is correct, even though the film was probably screened at 1:85 for many of its American play dates. Criterion's new extras begin with interview featurettes with well-chosen spokespeople, like scholars Mick Broderick and Rodney Hill. Kubrick archivist Richard Daniels' piece is quite good, as is an examination of the film's visuals by two of the original camera crew. The son of author Peter George gives an excellent account of his father's life and the adaptation of his novel Red Alert. George reportedly liked the notion of turning his story into a black comedy, especially when his original narrative was changed very little. The stroke of genius was deciding that the entire subject could best be approached as a sick joke. Other extras are repeated from Sony's DVD disc of 2004. A making-of docu interviews several surviving technicians and actors, and a primer on the Cold War atom standoff goes deep into detail. The featurettes have input from Robert McNamara, Spike Lee and Bob Woodward. Critics Roger Ebert and Alexander Walker are also represented. Docu pieces on Peter Sellers and Kubrick appear to suffer from legal restraints disallowing the use of clips from non-Columbia sources. The Peter Sellers show features several choice film clips from the 'fifties, including Sellers' almost perfect take on a William Conrad-like hired killer. We're shown some stills from the legendary The Goon Show, which is not mentioned by name. A Stanley Kubrick career piece that uses UA, MGM and Universal trailers covers a lot of territory a bit too quickly. It does have some nice interview input from Kubrick's partner James B. Harris. Harris has since given terrific interviews on Criterion discs for Kubrick's The Killing and Paths of Glory. Criterion's Curtis Tsui produced those discs as well as this one. An entertaining extra is a pair of vintage 'split screen' fake interviews with Sellers and Scott intended for publicity use. Each actor projects his chosen PR image. They're charming, especially when Sellers takes us on a lightning tour of regional English accents. I wonder if those distinctions have faded, 52 years later? As a pleasant surprise, Curtis Tsui has overseen the creation of a collectable, highly amusing substitute for a standard disc insert booklet. Inside an authentic-looking 'Wing Attack Plan R' envelope, David Bromwich's insert essay is printed in the form of classified orders on two sheets of loose-leaf paper. Terry Southern's hilariously profane 1994 essay on the movie comes in the form of a Playboy parody, illustrated with photos of Tracy Reed as 'Miss Foreign Affairs.' Finally, the disc credits and details are printed in a genuine miniature Russian Phrase Book and Holy Bible, a little bigger than one-inch square. It indeed offers some phrases that I'll have to try on my multi-lingual daughter, like "Where is the toilet?" But the cover Lies, as there's no Bible in there that I could find. Also, no nine packs of chewing gum and no issue of prophylactics. On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Dr. Strangelove Blu-ray rates: Movie: Excellent Video: Excellent Sound: Excellent uncompressed monaural + alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-hd Master Audio Supplements: (from Criterion stats): New interviews with Stanley Kubrick scholars Mick Broderick and Rodney Hill; archivist Richard Daniels; cinematographer and camera innovator Joe Dunton; camera operator Kelvin Pike; and David George, son of Peter George, on whose novel Red Alert the film is based. Excerpts from a 1966 audio interview with Kubrick, conducted by physicist and author Jeremy Bernstein; Four short documentaries about the making of the film, the sociopolitical climate of the period, the work of actor Peter Sellers, and the artistry of Kubrick. Promotional interviews from 1963 with Sellers and actor George C. Scott; excerpt from a 1980 interview with Sellers from NBC's Today show; Trailers; insert essay by scholar David Bromwich and a 1994 article by screenwriter Terry Southern on the making of the film. Deaf and Hearing-impaired Friendly? Yes; Subtitles: English Packaging: Keep case Reviewed: June 7, 2016 (5136love)
Text © Copyright 2016 Glenn Erickson
- Glenn Erickson
Robert Mitchum all but snoozes through this promising war-espionage thriller that pits lazy Gestapo agents against clueless partisans in occupied Greece. It's got great locations and a good cast, but director Robert Aldrich seems off his feed -- there's not a lot of excitement to be had. The Angry Hills DVD-r The Warner Archive Collection 1959 / B&W / 2:35 enhanced widescreen / 106 min. / Street Date February 16, 2016 / available through the WBshop / 21.99 Starring Robert Mitchum, Stanley Baker, Elisabeth Mueller, Gia Scala, Theodore Bikel, Sebastian Cabot, Donald Wolfit, Marius Goring, Jocelyn Lane, Kieron Moore, George Pastell, Marita Constantinou, Alec Mango. Cinematography Stephen Dade Film Editor Peter Tanner Production Design Ken Adam Original Music Richard Rodney Bennett Written by A.I. Bezzerides from the novel by Leon Uris Produced by Raymond Stross Directed by Robert Aldrich
Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
- Glenn Erickson
Guy Hamilton, the British director best known for directing four films in the “James Bond” franchise, died on Wednesday at age 93. Sir Roger Moore, who worked with Hamilton on the Bond films “Live and Let Die” and “The Man with the Golden Gun,” tweeted the news early Thursday. “Incredibly, incredibly saddened to hear the wonderful director Guy Hamilton has gone to the great cutting room in the sky,” he wrote. “2016 is horrid.” Also Read: Ken Adam, James Bond and 'Dr. Strangelove' Production Designer, Dies at 95 Hamilton died at a Spanish hospital on the island of Majorca, BBC reported. »
- Joe Otterson
Forget about Jon Snow; I want to know if Harry Hart is alive. The primary challenge that Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman faced when trying to crack a sequel to their monster hit Kingsman: The Secret Service was what to do about Colin Firth. One of the true pleasures of the first film is seeing Firth burst through the walls of the box that people have put him in as an actor with so much fervor he was like the Kool-Aid Man. He was delightfully violent, and talking to him at Comic-Con the year before it came out, it was clear he was almost giddy about what he got to do in the movie. Here’s how you know that Vaughn and Goldman have their heads on right as storytellers: if you’re trying to set up a franchise in an overt, mechanical way, then you don’t kill Harry Hart in the first film. »
- Drew McWeeny
Reel-Important People is a monthly column that highlights those individuals in or related to the movies that have left us in recent weeks. Below you'll find names big and small and from all areas of the industry, though each was significant to the movies in his or her own way. Sir Ken Adam (1921-2016) - Production Designer. He won Oscars for his work on Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George and was nominated for Around the World in Eighty Days, The Spy Who Loved Me and Addams Family Values. He also worked on Dr. Strangelove, Ben-Hur, In & Out, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Sleuth and the other James Bond movies Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Dr. No, Diamonds Are...
- Christopher Campbell
Rushes collects news, articles, images, videos and more for a weekly roundup of essential items from the world of film.NEWSDr No. Production design by Ken Adam.Our beloved production designer Ken Adam, the man behind Stanley Kubrick's War Room and the glacial period interiors of Barry Lyndon, as well as defining the look of the most gloriously grandiose era of James Bond films, has passed away.Austin's cultural mega-event South by Southwest has just announced the winners of its film festival competition, with Adam Pinney's The Arbalest taking home the Grand Jury prize for Narrative Feature and Keith Maitland's Tower the Documentary Feature Grand Jury prize. We were at the festival but, alas, didn't catch either of those films. Our favorite coverage of SXSW has been David Hudson's writing on Richard Linklater's new feature, Everybody Wants Some!! at Keyframe.The brilliant new film magazine Fireflies, »
Ryan Lambie Jul 6, 2016
Rejected scripts and a revolving door of writers. Ryan looks back at Planet Of The Titans, the early Star Trek movie that never was...
It's March 1977, and there's a very odd party going on at Paramount. The champagne's flowing, the glasses are clinking, but the atmosphere's far from celebratory.
Writers Alan Scott and Chris Bryant, who for the past six months had been working on a Star Trek movie script, have decided to leave the project following numerous rewrites and conflicted ideas from producers.
Susan Sackett, who was Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry's personal assistant at the time, was one of several people at that party. "The occasion was one of celebration," Sackett wrote in the seventh issue of Starlog magazine, "yet touched with the sadness of saying 'au revoir' to old friends."
Old friends though Scott and Bryant may have been, there are suggestions here and »
Production designer of extravagant sets and gadgetry for the James Bond films
A good film production designer must be an architect, engineer, painter, decorator, draughtsman and visionary. Sir Ken Adam, who has died aged 95, was all of these and more. He had a knowledge of the arts in general, which he was able to use to recreate the scrupulously researched historical period of a movie, exemplified by his two Academy Awards for best art direction, both set in the 18th century: Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975), inspired by the English landscape and portrait paintings of the period, and Nicholas Hytner’s The Madness of King George (1994).
It was Adam’s designs for seven James Bond movies, however, that made him probably the only production designer whose name and work are widely known. He provided the visual template for the 007 franchise in Dr No (1962), the first in the enduring action-adventure series. »
- Ronald Bergan
By Lee Pfeiffer
Cinema Retro mourns the loss of Sir Ken Adam, the ingenious, Oscar-winning production designer who has passed away at age 95. Adam's work helped redefine films in terms of the elaborate and creative designs he invented, particularly for the James Bond franchise. Adam's work on the first 007 film, "Dr. No" in 1962 was deemed to be nothing less than remarkable, considering that the entire film was shot on a relatively low budget of just over $1 million. His exotic designs so impressed Stanley Kubrick that he hired Adam as production designer on his 1964 classic "Dr. Strangelove." For that film, Adam created the now legendary "War Room" set which many people believe actually exists at the Pentagon. In fact when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President in 1981 he asked to see the War Room, only to be told that it was a fictional creation. Reagan acknowledged that he had been intrigued »
- email@example.com (Cinema Retro)
Two-time Oscar winner Adam was the first production designer to receive a knighthood.
Sir Ken Adam, the two-time Oscar winning production designer known for his work on James Bond films of the 1960s and 70s, died Thursday [10 March] at his home in London.
In addition to his work on Bond films including Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, Adam was highly regarded for his iconic production design in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. Director Steven Spielberg described the film’s ‘War Room’ as the best film set ever built.
He was also known for designing the original car for 1968 musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang [pictured below].
Adam won his first Oscar in 1976 for his work on Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, and his second in 1995 for Nicholas Hytner’s The Madness Of King George. He received three additional nominations for Around The World In 80 Days, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Addams Family Values.
Adam was born »
Sir Ken Adam, the production designer best known for his work on the James Bond films of the ’60s and ’70s, died on Thursday at the age of 95. Adam’s biographer, Sir Christopher Frayling, confirmed to the BBC that the production designer died in his London home. “As a person he was remarkable. Roger Moore once said about him that his life was a great deal more interesting than most of the films that he designed,” he said. Among his many visual masterpieces on screen were the war room beneath the Pentagon in Stanley Kubrick‘s 1964 classic “Dr. Strangelove” and the interior. »
- Reid Nakamura
Updates with more information throughout. Ken Adam, whose hi-tech Aston Martins for James Bond and retractable wings for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang helped make him one of the most celebrated product designers in cinema history and earned him two Academy Awards, has died. His death was confirmed by Sir Christopher Frayling, his biographer, who told the BBC: “As a person he was remarkable. Roger Moore once said about him that his life was a great deal more interesting than… »
Tributes have been paid to Sir Ken Adam, the Oscar-winning production designer, who has died aged 95. Adam was best known for putting together the sets for a series of Bond films, as well as Dr Strangelove and others.
He won an Academy Award for his work on The Madness of King George and another for Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Adam was also one of the few Germans who flew for the Raf during the second world war.
Continue reading »
- Kevin Rawlinson
Five-time Oscar nominee and two-time winner Ken Adam, a production designer best known for his work on the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s and on “Dr. Strangelove,” died Thursday in London, according to the BBC. He was 95.
Adam created the sprawling, futuristic lairs of the supervillains who populated the Bond films starting with Dr. No’s secret island complex in the first 007 film in 1962. He worked on all the Bond films that starred Sean Connery through 1972’s “Diamonds Are Forever,” as well as on “The Spy Who Loved Me” (for which he received an Oscar nomination) and “Moonraker,” both starring Roger Moore.
- Carmel Dagan
Oscar winning production designer Ken Adam died today in London at the age of 95 according to The BBC.
Adam is most famous for creating the iconic and sprawling lairs of the supervillains who populated the Sean Connery and Roger Moore-era James Bond films. His designs included the Crab Key complex in "Dr. No," the Fort Knox interiors on "Goldfinger," the volcano lair of "You Only Live Twice," Stromberg's supertanker and Atlantis sets in "The Spy Who Loved Me," and Drax's space station in "Moonraker". He also did the production design on "Thunderball" and "Diamonds Are Forever".
Adams' work extended well beyond the Bond franchise though, such as two films in the anti-Bond Harry Palmer film series with Michael Caine - "The Ipcress File" and "Funeral in Berlin". He was a favorite of Stanley Kubrick following his design of the famous war room for "Dr. Strangelove". He was offered "2001" but turned it down, »
- Garth Franklin
We celebrate a century of huge and expensive film sets, from historical epics to sprawling fantasies and sci-fi action movies...
The advent of cinema saw the art of set design gradually spread its wings from the relative confines of the theatre. As movies established their own language and became ever more ambitious in the early part of the 20th century, so set designers were called on to create increasingly expansive and more detailed backdrops.
As the list of movies below proves, the construction of huge sets has been a major part of cinema for the past century. And with scale comes expense, as the recreation of ancient landmarks, futuristic cities or doomed ocean liners takes hundreds of artists, designers and crafty types months of labour to plan and construct. Often, these sets are on the screen for a few scant minutes before they're torn down and largely »
20 items from 2016
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