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The Italians Try Grimm Fairy Tales

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #5)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the Original Italian Language version)

Amazon.com: Queens of Evil [Blu-ray] : Haydee Politoff, Silvia Monti,  Evelyn Stewart, Ray Lovelock, Gianni Santuccio, Geraldine Hooper, Tonino  Cervi: Movies & TV

Original Poster (from Amazon)

Le Regine (Queens of Evil/The Queens) (1970) ****1/2 R

Ida Gialli: Bibiana (as Ewelyn Stuart)

Silvia Monti: Samantha

Haydee Politoff: Liv

Ray Lovelock: David the Hippie (as Raymond Lovelock)

Gianni Santuccio: The Mysterious Man/The Devil

Guido Alberti: The Priest

Written by: Benedetto Benedetti, Tonino Cervi, and Raoul Katz

Directed by: Tonino Cervi

Synopsis: A wandering Hippie stops to help a stranded older gentlemen on the road, only for the man to betray the Hippie’s act of generosity. When the man dies during the Hippie’s attempt to confront him on the act, the Hippie flees, thinking the cops saw him. He ends up in an isolated farmhouse owned by three sisters who welcome him warmly. Soon, the Hippie begins to experience a drastic change in his personality, and the sisters seem to exhort more control over him.

Queens of Evil (1970) | MUBI
The Foursome at a Party (from Mubi)

Lesser known Italian filmmaker Tonino Cervi brought the Fairy Tale back to its dark origins with the film Le Regine. Instead of doing a spin on one of the known tales, Cervi, along with his co-writers, crafted a totally original story that not only compliments on the stories that came before it, but adds new life to the age old concepts of magics. The three protagonists are sisters who share some kind of power, left open if it be natural power gifted from nature, or powers from otherworldly sources. When a Hippie fleeing from the police for a crime he didn’t commit stumbles upon what he believes is their home, they offer him shelter and protection, with the secret intent of playing a game with him as the prey. Cervi also weaves in subtext of the nature of relationships between men and women, particularly in regards to sex, as during the film’s progression the main male character slowly begins to lose his independent will while the seemingly shy women also begin to exhibit stronger signs of dominance and power over him, all while playing with his mind in ever increasing surreal moments. Each sister also shows her strong sexual prowess as they each at one point lure the unsuspecting young men into their beds for a night of passion.

Queens of evil 1970 Le regine | free downloand| Download movie
The Surreal Bibiana (from Wipfilms)
Blu Review – Queens of Evil (Mondo Macabro) - Horror Society
The Surreal Samantha (from Horror Society)
Queens of Evil
The Surreal Liv (from Mondo-Digital)

The notion of magics are taken to a new level with Le Regine, reminding viewers that there’s more to those arts than meets the eye, and the power behind them something that can’t be fully understood. At varying moments of the film, the character David experiences what can only be described as lucid nightmares, seeing things that are out of the ordinary world that can’t possibly be real, but are very vivid and lifelike at the same time. The question that arises for viewers is whether these visions are the result of David’s own psyche as he’s out in the middle of nowhere with three eccentric sisters who he assumes practice Pagan Earth rites, or are the sisters manipulating his mind with whatever kind of power they’ve learned or have been gifted. The camera and lighting of these scenes are very well done and are atmospheric, reminding audiences of pop art images.

Queens Of Evil (1970) — The Movie Database (TMDB)
The Sisters as They Are (from The Movie Database)
The Sisters When They Practice Magicks (from Amazon)

Italian actresses Ida Galli (credited under her Anglo stage name Ewelyn Stuart) and Silvia Monti, and French actress Haydee Politoff give mesmerizing and sultry performances as the three sisters. While they share bonds over many things, the sisters are unique in their own ways. Galli as Bibiana is the oldest of the sisters. Bibiana is the mature, quiet, and matronly sibling, preferring to keep to her hobbies and the practices she and her sister engage in. Like any woman though, Bibiana has her sexual desires, and as the trio become more and more powerful over their prey David, she uses her sensitive and motherly wiles to lure the young man to her bed as her sisters listen from their rooms, a little jealous, but also respecting each other’s wants and needs.. Monti as Samantha is the most adventurous of the siblings. Samantha doesn’t have Bibiana’s experiences, but she has a lust and zest for life, those passions exhilerated by the presence of David. She is in fact the fist sister to seduce David, impressing him and frightening him simultaneously while riding on his motorcycle, and then luring him to a secluded beach where she chases him into delirium before letting letting him caress her. Politoff plays the youngest sister Liv. Liv appears to be entering into the final stages of womanhood. She has the quietness and sensitivity of Bibiana and the curiousness of Samantha, but has her own down to earth personality. She is the first to meet David, but the last to seduce him, and in fact develops the kind of infatuation that first loves tend to produce. While jealous that her sisters can take David at will, Liv realizes it’s an element of the game, and she’ll have him soon enough.

Blu Review – Queens of Evil (Mondo Macabro) - Horror Society
The Unsuspecting David (from Horror Society)

British Italian actor Ray Lovelock (credited as Raymond Lovelock) gives a very interesting performance as David. A Wandering Hippie who believes in free love and freedom without constraint, David travels the world searching for his paradise. When he shows some good will to a stranded motorist, he gets an unusual lecture about the dangers of too many women lovers, and that settling into a proper marriage is the way to go. After the motorist betrays his kindness, David tries to find out why, only to watch in horror as the man crashes his car into a tree, dying on impact. Fearing he’ll be accused of murder, David flees, ending up in an isolated barn in the woods. Initially, he suspects nothing amiss with the sisters he soon decides to live with, believing they practice a form of Pagan faith system that focuses on giving thanks to Nature in varied ways. It isn’t too long before David notices a change to both his physical health and mental state. At the start he seems very viral and full of passions but as time passes, he begins to lose confidence in himself, becoming more and more dependent on the women in some way or another. When each sister takes him sexually is when he seems most alive, sharing carnal passions with each woman in different fashions. David has no idea what kind of change has come over him, but knows there’s something not right in his well being, feeling free, but yet somehow at a kind of mercy to the sisters, alternating between periods of bliss and periods of near psychedelic visions/nightmares that may or may not be warnings should he continue to stay where he is.

Queens of Evil
David Explores Eerie Woods (from Mondo Digital)

Rarely seen outside of Europe and Japan until recently, Le Regine is fine rare gem of a film, boasting a fine mix of horror, fantasy, and trippy psychedelia. Concepts of sexual relations between men and women get tested, as well as the concept of what true freedom may very well entail, and what anyone is really willing to give up or compromise on in the name of life and love.

(I highly recommend this to anyone looking for something different in the Horror genre. While it does play more to the realm of Dark Fantasy than Horror, the film still offers the occasional creepy moment and atmosphere as the unwitting David is drawn deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. Tonino Cervi succeeds ten times over in keeping audiences in the dark as to what’s really going on, mixing eyepopping colors, and clever cinematography tricks. The Blu Ray from Mondo-Macabro, marking the film’s debut in US Home Media, looks fabulous, the visuals very immaculate and gorgeous and the audio clear and crisp. I haven’t watched the English dub, but did find the Italian original very even and clear, and superb English subtitle translation. Well worth a purchase)

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066980/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

buying options

https://mondomacabro.bigcartel.com/product/queens-of-evil-standard-edition

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

When the Sins of the Ancestors…..Come to Their Kin

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #4)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the original French language version)

Michel Lemoine – Homepopcorn.fr
French Poster (from Home Popcorn)

 Les Week-ends Maléfiques du Comte Zaroff (7 Femmes Pour un Sadique/The Malicious Weekend of Count Zaroff/7 Women for the Sadist/7 Women for Satan) (1976) **** 1/2 NC-17

Michel Lemoine: Count Boris Zaroff

Howard Vernon: Karl, the Butler/Karl’s Father

Joelle Coeur: Anne de Baoisryvault

Sophie Grynholc: Zaroff’s Secretary

Martine Azencot: Joelle

Nathalie Zeiger: Muriel

Robert de Laroche: Francis (as Robert Icaret)

Patricia Mionett: Jeanne

Maria Mancini: Stephane/Stephanie

Written & Directed by: Michel Lemoine (loosely inspired by The Most Dangerous Game [1932] and the novelette by Richard Connell)

Synopsis: Aristocratic businessman Boris Zaroff is haunted by hallucinations of himself torturing and killing young women. His father, the original Count Zaroff, had 40 years previously hunted people for sport until he was killed by his own hunting dogs. Boris has inherited his father’s debauched interests, and the son of his father’s servant will do whatever it takes to see that Boris embraces his evil lineage.

Seven Women for Satan (1976) | MUBI
A Beautiful Victim (from Mubi)

Actor/Filmmaker Michel Lemoine, at the height of his independent career, decided to tackle the Horror genre in a new and different way. In keeping with his desire to highlight people’s erotic tendencies, Lemoine employs sex and romance as a catalyst for the tragedies to befall his characters. Inspired by the Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack film The Most Dangerous Game (and the 1920’s short story by Richard Connell), Lemoine devised an unofficial sequel that focused on the son of the villainous Count Zaroff, and the man’s struggle to avoid continuing his father’s trail of terror. What soon follows is a bizarre game of human morality vs. base instincts and human and otherworldly forces fight for control of Boris’ soul and mind. While scenes of extended nudity and simulated sensual acts are abundant within the film, Lemoine in no way uses them for the simple shock value, though some sequences even now might still have that effect on some. Lemoine didn’t make the film as Softcore Porn with a Horror theme/background, but instead chose to tell a Horror story where the Erotic plays a necessary and, in some cases, important function of the outcome of said story.

Seven Women for Satan
The Tortured and Tragic Boris (from Mondo Digital)

Lemoine offers a compelling, sympathetic, and sadly tragic performance of the title character Zaroff. Lemoine expresses this beautifully and perfectly in that Boris is a genuinely good man who is forever haunted by the misdeeds of his brutal father, and by the sinister and human forces that try to make him embrace that brutality. This also has the Lovecraftian feel of Inherited Guilt in which fiction characters can’t escape or find redemption from the crimes committed by those that came before them. Audience realize this from the very instant Boris is introduced after his first onscreen hallucination as he is clearly bewildered and shocked at the thoughts always going through his mind. When he tries to stop himself from doing any harm to a female hitchhiker he fantasized making love to, he accidently runs her over with his car. Fearing his teeth marks on her breast will lead to suspicions he tried to rape her, he dumps her body in a deep lake by his estate. This act traumatizes him, and forces him to remember the night the woman he loved was murdered right in front of him, but also keeps him from doing anymore harm to others. Temptation continues to fly for Boris when he interviews a woman interested in the job of house secretary, and while he prefers to make love to her, ends up powerless when his servant orders the Doberman guard dog to attack her. Images of both the woman he ran over and his beloved haunt his mind, relieving him of doing any evil, but unable to prevent it. The last straw finally breaks when Boris realizes a prank he intended to play on a stranded couple he offered overnight shelter to was made into vicious crime by his servant, sending him over the edge. The question then becomes will the humanity still within him be able to break free of his family’s horrible curse. per

Amazon.com: Seven Women for Satan [Blu-ray] : Michel Lemoine, Joëlle Coeur,  Nathalie Zeiger, Howard Vernon, Robert de Laroche, Martine Azencot, Michel  Lemoine: Movies & TV
The Evil and Wicked Karl (from Amazon)

-Swiss-German French actor Howard Vernon, a staple of European genre cinema, and cult icon Jess Franco’s favorite actor, gives one of his most menacing and villainous performances in the role of Karl the Butler. Karl’s father, also a butler, served the original Count Zaroff as his son now serves the Count’s son Boris, revealing a hint of intertwined destiny. Karl vowed to keep a promise to his dying father that he would ensure Boris would continue the Zaroff legacy of cruelty and debauchery by whatever means available to him. Vernon gives Karl an air of remorselessness, willingly putting innocent people at risk, even killing them himself to make certain his master will come to see the delights of the darkness, all with an unflinching gaze. Karl is the true villain of the film as he willingly, and even at times with a sense of pride, does all sorts of horrible things to keep his word to his father. Little does Karl know that his master’s conscious is very strong, and other forces will fight him with equal intensity to save Boris.

LES WEEK-ENDS MALÉFIQUES DU COMTE ZAROFF : belles, blondes et clamsées – LA  FOUTOIROTHÈQUE
Love From Beyond the Grave (from LA FOUTOIROTHÈQUE)

Joelle Coeur, the French Erotic film icon, gives a hauntingly wonderful performance as Anne de Baoisryvault. Anne plays an uber important role in that she’s the good against the evil that is Karl. Anne would be the only woman Boris Zaroff really and truly loved, Boris being Anne’s light while trapped in a loveless marriage. Their happiness was cut short when during a secret rendezvous, Anne was shot in the back while dancing with Boris, (while her jealous husband was most likely the culprit, some believe it was Karl to ensure Boris remained alone) poor Boris unaware his beloved Anne was dying in his arms. Her death would shatter Boris, who himself went into sexual repression and isolation. When Karl makes plans to ensure his master embraces his father’s wicked traits, Anne returns from the afterlife to save the man she loves. Placing her image in mirrors and such in place of the women meant to be the targets of the diabolical plot, Anne works to keep Boris’ humanity and conscious alive to fight against the evil trying to turn him. Anne appears to Boris on several occasions to remind him of the good man she knows he is, beckoning him to return to the light with her. When Boris realizes the horrible betrayal of Karl involving an innocent couple he offered overnight shelter to, his grip on reality breaks, forcing Anne to resort to one last method to save him and his soul, a method she’d hoped to not have to use. This was to be Joelle Coeur’s final film, retiring not long after as she didn’t care for French cinema’s ever increasing move towards XXX Hardcore Porn over the usual Softcore she enjoyed making.

Tumblr
The Beautifully Haunting Zaroff Castle (from Tumblr)

Mixing the Gothic Ghost Story with Frano-esque violence and high Erotica, Lemoine paints an artistic grindhouse piece that is both shocking and beautiful at the same time. Lemoine employs some unique camera angles and shots, mainly in the halucinatory moments that work very well to show Zaroff’s ever teetering balance between the world he wants to live in, and the world the more evil forces around want him to submit to. The lead character is surprisingly sympathetic despite his weakness at the forces vying for his final destiny. Good vs Evil has never been done so eloquently as this film, the power on the side of good unrelenting in battling its sadistic enemy to save a man.

(I’ll leave it up to whoever reads this write-up as to whether to watch the film or not. While the erotic moments aren’t over done and bordering on the poor taste/disgusting element, some people may find the heightened use of them a little too much to handle, and that is those folks’ right to believe. There’s definitely more to like than hate with the film as Lemoine proves himself a very good and effective director who’s style is very overlooked. Many of his choices are solid, some that went further than necessary, and only one or two he didn’t need at all solidifying his abilities. The Blu Ray done in conjunction between France’s Le Chat Qui Fume [The Smoking Cat] and the US’s Mondo Macabro is a solid restoration that brings the film back to life, keeping the dream-like atmosphere Lemoine intended. Either release is highly recommended, though I’ll mention now the special features on the French edition aren’t English subtitle friendly. I admit this is odd as the English subtitle translation of the film itself is solid, a little better than the US edition, but both editions are good in their own ways.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0316886/

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Week-ends_mal%C3%A9fiques_du_Comte_Zaroff

Buying Options

https://mondomacabro.bigcartel.com/product/seven-women-for-satan-standard-edition

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

The Gothic, Euro Erotica, Pre-Ordained Revenge, & Bizarre Science

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #3)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the original German version)

IM SCHLOß DER BLUTIGEN BEGIERDE | SPLATTERTRASH
Original Poster (from SPLATTERTRASH)

Im Schloß der Blutigen Begierde (Castle of the Creeping Flesh/In the Castle of Bloody Desire) (1968) **** NC-17

Janine Reynaud: Vera Lagrange

Howard Vernon: Der Graf von Saxon

Michel Lemoine: Baron Brack

Elvira Berndorff: Elena Lagrange

Jan Hendriks: George von Kassell

Pier A. Caminnecci: Roger de la Valiere

Claudia Butenuth: Marion von Kassell / Katharina von Saxon

Vladimir Medar: Alecos, Diener

Written by: Adrian Hoven (as Percy G. Parker) & Eric Martin Schinitzler (with uncredited contributions from Jess Franco)

Directed by: Adrian Hoven (as Percy G. Parker)

Synopsis: A debauched Baron asks five of his party guests to sneak away with him to his hunting lodge for more fun. When the Baron rapes one of the women and she takes off, the group soon find themselves at the mysterious estate of a reclusive Earl. The Earl and the Baron seem to know each other, and it isn’t long before the Baron’s guests discover they’ve inadvertently been put in the middle of a centuries old curse.

Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde - italo-cinema.de
An Eerie, Mysterious Castle (from Italo-Cinema)

Veteran German character actor Adrian Hoven, sensing the changing tide in German cinema in the late 1960’s, decided to start his own production company with a group of friends to make self-financed genre films to compete with the burgeoning New German Cinema movement. The first result of this new company was the Gothic Horror film In the Castle of Bloody Desire, in which Hoven mixed the classic Horror of the early 60’s and the contemporary Jazz music fueled Thrillers that were just gaining steam in Italy at the time. Having done a couple of the Edgar Wallace Krimi in the early to mid-1960’s, Hoven already had an idea of how to mix suspense and horror overtones/undertones together, and thus was able to get financing without much difficulty as the Krimi’s hadn’t become clichéd yet. When filming was complete, Hoven chose to use the pseudonym Percy G. Parker while editing and postproduction as he was still a very respected film and stage actor, uncertain if his contemporaries would deride him for doing a film filled with so much violent imagery and bizarre sexual behavior, some sequences in the film still maintaining the shock value felt in the period in which it was made.

Castle of the Creeping Flesh
The Enticing Valerie (from Mondo-Digital)

Janine Reynaud, a French model and actress known for her participation in Euro Erotic and Exploitation cinema, is an alluring delight in the role of Vera Lagrange. Vera is an aristocratic woman with cravings for the hedonistic in sex and adventure, always on the lookout for the next lurid good time. Her newest fascination is the Baron Brack, who shares similar interests as herself. Unbeknownst to Vera, Brack is also interested her equally lovely sister Elena. Vera and the others are soon on a quest for Elena after Brack forcibly has his way with her, and she flees the Baron’s hunting lodge in a delirious state. After the group find themselves in the castle of the Earl of Saxon where Elena has been kept safe, Vera begins noticing some strange happenings. The Earl tells her she bears a striking resemblance to his ancestor’s 2nd wife, who brought about the rape/defilement and death of his daughter. The Earl further explains that it was his ancestor’s murdering of his 2nd wife that led to his own execution as he attempted to use the woman’s blood to resurrect his daughter. Afterwards, Vera begins having bizarre hallucination dreams, dreading something sinister will happen.

In the Castle of Bloody Lust (1968) — The Movie Database (TMDB)
The Earl Recalls the Painful Past (from The Movie Database)

Howard Vernon, the German-Swiss/French actor who became one of Jess Franco’s main collaborators, gives a subtly chilling role (in one of his rare non-Franco films) as the Earl of Saxon. A nobleman who’s family has suffered a bloody and tragic history, the Earl had made the decision to cut himself and his family from the outside world so they can eventually be free of the dark past hovering over them. A chance at fixing this tragic line comes almost by destiny in the form of Baron Brack, and his innocent guests. The Earl and Brack appear to know each other well in spite of the fact the Earl is a total recluse who never goes beyond his estate. Having assured Brack’s friends the young lady they’ve been looking for has only suffered a mild shock and will be able to go with them by morning, the Earl tells them the history of his family. He says history repeated itself when his own daughter was attacked by an unidentified assailant, and died of internal injuries. Almost everyone in the party, save for three of the characters, bear strong resemblances to the parties involved in the first Earl’s daughter’s death, and the question quicky becomes if history continually repeats itself, or if a new tragedy can be prevented. That the Earl demands his guests wear clothing from the period the atrocity was committed in strongly implies this.

 

Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde - italo-cinema.de
The Damned Baron (from Italo-Cinema)

Michel Lemoine, a French actor who began in important art films and later become an icon in genre cinema, is at his slimy best in the role of Baron Brack. Brack brings the 19th century debauched nobleman to the 20th century, and is just as, if not more so, depraved as his predecessors. When the vivacious and flirty Lagrange sisters catch his eye, the Baron plots how to bed both of them. When the younger sister admits to flirting all in fun, the Baron becomes enraged and proceeds to savagely and remorselessly rape the young woman. After she flees in a hysterical state, the Baron’s lifestyle is soon to catch up with him. When he and his party end up on the estate of the Earl of Saxon, Brack’s paranoia in regard to the Earl and the history of the Saxon family becomes ever increasing, hinting that he somehow has played a part before.   

𝕰 𝖟 𝖊 𝖖 𝖚 𝖎 𝖊 𝖑 . 🐩🤍 on Twitter: "IM SCHLOSS DER BLUTIGEN BEGIERDE  — CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH (Adrian Hoven, 1968)… "

A Twisted Elegy to a Disturbing Crime (from Twitter)

Jess Franco, the unofficial King of Shlock/Shock Exploitation cinema, provided some uncredited assistance in Hoven’s screenplay. The high dose of Erotica, surreal/bizarre imagery, and unusual special effects all scream Franco’s MO and style, and all are used to good effect within the film. Hoven doesn’t use these in abundance the way Franco usually did, instead intersplicing them when needed, the only extensive uses of these are during Valerie’s nightmare as she sees the vicious act against the Earl’s daughter through the eyes of the devious mistress. Why Franco isn’t credited in any known print of the film is never made clear in any film site, but as Franco was a really busy independent filmmaker, working on as many as ten features a year, it’s possible at least one contract prevented his credit for legal reasons.

  

Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde - italo-cinema.de
Two People Discussing Bizarre Fantasies (from Italo-Cinema)

Again, going for a more psychological approach to Horror, Adrian Hoven does very well with Castle of Bloody Desire, near flawlessly mixing contemporary and historical settings, having rich yet not overtly complex characters, and of course a nice range of atmosphere and vibes.

(This is one of the films I have to recommend with caution to many people. While the film doesn’t glorify the act done to the Earl’s daughter and much of the other bizarre behavior of characters, some sequences in the film can be seen by some as quite intense, which is perfectly understandable. The film does draw the viewer in, and much of it is as much a curiosity as it is entertaining to an extent. Again, this is another example of a film not being everyone’s cup of tea, and only appeals to a certain type of viewer. Like with a few other films I’ve talked about on this level, I don’t make a claim to fully understand what Adrian Hoven wanted to accomplish with his film, but I feel I was open minded enough to see what his attempts were aiming at. There are two Blu Ray releases of the film, one from Germany, the other from Severin Films in the US. Both releases are pretty good, many fans might being preferable to the US release as the subtitle translation of the German track may be more exact than the German release. and the extras on the German release may or may not be subtitled in English. Fans can’t go wrong with either release though as both have their strong points, especially the audio and visual transfers.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061806/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Im_Schlo%C3%9F_der_blutigen_Begierde

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

When the Quest for Everlasting Beauty Goes Too Far

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #2)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the French language original)

Shock Treatment (1973) - IMDb
Original French Poster (from the IMDb)

Traitement de Choc (Shock Treatment) (1973) R ****1/2

Alain Delon: Docteur Devilers

Annie Giradot: Helene Masson

Robert Hirsch: Gerome Savignat

Michel Duchaussoy: Docteur Bernard

Gabriel Cattand: Procureur de Boissiere

Jeanne Colletin: Camille Giovanelli

Robert Party: Colonel de Riberolles

Jean Roquel: Marcel Lussac

Roger Muni: Paul Giovanelli

Lucienne Legrand: Lise de Riberolles

Anne-Maria Deschodt: Henriette Lussac

Jean Leuvrais: Le Commissaire

Written by: Alain Jessua, Roger Curel, & Enrico Vanzina

Directed by: Alain Jessua

Synopsis: After a startling revelation on her life, businesswoman Helene Masson accepts an invitation from a longtime friend to spend two weeks at a rejuvenation spa run by the prominent Dr. Devilers. While the treatments do work and everyone sees nothing amiss, Helene begins to suspect something sinister when her friend commits suicide after a financial crisis and the imported Portuguese staff begin suffering what appears to be extreme altitude sickness.

Traitement de choc (1973) | Cinema of the World
The First Examination (from World Cinema)

French genre auteur Alain Jessua took the lore of vampirism and translated it into an allegory on the obsession with youthful beauty and the horrors of addiction. Instead of transfigured human beings who live nocturnally with fangs to consume the blood of their victims, Jessua has his culprits be unorthodox doctors of medicine who’ve channeled the destructive methods of the primitive African, Latin/South/Central, and Native American tribes that involved the consumption of the flesh and blood of their enemies. The recipients of this dark and twisted elixir love the effect of the serum, and their fear of old age makes them compliant in the methods of their ‘saviors’, thus leading to a kind of dependency that has a small, motely band of prominent French citizens returning to the little oasis every year to maintain their little secret on how to maintain their youthful appearance. The whole inhuman affair has its first bout of exposure when a regular client kills himself after bad financial tips force him to give up his treatments, the only example of someone feeling the effects of withdrawal, both literally from not getting the serum, and figuratively in that he already feels his true age coming to the surface, and the paralyzing fear of being shunned for no longer being handsome and young.

Shock Treatment (1973) image
The First Treatment (from Listal)

Jessua gives a surprising clue early on in the film as to what is going on by revealing the spa’s waiters and caretakers are young men ranging from their late teens to mid-20’s. and are of Hispanic or Latino – via the South and Central American countries, descent. One of the spa regular’s comments that up until recently the staff was made up of young Spanish men who needed work to support their destitute families, and now the head doctor is strictly hiring Portuguese workers. The young men are shown to be on a very unusual protein diet, and are kept working almost constantly, and seem to not be able to adjust to the lower altitude climate. That one of the characters states the spa hires mainly men of Hispanic or South/Central American heritage sets off a signal that this is important to what’s happening in the story, and how it ends up important is fairly shocking.

Shock Treatment
The Mysterious Benevolent Doc (from Mondo Digital)

Alain Delon, one of France’s finest genre & art house actors, delivers an excellent performance as Dr. Devilers. A college educated doctor going back to the roots of natural medicine, Devilers is certain he has discovered a safe and holistic serum to slow down the aging process. While the aristocratic crowd seems to be his primary cliental to his rejuvenation therapy, Devilers accepts any patient that can afford the price who feels they could benefit from his discovery. Delon portrays Devilers as a charming and gracious man who puts the patients at top priority over everything else, but it’s after one of his regular patients dies tragically that Devilers façade seems to crack. His charm conceals an intimidating menace that has everyone afraid to reveal what exactly goes on behind the scenes in his research for fear of being held as accessories to what very well could be criminal actions. While his aims at helping people maintain their youth a little longer are noble, how he managed to achieve that goal possibly meant going against the laws of men and the laws of a higher power, and an even more frightening aspect is a very real possibility he willingly gave up his own humanity and soul to succeed.

Traitement de choc - Alain Jessua - Critique - Tortillapolis
A Worried Helene (from Tortillapolis)

Annie Giradot, a lesser internationally known French actress, gives a mini powerhouse performance as Helene Masson. A simple independent businesswoman who felt her beauty would age gracefully, Helene had no allusions of what would occur in life as she reached middle age and seemed initially content with how she lived. When the man she was certain she would spend the rest of her life with abandoned her to be with a much prettier, and younger, woman, Helene soon found her world upside down, and certain realities flooding in that she’d been previously oblivious to, or had admittingly turned a blind eye to, forced her to rethink how she was aging, and maybe the youthful treatment recommended by a longtime friend might be in order to save herself from ending up alone. Ironically, some of the patients and Dr. Devilers himself tell her she looks radiant already and doesn’t ‘need’ the treatment the way others do, but are sympathetic to her reasons for wanting to give the treatment a try. At first happy with the result, Helene’s mind begins to go erratic after learning her good friend killed himself, and realizing he was telling the truth that the treatment is like being addicted to any drug.

Traitement de choc - Alain Jessua - Critique - Tortillapolis
A Not so Discreet Doctor/Patient Relationship (from Tortillpolis)

Delon and Giradot had worked together a decade earlier as would be lovers in Luchino Visconti’s tragic family drama Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers), but this film wouldn’t prove to be a happy reunion. During the production of Rocco, Giradot fell in love with Renato Salvatori, one of the other actors in the cast, and after encouragement from Delon, the two married and seemingly had the quaint life most married people hope for. Not long before production on Choc, Giradot left and divorced Salvatori for another man, and upon seeing her on the first day of shooting, Delon slapped Giradot hard in the face. Salvatori was a close friend of Delon, and because he encouraged the couple’s romance, felt just as responsible for their break-up and Giradot’s infidelity, and was thus trying to relieve himself of the guilt he was bearing. Whether Delon was eventually able to reconcile with Giradot has never been documented.

Richard🔥Wells on Twitter: "Film time! Revisited Alain Jessua's SHOCK  TREATMENT (1973). Alain Delon is the Bond villain like head of an exclusive  health spa with *a dark secret*. Enjoyable schlock with social
A Day to Rejoice (from Twitter)

A scene that well highlights the hedonistic choices made by staff and patients alike comes in the form of a beach scene, not long after the first day’s injection treatment. All the patients, including Helene and Dr. Devilers himself, all get naked and frolic along the waves of the water’s edge. Initially this is to indicate the rejuvenation in youth everyone feels from benefiting from the treatment, this scene also hints at the radical truths revealed as the film progresses, and crimes against both man and nature come to light. The scene also is notable for one of the rare occasions Alain Delon went completely nude for a scene in a film, baring all for audiences to see in a very daring, and to a degree, courageous, moment.

Shock Treatment
Conversing in the Spa (from Mondo Digital)

While it plays out as more of a psychological Thriller, Traitement de Choc really is at heart an allegorical Horror film that plays up vampirism in a way that could probably happen, if someone did indeed put their mind to it. The story, acting, the cinematography, etc, are all top notch, and help to really establish the mood and pace Alain Jessua intended the film to have.

(I highly recommend giving this film a look; especially to women over forty who may have concerns over aging, trust me, this film will most likely ‘scare’ those fears right out of you when the big reveal near the end comes up. Metaphorical Horror has never looked better or been done as good as this film. Some might think the method is a little over the top, but it does have roots in reality, so don’t dismiss the film as wishful thinking, or fantastic Sci-Fi Horror. Annie Giradot’s acting may get a little over the top/melodramatic, at certain points, but it serves the film well, and adds to the effective tension director Jessua intended. Severin Films did a great job with the restoration of the audio and visuals, giving the film itself a rejuvenation of sorts.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

For more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070827/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shock_Treatment_(1973_film)

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traitement_de_choc_(film,_1973)

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

A Mix of Poe Horror, Wallace Krimi, and Modern Jazz

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #1)

(Mild Spoilers Ahead)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the original German language version)

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) German movie poster
German Poster (from CineMaterial)

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (The Snake Pit and the Pendulum/The Blood Demon/The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism) (1967) **** PG-13

Lex Barker: Roger Mont Elise / Reinhold von Marienberg

Karin Dor: Baroness Lillian von Brabant / Baroness von Brabant

Christopher Lee: Count Frederic Regula of Andomai

Carl Lange: Anatol, the Butler (as Karl Lange)

Vladimir Medar: Peter Fabian

Christiane Rucker: Babette

Dieter Eppler: The Coachman

Horst Naumann: Voice Dubbing – Lex Barker

Herbert Weicker: Voice Dubbing – Christopher Lee

Klaus W. Krause: Voice Dubbing – Vladimir Medar

Written by: Manfred R. Kohler (loosely based on The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe, and inspired by the fiction of Edgar Wallace)

Directed by: Harald Reinl

Synopsis: After he is sentenced to death for the murder of 12 virgin women and practicing Satanism, Count Regula swears revenge on the descendants of those who brought about his demise. 35 years later, the son of the Crown Prosecutor and the daughter of the Baroness Brabant are lured to Regula’s castle.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
Regula’s Chamber of Horrors (from UCM.ONE)

1967 saw German cinema at a crossroads, newcomers Rainer W. Fassbender and Volker Schlondorff were beginning the age of New German Cinema, where more personal stories were being told that audiences seemed to empathize with, and the once successful genre films of directors like Harald Reinl and Alfred Vohrer were beginning to lose steam. While the Krimi films based on the novels of British crime fiction writer Edgar Wallace had helped bring a boom to the German film industry, the ever-rising popularity of the Giallos and Spaghetti Westerns in Italy were making it tougher and tougher for German writers and directors to keep up. Some co-productions with Italy did help the industry move along, but the popularity of import films dubbed into German were making the studios less and less keen on continuing making their own versions that were seemingly being made better elsewhere. Ideas were needed to keep the industry going, but the attempt to infuse Horror overtones to the Wallace Mystery Thrillers, only aided in the genre’s demise quicker, as critics and fans alike saw them as weak cash-ins on the Giallo craze.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
Regula Receives His Sentence (from UCM.ONE)

To combat the ever-encroaching Art-House movement that would mean many solid genre actors and actresses would be forced to return to the stage or go to television to keep working, Constantin Films greenlit a project that combined the Wallace Krimi, the Italian Giallo, the Gothic Horror of Poe, Corman, & Bava, and a strange blend of contemporary and period music, the result being The Snake Pit and the Pendulum aka The Blood Demon. Taking the very basics from the Poe classic The Pit and the Pendulum, the film begins with the aristocratic Count Regula being sentenced to death for murdering 12 virgin women after making a pact with the devil. Before being led to the place of execution, Regula vows to destroy the family of the Prosecutor for the Crown, and avenge himself on the woman who was to be his next victim. On the 35th anniversary of Regula’s demise, his last henchmen help to lure the surviving son of the Prosecutor and the daughter of the last victim to his castle to finish what he started a quarter of a century ago.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
The Haunted Forest of Andomai (from UCM.ONE

Director Harald Reinl takes some inspirations from both Roger Corman and Mario Bava when doing exterior scenes. As the film goes into night time, audiences are first greeted to a lush yellow/brown sunset that seems to fly across the screen in a psychedelic fashion that Bava and Croman used so frequently in their early color efforts. When night hits and the terrors of Regula’s Forest come to life, Reinl’s use of lighting, mood, music, and color is very reminiscent of Bava’s Gothic Horror films that lends a very effective feeling of the dangers the cast are soon to be introduced to.

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
Some Bizarre Religious Iconography (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Religious imagery and rights play a pretty important part in the film. Regula’s crimes are judged as not only an offence against his country, but an offence against the Holy Church as well. This is portrayed through a special ceremony performed every year on the day Regula was executed as to prevent his evil spirit from wreaking havoc on the surrounding towns that border his castle. That neither the Church or the Crown took possession of Regula’s estate confirms this wasn’t the usual political scheme to gain lands, but to genuinely rid the community of what they saw as evil incarnate as the castle is shown to be highly dilapidated and in disrepair. Statuary of the varied saints and even of Christ himself are shown sporadically in the early scenes, showing that strong forces from beyond are protecting the protagonists as they meet their destinies. Regula’s castle is filled with the polar opposite: wall paintings showcase tormented souls and demons engaging in the torture of said souls, while statuary of bestial demons guard and light the abode.

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
The Hero Works His Way Out of Danger (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Lex Barker, one of the many American actors who went to Europe after their careers in Hollywood dried up – later becoming a Superstar in Germany, plays the protagonist Roger Mont Elise, and his father Reinhold von Marienberg in the opening. A lawyer traveling through the countryside going over the many cases of his firm, Mont Elise is also trying to discover his past after learning he was left in a foundling home with only a nice sized dowery and a medallion as clues to who he really was. Feeling he’ll learn answers after a mysterious man gives him a letter saying a Count Regula can help him, Mont Elise will soon learn he’s the son of Crown Prosecutor von Marienberg, and that he’s been lured to the castle so Regula can fulfill his promise to eradicate the Marienberg family forever. Little is said about Reinhold von Marienberg as he’s only in the film for 15 minutes, but it’s clear he’s devoted to the country, the people, the Crown, and the Church that have made him defender of the realm and faith. He manages to ensure at least one relative will survive to keep Regula from succeeding in his plans.  Barker does very well in both roles, and while not the usual action hero type character he was used to playing in the German Westerns and Italian Adventure films of the early to mid-1960’s, Barker proved that not only was he still leading man material, but also an underrated performer.

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
A Villain in Life….
The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
….And Death (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Christopher Lee, one of Britain’s finest character actors, and an icon of World Horror cinema, gets to play a very different type of villain in the role of Count Frederic Regula. An aristocrat taking the motif of the debauched wealthy and going to levels of extremity, Regula goes to horrid lengths to gain the power of immortality by brutally killing young virgins while also taking their fear to the highest point. When a would-be victim foils his plans and he’s condemned to death by the violent act of quartering by horses, Regula swears to avenge himself from beyond the grave. Through very elaborate means that are a mixture of science and black magic, Regula and his followers spend the next 35 years scheming and waiting for the right moment to complete their revenge. Lee is still playing the villain of course, albeit this go around playing a very human villain who has flaws, weaknesses, and limitations. While he is aided by forces that are both supernatural and scientific, Lee’s Regula has a precise time in which he must complete his task once awakened from his death like state, and Lee shows him as a confidant, but at the same time cautious individual. Lee offers a fairly restrained performance as Regula, keeping the character in the world of realism, only going into theatrics toward the very end of the film.

(Author’s note: Lee provides his voice for the English dubbing of the film, a rarity for Lee’s foreign language appearances. It’s difficult to tell though if Lee looped his dialogue not long after filming wrapped, or if it was some years before Lee was asked to dub himself as his voice sounds very deep, which it did become by the 1990’s.)

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
One of Germany’s Great Actresses (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Karin Dor, a popular German actress of the stage and screen, takes on the leading lady role of Baroness Lillian von Brabant. The daughter of the original Baroness von Brabant, Lillian arrives toward Count Regula’s castle under the false claim her mother had willed her some land around the area. Her mother had been an intended victim of the Count, but by luck and fate was able to escape and inform the authorities of the Count’s actions, earning her his wrath as well. Regula plans to have Lillian take her mother’s place, thus completing the process of eternal life. Dor mainly acts as the damsel in distress of the film, spending a good chunk of it screaming and in fear of her and her companions’ safety, but Dor doesn’t go into the complete cliché’s of the damsel role, showing courage in the face of danger, and a willing to risk her life for those she cares about. The film also marked her 2nd to last time working with occasional romantic love interest Lex Barker, whom she did 4 (one time uncredited) of Barker’s 7 Winnetou film roles with, the final time released a year after The Snake Pit and the Pendulum and a segment of an Espionage Anthology film. Dor and Barker enjoyed a nice chemistry together that was oddly not capitalized on enough as they clearly played well off each other, aided in that they understood some of the other’s native language.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
The Mad Henchman (from UCM.ONE)
Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel | film.at
The Heroic Thief (from Film.at)

German actor Carl Lange (credited as Karl Lange) and Slavic actor Vladimir Medar make up the main supporting cast of characters. Lange, putting on his best Lon Chaney Jr. and Dwight Frye impersonations, plays Anatol, Regula’s last faithful servant. Anatol carried out the majority of Regula’s plan of revenge against Prosecutor Marienberg by not only killing him, but most of the family as well. Before he could get to the infant son, Anatol was caught and hung by the neck, but Regula’s imperfect potion saved his life. Lange subtly mixes calm loyalty and raving mania as Anatol has a fanatical devotion to his master. Medar acts primarily as comic relief in the role of Peter Fabian, a small-time thief impersonating a Catholic priest. Initially trying to escape the bizarre situation he unintentionally found himself in, Fabian shows he has some sense of honor and loyalty as he chooses to stay behind and help Mont Elise save Lillian and her scared maid from the evil Regula and his equally demented servant Anatol.   

The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967) by Harald Reinl | M-Square Classics
The Ancestors of the Hero and Heroine Look on at Regula’s Execution (from UCM.ONE)

The only odd part about the film is the score by Peter Thomas. The music is an unusual mix of modern Jazz and Rock, which was very popular with Edgar Wallace films, and more classical style scoring associated to Gothic Horror. The Jazzy style Rock seems very out of place for a period piece, though it is still interesting to hear. When the film gets into the more sinister and supernatural parts, the score becomes more ambient and effective to strengthen the mood. The modern scoring still pops up here and there, but it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t take away from the intended atmosphere.

Amazon.com: The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism ( Die Schlangengrube und das  Pendel ) (Blu-Ray & DVD Combo) [ Blu-Ray, Reg.A/B/C Import - Germany ] :  Lex Barker, Karin Dor, Christopher Lee,
Title Card (from Amazon.com)

While some musical cues don’t fit the atmosphere, The Snake Pit and the Pendulum is an effective slice of Gothic Horror that also made for the genre’s fine farewells. Mixing both Expressionistic and psychedelic visuals, and very good acting, the film might not be one of the best ever made, but is definitely entertaining and worthy of being in the upper echelons of the Horror genre.

(I highly recommend giving this film a look, as while the score can sometimes leave viewers confused, the film’s mood and atmosphere make up for it. It’s hard to tell at times if Christopher Lee enjoyed doing the film, or his character’s neutral feel was how the director asked him to play it, but Lee is still very effective in whatever role he played. The German company UCM.ONE did an excellent job with the restoration of the film, cleaning up the visuals and audio to a nice crispness. Unfortunately, the English subtitles on the disc are dubtitles of the English dubbing, and not translated from the German audio track. The UCM.ONE restoration also appears on the Severin Films release of the film for their The Eurocrypt of Christopher Lee Box Set, again the subtitles being based on the English dubbing and not a translation of the German track. The film is definitely better in the original German audio, so not having translated subtitles is a bummer, but the film is still worth checking out either way.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blood_Demontion

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062235/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_17

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Schlangengrube_und_das_Pendel

Buying options

https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/movie/detail/-/art/die-schlangengrube-und-das-pendel-limited-mediabook-edition/hnum/10308346

https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/movie/detail/-/art/die-schlangengrube-und-das-pendel/hnum/10419789

https://severin-films.com/shop/eurocrypt-christopher-lee/

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

MFM Quickies 1: One of the Best Purchase Deals

by Tony Nash

Hello to all My Followers, those I’m Following, and all Curious Visitors,

I thought I’d try something a little different on the blog, a series where I talk about certain DVDs and Blu Rays (sorry no 4K’s, far too expensive right now, and I don’t have an interest) in my collection. I’ll mainly be talking about what I like about the particular edition I own, sometimes I might own two or three different versions, but sometimes I’ll go into the deal I got on the item or if anything in the film or the special features really peaked my interest.

I’ll try to keep these medium length as some of the stuff in my collection I could go on forever about, but sometimes they’ll be longer if the item I pick has something cool about it that a summary won’t do justice to.

A Cool Set

Now as the title says, we’re going to be looking at one of the best price deals I got on an item, and that item is the fantastic Koch Media DVD set Italo-Western Enzyklopadie No. 3. IMHO, the Germans do some of the best release of the Western All’Italiana, or Spaghetti Westerns as many prefer to refer to them (I also like using Italo Western), and this is a good example to show off. I bought this nice set off of Amazon Germany in February 2020 before the Pandemic hit hard and the Amazon facilities in Europe had to temporarily suspend shipping of certain items abroad to help combat COVID. Normally this set, as well as sets 1 and 2 (Set 2 has an interesting and good story I’ll discuss later) go for anywhere from 35.99 to 44.99 in Euros, and Amazon Germany had it on sale for between 12.99 to 14.99 Euros.

Now I know what I a lot of you are probably thinking, ‘Sure, but wait till you have to pay shipping, the VAT, and currency exchange’, and sometimes that can be the case with Amazon wherever you go, but in this case I lucked out: At Amazon Global Expedited Shipping, the final price came to $23.45 USD! I couldn’t believe it, that’s about 4 to 5 dollars a disc, including shipping. The reason this deal sticks with me is that since the Pandemic, many businesses, including Amazon, have had to heighten the price of shipping to make up for the majority of business put on hold in 2020, and deals are hard to come by for the moment.

Initially I bought the set for the first two films: Mille Dollari sul Nero ($1000 on the Black) and Per il Gusto di Uccidere (Taste of Killing), but I ended up enjoying all four films, the other two being the Robert Woods Pecos films. That most German releases, including this one, have the Italian language track is a big plus as I prefer the original Italian over the English dub any time, and I do have enough of an understanding of Italian to go without subtitles if I have to.

For those new to the blog, or are still going through my old posts, I own two Region Free, or Universal if you prefer – and it does fit better, Blu Ray players that allow me to view discs from all over the World, and I’ve done a write up on why I think the serious film connoisseur should own one, which I’ll leave a link to below.

I hope you all found this interesting, and there will be plenty more of these coming in the future.

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri

SUNSHINE BLOGGER NOMINEE # DUEX

Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

Sunshine Blogger Award - A Sparkling Ray of Happiness - MerakiMusings
The Sunshine Blogger Award Logo

A big THANK YOU!!! to Debbi of I Found it at the Movies for my 2nd nomination for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I was caught by surprise by my first nomination over a year ago, and was also surprised by this one as well. I’m very happy that folks think this much of my blog to nominate me for something, and each time I receive a like for any of my write ups I feel like a school boy.

To get things going, here are the rules for every nominee for this award

  1. List the award’s official rules
  2. Display the award’s official logo somewhere on your blog
  3. Thank the person who nominated you
  4. Provide a link to your nominator’s blog
  5. Answer your nominator’s questions
  6. Nominate up to 11 bloggers
  7. Ask your nominees 11 questions
  8. Notify your nominees by commenting on at least one of their blog posts

So far, the first three rules are completed, and here’s a link for Miss Debbi’s wonderful blog

https://debbimacktoo.wordpress.com/

And now for Debbi’s very creative and well thought out questions

1. Why do you write movie reviews?

Hmmm, that’s an interesting one. My family has always been very supportive of my passion of films and writing, and they finally convinced me to share my passion with others via a blog. I had a domain on WordPress thanks to a College assignment that sat dormant for 10 plus years, and I rejuvenated it for this current site. I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d be comfortable sharing my thoughts on a film, the actors in it, and anything else of interest, but soon I really started enjoying it, and figured even if only 2 to 5 people got enjoyment out of it, that was plenty for me. What first began as a simple experiment to see if there was any interest at all in a guy writing about classic films and genre films from Italy, France, and Japan turned into all out fun, seeing how I could mix things up and keep it all interesting. I’ve also got to meet several really cool folks who have a similar passion as myself, which has made the journey all the more fun.

2. What’s the worst movie you have ever seen? And why is it the worst?

Luckily I haven’t seen many bad movies, I tend to like a lot of what I see, but one film that I believe had potential, but failed on almost every level was the 1975 Italian Erotic Thriller Una Ondata di Piacere (A Wave of Pleasure) directed by Ruggero Deodato

Waves of Lust (1975) - IMDb
Italian Poster

A very loose interpretation of Roman Polanski’s debut feature Noz w Wodzie (Knife in the Water), about tensions rising as a madman terrorizes a small group of people on a boat in the middle of the ocean, the film tried adding lots of nudity and erotic undercurrents to make it more interesting. In the end it fell completely flat. While British expat John Steiner made a great villain, there was just no tension whatsoever, and even the sex scenes felt beyond amateurish. It actually felt more like a bad voyeuristic experience watching two couples fool around on a yacht, just with the one husband being a total jerk and a tyrant. The DVD copy I had being near totally defective didn’t help the film much either. A pure wasted opportunity.

3. Who’s your favorite character actor from the Golden Age of Hollywood?

This is one of those questions where I can’t pick just one, totally impossible, so I’ll just list some of the guys I like the most: Ben Johnson, John Carradine, Richard Conte, Gilbert Roland, Peter Lorre, Henry Silva, Gene Evans, Cesar Romero, John Williams, Richard Boone

4. If you could pick a movie to be in, which one would you choose? And what part would you play?

Wow, what a great question. I had to really think on this one cause I honestly can’t see myself in a lot of films, plus I can’t stand the playback of my own voice, so I think I’d prefer to work in Italian or French cinema where I could still speak English and have another actor dub my voice, but I finally settled on three:

The first on is the 1969 Italian Western Sono Sartana, il Vostro Becchino (I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death)

I am Sartana, Your Angel of Death - Wikipedia
Original Italian Poster

The part I would like to play in this is of Buddy Ben, Sartana’s friend. Gianni Garko was so cool and charismatic as Sartana and it would’ve been a treat to act along side of him, helping him out in finding out who framed him and why.

The second choice is the 1972 French Noir Un Flic (A Cop)

Un flic - 23-03-1988 | French cinema, Alain delon, Cinema posters
Original French Poster

For this I would choose the small, but still sizable role of Morand, the assistant to the main character Commissaire Coleman. This was the film that introduced me to both Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve, as well as French Cinema in general, and I feel I would just be an awe of both of them, that I would prefer playing a character who didn’t talk much.

And finally I would pick the 1955 Hitchcock classic To Catch a Thief

To Catch a Thief - Wikipedia
Original Poster

The role I would like to play in this one is John Williams’ character H.H. Hughson. He gets to be a part of the all the action while mainly being the man who gathers in the info and looks out for the safety of the lead characters, and being able to work with the likes of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly would be amazing.

5. What’s the funniest movie you’ve ever seen? (Counting movies so bad they’re funny!)

Any of Mel Brooks’ movies, excluding The 12 Chairs and Life Stinks!, and Neil Simon’s Murder by Death, all pure hokey fun and entertainment.

6. Who are your favorite film reviewers?

I’m going to play it safe with this one and do a combination of film reviewers in general and the film folks here on WordPress. For film reviewers in general I would have to say Roger Ebert – as he wasn’t always on the money with some films, but tried to be as fair and impartial as he could, Stephen Prince – I learned a lot about Japanese Cinema through him, and extra tidbits on Akira Kurosawa, and Tim Lucas – the go to man for loads of genre cinema from the US to Italy to France to Germany, etc, a very knowledgeable man. Now for WordPress bloggers I enjoy the following: Make Mine Criterion! as he does great in depth stuff, and his what-if Criterion Collection and Arrow Video releases are always a treat to read. Mike’s Take on the Movies has a similar flavor to MMC!, and he also does a variety of films from the classics to exploitation to foreign cinema, almost the entire gambit. Master Mix Movies is still fairly new to this community, but he’s made a fine impression on me, his reviews might be short, but they’re always spot on with what he wants to say, and he always works in some tongue-in-cheek humor. And of course Debbi of I Found it at the Movies herself. She’s equal to Eddie Muller in the passion for Film Noir, and I love the little humor points she puts in each review, whether Noir, Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Horror, etc. She’s the go-to-gal for getting into the spirit of a film.

7. Which would you rather see in a movie: Sherlock Holmes or Philip Marlowe?

Hmmm, interesting. I have to say both, because not every mystery is the same, and each man has his own unique talents in solving the crime, even if Marlowe tends to fringe to sometimes outside the legal.

8. Can you name three female movie directors who worked from the birth of cinema to the Golden Age? (Google if you must! Or just answer “yes” or “no”.)

Believe it or not, I do know of three female filmmakers from that time frame, I just can’t seem to always remember their names. The first who came to mind was Frances Marion, who only made three feature films as a director, but was a very prolific screenwriter in the silent era and well into the sound days. Her debut feature, The Love Light in 1921, offers up Mary Pickford in her best, and most in depth, role as a woman maintaining a lighthouse waiting for her soldier lover to come home from WWI. A scene near the end where Pickford is in a storm current protecting her baby is breathtaking. The 2nd is Alice Guy, who began making films in her native France in the late 1890’s, early 1900’s, and also operated a small studio in the States, Fort Lee in New Jersey to be exact. She was a founding member of France’s Gaumont Studios who bought the first cameras the Lumiere Brothers made available to purchase. Her films were usually under 60 minutes, but paved the way for future filmmakers. The third is Dorothy Arzner, the only female director working in the Hollywood Studio System in the Golden Age. She has a neat current distinction for having two films released on Blu Ray by the Criterion Collection: Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) and Merrily We Go to Hell (1932). Her female characters were usually strong and independent, sometimes devious, but only in that they were trying to survive in a world dominated by Machismo.

9. What actor or actress would you most like to have dinner with?

I love this type of question. Like with the favorite character actor I can’t pick just one, so I’ll list the following:

Catherine Deneuve - latest news, breaking stories and comment - The  Independent
The Iconic French Beauty

Catherine Deneuve: She’s my all time favorite actress ever, and when I first saw her at the age of 19, I was completely smitten by her exotic and mysterious beauty. I would be happy even to just sit across from her and just listen to her talk, her voice is so enchanting. I think we’d engage in more casual style conversation as she’s a quiet and modest woman, which is A-OK by me.

Sophia Loren Biography - Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline
The Belladonna of Italy

Sophia Loren: Believe it or not, I actually had a missed opportunity to meet the Grande Dame of Italy. A year or two before the Pandemic, she was appearing at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City for a Q&A/Storytelling session, and my Mom never told me about it. I would love to ask her about Marcello Mastroianni as he was her most frequent leading man, and a whole lotta other stuff.

French actor Alain Delon recovers in Switzerland after stoke: family
The Man of Mystery

Alain Delon: Delon was my first, and so far only, man crush. His charisma, mysteriousness, and ultra cool attitude was just so amazing; even when they wanted him to be the romantic type, he wouldn’t always be romantic, but just something about those icy baby blue eyes draws you to him. Not exactly sure what we would talk about, but it would be loads of fun.

Interview : Franco Nero on his upcoming film Recon – Moviehole
The Best Italian Cowboy

Franco Nero: An excellent example of Italian gentlemanliness, Franco Nero is one of those actors who’s got tons of fame, and has maintained a fine down to Earth attitude. I would love to chat with him about the glory days of filmmaking in Italy in the 1960’s and 70’s, I’ve heard so many other actors say what a fun time it was.

Harrison Ford Injured While Making 'Indiana Jones 5' - Rolling Stone
The Great Indy

Harrison Ford: My first ever childhood hero growing up. I was raised on the Indiana Jones films, and even today are still loads of entertaining fun. He’s another fairly down to Earth and modest guy, so I think we’d have a mix of movie talk and casual talk.

Here’s a small list of actors/actresses who aren’t with us anymore I’d have loved to have dinner with: Audrey Hepburn, Charles Bronson, Katherine Hepburn, Tomas Milian

10. What’s the most over-rated movie you’ve seen?

The most over-rated eh? I usually don’t think many movies are overrated, sometimes I buy into the praise a little too much and my expectations make or break a viewing, but that’s a different story.

On the Waterfront - Wikipedia
Original Poster

For me though, the most over-rated goes to 1954’s On the Waterfront. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand why so many people hype it the way they do, and it is a well made and acted film, but for me, that’s where it ends. It certainly deserved its accolades, but I don’t think it’s the greatest movie ever made. If I had to classify it in one way or another, I would say it’s good example of the fight against corruption.

11. If your life was a movie, what would it be titled? (Feel free to use the titles of real films. Anyway you like.)

Hmmm, if my life was a movie, what title would it have? That’s a tricky one. I have to admit I’ve led a pretty typical life up to this point with the kind of hurdles you’d expect anyone to face. I’d settle for something like Tony Nash: A Film Man’s Journey as that’s what life kinda is. I try to keep things simple if I can, and that title seems to fit just right.

OK. now on to the 11 folks I’ve got to nominate, here we go

Make Mine Criterion!

https://makeminecriterion.wordpress.com/

Mike’s Take on the Movies

https://mikestakeonthemovies.com/

Master Mix Movies

https://mastermixmovies.wordpress.com/

Yolanda – Asperger’s Syndrome – Poetry – Alternative….

https://mittprivatakrig.com/

Paul. Writer and Filmmaker

https://thecinemafix.com/

Matt Brunson

https://thefilmfrenzy.com/

Eric Binford

androsrenatus

https://filminduced.wordpress.com/

Reel Time Flicks

Silver Screenings

https://silverscreenings.org/

Movies From Hell

https://moviesfromhell.com/

Now for the 11 Questions

  1. Who was the first film director you became aware of? And what film did you first recognize that director’s style?
  2. Who do you prefer: Homer Simpson or Sheldon Cooper?
  3. A director has asked you to do the casting for their adaptation of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None; who would you cast in what role and why?
  4. Who was the first actor or actress you had a crush on and why?
  5. Which character would you like to be the sidekick of in a film or TV show: a Ronin Samurai, a Western Anti-Hero, a Cop who doesn’t play by the rules, or a Knight?
  6. You’ve traveled back to Ancient Greece, the playwright Sophocles has asked you replace an actor/actress in his production in Antigone who’s become ill/injured; depending on the major parts, do you accept or decline, and why?
  7. Name as many celebrities/famous historical people as you like that you wish you were related to.
  8. Which film studio in Europe would you prefer to visit: Shepperton Studios in England or Cinecitta Studios in Rome?
  9. Which literary figure would you like to see have a comeback in popularity: Robin Hood, Zorro, or the Scarlet Pimpernel?
  10. If you could open your own Film Museum or Drive-In, what kind of films would you like to show?
  11. What do you like to pick at while watching a film: Popcorn or sweets?

Whew, those 11 questions were a little tougher this time around as I was trying to think of varied and different kinds of questions.

I’ll be linking this to my nominee’s most recent post ASAP.

Thanks again Debbi for nominating me again, your questions were really cool to answer.

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics

Game Opinion From a Non-Gamer

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are from the author alone)

Red Dead Online on Steam
Original Art Work (from Steam)

Hello to my followers, those I’m following, and all curious visitors,

With the craziness of the pandemic and a few other things I haven’t been able to devote much time to the blog, but I do want to keep monthly content going, so here’s something I wanted to write about for a couple of weeks, and I figured I take the opportunity to share my thoughts here.

Red Dead Online game crashing & throwing FFFFF error after update
Promotional Title (from PlunikaWeb)

Being stuck in the early days of the Pandemic allowed me to revisit the nostalgia of video games that I played as a little boy, and for my birthday last year I got an Xbox. Initially I was going to stick to the WWE 2K series as they featured many of the classic characters and such of my childhood, but as a big Italian Westerns fan, I was curious about the game Red Dead Redemption 2. I found the game highly enjoyable and the characters very much in line with the SW genre I love so much I decided to give the online feature Red Dead Online a try.

Red Dead Online Blood Money: Title Update 1.27 Patch Notes (RDR2)
RDO Blood Money (from GTA Base)

Now first and foremost, I AM NOT a gamer, I have no aspirations to become #1 in a particular group of people, no aspirations to earn as a much as I can in the game, etc, I’m just a film buff who enjoys the occasional switch up with a little game play. RDO‘s recent update, Blood Money, has caused a recent uproar/stir within the gaming community and the consensus is that Rockstar Games no longer cares about keeping the Western themed game up to date and good to keep fans coming back for more. Now of course I can sympathize and understand how long term and dedicated gamers find this a let down as they enjoy the constant flow of new content, as any fan of the varied entertainment genres would, but I myself haven’t had a problem with this new feature. Like I said, I’m not looking reach a certain echaleon within the world of gaming, I’m not looking to do absolutely everything that the open has to offer, so I can go into the game, just enjoying being able to explore and do what I like. As a Blu Ray guy I’ll admit I’m a ‘bells and whistles’ type of a guy with extras and audio options, and again I can understand where the gamers are coming from with Rockstar’s idea of new content, but for some reason this isn’t as issue for me.

Red Dead Online's Blood Money update is good, but not enough - Polygon
An example of an RDO character (from Polygon)

I tend to look at both Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online via the eyes of a filmmaker, and am always experimenting with new ways to approach missions and how to complete them, so each play time is always unique and different. I think because gaming isn’t a passion like films are, I look at the updates and content more objectively and enjoy them for what they are. This isn’t to say the gaming community is wrong about how Rockstar has been handling the Red Dead universe/franchise, Rockstar may very much indeed need to come up with something more interesting, this is just me giving my opinion on the game itself. I think because I’m a casual gamer I can overlook flaws and just have fun with what’s available.

Red Dead Online: Rockstar Reveals Price, Date & More Details About  Standalone Release - The Direct
RDO & RDR2 Co-Promotion (from the Direct)

This blog will always be about films and Blu Rays/DVDs, but I felt this particular game needed a little spotlight. I’m not defending Rockstar’s choices in any way, shape, or form, but I felt the perspective of someone who’s more of a casual gamer was needed. I personally like both RDR2 and RDO, and have enjoyed my experiences on both. While I do like some games, I’m not a full on gamer, mainly because of my Asperger’s Syndrome in that I can get easily frustrated if things don’t go the way I expect in a game, hence why I’ve never gone into the stuff that requires major rankings and needing so many hours of game time to get to certain places. For me the experience can get ruined if I put far too much emphasis on trying to reach something that I don’t necessarily need to get to in order to feel like I’ve accomplished anything playing. I’m perfectly fine with going at my own pace and doing what I enjoy most with what’s available to the player and just having a good and relaxing time.

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Dead_Online

https://reddead.fandom.com/wiki/Red_Dead_Wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Dead_Redemption_2

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri

Mary Ann or Ginger?: I’ve Got the Answer

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

Dedicated to the memory of Dawn Wells (1938-2020), our beloved Mary Ann. Gone, but never forgotten.

All the rest – Fame Hungry
Dawn Wells as Mary Ann Sommers
Tina Louise as Ginger Grant - Gilligan's Island Image (21429747) - Fanpop
Tina Louise as Ginger Grant

A long standing, and long popular question, amongst the classic TV series Gilligan’s Island is who was the more preferable: Ginger or Mary Ann? Now everybody has their own particular answer to this question, and for differing reasons as well, but I think I can lay down an essential that answers the question in a majority fashion that allows for concise reasons.

TV Q&A: Did Gilligan and the gang escape from 'Gilligan's Island'? |  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Mary Ann Listening to Her Favorite Radio Soap Opera (from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


Ginger Modeling a Swimsuit (from Pinterest)Gilligan's Island | Ginger gilligans island, Tina louise, Ginger grant

First let’s go with some information on the characters themselves.

Mary Ann is a working middle class girl from the state of Kansas. Depending on which story arch creator Sherwood Schwartz wanted fans to follow, she either works at the local general store or is her father’s main assistant on the family farm. She has a homespun feel and manner to her, very sweet and gentle, and always tries to be fair. Ginger is an actress and aspiring movie star. She has made a few pictures, mainly “B” features that attracted the grade school and teenage crowd, but still popular. While she never made it to high level films, she does know several big time actors like Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, and Gregory Peck, hinting that while she wasn’t high echelon as far as roles go, she was a frequent guest as social events all the actors and actresses attended, and also hinting she got to know the various big names in a more personal, off camera way. Despite being exotic and legend like, she’s highly approachable, has no vanity or ego, though still likes using her charms and beauty if the situation calls for it.

5 Things You Didn't Know About 'Gilligan's Island' | Tv show halloween  costumes, Vintage halloween costume, Giligans island
Mary Ann Trying to Lift Gilligan’s Morale (from Pinterest)
Gilligan's Island" Seer Gilligan (TV Episode 1966) - IMDb
Ginger Trying Some Night Time Seduction on Gilligan (from IMDb)

Now let’s look at an interesting the behind the scenes aspect of the characters.

While Bob Denver and Dawn Wells were tied for the most fan letters of all the cast, it was Dawn Wells who had the most varying letters, coming from kids, teenagers, and adults. This showed that she connected with a vast multitude and demographic of people, almost all walks of life finding one connection or another with the homespun beauty. Tina Louise, by contrast, received letters primarily from middle aged males and, to a smaller scale, high school age boys. This showed she was the object of affection from afar for young males coming into adulthood, and the wandering eye of some older gentlemen who were looking at recapturing their youth.

Dawn Wells Gilligan's Island #19 Original Autographed 8X10 Photo at  Amazon's Entertainment Collectibles Store
Mary Ann, When a Head Injury Had Her Briefly Thinking She Was Ginger (from Amazon)
Gilligan's Island' Star Tina Louise on the Show's 55th Anniversary
Ginger Reminiscing Past Kisses (from Closer Weekly)

And the undisputed winner is…….

MARY ANN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dawn Wells, Mary Ann on 'Gilligan's Island,' Dies at 82 - The New York Times
Publicity Still (from the New York Times)

The vast majority of people when asked the question have picked Mary Ann for the winner, and quite a good number share similar reasons. At the heart of the whole matter is that Ginger is the woman most guys (and some girls) will dream and fantasize about, and Mary Ann is the woman most guys (and some girls) know they would have a chance with. Mary Ann is the prototype of the girl next door, the girl who lived down the block, the girl seen at school, and the girl at the community functions. She was relatable to a far higher demographic of folks as she represented the young lady everybody has at some point known or seen in their lives. She is a fine example of the girl you wouldn’t be afraid to approach and talk to, and even ask out on a date or to the school dance. That she kind of was a presentation of what middle America was in the 60’s helped a lot in audiences being reminded of someone from their youth or a first sweetheart.

This doesn’t mean of course that no one ever would have a shot with Ginger, she was very down to earth and approachable, but because she’s a high profile actress and someone everyone has seen a photo of, she’s far more out of reach. Not so much the forbidden fruit, but Ginger would probably have throngs of eligible singles following her around like moths to a flame making her not so much hard to approach, but swallowed up by the masses clinging to her. Ginger represented the ideal of what men wanted their wives to be like, but because the ideal is often a far too high reach, it becomes unattainable, and more of a happy thought to look back on every so often.

Gilligan's Island: A fateful trip behind-the-scenes | History 101
The Duo Together (from History 101)

(I had intended to include a little thing from a College paper I wrote 10 years ago in Mass Media about Gilligan’s Island, but I think I deleted my original copy. I didn’t go into Ginger or Mary Ann part too much, more of how it continued to be a popular Pop Culture phenomenon. I know I haven’t truly settled the debate on who’s the fairest between the two, but it sure has been fun giving what I hope will be an interesting take on the subject. To quench anyone ‘s curiosity of who I prefer, I can wholeheartedly say it’s a split decision between Ginger and Mary Ann, but a slight leaning toward Mary Ann.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and Their Respective Owners

For more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057751/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilligan%27s_Island

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, TV: Special Topics

HAPPY (Belated) 55TH, JIM AND ARTIE!!!!

by Tony Nash

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

Tickle Me: The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Watery Death (1966)
The Iconic Opening Title (from Tickle Me)

The Wild Wild West (1965-1969) ***** TV-PG

Robert Conrad: James T. “Jim” West

Ross Martin: Artemus “Artie” Gordon

Michael Dunn: Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless

Phoebe Dorin: Antoinette

Roy Engel: President Ulysses S. Grant

Douglas Henderson: Colonel Richmond

William Schallert: Frank Harper/Silas Grigsby/Rufus Krause

Nehemiah Persoff: Gen. Andreas Cassinello/Adam Barclay/Major Hazard

Victor Buono: Count Carlos Manzeppi/Juan Manolo

Ford Rainey: Hellfire Simon/Pa Garrison/Adm. Charles Hammond

Anthony Caruso: Chief Bright Star/Deuce/Jose Aguila

Robert Ellenstein: Dr. Horatio Occularis/ Dr. Theobald Raker/Luis Vasquez/Arthur Tickle

Christopher Carey: Tycho/Snakes Tolliver

Theodore Marcuse: Abdul Hassan/Gustave Mauvais/Dr. Jonathan Kirby (as Theo Marcuse)

Richard Kiel: Voltaire/Dimas Buckley

Charles Aidman: Jeremy Pike

Other Notable Guest Stars Including: Boris Karloff, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, Jackie Coogan, Leslie Neilson, Robert Duvall, James Gregory, Jack Elam, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Floyd Patterson, Keenan Wynn, Martin Landau, Agnes Moorehead, Burgess Meredith, Barbara Luna, Nick Adams, Brad Dillman, Beverly Garland, Don Rickles, Ed Asner, and Simon Oakland

Created by: Michael Garrison

Produced by: Bruce Lansbury

Synopsis: In post Civil War America, government agents Jim West and Artie Gordon, under direct orders from President Grant, save the world from varying maniacal madmen, corrupt businessmen & politicians, and sometimes elements bordering the fantastical/supernatural.

Robert Conrad, Two-Fisted TV Star of 'Wild Wild West,' Dies at 84 - The New  York Times
Jim and Artie Investigating a Lead (from NY Times)

This September will mark the 55th Anniversary of my 2nd all time favorite TV show from childhood, The Wild Wild West. I can still recall many a Saturday and Sunday morning watching this show with my Dad on TNT (back when stations still aired classic TV), and thoroughly have a good time. Finally getting the TV show for varying Christmas and Birthday gifts allows me (and my Dad) to revisit the show anytime I want.

TV TRAIN
Artie Reads a Note to Jim About the Large Crate Sent to Them (from aboard the wanderer)

What made the show so cool for me was the unique adventures Jim and Artie would have, the varying gadgets they would employ to escape and outsmart the bad guys, and the seemingly endless array of disguises Artie would use to help Jim out of a jam and to infiltrate suspects to get info they needed. The fight scenes with Robert Conrad taking on the various henchmen of the villain or villains at hand were always my favorite parts to watch as Conrad did all of his own fight choreography and the majority other stunts (he would’ve done the full 100% had one particularly tricky stunt not gone haywire and put him in the hospital). Seeing Jim West take on legions of baddies and kicking ass every time was/and still is a big thrill for me, something not a lot of TV Westerns I was able to catch glimpses of here and there did. Even now I prefer a good solid storyline with well timed action over to character study Westerns any day, although now that I’m older I do find I enjoy some of those types of stories as well.

Cool Ass Cinema: From Beyond Television: The Wildest Episodes of The Wild,  Wild West Season 1
West and Dr. Loveless – Sworn Enemies (from Cool Ass Cinema)

I may need to backtrack my previous statement about character depth, as some of the best episodes were the frequent battle of barbs, wit, and wills between Jim West and Dr. Miguelito Loveless, who labeled West as his archenemy. Robert Conrad and Michael Dunn had a fantastic chemistry (as good as the chemistry Conrad had with Ross Martin) together that led to great dialogue and spicing up the storyline the duo were involved in. Whether Loveless was trying to threaten the US government with violence if he didn’t get what he wanted, or was simply looking to take over the World, West was always around to confound and drive Loveless batty. The ultimate irony was is that over time, both men developed a type of respect for one another, although West would never approve of Loveless’ methods and Loveless would always be baffled by West’s unwavering optimism in his government and country. Michael Dunn’s increasing poor health stemming from Dwarfism resulted in the actor’s less frequent appearances after Season 2, and while several attempts were made to give West a couple other recurring villains so Dunn wouldn’t have as high a workload, no one ever matched the same click chemistry Dunn and Conrad enjoyed.

Classic TV & Movie Hits - The Wild Wild West / The Wild, Wild West
A Promotional Still (from Classic TV Hits)

Another cool thing that separated the series from others like it was the take on violence. While there were gunfights, they were often instigated by the baddies, West and Gordon acting completely in self defense. The producers and writers focused more on well choreographed fight scenes where West and Gordon would knock the baddies out and send them to the nearest police or federal officers. When death usually happened on the show, usually the bad guys did the killing, and when West often did kill someone, it was because he had no other choice. Ironically, all the fighting is why people demanded the show be canceled, though in all honestly there wasn’t a whole lot of killing, in fact shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Rifleman, The High Chaparral, etc. had far more deaths each episode than the Wild Wild West per season. Granted, sometimes it was nice seeing the bad guy get the ultimate comeuppance, but I more often I find it a lot more refreshing to see them get the ever loving crap beat out them as their taken to jail.

Only a true fan of 'The Wild Wild West' can score 8/10 on this quiz
Some of the Noted Guest Stars (from MeTV)

The show also broke ground by having several high profile actors and actresses make guest appearances. Legends like Boris Karloff, Sammy Davis Jr., Ida Lupino, Peter Lawford, Agnes Moorehead, and Jackie Coogan all became known to future new audiences thanks to the series. Future successes like Robert Duvall and Richard Kiel had some of their earliest big time gigs with the series that would lead to more work and their eventual work with The Godfather and James Bond franchises respectively. For stuntmen, working on the Wild Wild West meant for good paychecks as Robert Conrad would sometimes get to fight up to 20 men for the stunt fights, some guys appearing in multiple fights per episodes.

(I missed out on doing this post last year thanks to the craziness of COVID, but better late than never. What great childhood memories this show has for me, and will continue to have. I highly recommend the show. seasons 2 and 3 in particular as they have some of the cleverest stuff. It’s just pure all around fun. I know Robert Conrad had some regrets with the show, claiming after it ended that no other producers took him seriously for more character driven roles, but I still thank him for the hours of entertainment and joy he gave me and probably loads of other boys over the years )

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058855/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wild_Wild_West

buying options

Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics