Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone


by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror 2 Part 2)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Spoilers Ahead)

(Review is of the Spanish language version)

Al Otro Lado del Espejo (The Other Side of the Mirror) (1973) R ****1/2

Emma Cohen: Ana Oliveira

Howard Vernon: Senor Oliveira, Ana’s Father

Robert Woods: Bill, the Jazz Trumpeter (as Robert Wood)

Ramiro Oliveros: Miguel Ferrera, Theater Director

Alice Arno, Carla, Ana’s Friend

Philippe Lemaire: Pipo

Francoise Brion: Tina

Wal Davis: Arturo Braun

Written & Directed by: Jess Franco (as Jesus Franco)

 Synopsis: Ana, sheltered all her life by her strict but loving father, hopes to marry a budding archeologist documenting the original peoples of the island of Madeira. This hope is shattered when, believing seeing her in her bridal dress will soften his feelings, Ana sees through a large mirror that her father has hung himself. Painful memories force Ana to break her engagement
and leave her family’s home to recover, only to be haunted by vivid visions of her father’s suicide through mirrors, and bizarre compulsions to kill all men falling in love with her. Is her father still dominating her life from beyond the grave, or is there something forbidden looming in the air?

At the Mansion of Madness: The Other Side of the Mirror / Al otro lado del  espejo (1973)

Jess Franco, cinema’s erotic and exploitation auteur, gives viewers the closest thing he would ever get to arthouse style filmmaking with a unique blend of Erotic Drama and Psychological Horror. A young woman suffers a terrible tragedy when her loving but overprotective father kills himself days before she is set to get married. Deciding she needs a fresh start and a new perspective on her relationships with men, she breaks up with her fiancé, leaves the family’s Madeira Island estate in the care of her aunt, and heads off to Lisbon where she puts her piano training to use as a jazz club’s band singer and pianist. When visions of her dead father being appearing in mirrors, the young woman begins to wonder if the man is still dominating her life from the beyond, or if what she viewed as his secret tenderness toward her was really something far darker, something which could destroy her. Franco doesn’t push his normal boundaries with this brief plot excerpt, but he makes up for that in giving his audiences snippets of subtext and ambiguity that makes viewers decipher what he’s trying to tell them. The main question he puts to fans is whether the lead character Ana is suffering from a mental breakdown after seeing her father had killed himself, or is something sinisterly supernatural going on that no one has the power to put a stop to.

Madeira, an island off the coast of Portugal, and one of Jess Franco’s favorite locations, gets shown off in great detail in this film. The island’s architecture, greenery, lakes, etc., are all on display in all their beauty. What makes Franco’s Erotic Horrors different is that he doesn’t make his landscapes foreboding places where bad things can happen, but lush exotic environments that otherworldly forces invade to suit their own needs.


Emma Cohen, a sort of forgotten Spanish actress in spite of a fairly prolific career, gives a once in a lifetime performance as the central character Ana. Cohen plays Ana as a woman torn between the complex but loving relationship she enjoyed with her father and the desire to freely see the world her father protected her from. Her attempts at going about finding true love in a way that won’t entirely hurt her father seem to work, only for Ana to receive a devastating blow when she finds the man has hung himself in his study. Cohen takes Ana into a brooding place, unsure if she feels guilty for not giving her father enough time to adjust to her getting married, or if something else is in the air. A move to the capital of Lisbon seems to lift Ana’s spirits as she finds success as the lead singer and pianist of a Jazz Club band, and also finds an easygoing flirtatious fling with the band’s unhappily married trumpet player. Cohen then begins taking Ana down the rabbit hole of the blurring of nightmare and reality when she sees a vision of her hanging father in a mirror and then sees herself murdering the trumpet player with an ancient dagger. At first thinking she’s still feeling some effects of trauma, Ana shrugs it off, only to become more disturbed when she learns the trumpet player was found stabbed to death in the park they rendezvoused at the night before. While she recovers thinking the incident a mere coincidence, Ana soon worries her father might still have a hold of her when she has another vision of him and then sees herself killing her theater director friend after he asked her to play Medea in his revolutionary new staging of the Euripides play.

Upon finding out her director friend was indeed stabbed to death on the theater stage, Ana attempts suicide, but is saved by a friend. Relocating back to the island of Madeira, but not her childhood home, Ana seems finally on the mend. When the male end of a partying swinger couple genuinely falls for her is when she realizes the moment of truth: her father had incestuous desires toward her, and he’s been possessing her body, forcing her to kill the men who would take her away from him, and finally beckons her to join him in the afterlife. Cohen gives the closest thing to a Method Acting performance that would be seen in a Jess Franco flick, giving her all in the part of Ana, and bringing a nice amount of depth and personality to the character. This normally isn’t seen much in Franco’s films though the actors could give signals in the simplicity of their performances, but Cohen adds a nice bit of spice that gives a special feel to the film.

Howard Vernon, Jess Franco’s favorite actor, gives a short but memorable and important performance as Ana’s father Oliveira. Little is known of the gentleman, other than that he’s an expert on the history and people of the island of Madeira. On the surface he comes off as merely a very overprotective widowed father trying to keep his daughter safe, and thinks no man is good enough for his little girl. Unfortunately, the man’s love seems to be nearing obsessiveness as he is against a fairly good young man who can make his daughter happy, and eventually hangs himself in his study, seemingly unable to handle his daughter growing up. Vernon shows his underrated talent at full force here, mimicking to near disturbing perfection the face of a suicide by hanging, bulging eyes and tongue included. Credit has to be given to Vernon for maintaining that look for long enough to use as still footage later. Days after his death, Oliveira begins haunting his daughter through visions of his hanging corpse through mirrors and his disembodied voice calling to her from beyond. What is initially thought of as him continuing to assert his parental nature from beyond the grave is really much more devious and perverse, as one of the visions reveals that Oliveira had secret incestuous desires for his daughter where he’s shown holding her in a not so fatherly embrace.

Al otro lado del espejo (1973)

Robert Woods, another of the many American actors who went to Europe and became stars, has a brief but necessary role in his debut Franco film as Bill, Ana’s Jazz Band Trumpet Player. While a married man, Bill is unhappy because of his wife’s substance issues and longs to begin a fresh new romance. Initially happy to have the occasional fling with Ana, Bill realizes he’s genuinely falling in love with her, though tries not to push things as Ana has told him what brought her to the city. When Bill becomes the first victim of Ana’s depraved father’s beyond the grave machinations is when the ball begins to roll and tragedy looms over anyone who falls in love with Ana. 

DeVilDead : Critique du film MIROIR OBSCENE, LE (AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO)  (1973) et du DVD Zone 2

DeVilDead : Critique du film MIROIR OBSCENE, LE (AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO)  (1973) et du DVD Zone 2

Like with much of Jess Franco’s 1970’s work, multiple edits and cuts of his films were made, one of the international market, and one to appease the censors of General Franco run Spain. Usually the international edited version, whether German or French language, was Franco’s preferred cut of the film as it allowed him to do more he wouldn’t have been able to do in his native Spain, but surprisingly Otro Lado del Espejo was Franco’s favored cut of this particular film. The 2nd most popular edit is the French language version titled  Le Miroir Obscène, and features new scenes with Franco’s 2nd Muse Lina Romay. Romay plays Ana’s sister in the French cut, and it is her character, not Howard Vernon’s father character, that secretly desires a sexual relationship with Ana. As with the father character in the Spanish cut, Lina Romay’s sister character kills herself when Ana decides to get married, her method being to stab herself in the stomach and pelvis with a long poker. The French cut pretty much follows the pattern of Franco’s preferred Spanish cut, the only difference being it’s the sister, not the father, who calls Ana from beyond the grave to give in to their incestuous desires and possesses her to kill all the men who would try to steal her from her. :: Voir le sujet - [M] [Critique] Le Miroir obscène

Surreal, Artful, Hypnotic, Erotic, and everything in between, Franco’s Al Otro Lado del Espejo is the director at his most personal and artistic, successfully blending the materials that would make him famous/infamous world over and the visions he secretly wished to present onscreen. 

(As bizarre as this will sound, I actually recommend people check this Franco flick out. He doesn’t go over the top in terms of nudity and sex scenes, and is more interested in the interactions of the characters and the surreal visions of his leading lady Ana. The core of the subject matter is pretty adult for sure, but he plays with it ambiguously throughout the film, only getting explicit briefly in one of the very last scenes of the film. Emma Cohen’s performance is really worthwhile in the film and shows how underrated and underappreciated she is as an actress. I’ve seen the whole of the Spanish cut and some of the French cut, and while I understand why Franco preferred the Spanish version of the film as it kept more to the films he really wished he could’ve done more of, the French cut is still interesting in that it presents a sister/sister forbidden romance that was rarely touched in films dealing with Oedipal type subject matter. The French version I can’t recommend as it contains quite a few scenes of Lina Romay having sex with various partners to lure Emma Cohen’s character to the dark side, and of course such scenes are not for everyone’s taste, but is worth seeking out if you’re interested. Mondo Macabro did an excellent job with the restoration of the Spanish cut in visuals and audio, and is totally worth checking out.)

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For the French language cut



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

Bitter Jealousy, an Ancestor’s Revenge, Ghosts of the Past, and an Amoral Statue

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror 2 Part 1)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Possible Spoilers Ahead)

(Review is of the original Italian language version)

Italian Poster (from IMDb)

Un Angelo per Satana (An Angel for Satan) (1966) **** PG-13

Barbara Steele: Harriet Montebruno / Maddelena Montebruno / Belinda

Anthony Steffen: Roberto Merigi / The Sculptor

Claudio Gora: Count Montebruno

Mario Brega: Carlo Lionese

Marina Berti: Ilda, the Housekeeper (as Maureen Melrose)

Ursula Davis: Rita, the Maid

Vassili Karis: Dario Morelli, the Teacher (as Vassili Karamesinis)

Aldo Berti: Vittorio, the Gardener

Betty Delon: Barbara Lionese

Halina Zalewska: Luisa

Written by: Giuseppe Mangione & Camillo Mastrocinque, from a story by Luigi Emmanuele, adapted from the novel by Antonio Fogazzaro

Directed by Camillo Mastrocinque

Synopsis: Roberto Merigi, an aspiring artist who also restores damaged and aged art pieces, is hired by Count Montebruno to repair a once thought lost statue of an ancestor. He finds out quickly that the locals aren’t happy with his assignment, believing the statue to be cursed by a jealous ancestor of the Montebruno’s. Merigi soon finds himself smitten with the Count’s niece Harriet who’s just returned from her studies in England, who bears a striking resemblance to her great aunt Maddelena who modeled for the statue. Not long after, a series of tragedies befall the community, and the locals believe the curse is at work while Merigi is certain something very human is at work.

A Recollection of the Past (from Genre Grinder)

1966 closed one chapter of Italian cinema and opened the door of another. Gothic Horror had been very popular from the late 50’s, but the genre would soon fade away to more modern set Horror, and the quickly rising favorite new Western genre. The Gothic style Horror thankfully went out with a bang with two solid films: Mario Bava’s Operazione Paura (Kill Baby Kill) and Camillo Mastrocinque’s Un Angelo per Santana (An Angel for Satan). The latter made film history thrice for not only being one of last Gothic Horror films in Italy, but also one of the last Black & White genre films in Italy and lead actress Barbara Steele’s farewell to her tenure in Italy. The film is a solid mixture of the popular tropes of the supernatural, local legends slowly becoming to be believed as fact, and certain parties using the fear of the locals as cover for their nefarious deeds.

The Possessed Heiress Surveying the Locals (from The Bloody Pit of Horror Blog)

Director Camillo Mastrocinque’s decision to shoot the film in Black & White is a mix of aesthetic choice and necessity. With playing up the ghost story and possession story, Mastrocinque wanted to focus on mood and atmosphere, and Black & White evokes that perfectly. Most Italian Horror films of the time were shot in Black & White anyway, so Mastrocinque going back to what made the genre popular to start with is very fitting.

Harriet Being Possessed (from Twitter)

Barbara Steele, in her swansong to the Italian Horror films that made her famous, gives one of her finest performances as the innocent and pure Harriet Montebruno, and an evil ancestor named Belinda looking to destroy her. Steele slyly goes from persona to persona, being the rationale and unaware of the harm being done to her Harriet one minute to the sadistic and hate filled Belinda another. As Belinda, Steele plays the part up as a woman who, because no one ever loved her, would use the hate that brewed within her to kill all the love she saw around her. Steele even adds an interesting and nice little bisexual lesbianism to the character, suggesting the possibility that Belinda secretly desired the cousin Harriet bears a strong resemblance to, but at the same time hated the woman for having what she couldn’t. The part harkens back to Steele’s debut in Italian Horror with Mario Bava’s La Maschera del Demonio (Mask of the Demon/Black Sunday), in which she played another innocent woman made the pawn in a wicked ancestor’s scheme for revenge, though the former was most certainly supernatural while the latter could be either, nicely bringing Steele’s career in Italy full circle.

The Sculptor Merigi (from The Bloody Pit of Horror Blog)

Anthony Steffen, as he was rising to stardom via the Italian Westerns, took a little side trip to appear in his one and only Horror film as Barbara Steele’s romantic interest Roberto Merigi. Merigi is an artist hoping to make a living as sculptor, but is content at the moment to bring pieces that have been damaged in one form or another back to life. When he meets Harriet, Merigi’s otherwise mundane life quickly gets more to offer for him, and he made a few attempts to woo her. One night n a fevered frenzy, Merigi learns the of the curse brought about the wickedly jealous Belinda, and soon finds the curse coming to life all around him as Harriet goes through bizarre personality changes, and the otherwise peaceful locals become more and more unhinged. Steffen, infamous for being something of a wooden actor, uses this to his advantage as Merigi is an outsider who is looking in at the events around him, and his outsider status allows him to see the happenings more objectively, which will prove useful in clearing Harriet of wrongdoing.

The Brute Carlo (from Cineraglio)
Harriet’s Uncle the Count (from KinoLexx)
The Doomed Couple (from The Bloody Pit of Horror Blog)
The Creepy Vittorio (from IMDb)

A slew of Italian character performers including Claudio Gora and Italian Western regulars Mario Brega, Aldo Berti, and Greek-Italian Vassili Karis help make up the remaining characters in the little hamlet. Gora’s character holds quite a bit of importance in that he may know more than he’s telling in regards to the curse and what credence it truly holds to the community. Brega and Berti are two of the brutish members of the community who are generally only tough looking but are normally harmless and kind, but when the Count orders the restoration of the statue, things begin to downward spiral, and the once kind denizens begin to lose their minds.

The Statue That Started Everything (from The Bloody Pit of Horror Blog)

Craftsman filmmaker Mastrocinque creates one of the grand finales of Italian Gothic Horror with a piece that ties the supernatural, the moody atmosphere, the tension, and multi other tropes all together in a homogenous mixture that both pays tribute and acts as a grand opus to everything that made the genre what is was and kept it popular for the period it thrived in. The Queen of Italian Horror Barbara Steele may have been saying goodbye to the country that made her popular, but she would continue to act for another 20 to 30 years, her time in Italy prepping her for other types of roles she would receive later. US Blu Ray Distributor Severin Films did a magnificent job in restoring this rarely seen piece of Italian Horror, offering up a clear crisp image that highlights the black & white contrasts, and offers the option of the original Italian audio (which is the better track IMO) with translated English subtitles and the rarely heard English dub track.

( I highly recommend giving this film a look along with Mario Bava’s Kill Baby Kill as they are the best examples of how to finish out a genre film run properly, as when those kinds of films are done, they keep the possibility of a comeback in interest alive. As said above, star Barbara Steele gives a career defining performance in the film that sums up all the work she’d done in Italy at the time. The atmosphere, score, story, and the cast all make the film worth checking out.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

The Undercover Sheriff

by Tony Nash


(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Spoilers Ahead)

(Write Up is of the Original Italian Language Version)

Italian Poster (from lifeatfarm)

Una Bara per lo Sceriffo (A Coffin for the Sheriff/Lone and Angry Man) (1965) **** PG-13

Anthony Steffen: Sheriff ‘Texas’ Joe Logan

Eduardo Fajardo: Russell Murdock

Armando Calvo: Lupe Rojo (Red Wolf)

Arturo Dominici: Jerry Krueger (as Arthur Kent)

Fulvia Franco: Lulu Belle

Luciana Gilli: Miss Jane Wilson

George Rigauld: Mr. Wilson (as George Rigault)

Maria Vico: Elsie, Rojo’s Woman

Lucio De Santis: Mulligan, Rojo Henchman (as Bob Johnson)

Frank Brana: David, Rojo Henchman (as Francisco Bragna)

Miguel del Castillo: Sheriff Gallagher (as Migule del Castillo)

Jesus Tordesillas: Old Man Sven

Written by: David Moreno & Guido Malatesta (as James Reed)

Directed by: Mario Caiano (as Mario Cajano)

Synopsis: ‘Texas’ Joe Logan comes to town to join up with the ruthless Mexican bandit Lupe Rojo (Red Wolf). After successfully completing an initiation that involved hunting down and killing a failing gang member, Logan slowly works his way through the ranks. Unbeknownst to his friends who think he’s gone bad, Logan is really a Sheriff working undercover to not only break-up Rojo’s ruthless band of cutthroats, but to take out a particular member who murdered Logan’s wife sometime earlier.

A Figure Stares at Lupe Rojo’s Wanted Poster (from Wikipedia)

The popular Western motif of a Lawman going undercover or seemingly gone rouge to either: bring down a dangerous and ruthless outlaw and his gang, get some personal revenge on one or many of the gang, or even a combination of all of the above gets a very interesting and entertaining spin by the Italians. The Spaghetti Western genre was in the early stages of its giant boom thanks to Sergio Leone’s Per un Pugno di Dollari (A Fistful of Dollars) in 1964 and by 1965 at least half of all genre films made and released in Italy were Westerns. Una Bara per lo Sceriffo is one of the bridges in mixing taking cues from the American Westerns and the hard hitting gritty style the Italian Western would come to specialize in. It’s not too gritty, but at the same time doesn’t feel like that much of an imitation of an American Western, giving it a unique voice all its own.

Logan Getting Grilled by Rojo and Kreuger (from AvaxHome)

Sheriff ‘Texas’ Joe Logan is quite different from the usual lawman going incognito to track down ruthless outlaws in that he’s not above or afraid of breaking a few rules to get the job done. Given that the quarry are the kind of bad guys who would kill someone at the first hint they were double-crossers or traitors, having to go outside the normal methods isn’t too out of the ordinary. This is the first of the differences as American audiences of the time would’ve been quite shocked to see a Sheriff using the tactics Logan does. The two other noticeable motifs fans will see is the big businessman or politician who uses his position to double-cross the town, revealing he’s in fact working with the bandits and of course an ex flame of the hero who’s shockingly found to be in a relationship with one of the gang members. How the screenwriters spice up these motifs is that the high-up man isn’t one of those types who came upon a get rich quick scheme that he couldn’t pass up, but was a trickster from the start, looking to fleece the town the moment he got there, a so well hidden two-faced agenda, even the head bandit is fooled. Not too much is different with the ex flame story arc, save that the woman knows the bad guy is a bad guy and seems to have lost her morality in telling what is dangerous from what is skittish and is honest, but somehow is still a good woman for the most part.

Logan Faces Off Against the Odds (from Wikipedia)
Murdock Realizes the Jig is Up (from IMDb)

The film marks the first pairing of Italian Western regulars Anthony Steffen and Eduardo Fajardo, which led to four more films together. While the Italian-Brazilian Steffen has often been criticized as a ‘Wooden Poor Man’s Clint Eastwood’, here, and in 4 films this reviewer can name straightaway, gives one of the better performances of his career. His emotions are few in the film, but there’s a stoic and hard edge about the character Joe Logan that makes him very interesting to follow him around on his quest for vengeance and justice. There’s also a solid loving and caring side to Logan as he does his best to protect his friend Wilson and the man’s daughter Jane and the concern he shows to old flame Lulu Belle when he realizes she’s gotten herself involved with a bad guy. Steffen’s screen presence is used to great effect in the film, and the lack of emotion makes him able to sneak into the gang with ease. Spanish acting legend Eduardo Fajardo, one of the top two villains of the SW genre, gives another of his solid performances here in his first time playing gunslinger Russell Murdock. Usually Fajardo was the fancy dressed aristocratic like villain or a corrupt military man, but here he’s the traditional black-clad gunman with a chip on his shoulder. The 2nd in command to Rojo, Murdock is a sadistic brute who has no problem getting his hands dirty when robbing or killing, even doing little side jobs on his own. It’s shown early on that its Murdock that Lulu Belle is courting, Logan only having a vague knowledge of it. Logan keeps a watchful eye on Murdock, more because Murdock was involved in Logan’s past, though only Logan remembers.

(Author’s Note: For some reason in the English dubbed version, the Steffen character is called Shenandoah, even though if you look clearly at the other characters’ mouths moving, they clearly refer to him as ‘Texas’ Joe Logan in one variant or another. I imagine this big change was due to the success of the James Stewart Frontier Drama Shenandoah that came out the same year.

Lupe Rojo Shows He Doesn’t Play Around (from Trailers From Hell)

Puerto Rican actor Armando Calvo, an often overlooked figure in the Italian Western genre, is as excellent a villain as Eduardo Fajardo in the role of bandit leader Lupe Rojo. Although Fajardo gets 2nd billing after Steffen, it’s really Calvo’s Rojo who ‘s in charge of the gang. Rojo is quite a bit like the traditional Mexican Bandido in that he’s ruthless and has no pity for his victims. He also has a high amount of machismo as he treats his girlfriend more like something he owns rather than a romantic partner. Calvo plays Rojo with a devious intelligence, making him a really dangerous individual to tangle with, whether he’s the intended quarry or a bonus if the intended target is riding with him. While he has a partnership with the big shot Krueger, Rojo keeps just as close an eye on him as the rest of his gang, ending petty squabbles by threatening to kill anyone who disrupts the gang’s infrastructure. Rojo’s smarts are put to the test when Joe Logan looks to get payback on one of his goons for the death of Logan’s wife, while also putting an end to Rojo’s reign of terror.

Logan Joins in on a Rojo Bunch Card Game (from Wikipedia)

While the film deals in a fairly simple plotline with no twists or surprises, it’s executed in a very well done fashion. The suspense in wondering who Logan is after and how he’ll get out of a situation when his ruse is discovered by the gang is plenty to keep audiences intrigued and entertained. The shootouts aren’t at the standard the SW genre is known for, but the few that are are choreographed well. One dimensional characters are non existent in the film, each performer bringing in a nice amount of depth and complexity to his and her role, giving audiences enough reason to cheer and root for, boo at, and feel sympathy for. Some may rightly say it’s generic, but the director, screenwriters, and cast really make the simplicity shine bright.

Original Italian Opening (from SPACETREK66)

First off, I’d like to give a special shout out and thanks to Miss MOON GEMINI herself Debbi for starting up this interesting Blogathon and for letting me be a part of it and to share some of my love of the Italian Western. I highly recommend this one as a good starting point if any fans are looking for something a little different to fair by Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci as it offers up a classic storyline a lot of people know and is told in a different and exciting way. There used to be a US DVD release of the film from the company Wild East, but they sadly closed up shop at the start of this year, and the DVD has since gone out of print. There is a German DVD that has both the English dub and the original Italian audio track, but unfortunately only has German subtitles.

From My Personal Collection

The Italian version offers up the better narrative in my opinion, but fans can watch whichever version best suits them. If anyone is interested in the German disc, it is Region 2, so you’ll either need to get an All Region Blu Ray or DVD player, or you can play it on your laptop as they aren’t region locked. I highly recommend the German disc as it has a nice and crisp transfer with solid video and audio. Or you can check out the film here

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

for more info,_Una

For those interested in the German DVD

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Red Dead Redemption 2: The Missing Clue to Micah Being a Rat from the Start

by Tony Nash

(Spoilers Ahead)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

RDR2 Fan Art (from Polygon)

Author’s Note: I knew of the RDR2 Story long before ever having actually played the game, so there will be some spoilers here. So for anyone who might be interested in playing the game, please don’t read this until you play through the game. For anyone who likes reading my thoughts on the many things I write about and not minding hearing spoilers, please continue on and enjoy.

RDR2 Promotion Art (from Fanatical)

For anyone who’s familiar with the Old West game Red Dead Redemption, it’s learned the dubious Micah Bell had betrayed the gang headed by Dutch van der Linde and Arthur Morgan. Arthur and much of the other gang, especially Sadie Adler and John Marston had their suspicions about Micah for a long while, but never had proof to prove their doubts true.

A popular theory among fans of the game is that Micah had intentions to implode the gang from the inside long before being caught by the Pinkertons after the gang escaped the Plantation Revolution in Guarma. Most of these theories are mainly guesses, going by Micah’s personality and background, how he would contradict himself in his recollections of past criminal actions, behaving totally different when with the gang, and of course his self distance from everyone and remaining a loner. How I came to my realization that Micah was plotting the gang’s demise long before being pressured by the Pinkertons is a key piece of dialogue in the game’s opening chapter that most players and theorists have seemed to overlook.

Dutch [on his rivalry with Colm O’Driscoll]: Some things I can forgive, others I can forget. What he did to Annabelle, I can’t do neither.

Arthur: You killed his brother, Dutch.

Dutch: Yes, I did.

(From Red Dead Redemption II – Chapter 1: Colter , part 3 Outlaws from the West)

Now taking into account his unusual romance with Irish spitfire Molly O’Shea, Dutch seems to have a thing for women of the upper echelons of society with a love of adventure, danger, and excitement. I believe this woman Annabelle was of a similar background to Molly, but unlike his relationship with Molly, Dutch seemed to have really loved Annabelle, and possibly even thought about asking her to be his wife.

Arthur & Micah Shooting it Out Against the Enemy (from Forbes)

My belief, and will even call it a theory to be fair as I’m basing it on what I know from the game, is that Annabelle’s friends and family from her life before Dutch got word of her murder at the hands of Colm O’Driscoll, but instead of going after O’Driscoll, someone in the brood decided Dutch was the one who got Annabelle killed, and very likely swore to make Dutch pay. This individual or group finally found their key to Dutch’s demise in the form of outlaw Micah Bell. Bell was already known as a brutal and efficient thief and killer, so naturally he seemed the perfect person to take Dutch down.

Dutch, Arthur, John, Micah, and the Gang (from Variety)

I believe this person or group offered Micah quite a hefty sum of money to tear down Dutch’s gang from the inside because Micah had always described himself in what little dialogue he engaged in with other gang members of his preference for being quick, quiet and efficient in a job with no loose ends to worry about. Micah’s shooting up of the town of Strawberry, the Blackwater Ferry Massacre and much of the other schemes he suggests to Dutch are clearly not his usual M.O., particularly in that Micah always professed an efficient outlaw tries to bring as little attention to himself as possible, all pointing to the idea part of his job for this unnamed individual or group close to the late Annabelle is to make as much noise as possible by whatever means he can at whatever cost.

Still of the Town of Valentine (from PCGamean)

Now of course Dutch’s out of control thought process thanks to the Blackwater Massacre makes Micah’s mission a little easier, but the question still is what exactly happened to seal everyone’s fate towards the end of the main story. Micah clearly at some point decided he was gonna double-cross whoever was paying him, though those reasons remain unclear and many, ranging from Micah starting to naturally like Dutch and wanting to make him see his true potential as a criminal to Micah seeing potential in members like Arthur Morgan, John Marston, and even Sadie Adler as effective and prosperous criminals themselves and to join Micah in a new gang, or Micah simply wanting to usurp a lead role from somebody in the gang for his own reasons. It’s most likely Micah’s having been nabbed by the Pinkertons began the decline of this original job. Micah may have had to tell the Pinkertons what he was doing to avoid going to jail, and possibly this caused a powerplay between Micah’s employer and the Pinkertons and their employer Leviticus Cornwall. Originally an uneasy alliance may have been made by all involved as Micah’s inside man status benefited his employer, the Pinkertons, and Cornwall, and something Micah said or did tipped off his boss of the planned double-cross Micah had in mind, and this party’s refusal to pay him a dime, and naturally Micah unintentionally screwing up whatever bargain he made with the Pinkertons and other law enforcement types, thus making him wanted everywhere by everybody, finally had Micah snap at having failed where he always succeeded, thus leading to what eventually unfolds.

Arthur Rides Toward the Setting Sun (from The Verge)

Now I’m claiming for a single instance that this is the definitive reason behind Micah’s actions in the story and game, but it is a reason I don’t think anyone else has touched upon, and there is some validity behind the reasons I gave. I didn’t want to go too in depth as I don’t want this to be super long, and there are plenty of game aficionados who’ve done far better analysis of this than myself, but I hope everyone who reads will find it entertaining, and maybe even check out the game cutscenes to see if my theory matches up a little.

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners.

Quotes are from Red Dead Redemption II gameplay

Here’s some YouTube videos that’ll help in understanding some of my theory

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

The 5 Films On a Desert Island Tag

by Tony Nash

(all Opinions are of the Author Alone

The Classic Desert Isle (from iStock)
  • Nominate one or more people to review the film or films of your choice. Or you can request they review something from a certain year, genre, or star. Everyone can review the same thing, or you can request each person cover something different. As long as it’s something they haven’t written about yet, you’re good.
  • Nominees are allowed to request a different pick for whatever reason no more than five times. Stuff happens. We all know it.
  • Nominees must thank the person who nominated them and provide a link their blog.
  • Nominees may nominate others to keep the tag going. Picking the person who nominated them is allowed, or they can nominate someone else. Maybe both.
  • All participants need to include these rules in their post, whether they’re nominees or picking nominees.
  • All participants should use the “Pick My Movie” banner or something similar in their posts.
  • Have fun!

An ultra special and extra huge thanks to the Muse of for this nomination to such an interesting style post/challenge, and thanks also goes to for starting the ball rolling on the Tag.

I think all film fans have at one point or another have been asked the question of what would they like to watch if they were to be stuck on a deserted island for an extended period of time or for the rest of their lives. One variant of the question I definitely know I’ve heard is one film someone could take on a desert island, and this I feel for sure is impossible to answer even though there’s few really good films that someone could get sick of, having just one I think would cause some insanity as there needs to be some variety as films will for sure be said modern Robinson Crusoe’s only form of entertainment, and change isn’t necessarily a bad thing here, so five is a fair choice. I used to think I could never answer that question if someone asked it of me but the Muse has given me the unique opportunity to give it my best shot and I shan’t let her down.

#1. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) – Steven Spielberg

Original Poster (from IMDb)

The film that started my love of the movies. Indiana Jones was my first childhood hero, and the adventures he had always thrilled my imagination. Spielberg and George Lucas’ recreation of the old 1930’s-1940’s serial adventure series hit all the bullseyes back when it came out in 1981 and even today it still thrills new and old audiences alike. It’s a simple story of man on a quest for the artifact of a lifetime told in a very thrilling and extraordinary way.

#2. Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) (1966) – Sergio Leone

Italian Poster (from Sotheby’s)

Steven Spielberg and the Indiana Jones films introduced me to my love of films, Sergio Leone and his Westerns solidified I was a film fan for life. Like with Raiders, GBU is a simple of story of two rogues and a villain looking for a fortune in stolen Confederate gold told in an extraordinary fashion. That the trio have to find this gold as The Civil War is waged all around them is very thrilling and leaves audiences wondering what’ll happen should it slip they’re looking for money meant for the Confederacy. Leone was nearing the peak of his prowess as a storyteller, mixing action and adventure with the occasional pathos of the futility that was “The War Between the States”. Leone had been advised by a few people, including Orson Welles, that Civil War pictures didn’t make loads of money, but thankfully Leone didn’t listen and ended up proving everybody wrong. In High School I had an obsession with this film, and while that obsession is practically gone, I still love the film and will remain my Western, Italian and American, of all time. I prefer the Italian language original of the film.

#3. 用心棒 (Yojinbo/Yojimbo/The Bodyguard) (1961) – Akira Kurosawa

Original Poster (from IMDb)

Kurosawa was my introduction to Foreign Language Cinema, and while 七人の侍 (Shichinin no Samurai/Seven Samurai) was the first Kurosawa film I ever saw, Yojimbo is my all time favorite of his work. Famously, or infamously depending on your viewpoint, remade scene for scene as Per un Pugno di Dollari (A Fistful of Dollars) by Sergio Leone, for which Kurosawa and Toho Studios rightfully sued and won – Leone’s film was still shown with Kurosawa and Toho receiving royalties, Kurosawa weaves the best version of a wandering rogue’s initial plan of playing two warring gangs against each other for his own profit taking a different turn when he decides to rescue and free the captive woman of one of the gangs. Toshiro Mifune’s performance as the world and battle weary Ronin (Samurai without a Lord) who has a heart is one of the best ever put to celluloid. This is Kurosawa at his most playful, but he still weaves in the dramatic moments that pull the viewers emotions from them to the surface (something I always admired in his work).

#4. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – Victor Fleming and King Vidor

Re-Release Poster (from Wikipedia)

A classic, and an important part of my childhood. Along with the Indiana Jones films, Oz is one I watched constantly growing up, always amazed by the sets, characters, and colors. Unlike most kids, I was never scared of Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch of the West, I guess something in my juvenile mind told me that she would be getting her comeuppance and that I didn’t need to be afraid. The film became an important part of my life all over again when my god-daughter became old enough to watch it, and she too fell in love with it and the characters. I’m even sure she wasn’t scared of The Wicked Witch either.

#5. Clue (1985) – Jonathan Lynn

Poster (from Rotten Tomatoes)

I figured at least one Comedy needed to be in here and why not another from when I grew up. Clue ignited my love of Murder Mystery Who Dun-Its as well as being a fine Dark Humor Comedy and its setting primarily in the single location of the house gave it a uniqueness that has rightfully kept it a classic all these years later. The All Star Cast (well, All Star to many of us cause we saw it after many of them became stars) including many Comedy greats like Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, and Michael McKean is brilliant and effective. Tim Curry of course steals the show as the Butler who may or may not be who he says he is.


Monty Python’s Flying Circus Seasons 1 & 2 (1969-1970)

UK DVD (from Monty Python)
UK DVD (from Monty Python)

I don’t know if this is cheating, but I had to include at least one TV series on my Desert Island sojourn. I picked the British classic sketch show because I never tire of the humor of Chapman, Cleese, Jones, Idle, & Palin. The first 2 seasons are my absolute favorites as that was their best material in my humble opinion. I own those seasons on DVD from the UK (and I plan to upgrade to the UK Blu Rays), and as an owner of a Region Free/Multi-Region Blu Ray player, I needed to include at least one of the imports in my collection.

OK, now on to pick others to Tag with this interesting topic, and I know quite a few who’d be interested

Make Mine Criterion! – MMC!

Mike’s Take on the Movies

Debbi – I Found It at the Movies

Eric Binford – Diary of a Movie Maniac

Master Mix Movies

Paul. Writer and Filmmaker – The Cinema Fix Presents

Reely Bernie

Erica D. – Poppity Talks Classic Films


Silver Screenings

Jillian Atchley – The Classic Film Connection

This was really fun to do, and once again I thank the Muse for the nomination

All images courtesy of Images and their Respective Owners

Japanese writing courtesy of the IMDb

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


by Tony Nash,

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

There’s a new Film Restoration and Blu Ray Releasing company on the scene from the United Kingdom called Malombra Films, run the fan friendly Elia Ferroli, which will specialize in Italian genre cinema.

Malombra Films Logo (from Facebook)

They have three restoration projects to start with, and their first one is now live on Indiegogo, and it’s for the underseen 1968 Erotic Drama Il Sesso degli Angeli (The Sex of Angels) by Ugo Liberatore. Fans and curious supporters have the option of giving a strict donation, or they can go for one of two perks, which I will leave a link to the fundraiser page to.

So far they’ve gotten three backers, one of which is myself, and which I’m very pleased to be a part of. Even if anyone isn’t interested in the film, please give a small straight donation if you can, small Blu Ray outfits need all the help they can get these days, and I’d really be happy to see Malombra Films get that leg up to get going.

The other restoration projects they have planned next are:

La Strada per Forte Alamo (The Road to Fort Alamo) by Mario Bava

Il Mostro dell’Opera (The Monster of the Opera) by Renato Polselli

Check out the Malombra Films Facebook page

Filed under: Annoucements, Film: Special Topics

Inspired by the Muse

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

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

I was going through my Feed of all the wonderful bloggers I follow, and I happened to come across an interesting Tag post from The Classic Movie Muse, on Five Swoon Worthy Golden Age of Hollywood actors and 5 Reasons Why. I found the idea very intriguing and would’ve loved to have taken part, but aside from the occasional man-crush here and there, it didn’t seem fair to do this exact post.

So I decided to do my own take and do Five Swoon Worthy Golden Age Hollywood Actresses and 5 Reasons Why


From Biography

Reason 1: Her Beauty. I dare anyone to say they weren’t intrigued about this legendary icon when they first saw her wonderful face and look. While not the Poster Child for Movie Star Good Looks, there’s just something wonderfully mesmerizing about Marilyn.

Reason 2: The Talent and Wit That Lay Behind the Looks. We all know there’s more to someone besides what we see on the surface and Marilyn is no exception. Since her tragic death her vast intelligence and dedication to the craft of acting have been highlighted more and more. She had a vast library in her home in Beverly Hills that had everything from Classic Literature to books on Science, Philosophy, Religion, etc., she even wrote down her thoughts on the subjects at hand in the margins of several pages of these books. Marilyn was even a brief student of The Method Acting at The Actor’s Studio, and, along with the late Cuban-Italian American actor Tomas Milian, one of the few to use The Method in a genius way.

Reason 3: Rising Up From Humble Origins. We all know the classic ‘Rags to Riches’ storyline, and this does fit Marilyn to a certain extent. The reason her story can still be inspiring is that she came from Middle Class America, and was able to fulfill the dream of a lifetime that all so many of us still dream about. Yes, there were bumps like anything else along the way, but she did persevere and did all the work to get there.

Reason 4: Overcoming a Personal Obstacle. What Obstacle did Marilyn have to conquer you ask? Believe it or not, Miss Monroe had a speech impediment/stutter from way back. Part of the reason behind her famous ‘Breathless’ voice was that talking in that way allowed her to speak clearly and seamlessly without getting stuck on certain words and letters. As a stutterer myself I find Marilyn an inspiration and she still gives me hope to find ways to better my speech patterns.

Reason 5: The Woman Behind the Icon & Myth. Marilyn Monroe has entered into an almost Mythical status with all the stories and legends about her personal life, but for myself and a few others, she’s still the simple Girl from the Mid West who was able to achieve great success, and could’ve had a long lucrative career had it not been for the demons that plagued her thoughts and the politics of Hollywood at the time of that success.


From Ciak Magazine

Reason 1: Quiet Dignity and Grace. Actors and Actresses since the inception of cinema tended to have very lively and fast personalities, not Audrey Hepburn though. What made her special was her down to Earth nature, her dedication to family and friends – especially to her sons, and of course her appreciation of the quieter aspects of life. She didn’t need flamboyancy and the fast pace to be interesting, her calm nature made her especially fun to have conversations with, and only naturally showed her to be approachable without the fear of entourage or varied press types being all around her wherever she went. She just wanted to act, and then be with her family friends, simple and charming,

Reason 2: A Survivor. Hepburn when a teen/young adult living with her family in the Netherlands when WWII broke out, and being in one of the first counties totally overrun by Axis Germany, Hepburn and many others had to brace for survival. She worked tirelessly as an aid nurse for the Allies, practically in the thick of all the blood and tears of war. That she came out sane is a testament to her spirit and power as a human being.

Reason 3: Her Eyes. A gaze for many an actor or actresses can often be a key to their mystic and ability to draw in viewers, and Audrey Hepburn is one of the ones who it worked best with. One the surface it may appear she gives off neutral expressions, but when the viewer focuses on her eyes, they tell the audience all they need to know. In her eyes she can express pain, joy, fear, happiness, sadness, you name it, it’s all there, even when it looks like she’s gazing into the distance.

Reason 4: Her Compassion. By the late 1960’s, Hepburn decided to take time away from the screen to be with and raise her sons. During that time she also became an ambassador to the charity organization UNICEF, known for its dedication and determination to give aid and advantages to underprivileged and disadvantaged children around the world. That she balanced giving time to her own children and the UNICEF goal to help many children all over the place is a testament to her caring nature, and her wanting to give back for all the success she achieved throughout her life.

Reason 5: Just Audrey. A modest woman with tons of talent and heart, ’nuff said.


From Vanity Fair

Reason 1: Hitchcock. Grace Kelly’s skyrocket to stardom came in the form of director Alfred Hitchcock. They made three films together, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, and To Catch a Thief, all in which Kelly played a strong willed woman navigating the tense filled situations she finds herself suddenly thrusted into, and remaining in some form of control all the way.

Reason 2: Superstar to Princess. Many a girl’s childhood wish is to be a Princess, and for Grace Kelly, that childhood wish became a reality when she met and fell in love with Prince Rainer of Monaco during the filming of To Catch a Thief. While rumors that the marriage was falling apart at the time of her death are seemingly looking more and more true, there was indeed a time where being a Princess was the most joyous time of her life.

Reason 3: Major Recognition After First Major Role. While Kelly had a decent sized supporting role in her debut in the 1950’s Noir Fourteen Hours, it was her co-star status as Gary Cooper’s stout Quaker wife in the Western High Noon a year later that really catapulted her career and made her a name to be on the watch for to do great things in films.

Reason 4: She Got to Romance the Top Stars. In addition to Gary Cooper, Grace had the pleasure to share on-screen romances with the likes of Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Stewart Granger, Bing Crosby, and even Frank Sinatra

Reason 5. I can’t think of Five for Grace. Sorry ’bout that.


From CBS News

Reason 1: ‘Hard John’. Favorite co-star Robert Mitchum gave Russell the nickname Hard John, citing her as a mix of beauty, sternness, and conviction. She was sultry and alluring, but she had a code of behavior she followed to the letter, never deviating.

Reason 2: A Man’s Woman. In addition to being lovely and beautiful, Russell was also tough as nails. She often spoke her mind and hardly ever acted the way a lady of the 1940’s and 50’s, and wasn’t afraid to get in the thick of something, looking as if ready to knock any jerk on his backside with a good right.

Reason 3: Her Voice. Yes, Russell had the voice to match her looks. Not only did she have a solid speaking voice, but also a good singing voice as well. Her singing gave her voice a lighter touch to her more alto tone to her speaking.

Reason 4: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Russell never looked better than alongside Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 comedy classic, flawlessly mixing both her tough woman and sweet woman personas.

Reason 5: The Paleface. Just like with GPB, Russell again shines mixing tough and sweet, but this time as the gunslinger Calamity Jane saving Bob Hope’s bumbling dentist in the Old West. The best of course is when she’s at the public baths and the baddies are trying to get her, she pops from behind a curtain, both guns drawn saying “Ya lookin’ for someone,” and promptly guns ’em down.


From Wikipedia

Reason 1: Boss Woman. I could’ve piggybacked and said Mae West is A Man’s Woman too, but that wouldn’t have been fair. West is a Boss through and through, proudly strumming to her own drum beat, larger than life and totally in charge. She was in control of her career even on the stage, doing the stuff she wanted to do with no interference.

Reason 2: The Queen & Founder of Erotic Innuendos: Mae West was a star in the Pre-Code era and gave the film world two of its most naughty catchphrases Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? and why don’t ya come up and see me sometime?, amazing and rocking the wholesomeness audiences in the States believed they reached. Part of her return to Broadway at the advent of the Hays Code was because she refused to compromise and tone down her material which, even by some standards even in the years since her death, were surprisingly heavy on sexual overtones and undertones. Today her material can be seen as soft, but at the time she was writing and starring in movies, they were a revelation.

Reason 3: The Original Sex Symbol. Even with stars like Barbara Stanwyck, Ginger Rogers, Kay Francis, etc, being the favs of many a man in the 1930s, it was Mae West who took the moniker of Sex Symbol of the era. While not drop dead gorgeous, West exuded a charisma, charm, and mystique that had people looking her way, even if they objected to the kind of act she put on, her aura just couldn’t be denied.

Reason 4: Cary Grant. Mae West helped to jump start the career of a then up-in-coming actor Cary Grant. Grant at the time was still something of a supporting player in films, and it was West who hired him as her love interest in both She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel, giving Grant his first taste of the romantic lead.

Reason 5: She Saved Paramount Pictures. West’s play Diamond Lil had been a hit on the stage, but most of Hollywood at the time wouldn’t touch it for a screen adaptation due to its for the period shocking subject matter, but Paramount, which had been having financial problems thanks in part to the Depression, took a chance. Part of this risk’s success is that West was involved in translating her Broadway script to screenplay form, now titled She Done Him Wrong, little of the play changed. It worked and Paramount was out of financial danger.

Well, there’s my take on the Classic Movie Muse’s Tag, and now I’ll I’ll nominate a couple of people and see if this takes off

MMC! (Make Mine Criterion!) aka Spine Numbered

Master Mix Movies

Mike’s Take on the Movies

Matt Brunson

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

Sometimes the Changes Work: Carroll Baker or Irene Papas in An Ideal Place to Kill

by Tony Nash

(Heavy Spoilers Ahead)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

Reviews: Oasis of Fear - IMDb
Italian Poster (from IMDb)

A while back I was watching a fella on YouTube going through some Italian Giallo Thrillers he felt everybody should give a chance to watch, and it reminded of a Giallo I watched very recently I felt was very good, and learned in the director’s interview that he and the producers had whole different aspects to the film. That film is Umberto Lenzi’s Un Posto Ideale per Uccidere (An Ideal Place to Kill).

un posto ideale per uccidere | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir
Barbara Tries to Seduce Ingrid (from Tumgir)

The film tells the story of Hippie couple Dick Butler and Ingrid Sjoman who end up stumbling upon a murder while fleeing Italy after being busted by the police for selling porno magazines and photos on the streets. The murderess, Barbara Slesar, first attempts dual seduction of the couple, but soon things escalate into a frantic nightmare as Ingrid and Dick try to ensure Barbara can’t frame them for killing her husband, a military Colonel.

Oasis of Fear | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir
A Cool Hallucinatory Effect (from Tumgir)

Author’s Note: Major Spoilers are coming that reveal the ending and the twist within the film, as well as four other films (these I’ve reviewed already in the past), so if you’re interested in checking out the films that will be discussed, please look away, check them out, and come back read. If you’re not that curious about watching the films, and just like reading what I write about, please continue on and enjoy. Everybody’s been advised and warned.

Now first things first, Umberto Lenzi is one of my favorite filmmakers of genre cinema and I respect his general honesty and down to Earth nature in regards to his films and what he would preferred for the film over what the product came out as, so this critic isn’t in anyway disrespecting his viewpoint, only to say how the film isn’t the poorer for the changes that happened, which even he admitted to before his passing in 2017.

An Ideal Place To Kill [Edizione: Stati Uniti]: Ornella Muti,  Irene Papas, Umberto Lenzi, Ornella Muti, Irene Papas: Film e TV
Irene Papas Played Barbara (from Amazon Italy)
Watch A Quiet Place to Kill (1970) - Free Movies | Tubi
Carroll Baker, the Original Producer Choice (from YouTube)

Lenzi himself in his interview admits he wasn’t sure of who he’d cast in the role of Barbara Slesar, but he did admit producer Carlo Ponti wanted American actress Carroll Baker for the role. Now Lenzi and Baker had a good friendship going, and they’d already made for successful films together, so it seemed only a natural choice for the two to collaborate again as they trusted each other, but Lenzi admitted at the time he didn’t want to get pigeon-toed as only being able to work with Baker on Giallo type material. Had Lenzi’s original script, which involved Dick and Ingrid being busted by the Italian police for selling drugs, and not pornography, and few other deeper character inreractions, Baker would have successfully pulled off the role, but given how the script was changed to fit with the current period of the time, here’s why Baker’s version of the character wouldn’t have worked.

Deadly Trap / Un posto ideale per uccidere / The Oasis of Fear / An Ideal  Place to Kill -
Ingrid Being Questioned by a Military Man (from Nischenkino)

In the three out of four films Lenzi and Baker did together, Orgasmo (Paranoia), Cosi Dolce… Cosi Perversa (So Sweet… So Perverse), and, Il Cotello di Ghiaccio (Knife of Ice), Baker’s characters were revealed to either have an evil sinister side, looking to profit from the crimes committed, or a mix of jealousy and greed, and other powers she hadn’t counted on coming into play to ruin the scheme. Orgasmo is a little like Un Posto Ideale per Uccidere in that a ménage-a trois is at play between the three leads, but instead of the Hippie/Counter Culture couple being involved in a plot to kill the rich woman who’s later revealed to have killed her husband to inherit his fortune, the Hippies in Posto came upon the incident totally by accident and are only trying to keep from being framed. Baker’s character in Cosi Dolce… in particular proves to be very cunning and deceptive, something not very present in Irene Papas, who comes of as far more fumbling and very amateurish in covering herself.

Cory Doctorow on Twitter: "An Ideal Place to Kill, 1971, Umberto Lenzi" / Twitter
Barbara Puts Her Plan into Action (from Twitter)

Given how the film eventually worked out, Irene Papas’ performance actually serves the ending really well. The audience learns that Dick and Ingrid’s plans to ensure Barbara couldn’t make them the patsies for her crime ended up making them look more guilty, from burning a telegram sent from her partner in crime, to trying to hid their fingerprints, to even outright burying the dead man’s body in the backyard all made Barbara the innocent survivor of a home invasion turned murder, and allowed her to get away with it. Had Carroll Baker been the lead with the story that did play out, the ending would’ve been an insult to the kind of characters she played previously for Lenzi, who would’ve done a much better job at playing the naïve couple, and mislead them into thinking they had the upper hand on her. Papas’ fumbling throughout the whole process makes us the audience have no sympathy at all for the Dick and Ingrid characters, who essentially did everything they feared Barbara would do to them for her. Had they not destroyed or cleaned certain items, and especially not buried the dead man, they’d have ensured Barbara would’ve been arrested for not only killing her husband, but for trying to make it look like it was them.

An Ideal Place to Kill (1971) YIFY - Download Movie TORRENT - YTS
Dick and Ingrid Enjoying the Sights in London (from YTS)

While other issues like the two lead actresses not doing the nude scenes: Irene Papas outright refusing to do so and Ornella Muti not being able to because she was only 16 – (yes, a good chunk of European filmmakers back then wouldn’t do stuff like that) existed, the main issue Lenzi had was having to turn Dick and Ingrid into porno pushers and not the drug dealers he intended, which he felt made what would eventually go down at the Slesar mansion all the more unrealistic. The film as it is works quite well in my opinion, and all three leads, especially Papas and Muti, give solid performances that outweigh the flaws, including the body doubles for the nude scenes. I highly recommend giving this film, as well as the Lenzi/Baker collaborations and see if you agree with my write-up or not.

all images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

for more information

buying options

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

MFM Quickies #3: A Very Special Item

From Tony Nash

(All opinions are mine alone)

For many a movie buff and collector, a VHS, DVD, Blu Ray, and for some even 4Ks, any item in their collection can have a type of sentimental value, whether that be the item was the first one they ever bought themselves with their own money, a release of the first movie they really fell in love with, or was a gift from a family member or friend. For me, the gift part will be the item we’ll be discussing today.

A Golden Treasure

Going Region Free in Blu Ray and DVD has its downs as much as its ups, but even in the downs there is a ray of sunshine that makes the hunt so much more rewarding. Having been late to the boom when Germany’s Koch Media was at the height of their Italo Western releases, I did miss out on some golden items, but others were thankfully and luckily still available, such as their boxsets the ItaloWestern Ezyklopadie Trilogy. Sets 1 and 3 were the easiest to get a hold of, but set 2 proved to be problematic. Partly because the films of Set 2 had very limited to no release from other companies, and partly because the films of sets 1 and 3 had other releases readily available when first published, Koch found one of its items selling out quite faster than the others. It wasn’t too long before disc production on set 2 eased off, and copies were becoming harder to track down. While I was finding copies for some time in the occasional place, they were from 3rd party sellers asking right at, or nearly close to, 120 plus, in US Dollars, for the item.

Finally, after many questions to friends on the SWDb Forum, I finally found a company that still had some new copies of the release for sale, and at a fair price too. The only problem was that the company only shipped to Germany, Austria, and a few other areas in the EU. I finally worked up the courage to ask one of the fine fellas I made friends with on the SWDb Forum, the founder of the site, Sebastian, for help. He was so great and helpful with my request, a fine gentleman through and through. The purchasing and initial shipping out of the item went without a hitch, but it was getting it to the States where we both encountered a surprising adventure.

I won’t go into too many details, but somehow the item ended up in limbo at the customs of Frankfurt for over two months, with myself and Sebastian checking on our respective ends as to what the hold up was. Initially I wasn’t too concerned as COVID and the Pandemic was slowing down both local and international mailing a little, I was more worried about being able to pay Sebastian back for his kindness than anything else as I like paying things forward for any help given to me, and soon felt we were both being stymied by our respective postal people. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the package finally made its way across the ocean and I was able to gladly, and with pleasure, pay Sebastian back, what he had paid for the item and the shipping. That we both made out OK was the best part of the experience, and I’ll certainly ask Sebastian again for his help in the future should I ever need it.

Items come and go to a degree, but Set 2 of the ItaloWestern Enzyklopadie Trilogy will be an item I’ll keep and cherish always thanks to both a good friend, and an interesting, albeit head scratching, shipping experience.

I hope you all enjoyed this fun, and sometimes sentimental sounding, write up.

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

Murder and Mayhem in the World of Fashion

by Tony Nash

Part of The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli

(Spoiler Free)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the Original Italian language version)

The Crimes of the Black Cat (1972) - IMDb
Italian Poster (from the IMDb)

Sette Scialli di Seta Gialli (Seven Shawls of Yellow Silk/The Crimes of the Black Cat) (1972) ****1/2 R

Anthony Steffen: Peter Oliver

Sylva Koscina: Francoise Ballais

Shirley Corrigan: Margot Thornhill

Giacomo Rossi-Stuart: Victor Morgan Ballais

Renato de Carmine: Inspector Jensen

Giovanna Lenzi: Susan Leclerc (as Jeannette Len)

Annabella Incontrera: Helga Schurn

Umberto Raho: Burton, Peter’s Caregiver

Isabella Marchall: Paola Whitney

Lilana Pavlo: Wendy Marshall

Romano Malaspina: Harry, the Photographer

Written by: Sandro Continenza (as Alessandro Continenza), Sergio Pastore, & Giovanni Simonelli

Directed by: Sergio Pastore

Synopsis: Aided by his faithful butler/caregiver and a close female friend, a blind pianist film composer starts his own investigation after learning of the death of an old girlfriend who was blackmailing the husband of a Fashion House owner. As he digs deeper, the agency’s other models, all of whom knew something, are slowly being picked off by the killer.

The Crimes of the Black Cat (1972) | MUBI
The Accomplice’s Calling Card (from Mubi)

The little known Italian filmmaker Sergio Pastore offers up one of the more intricate and well crafted early Giallos of the early seventies with Sette Scialli di Seta Gialli. Early 70’s Giallos had some very creative storylines and well played out camera tricks to hide the identity of the killer until the eventual big reveal, but Pastore takes this up a notch providing viewers with psychedelic style photography to heighten the sense of character emotions and having multiple red herrings and misleads, one of whom may or may not be a possible patsy. Pastore also ups his ante by having a good chunk of the film be like a police procedural as audiences are given fairly thorough points from the protagonist on the killer(s) motives, the method of which the crimes were accessed, etc., details that normally don’t show up in the typical Giallo and make trying to find out who the culprit is all the more interesting. An interesting twist within the Giallo genre, where motive and reasons for the killing are revealed only within the last 10 to 15 minutes, is that viewers know within the first 20 or so minutes as to why the first victim was murdered and who was conned into aiding and abetting the killer, but what remains a mystery is why the woman was killed, and why who she worked at the agency with are being targeted as well.

Sette scialli di seta gialla (1972) | il mio vizio e' una stanza chiusa
The Credits Pan Over the City of Copenhagen (from Il Mio Vizio e una Stanza Chiusa at WordPress)

The country of Denmark, the capital city of Copenhagen in particular, gets to be the setting of the interesting Giallo. Giallos often had exotic locations to compliment the story and atmosphere, and Sette Scialli di Seta Gialla is no different from its predecessors, contemporaries, and successors. All of the location scenes were shot throughout the beautiful city of Copenhagen, viewers getting a glimpse into the everyday life of the Danish people and the immigrants who decided to make Denmark their home. The city is very cosmopolitan, featuring a wide variety of restaurants, boutiques, homes, etc., even showing a nice mix of the upper and middle classes, all of whom get along in their own ways.

The Crimes of the Black Cat (1972) - IMDb
Double Bill CD Soundtrack (from the IMDb)

Manuel De Sica, a composer known more for doing comedies, dramas, and crime films, offers up a very cool score for his sole Giallo effort. Mixing Rock Fusion and Jazz, De Sica creates sounds and rthymm that puts audiences in the moment, and then give them the necessary breather yo ease up the tension.

The Crimes of the Black Cat (1972) - Backdrops — The Movie Database (TMDB)
Peter and Margot Discuss the Murder (from The Movie Database)

Anthony Steffen, an Italian-Brazilian actor mainly known for his roles in Italy’s Westerns, gives a surprisingly effective performance as Peter Oliver. A pianist who makes extra income composing genre film scores, Peter lives a fairly quiet and mundane existence, save for the fact that he’s been blind for the majority of his life. His life ends up taking a unique turn when, while enjoying a drink at a favorite bar, he’s certain he’s overhearing a criminal blackmailing a woman into helping them commit a murder. Later learning the victim was his ex-girlfriend, he takes it upon himself to find out what happened and prevent the killer from striking again. That’s he’s blind is actually an advantage for Peter, as he can tell things by how people move and speak, as well as odors and other varied sounds, his other senses significantly heightened and stronger to balance out his loss of sight . Aiding him are his caregiver and another former flame, who are certain his hunches are correct.

The Crimes of the Black Cat 1972 | Download movie
Peter Overhears a Plot (from WipFilms)

Steffen’s career was beginning to teeter at this point in time. The Western genre had been milked dry and overly internally cannibalized by the early 70’s, and Steffen had been named as one of the primary faces of it. While audiences enjoyed his presence, he unfortunately didn’t have the range needed to function outside of the Westerns. Steffen did do very well in the role of Peter, particularly in having to always look like he was focusing on the sounds and smells around him, actions which the blind engage in everyday. While it could’ve led to him being typed as the blind crime solver of the Gialli, Steffen could’ve tackled playing similar characters that would’ve extended his career, which unfortunately fizzled not long after. Some critics panning him as wooden and a Poor Man’s Clint Eastwood, as well director Pastore’s misfortune of his genius directing abilities not being recognized in his lifetime helped add to Steffen’s eventual retirement.

Picture of Crimes of the Black Cat (1972)
Francoise & Victor Ballais, Fashion Couple (from Listal)
The Crimes of the Black Cat (1972) - IMDb
The Inspector Questions Margot (from the IMDb)
The Crimes of the Black Cat (1972)
Helga & Wendy, Colleagues and Lovers (from the IMDb)
The Crimes of the Black Cat [1972] : r/CineShots
Burton, the Faithful Caregiver (from Reddit)

A stellar cast of characters including Sylva Koscina, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Shirley Corrigan, Annabella Incontrera, Umberto Raho, and Renato di Carmine all make up the varied suspects and police in the film. Carmine’s Inspector Jansen has his hands full trying to figure out who had the best reason to kill the blackmailing Paola: devoted wife Koscina, ner’-do-well but straightened out husband Rossi-Stuart, or fellow model Incontrera. Corrigan and Raho provide the aiding sight to Steffen’s blind pianist as he puts the pieces together and bring the killer to justice.

(Author’s Note: I can’t go too much into the other character’s as it reveals possible spoilers to a well written Mystery story.)

Cauldron Films Trailer (from YouTube)

The Limited Edition Blu Ray

Picture Quality:

Cauldron Films offer up a stellar restoration on their third ever release, treating audiences to the film’s first ever 4K scan, also preserving the original 2:35:1 aspect ratio. The image is very crisp, every detail showing up on screen with definite clarity, not every fiber visible, but nothing blurry either. The opening credit sequence is very grainy, but in an interfering way, and in fact gives the film a nice amount of 70’s drive-in charm. After the opening credits, the film’s image is solid, with only minor damage visible twice. The colors are very vibrate and rich, reds, blues, browns, yellows, greens all pop with clarity. Day scenes are bright, but not too bright, and dark scenes are dark, but not too dark, allowing audiences to see everything.

Audio: Two main audio options are available – the original Italian and the English Dub. Both sound very fine, the Italian audio having about one or two instances of popping within the first half hour to 40 minutes, but still crisp and strong. The English dub is a little crisper. Strangely, a brief sequence reverts to the English dub when viewing the Italian Audio track. I can’t tell if this was because the Italian Audio in that brief sequence was unusable or if the sequence was cut from the Italian print and used in the English Dub version. Two subtitle tracks are provided: English translating the Italian track, and English for the Hard of Hearing with the English dub. The subtitles translating the Italian track are spot on, minimal spelling errors, very impressive for a company still in its infancy. Same goes for the Hard of Hearing subtitles.

Special Features: Six items make up the Special Features – an Interview, a Mini Documentary, two Audio Commentary tracks, a Trailer, and an Image Gallery.

The Interview Remembering Sergio Pastore is with the filmmaker’s oldest daughter Sara Pastore. She mainly recounts her relationship with her father, his bubbly personality, a general view of his career, and her happiness at her father getting the recognition he missed out on in his lifetime. She was unable to really speak on any of his films as most of them are lost and she never got to see them, but she was able to state she found Sette Schialli di Seta Gialli very impressive, calling it one of her father’s best. She even recounts he planned on giving her a small role in a bio film about an early Opera Soprano, but that he sadly died before principal filming began. Since Ms. Pastore speaks only Italian, her interview has translated English subtitles, again very spot on translation with minimal errors. Interview runs 17 minutes

The Mini Documentary Sergio Pastore: Un Ammirevole Indipendente (Sergio Pastore – An Admirable Independent Director) is a short bio on Pastore, narrated by daughter Sara, and with opening on camera comments from Sara and her younger half-sister Laura Pastore. The Documentary gives brief, but very informative information on Pastore’s career, and includes a clip of one of his last on-set interviews while shooting the never completed Mini Series The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Like Sara Pastore’s Interview, the Documentary is in Italian with translated English subtitles, a fine translation as well.

There are two Audio Commentaries are available to choose from:

The first Commentary is with Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson, two of the leading authorities on the Giallo film genre, recorded specifically for the Cauldron release. Their Commentary goes into an in-depth analysis of the film as a whole, how it was structured, the lives and careers of some of the people involved, including star Anthony Steffen, director & co-writer Sergio Pastore, and composer Manuel De Sica, and of course the themes and motifs Pastore explored.

The 2nd Commentary is actually from a Podcast called Fragments of Fear hosted by Giallo enthusiasts Jim Jilmstad and Rachel Nesbit. The Podcast was recorded two years prior to the announcement that Cauldron Films was going to restore and release the film on Blu Ray, so Nesbit and Jilmstad won’t be discussing the release, or that the brand new company Cauldron is bringing the film back from obscurity. Ms. Nesbitt and Mr. Jilmstad discuss their viewpoints on the production after having watched the film on the full screen Italian DVD released some time earlier. Their Commentary is similar to the one by Howarth and Thompson, but done more from the viewpoint of fans rather than critics, as their track wasn’t done for the Blu Ray.

Next up for the features is the US trailer.

The extras wrap up with an image gallery, done as a slidwshow, mainly showing off the films varied posters,

Bonus release items include some lobby style cards, featuring promotional/poster images, and Manuel De Sica’s amazing jazz fueled soundtrack on CD.

Blu-Ray DVD Releases Archives - HorrorBuzz
Promotional image of the Blu Ray (from HorrorBuzz

Solid twists abound this nearly forgotten piece of Giallo cinema, giving audiences one of the most intricate and absorbing Mysteries to ever figure out as they follow the lead in solving a strange rash of killings. Director Pastore was certainly a visionary, and it’s really a shame he didn’t get the same accolades his contemporaries did during his lifetime. The resurrection of his sole entry into the Mystery Thriller offers up great insight into a master craftsman in his use of camera angles, photography, and the directing of actors.

(I highly recommend this nearly forgotten slice of Italian Thriller that utilizes amazing trick cinematography to heighten the suspense. Cauldron Films has done an amazing job with the restoration of this under seen and underrated gem.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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