Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

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Summer of Spaghetti: Arrow Video’s 1st Italo Western Box!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From Tony Nash

Arrow Video’s Cover (from DiabolikDVD)
Arrow Video’s Overview Image (from DiabolikDVD)

To coin the phrase of fellow WordPress blogger MMC! (Make Mine Criterion!) “Arrow Made Mine”, and that’s exactly what Arrow Video has done with a foursome of awesome Italian Westerns. Vengeance and Revenge in its various forms play a huge role in the Italian Westerns, and Arrow has appropriately titled there set Vengeance Trails, and all four films feature the protagonists going on journeys to avenge past injustices. Featured in the set are: Le Colt Cantarono la Morte e Fu…Tempo di Massacro (Massacre Time), Due Once di Piombo (Il Mio Nome Pecos/2 Ounces of Lead/My Name is Pecos), Bandidos, and E Dio Disse a Caino (And God Said to Cain), all very good, dark, and gritty Westerns that exemplify the genre well. Arrow will include its usually high quality book/booklet, a small poster, and a slew of extras including interviews with genre icons Franco Nero and George Hilton.

I do have Massacre Time on Blu Ray in a cool Mediabook/Digibook from Germany and My Name is Pecos in a DVD boxset, again from Germany, but as a collector and lover of the Italo West genre, this is a must buy as I don’t have Bandidos and And God Said to Cain in my collection yet. The only negatives I can find with the set is that Robert Woods’ interview about Pecos from the Wild East DVD and the German set and one of Hilton’s interviews from the Massacre Time German Blu Ray will likely not be included, but this isn’t a deal breaker as I don’t plan on selling the earlier purchases. The price is also a little on the high side, but given the current times, this is to be expected, and of course sales and price drops always happen.

Arrow Video has really outdone themselves with this release and I hope they do a lot more like it in the coming months and into 2022.

All images courtesy of Jesse Nelson’s DiabolikDVD

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

A Play Within a Play, Or How Shakespeare Saves a Marriage

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Follower Appreciation #4: Master Mix Movies)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

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Original Poster (from the IMDb)

Kiss Me Kate (1953) ***** PG

Kathryn Grayson: Lilli Vanessi/”Katherine ‘Kate'”

Howard Keel: Fred Graham/”Petruchio”

Anne Miller: Lois Lane/”Bianca”

Keenan Wynn: Lippy, Mob Collector

James Whitmore: Slug, Mob Collector

Tommy Rall: Bill Calhoun/”Lucentio”

Kurt Kasznar: “Baptista”

Bobby Van: “Gremio”

Bob Fosse: “Hortensio”

Ron Randell: Cole Porter

Written by: Dorothy Kingsley, adapted from the stage play by Sam Spewack (as Samuel Spewack) & Bella Spewack, freely based on The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Directed by: George Sidney

Synopsis: A divorced acting couple put aside personal animosity to put on a production of Cole Porter’s musical take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy The Taming of the Shrew. The film mixes both the production itself, and the backstage antics of the couple, and two of the other cast members as they figure out their romantic feelings, all while the lead actor does whatever it takes to keep his ex on the stage.

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Lois Showing Fred, Lilli, and Cole Porter Her Tap Dancing Skills (from NZIFF)

While the 3D craze was still the fashion of the early to mid 1950’s, the Musical genre got its taste of the fad with the film Kiss Me Kate. The film within a film, which explores both a theater company’s performance of a production and the backstage antics of the cast, and others associated to them, is a fine setting for the 3D process as it allows actors to punt items to the camera in a believable fashion that doesn’t feel as if they’re entirely playing to the camera for the sake of the effect, whether it be the throwing of a prop or the extended in focus view of an object. The film’s main comic element is the two leads constant bickering that finally has the leading lady having enough of her ex husband/male lead’s manipulations and ego, and the man’s zany efforts to keep her from leaving, and to keep the show from ending up a financial and critical disaster. Destiny or luck seems to be on his side when a member of the cast signs an IOU with the lead’s name for a gambling debt that has two Mob enforcers coming to collect, prompting the “hero” to play the mix up to his advantage, stating he won’t be able to “pay” if his leading lady walks out on the show, leading to very funny and outlandish events and situations. A solid side plot has an aspiring acting/dancing couple who’s budding romance is on the skids because of the woman’s flirtatious nature and the man’s bad luck in games of chance, which ignites the chaotic events of the night.

(Author’s Note: Cole Porter, who wrote the songs and music for the original stage version and the film, is given a small cameo played by Ron Randall in the film, isn’t a character in the original stage performances, only mentioned as being the author of the play.)

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The first big number of the play (from the IMDb)

Kiss Me Kate was one of the many successful modern takes on a Shakespeare classic, and one of the few Hollywood efforts to show what possibly might go on backstage before and in between the acts of a play/musical, including the tensions between big name stars who can’t seem to coexist in the same production. A lot of changes had to be made before MGM gave the film the greenlight to begin filming. The original script by married couple Sam and Bella Spewack had quite a bit of colorful language, swear words, and a lot of sexual innuendo. “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”, sung by the two hoods, had them performing the number during the Broadway version in a more comical manner that hinted the duo may have been homosexuals, which was a major no-no in the then still enforced Hayes Code, moved as a diversion by the hoods while Fred and Lilli had their big spat about Fred’s deception to keep her from quitting acting to right before the ending as a means of cheering Fred up after he believes he’s lost Lilli for good. There’s quite a bit else changed for the sake of cleanliness, but that’s the main bit everybody talks about.

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Lilli Being Swept off Her Feet (from Pinterest)
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Lilli as Kate the Shrew Singing “I Hate Men” (from Pinterest)

Kathryn Grayson, the Opera Soprano trained singer who went to Hollywood, is a sheer delight as both Lilli Vanessi and the title character of Shakespeare’s famous Shrew. Grayson’s voice and style is perfect for the nearly always frustrated Lilli who has a love/hate relationship with both her ex-husband and the acting profession, her voice going deep Alto every time someone gets her mad. While it’s clear she loves performing, the tough time she had with ex Fred Graham has soured her to the calling, and wanting to start afresh by marrying a wealthy and doting Texas Cattle Baron. The mix of the film going from the performance to the backstage shows Lilli is very much like the character of Kate in that the she’s quick temper, isn’t afraid to get physical, and would gladly punch the lights out of her would be suitor, but unlike Kate, Lilli loves to be romanced and dotted upon, just wanting the man she marries to treat her like an equal and a partner, rather than just a cog in the theater machine to success. Her ire really gets up when Fred stoops to a new low and cons two hoods into making her stay with the production, falsely believing Fred owes their boss money for a gambling loss, making the hoods wish they hadn’t taken the job when, during a scene in the play, she begins throwing very real dishes, pots, and vases at them. Her emotions eventually become conflicted upon realizing that Fred truly does care about her, but at the same time feels he did her wrong so many times when they were married the first time that she wonders if she can honestly trust him.

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Fred Trying to Remind Lilli of the Good Times They Shared (from TCM)
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The Wiley and Cunning Petruchio Making Plans With Father-in-Law Baptista (from The Blonde at the Film)

Howard Keel, with his Tenor-Baritone pipes and rascally persona, does a fine job in the roles of Fred Graham and Petruchio. A Poster Boy example of what a hammy ego-maniac star usually is like, Fred Graham is the kind of guy who may very well make a struggling actor or actress a name in the business, the main question really being how long will it take before the performer wants to strangle him for being too demanding and difficult. Fred is an actor/director who knows what he wants and knows what will make a show a success, but his methods for getting the job done are fairly questionable. Not above using jealousies and professional competition as a means to coercing hard to get actors and actresses to accept roles in his productions, Fred may have bit off more than he could chew when he goes too far in trying to match ex wife Lilli’s verbal barbs and she finally has enough and decides to quit show business. Panicking over the failure of the show, in both money and within the theater community, and what it’ll mean for his reputation, Fred once again gets far too desperate in his actions to save the show. After a co-star, who’s jealous of the swoons his girlfriend gives Fred, signs his gambling IOU debt with Fred’s name, Fred equally deceives the hoodlums who intend to break the debt holder’s body parts unless the money’s coughed up, by making them think Lilli’s performance is the only way the show will make money to pay them off, thus using force to make her stay. The plan goes awry in the end when Lilli manages to scare the hoods and Fred into letting her go by threatening kidnapping charges to the police. Realizing Lilli’s on to all his tricks, Fred tries being honest with her, saying theater, and he himself, are nothing without her talent and gracefulness, and admitting that it was his ego that fouled up their marriage. He then must wait and see what happens.

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Lilli is Unimpressed as Lois Shows Her Range (from SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER – California Film Institute)
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The Lovely Bianca Laments Her Marriage Woes (from Ultimate Movie Rankings)
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The Comic Hoodlums Lippy and Slug (from YouTube)
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The Duo in Disguise as Extras (from NZIFF)
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Bianca’s Vying Suitors (from Pinterest)
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The Frustrated Poppa Baptista (from Aveleyman)

Ms. Grayson and Mr. Keel are joined by a bevy of talented theater and film performers.

Anne Miller, the Queen of Tap Dance, is a hit as the other woman Lois Lane (no pun on Superman here) and the late casted Bianca for the Graham production. Lois is an aspiring performer actress/dancer who innocently flirts with Fred Graham to help move her career along. Her problem is that her boyfriend Bill Calhoun is content with being just another nameless hoofer in the chorus, and prefers the thrill of gambling over the excitement of applause and performing. His frustration over Lois and his bad luck is what leads to the crazy events later on, but in the end things work out for them. Keenan Wynn (Disney Legend Ed Wynn’s son) and James Whitmore, two of Hollywood’s more reliable heavies and antagonists, are blasts in the respective roles of Lippy and Slug, Mob debt collectors. When Bill’s losses at gambling round up to $2000, the duo’s boss sends them to either get the money owed to him, or to break the welching gambler’s arms and legs. Because they didn’t see Bill at the gaming joint, and only know the IOU bears the signature Fred Graham, the duo immediately head for the known Broadway star’s dressing room. Eventually they come to like Graham, and don’t relish the idea of beating him to a pulp for not paying, never finding out they’ve been given a bum steer by Bill. Oddly enough, both Wynn and Whitmore come off as more comical than menacing, as per script, and audiences can’t help but like them. Broadway fans will like that icon Bob Fosse made his first film appearance in Kate as one of Bianca’s suitors, Hortensio to be exact, and even in this small role, his song and dance talent can be clearly seen. Kurt Kasznar, known to most people as the bumbling and shifty Mr. Fitzhugh in Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants, plays another unnamed actor playing the role of Kate and Bianca’s father Baptista. This guy clearly has no clue Fred and Lilli are at the breaking point of civility to each other, and shows the professionalism of actor’s by trying to keep the show going in spite of the mayhem.

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All The World’s A Stage (from The Blonde at the Movies)

The film is a highlight of the Golden Age of Musicals, along with Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, and Easter Parade, and while some of the film’s content can be seen as dated, old fashion, and borderline sexist/chauvinistic, the music and performances make up for the flaws, and the flaws of course can also be overlooked as an object of the time it was made in. It’s surprising the Musical didn’t do more in the 3D realm as 3D was perfect for the genre, allowing for the gimmicks to used in believable ways that didn’t look like playing to the camera.

(I do highly recommend this very well done Musical for anyone who likes the genre, and for those looking for a good place to start with it. There are some clichés involved with it, and some material that is dated, or hasn’t translated well for future viewers, but the film overall can still speak to many generations about the pratfalls of being in the theater, and how temperament amongst actors can make or break both personal and professional relationships. I do this one in honor of one of my more recent Followers Master Mix Movies, who loves all sorts of genre cinema, and seems to really like films that mix genres together, so I hope he takes a liking to this one. There is a Blu Ray available from the Warner Archives label, and while the transfer of the film is immaculate, only the original 3D print is used for the release that requires the specialized 3D TV and 3D capable Blu Ray player. The original release Blu Ray had both the 2D and 3D versions, but has long been out of print. The DVD is still a great option as it has the same transfer of the Blu Ray, but is the 2D version.)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045963/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiss_Me_Kate_(film)

buying options

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

Murder by the Clock

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Follower Appreciation #3: Debbi-IFatM)

(All Opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

The Big Clock (1948) - IMDb
Original Poster

The Big Clock (1948) ***** PG-13

Ray Milland: George Stroud

Charles Laughton: Earl Janoth

Maureen O’Sullivan: Georgette Stroud

George Macready: Steve Hagen

Elsa Lanchester: Louise Patterson

Harold Vermilyea: Don Klausmeyer

Dan Tobin: Ray Cordette

Rita Johnson: Pauline York

Harry Morgan: Bill Womack (as Henry Morgan)

Richard Webb: Nate Sperling

Elaine Riley: Lily Gold

Written by: Johnathan Latimer, based on the novel by Kenneth Fearing

Directed by: John Farrow

Synopsis: George Stroud is struggling to save his marriage when his wife accuses him of fooling around and being a yes man for his megalomaniac newspaper boss Earl Janoth. When Janoth’s mistress reveals she’s been fooling around on him, he kills her in a rage. Wrongly believing Stroud is the other man, Janoth has evidence planted to incriminate him, and goes so far as having Stroud look for “the killer”. When Stroud discovers the truth, a race ensues to prove his innocence.

Blu-ray: The Big Clock review - brilliantly constructed comedy noir, ripe  for rediscovery
Stroud on the Case (from The Arts Desk)

The Post WWII Years are considered the beginning of pure Film Noir, the mix of light and shadows, and peoples uncertainty of who could be trusted as trust and loyalty were shattered by war time actions becoming the forefront of the genre. The Big Clock was a unique piece in the Post War era as it mixed the unease of the time with the classic procedural detective stories of the 1930’s and early 1940’s, making for a concoction that’s both thrilling and immersive. A talented writer’s gotten stuck in a lingering funk as he’s torn between continuing a well paying but overwhelming job, and saving his loving but strife’ d marriage. His life takes a whirlwind shock turn when his boss murders his two-timing mistress and, believing the writer is the other man, frames him for the crime. To make matters even stranger, the tyrant killer sets it up so the writer will discover he’s been framed by giving him the job of “finding the killer”. The entire film becomes of a mix of detective style investigative drama and mystery suspense as the boss and his henchman look to prevent the reporter from finding out he was framed and exposes his boss for the crazed tyrant he is.

Blu-Ray Review | The Big Clock (Blu-ray) | Blu-ray Authority
Stroud in Hot Water After a Bender (from Blu Ray Authority)

Ray Milland offers up a solid and nuanced performance as George Stroud. While a good guy for the most part, Stroud lacks the ability to decide between what is right and what is necessary for his personal ethics and life. He’s a talented writer wasting his time in a “yellow journalism” paper that also acts as a gossip column While his newspaper reporter’s job offers a nice salary to keep a roof over his and his wife’s head, the ridiculous hours and assignments he’s often given, leave him little opportunity and time to be the devoted and loving husband he desires to be. His wife, while supportive and sympathetic, constantly harangues him for thinking more of his job than of her, even though his job is what keeps them in house, food, and clothing. That Stroud can’t seem to reconcile both worlds makes things a lot tougher, and the strain of being unable to prove his devotion to the woman he loves, almost leads him astray. When he innocently flirts with a woman who ends up being the newspaper boss’s mistress, and who is later murdered by the magnate, Stroud inadvertently gets mistaken for the “other man”, and must use his wits and ability as a reporter to prevent his boss from successfully making him look guilty of murder and infidelity.

OZU TEAPOT — The Big Clock | John Farrow | 1948 Charles...
Janoth Is Calmed by Hagen (from OZU TEAPOT Tumblr)

Charles Laughton, one of Hollywood’s most prolific and versatile character actors, gets his magnum opus of slimy villainy as Earl Janoth. Janoth is a Hearst style newspaper magnate in that he’s ruthless, cunning, and will make his employees do whatever it takes to get a story out. He makes a huge mistake however when he falls for an equally devious woman who manages to put one over on him and makes him look like a fool. Enraged, Janoth coldly murders her and, thinking his ace reporter is the other man and saw what had happened, uses his power and influence to make the man the patsy in the woman’s death. Letting the reporter believe he has to solve the murder because of how close to home it hits the paper, Janoth sets up a wave of planted evidence, false leads and witnesses, and a false suspect to be found, all in hopes the police will be led to the reporter. Unbeknownst to Janoth, the reporter has figured out his scheme, and soon plans are unraveling as Janoth tries to stay two steps ahead.

THE BIG CLOCK (1948) - Comic Book and Movie Reviews
An Eccentric Artist Helps Stroud (from Comic Book and Movie Reviews)
The Big Clock - The Big Clock (1948) - Film - CineMagia.ro
Hagen, Janoth’s Right Hand (from Cinemagia)
Test DVD - La Grande Horloge (The Big Clock) 1948 - Carlotta Films * Film  Noir CineFaniac - Tout sur les films noirs
Stroud and His Wife (from Cinefanatic)
The Big Clock (1948) Film Noir. Harry Morgan, John Farrow | Film noir,  Noir, Film
Janoth’s Silent Henchman (from Pinterest)

A slew of Golden Age actors and actresses join Milland and Laughton in the whirlwind mystery Thriller. Maureen O’Sullivan, known to many as the mother of actress Mia Farrow, came out of retirement at director/husband John Farrow’s (Mia’s Dad) request to play Stroud’s loving and supportive, but frazzled wife Georgette (what a pun there huh?). Sullivan mainly plays the typical loyal wife who has her reserves, but Sullivan always played whatever part she got with believability. George Macready, who could play both good guys and bad guys, does a fantastic job as Janoth’s secretary and partner in crime Steve Hagen. Hagen, who at times feels he’ll forever be in Janoth’s shadow, ends up being the weak link in Janoth’s scheme when jealousy and betrayal circle into bigger problems. Elsa Lanchester, one of the quintessential British character actresses, whose fame was cemented as The Bride in 1936’s Bride of Frankenstein and later in 1964 as Katie Nanna in Disney’s Mary Poppins, gets to ham it up well as the bohemian artist Louise Patterson. A painting of Patterson’s proves vital in helping Stroud prove his innocence, and she tags along in the investigation to not only help Stroud, but get his aid in locating her long runnoft husband. MASH fans will be pleasantly surprised to learn that Harry Morgan, credited as Henry Morgan, plays a fairly big part in the film as Janoth’s brutish enforcer Mr. Womack. Morgan doesn’t speak at all in the film, but his facial features give away a ruthless tough who’ll do what he’s told, and do it well.

The Big Clock (1948) - John Farrow - RoweReviews
Stroud Stays a Step Ahead (from RoweReviews)

The film for a time was in a limbo before actually starting production. Author and poet Kenneth Fearing wrote the main villain of the book, Earl Janoth, as a blatant caricature ripoff to Time Magazine publisher Henry Luce, who had given Fearing loads of grief when Fearing’s financial troubles forced him to take a job with the magazine. Paramount Pictures bought the rights to the book before it even hit stores, but had to wait to greenlight it until critic reviews came out, and were fearful of the project going down in flames should Henry Luce decide to sue Fearing for slander and defamation of character. To everyone’s sigh of relief amazement, Luce didn’t make the connection between Janoth and himself, and Paramount greenlight the film.

The Big Clock (1948) - John Farrow - RoweReviews
A Night View of the Outside of the Janoth Publication (from RoweReviews)

In spite of fears of the author being sued, the creative issues between director Farrow and Paramount Producers, and usual on set antics of the cast, The Big Clock is still one of the best Post WWII era Noirs, and showcases the uncertainty of that trying period.

(A great Noir Thriller that movie fans should check out at least once, and another high recommendation from this author. Anyone new to Noir will find this film a good starting point to begin, and long term fans of the genre will find it the perfect film to frequently revisit. The plot and action have the hallmarks of an Agatha Christie story, but the cinematography definitely makes it a proper Noir. The Blu Ray from Arrow Video’s Arrow Academy Line offers up a solid transfer in the both the video and audio of the film, making it look exactly as it did in 1948. I dedicate this one to the lovely and wonderful Debbi, who runs the blog I Found It at the Movies. Her Blog does a varied amount of content, but her main interest seems to be Noir and Gangster movies, and I figured this film would be the perfect compliment to show my appreciation for her following my blog.)

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

for more information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Clock_(film)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040160/

buying options

https://arrowfilms.com/product-detail/the-big-clock-blu-ray/FCD1880

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

Serpico’s Romano Double

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Followers Appreciation #2: Diary of a Movie Maniac)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the original Italian language version)

シゲボー on Twitter: "Bruno Corbucci/ THE COP IN BLUE JEANS (1976) #crime  #comedy #drama #trailer #MoviePoster … https://t.co/9yC4hbWMNC… "
Original Italian Poster

Tomas Milian: Maresciallo Nico Giraldi

Jack Palance: Norman Shelley/Richard J. Russo

Maria Rosaria Omaggio: Signorina Cattani

Guido Mannari: Achille “Baronetto” Bertinari

John P. Dulaney: Ispettore Ballarin

Marcello Martana: Maresciallo Trentini

Roberto Messina: Commissario Tozzi

Raf Luca: Brigadiere Gargiulo

Jack La Cayanne: Colombo

Written by: Mario Amendola & Bruno Corbucci

Directed by: Bruno Corbucci

Synopsis: Nico Giraldi, head investigator of the Anti-Mugging Squad, is determined to bring down the elusive gang leader Baron, whose broad daylight robberies have spiked ten fold. When Baron and his boys steal a briefcase full of smuggled money from an incognito American gangster, Giraldi now must save Baron’s life when he and crew are marked for death the man.

Cop.in.Blue.Jeans.1976.ITALIAN.1080p.BluRay.x264.DTS-FGT Torrent download
Giraldi berating a subornment for letting his bike be stolen (from Rarbg)

Bruno Corbucci, the younger brother of Sergio Corbucci, made a clear break from the elder’s shadow with the first in a series of tongue-in-cheek action cop films starring the great Tomas Milian that fast became one of the most popular franchise in the 70’s. The film came about after Milian expressed admiration of Al Pacino’s look and performance as real life undercover cop Frank Serpico a few years earlier. Milian had in fact wanted to do a sequel playing Serpico, but copyrights prevented this from happening, so Corbucci drafted a treatment with Milian playing a reformed hoodlum now working as a cop who models his appearance after the film about Serpico. The Poliziotteschi film genre was still at its peak by the time the first Giraldi film was written and being shot, but Corbucci, Milian, and writer Mario Amendola decided to make the film a little more lighthearted than its edgy predecessors and contemporaries, mixing the exciting action everyone expects of the genre along with witty dialogue from the protagonist. This allowed the film to stay true to its origins, but at the same time spice it up enough that it wouldn’t be viewed as another generic entry.

The Cop in Blue Jeans review - The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Giraldi and his partner Ballarin (from Grindhouse Cinema Database)

Star Milian makes excellent use of Roman slang in this film, one of the earliest in his uncredited contributions to the films he made. While he was proficient in the usage of Roman street lingo, Milian’s Cuban accent didn’t fit, so he asked comic and film dubber Ferruccio Amendola to be his permanent Roman voice. Amendola and Milian already had a contract for this, but as Milian added more Roman slang for his characters with the directors and screenwriters permission, Amendola’s voice fit what Milian had envisioned.

The Cop in Blue Jeans - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
Giraldi chases after a suspect (from Alchetron)

Milian delivers a unique performance in the role of Nico Giraldi. Normally very animated whenever he plays a character in a film, Milian keeps a straight face this go around, even when clearly delivering some amusing dialogue. Giraldi is an ex small time hoodlum who uses his street smarts in his new profession as a plainclothes motorcycle detective handling street crime. Giraldi feels the only way to stop the rampant stream of daylight robberies via crooks on motorbikes is to take down the head man, known only as Baron. His superiors aren’t crazy about many of the methods he uses, particularly cuffing suspects via looping their one arm between their legs so they can’t run, but because of his dedication to cleaning up the city and being knowing the mind set of criminals from having been one once, they allow him to operate how he feels best. It isn’t long before Giraldi discovers he has to save Baron’s life before he can arrest him when the hoodlum and two of his crew nab a briefcase full of illegally imported money from a corrupt American living in Italy, and the man orders his goons to hunt down and kill the thieves. What follows for Giraldi is an interesting and different journey through the world of fencing and smuggling, hoping to get to his long time quarry before an even deadlier criminal can get his hands on him.

Index of /images/abcd/cop-in-blue-jeans
The elusive Mr. Shelley (from Severed Cinema)

Jack Palance, an American character actor who had a 40 plus year career, enjoying success in both the States and Europe, appears sporadically, but effectively when on screen, in the role of Norman Shelley, sometimes called Richard J. Russo. Little is known of what Shelley does for a living, save that he’s seen with some big business types, so he must be into something lucrative. In reality, he uses whatever he does as a cover for many an illegal activity, including laundering money and smuggling. Like a Mafia boss, Shelley doesn’t take betrayal and deceit lightly and does whatever it takes to ensure loyalty. When one of his consignments is lifted from him by the gang led by Baron, Shelley, to keep his real dealings secret, orders his cohorts to track down and silence everyone involved in the theft. His cover is soon to be blown however, when Inspector Giraldi’s Anti-Mugging unit suspects something big when the hoods involved with Baron start turning up dead.

Cop in Blue Jeans – Cineploit (BluRay) – 10,000 Bullets
Giraldi visits his Aunt (from 10KBulletts)

The beauty of Milan is on display in the film, and unlike most other Poliziotteschi, the film shows the everyday areas of the city, not the seedy ends. The criminal element is still shown, but not in a way that would make those who’ve never been to Italy leery about carrying around anything valuable for street punks to steal.

Index of /images/abcd/cop-in-blue-jeans
The Baron is in over his head (from Severed Cinema)

The mix of action and humor works very well in this film, and allows viewers to root for the cops to win via a lighthearted escapade that still pumps out the thrills all cop films are known for.

(Fans of Italian Crime cinema and fans of Tomas Milian will get a kick out of the film and find it very enjoyable from start to finish, and I highly recommend it. Those wishing to get started with the genre will find this film a good place to start as it has all the themes the Poliziotteschi offers, minus the heavy edges fans will want to slowly get into. The Blu Ray from Cineploit Records offers a solid transfer of both the audio and visuals of the film, almost pristine. An hour long interview with character actor John P. Dulaney who plays the small supporting role of Ballarin is the main extra on the disc, and very worth a look in its own right as an insight into the studio system in Italy from the point of view of an actor who worked there. This write up is dedicated to Eric Binford – Diary of a Movie Maniac, who does quite a bit of crime, action, and Noir on his blog. I will admit I had intended to include Squadra in my Italian Crime series, but seeing how it had a much more lighthearted and less edgy feel, than others of the genre, I felt this would be something right up Eric’s alley and allow me to give the film a good expose.)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075260/

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

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squadra_antiscippo

Buying Options

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

An Alternate Take on the Musical Fairy Tale

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Followers Appreciation #1 Yolanda)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoilers)

Donkey Skin (1970) – Ticklish Business
French Poster

Peau d’Ane (Donkey Skin) (1970) ***** PG-13

Catherine Deneuve: The Princess/The Blue Queen I (the Mother)

Jean Marias: The Blue King

Jacques Perrin: Prince Charming/The Red Prince

Delphine Seyrig: The Lilac Fairy

Jean Servais: The Narrator (Voice)

Micheline Presle: The Red Queen/The Blue Queen II

Fernand Ledoux: The Red King

Henri Cremieux: The Blue King’s Physician

Sacha Pitoeff: The Minister

Written & Directed by Jacques Demy, based on the fairy tale by Charles Perrault

Synopsis: A beautiful princess, with the aid of her fairy godmother, flees via disguise from her father the king, whom has been wrongly advised to marry to marry. The fairy godmother then secretly guides a prince to save the princess and restore harmony to the land.

Donkey Skin Blu-ray (DigiPack)
The Princess incognito (from Blu Ray.com)

Jacques Demy, a Nouvelle Vague Français era filmmaker who rejected the movement in favor of his love of Classic Hollywood, briefy tried his hand at fairy tales in the early to mid 1970’s. His first outing in this trial was Peau d’Ane, a lesser known fairy tale from his home country. For about 40 to 50 years at the time, many fairy tales that were made into films were often sanitized as the key audience for them were children, but Demy broke this mold by taking on the darker elements these classic tales had lurking beneath, and confounded both viewers and critics alike by making his adaption with the lightheartedness and whimsy accepted for the kinds of films sold to children. Demy’s heroine is a beautiful princess caught in a difficult situation when, after her equally beautiful mother dies of an unnamed illness, her distraught father the king is falsely led to believe his promise to marry someone as beautiful as his wife can only be kept if he marries his own child. Loving her father dearly, but also knowing what she’ll be asked of is wrong, the princess flees her kingdom, helped by the Lilac Fairy, under the guise of a scullery worker called Donkey Skin (because of the donkey hide used to conceal herself). What follows is carefully executed plan by both Demy and his intelligent Fairy Godmother to weave a classic story, and take it in a new direction.

Donkey-Skin
Drawing from an early story collection (from Castel Volante)

Charles Perrault, the classic age French writer who penned the classics Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and Puss in Boots also wrote Peau d’Ane. While fairy tales are indeed spun for the young and the young at heart, Perrault, much like his successor Hans Christian Andresen, delved into pretty frightening, dark, and taboo material that today surprises many people. While it’s still debated whether Perrault hid these details through creative wording or that such material was seen as necessary to aiding children in their adult years, he, like his contemporaries and successors, gave the world many memorable and beloved tales that not only sent many or magical and whimsical journeys, but also gave others thought provoking items to consider.

Donkey Skin (1970) directed by Jacques Demy • Reviews, film + cast •  Letterboxd
The Princess Making Herself Pretty (from Letterboxd)
Review: Donkey Skin - Slant Magazine
The Princess Hiding Out as Donkey Skin (from Slant Magazine)

Catherine Deneuve, an icon of French Cinema, gives one of her most unique performances as The Princess, her Mother the First Queen, and Donkey Skin. Deneuve distinguishes her Princess from the ones commonly showcased in fairy tales and legends by having her be intelligent, resourceful, and selfless. Her willingness to live a life incognito, working hard like the peasants of the land to avoid a wedding that would do more harm than good for herself, her father, and the kingdom makes her a heroine that has earned audience sympathy and support. She’s not arrogant like other princesses, has no issues dressing in commoner garb, and accepts orders from the various homes she asks for work in like any other servant. In a way this is a sort of martyrdom, as she’s convinced her father can’t be dissuaded from the act of incest. When she meets her true love the Red Prince after having gotten a job in his father’s stables, he begins to fall in love with the person she is, seeing all her remarkable qualities, thus paving the way for a happy return.

Donkey Skin (1970) – Midnight Only
The King top a Giant Cat (from Midnight Only)

Jean Marias, a French cinema leading man who began his career with the legendary auteur Jean Cocteau, returns to his fantasy roots with the role of the Blue King. A good man who treats his subjects well and keeps harmony and peace within his kingdom, the Blue King so far fits the profile of the kind of ruler every monarch based country should have. When his beloved Queen dies suddenly, he becomes depressed and lost in his grief. Promising his beloved he would only marry a woman who matched her beauty, the King gets some very bizarre and not at all helpful advice from his astrologer doctor that the only way to keep his promise is to marry his own daughter. So lost in his sadness he somehow agrees to this, and his kingdom ends up in a kind of turmoil as the Princess’ self exile to avoid such blasphemy causes much sadness. With the aid of a neighboring monarchy and the Lilac Fairy, the King slowly begins to realize his error, and slowly all begins to become right again.

Donkey Skin (1970) - IMDb
Films on the Lake Presents Donkey Skin (Peau d'âne) | French Culture

Top: The Red Prince (from the IMDb) Bottom: The Lilac Fairy (from French Culture.org)

Jacques Perrin and Delphine Seyrig offer nice supporting roles as Prince Charming and the Lilac Fairy respectively. A Fairy Tale isn’t complete without Prince Charming, and Perrin gives audiences a nice mixture of a classic Fairy Tale princes and modern thinking prince. A recurring dream has the Prince taking his trusty stead out daily in search of the beauty who he believes is destined to be his bride, and while he comes up short each time, delights in sharing his dreams with the local animals in the forest, whom help when they can in the Prince’s searching. He at first is bewildered by his attraction to the new stable maid Donkey Skin, but after spending time speaking with her, comes to admire her, and soon is made aware of her real identity and helps her restore the balance and harmony to the land. Miss Seyrig’s Fairy Godmother is an absolutely brilliant character by Demy, offering up both the motherly qualities of the classic fairy protector, and the resourcefulness of New Age Women. Seyrig enchants with both whimsy and beauty as she works behind the scenes to ensure all the characters happiness, while also teaching the Blue King some very valuable and humbling lessons.

Ecstatic: Donkey Skin
The Court of the Red Royal Family (from Ecstatic-Blogger)

Jacques Demy once again proves to audiences that just because certain stories are from long ago, doesn’t mean that freshness can’t be brought to them, and gives them one part classic nostalgia from their youth, and one part current vibe to fit the era he makes his films in. Near flawlessly mixing the classic with the contemporary, Demy reminds his viewers why he is the master of the modern fantasy, the modern musical, and the modern Fairy Tale.

( I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for nostalgia with a hint of reinvention, anyone who loves French Cinema, lovers of Catherine Deneuve (like myself), and anyone just looking for something unique. The Criterion Collection Blu Ray, via their Essential Jacques Demy Box Set, offers their usual amazing work in the audio and visual department, Demy’s use of color looking as vibrant and crisp as ever. This write up is done in honor of one of my more recent Followers, Yolanda – Aspergers syndrome – Poetry – Alternative female – Mental illness, specifically the Alternative end of her blog. From what I’ve seen so far of her posts so far, she seems to go for anything recognizable to folks, but in a new and different approach. I think and hope that she’ll appreciate this different flavor to a take on the classic genres of film.)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066207/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkey_Skin_(film)

https://www.criterion.com/films/28605-donkey-skin

Buying Options

https://www.criterion.com/boxsets/1055-the-essential-jacques-demy

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

CHRISTMAS HAUL PART 1: UNDER THE TREE

MERRY CHRISTMAS to my Followers, those I’m Following, all Curious Visitors, and my Relatives and Friends,

Here’s what I’ve gotten so far this Holiday Season

Please excuse the glare in the photos, that was the best spot to showcase my gifts. The tripod will be used for photo taking all future Christmas and Birthday hauls. To all relatives and friends, I’m gonna be replacing my iPhone soon as it won’t let me take anymore pictures and certain functions aren’t working at all now, and this was the best way to show everyone what I’ve received so far.

Filed under: Annoucements, Film & TV: Potpourri

Rebuttal to “Walter Peck Was Right”

by Tony Nash

(Halloween Potpourri Finale Special)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Spoilers Ahead)

Ghostbusters III Confirmed, Without Ivan Reitman | Time
The Original Trio (from Time Magazine)

Here’s a link to the Looper article that explains the Peck was Right aspect

https://www.looper.com/170123/dumb-things-in-ghostbusters-everyone-ignored/

I’ve had a lot fun recently playing The Ghostbusters Video Game on my XBox the last couple of months, and it’s led me to read a little more about the first film, which the game mainly acts as a sequel of.

Movie Beards: Walter Peck: "Ghostbusters"
An Overzealous Peck (from Movie Beards)

One thing I was fairly struck by was the considered view that sidekick antagonist Walter Peck was in some ways right in his treatment of the Ghostbusters. Now pushing aside for the moment the fact that Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman is an annoying lothario hack who’s into the fame Ghostbusting brings him and makes even an ardent Pacifist want to hit him, let’s look at some of the items that fans consider relevant.

Dumb things in Ghostbusters everyone ignored
Who’s the More Annoying? (from Looper)

LACK OF FUNDS AND TRAINING

First things first, let’s talk about the Ghostbusters’ lack of testing and facilities. Peck’s innuendos of everything not following protocol may be legit, but’s forgetting statements made by the team earlier in the film. Ray and Egon, the most qualified members of the team, made several applications for grants, funding, and adequate periods of training and testing and research, but were always turned down because of their former university colleagues statements of them being crackpots who’s research had no legit grounds for such investments. With having to go the route of acting as a privately run and operated organization that must adhere to state wide business requirements to prove their research and evidence is conclusive, that leaves very little time to go into the kind of research, testing, and cataloging that goes on in most, if not all, scientific endeavors. Remember that the team, Ray and Egon in particular, have done their homework, engaged in research, and went through the required approval of various security organizations to obtain the equipment they needed to operate. Those two are legit, even if academically discredited, scientists, and aren’t going to jeopardize themselves by going through areas that would have the FBI and CIA poking their noses in.

Walter Peck Archives ⋆
The Peck Hits the Breaking Point (from The Comics Agenda)

With all of this in mind, wouldn’t anyone think an organization like the EPA would give a struggling outfit like the Ghostbusters time to work out what they need to as they’re clearly underfunded, and won’t be getting any help from the State of New York or the various universities at the moment. Yes the quartet needed to take time to become more familiar with they’re equipment and material, but when you’re being called crackpot, your theories called a pseudo science, you’re looking at being shutdown any minute for not being able to prove your value, and of course a massive end of the world scenario looming over, you don’t have time for the basics.

ArtStation - Ghostbusters: The Video Game - Walter Peck, Ian McIntosh
The Peck in Video Game Form (from ArtStation)

LESS THAN SAFE PROCEDURES and HOUSING

This goes a little into the lack of funding field too, but deserves its own section. Peck is right in that the Containment Grid and much of the other items the Ghostbusters have could use a lot more testing and inspection, but again, when you’re an underfunded organization not given the same consideration as other outlets, what is available has to spent on the absolute necessities. The team has to make due with what it has, and sadly it isn’t enough. Again, Ray and Egon are the most experienced men of the outfit and have pretty clear cut ideas about how to protect both themselves and the citizens of New York City, so even if the material doesn’t meet the exact standards a group like the EPA would deem appropriate, it still does the job regardless of worry by an individual like Peck. With the Containment Grid, Ray and Egon were explaining in detail to Peck what would happen should it just be “Turned Off” but Peck’s general attitude and hatred of Peter Venkman made Peck’s judgement worse.

Pete Venkman and Walter Peck | Ghostbusters, Great movies, Ghostbusters 1984
You’re Outta Here, ya Peck!! (from Pinterest)

Now in all likelihood Peck’s singling out of the Ghostbusters is primarily based on his utter hatred of Peter Venkman and the embarrassment he suffered via Venkman’s rudeness, as well as not being able to prove the power of Gozer a hoax. I firmly believe he only wants to fire and imprison the others just to pay back Venkman and give him the same feeling of embarrassment he gave Peck, letting his professional pride snub cloud his judgement over the bigger issues, revealing he’d rather be thrown under the bus by the Mayor and other city officials as the sole bearer of the problem than have to admit he made a huge mistake. Ray and Egon on several occasions earnestly tried to be the voices of reason, with Venkman only making things worse and causing the normally level-headed Egon to attack Peck when Peck made a degrading personal insult to him.

(Please note that this is primarily my personal opinion rebuttal to the looper article and I do not in any way state that this is how others feel. Please feel free to constructively criticize the piece if there’s anything I missed here [please remember to be kind here folks]. This is in now way canon and my own ideas regarding from what I’ve seen of the film and the game sequel, I could be totally wrong and be perfectly fine with it. Thanks for tuning in this month, and any apologies for the more sporadic postings as things my way have been fairly crazy busy. HAPPY HALOWEEN!)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087332/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_2

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

https://ghostbusters.fandom.com/wiki/Ghostbusters_Wiki

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

The Maestro of Horror’s Grand Opus

by Tony Nash

(Halloween Potpourri 5)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Major Spoilers)

(Review is of the uncut Italian language version)

(Author’s Note: This review will be a little different, as I feel to relate the film is to speak of personal viewpoint, so here I’ll be speaking in the first person for much of the review)

Lisa and the Devil (1973) Preview - Color / 3:05 mins - YouTube
A US Poster (from YouTube)

Lisa e il Diavolo (Lisa and the Devil) (1972/73) ****1/2 R

Telly Savalas: Leandro, the Butler/A Demon

Elke Sommer: Lisa Reiner/Elena, Max’s Wife

Alessio Orano: Max, the Countess’ Son

Alida Valli: The Countess

Sylva Koscina: Sophie Leher

Eduardo Fajardo: Francis Leher

Espartaco Santoni: Carlo, Countess’ Husband

Gabriele Tinti: George, the Leher Chauffer

Franz von Treuberg: The Shopkeeper

Kathleen Leone: Lisa’s Friend (as Kathy Leone)

Written by: Mario Bava & Alfredo Leone (as Alfred Leone)

Directed by: Mario Bava

Synopsis: A woman finds herself put through a night of bizarre terror and the supernatural while spending the night at a decrepit villa of a creepy Spanish noble family

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
The Countess recalls the Past (from the IMDb)

After years of having his films compromised by Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson for American distribution, Mario Bava finally achieved complete creative freedom for exhibition in both Europe and the States with his newest film Lisa e il Diavolo. Bava had the concept for the film in his head for years, having jotted down notes and a treatment throughout the years, but couldn’t convince anyone to back the film due to its artistic and experimental nature. The picture finally got greenlight after Bava had a string of successes and one of the Italian studios offered him the opportunity to make any film he wished. What audiences of the time were treated to was a series of surreal imagery and story that had them struggling to comprehend what they were seeing. This botch at the box office caused Producer and co-writer Alfredo Leone to make changes to the film without contacting Bava and the subsequent mess that resulted from the changes led to the first of Bava’s descent into poor health and a heart attack. Not until Bava’s passing was the original film praised.

lisa e il diavolo | Tumblr
The Weeds of Time (from Tumbler)

The film is very hard to explain, Bava employing the painterly qualities he learned from his father to the overall look to the piece. This makes the film seem much more akin to a puzzle that even I your humble reviewer had trouble deciphering. This doesn’t take away from the films’ beauty at all, and it is indeed very much a painting brought to life the way only a mind like Bava’s could achieve. What we the audience end up seeing on screen is a version of Hell in its most devilish form, the realization all of these characters are being forced to relive their horrific deaths night after night as punishment for their sins in life. Whether they try every night to escape their fates isn’t determined, but what we do know is that at least two of the characters are aware of what is really happening, with the littlest of hope they can change history.

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
Devilish Hands at Work (from the IMDb)

Telly Savalas, one of the most iconic character actors of several decades, gets to play in his one and only avant-garde artistic style role with the part of Leandro the Butler. Whether he is Satan himself (as the fresco in the film’s opening suggests) or A demon sent by Satan to ensure history is repeated daily is unknown, but it is clear he holds permanent dominion over this disturbed family and the unfortunate guests who happened to become ensnared in events, and is loving it. Amazingly, Leandro in no way manipulates the events to ensure the Horror of these poor souls continues, and seems to only be a presence that moves in and out of the scenes, interacting with the others when necessary.

(Author’s Note: The lollipop that would become Savalas’ trademark as the character of Kojack originated in this film. Savalas was having difficulties giving up smoking, and Bava recommended he suck on lollipops as a substitute.)

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
Going Deeper into the Madness (from the IMDb)

Elke Sommer, the Austrian beauty, reunites with Bava a year after working with him on Gli Orrori del Castello di Norimberga (The Horror of Nuremburg Castle/Baron Blood) in the role of Lisa. Very little is known about Lisa, other than that she decided to spend her vacation in Spain, which makes her ending up at the villa and her subsequent connection to the other participants even stranger as there’s no way to figure out how this is all happening. Sommer has very little to almost no dialogue in the film, making her like Leandro in that everything seems to happen around her, making her the central figure.

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
The Blind Countess (from the IMDb)
Film Review: Lisa and the Devil (1974) | HNN
The Unstable Max (from Horromews)
Lisa and the Devil (1973)
The Lovely Sophie (from the IMDb)
Lisa e il diavolo (1973) - il Davinotti
Francis and Leandro (from il Davinotti)

The two leads are joined by such performers as Alida Valli, Eduardo Fajardo, Sylva Koscina, and Alessio Orano. These players at one time or another engaged acts of infidelity, betrayal, and murder, and are forced by the power of the Devil to relive those sins, and the deaths they suffered because of them in an immortal loop, dying only to return to life not long after to begin the tragic cycle all over again.

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
House of Puppets (from the IMDb)

Mannequins play an important role in the film as since the majority of the characters are long dead, the life size figures act as recreations of the deceased, fixed and brought back to life by Leandro, once every murder has been committed. How Leandro does thins is never explained, only that each figure is created by a local shopkeeper to fit the likeness of the participants, and then animated by unknown forces.

lisa e il diavolo Tumblr posts - Tumbral.com
Tragedy Lies Behind this Beautiful Facade (from Tumbral)

Like I said in the past , how each viewer interprets a film is based on their own experience, and Lisa e il Diavolo is the ultimate example of this. It can be really difficult to explain this one without giving your own opinion as the imagery Bava goes with is very visceral and is nearly impossible to be objective when discussing it. Since Bava made the film with no audience in mind and truly did make something he himself wanted to see, it makes pinpointing something exact hard. If Bava truly intended for this to be the type of film that every viewer would have a different perspective on after seeing it, then he succeeded a 100 times over since his death in 1980 as the film does continue to fascinate, unnerve, and confound people.

(This film isn’t for everyone, but those who do see it, while bewildered, do come away with interesting experience that leaves them thinking about the film for a long while after seeing it. The Blu Ray from Arrow Video is fairly immaculate, only small hints of age and wear present.)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068863/?ref_=hm_rvi_tt

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

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_e_il_diavolo

buying options

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

When Horror Met Trippy Art Cinema

by Tony Nash

(Halloween Potpourri 4)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

Vampyros Lesbos (1971) - Posters — The Movie Database (TMDb)
US Poster (from the Movie Database)

Vampyros Lesbos (Las Vampiras) (1971) ****1/2 NC-17

Soledad Miranda: Countess Nadine Corday (as Susann Korda)

Ewa Stromberg: Linda Westinghouse (as Ewa Stroemberg)

Dennis Price: Dr. Alwin Seward

Paul Muller: Dr. Steiner

Heidrun Kussin: Agra, Nadine’s Mad Lover

Andrea Montchal: Omar, Linda’s Boyfriend (as Viktor Feldmann)

Jose Martinez Blanco: Morpho, Nadine’s Servant (as J. Martinez Blanco)

Jesus Franco: Memmet, the Mad Caretaker

Written by: Jaime Chavarri, Jesus Franco (as Franco Manera), and Anne Settimo, from a stroy by Chavarri and loosely adapted from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and J. Sheridan le Farnu’s Carmilla

Directed by: Jesus Franco (as Franco Manera)

Synopsis: Real Estate agent Linda Westinghouse is sent by her company to arrange the selling of a property owned by Countess Nadine Corday. The two quickly become romantically involved, only for Linda to discover Nadine is a vampire, turned by the late Count Dracula himself, and is now under her hypnotic influence. Complications arise when Nadine finds herself genuinely falling in love with Linda, while Linda’s boyfriend and a local doctor attempt to free her.

American Genre Film Archive VAMPYROS LESBOS
Hiding from Religion (from American Genre Film Archive)

Jess Franco’s first full on attempt at mixing avant-garde cinema with exploitation cinema is an amazing achievement which showed what Franco was capable of when given the right amount of time and freedom, and offered a pen-ultimate showcase of the talent that Soledad Miranda was fleshing out prior to her tragic death in a car accident. Taking elements from both Stoker’s Dracula and Le Farnu’s Carmilla, Franco and his co writers create a story that, while very basic in both subject and execution, offer up quite a bit of subtext, and deep emotion underneath the surface that while doesn’t seem to show itself as the film is being viewed, becomes clear to the viewer after thinking about the film for some time afterwards.

Vampyros Lesbos (1970) – Midnight Only
Countess Nadine Corday played by the ravishing Soledad Miranda (from Midnight Only)

Soledad Miranda, using the stage name Susann Korda, offers up one of her most subtle, compelling, thought provoking, and finest performance as Nadine Corday. A Countess by birth and once a human, Nadine was turned sometime in the 18th or 19th century by the infamous bloodsucker Count Dracula, and has since seduced and fed on mainly female lovers, having grown to hate men after Dracula betrayed her. Miranda’s soulful and hypnotic look serves the character of Nadine well, and while the actress shows very little emotion, half her choice and half Franco’s choice, there are still many moments where Nadine is clearly in conflict with herself over many of her choices since becoming a vampire, and hasn’t completely lost her humanity in how she feels about certain characters, particularly with Linda and the man servant Morpho. Possibly the only contradiction to her character concerns a woman named Agra, one of Nadine’s former lovers. Like Dracula had done to Nadine, so had Nadine done to Agra and abandoned her, leaving her to be caged in a mental institution. Whether she regrets this entirely is unknown.

Vampyros Lesbos
A Spiritual Ritual….with Blood (from Mondo Digital)

The first in a brief cycle of Franco themes in his experimental age is a female vampire existing in both daylight and night. Whether it began as budget constraints based upon the time frame he had to shoot on location with, or if it really was an artistic decision, Nadine Corday seems to be the first Franco vampire to have transcended the majority of limitations with the species and is able to function as a normal woman within society. That she still needs blood as her sustenance and both religious iconography and prayers repel her maintain the flaws of the vampiric people.

Vampyros Lesbos Blu-ray Review | High Def Digest
Linda Becoming Nadine’s Lover (from High Def Digest)

Ewa Stromberg, a Swedish actress who briefly acted in the 60’s and 70’s get one of her rare major roles in the part of Linda Westinghouse. Little is known of Linda’s life prior to the events of the film, but from all accounts she appears to have led a normal, uneventful, and maybe even boring life with her boyfriend Omar, and it all changes in an instant when she meets Nadine. What makes Linda different to most objects of a vampire’s desires is that she appears to be a fairly willing participant after a brief period of time. Like Nadine, Linda too begins developing real and genuine romantic feelings, but because she isn’t completely under Nadine’s thrall, is able to overcome the influence while recovering from blood loss and exhaustion. Unfortunately, Nadine won her heart fairly and now Linda must decide if she can muster the courage to free herself from damnation, and maybe give Nadine the freedom she felt lost to.

Vampyros Lesbos
The Dubious Dr. Seward (from Mondo Digital)
Vampyros Lesbos
The Mistress and Her Servant (from Mondo Digital)

The two lovely female leads are joined by an eclectic cast of characters including British expat actor Dennis Price, Swiss-German actor Paul Muller, Spanish actors Andres Montchal and Jose Martinez Blanco, two trying desperately to save Linda, one trying to aid Nadine in her plans, and another out for himself. Price is particularly effective as a play to the Dracula character Dr. Seward, this go around called Alwin Seward. Unlike the literary counterpart, this Seward isn’t entirely what he seems, and his methods are equally strange in getting to the bottom of things. The remaining cast seem to have little to do, but are still good at their respective parts.

Vampyros Lesbos / She Killed in Ecstasy - Psycho Drive-In
Vampyros Lesbos – [FILMGRAB]

The color red plays a very pivotal role in the film. Often used as the lighting in a room, the color of clothing, or in the form of liquid, red is ever present in the world Nadine Corday. Red showcases the always lurking aspects of life, death, love, blood, sex, death, immortality, and the erotic, acting as a symbol of what human life can never truly break away from, and that in spite of humanity’s evolvement in morality and behavior, is always there, waiting and watching in silence.

Vampyros Lesbos BD Review (originally published 2015)
A Tragic Love Story (from Genre Grinder)

While aspects of Homoerotic and Lesbian romances have always had a thin veiled presence in the cinema, usually subtly hinted at, Jess Franco broke a major boundary by having the Nadine and Linda characters openly, and very explicitly, engage in a sexual relationship. A sometimes forgotten aspect of Horror films is that occasionally at the heart of them is a tragic, dark, and twisted love story, and the one between Nadine and Linda is no different. What begins as a simple seduction to quench an everlasting need for blood to survive turns into a love that likely can never be for Nadine, as for her to do so would mean killing the woman she loves, thus losing the innocence and purity that made said love possible. For Linda, her unintentional falling in love presents a major complication: does she want to be free to be with her boyfriend, or will she want to succumb to most forbidden temptation to be one of the damned to live forever.

Vampyros Lesbos Blu-ray Review | High Def Digest
A Symbolic Representation of Light and Darkness (from High Def Digest)

One of Jess Franco’s more hypnotic films, and one that keeps a coherent narrative floating in the midst of varying symbolism and surrealistic imagery, VL proves to be a somewhat lesser feat of artistic achievement and showcases what Franco could’ve achieved had events not taken a tragic turn.

(This is another occasion where I feel I can’t recommend a film to everyone in spite of its fine quality and quantity, only because Franco’s latter period is clearly not to everyone tastes, even with higher production values and the feeling that though there’s an exploitive feel to the film, the film doesn’t showcase it for its own sake. Again, it’s one of those films that what you’re supposed to be looking for isn’t present as you’re watching it, but will start to become clearer as you go through everything you’ve witnessed afterwards. This is another example of sometimes having to really make your own choice, even if the majority says it is a film to start with regarding Franco.)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066380/

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

buying options

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

HorrorBabble Theater Presents: The Temple of Memory

by Tony Nash

(Halloween Potpurri 3)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

Original Artwork by MG Keller Meyer (from HorrorBabble)

The Temple of Memory (2018) R *****

Ian Gordon: John Braxton, Beta Team Leader

Roslyn Hicks: Anna Channing, Beta Team Technician

Jennifer Gill: Lucy Davies, Beta Team Navigator

KINGSPOOK: David Hunter, Alpha Team Leader

Morgan Scorpion: Olivia Davies, Alpha Team Navigator

G.M. Danielson: Thomas Moore, Alpha Team Technician

Written & Produced by: Ian Gordon

Synopsis: A team from a government special agency encounters more than they bargained for as they search the Brazilian jungles for missing colleagues and look to apprehend a dangerous cult worshipping an evil sea goddess.

horrorbabble hashtag on Twitter
The Classic HorrorBabble Logo (from HorrorBabble)

HorrorBabble’s first foray into the world of Audio Drama is both a nod to the Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos and co-founder Ian Gordon’s first entry in his recurring series on the modern entity Nokuth. That the story and new Mythos is set in the current era offers quite a bit of interest, intrigue, and horror as even with all the current technology available, it seems unable to detect the presence of something most certainly alive, but beyond worldly comprehension.

Ian Gordon: Actor, Extra and Band Member - Bolton, UK - StarNow
A Voice for the Ages: the Fabulous Ian Gordon (from StarNow UK)

Ian once again shows off his amazing skills as a writer by the pacing of the piece. While the majority of the story plays out like a typical Mystery Adventure, subtle sounds and atmospheric ambience slowly lead to a crescendo of utter terror and cosmic oblivion. What begins as a simple rescue, recovery, and detain mission soon turns into a fight for survival as two separate teams of government agents uncover an evil as old as the stars, and the hideous mutations that willingly serve it. That it all seems so simple is what adds to the horror of the situation.

This is Ian Gordon, the voice behind HorrorBabble. AMA about producing  weird fiction audiobooks. : Lovecraft
The retired original HB Mascot (from Reddit)

In addition to Ian and Jennifer’s voice talents, joining in the collaboration are Australian Roslyn Hicks, fellow Britons Morgan Scorpion and G.M. Danielson, and Canadian KINGSPOOK. All the case does great jobs in lulling the listener into a sense of security, and then slowly building the fear as more and more unusual and clearly out of the ordinary things begin to happen that turn an adventure that was to be so return into something of the thing of nightmares.

Harking back to the days of British radio plays and serials, The Temple of Memory offers up a very well done mix of Horror, Adventure, Anthropology, Archeology, and even a little peudo History, all equaling to a very intriguing ride.

(Lovers of Horror, weird fiction, and anyone openly curious to varied subjects will be completely enthralled by this totally original and different piece by Ian Gordon and company. Quite a bit has already been said of the piece on the HorrorBabble YouTube page and elsewhere, so I don’t really need to rehash all the positivity its received, only to check it out, even if Horror isn’t your main thing as its very well crafted.)

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

For more information

https://www.horrorbabble.com/

to listen to the drama

https://horrorbabble.bandcamp.com/album/the-temple-of-memory-horror-experience

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri