Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

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

MFM Quickies #2: The Film That Started My Journey to Region Free Blu Ray

by Tony Nash

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

BFI Napoleon Blu-ray cover image
(from the BFI Shop)

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

Today I thought I’d share with you the film that jump started me to get a Region Free Blu Ray Player. Ironically, it was Abel Gance’s silent Epic Napoleon, about the early career of the famous/infamous French General and Emperor. Now there were plenty of other films with better quality releases in both the UK and Germany that I really wanted to get as well, so I’m certain everyone reading will be wondering why this one got the kickstart rolling. Well, the answer is actually quite simple: I did an uber amount of reading about the film online.

I first learned about Abel Gance’s Masterpiece when I was a grade school kid. Titanic was all the rage back in 1997, and while I understood the appeal of the film, I couldn’t understand why the film was so long. One time on a ride somewhere I asked my Dad if there were was anything as long, or maybe even longer than the James Cameron classic, and to my youthful surprise he said yes, and began to tell me of this silent film about Napoleon Bonaparte that ran between 7 to 9 hours in length, which was extraordinary to a youthful mind.

Fast forward to about the time I’m graduating high school, getting ready to go to college, and I start looking up old school on the, newly discovered for me at that time, IMDb, one of the many go to places for film buffs, and one of them was Napoleon, which had some cool stuff about it. This reading would go on for intermittent periods until 4 or 5 years ago. As time went by I became more and more curious to actually see the film for myself, but the unfortunate rift between Kevin Brownlow and Francis Ford Coppola over the right of which edit was the superior cut of the film led to the uncertainty of this classic ever seeing the light of day on physical media. Finally Kevin Brownlow announced a Blu Ray would indeed be happening after finally completing the restoration to Gance’s original edit, and his instructions to Brownlow when he began the search for the missing footage.

Unfortunately, the rift caused by Coppola meant Brownlow couldn’t offer the film’s Blu Ray treatment to US audiences in a Region A edition, which left many buffs up the creek. Now, having read so much and picturing in my mind how this film was gonna look, I finally said to myself, ‘the time has finally here to upgrade to Region Free, and with that started the interesting, though not without some frustration early on, about finally getting a player. I’m so happy I took the plunge because this film is beautiful and extraordinary, the closest I think Cinema will get to Van Gogh style art, a very rewarding experience to have been able to watch this in my home.

And that’s another MFM Quickie folks, hope you found this one a nice read.

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri

HorrorBabble Theater Presents: The Halloween Experiment

by Tony Nash

(Spoilers Ahead)

(All Opinions are of the Author alone)

May be an image of text that says 'THE "RED" ROOM HORRORBABBLE'
The Red Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)
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The Blue Room (from HorrorBabble’s Facebook)
May be an image of text that says 'THE "GREEN" ROOM HORRORBABBLE'
The Greed Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)
May be an image of brick wall and text
The White Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)
May be an image of text that says 'THE "BLACK" ROOM HORRORBABBLE'
The Black Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

The Halloween Experiment: The Red Room (Part 1) *****/The Blue Room (Part 2) *****/The Green Room (Part 3) *****/The White Room (Part 4) ****/The Black Room (Part 5) ****/The Final Log (Part 6) ****1/2 (2021) R

Ian Gordon: Dr. Stephan Helm/Mr. Finkle/Mr. Alan Morris/Prof. Conrad Derickson/’Lisa’/Craig Michael Jeffries

Jennifer Gill: Ms. Lila Hennessy/The Nature Sprite//Spirit/Mrs. Matilda Jeffries/Dr. Alicia Ramsey

Written by: Ian Gordon

Produced by: Ian Gordon & Jennifer Gill

Synopsis: Psychologist Dr. Stephan Helm has offered help to 6 different people suffering from strange trauma in the form of his new treatment method, Project Delusion, in which patients are placed in specially colored rooms corresponding to their conditions in the hopes this will help them face their fears. Soon, very odd things begin to happen.

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The Red Room Plain Background (HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian Gordon and Jennifer Gill, the duo behind the fantastic HorrorBabble, mixing public domain Classic Horror and newer Horror fiction, have done it again with Ian’s new Halloween Mini Series appropriately titled The Halloween Experiment. The setting is late October 1976, and an idealistic German doctor gives the first test of his new psychiatric treatment called ‘Project Delusion’, in which patients with phobias/traumas triggered by the sight of a specific color are placed in special rooms corresponding to said color to aid in recovery. Dr. Helm’s plan is to use the colors in full force to help his patients see what they believe are real creatures are in fact creations of their subconscious to represent phobias that began either from childhood fears/trauma, or are the result of overwork. At first, it simply appears that the physical representations of the patients’ delusions are in fact real, and have managed to breach the Doc’s secure environment to finish what they started, but when the Doc’s abusive mother appears in the vision of a female patient suffering from a split personality disorder, something much stranger appears to be in the works. Are the creatures killing and/or kidnapping the Doc’s patients real, or is something in the Doc’s own psyche and personal life causing all the Horror coming down upon those he wished to help?

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The Black Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian makes the Special very unique and interesting by having it be a mixture of character monologue and conversational tape recordings between the Dt. Helm and the respective patient. Even more interesting is that the majority of Helm’s dialogue is in the form of tape recording, showing the distance he has with the patients. This mixture works very well as it seamlessly combines theater-esque performances and the general audio recordings of short fiction, forming a unique and different experience that is very exciting.

May be an image of text that says 'HORRORBABBLE'
The Blue Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian offers up a very interesting performance as the main character Dr. Stephan Helm. Little is presented about Helm in the first four episodes of the Mini Series, other than that he is a dedicated Psychologist looking for new means to help those who have managed to form complex physical manifestations of their varied fears and phobias. Helm is certain these manifestations are like those of most psychiatric patients: the result of some form of trauma, either from childhood or recent happenings. Project Delusion, Helm’s experimental treatment being tested for the first time, deals primarily in manifestations brought about by seeing color, and special rooms are crafted where everything is painted or purchased in that specific color to help the patient ease into discussing what happened to them, and hopefully, be able to confront their issues head on so they can be free of the crippling fear induced by the event. As the week progresses, Helm watches as his patients are killed, or are mysteriously whisked away (often presumed dead), by the beings of their fears taking real form. With each day, Helm slowly beings to doubt his own rational sanity as he sees more and more bizarre occurrences. This comes to a full head when the spirit of Helm’s Mother appears in the vision of his final patient, forcing Helm to come face to face with a long buried trauma of his own.

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The White Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

In the first experiment, Ian takes the role of Helm’s first patient Mr. Finkle, a working class laborer. Financial and Economic troubles have forced Finkle into temporary and minimal jobs that leave him just the ultimate minimum to survive. Finkle’s fear of ending up destitute, homeless, and worried he’ll be found dead in the shady apartment building he’s forced to live in led to his doctor prescribing him sleeping pills to help him, which led to narcotic dependency. At first believing the pills were causing him to hallucinate, Finkle becomes convinced an entity has taken the form of a mini blood red blob of corned-beef that tried to attack and eat him. Helm watches in terror as the blob appears in the Red Room and finishes off Finkle. Experiment three has Ian assuming the role of Mr. Alan Morris, a recluse with an insatiable love of apples. Morris admits his obsession comes from childhood, mainly from having been bullied and teased. Now his love of apples has become a nightmare as a mysterious being sent him a basketful that have been filled with something to cause a tree to grow inside of him. This episode is refreshingly comic in its telling, Morris more concerned that some nature spirit or sprite is trying to make him a part of the forest. Experiment four has a fellow medical man as Helm’s patient, Conrad Derickson. Derickson’s specialty is the study of dreams and the mind, and his theory insists that men can control their surroundings if in the right state. Encouraged by a boy who has the ability naturally, Derickson accesses a small portion of the power, but having to deny himself sleep to achieve the goal has left him hallucinating and unable to control his the power. ‘Lisa’ is Ian’s masterful take on a female voice, a woman who’s personality split in two after hearing of a friend’s brutal murder. ‘Lisa’ is the serious side of the two, ‘Mel’ being the fun one. The two have been forcibly separated and ‘Lisa’ is trying find ‘Mel’, and this attempt leads to ‘Lisa”s discovery of Dr. Helm’s past

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The Green Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Jennifer Gill, Ian’s partner and HorrorBabble co-founder, offers up equally impressive performances of her own, particularly as Ms. Lila Hennessy. Ms. Hennessy is a photographer by trade, and while shooting promotional photos for an Aquarium business, discovers something very strange. At first believing her always busy schedule has led her to feel fatigue, what Ms. Hennessy sees in the photo makes her see different. What she describes she calls The Fishbowl Man, an amalgamation of everyday objects that take humanoid form in another universe or dimension, the name coming from the being’s head being a fishbowl, and goldfish making up its eyes. Believing the being wants to destroy her for having caught it on camera, exposing another world to humanity, Hennessy attempts to counteract the creature’s actions by purchasing the goldfish. She quickly realizes this was a mistake as the creature transports itself to her lodgings, looking for its eyes. The blue color of the creature causes Hennessy to freak out around anything blue colored. Hennessy tells the doctor she feels cured as she believes the Fishbowl Man no longer wants revenge because she destroyed all her prints and the negative as well, hoping it believes she’ll take her knowledge of its world to the grave, only for Helm to watch in helpless shock as the room Hennessy’s in fills with water, drowning her. Gill also provides the voice for the chirpy Nature entity looking to make Mr. Morris a part of the its world, and the voice of Helm’s stern, abusive mother.

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The Final Log Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

In a very surprising and interesting twist, it’s revealed that Stephan Helm is really psychiatric patient Craig Michael Jeffries, suffering from multiple personality disorder. As a child, Jeffries witnessed in utter terror as his mother brutally murdered his father, was forced to help her dispose of the body, and was subjected by her to unending psychological trauma. Helm, along with Mr. Finkle, Ms. Hennessy, Mr. Morris, Prof. Derickson, and ‘Lisa’, were all the personalities that resulted from Jeffries being unable to initially cope with all that happened to him. Helm’s experiment, Project Delusion, is revealed to in fact have been an experiment called The Halloween Experiment by Jeffries’ doctor Alicia Ramsey to help him break through his disorder. Dr. Helm was discovered to have been the strongest and dominate of the personalities, thus a special treatment involving summoning each personality via color was necessary to placate Helm’s control of the others, allowing each of Jeffries’ traumas to be confronted and overcome. Helm himself is destroyed when a vision of Mrs. Jeffries appears in personality ‘Lisa’s’ final moments, the fear Jeffries had of her being strong enough to break control from Helm. By letting Helm believe he was still in charge, Ramsey was able to help Jeffries come to terms with his horrifying and tragic childhood, thus freeing him from Helm and his mother, his personality finally being restored to normal.

HorrorBabble Logo (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian Gordon once again provides fans of his site, and audiences in general, with a very refreshing and new take on the Creature Horror genre and Psychological Horror genre. The mixture of tape recording sounding audio and traditional storytelling monologue blends well together to make a perfect harmony, and the performances of Ian and Jennifer are brilliant.

(I highly recommend giving this six part series a listen to. It’s well written, and both Ian Gordon and Jennifer always give their best with every reading/performance. I was thoroughly surprised by the twist ending in part six, didn’t expect that revelation at all. That Mrs. Jeffries, who was the source of all her son’s problems ended up being the one destroying the controlling Dr. Helm personality ended up being a nice ironic touch. Ian proves once again with this how excellent of a writer he his. Please check out not only this special, but the HorrorBabble YouTube channel in general as both Ian and Jennifer give great readings of public domain classic Horror.)

All images courtesy of the HorrorBabble Facebook page

to listen to the series

The Halloween Experiment -The Red Room: Part 1
The Halloween Experiment -The Blue Room: Part 2

The Halloween Experiment – The Green Room: Part 3
The Halloween Experiment – The White Room: Part 4
The Halloween Experiment – The Black Room: Part 5
The Halloween Experiment – The Final Log: Part 6

Link to HorrorBabble’s YouTube page

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

MFM Quickies 1: One of the Best Purchase Deals

by Tony Nash

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

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

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

A Cool Set

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri


Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Why do you write movie reviews?

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

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

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

Waves of Lust (1975) - IMDb
Italian Poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Catch a Thief - Wikipedia
Original Poster

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

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

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

6. Who are your favorite film reviewers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the Waterfront - Wikipedia
Original Poster

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

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

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

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

Make Mine Criterion!

Mike’s Take on the Movies

Master Mix Movies

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

Paul. Writer and Filmmaker

Matt Brunson

Eric Binford


Reel Time Flicks

Silver Screenings

Movies From Hell

Now for the 11 Questions

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

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

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

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

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

Game Opinion From a Non-Gamer

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are from the author alone)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the undisputed winner is…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

All images courtesy of Images and Their Respective Owners

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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)

Image result for kiss me kate movie
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)
Image result for kurt kasznar kiss me kate movie
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.

Image result for kiss me kate movie
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 Images and their respective owners

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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 -
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.)

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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 …… "
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. 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.)

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