Happy New Year! + Nov. & Dec. at TCM’s Movie Morlocks

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Happy New Year. So much to say and so little time to say it. Instead, I’ll save my rambling end of the year diatribe for another day and leave you with some links to the film writing I’ve done at TCM’s Movie Morlocks blog during the past few months. Cheers!

November:
Another Hole in the Head 2015: 11 Days of Indie Horror, Sci-Fi & Fantasy in San Francisco!
Excerpt: “In the words of festival programmer Michael Guillen, Another Hole in the Head is “characterized by a scrappy, DIY aesthetic that eschews big studio content and recent trends towards elevated genre. Holehead’s programming remains curatorially committed to the genre’s graphic roots in shockploitation, visceral thrills and gleeful mayhem.” As a genre film fan with a particular interest in horror I was intrigued by Guillen’s joyful and graphic description so I decided to ask him a few questions about the festival and his programming selections this year.”
Federico Fellini: The Cartoonist
Excerpt: “Fellini’s propensity toward the absurd emerged early in life. As a child, he began drawing caricatures of film stars he saw in movies and as a young adult he found work as a cartoonist and gag writer for a number of Italian newspapers, humor publications and comic books. He eventually began writing comedy scripts for radio but WW2 derailed his writing career and following the Allied liberation of Rome in 1944, Fellini opened the Funny Face Shop where he worked as a caricature artist and expressed an interest in animation. It was here that Fellini met the renowned filmmaker Roberto Rossellini who was so impressed with his sense of humor that he was asked to co-write the film script for Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945) and the rest, as they say, is history. Fellini soon began working as an apprentice for Rossellini and ultimately started directing his own films but he never stopped drawing cartoons and caricatures.”
Life Advice from Douglas Fairbanks
Excerpt: “The ideas expressed in the books are often ridiculously simplistic and there is a lot of focus on physical fitness, which preoccupied much of Fairbanks’s time. The actor’s fixation with exercise and maintaining his health is typical of someone whose career relies on him being physically fit but it’s also a rather modern approach to living that predates our current preoccupation with good health and Hollywood’s obsession with body image. In retrospect, Fairbanks’s health advice seems somewhat ironic considering we now know he died at the young age of 52 following a heart attack. It’s an unfortunate reminder that despite our best efforts death is unavoidable and waits for no one.”
Remembering Bruce Lee on his 75th Birthday
Excerpt: “My own affection for Bruce Lee began when I was just a kid. I became aware of the actor and director when he died in 1973, which was the same year I lost my own father. For a number of reasons, including their similar age and the fact that Lee’s passing garnered massive publicity at the time, their deaths were inevitably linked in my head and heart. There were plenty of other celebrity deaths in 1973, including Lon Chaney Jr. and Edward G. Robinson, but neither generated the kind of worldwide public mourning and media attention that followed in the wake of Bruce Lee’s passing. Afterward the celebrated martial artist was catapulted into sainthood while my father remained a saint in my own mind. However, when I think of one man I frequently think of the other. Both left this world suddenly, without warning, and much too soon.”

December:
Movie Book Round-Up: The Holiday Edition
Excerpt: “Since I began writing for the Movie Morlocks five years ago I typically compile a blog post with summer reading suggestions or a list of favorite film related books released at the end of the year. This year I’ve had access to so many great books that I decided to compile two book lists . . . What follows is my ‘Holiday Edition’ where I share some of the best books (pictured above) that I’ve encountered since July. I hope both lists will encourage you to do some reading during the holidays or provide you with some shopping suggestions while you’re purchasing gifts for fellow film buffs.”
Nippon Noir: Snow Trail (1947)
Excerpt: “Senkichi Taniguchi’s Show Trail aka Ginrei no hate (1947) begins with a bang. A montage of shadowy figures and fragmented images bombards viewers during the film’s opening credits while guns fire, alarms ring, windows break, trains whistle and sirens scream. We soon discover that three desperate men (Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Yoshio Kosugi) have just robbed a bank and in a bold attempt to dodge authorities they make a dangerous trip to Northern Japan where they hope to lose their pursuers in the snow covered Alps . . . This highly suspenseful, genuinely moving and remarkably inventive film marks the screen introduction of many notable talents. Chief among them is 27-year-old Toshiro Mifune who makes his screen debut here and would eventually become one of Japan’s most acclaimed and beloved actors.”
Pioneering Women: Disney Artists Mary Blair & Thelma Witmer
Excerpt: “While pursuing the credits for So Dear to My Heart and the animated short Corn Chips I noticed that they included work done by two female animation artists I admire, Mary Blair and Thelma Witmer. Women are not typically associated with animation and they tend to be excluded from histories about the subject but thanks to a number of recent books and exhibits, Mary Blair’s career has gone through a reevaluation and she’s become widely recognized as one of Walt Disney Studio’s most original and influential talents. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of background artist Thelma Witmer who worked with Disney for more than 20 years but remains largely unknown.”
The Thin Man Marathon: Conjugal Concord
Excerpt: “There are many reasons to love the Thin Man films. They’re smart, funny, sophisticated and flat out entertaining mysteries but I’m particularly fond of the way they make marriage look so damn fun. Nick and Nora are best pals as well as romantic mates and their breezy back-and-forth banter suggests an intimacy that is sadly missing from many depictions of marriage on screen. Best of all, they share a similar sense of humor and as the old maxim goes, ‘a couple that laughs together, stays together.'”

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I’ve also been doing some promotional writing for TCM’s new Wine Club including a brief piece about wine in the movies that you can find here:
A Brief History of Wine in the Movies

6 Months of Film Writing

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I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting Cinebeats again but I’ve been busy with various personal projects and obligations. I’ve also recently started writing for Publishers Weekly but I thought I’d finally update with some highlights from TCM’s Movie Morlocks. Here’s some of the more interesting (in my estimation) film related writing & entertaining babble I’ve produced in the last 6 months. You might notice that the topics I cover have gotten a little “lighter” in content and that’s by design. TCM’s blog readers generally prefer light reading about familiar topics so I’ve been trying to accommodate them more often.

March, 2015:
Superhero Saturdays on TCM: BATMAN (1943)
Bold! Noble! Daring! BATWOMAN (1968)
William Mortensen in Hollywood
Hammer Noir: A Poster Gallery
April, 2015:
“Robbery & Murder Were Their Code of Living!” – THE CATS (1968)
A Troy Donahue Top 10
Cooking with Sophia Loren
Orson Welles at One Hundred
May, 2015:
Think Pink: The Enduring Appeal of Lady Penelope
Two on the Run: DEADLY STRANGERS (1975)
The Hollywood Style
June, 2015:
Hollywood Comes to Hearst Castle: Memories & Musings
Men Among Monsters: Remembering Christopher Lee & Richard Johnson
Bugging Out! A Poster Gallery
Classic Hollywood Actors Discuss Women, Beauty & Femininity with Arlene Dahl
July, 2015:
Underrated ’65
Elisabeth Lutyens: Horror Queen of Film Composers
Midsummer Reading Suggestions
Q&A: Michael Kronenberg From the Film Noir Foundation
Birdwatching in Bodega Bay
August, 2015:
A Few Fun Facts About Michael Caine
The Kitten & The Cowboy: When Ann-Margret Met The Duke
Mae Clarke: Frankenstein’s First Bride
Closing Act: Shelley Winters

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Movies in Comicolor

Last week I neglected to share a link to a recent Movie Morlocks post I wrote discussing Movie Love. This interesting ’50s era romance comic was aimed at a female audience and featured romantic films adapted into comic books. It also contained background stories on particular actors and little tidbits of information that many classic movie fans should appreciate. There’s more about this interesting comic (including more sample pages!) at TCM’s Movie Morlocks blog.

Movies in Comicolor at TCM’s Movie Morlocks

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Comic Book of the Week: Plague of the Zombies

House of Hammer V2 #1 (1977) This is another Hammer film adaptation comic from The House of Hammer (also known as Hammer’s Halls of Horror). As I mentioned in my previous post, The House of Hammer was a British film and comic magazine published between 1976 and 1978. The following pages are from issue #13 (also called issue #1 Vol. 2), which featured another great cover painted by Brian Lewis depicting a scene from John Gilling’s Plague of the Zombies (1966). The following sample pages are from the comic illustrated by the notable storyboard artist, Trevor Goring and written by Steve Moore. The back cover of the magazine featured a movie poster for Plague of the Zombie, which I’ve also included along with a promo shot featuring a very scary looking Ben Aris in his zombie makeup carrying actress Jacqueline Pearce. Plague of the Zombies is too often overshadowed by all the zombie films that followed in its distinct footsteps, which is a shame. I think it’s one of Hammer’s best films and features some of the studio’s most innovative monster makeup. Don’t watch it alone! Plague of Zombies (1977) Plague of Zombies (1977) Plague of Zombies (1977) Plague of Zombies (1977) Plague of Zombies (1977) Plague of Zombies (1977) pozposter pzp2

Comic Book of the Week: Curse of the Werewolf

Hammer House of Horror #10

The House of Hammer (also known as Hammer’s Halls of Horror) was a British film and comic magazine published between 1976 and 1978. The following pages are from issue #10, which featured a wonderful cover painted by artist Brian Lewis depicting Oliver Reed in Terence Fisher’s Curse of the Werewolf (1961). The following sample pages are from Part I. & II. of the Curse of the Werewolf comic illustrated by one of my favorite comic book artists, the talented John Bolton and written by Steve Moore. The back cover of the magazine featured a Belgian movie poster for Curse of the Werewolf, which I’ve also included along with a promo shot featuring a very handsome Oliver Reed without his monster makeup. I recommend you read these pages accompanied by the light of the full moon!

Hammer House of Horror #10

Hammer House of Horror #10

Hammer House of Horror #10

Hammer House of Horror #10

Hammer House of Horror #10

Hammer House of Horror #10

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Comic Book of the Week: Land of the Giants

Land of the Giants #5 (1969)

Land of the Giants was a short-lived comic book series published between 1968-1969 by Gold Key Comics. I’m not sure who the artist and writer were because there are no credits in the comic but it was based on the television show of the same name. The series only lasted two seasons and I think it was one of Irwin Allen’s most interesting creations. It’s sort of a strange hybrid between Gulliver’s Travels, Lost in Space, Planet of the Apes and the 1965 film Village of the Giants, which Allen undoubtedly borrowed his title from. I wrote a little bit about the show a few years back when it was released on DVD so if you’d like to know more about Land of the Giants you can find information here.
Land of the Giants #5 (1969)

Land of the Giants #5 (1969)

Comic Book of the Week: Logan’s Run (1976)

Logan's Run #2

Logan’s Run was originally a movie tie-in comic published by Marvel Comics between 1976-1977 and illustrated by the great George Perez. One of the best things about the comic series was the fact that it followed the original script and included scenes that were cut from the film but it also censored a few scenes that Marvel thought were inappropriate for kids. The first five issues of Logan’s Run adapted the film pretty faithfully but by issue #6 Marvel was free to take the material in a creative new directions and they did. The series was extremely popular at the time that it was published but due to a sudden licensing disagreement Marvel was forced to cancel the comic after issue #7 and MGM decided to turn Logan’s Run into a television series.

I actually tried to follow the Logan’s Run comic books series when I was a kid but the only place you could buy comics in my hometown was at the local 7-11 and their spin rack was always half empty. They seemed to get random issues so I’d be stuck reading issue #2 followed by issue #5 and have no idea what I was missing. I loved the series though and Logan’s Run (Michael Anderson; 1976) is still one of my favorite science fiction films. These pages are from Logan’s Run #2 but I’ve also included an ad that ran in this issue for toy tie-ins with The Six Million Dollar Man television series, which was one of the best shows on TV in the ’70s.

Logan's Run #2

Logan's Run #2

Logan's Run #2

The Six-Million Dollar Man

Comic Book of the Week: Angelique (1978)

Angelique (1978)

Toshie Kihara’s Angelique series was originally published in 1978 by Princess Comics. Angelique is a Japanese manga (comic book) based on the historical novels by Anne and Serge Golon published between 1957 and 1976. These historic novels focus on the romantic adventures of Angelique de Sancé de Monteloup as she braves misfortune and tragedy in 17th century France. The novels were also turned into a series of films in the ’60s starring the lovely Michele Mercier who appeared in some great Italian horror films including Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath (1963) and Antonio Margheriti’s Web of the Spider (1971).

Toshie Kihara is one of my favorite manga artists and Angelique is one of her most popular creations. Kihara took great liberties with Golon’s original novels but her work is exceptional. Her page layouts, bold lines and dramatic framing really bring Golon’s action packed drama to life. I actually prefer early Japanese manga to American comics because the work of my favorite mangakas (comic artists) is so stylized and cinematic. Manga appeals to me for a variety of reasons including the mature nature of the storylines, which were often light years ahead of their American counterparts. Angelique features lots of murder and mayhem as well as witchcraft and romance between straight and gay characters. This talented artist and writer doesn’t shy away from anything and I appreciate her fearless creativity.

Unfortunately none of Toshie Kihara’s manga have been published in English. English speaking readers have had to rely on fan translations of her work, which aren’t easy to come by and the quality can be questionable. Kihara recently celebrated her 63 birthday and many of her manga stories are considered classics but her work is relatively unknown outside of Japan. I thought I’d share some pages from Angelique because if you’ve read the original novels or seen the films you can enjoy Kihara’s manga without a translation. Just remember that unlike American comics, you have to read the pages from right to left. Following the manga pages is a poster and clip from the first Angelique (1964) film featuring Michele Mercier.

Angelique (1978)

Angelique (1978)

Angelique (1978)

Angelique (1978)

Angelique (1964)

Comic Book of the Week: Space Family Robinson – Lost in Space (1969)

Space Family Robinson #33

Today I bring you Space Family Robinson: Lost In Space #33 published by Gold Key in 1969. It features art by Dan Spiegle and a story by Gaylord Du Bois.

Space Family Robinson debuted in 1962 and told the story of the Robinson family, which consisted of a couple of scientists (father Craig and mother June) and their two teenage children (Tam and Tim). The family lived on a large space craft called Space Station One that was “lost in space” after an enormous cosmic storm. In subsequent issues the Robinson family try to find their way back to earth and have many adventures in space along the way. Sound familiar? I bet it does! In 1965 Irwin Allen created the popular television show Lost In Space, which ran on CBS between (1965-68). It seemed to borrow many of its ideas from the Gold Key comic series but Irwin Allen claimed that he never saw the comic. Gold Key Comic publisher Western Publishing Company wasn’t buying it and they threatened legal action but a settlement was struck between CBS, Irwin Allen and the Western Publishing Company. Undisclosed amounts of money were given to the publisher and they were also allowed to add “Lost In Space” to the title of their comic so in 1966 Space Family Robinson became Space Family Robinson: Lost in Space. Both parties benefited from the name change. Gold Key got to advertise their comic book series as a tie-in with the popular television show and Lost In Space got free publicity by having the name of the show on the cover of a comic book but few people remember Gold Key’s comic today.

Lost in Space is one of my favorite television shows and I used to watch reruns of it religiously when I was a kid. It ran on KBHK-TV 44 in the San Francisco Bay Area during the ’70s and I rarely missed an episode. The comic is a fun read if you happen to be a fan of the show and I really like Dan Spiegle’s art. Below are some pages from the comic book including an advertisement for another one of my favorite TV shows, The Banana Splits (1968-70) as well as a few clips from both shows.
Space Family Robinson #33

Space Family Robinson #33

Space Family Robinson #33

The Banana Splits

Comic Book of the Week: Bobby Sherman (1972)

Bobby Sherman #2
Bobby Sherman #2 (1972)

Over the years I managed to amass a large collection of comic books. I’m currently whittling down my collection and I plan to sell a lot of them soon but I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites published before 1980 that might hold some interest for film and TV fans or pop culture addicts. This week I’ll be sharing pages from Bobby Sherman #2.

Bobby Sherman was a singer, songwriter, occasional actor and popular teen idol during the ’60s and early ’70s. During his popularity Sherman regularly appeared on Shindig! and the TV show Here Come The Brides (based on the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). He also made guest appearances on The Monkees and The Partridge Family. In 1971 he was asked to star in his own television series called Getting Together, which was about a song-writing team supposedly based the real-life songwriters Boyce and Hart. It was shown opposite of the hugely successful television show All in the Family and canceled after just 14 episodes. During that time Charlton Comics published a Bobby Sherman comic book that was based on his TV show. Here’s a few sample pages from it along with a video clip of Sherman performing one of his hit song . . .

Bobby Sherman #2

Bobby Sherman #2

Bobby Sherman #2


Bobby Sherman sings “Little Woman”(1969) in this unusual video