Six Months of Movie Morlocks: May – Oct. 2016

It’s been an interesting, busy and to be honest, an extremely stressful year due to some ongoing medical issues I’m dealing with that you can read more about here: Vertigo: Hitchcock was wrong.

In turn, I’ve been terribly lax about updating the blog but due to looming work related developments that I’ll be sharing soon, I thought it was time to finally play catch up with Cinebeats’ readers. What follows are links to some of the most interesting (in my estimation) writing I’ve done for TCM’s Movie Morlocks blog during the past six months.

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Spotlight on AIP with Roger Corman
Mistress of Menace: Barbara Steele in The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
Sexual Revolution on Campus – Three in the Attic (1968)
Robert Fuest & His Abominable Creations
Revisiting The Terror (1963) on Blu-ray
TCM Star of the Month: Olivia de Havilland @ 100
Summer Reading Suggestions

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The Whole World is Watching: Medium Cool (1969)
Poster Gallery: Remembering Jack Davis 1924-2016
Fay Wray: The Clairvoyant (1934)
Roddy McDowall: Celebrity Photographer
Angie Dickinson in Cry Terror! (1958)
A Grand & Moving Thing: The King and I (1956)

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Offbeat Otto: Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon (1970)
52 Films By Women: #52FilmsByWomen
Out of the Closet: Tab Hunter Confidential (2015)
My Visit to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Paranormal Police Procedural: Nothing But the Night (1972)
The Amazing, Amazing Mr. X (1948)

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Celebrating Gay Pride

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As a film journalist I have often tried to focus my attention on underappreciated films, actors and directors. Unsurprisingly, this has led me to write about a number of gay/LGBT films as well as gay/LGBT filmmakers and actors. So in celebration of Gay Pride weekend and the Supreme Court decision that now makes gay-marriage a constitutional right (as it always should have been) I decided to collect some of the film writing I’ve done under the banner of “Gay Interest” to share in one post.

Enjoy!
James Fox – Subverting Sexual Identity & Social Class in British Cinema (2007)
At Home With Dirk Bogarde (2007)
Massimo Dallamano’s Dorian Gray (2007)
Kerwin Mathews (1926-2007) (2007)
Introducing Jason King (2007)
The decadent world of the Black Lizard (2008)
David Bowie is The Image (1967) (2008)
A few thoughts about Anthony Perkins (2008)
10 Questions with Shane Briant (2009)
Modern Mondays: Love Songs (2007) (2009)
Spend Your Day With Dirk Bogarde (2009)
The Fool Killer (1965) (2009)
Modern Mondays: Gus Van Sant’s “Death Trilogy” 2002-2005 (2009)
Old Rubber Lips (2010)
Seduced by Pierre Clementi (2011)
Unman, Wittering and Zigo (1971) (2011)
In Search of Sascha Brastoff (2011)
Velvet Goldmine: Celluloid Pictures of Living (2011)
Reinventing Lolita (2011)
Remember My Name (1976) (2011)
The House That Screamed… “Murder!” (2011)
Derek Jarman: An Appreciation (2011)
Girls Will Be Boys (2012)
“A film is a petrified fountain of thought.” – Jean Cocteau (2012)
Dirk Bogarde – The Reluctant International Man of Mystery (2012)
Summer Reading – including a brief look at Tab Hunter’s autobiography (2012)
Telefilm Time Machine: That Certain Summer (1972) (2013)
In the Trenches with James Whale (2013)
Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be? (2013)
Telefilm Time Machine – Frankenstein: The True Story (1973) (2013)

2013 at the Movie Morlocks

jfrancoJess Franco 1930-2013

What follows is a collection of links to some of my posts at TCM’s Movie Morlocks from 2013. These are (in my estimation) the best and most interesting articles I wrote last year but you can read my entire output for 2013 at the Movie Morlocks if you peruse the archives. From this point onward on I’ll be collecting links to my Morlocks’ posts and sharing them here at the end of each month.

Rio – Rififi Style! GRAND SLAM (1967)
A Brief History of the Telefilm
Out, out, brief candle: Jon Finch 1942-2012
This is a Time for Ghosts : THE AWAKENING (2012)
All Love is Mad : MAD LOVE (1935)
Does Oscar gold come with an Oscar curse?
Telefilm Time Machine: DAUGHTER OF THE MIND (1969)
Tracing My Irish Roots Through the Movies
The Pulp Adventures of Lee Marvin
Telefilm Time Machine: THAT CERTAIN SUMMER (1972)
In Memoriam: Jesús “Jess” Franco (1930-2013)
Lon Chaney Jr. – Lady Killer
Comic Relief with ARTISTS AND MODELS (1955)
Telefilm Time Machine – FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY (1973)
GUN AND SWORD: An Encyclopedia of Japanese Gangster Films 1955-1980
Personal Passions: Alain Delon
Derelict Dancers: Gerard Depardieu vs. Roman Polanski – A PURE FORMALITY (1994)
Hail Cleopatra! Queen of the Nile & Queen of ’60s Style
Arsenic & Ambiguity in David Lean’s MADELEINE (1950)
Final Faces
Francois Truffaut – Friend, Teacher & Film Critic
Someone is Bleeding: LES SEINS DE GLACE (1974)
Oh Dear! What Can the Matter Be? : SO LONG AT THE FAIR (1950)
Telefilm Time Machine: Steven Spielberg’s SOMETHING EVIL (1972)
Four Reasons Why I Love Natalie Wood
Julie Harris 1925-2013: “And we who walk here, walk alone.
The Story of Film: UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1928)
In the Trenches with James Whale
Hollywood Goes to the Dolls
Telefilm Time Machine: SATAN’S TRIANGLE (1975)
Vincent Price Takes Center Stage
Vincent Price’s Small Screen Successes
Vincent Price & Gene Tierney: A Doomed Romance
In the Kitchen with Vincent Price
Adults Only: HOUSE ON STRAW HILL (1976)
Fighting Prejudice with Sidney Poitier
A Celluloid Revolution – James Dean: Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray
Telefilm Time Machine: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (1972)

Dirk Bogarde – The Reluctant International Man of Mystery


In my latest installment of Spy Games for the Movie Morlocks I discuss the spy spoofs and espionage thrillers starring one of my favorite actors, the gifted and gorgeous Dirk Bogarde. Regular Cinebeats readers know how much I admire this man but it was fun to share my enthusiasm for Bogarde at the Morlocks by focusing on his reluctant roles in a handful of spy films. I’ve always thought Bogarde could have made an interesting Bond as described by Ian Fleming. Fleming’s original Bond had a “slim build” and spent most of his time behind a desk. Here’s a description of 007 borrowed from From Russia With Love:

“It was a dark, clean-cut face (snip) … The eyes were wide and level under straight, rather long black brows. The hair was black, parted on the left, and carelessly brushed so that a thick black comma fell down over the right eyebrow. The longish straight nose ran down to a short upper lip below which was a wide and finely drawn but cruel mouth. The line of jaw was straight and firm. A section of dark suit, white shirt and black knitted tie completed the picture.”

But enough about Bond… Bogarde made his own mark in the spy genre by appearing as the hero and villain in some great films including MODESTY BLAISE, SEBASTIAN and THE SERPENT. To read more about Bogarde’s contributions to the spy game make your way over to TCM’s Movie Morlocks blog.
Spy Games: Dirk Bogarde – The Reluctant International Man of Mystery

“A film is a petrified fountain of thought.” – Jean Cocteau


“I know of no elite and no tribunal which can take upon itself to judge what a film will unleash in its immeasurable course. The only jurisdiction to which a film should be subject concerns its style and its expressive power. The rest is a mystery and will always remain so.”
– Jean Cocteau

My latest post for TCM’s Movie Morlocks is a compilation of quotes from Jean Cocteau about classic films and their stars. From my post:

“When Jean Cocteau’s name surfaces most of us think of the visionary artist, poet and director who made films such as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1946), BLOOD OF A POET (1930), LES PARENTS TERRIBLES (1948) and ORPHEUS (1949). Cocteau is all these things and more but he also happens to be one of my favorite film critics. I hesitate calling Cocteau a critic because it’s a term I’m not particularly fond of. Cocteau was first and foremost a film fan. A genuine cinephile and a champion of the cinematic arts. His affection for the medium and the people who made the movies he loved is self-evident in the many journals and letters he left behind. He wasn’t ashamed of expressing his outright devotion to the cinema. His passions and prejudices shine like beacons on the printed page pointing readers towards great films and great performances. Cocteau is one of a handful of writers that inspired me to start writing about film and I often return to his work for inspiration.

Today I thought I’d let Jean Cocteau takeover and share some of his most insightful and interesting comments about classic films and their stars. These quotes were compiled from various sources including Past Tense: The Cocteau Diaries Volume One, Opium: The Diary of a Cure and the essential Art of Cinema.”

Make your way over to the Morlocks to read Cocteau’s thoughts on films like Orson Welles’ MACBETH and Robert Wiene’s THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI as well as many actors including James Dean and Bridgette Bardot.

“A film is a petrified fountain of thought.” – Jean Cocteau @ TCM’s Movie Morlocks

Girls WIll Be Boys

Dame Diana Rigg in THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973)

Last week I compiled a lengthy list of some of the most interesting examples of female actors who have portrayed men (or dressed in male clothing) for a particular role at the Movie Morlocks. It was inspired by the recent Oscar nominations for Glenn Close and her costar Janet McTeer in ALBERT NOBBS (2011). The piece (which I secretly subtitled: “A Brief Visual History of Actresses in Male Drag”) includes silent film stars such as Gloria Swanson and Louise Brooks as well as Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Veronica Lake, Julie Andrews, Ingrid Thulin and Diana Rigg just to name a few. To read more about these talented gender defying women just follow the link below.

Girls Will Be Boys @ TCM’s Movie Morlocks Blog

Derek Jarman: An Appreciation

Derek Jarman

As a teenager growing up in the ’80s it was impossible to overlook Derek Jarman’s work. He was all over MTV. He was part of a group of British filmmakers that included Julien Temple and Alex Cox who made music videos or music inspired films that seemed particularly in-sync with their times. Jarman’s work was interesting, experimental and demanding of its audience but I appreciated the challenges he presented.

I had grown up watching classic films but as a troubled and rebellious teenager I was eager to break away from convention. Discovering the work of an artistically inclined gay filmmaker like Jarman, who was creating with a limited budget while trying to express his ideas about the world and his unique place in it, was incredibly inspiring to me. I was drawn to Jarman’s work as well as the work of directors like Andy Warhol before I even knew what the word “avant-garde” meant. Foreign films were still foreign to me but like most kids my age, I had my MTV and I watched the music channel with wide-eyed wonder in the early half of the ’80s (1981-84). I didn’t know it at the time but my exposure to the work of directors like Jarman at such an early age helped make me into the film lover I am today. While my passion for ’60s and ’70s cinema is never ending, it should also be apparent that I appreciate the unexpected, thirst for the undiscovered and thrive on the unconventional. I’m also able and willing to see the good in films that are often overlooked due to their limited budgets and production restrictions. I owe some of that to Derek Jarman.

I recently had the opportunity to write about Derek Jarman for Fandor.com during their week-long appreciation of the director’s life and work. The two pieces I wrote are:

The first piece discusses Jarman’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest while the other piece focuses on his music video work for artists such as Marianne Faithfull and bands like The Smiths. If you’re familiar with Derek Jarman’s work or just curious about this unusual and controversial filmmaker please make your way over to Fandor.


Derek Jarman’s video for Marianne Faithfull’s “Ballad of Lucy Jordan” (1979)

The House That Screamed… “Murder!”

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Mod Macabre continues over at The Movie Morlocks today where I take a look at Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s horrific thriller The House That Screamed (1969) featuring a great cast that includes Lilli Palmer, Cristina Galbo, Mary Maude and mod wonder boy, John-Moulder Brown. Here’s a brief description of The House That Screamed from my post:

“THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED takes place at an isolated boarding school where troubled young women are being taught by a sadistic headmistress called Madame Fourneau (Lilli Palmer) who enjoys disciplining her female students with a whip followed by a tender kiss. After an attractive young French girl named Theresa (Cristina Galbó) enrolls and is given a tour of the grounds, it quickly becomes apparent that something odd is going on at the school. Unseen eyes seem to follow Teresa’s every move and the tense atmosphere is punctuated by the headmistress’s cursory behavior. The other young women at the school immediately take an interest in Teresa and she becomes an object of adoration and scorn for one particular student by the name of Irene (Mary Maude). Irene is Madame Fourneau’s right-hand girl and she enjoys helping the headmistress discipline ill-behaved girls. Adding to the tension is the addition of Madame Fourneau’s handsome son, Louis (John Moulder-Brown) who is kept at the school due to his poor health. His mother insists on isolating him from the young women who she feels aren’t “good enough” for him. The headmistress wants her son to meet someone like herself who will look after him and keep him safe but Louis isn’t interested in following her advice. It soon becomes apparent that he’s been spying on the girls at the school as well as starting up relationships with a few them. So when an unknown killer begins stalking the students it’s easy to assume that Louis might be the murderer but he’s not the only suspect. There’s the lurking gardener (Vic Israel) who seems to also enjoy spying on the students and of course the headmistress herself comes under scrutiny along with the cruel Irene. Director and co-writer Narciso Ibáñez Serrador keeps the audience guessing until the film’s final moments and the plot’s unpredictable twists and turns should surprise many viewers.”
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Pictured: Teresa Hurtado and John-Moulder Brown (1969)

To read more just follow the link:
The House That Screamed… “Murder!” @ TCM’s Classic Movie Blog

Reinventing Lolita

Sue Lyon
Top: Sue Lyon in Murder in a Blue World (1973)
Bottom: Sue Lyon in Lolita (1961)

From my latest post at The Movie Morlocks:

One of the most iconic images to emerge from the cinema in the 1960s is the figure of a young Sue Lyon, peering over her sunglasses at a leering James Mason in Stanley Kubrick’s LOLITA (1961). And I’m definitely not alone in my view. The Spanish genre director Eloy de la Iglesia must have agreed with me when he decided to cast Sue Lyon in his intriguing futuristic thriller, MURDER IN A BLUE WORLD (aka CLOCKWORK TERROR; 1973). Eloy de la Iglesia’s film has often been labeled a low-budget and poorly constructed Spanish knock-off of Stanley Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) and it’s easy to understand why. But its meta-referencing goes way beyond A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and tips its hat in equal measure to Kubrick’s LOLITA. In fact, MURDER IN A BLUE WORLD is really an homage to Kubrick himself and arguably one of the most interesting films released in Spain during the early ‘70s.

Murder in the Blue World (1963)

Murder in the Blue World (1963)If you’d like to read more about Sue Lyon in Eloy de la Iglesia’s MURDER IN A BLUE WORLD please follow the link:
Reinventing Lolita in MURDER IN A BLUE WORLD (1973) @ TCM’s Classic Movie Blog

I’ve also compiled a Flickr gallery of images from the film that you can find here.

Velvet Goldmine: Celluloid Pictures of Living

vgfilm0 “Histories, like ancient ruins, are the fictions of empire. While everything forgotten hangs in dark dreams of the past, ever threatening to return.” – Todd Haynes, Velvet Goldmine

When Velvet Goldmine was originally released in 1998 it confused and frustrated a lot of critics who were turned off by its uninhibited style, hyper editing, abundant close-ups and nonlinear narrative structure. They also bemoaned the film’s playful take on musicals and biopics. This glam infused Citizen Kane homage didn’t appeal to a 1990s audience hooked on grunge rock. Ticket sales plummeted as many critics and the general public turned their backs on Velvet Goldmine but I embraced Haynes’s film.

I became familiar with Haynes’s work in the early 1990s after seeing Poison (1991) on video followed by Safe (1995) during its initial theatrical release. Both films mesmerized me but Velvet Goldmine turned me into a lifelong Todd Haynes fan. As someone who came of age in the seventies and later bummed around in various bands as a keyboardist during the eighties while struggling to find work as a music journalist, I immediately formed a deep kinship with the film’s main protagonist, Arthur (Christian Bale). Like Arthur, I went down the rock ‘n’ roll rabbit hole and managed to come out the other side but I’m also a little worse for wear. An unrestricted look deep inside the bowels of the music industry took a lot of the sparkle off the blinding light of celebrity. Seeing Arthur transform from a spotty, awkward adolescent kid seduced by the power of music into a jaded adult trying to sort out his past is all too familiar to me and Bale makes his character’s journey a convincing one.

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“Meaning is not in things but in between them.” – Todd Haynes, Velvet Goldmine

I also appreciate the way the director captured the downright dirty and dangerous side of rock ‘n’ roll. As a gay artist, Haynes knows what’s it’s like to be a real outsider and he understands the appeal of beautiful boys who are willing to bare all on stage while they exploit our deepest desires and fears. Unlike Cameron Crowe’s terribly hackneyed Almost Famous (2000), which supposedly offered viewers an “insiders” look at the life of a young “rock journalist” but is completely devoid of passion, Haynes’s film gives us a journalist’s down ‘n’ dirty romanticized fantasy populated by the shadows of seventies pop idols like David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Marc Bolan and Bryan Ferry that’s much more imaginative and heartfelt than Crowe’s incredibly benign and dreadfully dull creation.

Velvet Goldmine works because all the talented performers involved (Christian Bale, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ewan McGregor, Toni Collette, Eddie Izzard, Micko Westmoreland, Etc.) fully embrace the glamorous world they’re inhabiting and give 100% to their roles. And Haynes’s kinetic directing style gives the film genuine energy that should be a prerequisite when you’re making a film about the power of music.

Naturally critics loved Crowe’s Almost Famous, which has currently earned a whopping 88% of “like” votes on Rotten Tomatoes while Haynes’s Velvet Goldmine languishes at a mere 55%. It’s a sad reminder of how conservative and conventional film criticism was 10 years ago. Thankfully the predictability of film criticism seems to be slowly changing and that’s partially due to the onslaught of film blogs and film sites that are willing to champion lesser seen or forgotten movies that are often overlooked by mainstream critics. And speaking of Velvet Goldmine and alternative film sites … ejm

I recently had the opportunity to write a little tribute to Velvet Goldmine for Fandor. Fandor is an online movie service devoted to independent films where you can watch award-winning titles, festival favorites, and international gems. If you have eclectic film tastes and are looking for an alternative to Netflix I highly recommend giving Fandor a look. Fandor also publishes articles and news features about the films they program on their Keyframe blog.

Earlier this month, the editors of Fandor asked a group of writers to contribute a brief piece about a film that portrays a “vanishing way of life” so I decided to share some thoughts about Velvet Goldmine. It might seem like an odd choice and I suppose it was but I had just seen the film again recently so it was fresh in my mind and I wanted an excuse to write about it. Hopefully I’ll find the time to write a longer piece about the film someday since there’s much more I’d like to say about Velvet Goldmine but here’s a little snippet from my Fandor contribution:

“Todd Haynes‘ Velvet Goldmine is a love letter to a rock ‘n’ roll past that is often more fiction than fact, because the history of rock simply can’t be written. It’s told in tall tales exchanged in smoky bars where the drinks are poured generously and the music is so loud that you can’t hear what anyone is actually saying. Haynes knows this but he also wants us to believe that rock ‘n’ roll once had the power to change the world, or at the very least, it could transform the inner world of one teenage boy.”

You’ll find my full piece along with the others at the Fandor.com site: – Last Picture Shows: Essential Films About Vanishing Ways of Life


The fictional character Jack Fairy sings one of my favorite Roxy Music songs (“2HB”) in Velvet Goldmine