Celebrating Gay Pride

20150626_white_house_rainbow_3_ap_1160_956x519
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)

Jan. & Feb. 2015 at TCM’s Movie Morlocks

oreed01
Links to my writing at TCM’s official Movie Morlocks blog in January & February.

15 FAVORITE FILMS FROM 2014
Excerpt: “I know what you’re thinking. Another list?! Forgive me my trespass but as a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists I’m asked to compile a list of my favorite films each year and I wanted to share some of my viewing highlights with you. These are the films that have been occupying my thoughts in recent weeks and many of them haven’t gotten the critical attention that I think they deserve.”

NIPPON NOIR: I AM WAITING (1957)
Excerpt: “Viewers will easily spot the influence of early American as well as French Film Noir on I AM WAITING. From its jazz infused score by the brilliant Japanese composer Masaru Sato to the dark and shadow lined cinematography of Kurataro Takamura and the surprisingly gritty script by Shintaro Ishihara, almost all traces of old Japan are missing from the film.”

ROBERT REDFORD & SYDNEY POLLACK: A CREATIVE PARTNERSHIP
Excerpt: “In the years that followed Redford would continue to develop this persona as a sort of amorous outsider who finds himself in difficult relationships that usually end badly or abruptly. As handsome as he was, Redford rarely got to keep the girl who was often hard won. This kind of romantic cynicism became typical in the decade that followed as the country’s growing mistrust in everything, from government bureaucracy to the family structure, begin to take its toll on the American dream. And few actors seemed to represent that sea change better than Robert Redford. As the 60s gave way to the 70s, the beloved blond, blue-eyed movie star was surreptitiously becoming the face of American dissatisfaction”

END OF AN ERA: THE PHANTOM OF HOLLYWOOD (1974)
Excerpt: “Unfortunately for classic film fans THE PHANTOM OF HOLLYWOOD (1974) isn’t 100% invention. In fact, many aspects of the telefilm’s plot are taken right from news headlines at the time. The fictional Worldwide Films studios are actually a stand-in for the world renowned Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, which began systematically selling off its backlots in the early 1970s while auctioning off costumes and props from the beloved films they once produced. Director Gene Levitt and writer George Schenck managed to capture the appalling demolition of MGM and turn it into a melancholy made-for-TV movie that borrows generously from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera.”

LAUGH RIOT: I’LL GIVE A MILLION (1938)
Excerpt: “This lighthearted comedy of errors should appeal to fans of similar depression-era comedies such as HAPPINESS AHEAD (1934), THE GAY DECEPTION (1935) MY MAN GODFREY (1936), IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), MERRILY WE LIVE (1938) WISE GIRL (1937) and SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941) that thoughtfully used humor to illustrate the disparity between the wealthy and the less fortune at the time. It’s also just a real treat for fans of Lorre and Carradine who should enjoy watching these two young and charismatic performers playing a couple of hapless hobos who get into trouble with the law. They make a very funny and endlessly entertaining duo as they bumble their way through a series of silly situations.”

OLIVER REED AT 77: A CONVERSATION
Excerpt: “Feb. 13th marks what would have been Oliver Reed’s 77th birthday if he was still with us. Reed died in 1999 but he has long been one of my favorite actors so to honor his memory I decided to contact filmmaker Kent Adamson who worked with Oliver Reed in the 1980s and is friendly with the actor’s son (Mark). What follows is a lengthy Q&A where Kent generously shares his own recollections and thoughts about the actor’s life and career.”

BEWARE! LOUIS JOURDAN IS HERE
Excerpt: “The characters he played were often hard to read and I found myself constantly questioning their motives. This is undoubtedly due to his exceptional performances in films such as LETTER FROM AN UKNOWN WOMAN (1948) where he plays a self-absorbed pianist who breaks Joan Fontaine’s heart and THE BEST OF EVERYTHING (1959) where he drives the gorgeous Suzy Parker mad with jealousy or JULIE (1956) where he stalks and terrorizes poor Doris Day. In retrospect Jourdan was incredibly apt at portraying men with questionable motives and he had a viper-like way of honing in on naive young women who became easy prey. It doesn’t surprise me that he eventually ended up playing a comic-book villain in SWAMPTHING (1982) and a James Bond baddie in OCTOPUSSY (1983). But if I had to select his most fearsome role I’d single out Jourdan’s outstanding turn as the infamous bloodsucking Count in COUNT DRACULA (1977).”

REGRETTABLE VIEWING EXPERIENCES? I’VE HAD A FEW!
Excerpt: “I sat through most of the film with my mouth agape being astonished by its badness but after the first unbelievable hour passed my shock turned to disappointment and disgust. I couldn’t stomach anymore so with only 20 or so minutes remaining until the credits rolled I abandoned my seat and my viewing companions and headed to the lobby where I blew off some steam playing video games. I’ve never regretted my decision. It rates as my worst movie theater experience, bar none.”

April & May at The Movie Morlocks

hatchethbava
Highlights from my April & May contributions to TCM’s Movie Morlocks. You can read all the articles by following the links below:

Happy Birthday Doris!
Excerpt: “The legacy of this vivacious movie star, popular vocalist, television personality and animal rights advocate is truly unparalleled. And knowing Doris Day’s is still here with us doing good work that benefits us all is something worth celebrating!”

When Insects Attack: GENOCIDE (1968)
Excerpt: “The unexpected blend of film genres makes GENOCIDE a unique viewing experience that benefits from some impressive psychedelic inspired visuals. Director Kazui Nihonmatsu uses a number of imaginative film techniques including superimposition and slow dissolves to express the fractured state of mind of his tormented cast as well as the apocalyptic nature of their plight. And the relentless close-ups of actual insects munching on human flesh gives this low-budget production an uncomfortable documentary-like ambiance. Fans of Toho’s more atypical outings such as THE H-MAN (1958), THE HUMAN VAPOR (1960) and MATANGO (1965) will appreciate GENOCIDE and if you enjoy a good bug invasion movie as much as I do you should find this interesting little gem worthy of your time.”

Matrimony, Madness and Murder: HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (1970)
Excerpt: “What sets HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON apart from many other pretty-boy “psycho-thrillers” (a term I’m borrowing from film journalist Kim Newman) that were prevalent in the late sixties and early seventies is its international setting and baroque setpieces. Bava’s film was shot in France, Italy and Spain and used the elegant villa of the infamous Generalissimo Francisco Franco as one of its backdrops. The House of Harrington contains an extravagant bridal salon adorned with mannequins that model beautiful wedding gowns and resemble the lifeless corpses of dead brides. And it is in this enclosed and highly stylized setting that the killer feels most at home as does Bava’s camera which lovingly lingers over every macabre detail allowing us an intimate look into the murderer’s mind.”

Rough, Raw & Randy: UP THE JUNCTION (1968)
Excerpt: “Peter Collinson’s effective slice-of-life drama UP THE JUNCTION (1968) makes its DVD and Blu-ray debut in the U.S. this week thanks to Olive Films. Today the film is often fondly remembered by fans of sixties cinema for its South London setting, colorful mod fashions, beehive hairdos, boastful bikers and jazzy psychedelic pop score by Manfred Mann. But UP THE JUNCTION has more to offer viewers besides an abundance of great style and an unforgettable soundtrack.”

Bad Movie Mothers We Love to Hate
Excerpt: “TCM is celebrating Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 11th) with a great program of classic films showcasing notable mothers. While looking over Sunday’s line-up I was surprised to spot NOW, VOYAGER (1942), which features Gladys Cooper as the incredibly cold and domineering mother of Bette Davis. Cooper won an Oscar nomination for her memorable performance and went on to play another overbearing mother in SEPARATE TABLES (1958) who torments poor Deborah Kerr. While considering Gladys Cooper’s portrayal of two heartless mothers I started thinking about other horrible movie moms that I’ve enjoyed watching over the years.”

Spy Games: BANG! BANG! YOU’RE DEAD! (1966)
Excerpt: “BANG! BANG! YOU’RE DEAD! Is just one of hundreds (possibly thousands) of spy spoofs that were released in the sixties following the world-wide success of the early James Bond films. Its unwieldy plot and cookie-cutter characters will be familiar to many but thanks to a solid cast, the spectacular North Africa locations and some thrilling action sequences this amusing romp managed to keep me entertained throughout its 92 minute running time.”

Mystery & Melodrama: THE BLETCHLEY CIRCLE (2012-2014)
Excerpt: “It’s a shame that so many women who took on incredibly difficult and challenging jobs during WW2, such as flying planes, driving tanks, nursing the wounded, spying for their governments and breaking complicated codes shared by enemy nations, have been overshadowed by their male counterparts. Rosie the Riveter has become a symbol of female ingenuity during wartime but women did much more in WW2 besides working in ammunition factories. THE BLETCHLEY CIRCLE shines a welcome light on a group of heroic women that have all too often been forgotten by history and brings them to vivid life.”

“The World’s Most Beautiful Animal!” – Ava Gardner in THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA (1954)
Excerpt: “Ava Gardner makes one of my favorite film entrances of all time in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA (1954), which airs on TCM June 1st. If you want to kick off the new month with a bang I highly recommend making time for this verbose Technicolor-noir that critiques Hollywood excess and the powerful studio system that frequently exploited its stars. Mankiewicz’s film is a heady brew of CITIZEN KANE (1941), LAURA (1944), SUNSET BLVD. (1950) and the director’s own ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) shot with abundant style by master cinematographer Jack Cardiff.”

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)

yulbcamera

November at the Movie Morlocks

Apologies for neglecting Cinebeats for a month but I’ve been preoccupied with other things. I took some much needed vacations in late October and November to spend time with family and in the meantime I’ve just been too busy to update the blog. I don’t see things changing much in December due to the holidays and other commitments but I’ll try to make a few more updates next month. In the meantime here are some links to my recent posts at TCM’s Movie Morlocks blog in case you missed them.

“It’s my blood. I gave it to you.”: A few thoughts about the state of modern horror films along with my take on the independent British/Romanian vampire film STRIGOI (2009).

Ralph Nelson’s DUEL AT DIABLO (1966): A look at Anderson’s undervalued western DUEL AT DIABLO featuring a very young and very handsome Sidney Poitier in one of his signature roles.

Art Meets Artifice in Shohei Imamura’s A MAN VANISHES (1967): Icarus Films recently premiered Shohei Imamura’s 1967 film A MAN VANISHES in New York and a DVD release is planned for the future. I got the opportunity to view the film before the premiere and shared my thoughts about it at the Movie Morlocks.

Spy Games: James Bond is back in SKYFALL (2012): I’ve been looking forward to seeing SKYFALL all year and the film didn’t disappoint. In my latest installment of Spy Games I explain why the film worked for me and explore how Daniel Craig has reshaped the character of James Bond.

Yul Brynner, Photographer Extraordinaire: We all know that Yul Brynner was an accomplished actor but did you also know that he was a talented photographer who enjoyed snapping pictures of his famous friends? I gathered together some of his best photographs and briefly discussed his photography background in this piece that’s light on words and full of eye-candy.

EVERYTHING GOES WRONG (1960)

EVERYTHING GOES WRONG (1960)
EVERYTHING GOES WRONG (1960)
EVERYTHING GOES WRONG (1960)
Images from Seijun Suzuki’s Everything Goes Wrong (1960)

Last week I shared some of my thoughts about Seijun Suzuki’s Everything Goes Wrong (1960) over at the Movie Morlocks. This excellent neo-noir is one of Suzuki’s early films that isn’t available on DVD in the US yet but you can currently watch it on Hulu.com if you’re a member. Criterion has made an exclusive deal with Hulu that allows them to stream many Criterion releases and other hard-to-see films that haven’t been released yet. You can read more about Everything Goes Wrong and my experience with Hulu by following the link below.

Seijun Suzuki’s EVERYTHING GOES WRONG (1960) @ TCM’s Classic Movie Blog

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

Save

Masahiro Shinoda’s Pale Flower (1964)

Pale Flower (1964)

I find it incredibly hard to write about my favorite films, directors and actors. When I really love a film as much as I love Masahiro Shinoda’s Pale Flower (1964), I tend to gush or the words just stumble around in my head and refuse to form into coherent sentences. I’ve been eager to write about Pale Flower for years but nothing came of my enthusiasm until this week when I managed to compile some of my thoughts about Pale Flower for the Movie Morlocks. Criterion recently released Pale Flower on DVD (Full disclosure – I haven’t seen the new Criterion disc but I own the original DVD from Image Entertainment) so it prompted me to watch the film again and it is an incredible piece of filmmaking that never fails to impress me. I first mentioned Shinoda’s film here back in 2007 when I was asked to compile a list of some of my favorite foreign language films. I only wrote a small blurb about Pale Flower then so I’m glad that I was finally able to share some more detailed thoughts about the film. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Pale Flower (1964)“Masahiro Shinoda’s PALE FLOWER (1964) opens with this telling monologue recited by the handsome Japanese actor Ryo Ikebe. In the film Ikebe plays an aging Yakuza mobster called Muraki who has just been released from prison after serving a three-year sentence for killing another gang member. Instead of being overjoyed by his newfound freedom, Muraki expresses his despair as well as the disappointment that many of his fellow countrymen were feeling at the same time. Post-war Japan was in constant upheaval and the country was undergoing major changes under American occupation. There was a lot of confusion, anger and resentment towards the powers that be at home and abroad. People’s uneasiness and aggravation often found an outlet in many of the Japanese films made during the 1960s. Although the Japanese New Wave isn’t as familiar to western audiences as its French counterpart, PALE FLOWER is one of the finest examples of this extraordinary period in Japan’s cinematic history.”

You can read the rest of my piece on Pale Flower by following the link below.

Plucking the Petals of Masahiro Shinoda’s Pale Flower @ TCM’s Classic Movie Blog

Remember My Name (1976) & TCM News

REMEMBER MY NAME (1976)
Anthony Perkins & Geraldine Chaplin in Remember My Name (1976)

I’ve been really busy lately so please excuse the lack of updates around here. Lately it seems like I only have enough free time to share my Movie Morlock updates and today is no exception. I recently got the opportunity to watch Alan Rudolph’s unusual thriller Remember My Name (1976). I was originally interested in seeing the film because one of its stars was the one and only Anthony Perkins but I was surprised by how terrific the movie was. Follow the link to read my thoughts about this intriguing neo-noir:
Remember My Name …or else. @ TCM’s Classic Movie Blog

I also wanted to let my readers know that during the month of June TCM is hosting a bunch of Drive-In Double Features every Thursday night! If I had my way TCM would make these Drive-In Double Features a regular part of their programming schedule but at least me and my fellow monster lovers will be able to enjoy some great movies this month. TCM put together a terrific promo video for this event that I just couldn’t resist sharing. June is going to be a fun month!

Yeti Holiday Fun

xmas2002shag
Xmas card illustrated by SHAG that I sent to friends & family in 2002

One of my favorite monsters is the elusive and mysterious Yeti or Abominable Snowman and during the winter months I always start thinking about my favorite Yeti movies. I decided to compile a brief list of viewing suggestions for Movie Morlock readers this week in case anyone else is interested in exploring the fascinating and bizarre cannon of Yeti films that are currently available on DVD and video. Christmas movies often bore me to tears unless they’re made by Rankin/Bass or directed by Bob Clark so I tend to gravitate towards other entertainment in December. Do you really want to sit through White Christmas or Miracle on 34th Street again? Adding a few Yeti movies to your winter viewing calendar is a great way to mix things up a bit and postpone the winter doldrums. Invite a Yeti to your Christmas party and he’s sure to liven things up a bit!
‘Tis the Season… of the Yeti! @ TCM’s Classic Movie Blog

Jewel Thieves & Giant Monsters

dogora24

dogora1

After recently reading and writing about Peter H. Brothers’ book Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda, I was motivated to watch one of Honda’s lesser-known films that I hadn’t had the opportunity to see yet, Dogora (1964). I’m not sure how I managed to overlook this little gem involving a giant jellyfish from space with an appetite for diamonds but I’m glad that I finally caught up with it on DVD. It’s undoubtedly one of the oddest monster movies produced by Toho Studios in the ’60s and it has quickly become one of my favorite Ishiro Honda films.

Want to read more? You’ll find the rest of my post over at the Movie Morlocks.