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 Posted:   Mar 6, 2013 - 6:59 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

CAlTIKI- was a stable on local stations in the 60's and early 70's. But has not gotten much exposure in recent years.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2013 - 10:27 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

WILD IN THE SKY is another one of those films that, for various reasons, has fallen into obscurity. Sometime in the late 1960s, William T. Naud, Dick Gautier, and Peter Marshall came up with a story about a group of anti-war, anti-establishment guerrillas, who scheme to hijack a B-52 and destroy Fort Knox with an atom bomb. It was a comedy. Naud was a producer-director who had made two 1960s exploitation films for the Southern drive-in circuit: THUNDER IN DIXIE (1964) and HOT ROD HULLABALOO (1966). Dick Gautier was an actor, comedian, composer, and author, and originally a night-club comic and a singer for dance orchestras. He had acted on television and in the occasional film role since the early 1960s. Gautier and Peter Marshall had written the screenplay for the 1968 exploitationer MARYJANE. Peter Marshall had been appearing in films and on television, as a character and as himself, since 1949. But he is best remembered as the 15-year host of the game show “Hollywood Squares.”

In developing their story into a film, Naud and Gautier split up the other major tasks on the project, with Naud directing, and he and Gautier writing the screenplay and producing for Bald Eagle Productions. Starring in the film was Brandon De Wilde. De Wilde's first released film was THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING (1952), recreating a role that he had played on Broadway; however, his actual first film acting role was in SHANE (1953), in which he portrayed "Joey Starrett," the hero-worshipping child who utters the film's famous closing line, "Shane! Shane! Come back!" During the 1950s and 1960s, De Wilde alternated television work with feature films, with memorable turns in BLUE DENIM (1959), HUD (1963), and IN HARM’S WAY (1965). Co-starring were noted character actors Keenan Wynn and Robert Lansing. Dick Gautier took a major role for himself, and the film also featured a number of actors best known for television work: Tim O’Connor (in his feature film debut) had played the role of “Elliot Carson” on “Peyton Place;” James Daly was currently starring in “Medical Center;” Larry Hovis (in his feature film debut) was co-starring in “Hogan’s Heroes,” and sixth-billed Georg Stanford Brown was at that time doing mainly television guest star roles, with the occasional film like DAYTON’S DEVILS (1968).

It’s unclear when filming began. Various news items suggest the film began production in late 1969 or early 1970, under the titles “God Bless the Bomb” and “God Bless You, Uncle Sam.” The film was reportedly completed in late 1971. American International acquired distribution rights for the film, and it was copyrighted on 15 March 1972 under the title WILD IN THE SKY. Shortly thereafter, the film was trade-screened, and an advertising campaign was prepared under that title. Boxoffice magazine reviewed the film on 27 March 1972. Boxoffice reported that the film “is a bit preachy in spots, but for the most part, it’s entertaining and has some interesting side plots.” But the review also noted that “Action lags badly during the last third of the movie, and the laugh lines are rather slow in coming.”



Although it was expected that the film would be released in March 1972, there are no confirmed showings of the film in major cities. I’m sure, however, that it played in some smaller markets under the WILD IN THE SKY title, because I have an ad for the film from a small-town newspaper.



But fate was to intervene in the film’s fortunes. On 6 July 1972, star Brandon De Wilde died in a Colorado hospital from injuries suffered in a traffic accident. The 30-year-old actor had been in Denver to appear in a theater production of “Butterflies are Free.” Perhaps because of this unfortunate circumstance, WILD IN THE SKY was withdrawn from distribution and quietly put on the shelf.

More than a year later, in late 1973, American International changed the title of the film once again, to BLACK JACK. AIP also changed the film’s ending, and created a revised advertising campaign for the picture. The 1972 ads for the film, when it was titled WILD IN THE SKY, show the MPAA rating as GP, but the 1973 ads and reviews for the film as BLACK JACK list the rating as PG, reflecting the MPAA ratings name change from GP to PG that had been made in late 1972. More importantly, the new ads changed the cast billing to emphasize the role of Georg Stanford Brown, who was by then one of the stars of the popular television series “The Rookies,” which had premiered in September 1972. The new ads showed Brown as the star, and positioned the picture as a blaxploitation film, using the tagline "Meet Jivin' Jack Lynch. He's got The Man on the pan...and he's gonna fry him good!"



Even with the new title and ad campaign, the film didn’t get much traction. It opened in New York the week of 6 December 1973, but was all but ignored by the critics. Variety’s “Sege” called it a “sporadically funny comedy” whose “central problem is the absurdity of the plot line” and “the creators’ apparent inability to decide whether the picture is a spoof of the military or basically a thriller with laugh elements as fillip.” “Sege” concluded that the film was “a fumbling hybrid that fails to score on either count.” And Cue’s Donald J. Mayerson, the only major New York critic to review the film, felt that “this idiotic effort” had a “screwy plot,” and he declared that “the results are asinine.”

The public didn’t take to the film under its new guise either, and it quickly dropped out of sight, seemingly for good. WILD IN THE SKY / BLACK JACK has never been issued on video, and no print of the film is known to exist.

Following WILD IN THE SKY, William Naud would write, produce, and direct a few low-budget films in the 1980s. His last film work, before disappearing from view, was writing the screenplay for the 1988 film NECROMANCER. Dick Gautier spent most of the ensuing years in television. Among other roles, he starred as Robin Hood in Mel Brooks’ short-lived 1975 TV series “When Things Were Rotten.” Gautier also did a lot of cartoon voiceover work in the 1980s and 1990s. His most recent appearance was in a 2010 episode of the series “Nip/Tuck.” Peter Marshall would continue hosting “Hollywood Squares” until 1988, and make scores of other film and TV appearances besides. He still makes the occasional television appearance. Tim O’Connor appeared in two more features, THE GROUNDSTAR CONSPIRACY and ACROSS 110TH STREET (both 1972) before moving back to television for the rest of his career. He retired from screen acting in 1997, but briefly returned for a 2011 film, DREAMS AWAKE. Georg Stanford Brown would have a long television acting career, with major roles in the miniseries “Roots” (1977) and “North and South” (1985). He also began directing when he was still on “The Rookies” and alternated acting and directing until 2005, when he retired from both at the age of 63.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2013 - 10:59 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

But there maybe some hope of this coming out of obscurity, It was a AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL RELEASE, and slowly but at a steady rate THIS SHOWS AIP FILMS by the dozens, maybe a long shot but you never know.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 12, 2013 - 4:19 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Bob, do you remember "The Stepdaughter"? It featured Marlene Tracy, and was issued on videocassette, but no D.V.D. release.


THE STEPDAUGHTER is that rarest of films—one that doesn’t even get a mention in the Internet Movie Data Base. It’s as if the film never existed. It did, but perhaps many of the people involved in the film would wish otherwise. Different sources give the year of the film as 1972, 1973, or 1974. Additional confusion arises because the IMDB lists “The Stepdaughter” as an alternate title of Gary Graver's 1973 film THERE WAS A LITTLE GIRL.

THE STEPDAUGHTER with which we are concerned was a drama that began under the title WINTER LOVE. The film’s producer and director was one William W. Wall, who owned several adult film theaters in San Bernardino, CA. This was apparently his one and only time in the director's chair. Ann Block’s screenplay (from a story by Bill Wade) follows Penny Crane (Monie Ellis), the young vivacious daughter of Senator Crane (Byron Clark) and stepdaughter of his wife Lillian (Marlene Tracy). The trio decides to go skiing to get away from the pressures of an investigation regarding the recall of Senator Crane. Penny is not a ski fan until she meets her ski instructor, young handsome Chris (Chris Hubbell). Their relationship grows not only on the ski slopes, but every minute they are able to find to be alone together. Mrs. Crane becomes jealous of her stepdaughter's relationship with Chris and insists they end it immediately. Complications ensue.

Although William Wall was a newcomer to filmmaking, a number of the other principles behind the camera were not. Sound man Jim Feazell later directed WHEELER (a.k.a. PSYCHO FROM TEXAS—see post of July 19, 2012); cinematographer Henning Shellerup also was a director and has dozens of credits ranging from CONVICTS' WOMEN and MAMA'S DIRTY GIRLS to KISS OF THE TARANTULA and IN SEARCH OF HISTORIC JESUS; and camera operator Paul Hipp was the director of photography on a number of low-budget films like GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE, GARDEN OF THE DEAD and TRADER HORNEE. Composer Jack Millman was a west coast jazz musician who became a library music producer. He eventually got involved with tax scam record labels under the name Johnny Kitchen. Also, former Lee Frost starlet Maria Lease (LOVE CAMP 7, THE SCAVENGERS) was the script supervisor, a job she's most recently held on popular shows like “Boston Legal” and “The Practice,” while unit manager David Chase is better known these days as the creator of “The Sopranos,” and recently directed his first feature, 2012’s NOT FADE AWAY.

Leading lady Monie Ellis was the daughter of actress Mona Freeman, who had major roles in films like ANGEL FACE and BATTLE CRY in the 1950s. Ellis had been in a few TV roles, but WINTER LOVE was her first feature. Likewise, Byron Clark, who had had a smattering of television appearances since 1951, was also in a feature for the first time. Marlene Tracy had just completed work on her first major feature role, in 1972’s “Poor Albert and Little Annie,” which is better known today by its later exploitation title of I DISMEMBER MAMA.



WINTER LOVE was shot in Palm Springs, San Francisco, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Falcon Films distributed the picture, which as WINTER LOVE was given a [PG] rating by the MPAA in 1972. Whether the film ever played under this title, however, is unknown. Before WINTER LOVE could reach the theaters, Monie Ellis was accorded considerable national attention when she was selected out of 200 aspirants to play the title role in the ABC-TV movie “Gidget Gets Married,” which aired on 4 January 1972. Realizing that he had an exploitable star, and that there might be profit in having the actress who had played the wholesome “Gidget” appear in a racy film, William Wall gave WINTER LOVE a sexploitation facelift. Brandishing the new title of THE STEPDAUGHTER, the revised and re-edited film was given an [R] rating by the MPAA later in 1972, and got an advertising campaign similar to the one for Crown International's THE STEPMOTHER the previous year. THE STEPDAUGHTER played drive-ins and small-town theaters for the next several years, and finally opened in Los Angeles on 19 June 1974.



In its March 1973 review of the film, Boxoffice magazine found that Monie Ellis “demonstrates surprisingly strong histrionics as a teenager suddenly caught up in pregnancy during the course of the credibly developed Bill Wade story,” which had a premise “as topical as can be found for the young-adult audience” The reviewer felt that director Wall “apparently knows what he wants on film, alternating skillfully, meaningfully in moods” and that the other actors “do well in what are essentially secondary roles.”

THE STEPDAUGHTER was released on VHS in Canada (from VEC) in the 1980s, but has not had any U.S. video release. The film was never registered for a U.S. copyright, and at least one company (AIM Group, LLC) is treating it as a public domain title. With enough searching, one might possibly find a gray market DVD or a shady download of the film.



There is no evidence that director William Wall or writer Ann Block ever worked in films again. Monie Ellis would have a few more TV roles and leave screen acting by 1978. Byron Clark would go back to television work for most of the remainder of his career, not appearing in another feature until 1988’s PATTY HEARST. Marlene Tracy would have a few additional roles in minor films and would leave acting by 1982.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 12, 2013 - 11:18 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Long ago and far away, CHANNEL 9 WOR-TV IN NEW YORK used to show a film called DELLA-64- WITH JOAN CRAWFORD. decades have past since i seen any sight of it on TV, have also not seen it on video or DVD,-when you get a chance. my friend BOB, ANY UPDATE INFO?, When you look back at old TV guide listings there are so many films from that station that have vanished from mainstream sight.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 22, 2013 - 6:48 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

TO BOB-Another one for you when you get a chance. I saw a film in 1975 in a old theatre in QUEENS NEW YORK called BEYOND THE DARKNESS-It was one of many exorcist takeoffs that was made around the world in the 70's after THE EXORCIST was a giant hit. This one was from WEST GERMANY. Have not seen the film around anywhere since,38 years later[TV CABLE VIDEO DVD.]can you track it down?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 22, 2013 - 6:48 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Since it's WILLIAM SHATNER'S BIRTHDAY , He did an obscure horror film called IMPULSE in 75, got a very limited release and has been pretty obscure since. His other obscure film INCUBUS-66, Did pop up on TCM UNDERGROUND a couple of years ago.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 28, 2013 - 10:13 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In the fall of 1971, producer K. Gordon Murray, who had started the “children’s matinee” phenomenon in the late 1950s with his release in the U.S. of a Mexican film he titled SANTA CLAUS, formed a production company to make mainstream films--Trans World Film Corp. Owned primarily by film exhibitors, with Murray as its president, Trans World slated as its first production a contemporary action film called THE DAREDEVIL. Visualscope Theatrical Productions co-produced the film.

THE DAREDEVIL concerned a racecar driver and Daytona 500 winner, named Paul Tunney, who returns to his hometown and races at the local speedway to pay for his younger sister’s hospital bills. Although he triumphs, his ruthless driving is blamed for the fatal crash of a black driver. Seeking to obtain additional funds for his sister and for the funeral of the black driver, Tunney is enticed into taking a job running drugs in a fast car. THE DAREDEVIL was both forward-looking in its plot devices, anticipating later 1970s films such as EAT MY DUST and GRAND THEFT AUTO in its focus on car action, and backward-looking in its casting, being headed up by 1940s stalwarts George Montgomery and Terry Moore.

George Montgomery was a boxing champion at the University of Montana in the early 1930s. Dropping out, he decided to take up boxing more seriously, and moved to California, where he came to the attention of the film studios (not least, because he was an expert rider) and was hired as a stuntman in 1935. Montgomery was offered a contract at 20th Century Fox in 1939, but found himself largely confined to leads in B-westerns. He did not secure a part in anything even remotely like a prestige picture, until his co-starring role in ROXIE HART (1942), opposite Ginger Rogers. In 1947, Montgomery got his first serious break, being cast as Raymond Chandler's private eye Philip Marlowe, in THE BRASHER DOUBLOON (1947). Reviewers, however, compared his performance unfavorably with that of Humphrey Bogart and found the film “pallid” overall. So it was back to the saddle for George. Unable to shake his image as a cowboy actor, he starred in scores of films with titles like BELLE STARR’s DAUGHTER (1948), DAKOTA LIL (1950), JACK McCALL, DESPERADO (1953) and MASTERSON OF KANSAS (1954) at Columbia, and for producer Edward Small at United Artists. When not cleaning up the Wild West, he branched out into adventure films set in exotic locales (notably as Harry Quartermain in WATUSI (1959)). During the 1960s, he also wrote, directed and starred in several long-forgotten, low-budget wartime potboilers made in the Philippines, such as THE STEEL CLAW. After a major role in 1965’s BATTLE OF THE BULGE, he quickly returned to low-budget features.

Born in 1929 as Helen Luella Koford, Terry Moore was a Los Angeles native who worked as a model before she made her film debut at age 11 in 20th Century Fox's MARYLAND (1940). Throughout the 1940s, she worked under a variety of names (Helen Koford, Judy Ford, and January Ford) before settling on Terry Moore in 1948. Placed under contract by Columbia, Moore was loaned out to RKO for one of her most famous films, MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949). She received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Paramount's COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA (1952). During the 1950s and 1960s Moore alternated television work (“Empire” “Burke’s Law,” “Batman”) and feature film roles (PEYTON PLACE, WACO, A MAN CALLED DAGGER).

THE DAREDEVIL was directed by Robert W. Stringer, a 1940s film composer, songwriter, and lyricist directing his one and only film. True to his background, Stringer also wrote two songs for the film. Music for the film was provided by the musical group The Brooklyn Bridge (fronted and produced by Johnny Maestro). That group’s most famous release was a version of the Jimmy Webb song "Worst That Could Happen," which, although it was a note-for-note cover of the version previously recorded by The 5th Dimension, nevertheless won a Gold Record.

THE DAREDEVIL was shot in Tampa, FL, in February and March 1972. The mayor of Tampa closed the entire downtown section of the city on two separate evenings so that chase sequences could be shot. The city furnished fire engines, police cars, and motorcycle patrolmen for the sequences, and the film crew purchased four patrol cars, two stock cars, a truck, a semi-trailer and a Mark IV Lincoln Continental for demolition. The Sheriff made arrangements for the closing of a highway north of Tampa and detouring traffic for 4 days while chases and crashes were staged in that area.

The 91-minute, PG-rated THE DAREDEVIL was released by Trans-International Films and opened in Los Angeles on 4 April 1973. No contemporary reviews of the film can be found. A modern review in The Motion Picture Guide cites the film as having “lots of action” while still awarding it only one star.



Although THE DAREDEVIL lists a 1972 copyright statement by Visualscope Theatrical Productions onscreen, the film was not registered for copyright. THE DAREDEVIL has never been legitimately issued on home video in any format, although there are reports of its availability in the gray market.

THE DAREDEVIL was the last American film for George Montgomery. After a few television roles, he quit acting in 1974, returning to the screen in the mid-1980s for a few projects. He died in 2000 at age 84. In the 1970s, Terry Moore was in the news more than she was in motion pictures, asserting that she was the secret wife of the late billionaire Howard Hughes. Since she was a pilot herself, Moore played a major role in preparing Leonardo DiCaprio for his portrayal of Howard Hughes in THE AVIATOR (2004). At age 83, she has appeared in nearly 80 feature films and even today appears in the occasional low-budget film. K. Gordon Murray (who is heard in THE DAREDEVIL as the voice of a speedway announcer) would produce only one more film before leaving the business. He died in 1979 at age 57.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 28, 2013 - 11:22 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

THE DAREDEVIL-71- Was put into syndication in the mid 70's to local stations, like WOR-TV CHANNEL-9 IN NEW YORK, who showed it a couple of times. However obscure it has remained since, being ignored on cable TV.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 1, 2013 - 12:42 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND-73-this little ghost story barely played anywhere in America on its theatrical release, It has also been a stranger to cable and free TV for decades.Was hard to find if it was ever on video. Any DVD?


Dan - NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND is still available on DVD.
Image Entertainment released it on their "Redemption" series of horror dvds.
I have the dvd and it and it looks great. It's a great little thriller - an erotic ghost story
with some genuinely creepy moments, and beautifully photographed.

Looks like Image has two different DVDS of this available. I have the one
released in 2007, which you can still purchase for $5.99. They have a
recently upgraded edition (with different cover artwork) which costs $17.99.

Den



The 1972 British film NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND was produced by Tony Tenser’s celebrated Tigon company. The film was little-seen in the U.S. after its brief theatrical release in 1974 by the long-defunct International Amusements Corp. under the title The Exorcism of Hugh.

Scripted by British television newsreader Gordon Honeycombe, NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND was based on his novel of the same name. The film was directed by Fred Burnley, who began his career as an editor before making the shift into directing. Among his credits as editor is the early Michael Winner/Oliver Reed picture, THE SYSTEM, in 1964. Sadly, this would be the only feature film he directed, as Burnley passed away just a few years later. The film’s cinematographer, David Muir, worked on Hammer’s LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1970). The film was shot in the Channel Islands. In 2007, the film was released on DVD by Redemption through Image Entertainment. The disc was reissued by Redemption alone in 2009.



 
 
 Posted:   Apr 2, 2013 - 5:51 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Thanks as always Bob-- from 1973 into the mid to late 70;s a lot of genre films didn't get the releases, they got a few years earlier or would in years to come because of THE EXORCIST. Many distributors, big and small were worried their films would not bring in enough of the horror crowd after they saw something like THE EXORCIST. Make sense as a financial issue but not as far as quality is concern. Subtle shock can be just as good as slam bang shocks. Matter of fact on one of these threads I will give a list of so many of those films that basically laid in limbo during that era,

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 5, 2013 - 11:31 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In the wake of the fantastic success of 1972’s THE GODFATHER, U.S. producers and distributors scrambled to come up with mafia-themed films of their own. Some of these were mainstream domestic productions, such as Hal Wallis’ THE DON IS DEAD for Universal; many were imports from Italy (THE VALACHI PAPERS with Charles Bronson, THE ITALIAN CONNECTION with Henry Silva); and still others were independently produced. One of these latter films was 1973’s FAMILY HONOR.

FAMILY HONOR was the brainchild of first-time writer-producer Louis Pastore, who reportedly based the story on his own experiences. His script was set in the Bronx in the 1940s and 1950s, where Italian-American policeman Joe Fortunato spearheads a family vendetta against the mafia to avenge the murder of his father. FAMILY HONOR marked the dramatic film debut of director Clark Worswick, who previously had directed documentaries shot outside the U.S.

The film was the only starring role of New York actor Antony Page, a former convict who was released from prison on 5 January 1970 after serving time for more than seven years, on various charges, since the age of eighteen. Page immediately began his movie career by landing his first supporting role in the independent film, NO PLACE TO HIDE along side the film’s unknown star, Sylvester Stallone (his first feature as well). That film was barely released, but Page managed to get his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card thanks to the help of the late Michael V. Gazzo (THE GODFATHER, PART II) with whom he did theater work in New York. Producer Pastore played a syndicate accountant in the film, and two rock-‘n’-rollers, Leslie West and Corky Laing (of the groups Mountain; and Bruce, West and Laing), play hoods. The remainder of the cast of FAMILY HONOR consisted mostly of unknowns.

The 97-minute film was shot in the Bronx with a few brief sequences done in Manhattan. Cinerama Releasing Corp. picked up the North American distribution rights to FAMILY HONOR in late January 1973, and the film was rated [R] by the MPAA. At a screening of the film in February 1973, a handout was given to audience members from the Fortune Society, an organization dedicated to rehabilitating criminals. Some of the actors in the film were also former convicts who had been counseled by the Fortune Society.

FAMILY HONOR was released around April 1973, but received only limited playdates. Contemporary reviews of the film are scarce. Boxoffice magazine found that the film “has an air of realism to it” and felt that director Clark Worswick “catches the true flavor of the setting.” However, Boxoffice also noted that “The story tends to be overly involved and there are long stretches without action. . . . If the acting seems too intense at times, most people can accept the fact that real life emotions can be exaggerated also.” The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, while not finding the film morally objectionable, noted that the “adult” film “is remarkable only in its consistent mediocrity which follows a predictable course of killings, drug traffic, warehouse confrontations and corruption in high places. Some Italian Americans may be offended by ethnic stereotyping.” Modern reviews are no easier to come by. The Motion Picture Guide labels the film a “cops vs. the mob story seen endlessly in television series.”

FAMILY HONOR has never been released on any home video format, and when the American Film Institute went looking for a print to view for its cataloging project, none could be located.



Producer Louis Pastore and director Clark Worswick did little film work in the ensuing decade. But the two reteamed in 1986 to make an action melodrama called AGENT ON ICE, in which a former C.I.A. agent becomes the target of both mafia and C.I.A. hitmen. Pastore also acted in the film, which led to a few acting roles in subsequent years, including a part in an episode of the cable series “Arli$$.” After FAMILY HONOR, actor Antony Page next appeared in the New York-shot horror film BLOOD BATH (1976), and then landed his best role in the 1981 film PRINCE OF THE CITY, where he handpicked the role of “Raff Alvarez” after director Sidney Lumet allowed the auditioning actors to choose which characters they felt most comfortable with. Page then worked with director Larry Cohen in the horror/thriller Q: THE WINGED SERPENT. Shortly after those films were released, Page developed cirrhosis of the liver after years of heavy drinking and passed away in 1984, at age 44.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 8, 2013 - 9:11 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Long ago and far away, CHANNEL 9 WOR-TV IN NEW YORK used to show a film called DELLA-64- WITH JOAN CRAWFORD. decades have past since i seen any sight of it on TV, have also not seen it on video or DVD,-when you get a chance. my friend BOB, ANY UPDATE INFO?, When you look back at old TV guide listings there are so many films from that station that have vanished from mainstream sight.


DELLA was originally a television pilot called Royal Bay. The pilot, running about 60 minutes, was directed by Robert Gist, who was an actor in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s. Gist had gotten into television directing in 1960 with Peter Gunn and had gone on to direct episodes of Naked City and The Untouchables. Royal Bay was developed in 1964 by Four-Star and Revue Television to star TV veteran Paul Burke (Naked City) as a lawyer, and movie veteran Charles Bickford (THE SONG OF BERNADETTE, DUEL IN THE SUN among others) as his cantankerous, righteous father. The program was to be produced on location weekly and was seeking a commitment for 30 weeks. To ensure success, the producers needed a marquee name for the pilot, and the concept grew into a scant feature-length pilot when director Gist secured the services of superstar and friend Joan Crawford as guest star. The episode was to be titled "Della," after the character that was offered to Miss Crawford.

In the pilot film, Crawford plays "Della Chappell," the daughter of a California coastal town’s founder. She is an uncompromising woman who rules her home with an iron fist and exerts her influence over the town she owns so much of. The story finds a young lawyer (Burke) attempting to get Della to sell a parcel of land to a government contractor, who will bring lots of jobs to the town. Burke is invited to visit Della’s home in the middle of the night and discovers her and her daughter Jenny (Diane Baker) living in a nocturnal world, sleeping during the day and going about their business during the night hours. He finds the daughter intriguing and is lured into their world with subsequent visits. The relationship eventually takes on tragic proportions. Crawford had earlier worked with Diane Baker in 1959's THE BEST OF EVERYHING and would soon appear with her again (also as mother and daughter) in William Castle’s STRAIT-JACKET. The pilot was scored by Fred Steiner.



1964 was a banner year for Joan Crawford. She had a movie in the can (the successful STRAIT-JACKET), the script for HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE on her desk, plus plans for a new book. Also, as an executive in the Pepsi-Cola company, she had planned an extended tour for the ever-growing firm during its aggressive "For Those Who Think Young" campaign in the summer months. For a sixty-year-old actress, this was a strenuous schedule, but Crawford drew strength from extensive work and fan-based activity. However, DELLA was a misfire for her and a waste of time and energy because no one ever saw it. The TV pilot was rejected, unaired, and scrapped. Subsequently, the Royal Bay pilot film was padded with additional outtake footage to make a film running about 70 minutes that was titled DELLA and was released to TV stations three years later as part of a Universal Pictures syndicated film package.



Ultimately, DELLA fell into the public domain and was rescued in the late 1980's and released on a 1988 videotape distributed by a company called International Film Forum, with misleading cover art, under the title “Fatal Confinement,” no doubt to capitalize on the success of 1987’s FATAL ATTRACTION. The title on the film remains DELLA. The second hand video tapes, which are labeled as running 70 minutes, can be found on Amazon.com.



There is an even scarcer video release of this film, re-issued in 1997 by a company called VCI/Liberty Home Video under the title DELLA. The picture on the cover is not a shot of Crawford from this movie. I believe it was taken from 1963’s THE CARETAKERS. The back cover includes a shot of Crawford from TORCH SONG.



The film was eventually released on DVD by VCI and is sold at Movies Unlimited, among other sites, listed as running 68 minutes.



http://www.moviesunlimited.com/musite/product.asp?sku=D42148

A version of DELLA running 65:11 has been uploaded to YouTube in seven parts by annavissifan. Here is part 1:



Robert Gist continued to direct in television during the 1960s for such series as 12 O’Clock High (which co-starred Paul Burke) and The High Chaparral. He retired in 1971, only coming back once in 1982 to direct a single episode of the series Strike Force.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 9, 2013 - 7:20 PM   
 By:   filmusicnow   (Member)

Long ago and far away, CHANNEL 9 WOR-TV IN NEW YORK used to show a film called DELLA-64- WITH JOAN CRAWFORD. decades have past since i seen any sight of it on TV, have also not seen it on video or DVD,-when you get a chance. my friend BOB, ANY UPDATE INFO?, When you look back at old TV guide listings there are so many films from that station that have vanished from mainstream sight.


DELLA was originally a television pilot called Royal Bay. The pilot, running about 60 minutes, was directed by Robert Gist, who was an actor in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s. Gist had gotten into television directing in 1960 with Peter Gunn and had gone on to direct episodes of Naked City and The Untouchables. Royal Bay was developed in 1964 by Four-Star and Revue Television to star TV veteran Paul Burke (Naked City) as a lawyer, and movie veteran Charles Bickford (THE SONG OF BERNADETTE, DUEL IN THE SUN among others) as his cantankerous, righteous father. The program was to be produced on location weekly and was seeking a commitment for 30 weeks. To ensure success, the producers needed a marquee name for the pilot, and the concept grew into a scant feature-length pilot when director Gist secured the services of superstar and friend Joan Crawford as guest star. The episode was to be titled "Della," after the character that was offered to Miss Crawford.

In the pilot film, Crawford plays "Della Chappell," the daughter of a California coastal town’s founder. She is an uncompromising woman who rules her home with an iron fist and exerts her influence over the town she owns so much of. The story finds a young lawyer (Burke) attempting to get Della to sell a parcel of land to a government contractor, who will bring lots of jobs to the town. Burke is invited to visit Della’s home in the middle of the night and discovers her and her daughter Jenny (Diane Baker) living in a nocturnal world, sleeping during the day and going about their business during the night hours. He finds the daughter intriguing and is lured into their world with subsequent visits. The relationship eventually takes on tragic proportions. Crawford had earlier worked with Diane Baker in 1959's THE BEST OF EVERYHING and would soon appear with her again (also as mother and daughter) in William Castle’s STRAIT-JACKET. The pilot was scored by Fred Steiner.



1964 was a banner year for Joan Crawford. She had a movie in the can (the successful STRAIT-JACKET), the script for HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE on her desk, plus plans for a new book. Also, as an executive in the Pepsi-Cola company, she had planned an extended tour for the ever-growing firm during its aggressive "For Those Who Think Young" campaign in the summer months. For a sixty-year-old actress, this was a strenuous schedule, but Crawford drew strength from extensive work and fan-based activity. However, DELLA was a misfire for her and a waste of time and energy because no one ever saw it. The TV pilot was rejected, unaired, and scrapped. Subsequently, the Royal Bay pilot film was padded with additional outtake footage to make a film running about 70 minutes that was titled DELLA and was released to TV stations three years later as part of a Universal Pictures syndicated film package.



Ultimately, DELLA fell into the public domain and was rescued in the late 1980's and released on a 1988 videotape distributed by a company called International Film Forum, with misleading cover art, under the title “Fatal Confinement,” no doubt to capitalize on the success of 1987’s FATAL ATTRACTION. The title on the film remains DELLA. The second hand video tapes, which are labeled as running 70 minutes, can be found on Amazon.com.



There is an even scarcer video release of this film, re-issued in 1997 by a company called VCI/Liberty Home Video under the title DELLA. The picture on the cover is not a shot of Crawford from this movie. I believe it was taken from 1963’s THE CARETAKERS. The back cover includes a shot of Crawford from TORCH SONG.



The film was eventually released on DVD by VCI and is sold at Movies Unlimited, among other sites, listed as running 68 minutes.



http://www.moviesunlimited.com/musite/product.asp?sku=D42148

A version of DELLA running 65:11 has been uploaded to YouTube in seven parts by annavissifan. Here is part 1:



Robert Gist continued to direct in television during the 1960s for such series as 12 O’Clock High (which co-starred Paul Burke) and The High Chaparral. He retired in 1971, only coming back once in 1982 to direct a single episode of the series Strike Force.


Robert Gist has the distinction of being the only actor to have acted in and directed episodes of "The Untouchables."

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 12, 2013 - 1:21 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Country singer Marty Robbins was an avid race car driver, competing in 35 career NASCAR races with six top 10 finishes, including the 1973 Firecracker 400. In 1967, Robbins played himself in the car racing film HELL ON WHEELS. In early 1972, Robbins decided to combine his love for country music and racing into a film. Working with his manager, Robbins self-financed and wrote the screenplay for a docu-drama called COUNTRY MUSIC.

In addition to Robbins, the film starred Sammy Jackson, who had started out acting in television in 1957. Jackson had starred in the short-lived 1964 TV series “No Time for Sergeants,” which had been based on the Andy Griffith film of the same name and in which Jackson had had an uncredited bit part. Jackson began regular work in features in 1966, and had co-starred with Roy Orbison in the 1967 western-musical THE FASTEST GUITAR ALIVE. Also appearing with Jackson in COUNTRY MUSIC were many of Marty Robbins’ contemporaries in the country music scene. The film featured appearances by Charlie Louvin, Dottie West, Barbara Mandrell, Charlie Walker, Carl Smith, Peggie Little, Penny DeHaven, Diana Trask, the Four Guys, and Leatherwood and Lisa, a new folk-country act.

In the film’s story line, Jackson portrayed a reporter coming to Nashville to interview Marty Robbins. Robbins takes him on a tour of Nashville, including to an auto race in which Robbins drives. The film concludes with a show from the Grand Ole Opry in which Robbins and friends perform. COUNTRY MUSIC was produced and directed by Robert Hinkle, who had a varied career in the film and music businesses. In 1952, after 30 months in the Air Force, he left behind a rodeo career to try his hand at acting in Hollywood. His acting debut came after crashing the Universal Pictures studio lot during the filming of Budd Boetticher’s 1952 film BRONCO BUSTER. Hinkle’s western appearance and demeanor caught the director's eye and landed him a role as a cowboy stuntman.

This led to many other roles over the years, including an appearance in THE FIRST TRAVELING SALESLADY starring Ginger Rogers. Hinkle had roles in well known TV westerns such as "Wagon Train," "Gunsmoke," "Wyatt Earp," "Wells Fargo," "Tombstone Territory," "Bonanza," "Annie Oakley," Trackdown," 'Wichita Town," and many more.

The 1955 production of the classic movie GIANT marked a turning point for Hinkle. He was the movie's dialogue director and technical director, and as such helped create the role of “Jett Rink” for James Dean. In 1960, Universal Pictures released the film OLD REX, a family movie about a boy and his dog, which Hinkle wrote, directed, and produced. Hinkle also brought his experience from GIANT to the set of HUD in 1962, where he coached Paul Newman, Patricia Neal, and Melvin Douglas to be Texans. Neal and Douglas won Academy Awards for their roles. Hinkle also received critical acclaim for creating and directing the pig scramble in HUD. At various times he wore the hats of technical advisor, second-unit director, and associate producer, positions which he enjoyed as much if not more than acting.

Beginning in the 1960s, Hinkle's talents branched out to other facets of the entertainment industry. In 1964 he signed an unknown singer named Glen Campbell to a series of country music specials with Jeannie Seely and Henson Cargill called "Hollywood Jubilee." That same year he became the personal manager for character actor Chill Wills.

In 1968 a young unknown stunt performer, named Robert Craig Knievel, asked Hinkle to help make him a household name on the magnitude of Elvis Presley. For the next 3 years, Hinkle developed and promoted "Evel Knievel" as he became the world's best known showman-daredevil. And in 1970, Hinkle became the personal manager of Marty Robbins.

During the filming of COUNTRY MUSIC, Robert Hinkle filmed the 19 February 1972 performance of Robbins and the other music stars at the Grand Ole Opry. This 11:30 PM show was an Opry segment in which Robbins regularly appeared. Produced by Marty Robbins Enterprises, the finished 94-minute, G-rated film was picked up by Universal Pictures for distribution in the U.S. COUNTRY MUSIC was released in September 1972. Although the film did not play in any major cities, it was booked in small town theaters and drive-ins around the country, particularly in the South, where country music and stock car racing were popular.

Here is a clip of the first 7 minutes of COUNTRY MUSIC, including the credits sequence (which starts approx. at the 3:40 mark):





COUNTRY MUSIC has not been released on any home video format. The film must have covered its costs for Universal, because they agreed to distribute the next Robbins-Hinkle collaboration, the western film GUNS OF A STRANGER, in 1973. In 1979, Hinkle pulled out all the stops when he produced and directed a motion picture entitled ATOKA in which 100,000 people got together in Oklahoma for a country music picnic with Willie Nelson, Larry Gatlin, Don Williams, Freddy Fender, Hoyt Axton, David Allen Coe, Freddy Weller, and Red Steagall, with Marty Robbins as host. Sadly, that film was never released. Later as general manager of Network One in Nashville, Hinkle would go on to produce numerous TV shows, music videos, and national commercials. Marty Robbins and Robert Hinkle would stay a team until Robbins' death in December 1982.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 15, 2013 - 10:36 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

FOX STYLE was a film about African-Americans that was independently produced and distributed in 1973. Producer Paul R. Picard was vice president of the television division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but left to form Presidio Productions, an independent production company based in Dallas, Texas. FOX STYLE was financed by a Texas businessman. The film was directed and co-written by Clyde Houston, who had been an assistant director on the quintessential blaxploitation film, 1971’s SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG.

Starring in FOX STYLE were Chuck Daniel, Juanita Moore, and Denise Denise. Daniel had started acting in television in 1968 and had a small role in 1970’s AIRPORT. He made his first appearance in a blaxploitation film co-starring with Jim Brown in 1972’s BLACK GUNN. Juanita Moore had been playing uncredited bit parts in films since 1942. Moore's roles began improving as Hollywood developed a social consciousness toward the end of the 1950s. In 1959 she received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in IMITATION OF LIFE, a glossy updating of a once controversial Fannie Hurst novel about racism. During the 1960s, Moore played in films as diverse as THE SINGING NUN (1966) and the black-oriented film UP TIGHT! (1968). Denise Denise had appeared in only one prior film, 1972’s LADY SINGS THE BLUES.



FOX STYLE follows a wealthy oilman and nightclub owner who struggles to reconcile his country roots with newfound city sophistication and the troubles that come with it, including a run-in with drug dealers and a campaign to save a clothing factory that is the lifeblood of a small town. Filming began in early 1973 with a budget of $500,000. Footage was shot throughout Texas, with city scenes shot in Dallas. Filming ended in February 1973. The film’s title song, written and sung by Barbara Lynn (who was also credited onscreen under the name Barbara Lynn Ozen), was released as a single on the Karma record label.

The R-rated, 88-minute FOX STYLE was released by Favorite Films in September 1973. Boxoffice magazine said that the film was “pleasantly bereft of needless violence, although several nude scenes account for the R rating. By wisely deleting the macho overtones, director Clyde Houston has fashioned a fairly believable story with mass-market appeal. . . . Chuck Daniel is excellent as the black tycoon. He apparently has more native thespian ability than the stoic Brown/O’Neal bunch.” The reviewer did fault a self-evident storyline where “the characterizations have to carry the plot.” Nevertheless, he found the film to be “a welcome respite from caper overkill.”

Although there is an onscreen copyright statement for Presidio Productions, Inc., FOX STYLE was not registered for copyright. The film was re-released in November 1981 by Lone Star Pictures International. FOX STYLE has never been legitimately released on any home video format, but it is available from some gray market sources.

Clyde Houston would never write or direct a film again. He died in 1977 at the young age of 50. After FOX STYLE, star Chuck Daniel would have some television roles and a small part in 1975’s George Segal comedy-mystery THE BLACK BIRD. He left acting in 1977. Juanita Moore continued acting in films and television until 2001, when she retired from the screen at age 80. Denise Denise would have a few more roles before leaving screen acting in 1981.



 
 
 Posted:   Apr 18, 2013 - 11:36 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

FREE is one of the more obscure rock concert films ever produced or exhibited. This documentary presents performances from the New York Pop Festival (also known as the Peoples Festival), held at Downing Stadium on Randall’s Island, NY, for 3 days on 17-19 July 1970. Among the many individuals and groups performing in the film were Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Steppenwolf, Mountain, Dr. John, and The New York Rock and Roll String Ensemble. Among the additional artists who performed at the concert, but whose appearance in FREE have not been confirmed are Miles Davis, Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull, John Sebastian, Grand Funk Railroad, Richie Havens, Ravi Shankar, John McLaughlin, and Larry Young. The film does document what turned out to be Jimi Hendrix’s last performance in America.

FREE was written, produced, and directed by Bert Tenzer, whose only prior film experience had been in performing those same chores on the film 2000 YEARS LATER, a 1969 Terry-Thomas comedy. Tenzer stated that he had originally turned down the concert organizers’ offer to film the proceedings “two or three times” because he was not interested in “shooting a rock festival per se.” He finally assented when various radical activist groups “decided to use this particular festival as an example that power, money, and music should go back to the people.” Tenzer attended a confrontational meeting between the radical groups and the festival’s organizer, who turned out to be a black resident of Harlem. The filmmaker was intrigued by the disparity between the “mostly white” protesters and the fact that the money to fund the festival was coming from the black community.

Although approximately twenty-one political and activist groups demanded portions of the box-office receipts to help groups such as the Black Panthers, the White Panthers, and the Young Lords, dissension spread among the groups, the fans, and the concert organizers. In the end, many free tickets were given away, while other attendees stormed the gates, resulting in some 30,000 appreciative music lovers attending for free. Some musical acts refused to perform without pay, as requested, although a large number of acts still participated. In addition to sequences of the musical numbers, the film presents both documentary and staged looks at behind-the-scenes encounters. In one sequence, David Kapralik, the manager of Sly and the Family Stone, attempts to explain why the group has chosen not to appear, while Denise Oliver, a member of the Puerto Rican Young Lords, eyes him skeptically. Also depicted is a dramatized confrontation between an actor playing the festival’s African-American businessman organizer, who clashes with white festival-goers offering counsel about how the proceeds should be spent in the black community.

Tenzer began filming FREE on a $500,000 budget without any distribution deal in place. He used five camera crews to record the musical acts and used actors and a script to recreate certain sequences, including the confrontation between the radical groups and the organizers. He noted that he “shot all of the major rock groups there” but was worried about whether he would be able to include their footage because of the fees they usually received. After editing the picture, he showed a rough cut to the rock groups and their managers to ask if they would participate. Editing down the film from 50 hours of footage and obtaining the necessary clearances took time, and the 80-minute R-rated film was not ready for release until late 1972. The final cost of the film was around $750,000

When it came time to market the film, Tenzer’s New York-based Indie-Pix Releasing Corp., the main distributor, worked in conjunction with Maron Films, Ltd. and various State Rights companies to exhibit FREE. Tenzer came up with a unique concept—FREE would be shown in conjunction with a live stage concert, with the resulting show called “Cin-A-Rock.” The live musical groups consisted of mostly local talent from wherever the picture was playing, along with some touring artists. The local acts were selected with an eye towards those that would have name recognition in the surrounding community. Reports differ as to how the film and live acts were presented. One report says that at various points in the film, the action would stop and a freeze-frame image would accompany the live acts. But a report in Billboard says that “The program is set so that the live acts following the movie play without any break for equipment changes. Whenever possible they use the raised orchestra pits available in most large movie theaters.”

The acts were introduced by Jerome MacMurry, who also sang and served as a narrator for the film. Cin-A-Rock was designed to play in theaters with as few as 300 seats and as many as 4,000, provided that they could accommodate both a screen and stage show. The concept had a record-breaking première at the 4,000-seat Fox Theatre in Atlanta, just before Christmas 1972, grossing $52,000 in seven shows. The acid rock band Buckwheat was one of the featured acts in Atlanta. Here is part of their performance (you may want to skip ahead to the 5:45 mark to reach the song “Eleanor Rigby”):



Cin-A-Rock then began touring the country in caravans, carrying the movie, the live rock performers, and a five-man crew with lights, sound equipment, instruments, and scenery. In Chicago, where it opened on 8 March 1973, the live stage show included Bo Diddley, Rufus, and the Latin rock and roll group El Chicano. The week’s stand at the Chicago Theater grossed $30,000, which was considered a disappointment.



When Cin-A-Rock opened in Los Angeles on 14 March 1973, featuring Bo Diddley, the show was booked into the 1,400-seat New Ritz Theater (formerly Hollywood’s venerable Lindy Opera House). There, Tenzer booked three shows a day in order to cover expenses, but because business was only fair, he exercised his option to close the show after 5 days rather than playing a Monday or Tuesday closing. (In those days, new films typically debuted on Wednesdays rather than Fridays as they do today.)

Reviews of the show were mixed. The Hollywood Reporter review noted that the combination of film and live show, which ran approximately 140 minutes, resulted in the audience not being able to enjoy either fully. The critic further complained about the film’s “psychedelic cutting” and its “refusal to explore the festival coherently.” Variety said that “Cin-A-Rock comes off as very uneven. Picture is more about the fracas surrounding the 1970 Randall's Island (N.Y.) rock festival than the performances.”

Variety reported that following the West Coast showings, a separate company of performers would play with the film on the East Coast, beginning on 27 March 1973 in New Haven, CT. A Hollywood Reporter article announced that “six separate editions of Cin-A-Rock are expected to be out in different sections of the country within a short period.” Tenzer said that the general goal was to feature two bands in the show, ideally booking the show into theaters featuring from 2,000 to 4,000 seats. Two shows were scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights, but only one on the other evenings. Tenzer sought to work with record labels to book acts that were not yet concert headliners. “We pay an act their going rate,” he said. “All we ask the record labels to do is share our costs for local advertising, especially extensive radio spots.”



By mid-1973, Tenzer changed his strategy somewhat. Finding that theater owners were not adept at promoting rock shows, he began working with local music and concert promoters in order to market his shows to a wider audience. Tenzer came up with a promotion package that could be “dropped into the promoter’s lap, rather than let him take months trying to figure out how to promote the package.” Under the licensing agreement, the promoter worked with the theater owner, with Indie-Pix receiving royalties. Tenzer claimed that production costs could be held to about $2,000, which promised healthy profits for theaters, promoters, and Tenzer.

All during 1974, Tenzer sought additional promoters to cover areas of the country that had not yet experienced Cin-A-Rock. The original plan was that FREE could be booked through mid-1975, at which point another feature film would be offered for incorporation into the Cin-A-Rock format. But no evidence of any later Cin-A-Rock programs has been found. However, in December 1974, a 90-minute cut of FREE was re-released under the title SUMMER OF ‘70. The picture played on its own, without any live stage show.

Modern reviews of FREE are just as scarce as contemporary ones. The book “Rock On Film” by David Ehrenstein and Bill Reed says that “The film’s press releases described FREE as the first ‘musical docu-drama’ (whatever that is), but the technique proves less than breathtaking as one waits for the next rock act to sweep away the fake drama from the screen.”

FREE was not copyrighted at the time of its release. In 1976, Tenser modified the film again. Some fictional footage was shot featuring DJ Murray the K taking calls from people supposedly describing what's going down at the Randall's Island concert. Also added were snippets of performances and newsreel footage of artists who were never at the concert, including The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Phil Ochs, Otis Redding, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, Little Anthony, Dionne Warwick, Jan and Dean, Herman’s Hermits, The Ronettes, Johnny Rivers, Rhinoceros, and Elephant’s Memory. The Doors performing "People are Strange" (later featured in their "Dance on Fire" video collection), is prominently featured in this revised version of the film. In addition, the film includes clips of Angela Davis, Richard Nixon, Vietnam, The Red Berets, and Malcolm X interspersed throughout. The revised film, now with a running time of 100 minutes, was re-titled THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED, and was released by Atlantic Releasing in January 1977. That title (and the alternate titles of FREE and SUMMER OF ’70) was copyrighted by Tenzer on 6 August 1981. But the film submitted to the Copyright Office is described as the 80 minute version. None of the versions of FREE have ever been legitimately issued on any home video format, but gray market copies are available under the last title.


 
 
 Posted:   Apr 23, 2013 - 9:29 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In late 1972, Mickey Rooney was suffering from financial difficulties due to unsuccessful business ventures and non-payment of income taxes. Living in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Rooney decided to locally film a low-budget comedy for the family trade. Rooney created the film THE GODMOTHERS from an idea by his friend Jerry Lester, who appears in the movie as Rooney’s brother. In this gangster spoof, the two of them run afoul of Frank Fontaine, playing a “godfather” named Don Palermo, and a 3-foot 9-inch hood (“The Hawk”) played by Billy Barty. While hiding out from the godfather, Mickey and Jerry disguise themselves as airline stewardesses and flirty ladies—becoming “The Godmothers” of the title.

By this point in his career, Mickey Rooney was clearly the king of wrongheaded movie choices. From the acid heights of Otto Preminger’s SKIDOO, through the surreal psycho-fest THE MANIPULATOR (aka B.J. LANG PRESENTS), to a sailor-cook in John Frankenheimer’s barely released THE EXTRAORDINARY SEAMAN, Rooney had proven that he would sign on to any project where the check wouldn’t bounce. For THE GODMOTHERS, Rooney not only starred and wrote the script, he also penned a song, "Carnival of Love," which was sung by The Luconto Boys. Rooney’s co-star, an equally-down-on-his-luck Jerry Lester, had years earlier hosted the first network late-night variety show, Broadway Open House, back in 1950. Also featured was frighteningly obese Frank Fontaine, best known as The Jackie Gleason Show-sidekick Crazy Guggenheim. And Car 54, Where Are You?’s star Joe E. Ross played a character called “Gino.” Director William Grefe had worked for years in Florida, filming such exploitation features as DEATH CURSE OF TARTU (1967), THE NAKED ZOO (1970), and the highly successful snake film STANLEY (1972) at various locales around the state.

THE GODMOTHERS was filmed in mid-February 1973, almost entirely in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where hundreds of city residents appeared in the film as featured players and extras. An onscreen statement after the closing credits notes that "Don Palermo's house was contributed by Mr. Samuel Gray for the benefit of the Gray Institute of Molecular Biology, a non-profit organization." Closing credits also acknowledge the Benihana Restaurant of Fort Lauderdale and extend appreciation to the city.

THE GODMOTHERS was rated [G] by the MPAA and had its world premiere in Fort Lauderdale on 12 December 1973. Rooney flew in from Panama to attend the premiere. The film was advertised outside of the Towne Theater at Plantation with these admonitions: “For all the kids that were banned from ‘The Godfather’” and “No parent admitted without the consent of a child.” Portions of the film’s opening credits appeared as pages in "Don Palermo's" financial book that "The Hawk" examines. One page in the book, under "Acknowledgements," features a “gag” list of actors that the filmmakers had hoped to cast in THE GODMOTHERS including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Charlton Heston, Steve McQueen, Gene Hackman, and Mama Cass.

The 78-minute THE GODMOTHERS, distributed by both Viola Film Distributors and Goldstone Film Enterprises, was barely exhibited anywhere after its premiere. The film played only a few times to satisfy the IRS and investors, who wrote it off as a complete loss. THE GODMOTHERS was director William Grefe’s greatest disaster. In a March 1975 interview, Grefe admitted that “It looked good on paper, but when we got into production, it just didn’t work.”

Contemporay reviews of the film are nonexistent. Writing in a 2004 issue of “Shock Cinema,” Steven Puchalski says of the film that “the viewer cringes through pasteboard sets, oversized guns, goofy sound effects, plus a cast that's drunk, senile or both. Honestly, I doubt they had enough cash for even a second take, and only Barty gets away (relatively) unscathed. . . . [The film] plays like a crappy Dean Martin Show skit that went terribly, terribly wrong, and made me long for the comparative subtlety of Jerry Lewis' HARDLY WORKING.”

THE GODMOTHERS has never been issued on any U.S. home video format, although there is a reference to a U.K. tape release in 1981 on the Cinehollywood label.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 26, 2013 - 9:16 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

TO BOB-Glad to see you are keeping some of these great threads going, good luck.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 29, 2013 - 11:43 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

TO BOB-Another one for you when you get a chance. I saw a film in 1975 in a old theatre in QUEENS NEW YORK called BEYOND THE DARKNESS-It was one of many exorcist takeoffs that was made around the world in the 70's after THE EXORCIST was a giant hit. This one was from WEST GERMANY. Have not seen the film around anywhere since,38 years later[TV CABLE VIDEO DVD.]can you track it down?

Dan the Man



BEYOND THE DARKNESS is a 1974 film known in its native Germany as “Magdalena, vom Teufel Besessen” (“Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil”). In the film, an orphan at a girls' school gets possessed by a demonic supernatural force. She goes into convulsions and makes furniture fly around the room before she gets some help from an exorcist.



The film’s director, Walter Boos had been an assistant director since the mid-1950s. He graduated to the first chair in 1967, first in television, then with a string of soft-core sex films with titles such as SCHOOLGIRLS GROWING UP, THE SWINGING CO-EDS, and NURSES REPORT (all in 1972). But perhaps his best known film in the U.S. up to that time was the X-rated LOVE IN 3D (1973). “Magdalena, vom Teufel Besessen” was Boos’ first foray into the horror genre, and he directed it under the pseudonym “Michael Walter.”



In 1976, the film was picked up for distribution in the U.S. by Mid-Broadway Productions. It was re-titled BEYOND THE DARKNESS, and received an [R] rating from the MPAA. It was released in a dubbed version in March 1976, as one of a long line of EXORCIST-like films, both foreign and domestic, that played in the years following the success of that film. It’s unclear what the running time of the film was. The IMDB says that it ran 120 minutes, but video versions run in the 79-90 minute range.



BEYOND THE DARNESS is currently available on a 2012 DVD from Apprehensive Films under the title “Magdalena: The Devil Inside the Female.”

http://www.amazon.com/Magdalena-Inside-Female-Dagmar-Hedrich/dp/B00753TCB8/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1366929160&sr=1-2&keywords=magdalena

Walter Boos would continue directing films until 1981, when he left the business. He died in 1996 on his 68th birthday.

 
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