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 Posted:   Aug 12, 2012 - 11:22 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Would you like to do a thing on another Scott Jacoby film around the same time JEREMY-73?-This film is sought of obscure these days, it was on THIS, this past year, but it is pretty rare, lovely score by Lee Holdrige.

Actually, JEREMY did not star Scott Jacoby, but Robby Benson. JEREMY was Benson’s second major role in a feature. In 1972’s JORY, Benson is listed onscreen as "Introducing," but he had appeared in a non-speaking role in 1967's WAIT UNTIL DARK. JEREMY did mark the feature film debut of actress Glynnis O'Connor and director Arthur Barron, a filmmaking teacher at Columbia University whose primary experience was in television documentaries. JEREMY was filmed on location in New York City in October and November of 1972. Locations were shot on 16mm in NYC at The Professional Children's School.

JEREMY screened at the Cannes Film Festival on 14 May 1973, where a jury presented the film and Barron the award for first film of a director. But a June 1973 Variety article noted that a dispute had arisen over the film's authorship and direction. According to the article, Joseph Brooks filed a dispute with distributor United Artists, but the company maintained the dispute was between Brooks and executive producer Elliott Kastner. The article stated that Brooks claimed to have conceived of the project, written most of the script, packaged the film with Kastner financing, cast the film, then directed all but the final week of shooting. According to Brooks, Kastner fired him and replaced him with Barron, who had been an assistant on the film, as Brooks had no previous filmmaking experience. Kastner claimed Barron was contracted as co-writer and co-director, and after Brooks initially fired actor Robby Benson, then later went over budget, Kastner replaced him with Barron. The outcome of the dispute has not been determined.

Joseph Brooks received full onscreen credit for writing one of two songs for the film, "The Hourglass Song," performed on the soundtrack by Benson. Although onscreen credits list the song as “The Hourglass Song,” all publicity materials refer to it as “Blue Balloon.” Both titles are registered with ASCAP. The United Artists soundtrack LP has it as the first track and lists it as:

Blue Balloon (The Hourglass Song) (4:15)
Vocal by Robby Benson

The soundtrack was issued on a Korean CD in 1992 by King Records.

JEREMY opened commercially in New York on 1 August 1973. The film generally received positive reviews. Roger Greenspun of the New York Times said that the film “may be dull about the glamour of the city streets, but about the agony of calling up a girl for the first time just to make a date it is right on target. It specializes not in tragedy, but in a kind of bittersweet discomfort — which is true and moving, in spite of all the efforts to jack up its appeal.” Leonard Maltin gives it three stars and calls it “poignant and real. Situations, characters, and atmosphere are memorable.” But Tony Mastroianni of the Cleveland Press felt that “JEREMY is simply a LOVE STORY without death, a formula movie that tries to get its formula past you with techniques that pass for artiness or realism or both but are seldom either.”

JEREMY is readily available on DVD. I watched the video in 2009.

 Posted:   Aug 12, 2012 - 3:41 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

The blue balloon was a nice pretty song, had a haunting glow to it, the main theme title song was also pretty.

 Posted:   Aug 12, 2012 - 4:18 PM   
 By:   Buscemi   (Member)

I think Joe Brooks was lying and was trying to steal the film's thunder. Especially if you read about his ego on future projects and his later life (simply put, he was a very despicable man).

 Posted:   Aug 13, 2012 - 12:58 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

The blue balloon was a nice pretty song, had a haunting glow to it, the main theme title song was also pretty.

Here's how Blue Balloon (The Hourglass Song) appears in the film:

The entire film of JEREMY is also on YouTube.

 Posted:   Aug 14, 2012 - 4:02 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

hey Bob

what do you know about the missing RKO classic THE BLUE VEIL and it unavailability?

THE BLUE VEIL is a 1951 RKO release about a young widow who fills her empty life with the task of becoming a children's governess. As the years pass, and the widow tries to find her own place in life, her young charges, the children of various employers, grow and soon find themselves ready to face the world. When it seems that she will be alone, the governess finds that her 'children' have ideas of their own in regards to helping their beloved mentor. The term "blue veil" refers to a traditional ornament worn by governesses. The film opens with the following written quotation: "'Who raises a child of his own flesh lives with nature; who raises a child of another's lives with God.' Meritas." No information about the source of this quotation or its author has been found.

THE BLUE VEIL was a remake of a 1942 French film “Le voile bleu,” which was directed by Jean Stelli and starred Gaby Morlay. “Le voile bleu” was released in the U.S. in late 1947 under the title “The Blue Veil” by distributor Leo Cohen. In November 1950, RKO announced that it was planning to produce the remake in France, but ultimately shot the film in Hollywood. Jerry Wald and Norman Krasma produced the American version of THE BLUE VEIL. Wald had been a producer for 10 years, and already had such classic films as MILDRED PIERCE (1945), KEY LARGO (1948), and ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (1949) under his belt. Krasna was primarily a writer, having written screenplays since 1932. He specialized in comedy, and wrote the screenplay for one of Hitchcock’s rare romantic comedies, MR. & MRS. SMITH (1941). A second Wald-Krasna production for RKO, the comedy BEHAVE YOURSELF, with Farley Granger and Shelly Winters, was shooting simultaneously, and would open within weeks of THE BLUE VEIL

THE BLUE VEIL was the first sole screenplay credit for Norwin Corwin, who had previously assisted on a few scripts and done a little television writing. Directing the film was Curtis Bernhardt, who didn't direct his first Hollywood feature until 1940 at the age of 41. Bernhardt worked for years in Germany until his Jewish heritage made living there impossible. In America, he had directed Bette Davis in A STOLEN LIFE (1946) and Joan Crawford in POSSESSED (1947). Franz Waxman scored the film, but none of the film’s music has ever been released. Two songs appear in the film: "Daddy," with words and music by Bobby Troup, and "There Will Be Some Changes Made," words by Billy Higgins, music by W. Benton Overstreet. An uncredited Busby Berkeley directed the musical sequence where Joan Blondell sings "Daddy"

Starring in THE BLUE VEIL were Jane Wyman, Charles Laughton, and Joan Blondell. RKO borrowed Jane Wyman from Warner Bros. for the production. Reportedly, Jerry Wald had hoped to coax Greta Garbo out of retirement for this film, but he was unsuccessful. Bette Davis was also a front runner for the role, but it eventually went to Wyman, and it is reportedly her favorite part. The supporting cast included Richard Carlson, Agnes Moorehead, Don Taylor, Audrey Totter, and Cyril Cusack. In small roles were such future film and television stars as Natalie Wood, Vivian Vance, and Harry Morgan. THE BLUE VEIL marked the feature film debut of popular radio actor Les Tremayne. English actor Robert Newton was announced as one of the film's stars in late March 1951, but he did not appear in the completed picture. Martha Scott, who had starred in a handful of films in the 1940s before focusing on a New York stage career, also was to appear, but did not.

Production on THE BLUE VEIL began on 9 April 1951. Aside from the normal studio work, the film's confirmation scene was shot at the All Saint's Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA, and featured the church's Youth Choir. Although publicity material states that the church's rector, Dr. John F. Scott, appeared as himself, he received no screen credit, and his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The San Marino, CA, estate of Mrs. E. B. Holladay, the sister of railroad magnate Henry Huntington, was used for the "Palfrey" home (the characters played by Moorehead and Taylor).

THE BLUE VEIL had its world premiere in Los Angeles on 5 September 1951. The film generally received good notices from the critics, even if most felt it to be a bit sentimental. Variety called the story “nothing more than a series of episodes strung together,” but felt that “Curtis Bernhardt’s direction handles the drama surely, if at times a bit measured, and never strives for dramatic tricks beyond the level of the simple, warm story being told.” When the film opened in New York on 26 October 1951, the New York Times called it a “beautifully-acted drama,” and declared that “if you don’t wince, it will move you to tears, so softly-sweet and heart-prodding are the various episodes, assembled with computer exactitude in the Norman Corwin scenario.”

Modern reviewers have echoed these sentiments, while at the same time generally praising the players. The Motion Picture Guide feels that “Despite the mawkish script by the normally unstinting Corwin, Wyman manages to play what might have been laughable into a believable and dignified character.” But the Guide goes on to note that “it’s very episodic” with “a tearful ending and a feeling of having been manipulated by the writer and director.” The book The RKO Story declares THE BLUE VEIL to be “a sopping-wet ‘woman’s’ picture” that “caused a veritable flood to burst loose from the tear ducts of viewers hypnotized by such artificial and sentimental diversions. In all fairness, it must be said that Miss Wyman brought conviction and great dignity to her role and received sterling support.” Leonard Maltin gives the film three stars and calls it “well done.”

THE BLUE VEIL racked up $3,550,000 in rentals and made $450,000 in profits. Jane Wyman and Joan Blondell received Academy Award nominations for their lead and supporting performances, respectively, but neither won. On 24 November 1952, Wyman reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre version of the story. In the radio broadcast, Gloria Blondell, Joan Blondell's sister, played "Annie," the role portrayed by Joan in the film.

THE BLUE VEIL has not been issued on any video format. Wald-Krasna Productions, and not RKO, held the original copyright to the film, but when it was renewed in 1979, the copyright claimant was listed as RKO General. So, there’s no apparent reason why it has not appeared on a Warner Archive DVD or aired on Turner Classic Movies. Wald-Krasna productions would do two more films for RKO: Fritz Lang’s CLASH BY NIGHT and Nicholas Ray’s THE LUSTY MEN (both 1952). Of the four Wald-Krasna Productions, only one, BEHAVE YOURSELF, has not had its copyright renewed by RKO. Interestingly, BEHAVE YOURSELF is also the only one that has appeared on public domain DVDs (from the likes of Alpha and Synergy Entertainment). CLASH BY NIGHT has appeared on a Warner DVD. And neither THE BLUE VEIL nor THE LUSTY MEN have appeared on DVD at all, although the latter at least had authorized VHS and laserdisc releases from Turner back in the day. So there may still be hope for THE BLUE VEIL.

Jerry Wald would go on to be one of the most revered of the golden age producers, producing AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957), PEYTON PLACE (1957), and THE LONG, HOT SUMMER (1958) among many others. The last of his more than 60 productions was 1963’s THE STRIPPER, released after his untimely death from a heart attack in July 1962, at the young age of 50. Norman Krasna would go on to write the screenplays for WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954) and romantic comedies like WHO WAS THAT LADY? (1960) and SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963). He died in 1984 at age 74.

Norman Corwin wrote the screenplays for two films based on the lives of artists: LUST FOR LIFE (1956) and THE NAKED MAJA (1958). Corwin died last year at the ripe old age of 101. Curtis Bernhardt would direct such films as Bob Hope’s BEAU BRUMMELL (1954) and Fred MacMurray’s KISSES FOR MY PRESIDENT (1964, his final film). He died in 1981 at age 81.

Jane Wyman would go on to have two of her most well-known roles in the Douglas Sirk melodramas MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (1956) and ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1958). Wyman turned primarily to television in the 1960s, and had a 9-year starring role in the series “Falcon Crest.” during the 1980s. She died at the age of 90 in 2007. In addition to continued work on radio, Les Tremayne acted in dozens of films and television programs for several decades, appearing both onscreen and as an offscreen narrator. He died in 2003.

 Posted:   Aug 17, 2012 - 4:09 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

DEADLY FATHOMS was a 1973 documentary released by Cinema National Corp. In the film, Rod Serling narrates a look at the consequences of the 1946 atomic testing at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Dubbed "Operation Crossroads," the tests included dozens of blasts that sunk a fleet of nearby warships. Until 1968, the Government would not allow visitors to the area, which could not be guaranteed to be safe. Divers are shown in underwater footage, diving with sharks and still-radioactive ships.

Producer-director D. Michael Harris was president of HMS Film Corp., which was based in Tampa, FL. The filmmakers were the first allowed to film in the Bikini Atoll area since 1963. Using a crew of twelve people, filming began in early May 1972 in the Marshall Islands. Production continued until late August 1972. The cinematography team was headed up by Eric Frehsee, a biologist-writer-cinematographer who was on the faculty of Dade Junior College in Miami FL, the largest marine biology facility in the country.

The 93-minute film opened in Tampa, FL on 3 May 1973, but didn’t go into general release until October 1973. DEADLY FATHOMS marked the only film score for Paul Lavalle, a noted bandmaster and conductor and, at the time of the film's release, director of music at Radio City Music Hall.

Boxoffice magazine called the film a “most engrossing attraction” adding that what the filmmakers “came out with, despite admittedly formidable circumstances, is of both prime historical import and documentary filmmaking excellently produced.” Currently, the copyright to DEADLY FATHOMS seems to be held by Gold Key Entertainment, but the film has not been issued on any video format, and the American Film Institute could not locate any print of the film to view for its cataloging project.

 Posted:   Aug 17, 2012 - 5:44 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

A long time ago that film was in Syndication, not sure of the exact years,off the top of my head , late 70's possibly early 80's, Modern cable TV , don't show any of those 70's type doc's that companies like Sunn international did.

 Posted:   Aug 19, 2012 - 1:35 AM   
 By:   lauralee   (Member)

Okay, time to get real obscure. Here's a film from the 1980s that isn't available anywhere, even though it has an exploitable element. It's called Rent Control and stars Brent Spiner. IMDB gives the release year as 1984, although it was reviewed in Variety in 1981. The plot, as far as I can recall, has Spiner using information given to him by his journalist friend about the murder of a politician's wife to try to manipulate the journalist's sources into believing they are not safe and have to leave the city so Spiner can get their rent controlled apartment. I was able to get a VHS copy from a die-hard "Data" fan (though really, is there any other kind?) that was taped off an independent TV station in Denver several years ago. It's several minutes shorter than the listed running time, but appears to be the only copy of this film floating around. If Bob can come up with artwork on this one I will be very impressed.

I am so sad that I can't find this film anywhere and probably never will.

Just a few days ago there was an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Brent Spiner & some of his fans asked him if he had a copy of Rent Control and if he'd ever consider uploading it somewhere or sharing...

He replied with:
"I have it, but I'm not really that interested in having others see it. The movie cost $100,000 to make, and to it's credit, I think it looks like $200,000."

You are a lucky man, sir. Cherish that VHS like it's going out of style!

If anyone ever finds a copy, please shoot me a message at elananimosity (at)

Hopefully I'm not 70 by the time one pops up...or worse - never shows!

 Posted:   Aug 19, 2012 - 8:05 PM   
 By:   Doc Loch   (Member)

In the ongoing effort to test the limits of Bob's expertise let's try this one. Several years ago when a colleague at the university where I was teaching passed away his family gave me several 16mm films he had collected. Among them was a film in Spanish only called Noche Decisiva. There is very little on this film on IMDB other than cast and crew listings. Also, the print I have is about 15-20 minutes shorter than the listed running time for the IMDB entry. Since I only took two years of high school Spanish and basically remember nada I can't really get a sense of what the film is about (would the title translate as "Night of Decision"?) but it appears to be a light adventure story. I remember there were some scenes of guys wandering through a jungle in pith helmets. I'm not sure if this ever had an American release. As always, any information (such as a plot synopsis) would be greatly appreciated.

 Posted:   Aug 22, 2012 - 12:59 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Tthere was a Robert Youngston version of the silent NOAH'S ARK - reeditted with just scenes from the Biblical story and it ran about 75 minutes - it had narration, sound effects and a musical score totally different than the restored Warner Archive version -- Id love to see it released.I recall ( I saw it in the 70s) that it was more "fun" than the official release.

NOAH’S ARK was, in part, a spectacular filming of the Biblical story by Warner Bros. in the silent era. In the film, the story of Noah is actually told as a flashback from, and in contrast to, a modern story set during World War I. The cast, headed by Dolores Costello, George O’Brien, Noah Beery, and Paul McAllister had roles in both the modern and ancient stories. The film was directed by long-time Warner Bros. stalwart Michael Curtiz, just two years after his last European film of the 1920s. It was only the 10th of his more than 100 American films. Producing and providing the story was Darryl F. Zanuck. The scope and budget was certainly big for its time and a major undertaking for a young, aspiring movie mogul like Zanuck. His career at Warner Bros. began as a writer in 1924. Ever ambitious, he established himself as a producer within four years. NOAH’S ARK was his first film assignment and--befitting his youthful enthusiasm (he was only 26 years of age)--he vowed to "make the greatest picture ever made".

Location scenes were shot at Big Basin, CA, and at the Iverson Ranch in the Chatsworth section of Los Angeles. Probably the most astonishing sequence of the $1.5 million picture is the Flood, which is still impressive by today's special effects standards and was every bit as harrowing to shoot as it appears onscreen. Curtiz had a huge tank containing more than a million gallons of water constructed, with access spillways leading to the tops of the Babylonian temple set. Sadly, his zeal to obtain authenticity in this scene made him shamefully neglectful of safety precautions. His emphasis on realism was so intense that cinematographer Hal Mohr (a survivor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire) questioned him about the lack of adequate safeguards for the film's players, telling him that while the trained stuntmen knew what to expect and could prepare for it, the ordinary extras would have no idea what was coming, and many would be hurt. Curtiz reportedly replied, "They're just going to have to take their chances." Mohr was so appalled at Curtiz's comment that he walked off the set and his duties were taken over by Barney McGill. But the dangerous sequence proceeded as planned. The contents from the tanks were released and 15 cameramen and a reported 5,000 extras thrashed about in the water for hours. Many extras were injured (some sources say that up to three were drowned, but this morbid rumor has never been confirmed). The film's leading lady, Dolores Costello, recalls wounded extras laid outside her dressing room door as fleets of ambulances carried away victims of the carnage. Costello herself developed pneumonia from being in the water too long and actor Guinn Williams injured two ribs. Among the extras who escaped without injury were John Wayne and Andy Devine.

NOAH’S ARK was originally conceived as a silent film, but was then given last minute doctoring to include dialogue, a decision dictated by the huge success of Warner Bros.’ innovative sound feature THE JAZZ SINGER (1927). The final film contained some talking sequences and a music score by Louis Silvers in the then state-of-the-art Vitaphone process (sound on discs). The film had its world premiere in Los Angeles on 1 November 1928. The 135-minute premiere version ran only at the opening engagement in Hollywood. By the time of the New York premiere some weeks later, the film had been trimmed by over 30 minutes. At least some of the cuts were of Vitaphone talking sequences that didn't work well. In particular, Paul McAllister (Noah/Minister) fared poorly, as all his talking scenes were removed. The film went into general release on 15 June 1929. On 27 July 1929, a totally silent version of the film was also put into release. One source describes the New York premiere:

“The show started outside New York’s Winter Garden Theatre with lighted displays and a forty-foot blimp hovering over the marquee. Eight "sunlight arcs" poured changing colors on the leviathan as wires caused it to dip and sway toward a giant replica of the ark electrified with rain effects and clouds of steam. Inside the auditorium, more deluge greeted the audience as wind and water signaled the Vitaphone overture. First-nighters paid eleven dollars a seat, and all were filled. Subsequent tickets went for two dollars, which caused resentment among reviewers whose own lukewarm response to NOAH’S ARK was in part a rebuke of Warners for having oversold what these critics considered an ordinary and derivative picture.”

Despite all the efforts of those involved, NOAH’S ARK failed domestically at the box-office and with the critics. The New Yorker called it "an idiotic spectacle", while the New York Times stated that the film "frequently bordered on the ridiculous". It did however, have a much better reception in Europe, and in the end grossed more than $2.3 million worldwide. These contrasting posters show how the related modern and biblical stories were simultaneously advertised.

NOAH’S ARK was then forgotten for 20 years. The fact that the film had only a smattering of talking scenes, mostly awkwardly done, put the brakes on any reissue chance. Warners would re-release films like LITTLE CAESAR and PUBLIC ENEMY, both nearly as old as NOAH’S ARK, as late as 1954, but at least these talked throughout. Silents were for scrap heaps, or fattening film libraries sold to voracious TV. Being a silent movie adherent was like donning a dunce cap in early 50's Hollywood. Anyone proposing commercial life for non-talkers, outside a Chaplin, was for the birds, or unemployment lines. But a man named Robert Youngson had championed NOAH’s ARK during the early fifties when he was employed in Warner Bros.’ short subjects department. A lifelong film buff and later producer of many fabulous comedy compilations, Youngson had edited a group of one-reel subjects at Warners that were culled from silent spectaculars such as DON JUAN, ISLE OF LOST SHIPS, OLD SAN FRANCISCO, and NOAH’S ARK. These were like Castle Film versions of the pictures. The NOAH’S ARK short was the first in a series called “Magic Movie Moments.” The 10-minute short, designed for theaters to show (along with cartoons and newsreels) with their main features, was narrated by frequent newsreel narrator Dwight Weist and was released on 26 December 1953. The short shows footage of the original New York premiere, plus several scenes from the film, including the loading of the animals on the ark, the 40 days and nights of rain, and scenes with George O'Brien and Dolores Costello. With the quick running time, however, some of the biggest scenes of holocaust and mass slaughter didn’t make it into the one-reeler.

When Associated Artists Productions (AAP) bought the Warners pre-1949 film library for television release in 1956, they ended up with the surviving silent negatives as well, including NOAH’S ARK. While 16mm prints were being prepared for TV sales, AAP established a subsidiary called Dominant Pictures, whose mission was to squeeze whatever theatrical bookings they could out of the old Warner product before the television dump. Youngson approached Dominant with his idea of re-editing and "modernizing" NOAH’S ARK for a 35mm re-issue. Since they now owned the picture anyway, there was little to lose. Youngson’s 1957 version would be shorn of all intertitles and talking sequences. Again, narrator Dwight Weist provided non-stop explanation and commentary throughout a truncated version that ran just 75 minutes. One source claims that the newsreel footage of the film’s premiere that was in the short was also included in the reissue, but that seems unlikely. Reportedly, the reissue had some original music by David Buttolph, William Lava, and Howard Jackson, as well as tracked music from Adolph Deutsch, Bernhard Kaun, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, and Franz Waxman.

NOAH’s ARK would be an experiment, said AAP, to see if extreme oldies might sell. In mid-1957, every theatre in the country wanted Cecil B. DeMille’s THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, but most couldn't get it. DeMille's spectacular was having roadshow runs in the biggest houses and staying for what seemed to be forever following its late-1956 opening. Hoping to piggyback on THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, Dominant would treat NOAH’S ARK like a new picture, saturation booking it through the country one area at a time, according to Variety. One hundred dates for late July and August 1957 were set in the tri-states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Full-page ads went into Philadelphia newspapers, but none disclosed NOAH’S ARK being a silent made decades before; instead it was labeled as simply “The Most Electrifying Drama In the History of Mankind!” Ten of the first thirty theatres held over NOAH’S ARK for seven-day runs, better than what Dominant anticipated. With floods, spearings, and columns falling, this was no art-house cast-off. Showmen could bally NOAH to the hilts as a next-best TEN COMMANDMENTS, so long as Paramount's film eluded them (many localities wouldn’t get THE TEN COMMANDMENTS until the fall of 1957).

Dominant had offices mostly on the East coast, so arrangement was made with Manhattan Films International to handle NOAH’S ARK in eleven western states, Alaska, and Hawaii. Aggressive Manhattan got the film into Los Angeles just as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS wrapped forty-six weeks playing first-run. The timing was just right for another biblical film, whatever its vintage. Boxoffice response to NOAH’S ARK was mixed overall, depending on the territory and how it was pushed. Baltimore saw torrid business at its Little Art Theatre, wherein records were beat, but faces turned red when St. Paul, Minnesota patrons, lured by “Bigger Than Biggest” ads, found to their chagrin that this was an epic sans talk. More than a few moviegoers attending it became so upset when they learned the truth that they jumped up and demanded their money back, said the St. Paul Dispatch's movie columnist. They'd thought NOAH’S ARK was a brand new epic that somehow was made with no publicity. Still, despite refunds, the show performed above average for Minneapolis-St. Paul houses, and certainly beat typical revenues for a reissue, even if the film wasn't necessarily revealed as such. Fifty years later one viewer remembers his experience:

“We all went wild thinking we'd been gypped to pay our quarters for an old B&W silent movie. We thought it would be a ‘See! See! See! A cast of thousands! CinemaScope and Eastman Color!’ Well, the cast of thousands was in there, but in those days we expected epics to be in color and widescreen. The melee grew until the projectionist stopped the film and the theater's manager got up on the stage in front of the now empty screen and told us how badly behaved we were. Silence for a moment. Then someone sailed a flattened popcorn box at him Frisbee-style and the chaos took over again. It was the closest thing to a riot I've ever experienced. We finally calmed down and the movie resumed. There was a western with George Montgomery playing with it, but I don't remember the title.”

Small towns reveled in NOAH’s ARK, since Biblical themes were always welcome in Southeast climes. A Pilot Mountain, NC, showman got a NOAH’S ARK display (in the back of a pick-up truck) into the town's 1958 Christmas parade to some pretty good results, said Boxoffice. Perhaps realizing the brief stir caused by the reissue, the Mirisch Company announced in July 1958 its intention to make a new and multi-million dollar Noah's Ark (it didn't happen). The original meanwhile floated through theater circuits starved for product.

Part of why reissues boomed during the late 1950s was lack of small or B titles to fill in weeks, thus NOAH’S ARK was back in Los Angeles in September 1958, this time with an AAP/Dominant reissue of YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, another Warner favorite that was being withheld from TV. But the duo grossed only a mild $4,500 and was gone in a week. AAP entertained the possibility of reviving Warner silents beyond NOAH’S ARK, with maybe a festival group for art-houses, but that trial balloon came to nothing. Of all the silents they now owned, it appears AAP and successor United Artists included only NOAH’S ARK among features syndicated to TV (NOAH became available for broadcast in the mid-sixties).

At a screening of Youngson’s version in 1966, noted film historian William K. Everson had this to say:

“This fine spectacle, which can more than stand on its own feet, is afflicted with an almost non-stop and 90% unnecessary narration, delivered in portentous tones as though by the Reverend Davidson! It's the price one has to pay for seeing it resurrected at all. Producer Youngson, with a genuine love of old film, has certainly earned our gratitude through the years with a number of excellent documentaries and comedy compilations, so we must be charitable about this early mistake, in which the narration is hypnotized by its own eloquence. Too often it seems as though the picture is accompanying the track, instead of the other way round, and when the image is left alone occasionally, it's amazing how the language of film takes over and the picture soars.”

Even today, film historians view NOAH’S ARK as an important early talkie artifact. It's also the first notable American film in the career of the prolific Curtiz. After regaining control of the film, Warners supported a partial restoration that was done in 1989 by Robert Gitt and the UCLA Film and Television Archive in conjunction with the project American Moviemakers: The Dawn of Sound. This version is 100 minutes long and includes most of the talking sequences, approximating the 1929 general release version of the film. It also gives credit to the Vitaphone Orchestra before the Warner Bros. logo card, citing the use of the system's "Western Electric Apparatus". It airs from time to time on Turner Classic Movies and has been released as a made-on-demand DVD under the Warner Archive program. It’s not known whether Robert Youngson’s feature version survives, but a print of his short film is in the UCLA Film and Television Archives. For those wanting more information, reportedly the definitive history on the production and restoration of NOAH’S ARK was written by Scott MacQueen and published in Issue 12 (Winter 1991-92) of The Perfect Vision. (I’ve never read it.)

 Posted:   Aug 24, 2012 - 4:00 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

After the success of 1969’s TRUE GRIT, producer Hal Wallis decided to take another of author Charles Portis’ novels and adapt it to the screen. That novel was NORWOOD, which had been published in 1966, two years before TRUE GRIT. To make his film, Wallis brought over many of the talents that had worked on TRUE GRIT, including screenwriter Marguerite Roberts, as well as TRUE GRIT’s art director, editor, and costumer.

From TRUE GRIT’s cast, Wallis re-signed Kim Darby and Glen Campbell. A third major character in the story called for an actor around the same age as Glen Campbell, since the two were supposed to have been Army buddies. For this role, Wallis signed football star Joe Namath, in what would be his first film role. Supporting roles went to Carol Lynley, Pat Hingle, Tisha Sterling, Dom Deluise, Meredith MacRae, and David Huddleston. Directing the film was Jack Haley, Jr., his first feature. (Haley’s father, Jack Sr., who was best known for his role as the “Tin Man” in THE WIZARD OF OZ, had a small part in NORWOOD, which was his last film role.)

Portis’ novel was set in the 1950s, but Roberts’ screenplay updated the story to the present day. Campbell plays Norwood Pratt, a singer and ex-Marine who meets a number of colorful characters on his way to what he hopes will be a career in country music. As might be expected, the film made considerable use of Glen Campbell’s singing talents. Campbell sang six songs in the film, most of them penned by Mac Davis. Al De Lory did the background score. A 34-minute song and score soundtrack LP was issued on Capitol Records, but it has never been released on CD.

Here’s the title song from the film;

Location scenes for NORWOOD were filmed in Corona and Lake Elsinore, California. The film opened in Dallas on 21 May 1970. NORWOOD was geared to heartland audiences, and didn’t open in New York until 25 November 1970. It was not received kindly by the critics at the time, and modern reviewers have been no more forgiving. While the Blockbuster Entertainment Guide gives the film three stars and terms it a “harmless road movie,” Leonard Maltin, in a two-star review, calls it “Easy to take, but pointless.” TV Guide also gives the film two stars and terms it “a lightweight film.” And Shock Cinema magazine calls it “Eccentric, but also insufferably sentimental, . . . a disaster in every sense of the word.”

Joe Namath received a Golden Globe nomination as “Most Promising Newcomer” (James Earl Jones won the award). But NORWOOD did not prove to be a financial success, and the film would be Hal Wallis’ last production for Paramount. He would move over to Universal, where one of his first films would reunite screenwriter Marguerite Roberts and director Henry Hathaway of TRUE GRIT, for the Gregory Peck western SHOOT OUT. Jack Haley, Jr. would direct only one more major feature, 1971’s THE LOVE MACHINE. He would return to his primary career as a producer and sometimes director of television specials and award shows.

NORWOOD essentially ended Glen Campbell’s big screen acting career. Joe Namath had a little more success, starring in C.C. AND COMPANY (1970) and THE LAST REBEL (1971) before moving into primarily television work for a few more years. Only Kim Darby would continue to work, starring next in Robert Aldrich’s THE GRISSOM GANG (1971) before beginning a lengthy career of appearances in television series and TV movies that would last until 2007.

NORWOOD was broadcast on ABC in 1975 and may have been issued on cassette, but no information on this has been found. The film is, however, available to stream on Netflix in America. Perhaps it will yet be released on DVD by Olive Films as part of their licensing agreement with Paramount.

 Posted:   Aug 26, 2012 - 4:50 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

a restored widescreen release of enjoyable THE WHITE ORCHID- Peggy Castle - would be most welcome.

THE WHITE ORCHID was a jungle adventure film released in 1954 by United Artists. The film concerned an archaeologist working in Southern Mexico who believes that there are remnants of the ancient Toltec civilization in a remote area. He requests a photographer, and is initially frustrated when he is sent a young woman to do the job. THE WHITE ORCHID was a coproduction of Cosmos Productions, Inc., James O. Radford, Inc., and Producciones Eduardo Quevedo S.A. Cosmos Productions was a company owned by Reginald LeBorg (frequently listed as "Le Borg," as in the onscreen credits of this film). THE WHITE ORCHID was his first and only film as a producer. In addition to producing, Le Borg also directed and co-wrote the film.

The oldest of three sons, Reginald LeBorg majored in political economy at the University of Austria and studied musical composition for a year at Arnold Schoenberg's Composition Seminar. His family emigrated to America, and with his education completed, LeBorg entered his father's banking business. But the stock market crash of 1929 wiped out the LeBorg family fortune, and Reginald's interest in the financial world waned. He returned to Europe and his first love, the stage. He worked at the Max Reinhardt School in Vienna, and later devoted much of his time to directing operas and musical comedies for provincial houses throughout Central Europe. Arriving on the Hollywood scene in the early 1930s, LeBorg appeared as an extra in pictures at Paramount and Metro and later staged opera sequences in the Grace Moore hits ONE NIGHT OF LOVE (1934) and LOVE ME FOREVER (1935), as well as other films with operatic themes at Fox, Paramount and United Artists. After a number of second-unit assignments at MGM, Goldwyn, and Selznick, LeBorg joined Universal, where he turned out musical shorts. An 18-month hitch with the U.S. Army interrupted his Hollywood career, which resumed in 1943 with his return to Universal and his promotion to feature film director. He was a b-movie specialist, directing films such as CALLING DR. DEATH (1943), THE MUMMY’S GHOST (1944), and six films in the “Joe Palooka” series. He began directing television the year before THE WHITE ORCHID.

Co-writer David Duncan didn't begin to write full-time until the age of 33, in 1946, after 10 years of work in government administration and public services. He began screenwriting in 1953 with SANGAREE. THE WHITE ORCHID was his second script. The film’s score was by prolific Mexican composer Antonio Díaz Conde, who has more than 260 films to his credit. The one most familiar to American audiences is probably his score for the 1959 film SANTA CLAUS, which started the kiddie matinee craze when brought to the U.S. by promoter K. Gordon Murray. THE WHITE ORCHID had a song, "Femme Fatale," with music by Chuy Hernández. The Spanish lyrics by Gabriel Luna de la Fuente are heard first, sung on-camera by Alejandro de Montenegro and Miguel A. Gallardo. The song is then reprised with the English lyrics by Reginald LeBorg, sung off-camera by Don Durant.

THE WHITE ORCHID starred William Lundigan, Peggie Castle, and Armando Silvestre. Lundigan was discovered by Charles R. Rogers, head of production at Universal Studios. Rogers happened to tune into radio station WFBL in Syracuse and was so intrigued by a voice he heard reading a commercial that he gave instructions for the speaker to be located, brought to New York, and tested for movie possibilities. It was Lundigan, who began appearing in minor features in 1937, eventually graduating to small roles in major films such as DODGE CITY (1939) and THE SEA HAWK (1940). By the time of THE WHITE ORCHID, Lundigan had appeared in over 60 films. Peggie Castle was spotted by a talent scout while she was lunching in a Beverly Hills restaurant. In her films, she was usually somebody's "woman" rather than a girlfriend, and her career was confined to mostly B-grade action pictures, dramas, or westerns, such as THE PRINCE WHO WAS A THIEF (1951), HAREM GIRL (1952), and WAGONS WEST (1952). She did, however, have good roles in such films as PAYMENT ON DEMAND (1951) with Bette Davis, 99 RIVER STREET (1953) with John Payne, I, THE JURY (1953), and THE WHITE ORCHID. Although the film’s onscreen credits state "And Introducing Armando Silvestre," the Mexican actor had already appeared in several Mexican and Hollywood films.

THE WHITE ORCHID began filming in early February 1954 at Estudios Churubusco, Mexico City. Exteriors were filmed in the environs of Papantla, Tecolutla, and Poza Rica in the state of Veracruz and near Texcoco, Mexico. Papantla is near the Toltec ruins of El Tajin, featured in the film. The 81-minute film was released in November 1954. Here are the film’s opening credits:

THE WHITE ORCHID received only fair reviews from the trade press (Boxoffice, Variety, Film Daily, Hollywood Reporter). Boxoffice called the film “engrossing for its geographical and historical ramifications and its scenic backgrounds,” adding that “another noteworthy below-the-border factor is a praiseworthy musical score, featuring a haunting theme song that is sure to please American movie patrons. But it is the accurate photographing of native dances, costumes, and religious ceremonies that probably will prove to be the offbeat film’s best asset.” Here is a scene with those dances and ceremonies.

As far as the acting of Lundigan and Castle, Boxoffice noted that “their respective performances are satisfactory, but are paralleled by those of the Mexican troupers, among whom Armando Silvestre is a promising standout.” Modern reviews have echoed the same points. The Motion Picture Guide says that “Lush vegetation and credible old monumental ruins provide the most interest in this hackneyed expedition story,” adding that “the Mexican players tend to outshine the Anglo leads, with honors going to Silvestre and [Rosenda] Monteros.” Videohound’s Movie Retriever gives the film two stars, citing only its “exceptional sets.”

Although THE WHITE ORCHID did not do well at the boxoffice, it still managed to be re-released theatrically in 1957 by Mutual Productions of the West under the title “Creatures of the Jungle,” on a double bill with RKO’s PORT SINISTER (re-titled “Beast of Paradise Isle” for the reissue).

THE WHITE ORCHID was originally copyrighted by the respective production companies, but the most recent copyright records show that the film is owned by Broadway Video Enterprises, Inc. (Broadway Video Enterprises is best known as the video distributor for “Saturday Night Live.”) THE WHITE ORCHID has appeared on a number of budget video labels such as Alpha and Synergy Entertainment. It can also be rented or purchased as a download from Amazon, in a 78-minute version.

After THE WHITE ORCHID, Reginald LeBorg spent most of his remaining career in television. He directed episodes of “Bronco,” “77 Sunset Strip,” and “Bourbon Street Beat” among other series. He also directed the occasional feature such as 1957’s WAR DRUMS and 1963’s DIARY OF A MADMAN. He died in 1989 while en route to an awards ceremony at which he was to be honored. Writer David Duncan started writing science-fiction movies after one of his sci-fi novels, "Dark Dominion," was serialized in Collier's magazine. He would go on to script such classic films as THE BLACK SCORPION (1957), THE TIME MACHINE (1960), and FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1966). He also did television writing, including more than 20 episodes of “Daniel Boone.” He died in 1999 at age 86.

William Lundigan acted almost exclusively in television after THE WHITE ORCHID, as the host of the series “Climax,” and with a major role in “Men Into Space” (a number of episodes of which were written by David Duncan). His last feature appearance was in THE WAY WEST (1967). Lundigan died in 1975 at age 61. Peggy Castle would go on to appear in such films as MIRACLE IN THE RAIN (1956) with Jane Wyman and SEVEN HILLS OF ROME (1957) with Mario Lanza. After three seasons playing sexy femme lead Lily Merrill, the dance-hall hostess and romantic interest for steely-eyed Marshal Dan Troop in the TV western series "Lawman" (1959), Castle left show business in 1962. She later developed an alcohol problem and died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1973 at age 45.

 Posted:   Aug 28, 2012 - 3:03 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Producer Allen Funt began doing his television show “Candid Camera” in 1948. Funt was the creator and longtime host of the show, which featured a hidden camera photographing real people responding to unusual or often bizarre situations. When the show finally went off the air (for the second time) in 1967, Funt decided to try his hand at a feature film using the same concept. In a total break from his wholesome family television show, Funt made sure that his first feature would be geared to adults. The result was the X-rated WHAT DO YOU SAY TO A NAKED LADY? (1970), in which Funt filmed the reactions of people who came across a nude woman in various unexpected circumstances. The film pleased a number of critics and was a modest financial success, grossing over $5 million (when that was good money), which prompted Funt to begin work on a second film. That film ended up being 1972’s MONEY TALKS.

Funt spent about eighteen months filming myriad scenarios about how people respond to money. He traveled to New York, Kansas City, Boston, Miami and Switzerland to cull footage for the film. Among the scenarios pictured were how people react to a 50-cent admission charge to a public restroom, and how they deal with a bowl filled with dollar bills that has a sign over it saying “Take One.” Aside from Funt, Muhammad Ali and Henny Youngman appeared in the film as themselves. United Artists opened the PG-rated MONEY TALKS in New York on 30 August 1972. This time, however, Funt failed to duplicate the financial success of his first film, and divided the few critics who saw the film.

For the affirmative, Variety’s “Murf” claimed that this “amusing documentary-type film” was a “humorous novelty” that made for “an enjoyable piece of filmmaking.” For the negative, Cue’s William Wolf pronounced the film “quite poverty-stricken in terms of either humor or insights.” Although disappointed that “MONEY TALKS is not nearly as amusing as the previous Funt film,” the San Francisco Chronicle’s John L. Wassserman detected enough “hysterically funny moments” to make the picture “generally entertaining.” Agreeing, Roger Greenspun of the New York Times, who had not liked Funt’s first film, found MONEY TALKS to be “an inoffensive, mostly innocuous film, and as such must represent a giant step up from WHAT DO YOU SAY TO A NAKED LADY?”.

Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times declared MONEY TALKS to be “another hit” that was “largely appealing.” But the New Yorker’s Penelope Gilliant decried that “People in idiotic situations are mocked as though they themselves were idiots.” The film, she said, “dispenses undertakers’ false cheer but not humor.” And the New York Daily News’ Wanda Hale, while declaring that “MONEY TALKS is not as consistently funny as WHAT DO YOU SAY TO A NAKED LADY?,” additionally complained that “even though the picture is not long, Funt squeezes the humor out of many situations by making sequences too long.” That review brought up a question about the film’s length. While most reviews listed the film’s running time as 81 minutes, other sources have pegged it at 84, 87, or 90 minutes.

Allen Funt would not make another feature film. “Candid Camera” would return to the air in a syndicated version from 1974 to 1978 and for a 4-month summer run on CBS in 1990. Funt would die in 1999 at the age of 84.

The copyright for MONEY TALKS is held by Allen A. Funt Productions. Although copyright renewal records for the film list “If You Don't Like Your Father's Money, Why Do You Spend It?” as an alternate title, no other source mentions this title. The film has never been released on any video format, and when the American Film Institute sought a print to view for its cataloging project, none could be located.

 Posted:   Aug 28, 2012 - 6:12 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

I always wondered what happen to that film, never saw it on TV, can't find it on YOU TUBE, hope it is not lost, wouldn't mind checking it out.Would like to add, His Son did a new Candid Camera show around 10 or so years ago that was syndicated. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO A NAKED MAN- was on cable TV a decade or so ago but has been obscure since.Seeing that film by sneaking in to a theatre when i was a kid was a bit embarassing for me and the young teenage girls and boys who stuck into the theatre too, i think it was the first time on a full screen i saw a total woman and man naked, never forgot that.Seeing it recently i must say it does have alot to say in it's quirky way, good music score as well, had the lp and tape years ago.

 Posted:   Aug 31, 2012 - 12:45 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Oh and one more -- MARILYN '63 , the documentary narrated by Rock Hudson released the year after MM's death has never been on any format - one of the only retrospective documentary ever done by a major studio on one of its greatest( or its greatest) star.

MARILYN was a 1963 documentary from 20th Century Fox, produced in part to honor Marilyn Monroe and in part to use some of the footage from her last unfinished film, after her untimely death in August 1962. In the film, Rock Hudson narrates excerpts from 15 of the films Marilyn Monroe made for Twentieth Century Fox, beginning with A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950), in which she plays one of four chorus girls. Following her famous bit role in All About Eve (1950), she goes on to larger roles in Love Nest (1951), We're Not Married (1952), Don't Bother To Knock (1952), O. Henry's Full House (1952), and Monkey Business (1952). Stardom comes with Niagara (1953), followed by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How To Marry a Millionaire (1953), River of No Return (1954), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), The Seven Year Itch (1955), and Bus Stop (1956). The film concludes with clips from her last, unfinished film, Something's Got To Give, in which she was to have costarred with Dean Martin. Because the documentary is limited to clips from films released by Fox, Marilyn’s performances in the MGM film The Asphalt Jungle, the Warner Bros. film The Prince and the Showgirl, and the United Artists films Some Like It Hot and The Misfits are not included. And, for some reason, the 1960 Fox CinemaScope film Let’s Make Love is also excluded.

Rock Hudson’s commentary was written by Harold Medford, who had been a screenwriter since the 1940s. Medford had written the screenplays for Warner’s PHANTOM OF THE RUE MORGUE and the Cinerama film SOUTH SEAS ADVENTURE. Since the last six films excerpted in MARILYN were filmed in CinemaScope, the documentary as a whole was presented in a 2.35:1 ratio, with the earlier films “pillarboxed” within the wide frame. It’s been claimed by some that the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" song number from GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES was shot in two formats: the 1.33:1 look as released in the feature and an experimental CinemaScope version which sat in the vault until it was used as the widescreen finale for the MARILYN documentary. Others, however, dispute that claim, saying that the final version shown in MARILYN has just been zoomed in to fill the CinemaScope frame. Until we can view the film in its original ratio, however, doubts will remain.

The 83-minute MARILYN opened in Boston on 5 June 1963, just 10 months after her death. Boxoffice magazine called the film “a fine tribute to a dazzling legend,” adding that “The piece de resistance is the inclusion of scenes from the star’s uncompleted picture SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE, and while her nude swimming shots may be too revealing for the youngsters, the latter would evince scant interest in a film of this type.” When the film opened in New York on 17 July 1963, A.H. Weiler of the New York Times called it a “sentimental if not incisive tribute,” adding that the film “shows no effort to delve into the essentials that gave her that rare attribute ‘star quality,’ on which Rock Hudson, seen as the narrator, comments.” Still, Weiler felt that “nostalgic fans will be admirably served by these excerpts.” “The moviegoing legions who adored her will revel in every frame of this re-exposed footage. But they will look in vain for those definite but elusive inner qualities, which as the commentary has it, made her ‘the needle in the haystack that caught the eye.’"

At the time of its release, MARILYN received additional positive reviews from Variety, Film Daily, and Parents Magazine, while getting mixed reviews from the Hollywood Reporter and the New York Daily News. Modern reviewers, such as Time Out magazine, have called it “reasonably comprehensive,” while noting the lack of the non-Fox films. The film’s trailer can be found here:

MARILYN has had some television showings, but has never been released on home video. It is available on YouTube in a poor-resolution pan-and-scan version. One wonders why Fox didn’t release the film on DVD when it was issuing its Marilyn Monroe box sets, but perhaps they felt that the film was superfluous, since it’s not so much a biography as a compilation of clips from the very films that were being released in their entirety. But it would still have made a nice extra.

Harold Medford would go on to write the screenplay for FATE IS THE HUNTER (1964) before switching to television, writing for “Mannix” and “Police Story” in the 1970s. Medford died in 1977 at the age of 65.

 Posted:   Sep 4, 2012 - 10:29 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Following considerable critical and media acclaim for her performances in two Andy Warhol productions (1970’s TRASH and 1972’s WOMEN IN REVOLT), transvestite Holly Woodlawn took on the starring role in her first non-Warhol film, SCARECROW IN A GARDEN OF CUCUMBERS (1972). Ismail Merchant had offered Woodlawn a $3,000 role in his film “Tacky Women” (later retitled SAVAGES), but Woodlawn instead took up the offer to star in SCARECROW IN A GARDEN OF CUCUMBERS for $6,500. The film was about an aspiring actress from Kansas who comes to New York and meets a host of zany characters. Holly Woodlawn played both the female lead, “Eve Harrington,” and a male anti-hero, “Rhett Butler.” A split-screen technique was used for the sequences in which the characters appeared together. All of the characters’ names in the film were taken from popular motion pictures and books. Characters included “Mary Poppins,” “Ninotchka,” “Margo Channing,” “Walter Mitty,” “Blanche DuBois,” “Baby and Jane Hudson” (played by twin sisters), “Marjorie Morningstar,” “Joe Buck,” “Noel Airman,” “Ratzo Rizzo,” and “Stanley Kowalski.” The film also had musical numbers that were spoofs of 1930s and 1940s routines choreographed by famed dance director Busby Berkeley. One production number, “The Dusty Rose Hotel,” sung by Tally Brown, paid homage to Judy Garland’s “born-in-a-trunk” sequence in 1954’s A STAR IS BORN.

Co-starring with Holly Woodlawn were Tally Brown, Suzanne Skillen, and Yafa Lerner. And according to one report, the film included “cameo appearances by Playboy bunnies.” Years later, a 1979 Boxoffice article reported that Lily Tomlin had participated in the picture via a voice cameo in which she played her famous character “Ernestine,” a telephone operator. Although the film’s director stated in the article that Tomlin actually appears in the picture, other sources assert that she contributed only a voice-over. While SCARECROW IN A GARDEN OF CUCUMBERS marked Tomlin’s first participation in a motion picture, she may not have actually appeared onscreen until the 1975 film NASHVILLE.

SCARECROW IN A GARDEN OF CUCUMBERS marked the feature film debut of co-producer/director Robert J. Kaplan. Kaplan’s co-producer was 24-year-old Wall Street financier Henry A. Alpert, making his motion picture debut. The screenplay was by Sandra Scoppettone, her first script. The film’s title is taken from the Bible, the Epistle of Jeremiah, 1:70: “For as a scarecrow in a garden of cucumbers keeps nothing, so are their gods of wood, overlain with silver and gold.”

The picture was shot in 16mm entirely on location in New York City, with specific locations including Greenwich Village, Central Park, and the Chelsea Hotel. The 3 months of filming ended in early August 1971. The film’s final budget was $125,000. The film’s score consisted primarily of songs composed by Jerry Blatt, with lyrics by Marshall Barer. Many of the songs were sung by Bette Midler. It was also reported that Barry Manilow, who frequently worked with Bette Midler in the early 1970s, contributed some of the music to the film. Again, director Kaplan's later statements contradict some other sources, with him asserting that Midler appears onscreen in SCARECROW IN A GARDEN OF CUCUMBERS, while other sources state that she only sings on the soundtrack.

Initially distributed by Maron Films, SCARECROW IN A GARDEN OF CUCUMBERS opened in New York’s Waverly Theater on 15 March 1972. The film was blown up to 35mm for theatrical distribution. Although March 1972 reviews indicated that the film was not yet rated by the MPAA, and the film is not currently listed on the MPAA website, by the time it opened in Los Angeles in August 1972, local newspaper reviews listed the rating as PG. While the low-budget independently-produced film came a cropper with most of the critics who saw it, Holly Woodlawn was treated generously by many reviewers.

The Los Angeles Times’Kevin Thomas lamented that “only sporadically” was the movie “equal to Holly Woodlawn, who is a genuine clown, an irrepressible, infectious mugger.” Of a like mind, the New York Times’s Vincent Canby could find “really no reason to seek out” the “witless” and “insignificant film,” but nonetheless predicted that “Holly Woodlawn might some day” become accepted as “ a conventional comedienne” because she “comes close to being an awkward but endearing underground amalgam of Patsy Kelly, Joan Davis and Martha Raye, with a little bit of Jack Lemmon (in SOME LIKE IT HOT) added.”

By contrast, the New York Daily News’ Ann Guarino expressed scant interest in either the picture (“a sophomoric satire of old-time films”) or the star (“The average moviegoer may find it difficult to identify with Holly Woodlawn, who comes off as a caricature of Barbra Streisand in FUNNY GIRL without being half as funny”). And Variety’s “Vine” felt that, while the picture “is amusing for awhile,” it “eventually becomes increasingly tired, flat and perverse, despite Kaplan’s generally evocative direction and the suitable comic grotesqueness of the performances.” But Kevin Thomas summed up the consensus view of the “plump, Felliniesque” “amusing and talented” singer-actress Woodlawn. Concluded Thomas: “She has the movie’s best line when she slams down her phone in outrage and exclaims: ‘Onomatopoeia?! What kind of girl does he think I am?’”

SCARECROW IN A GARDEN OF CUCUMBERS was later picked up for distribution by New Line Cinema when the film went beyond New York and Los Angeles. As for the future careers of the cast and crew, director Robert J. Kaplan made only one more picture, while neither co-producer Alpert nor writer Scoppettone made any additional films. Holly Woodlawn developed a New York nightclub act, which was also booked into venues in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston, while also appearing in one minor film in 1978. In 1982, she was hired by the producers of TOOTSIE to coach actor Dustin Hoffman (in his role as “Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels”) in the art of being a man acting as a woman in films. She was then away from films until 1993, when at the age of 46 she began appearing in low-budget films again, which she continues to this day. Actress Tally Brown appeared in a few more films, including SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1974) before leaving acting in 1981. She died in 1989 at age 54.

In August 1974, independent film distributor Howard Goldfarb, the president of H. G. Entertainment, Ltd., acquired the theatrical rights to SCARECROW IN A GARDEN OF CUCUMBERS from New Line and intended to try a new distribution format for the avant-garde film. There is no information on any further distribution, however. The film has never been released on any video format, and the American Film Institute could not locate a print of the film to view for its cataloging project.

 Posted:   Sep 6, 2012 - 4:53 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

WITCHCRAFT-64- This neat little underated supernatural opus with Lon Chaney JR released by 20th fox has been ignored by free TV and cable TV for decades, can be found though on DVD, calling TCM UNDERGROUND or THIS?

WITCHCRAFT was a British production from Lippert Films that was released in the U.S. by 20th Century Fox. The film involved a 300-year-old witch who is accidentally resurrected and who terrorizes an English village when her grave is disturbed by modern-day land developers. The film was directed by Don Sharp. Sharp was born on the island of Tasmania off of Australia, and began his show-business career there as an actor. After World War II he traveled to England and continued his acting career. He became a director in the mid-1950s and turned out some low-and medium-budget musicals, such as the Tommy Steele vehicle THE DREAM MAKER (1963). In the mid-1960s he was hired by horror specialist Hammer Films and directed some well-received thrillers, including THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE (1963), his first for Hammer. He had just completed Hammer’s THE DEVIL-SHIP PIRATES prior to starting WITCHCRAFT. WITCHCRAFT was written by Harry Spalding, who had been scripting genre films since 1958, often under the name Henry Cross. His two scripts immediately prior to WITCHCRAFT were for the teenage pictures THE YOUNG SWINGERS (1963) and SURF PARTY (1964).

Starring in WITCHCRAFT were Lon Chaney, Jr. and Jack Hedley. Born Creighton Tull Chaney, the son of the famous silent film star Lon Chaney, Creighton played a number of supporting parts before a producer in 1935 insisted on changing his name to Lon Chaney, Jr. as a marketing ploy. Chaney was uncomfortable with the idea and always hated the "Jr." addendum. But he was also aware that the famous name could help his career, and so he kept it. Most of the parts he played were unmemorable, often bits, until 1939 when he was given the role of the simple-minded Lennie in the film adaptation of John Steinbeck's OF MICE AND MEN (1939). Chaney's performance was spectacularly touching; indeed, it became one of the two roles for which he would always be best remembered. The other came within the next year, when Universal, in hopes of reviving their horror film franchise as well as memories of their great silent star, Chaney Sr., cast Chaney as the tortured Lawrence Talbot in THE WOLF MAN (1941). With this film and the slew of horror films that followed it, Chaney achieved a kind of stardom, though he was never able to achieve his goal of surpassing his father. By the 1950s, he was established as a star in low-budget horror films and as a reliable character actor in more prestigious, big-budget films such as HIGH NOON (1952). Never as versatile as his father, he fell more and more into cheap and mundane productions which traded primarily on his name and those of other fading horror stars. Jack Hedley was a prolific British actor who was mainly in television before scoring some small roles in major films such as NINE HOURS TO RAMA and IN THE FRENCH STYLE (both 1963).

For what was then called “Witches and Warlocks,” producers Robert Lippert and Jack Parsons brought the aging Lon Chaney, Jr. to the United Kingdom strictly for name value. He’s given the film’s first line of dialogue and some bombastic screen business and then shooed off to the wings to sit out the first and second acts while some top drawer British theatre and second-string cinema thespians handle the majority of the goings-on. Filming took place in Berkshire, England and at Shepperton Studios in Surrey. Sources differ on whether WITCHCRAFT was released first in the U.K. or in the U.S. The film played as a standalone feature in Britain, but in the U.S., WITCHCRAFT was shown on a double bill with another Lippert film produced in Britain, THE HORROR OF IT ALL, starring Pat Boone and directed by Terence Fisher. The first documented U.S. showing was in Phoenix, Arizona, on 19 August 1964.

WITCHCRAFT received favorable reviews from Variety and Parents Magazine. Boxoffice magazine said that it “adequately fills the bill for the horror hounds.” “The somber mood is well set with eerie music and foggy backgrounds. Lon Chaney gives his usual credible performance as a warlock and the assisting cast are convincingly sober participants of the uncanny drama.”

Modern reviews of the film are also generally positive. DVD Drive-In calls it “an atmospheric minor masterpiece. The fruitful collaboration between Sharp, production designer George Provis (CRY OF THE BANSHEE, THE CREEPING FLESH), and director of photography Arthur Lavis results in many astonishing sequences of gothic deliciousness. Many of the interiors and exteriors are richly-textured works of art. Graveyards, crypts, and hidden passageways are all elaborately realized. And, on top of all this we’re treated to a fiery climax that is tense, exciting, and expertly executed.” But Leonard Maltin gives it two stars, citing its “standard plot.”

Here is the film’s trailer:

WITCHCRAFT was released in a full-frame version in 2007 on a “Midnite Movies” double-feature DVD along with DEVILS OF DARKNESS (1965). WITCHCRAFT is also available for rental or purchase as a download from Amazon.

Don Sharp would work on a few films as second-unit director, most notably THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES (1965), before returning to directing again, and turned out a string of thrillers, horror films and comedies, such as THOSE FANTASTIC FLYING FOOLS (1967) and BEAR ISLAND (1978). Towards the end of his career he worked in television on mini-series. Sharp died in 2011 at age 90. Harry Spalding would go on to write scripts for genre films like THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING (1964) and CURSE OF THE FLY (1965, directed by Don Sharp) as well as Disney films like ONE LITTLE INDIAN (1973) and THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS (1980). He died in 2008 at age 95.

Lon Chaney, Jr.’s later years were bedeviled by illness and problems with alcohol. When he died from a variety of causes in 1973 at age 67, it was as an actor who had appeared in nearly 200 horror, genre, and exploitation films; as a man who had spent his life chasing the fame of his father; but who nevertheless was much beloved by a generation of filmgoers who had never seen his father. Jack Hedley would appear in a few films for Hammer such as THE CRIMSON BLADE (1964) and THE ANNIVERSARY (1968). After 1970, he worked almost exclusively in British television, while taking the occasional feature role in films such as FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981). Hedley retired from acting in 2000, after more than 80 screen roles.

 Posted:   Sep 9, 2012 - 1:46 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

THE FEMALE RESPONSE is a 1973 comedy-drama-exploitation film that has been seen by very few people since its initial release. According to publicity for the film, it’s “a penetrating insight into the sensual needs of women. Shown in documentary style, the film traces the emotional and sexual problems of a group of women, including a legal secretary, a high-priced call girl, a suburban housewife, an attractive hippie, and a dental hygienist. An important feature of the film is a series of on-the-street interviews surveying public opinions on a number of today’s important questions such as individual attitudes toward today’s morality and sex.”

Richard Lipton produced THE FEMALE RESPONSE for Filmpeople, Inc. It was Lipton’s first production, and he and Filmpeople would produce only one more, little-seen film. The first-time director and co-writer, Tim Kincaid, however, would go on to have a lengthy directing career, with nearly 50 features to his credit. Most of these films would be of the direct-to-video variety, directed under the pseudonym “Joe Gage.” Most of the cast of the film (Raina Barrett, Jacque Lynn Colton, Jennifer Welles) was and is basically unknown. But Roz Kelly, who had appeared in 1970’s THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT, had a number of television roles during the 1970s, most famously in a three-episode arc on “Happy Days” where she played “Pinky Tuscadero,” the love interest of the “Fonz.” In addition, an actor billed as Herb Streicher would go on to make something of himself, as porn star Harry Reems.

THE FEMALE RESPONSE completed shooting in October 1972 in New York City. In January 1973, the film was released by American International Pictures (AIP) through its subsidiary, Trans-American Pictures. But the film didn’t play in Los Angeles until 17 October 1973. According to a 6 May 1974 Daily Variety news item, Filmpeople, Inc. and producer Robert Lipton filed suit against AIP, charging the distributor with "bullying...and withholding funds." The suit sought payment of impounded funds, plus interest and $1,000,000 in punitive damages. The article also stated that AIP filed suit in the U.S. District Court in California asking for changes in the distribution contract for THE FEMALE RESPONSE, claiming there was a transcription error within the contract that had resulted in the loss of several paragraphs. The outcome of neither suit has been determined.

THE FEMALE RESPONSE has not been issued on any video format in the U.S., although it was reportedly issued on a 1980 cassette in the UK by Mountain Video (where the film was known as “Everybody’s At It”). Although there was an onscreen copyright statement for 1973, the film was not registered until 31 July 1986, at which time it was issued number PA-293-929.

 Posted:   Sep 9, 2012 - 9:14 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

In 1971- AIP released one of their most successful films, THE ABOMIABLE DR PHIBES with VINCENT PRICE, the film paired on a double feature in many markets in America with YOG-MONSTER FROM SPACE- a Japanese Scifi flick, which got put into syndication in the 70's but has been rare ever since.

 Posted:   Sep 9, 2012 - 9:30 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In 1971- AIP released one of their most successful films, THE ABOMIABLE DR PHIBES with VINCENT PRICE, the film paired on a double feature in many markets in America with YOG-MONSTER FROM SPACE- a Japanese Scifi flick, which got put into syndication in the 70's but has been rare ever since.

YOG, MONSTER FROM SPACE was released on DVD in 2006 by Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock under its original title of SPACE AMOEBA. One item of note, however, about the dubbed version presented on that DVD: it is NOT the same dubbed track done in 1971 by AIP and Titan Sound Corporation (formerly Titra Sound Studio) in New York. The English audio track presented on the DVD is the “international version” done by Toho in Hong Kong.

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