Category Archives: Movies

Ignite Films ignites film fan fervor with restored ‘Invaders From Mars’

Ignite Films will be igniting the screen with its upcoming release of its sensational 4K restoration of William Cameron Menzies’ 1953 Invaders From Mars. The sci-fi classic will be released on Blu-ray and 4K UHD on September 26, 2022, just ahead of the film’s 70th anniversary.

Special bonus features include a restored 4K version of the original 1953 trailer and a newly commissioned 2022 trailer, an interview with the film’s star, Jimmy Hunt, an in-depth look at the restoration process led by Scott MacQueen, Restoration Supervisor, plus a new documentary about the film featuring interviews with directors Joe Dante, John Landis, Multiple Visual Effects Academy-Award winner Robert Skotak and other luminaries. These extras and the documentary were produced and directed by award-winning

filmmaker Jeremy Alter.

“I’m excited for audiences, old and new, to finally be able to watch this masterpiece of both film and restoration on Blu-ray and 4K UHD,” says  Ignite Films Director Jan Willem Bosman Jansen.
“We have taken great care to cover as many aspects of the movie in our bonus materials and design to bring it back to life for as wide an audience as possible. The work we have done is also a homage to the overall genius of William Cameron Menzies, and I cannot speak for him of course, but I think he would be thrilled with how his movie looks today.”
Fearful memories of this timeless 1953 bone-chiller still haunt the dreams of fans who have never forgotten the story of David MacLean, a young boy (portrayed by Jimmy Hunt) who witnesses an alien invasion. Invaders from Mars was filmed from a child’s point of view, using exaggerated sets and upward angles. It became a modern classic and was also one of two early ’50s classic alien-invasion science fiction films (the other is Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still) reflecting Cold War tensions, the Red Scare and paranoid anxiety typical of many films in the ’50s.
The restoration of Invaders from Mars has been much hoped for and a long time coming. But the process was not an easy one. Leading the effort was longtime enthusiast and preservationist of classic cinema Scott MacQueen, who previously was head of preservation at UCLA Film & Television Archive for more than a decade, before retiring in 2021.
The biggest challenge for MacQueen was that the color negative confirmed for printing in SUPERcineCOLOR lacked many shots and needed to be sourced from 70-year-old prints.
Invaders from Mars was one of the most complex projects I have ever undertaken,” MacQueen says.  “In the days of analog restoration, it would not have been possible, but 21st century digital tools have been game-changers. Released in an archaic process that is irretrievable today Invaders from Mars was pieced together from five different sources. Additionally, eight minutes of European scenes and an alternate ending, and the original trailer, have been preserved. As star Jimmy Hunt says, ‘Invaders from Mars has never looked so good.'”

The 4K restoration process of the sci-fi classic required a lengthy search for the final elements, which was conducted by Ignite’s Janet Schorer. Additionally, it was imperative to locate the elements necessary to fill in the gaps in the original camera negative, which was stored with great care at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The George Eastman Museum and National Film and Sound Archive of Australia were instrumental in supplying additional key elements which were essential to completing the film.

Bonus Features
  • Restored 4K original 1953 trailer AND a newly commissioned 2022 trailer
  • Interviews with star Jimmy Hunt, William Cameron Menzies’ biographer James Curtis and recollections of Menzies’ eldest granddaughter Pamela Lauesen
  • Featurette with acclaimed film directors John Landis, Joe Dante, editor Mark Goldblatt, special visual effects artist and two time Oscar Winner Robert Skotak (foremost expert on Invaders from Mars), and enthusiast and film preservationist Scott MacQueen
  • John Sayles’ introduction at Turner Classic Movie Festival in Hollywood, April 2022
  • Before/after clips of restoration: Original negative and archival film elements,  with film restoration supervisor Scott MacQueen
  • Restored segments in 2K of the Alternate International Version– alternative ending and extended Planetarium scene
  • Gallery with original Press Book pages, behind the scenes photos from the restoration process
  • Twenty page extensive essay on the restoration process: Invaders From Mars: A Nightmare of Restoration by Scott MacQueen

Cohen Film Collection offers two important French classics

One of Cohen Film Collection’s August DVD and Blu-ray releases feature two titans of French Cinema: Simone Signoret and Alain Delon.  They are brought together for The Burned Burns, a crime drama set in the snow-covered French countryside on the border with Switzerland. The body of a young woman is found savagely murdered near the isolated Burned Barns farm run by Rose (Signoret ) and her family.

The police work begins and the investigating judge, Pierre Larcher (Delon), soon comes to suspect that Rose’s family, and in particular her sons, may have played a role. Signoret and Delon are outstanding as two forces playing a game of wits with profound consequences. Keep your eyes and ears open—Jean Chapot’s film features a stunning soundtrack by electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre.

The second must-have flick: Symphony for a Massacre. In this stylish heist noir from director Jacques Deray, master director of the French crime film, five men tied to businesses with varying degrees of legality pool their money to go in on one huge narcotics deal that can set them up for life—and test their loyalties.

Restored in 2K from a 4K scan of the surviving 35MM interpositive (the negative is lost), the film boasts stunning black and white photography, supported by a lush and memorable score. Deray assembled an impressive cast of stars, including Charles Vanel, Michel Auclair, future director José Giovanni who also co-wrote the film, and Jean Rochefort, in a brilliant casting against type from his largely comedic roles up until then. This rediscovered crime thriller is sure to please fans of classic film noir.

“Pack rat” doesn’t begin to describe Andy Warhol . . . Hoarder, indeed!

He wore a toupee and a girdle, suffered from bad, pasty skin and disdained physical contact. Yet he would be seen at all the big events and major openings, rubbing tuxedo-clad elbows with the rich and (in)famous, the high and the sober. He was a celeb’s celeb, posing with, then photographing, the likes of Liza and Dolly and Diana and Liz, then painting their portraits … then asking them for their autographs.

You and I know him as Andy Warhol, the Pop Art prophet whose posthumous profits have earned him first place among artists at auction and who is forever honored with his own artful museum.

Yet to paint an accurate portrait of Andy, we need to forget (just for a few paragraphs) Marilyn and Mao and those dollar signs he so obsessively silk-screened. The real star in Andy’s life was his obsession with “stuff.” He collected everything — and, after a recent visit to the Warhol archives proved — I mean everything.

He was the ultimate Pack Rat, and I don’t use the capitalization lightly.

Starting in 1974 and continuing through 1987, Andy would toss this and that into corrugated cardboard boxes — things he bought, things he was given, things he got for free, things he “borrowed” from hotels — “time capsules,” he called them.

Image 1 - Andy Warhol Signed Photo with Beckett Letter of Authenticity 8" x 11"

Armed with a $650,000 grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Andy Warhol Museum is embarking on an effort to photograph, digitally scan, catalog and preserve the contents of hundreds of capsules. They’ve already opened and begun to inventory 100, and have 472 more to go, a project that should take six years.

During a recent visit, I browsed through Time Capsule No. 20, the contents of which spanned 1982-85. The latter was the year Andy went to Los Angeles for a guest spot on “The Love Boat” — there’s a healthy stack of unused stationery from Beverly Hills Hotel, a box of bath soap, a pile of phone messages, one of which is from B-actress Mamie Van Doren.

Wearing ill-fitting white gloves that allow me to safely handle the “art,” I open a small sampling of the many letters and notes addressed to the artist (no gossip, no secrets, just cryptic missives from unknowns). There’s a rough skin scraper (bought in Manhattan at Duane Reade), hair dye, mascara, nail polish, lipstick, vials of perfume samples. There’s junk jewelry, a gay porno magazine, a promotional brochure from a Russian airline, several bottles of homeopathic drugs and enough pimple medicine to keep the teens of Fox Chapel acne-free for years.

And I haven’t even begun to snoop what’s on the other shelves.

Some people would call it junk. It’s a word at which archivist and project supervisor Matt Wrbican bristles. “Andy considered the capsules to be works of art — they are pieces of a larger historical timeline,” he  said, adding that the “strangest thing” found to date was a mummified human foot, analyzed by scientists at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and confirmed to be a relic from Ancient Egypt.

But sometimes even timelines show their age, and lines must be drawn. For a Time Capsule, that means destruction. Collections manager Allison Smith reveals the museum junked a “leaking half-empty bottle of Chloraseptic,” but not before the over-the-counter medicine was photographed and all pertinent info logged into the database.

Many people have trashed Warhol while he was alive, but this causes a lump in my throat. Maybe a spritz of Chloraseptic would help?

Matthew points to a sandwich bag of AA batteries that have leaked; they will also hit the garbage bin. “Actually,” he explains, “we’ll put them in a battery recycling program.” Once, of course, they are photographed and cataloged.

I ask nicely if I can have the batteries, sort of an awesome alkaline souvenir from my visit.

I also figure that in some circles, I could claim to have an original Warhol.

I am nicely told, “No.”

I leave empty-handed, but brimming with reminders to do some spring cleaning.

And have that garage sale.

IF YOU GO
The Andy Warhol Museum
117 Sandusky Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
412.237.8300
warhol.org

Alain Delon + Jacques Deray + Cohen Film Collection = Three French Films that are Must-See

Die-hard film fans know  that Alain Delon (a) French actor is a handsome hunk and (b) Jacques Deray is a daring director. Pair them together,  and French fireworks explode.
Save the date: On August 31, Cohen Film Collection releases “Three Men to Kill: Two New Restored Films by Jacque Deray.”
The Gang (1977): In 1945, as World War Two comes to a close, five small time crooks unite to form a gang lead by Delon. After several bold robberies they become notorious as “the front-wheel drive gang.” The police attempt to stop their crime spree with little success . . . but how long will their luck last?
Three Men to Kill (1980): In this gritty, violent and suspenseful thriller, Delon plays Gerfaut who comes to the aid of a man laying wounded in the road, not knowing the man has taken two bullets to the belly.

Soon he becomes the target for the killers, who see him as a dangerous witness. But Gerfaut has been around the block a couple of times and he won’t be so easily eliminated.

George Chakiris’ autobiography will leave some readers (dis)pleased

Read it. Digest it. And after coming up for air after a whirlwind read of George Chakiris’ autobiography, My West Side Story: A Memoir (Lyons Press, $24.95), you realize you were dazzled.

And duped.

We will explain.

It’s obvious Chakiris loved dancing, a skill so streamlined and stylized that it launched him into a pretty nice career, most notably for West Side Story.

The actor/dancer was first cast in the London production as Riff, gang leader of the Jets. The musical premiered in London in late 1958, and Chakiris received rave reviews, playing the role for almost two years.

The actor, who is of Greek descent, then auditioned for the film version, but the producers thought Chakiris’ dark complexion made him more suitable for the role of Bernardo, leader of the Sharks. (Russ Tamblyn got the role of Riff.)

Switching sides to play Bernardo, brother to Natalie Wood’s Maria and partner to Rita Moreno’s Anita, secured him the role on Broadway after seven months of filming. The film (also co-directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins) returns to theaters for two days only as part of Fathom Events and Turner Classic Movies’ TCM Big Screen Classics series with an introduction from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz. The beloved movie musical will play in select theaters June 24 and 27 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time both days.

The movie not only gained Chakiris a huge  following but also the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in Motion Picture.

West Side Story, all three versions, made him a star.

“I know exactly where my gratitude belongs,” Chakiris writes, “and I still marvel at how, unbeknownst to me at the time, the joyful path of my life was paved one night in 1949 when Jerome Robbins sat Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Laurents down in his apartment and announced, ‘I have an idea.'”

It’s obviously Chakiris was not best friends with Jerome Robbins, the legendary choreographer who was a former Communist Party member and named 10 communists in his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Robbins did propel Chakiris into WSS stardom and the actor dishes Robbins. Up to a point. He doesn’t tap dance the legendary truths about the mercurial, relentless Robbins, but in a few breaths he credits him with shaping Bernardo into such a memorable character.

Yet, before his became known for his stage work, Chakiris  had made a bunch of films—dancing, of course, but unbilled and in teeny roles He was one of the dancers in Marilyn Monroe’ “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).

It’s sad to know that, though Monroe was 23 years old and Chakiris was 19, they did not became friends, something he misses.

As he writes: “Marilyn had a quality that can’t be taught, or created with wardrobe and makeup, a quality you’re either born with or not. . . . Many decades later I accepted an invitation to participate in a documentary about her.  I said then what I’ll always say—I’m sorry I didn’t get to know her, but I’ll always be grateful I had the pleasure working with her.”

Can you spot him in the snippet below?

He appeared as a dancer alongside Rosemary Clooney, as she warbled “Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me” in White Christmas (1954). See him?

TV shows, two record albums, sundry stage work and more films were wedges between his years. It’s sad that his film career was so spotty. Two films made in France—Is Paris Burning? (1966) and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort  (1967) are really good and still hold up; The Big Cube (1969, watch Lana Turner on LSD!) and Jekyll and Hyde…Together Again  (1982) are jokes.

Today, the 86-year-old thespian still creates, this time making sterling silver jewelry—pendants, bracelets, earrings. What started as a hobby blossomed into a full-time business. Chakiris’ stunning works can be seen (and bought) at georgechakiris.com/jewelry.

And before you ask, the answer is no. In the book, Chakiris refuses to confirm his sexual orientation.

He has kept details of his love life hidden from the media’s attention, yet it is widely believed among Hollywood actors and actresses that he is gay – even the popular movie and TV series rating website IMDb has featured him  in their “500 Gay Actors & Personalities” list. Some have even claimed that George secretly married his long-term partner sometime in the 2000s, but no proof has been provided to support the claims.

His is a terrible bother to me, born one day after Chakiris came out (of his mother) and into the world. If he is gay, it would serve as a great benefit to those boys and girls, men and women, questioning their sexuality, fighting the bullying, dancing around suicidal thoughts. I have the same feeling about Lily Tomlin and Barry Manilow’s queer denials—the singer especially. Everyone knew he was gay yet for decades he made up girlfriends and excuses. When he finally married his long-time partner and manager Gary Keif in 2004, his excuse for the delay: “I thought it would hurt my career.”

That’s why my Manilow CDs have been destroyed and why Chakiris  book was given away.

Not all acting succeeds.

 

How and why Dolly and I are bosom buddies and breast friends…from 9 to 5 and beyond

I knew Dolly Rebecca Parton and I would become fast friends when she let me hold her left breast. Before you start calling the tabloids or TMZ, let me explain. It was 1987, and we were in a photographer’s studio on the Upper East Side where Dolly was being photographed for the cover of Redbook.

She was dressed in a handmade denim blouse (size 0), the wig was perfectly placed, the makeup flawless. She eyed the catered buffet and picked up a piece of chicken with her two fire-engine red (fake) fingernails, brought it to her mouth and, plop!, the sliver landed on her blouse, smack-dab on her left . . . well, you get the picture.

The adrenaline kicked in. “Quick, Dolly!” I said. “You hold and I’ll wipe.” I poured water on a paper towel and began to very gently dab the spot. Dolly grabbed a portable hair-dryer and with that infectious giggle cooed, “Now quick! You hold and I’ll dry.”

With those seven simple words, my entry into the dizzy, delightful world of Dolly Parton—40DD-17-36—had begun. “One day,” I thought to myself, “I will live to write about this.”

The shoot was a success, and as Dolly climbed into her limo, I whispered, “I feel like your bosom buddy.” Without missing a beat, she said, “And my breast friend.”

And so Dolly—so surgically streamlined so many times she’s starting to look like a Siamese cat—continues to be honored and remembered, in books, TV specials, films, a failed Broadway musical, a Time-Life super-duper (and expen$ive) DVD box set and the marvelous PBS program Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Opry.

The Queen of Country Music celebrates 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Recorded live in Nashville, this amazing special pays tribute to her songs and career with special performances from Dolly and her star guests, including Lady A, Emmylou Harris and Hank Williams, Jr. This incredible concert brings together five decades of hits & memories into one unforgettable evening of entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

Cohen Film Collection releases Rene Clair’s sparkling, restored “It Happened Tomorrow”

Cohen Film Collection’s latest release is Rene Clair’s sparking, yet underrated, 1944 gem It Happened Tomorrow. What would happen if someone could get tomorrow’s newspaper headlines today? This charming period comedy tells the story of a reporter (played by Dick Powell) who wishes he could scoop his colleagues by knowing about events before they occur.
Only in Hollywood . . .
When a mysterious old man gives him the news a day in advance, his life is turned upside down. Racing to prevent a headline predicting his own death, he gets mixed up with a beautiful fortune teller (Linda Darnell) and her overprotective uncle (Jack Oakie).
It Happened Tomorrow was acclaimed French director René Clair’s follow up to his equally enchanting I Married a Witch, both made during his exile in Hollywood during World War II. Clair’s famous whimsical style is evident in this cautionary tale; be careful—what you wish for might come true.
This black and white film was restored from a 4K scan.

“The Sound of Silence” offers listening to the world with fresh ears

Ssssh.

There are a symphony of almost undetectable sounds that make up a moment of silence, and Peter Lucian (portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard) is determined to catalogue them all.

Through his job as a New York City “house tuner,” the hyper-methodical Peter works meticulously to diagnose the discordant ambient noises—produced by everything from wind patterns to humming electrical appliances—adversely affecting his clients’ moods.

When he takes on the particularly difficult case of Ellen (Rashida Jones), a lonely woman plagued by chronic exhaustion before Peter offers the opportunity to help her. He finds that the mysteries of the soul may be even greater than the mysteries of sound. Harmony and romance is in the air. Hear them?

You will hear the quiet sound of a DVD spinning in your player . . . welcome to The Sound of Silence (IFC Films), a quietly moving portrait of a harmony-obsessed man learning to embrace the dissonances of human emotion, inviting viewers to hear the world with fresh ears.​

“Unmarked”: A history lesson in 40 mesmerizing minutes

This is a grave documentary. The motto is simple: If we don’t save our past, we’ll lose it.

First Run Features has released the DVD of Unmarked not only explores these untold stories of the past but also the efforts underway to preserve them.

Throughout the South, vast numbers of African-American gravesites and burial grounds for enslaved persons have been lost or are disappearing through neglect and nature reclaiming the solemn tombstones and markers.

Recently, there has been a rise in the restoration and preservation of these forgotten sites by those who have a personal connection with the deceased or an appreciation of their historical significance.

A history lesson in 40 mesmerizing minutes.

Take a “Spacewalk” with a couple of Russians. This is a true story, unlike most “news” exported from the country

Who says all Russians are evil criminals who hack America?

Meet Oleg Pogodin, Irina Pivovarova, Sergey Korotkov, Dmitry Pinchukov and Dmitry Kiselev, the team who wrote (first 4) and directed Spacewalker, a nifty thrilling flick.

In the heat of the Cold War, the USSR and USA compete for supremacy in outer space. Both superpowers race to be the first nation to have a man complete a spacewalk. No price is too high and no risk is too great.

To set off one of man kind’s most ambitious missions, the USSR pair the unlikely duo of a seasoned war veteran, Pavel Belyayev, and a fearless test-pilot, Alexei Leonov. Without proper testing, and inside a tiny spaceship, the two astronauts launch into the unknown to take on what no man has done before . . .
Catch the action when the DVD is released on January 17, courtesy of Capelight Pictures and MPI Media Group.