Martin Scorsese – It’s Not Just You, Murray! (1964)

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Synopsis:
Now middle-aged, mobster Murray looks back at his humble beginnings as a bootlegger and his rise to becoming wealthy and highly influential. Through it he talks about how much of his success and happiness is due to the support of his “friend” Joe. Unfortunately the only one who blindly believes Joe is anything close to a friend is Murray, because it’s obvious to everyone that Joe back-stabs him at every chance and is sleeping with his wife.– IMDb. Continue reading

Howard Hughes – Stagecoach to Tombstone: The Filmgoer’s Guide to Great Westerns (2008)

British author Howard Hughes charts the development of the modern Western movie in this insightful, informative volume published in 2008 by Tauris & Company. By examining 27 movies he views as key, Hughes shows the evolving nature of the genre. Western fans are in for an interesting ride since the films range from classics like ‘Stagecoach’ to B-oaters such as ‘Ride Lonesome’ to misfires like ‘One-Eyed Jacks.’ Continue reading

Douglas Brode – Fantastic Planets, Forbidden Zones and Lost Continents (2015)

Whether you judge by box office receipts, industry awards, or critical accolades, science fiction films are the most popular movies now being produced and distributed around the world. Nor is this phenomenon new. Sci-fi filmmakers and audiences have been exploring fantastic planets, forbidden zones, and lost continents ever since George Méliès’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon. In this highly entertaining and knowledgeable book, film historian and pop culture expert Douglas Brode picks the one hundred greatest sci-fi films of all time. Brode’s list ranges from today’s blockbusters to forgotten gems, with surprises for even the most informed fans and scholars. He presents the movies in chronological order, which effectively makes this book a concise history of the sci-fi film genre. A striking (and in many cases rare) photograph accompanies each entry, for which Brode provides a numerical rating, key credits and cast members, brief plot summary, background on the film’s creation, elements of the moviemaking process, analysis of the major theme(s), and trivia. He also includes fun outtakes, including his top ten lists of Fifties sci-fi movies, cult sci-fi, least necessary movie remakes, and “so bad they’re great” classics—as well as the ten worst sci-fi movies (“those highly ambitious films that promised much and delivered nil”). So climb aboard spaceship Brode and journey to strange new worlds from Metropolis (1927) to Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). Continue reading

Jon Tuska – The Detective In Hollywood (1978)

The Detective In Hollywood: The Movie Careers Of The Great Fictional Private Eyes And Their Creators is a fascinating study of classic Hollywood detective movies (and some of the nearly forgotten series like the Crime Doctor and Mr. Wong), based on interviews with some of the men and women involved in creating them (authors, directors, screenwriters, and actors and actresses) like Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, Leigh Brackett, Barbara Hale, Robert Montgomery, and many others. Continue reading

Jenni Olson – The Royal Road (2015)

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A cinematic essay in defense of remembering, The Royal Road offers up a primer on Junipero Serra’s Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, the pursuit of unavailable women, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo — all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes, and featuring a voiceover cameo by Tony Kushner.
This bold, innovative film from acclaimed San Francisco filmmaker Jenni Olson combines rigorous historical research with lyrically written personal monologue and relates these seemingly disparate stories from an intimate, colloquial perspective to tell a one-of-a-kind California tale. Continue reading

Gene Saks – The Odd Couple [+Extras] (1968)

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by Bill Gibron:
There was a time, a little less than four decades ago, when Neil Simon was the literary benchmark of both Broadway and the Silver Screen. After a successful stint as a TV scribe on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, the soon to be phenomenon went on to create such Great White Way staples as Barefoot in the Park, Sweet Charity, Plaza Suite, and The Prisoner of Second Avenue. In 1966, he had four shows running at once and it wasn’t long before Hollywood came calling.

After adapting his Come Blow Your Horn and Park for the big screen, Simon was given the complicated task of translating his mega-hit The Odd Couple as a movie. While the studios would accept Oscar- and Tony-winner Walter Matthau as Oscar, Art Carney’s cinematic clout as Felix was questioned. Luckily, director Gene Saks hired friend and Fortune Cookie co-star Jack Lemmon as the notorious neat freak. The rest, as they say, is motion picture history. Continue reading

Boris Sagal – The Omega Man (1971)

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Sure, this sci-fi action drama has its cheesy moments but it remains one of the most beloved genre flicks of the 1970s. Your humble editor (at the tender age of 9) saw this on the big screen when it was first released. It’s been a personal fave — a cherished guilty pleasure, if you will — ever since.

This is the second film based on Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, the first being the 1964 Italian production The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price. That film, actually adhering more closely to the novel, had Price’s sole survivor besieged by blood-drinking vampires spawned by a deadly plague; they’re repelled by garlic and Price drives stakes through their hearts to kill them. The Charlton Heston vehicle eschews such horror elements in favor of action, more befitting the actor’s swaggering, tough guy screen image. There aren’t any vampires in The Omega Man. Instead our hero is pitted against a fanatical cult of bio-mutants — light-sensitive albinos — with a religious zeal to destroy the last “normal” human left alive. Continue reading