Power of Pussy: Honor Blackman of ‘Goldfinger’ demonstrates ‘defense galore’
01:50 pm


Honor Blackman

Honor Blackman
These magazine and book covers of Honor Blackman, better known as “Cathy Gale” from The Avengers (no, not the ones with Scarlett Johansson) and “Pussy Galore” from what is likely the finest movie in the 007 canon, Goldfinger—I find them totally fascinating. It’s not for me to choose what imagery feminists should adopt, but to my way of thinking there’s not much that communicates “girl power” better than these images of Blackman kicking royal (legitimate) ass.

It’s not always easy to tell, but her adoption of judo and/or karate seems not to have been mere PR puffery. The books were obviously popular multiple editions. Anyone know why that black cover uses the American spelling of “defense,” even though “for copyright reasons this edition is not for sale in the U.S.A.”?
Honor Blackman
Honor Blackman
Honor Blackman
“Honor Blackman’s Book of Self-Defense, in which the striking actress demonstrates ‘defense galore’”
Honor Blackman
“From the karate chop to the interior leg throw, here is the modern girl’s ABC of self-defense.”
Honor Blackman
Here’s an (annoyingly watermarked) interview clip in which Blackman shows a few judo moves and discusses her approach to the martial art.

via Mounds and Circles

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Yellow Submarine Vans

“In the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed to sea, and he told us of his life, with his Yellow Submarine Vans…”

As a lifelong wearer of Vans, I’m not entirely sure I’d wear these psychedelic puppies. I can appreciate them, though, as a novelty item and Vans fan.

Perhaps if one of the classic styles showcased the Blue Meanies, then I might seriously have to reconsider…

The Yellow Submarine-themed shoes are around $65 + shipping at the Vans website.


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Mick Jagger makes his TV debut with some sensible shoes

Nick Cave and David Bowie hi-top All Stars sneakers

Footwear with bite: Fancy shoes with teeth soles

Foot Fetish: Freaky faces in old, discarded shoes

h/t Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Breakfast the Fritz Lang way: Martinis with scrambled eggs (and a toy monkey)
06:10 am


Fritz Lang

Fritz Lang and friend
Fritz Lang and friend
The record seems clear on this point. Fritz Lang loved monkeys, and especially toy monkey dolls that he could pretend were his constant companions. The best-known of the succession of toy monkeys was called Peter, but possibly all of them were called Peter, it’s not really clear.

Here’s some testimony on the subject, courtesy of Fritz Lang. His Life and Work: Photographs and Documents, edited by Rolf Aurich, Wolfgang Jacobsen, and Cornelius Schnauber:

Lang had a rather touchingly tender, sentimentally boyish relationship to Peter the Monkey: he took him with him on trips, put him to bed, dressed him up and posed in pictures with him. In the countless letters he exchanged with his lifelong friend Eleanor Rose, there are many passages devoted to Peter: for example, greetings from him for Magali, Eleanor Rose’s favorite cat; or letters directly addressed to Peter or “written” by Peter to Eleanor:

“Peter sends his warmest regards. He is meditating a great deal and enjoying the California sun. He loves martinis, smokes a long pipe now and again, and has taken to chewing gum. He sends his compliments to Magali and wishes her the best.”—Fritz Lang to Eleanor Rose, July 30, 1963

I found that quotation from this “Old Hollywood” blog—there’s slightly more on the subject there, so be sure to check it out.
Fritz Lang and friend
Fritz Lang and Peter the Monkey at home, c. 1960’s

As you can see from the quotation, Peter the Monkey favored martinis, according to Lang. In fact, Peter liked to have them for breakfast. Well-known Hollywood biographer Charlotte Chandler, author of books on Groucho Marx, Alfred Hitchcock, Mae West, Billy Wilder, Bette Davis, etc., had first-person experience with Lang’s morning repasts:

It was his favorite breakfast—scrambled eggs with martinis. Or rather, martinis with scrambled eggs. It was a breakfast he preferred, and he preferred not to eat it too early in the morning. There were scrambled eggs for two, Fritz and me, and two martinis—one for Fritz and one for Peter, who was sitting at the table with us. Peter was a German felt monkey doll who wore his sailor cap at a rakish angle, a turtleneck sweater, a gold earring in one ear, and a suave, urbane look on his face that indicated he knew Hamburg’s St. Pauli district well. Fritz always ordered a martini for Peter, who was his mascot and alter ego. Then he helped Peter drink it.

(For those puzzled about the biography of Lang that Chandler never wrote, her account appears in the Anthology Film Archives book Fritz Lang 2000, edited by Robert Haller.)

Here’s Lang being interviewed by William Friedkin in 1975:


Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Alain Resnais dead at 91: Watch his unforgettable documentary ‘Night and Fog’
05:54 am


Alain Resnais
Night and Fog

The film director Alain Resnais, whose career spanned six decades, has died at the age of 91.

Resnais was described as “a poet of the cinema,” and he was associated with the Left Bank group of film-makers and writers that included Chris Marker,  Agnès Varda,  Jean Cayrol, Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet.

Resnais was best known for his films Hiroshima mon amor, L’Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad, Muriel ou le Temps d’un retour, Satvisky and Providence. Last month, his final film, Aimer, boire et chanter (The LIfe of Riley) was premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.

One of his earliest films was the powerful documentary Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog) in 1955. This harrowing film looked at the Holocaust, and told the stories of the prisoners by using footage of the remnants of the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Majdanek. The critic and New Wave director François Truffaut described Night and Fog as the greatest film ever made.

Almost sixty years later, this early work by Alain Resnais has lost none of its power and is arguably one of the most important films made about the Holocaust.

R.I.P. Alain Resnais 1922-2014

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
A young Rex Reed gives his tips for the 1969 Academy Awards
04:09 pm


Dick Cavett
Rex Reed

A young Rex Reed gives his tips for 1969’s Academy Awards on The Dick Cavett Show.

This is classic Rex Reed and encapsulates what is good, bad and brilliant about the eminent film critic and writer.

I like Mr Reed, and admire the quality of some of his journalism, particularly his lively celebrity profiles which kicked-off in the sixties and the seventies that influenced oh so many magazine writers thereafter. I also think Rex has been a large and unacknowledged influence on bloggers, as his film reviews epitomize the essence of what makes for a good blog—sharp, witty, harsh, informative, insightful, and very personal, where material is reviewed through the prism of the writer.

Here Reed begins with some information about the Oscar itself.

“Did you know that an Academy Award only costs $60?

“The actors used to hock them all the time, because as soon as they would win, they’d run out of bread or something and they’d hock the Academy Award.

“But now they’ve made that illegal.

“You can’t hock your Oscar anymore; the Academy will buy it back for $10.”

As for his hot picks, well, Mr. Reed thought Anne of a Thousand Days would win the Oscar for Best Film—though it was his preferred choice Midnight Cowboy that won it, becoming the first “X” rated movie to win an Academy Award.

He also felt Maggie Smith deserved to win Best Actress (she did) though he thought it would be split between Jane Fonda and Liza Minelli.

But it’s the Oscar for Best Actor that disturbed dear Mr. Reed.

“I really have the terrible, lurking, poisonous suspicion that John Wayne will win the Academy Award.”

A nicely piquant hors d’oeuvre to start the evening for tonight’s Academy Awards.

Part II after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Own the Ten Commandments, no big whoop

An actual surviving pair of prop tablets from the epic Cecil B. DeMille/Charlton Heston film The Ten Commandments is up for auction on eBay. View the auction here.





What more could one need in life? You can own the Ten Commandments. Wanna rain some wrath-of-God-ass shit down on your enemies for their heretical apostasies? THE POWER CAN BE IN YOUR HANDS! Wanna hang ‘em in a school in Alabama? NOBODY CAN STOP YOU! Feel like adding some of your own a la Moral Orel?

Thou shalt not make douchey orgasm faces whilst thou guitar soloest.

Thou shalt break it off with thine S.O. before, not after, thou schtuppest his or her bestie.

If whilst driving thou seest a pedestrian clad in a Slayer shirt, thou shalt roll down thine window and yellest ‘SLAYER!’


Yeah, go ahead, FUCK WITH ME!

OK, tone shift, here. I’d like to leave you with a very cool thing: Cecil B. DeMille himself appears in and narrates this short film about reconstructing the life of Moses.

Captain Beefheart’s Ten Commandments of Guitar Playing
The Ten Commandments of Bowieism
Hopeless Republicans: Ten Commandments Judge to Enter Race?

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Bruce Willis defends ‘Hudson Hawk’ for twenty-nine goddamn minutes
11:25 am


Bruce Willis

To his credit, Bruce Willis has weathered his share of ignominious setbacks during his career. There was The Bonfire of the Vanities, there was Breakfast of Champions, there was Color of Night. Last Man Standing was one of only two movies I have ever walked out of in my entire life (the other was David Lynch’s Lost Highway). I’m not even counting Rob Reiner’s North, a movie that elicited one of Roger Ebert’s most famous negative reviews. I say “to his credit” because it shows that he gets out there and tries stuff; for a big movie star Willis is adventurous in his choices, which include stuff like The Fifth Element, which has all of the earmarks of a fiasco but totally works. I’d never want to be critical of an actor for trying something different.

But on the subject of Hudson Hawk, Bruce, enough is enough. Hudson Hawk was a comedic heist-conspiracy caper (with songs) from 1991 with a colorful cast that included Willis and Danny Aiello as wise-cracking and occasionally crooning burglars, James Coburn as the head of the CIA, Andie MacDowell as an undercover nun, Stefano Molinari as Leonardo da Vinci (yes, really), and—probably the best things in the movie—Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard as a megalomaniacal husband-and-wife team hell-bent on “world domination.”

It flopped, but did so in an attention-getting way, earning $17.2 million on an initial investment of $65 million (in 1991 dollars). (In the video below, Willis claims that the movie is now in the black.) It’s a lively movie with some serious tone problems that’s jammed with head-scratching moments and a byzantine plot that left many viewers contemplating a whiplash lawsuit. Truth be told, Hudson Hawk is a lazy movie. It’s the source of Willis’s only writing credit—check IMDb—and had its origins as a playful inside joke with co-writer Robert Kraft back from the days when neither was much of a player in the industry (Kraft spent most of the last 25 years as head of Fox Music). This has meant that Willis (unlike with Color of Night or North) has taken the debacle personally. It really bothers him that people didn’t appreciate his attempt to set up a whimsical Hope-Crosby-style franchise for the ‘90s.

The one thing that Hudson Hawk isn’t is bland, and that quality of misguided spark has meant that the movie has its share of fanatics (one of my closest friends defends the movie passionately), which is, you know, fair enough. That percolating fan interest has allowed Willis to redefine the movie as some kind of “cult hit” that was “ahead of its time,” both of which premises I reject. Hudson Hawk has a vibe unlike any other movie, and I appreciate any failure that is able to be this distinctive. But for most moviegoers, the movie remains a puzzlement.
Hudson Hawk
For a featurette on the “Special Edition” DVD, Willis and Kraft sat around in a recording studio musing on their memories of making Hudson Hawk; the approximately half hour-long session is completely geared to be their defense of the movie. It’s very peculiar footage. Kraft sits at a piano and occasionally tickles the ivories—you’ll learn more about Kraft’s background as a working musician in the 1980s and the NYC bar scene of the same era than about the movie.

They tell aimless stories, Kraft plays a song or two (with Willis chiming in on vocals). At some point around the end of the second video below, Willis spends a couple minutes defending the movie, but his inarticulate defense is every bit as lazy as the movie itself:

You know, lookin’ at how it kind of became this cult film, and what people come up and say to me on the street about it is, they dig the fact that it was making fun of itself, that it was satire, and I don’t think anybody got that when it came out, they didn’t know what to make of it, me and Danny Aeillo singing in a movie was just unheard of, and people were mad about it or something, they were mad that we were trying to make them laugh.

What this video reeks of is entitlement. Willis and Kraft are both highly successful men in Hollywood and their friendship and loyalty to each other, which are laudable, they seem blinded as to the silly fiasco that Hudson Hawk truly is. They don’t seem to realize that in his opening statement, Kraft pretty much cops to the fact that the movie was a vanity project (Willis: “Someday I’m gonna make Hudson Hawk...”), the kind of project a big movie star does because he can. Furthermore, all these winsome stories about the germination of the idea for the movie don’t function, because you guys ain’t Steven Spielberg and Hudson Hawk ain’t a beloved classic—it just ain’t. 

Willis’ impatient smirk is his signature as a movie star, but here that same facial tic suggests his arrogance. YouTube user skinwalkerxxx nailed it when he wrote (amid a sea of comments attesting to the film’s brilliance as one of the undisputed highlights of Willis’s career), “WTF are they really proud of the movie?”

Part 1:

More after the jump, plus Siskel and Ebert’s review of Hudson Hawk…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
On directing ‘Blow-Up’: ‘I am not God, but I am Michelangelo Antonioni’
08:43 am


Michelangelo Antonioni
Peter Bowles

The actor Peter Bowles was delighted when he was cast in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, as his character had a speech upon which the whole film hinged.

Bowles was to deliver this killer speech in a scene towards the end of the movie, when the film’s star David Hemmings sought out Bowles’ wasted character at a party. When it came to the day of filming, the actor was stunned to see his speech had been excised from the script. As Bowles described it in The Guardian in 2005, “in my innocence, and no doubt arrogance, I thought that a terrible mistake had been made. So I said [...] that Antonioni mustn’t cut that speech, that it was essential to the whole film. I demanded to talk to him about it.”

Antonioni was grace itself, quite beautifully mannered. He said, “Peter, you are worried because I have cut this speech. Could you tell me why you are so concerned?”

So I launched into an explanation of why he shouldn’t cut the speech. He listened, and listened, until finally I ran out of words. There was silence. So I said, “Erm, sir, are you going to put the speech back in now?”

He replied, “No. Because, Peter, you have explained to me exactly why I should cut it. If I leave the speech in, everyone will know what the film is about, but if I take the speech out, everyone will say it is about this, it is about that, it is about the other. It will be controversial.” So it was cut.

But there is a speech, which I have, which explains exactly what the film is about. It is all there in the film, if you know where to look…

It was not the only time Antonioni had excised meaning or a central plot element from his films. The removal of a satisfactory denouement in L’Aventurra so confused audiences that it was mercilessly booed at its first screening in Cannes, reducing director and its glamourous star, Monica Vitti, to tears.

When Antonioni started making films in the early 1950s, he decided that he had to be different from his fellow Italian film-makers, who had aligned themselves to making Neo-Realist films, such as Bicycle Thieves, which focussed on an individual’s relationship with society.

I had arrived a little late on the scene, at a time when that first flowering of films, though still valid, was already beginning to show signs of exhaustion, Consequently, I was forced to stop and consider what subject matter was worth examining at that particular moment, what was really happening, what was the true state of things, what ideas were really being thought.

And it seemed to me that perhaps it was no longer so important [...] to examine the relationship between the individual and his environment, as it was to examine the individual himself, to look inside the individual and see, after all he had been through (the war, the immediate post-war situation, all the events that were currently taking place and which were of sufficient gravity to leave their mark upon society and the individual) out of all this, to see what remained inside the individual, to see, I won’t say the transformation of our psychological and emotional attitudes, but at least the symptoms of that restlessness and behavior which began to outline the transitions that later came about in our psychology, our feelings, and perhaps even our morality.

Antonioni approached film-making like an author examining the character, and how best to represent and develop a character on screen.

He also wanted to find a different way to tell his stories, something he had learnt from his time as a documentary filmmaker.

Antonioni would keep the camera running long after the actors had delivered their lines. He claimed it made the actors relax and behave more naturally, more spontaneously, as they were caught unguarded, while the over-extended pause created tension.

His actors were filmed in an exacting way, by which the framing would best explain something about their character. As Antonioni once wrote:

A line spoken by an actor in profile does not have the same meaning as one given full-face. A phrase addressed to the camera placed above the actor does not have the same meaning it would if the camera were placed below him.

Or, as Peter Bowles explained:

He wanted me to use an upward inflection on my line, which didn’t make any sense to me at all, but I was trying to do it. I have never had such close coaching from any other director, and many actors wouldn’t stand for it.

Finally, on take 13: “Cut. Print. Good. Peter, come with me.”

So he took me off set and said to me, “Peter, I understand. You wish to show the world what a fine actor you are.”

He got that right.

“When you work with other directors you give them your performance and they film it. Not with me, Peter. You see I have chosen you for how you look. I have chosen all your clothes. If I move my camera six inches, I would ask you to do that line in a different way.”

Upon this, he put his arms around me and held me close to him and said, “Peter, believe in me. Trust me. I am not God, but I am Michelangelo Antonioni.”

Blow-Up contains many of Antonioni’s trademark tropes and themes: the isolation of the individual in modern society (Hemmings’ character and his failure to connect with others); the inability to communicate successfully with other people (as seen explicitly in the party scene between Hemmings and Bowles); the disenchantment and boredom with modern life (the audience at the pop concert, the models being photographed, the party); the lack of cultural or historical significance in modern life (the crowd fight for Jeff Beck’s broken guitar neck, Hemmings fights for and wins it, then discards it in the street).

The only passion Hemmings louche fashion photographer finds is in his search for a possible murder—a passion which is ultimately taken from him. While the film’s ending (the mimed tennis match) suggests individuals only engage with that which they think see, everything else is shrugged-off with indifference—this was reflected at the time with the nightly bulletins of death, murder and destruction in Vietnam, watched by families eating their TV dinners around tables or off trays.

Blow-Up was regarded as a hip, cool and sexy film upon its original release (much was made of its so-called orgy scene), but at its heart is Michelangelo Antonioni’s pessimistic and ironic regard for life, which cuts through the swinging sixties froth to reveal the film’s seriousness of purpose and cultural relevance five decades on.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Spalding Gray’s brief hardcore career
07:05 am


Spalding Gray

Movie poster
I think the formative literary experiences of adolescence are far less uniform than we sometimes (condescendingly) assume. For example, Catcher in the Rye left me flat, Slaughter House Five didn’t really “hit” me until after my second reading in college, and no, I never had an Ayn Rand phase. No, I was a fourteen-year-old midwestern girl who was really into Spalding Gray.

My mother had his monologue collections, Swimming to Cambodia, Sex and Death to the Age 14 and Monster in a Box, which I devoured after seeing a recorded performance of Gray’s Anatomy on TV. Although hearing and watching Gray deliver a monologue is absolutely essential, his intimate, honest, and endearingly neurotic storytelling translates beautifully to the written word as well. (One wonders how much his acute dyslexia is responsible for his craft; reading was incredibly difficult for him, not to mention writing, and he attributed his strength in monologue to an adept, discursive auditory memory.)

But of course, Spalding Gray was not always the Spalding Gray, and in the early days of his career, in addition to summer stock and experimental theater, he had a little bit of a side career in skin flicks—two or three, depending on the source. Of course, given Gray’s avant-garde-ish background (and the fact that this was 1976), it’s entirely possible that this was all done in the spirit of radicalism and testing the boundaries of “acting”—the director of Farmer’s Daughters, Zebedy Colt was an early, outspoken gay arts pioneer and activist.

Or maybe Gray was just broke and needed the money

The clip below, from Farmer’s Daughters, is totally safe for work, and you get to hear Gray’s trademark Rhode Island accent on stilted, vintage, naughty dialogue! However, although it’s apparently possible to view the notorious Farmer’s Daughters in its entirety, it is not the sort of cheesy, novel smut people tend to watch for a retro laugh. It is fucked up. So fucked up, in fact, that I’m just going to link the plot here. Even if you do want the perverse details—imagine Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left remade for a “raincoater”-crowd—I wouldn’t want to spring them on you before you’ve had your morning coffee…

Did Gray ever do a monologue about the making of Farmer’s Daughters I wonder? Probably not!

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Alternate universe movie posters
09:48 am



Sean Hartter’s “Alternate Universe Movie Posters” website boasts some bust-a-gut funny twists on classic films. I selected a few pieces I found highly amusing, but I suggest moseying on over to Sean’s website yourself to… “take it all in.”




More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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