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Retro Cinema

Retro Cinema – The Shining

I have always believed that horror should not be set aside as a separate film genre. Instead, it should be seen as a subsection of comedy – albeit a sadistic subsection, where cruel laughs are generated at the expense of the dimwitted characters that find themselves victimized by circumstances that could have easily been avoided […]

Retro Cinema – The Room

Scott Foundas of Variety was one of the very few critics to pay attention to The Room when it rolled into Hollywood in 2003. At the time, Foundas saw no future for the film. “Given audience reaction at screening attended, pic may be something of a first: A movie that prompts most of its viewers […]

Retro Cinema – Ben-Hur

William Wyler’s 1959 “Ben-Hur” is a film that generates respect, if not adulation. And there is no reason to feel guilty about not loving this mammoth epic. Gary Giddins, writing in the now-defunct New York Sun, probably summed it up best: “Watching ‘Ben-Hur’ all at once is like sitting down to a 10-course meal and […]

Retro Cinema – Accidentally Preserved: Volume 4

The latest offering in film historian/archivist Ben Model’s DVD series brings together eight productions that are believed to be lost in their original 35mm format but managed to survive in the 9.5mm format that was used for home movie viewing during the mid-20th century. (More popular in Europe than in the U.S., the 9.5mm technology […]

Retro Cinema – Godspell

The movie camera lens is, perhaps, the cruelest magnifying glass on the planet. Not only does it call attention to deficiencies in a performance and appearance, but it also calls harsh attention to inherent weakness in source material. This was the case in David Greene’s 1973 film adaptation of the Stephen Schwartz/John-Michael Tebelak musical Godspell […]

Retro Cinema – A Thousand Clowns

It is difficult for a contemporary viewer to understand why Fred Coe’s 1965 comedy “A Thousand Clowns” received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, an honor that put it in the company of “The Sound of Music”, “Doctor Zhivago”, “Darling”, and “Ship of Fools”. Those other four films are considered classics, while “A Thousand […]

Retro Cinema – Secrets of Sex

A bizarre mix of “Night Gallery”, Benny Hill-style comedy and vintage nudie stag films, Antony Balch’s 1969 British cheapie feature is a bewildering hodgepodge of sex and violence.  Some people will get a kick from its eccentricities, while others will probably be dismayed by its ADD-style approach to storytelling. An opening montage of two naked […]

Retro Cinema – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

It is a shame that the film adaptation of John Berendt’s “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” was not helmed by a director who thrives in the radically offbeat. In the hands of someone like David Lynch, Tim Burton or even John Waters, the extraordinary wealth of eccentricity, depravity and old-fashioned freakiness would […]

Retro Cinema – The Three Musketeers

If any actor was perfectly cast for the role of the swashbuckling D’Artagnan in a big screen adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas adventure, it was silent screen icon Douglas Fairbanks. With his kinetic athleticism and vibrant charisma, Fairbanks created the concept of the movie action hero in this opulent 1921 production, which is being offered […]

Retro Cinema – A Little Night Music

Some films seem to live under a unique dark cloud, and A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC clearly fits that sorry description. The problems started early with the death of its original leading man (Peter Finch) prior to production and continued when financing woes shut down the filming. During these delays, leading lady Elizabeth Taylor’s weight fluctuated […]

Retro Cinema – Cinerama’s Russian Adventure

The last of the travelogue features created for the widescreen three-panel Cinerama process was this compilation of footage culled from six Russian productions shot in the copycat Kinopanorama process. This offering avoids any mention of Soviet-era politics – and, for that matter, most of Russian history – in favor of benign views of the Russian […]

Retro Cinema – The Three Stooges in Orbit

One of the most delightfully peculiar memories from my education was a lunchtime film program that took place when I was in seventh grade. Our school auditorium accommodated the young brown-bagging lunch crowd with an offering of cinematic diversions. One afternoon, for reasons that I still cannot understand, the school unreeled THE THREE STOOGES IN […]