Wednesday, August 27, 2014

50th Anniversary of FISTFUL OF DOLLARS Release

On seeing Akira Kurosawa's "Yojimbo," Sergio Leone thought it would make a great western. "Yojimbo" was inspired by Dashiell Hammett's novel "Red Harvest" and also by Hollywood westerns like "Shane." As Leone said, "It would be wonderful to take it back to where it originally came from." So in 1964 the western was reinvented in Italy as a low budget film originally called "Il Magnifico Straniero" (The Magnificent Stranger). The title was changed to "A Fistful of Dollars."
Though not the first Italian western, Leone's approach was truly unique. It became a huge success in Italy and made a movie star of Clint Eastwood. Thus the "spaghetti western" was born. The prototype for the cynical, ultra-cool action hero (or antihero) had now been established. Also integral to the film was maestro Ennio Morricone's score using the pseudonym Dan Savio while Leone billed himself as Bob Robertson in homage to his father’s alias Roberto Roberti. Gian Volonte was billed as John Wells, Marianna Kock was Marianne Kock, Benito Stefanelli was Benny Reeves. It was hoped the film would be accepted as an American film.
The first screening of the film was in Florence, Italy on August 27, 1964. It was a stifling hot day and releasing a film in August in Italy in those days was the kiss of death. The cinema was ancient with fixtures and fittings dating to 1908 and was located in an alleyway. The producers, discouraged by comments in the Italian film industry had not invested a single lira in publicity. The film was listed only in the local daily newspapers.
As expected the film did little box office on Friday and Saturday and Leone had returned home to Rome very discouraged. When he called the manager late Monday he was told the receipts had doubled Sundays. By Tuesday and Wednesday people were being turned away. By word of mouth the film became a hit and was later released throughout Italy and became not only the biggest film of the year it was highest grossing western ever released in Italy.
Today we look back and celebrate not only the launching of a new type of western but a new style of filmmaking and the creation of the antihero. 50 years later we are still feeling the effects this film created and the way films are made today.

Who Are Those Gals? - Renate Blume

Renate Blume was born in Bad Wildunger, Waldeck-Frankenberg, Germany on May 3, 1944. Renate grew up in East Germany in Dresden and initially wanted to become a doctor, however, studied she ended up at the State Drama School in Berlin-Schöneberg. While still a student in 1964 she appeared alongside Eberhard Esche in a major role in the internationally successful DEFA film “Der geteilte Himmel”, based on the book by Christa Wolf. After graduating in 1965 she became a member of the Dresden State Theatre until 1970. From 1970 she was a member of the Actors Ensemble of television of the GDR and starred in numerous television movies, feature films and television series, including “Barfuß ins Bett” (1988).
In 1990 she worked as a drama teacher. From 1992 she renewed her commitment to the acting and appeared in Berlin, Munich, Dusseldorf, Oybin and other places, in cinema and TV films and TV series. In 2001, she was together with Alexander Reed, her son, on the stage of Störtebeker Festival in Ralswiek. Since 2003, she has appeared in several roles at the Berliner Kriminal Theater. In 2005, Renate Blume joined the ensemble of the ZDF television seriesFünf Sterne’. In 2011 she played together with Wolfgang Winkler as Alfred Ill "The Lady" in Dürrenmatt's "The Visit of the Old Lady".
From 1969 to 1974 Renate Blume was married to director Frank Beyer. From 1974 to 1976 she lived with the actor Gojko Mitic. From 1981 until his death in 1986, she was married to the East German/American actor and singer Dean Reed. Her son from her marriage to Beyer, Alexander, was adopted by Reed.
BLUME, Renate (aka Renate Blume-Reed) [5/3/1944, Bad Wildunger, Waldeck-Frankenberg, Germany -    ] - stage, TV, voice actress, married to director Frank Beyer [1932-2006] (1969-1974), director, actor, singer Dean Reed [1938-1986] (1981-1986), mother of actor Alexander Reed [1969-    ].
Apaches – 1973
Ulzana – 1973 (Leona)
Kit & Co. – 1974 (Joy Gastell)
Bloody Heart - 1986 (Jane Gonzales) [as Renate Bloom-Reed] [Never completed do to Dean
Reed’s death.]

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Joko invoca Dio… e muori – Italian title
Fünf blutige Stricke – German title
Django’s blutige Stricke – German title
Ousadia – Brazilian title
Roko’s Revenge – Canadian tile
Roko invoca a Dios… y mata – Chilean title
Kostaja – Finnish title
Avec Django, la mort est là – French title
Paixe, kane ton stavro sou kai pethane – Greek title
Duelo entre gigantes – Portuguese title
Venganza, Joko invoca a Dios y muere – Spanish title
Venganza – Spanish title
With Django Death is Certain – English title
Vengeance – U.S.A. title
A 1967 Italian, West German co-production [Super International Pictures (Rome), Top Film(Munich)]
Producer: Alfredo Leone
Director: Anthony Dawson (Antonio Margheriti)
Story: Renato Savino
Screenplay: Renato Savino, Antonio Margheriti
Cinematography: Riccardo Pallottini [Eastmancolor, Cromoscope]
Music: Carlo Savina
Song: “Vengeance” sung by Don Powell
Running time: 98 minutes
Joko/Rocco Barrett/Django – Richard Harrison
Mendoza – Claudio Camaso (Claudio Volonte)
Jane – Sheyla Rosin (Spela Rosin)
Choctaw Kid – Werner Pochat (Werner Pochlatko)
Domingo – Alan Collins (Luciano Pigozzi)
Pinkerton Detective Lester – Paul Lino (Paolo Gozlino)
Richie/Ricky Barrett – Alberto Dell’Acqua
Laredo – Pedro Sanchez (Ignazio Spalla)
Rosita – Marian Dana (Mariangelo Giordano)
Yuma – Freddy Unger (Goffredo Unger)
Milton Becker – Albert Carl (Aldo De Carellis)
Manolo – Ivan G. Scrat (Giovanni Scratuglia)
Jimmy – Larry Bona (Luciano Bonanni)
Mendoza prisoner – Louis Santis (Lucio De Santis)
Sanco – Aysanoa Runachagua
Posse member – Claudio Ruffini
With: Lee Burton (Guido Lollogrigida), Alberto Naova (Albes des Novas), Louis Zarini (Lucio Zarini), Alexander Allerson

Rocco, Mendoza, Richie and Domingo have hatched a plot against some bandits that have taken over a precious cargo of gold. But Domingo betrays his friends and Mendoza disappears in the collapse of an underground mine while trying to cover the escape of the others. Richie, escapes with the gold, but is captured by five outlaws and killed because he refuses to reveal the place where he was to meet with Rocco. Rocco goes on the trail of the killers of Richie killing four and thus avenging the death of his companion. One of them before he dies, reveals that the fifth man is none other than Mendoza, who did not die in the collapse of the underground mine, but was actually their leader and created the deception, Rocco chases Mendoza who pays with his life for his betrayal while the gold will eventually be recovered by a Pinkerton agent.
YouTube trailer:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Happy 50th Birthday Blair Underwood

Blair Underwood was born on August 25, 1964 in Tacoma, Washington. the son of Marilyn Ann Scales, an interior decorator, and Frank Eugene Underwood, Sr., a United States Army colonel. Because of his father's military career, Underwood lived on bases and Army Posts in the United States and Stuttgart, Germany, during his childhood. Blair attended Petersburg High School in Petersburg, Virginia. He went on to attend the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is an honorary member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
Trained in musical theater at Carnegie-Mellon, he moved to New York and got his first break on his second day there, by winning a part on the ‘The Cosby Show’ (1984). He made his film debut at age 21 in “Krush Groove” (1985) and appeared in a regular daytime role that same year on ‘One Life to Live’ (1968), before scoring two years later in the charismatic role of attorney Jonathan Rollins in the hit dramatic series, ‘L.A. Law’ (1986). He copped a Golden Globe nomination during its lengthy seven-year run. A TV commodity, he appeared ready to fill the bill as a rising small-screen Sidney Poitier. Blair went on to appear in a number of prestigious TV dramas, such as ‘Murder in Mississippi’ (1990), ‘Heat Wave’ (1990) and ‘Mama Flora's Family’ (1998), which was based on Alex Haley's final book. He received NAACP Image Awards for both performances. He also top-lined as baseball legend Jackie Robinson in HBO's ‘Soul of the Game (1996)’.
Blair has appeared in only one Euro-western, 1992’s “Posse” in the role of Carver.
Today we celebrate Blair Underwood’s 50th birthday.

Happy 65th Birthday John Savage

John Smeallie Savage was born On August 25, 1949 in Old Bethpage, Long Island, New York. The son of Muriel, a housewife, and Floyd Youngs, an insurance salesman who served on Guadalcanal during World War II with the Marine Corps. His sisters are Boston-based radio and television personality Robin Young [1951- ] and actress Gail Youngs [1953- ]. His brother is actor Jim Youngs [1956- ].
John’s first major film role was as Steven in the 1978 film, “The Deer Hunter”. He also had a lead role in 1979's “The Onion Field”. One of his most famous roles was as Claude Bukowski in Milos Forman's 1979 film “Hair”. He had a brief role in Terrence Malick's war film, “The Thin Red Line”. In the late 1970s, he also appeared on Broadway in David Mamet's play, "American Buffalo" with Robert Duvall.
In more recent years he has been seen on the small as well as the big screen. He was the recurring character of Donald Lydecker in the first and second seasons of ‘Dark Angel’ and portrayed Captain Ransom in the two part episode Equinox from ‘Star Trek: Voyager’.
Savage appeared in his only Euro-western in 1991 as Wintrop in “Buck at the Edge of Heaven” along with his daughter Jennifer Youngs [1969- ].
Another recurring role found him as Henry Scudder in the HBO-produced television series ‘Carnivàle’. In 2005, he appeared on ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’. He lent his voice to a monologue on the title track of the album, “This Town”, by Steve Smith of Dirty Vegas. In September 2009, he appeared in the second episode of Season 2 of the Fox network drama ‘Fringe’.
He most recently starred in the western thriller "The Sorrow" with Kirk Harris, newcomer Ryan Ballance and Michael Madsen for director Vernon Mortensen. Savage also recently played a supporting role in the dark romantic comedy “Hit List”.
Today we celebrate John Savage’s 65th birthday.

Remembering Allen Edwall

Johan Allan Edwall was born on August 25, 1924 in Rödön, Jämtlands län, Sweden. Born into a working class home, his father was a trade-union man and a communist. From 1949-52 he attended Stockholm's Royal Daramatic Theatre School. During his acting career he appeared in more than 400 stage, film, radio and television series. Allan was also a director, an author, a composer and a singer. On records he sang his own songs where he attacked the injustices in our society. From 1986, and for the remaining years he ran his own theater 'Brunnsgatan 4' in Stockholm, where he did everything himself, from acting to selling tickets.
Edwall appeared in only one Euro-western “The New Land” (1972) as Danjel.
Allan died in Stockholm Sweden on February 7, 1997.
Today we remember Allan Edwall on what would have been his 90th birthday.

Remembering Sergio Bergonzelli

Sergio Giovanni Romolo Bergonzelli was born on August 25, 1924 in Alba, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy. He graduated in Philosophy from the university and debuted in 1952 as an actor, initially using the pseudonym Siro Carme. That year he would appear in four films.
1953 would see Bergonzelli intensify his acting career with his appearance in six films.
1954 opens with his participation in the dramatic movieIl prigioniero del re” an Italian-French collaboration with Giorgio Rivalta and Richard Pottier, the same year he appeared in another film entitledAddio, mia bella signora!” by Fernando Cerchio.
After two years of absence from the films we see him again in 1957 with his last two film appearances as an actor, “Il momento più bellothe” directed by Luciano Emmer where he plays the role of Mr. Mancini and “Giovanni dalle Bande Nere” a historical film by Sergio Grieco.
The year 1957 marks his definitive end of being an actor, but opens the door to Bergonzelli’s directing career, in fact in 1960 he made ​​his first film as both director and as a writer (a role he held in many other productions) with the film “Gli avventurieri dei tropici”.
In 1964 Bergonzelli directed another film, “The Last Gun” a Euro-western with Cameron Mitchell, described by critics as one of the first Spaghetti Westerns, even prior to the masterpiece of Sergio Leone's “A Fistful of Dollars”.
Again in 1965 as director and screenwriter (participation on the screenplay of Bitto Albertini ) with “A Stranger in Sacramento”, another Euro-western with Mickey Hargitay. In the same year, the actor-director makes another film, “MMM 83 - Missione morte molo”, completely changing genres.
In 1966 returns to the western genre with the creation of “El Cisco”, starring William Berger , also in this case Bergonzelli personally takes care of the script. In the period between 1965 and 1975 the film world will see a spread of the western genre, Bergonzelli is no exception to the trend and directs still another Euro-western: “A Colt in the Hand of the Devil”.
In 1968 he scores with “Silvia e l'amore” a debut in the erotic genre which he will participate in for most of the rest of his career. The same year he produced another erotic film directed as a pseudo-documentary called “The 10 Wonders of Love”.
In 1969 he directed the adventure film “I disperati di Cuba”, the following year instead he directs a mediocre-erotic thriller entitledNelle pieghe della carne”.
In 1971 the drama (with many erotic scenes) “Io cristiana studentessa degli scandali” is directed and written by Sergio. The following year he directs and writes his final Euro-western “Raise Your Hands, Dead Man, You’re Under Arrest”.
1973 still fins him making erotic B-movies this time interspersed with religious themes, unprejudiced by the combination of the issues but at the same moralistic, Cristiana monaca indemoniata”. After finishing this film Bergonzelli leaves the scene for about two years, he returned in 1975 with the erotic comedy “L cognatina”. In 1976 he directs the erotic filmTaxi Love, servizio per signora”. Thus he resumes his career, the same year directing “La sposina”, and “Il compromesso... erotico”. His last film “Malizia oggi” (1990) where porn star Valentine Demy appears.
Bergonzelli died in Rome, Italy on September 24, 2001.
Today we remember Sergio Bergonzelli on what would have been his 90th birthday.