Wednesday, July 23, 2014

They Die By Dawn

They Die by Dawn – English title
 
A 2013 British production
Producer: Tanya Samuel, Tony Tagoe
Director: Jeymes Samuel
Story: Jeymes Samuel
Screenplay: Jeymes Samuel
Cinematography: Rodney Charters [color]
Music: The Bullitts (Jeymes Samuel)
Running time: 51 minutes
 
Cast:
Nat Love – Michael Kenneth Williams
Stagecoach Mary - Erykah Badu (Erica Wright)
John Taylor – Jesse Williams
Paul Dunbar - Denzel Whitaker
Ben Hodges - Isaiah Washington
Jim Beckwourth – Nate Parker
Sheriff Bass Reeves – Harry Lennix (Harry Lennix III)
Bill Picket - Bokeem Woodbine
Bartender – Felicia Pearson
Pretty woman - Shanola Hampton
Deputy Sheriff - Clifton Powell
Bose Ikard – David Banner (Lavello Crump)
Jourdon Anderson - Roger Guenveur Smith
Hulking giant - Kaleti Williams
Preacher – Kwame Boateng
Deputy – D A Allen
Lobo – Jeymes Samuel
Banker – Buda
Cowboy – Akeem Mair
Townsman – Sexton Newby
Saloon gal - Latoya Torre (Latoya Haynes)
With: Rosario Dawson, Giancarlo Esposito, Kelly Hu. Boaz Abel
Master of arms - Mike Tristano (Michael Tristano)
 
Four legendary outlaws meet up in the town of Langston, Oklahoma to play a risky game. The winner of their shootout gets to collect their collected bounty: $80,000.

YouTube trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7UXL8D7XSw

Remembering Massimo Franciosa

Massimo Franciosa was born on July 23, 1924 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. Massimo was am Italian writer and director.
 
One of the most famous characters in the Roman Empire for over 50 years he has also worked as an author, screenwriter, director and producer, writing such works as “The Four Days of Naples” (1962) and “The Leopard” (1963). A refined and intelligent writer he wrote pieces for the theater, which lead to the successful musical comedy “Rugantino” made by ​​Garinei and Giovannini in 1962. Massimo co-wrote two Euro-westerns: “Panhandle Calibre .38 (1971) and “What am I Doing in the Middle of a Revolution?” (1972).
 
In 1954 he married the painter and writer Simonetta Bardi with whom he developed an important artistic partnership.
 
Franciosa died of a heart attack in Rome on March 30, 1998.
 
Today we remember Massimo Franciosa on what would have been his 90th birthday.

Remembering Nerio Bernardi

Nerino ‘Nerio’ Bernardi was born on July 23, 1899 in Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. After studying mathematics and medicine, counterpoint and composition, he devoted himself to the theater and entering the world of cinema with Rebus in 1918.
 
During World War II he went to Spain, where he appeared in and dubbed films. He appeared in three Euro-westerns: Zorro in the Court of Spain (1962) as Colonel Vargas, “The Magnificent Texan” (1967) as Chico and “Wanted Johnny Texas” (1967).
 
From 1952 he taught makeup and stage behavior at the Academy of Dramatic Arts "Silvio D'Amico" in Rome.
 
Bernardi died os uremic poisoning on January 12, 1971 in Rome.
 
Today we remember Nerio Bernardi on what would have been his 115th birthday.

Remembering Emil Jannings

Emil Jannings was born Theodor Friedrich Emil Janenz on July 23, 1884 in Rorschach, Switzerland. The son of a German mother and an American father. He grew up in Switzerland and in Germany, mainly in Leipzig and Dresden.
 
Jannings started his acting career in theater actor and later went into films. He starred in the 1922 film version of “Othello” and in F. W. Murnau's “Der Letzte Mann” (1924), as a proud but aged hotel doorman who is demoted to a restroom attendant. Jannings worked with Murnau on two other films, playing the title character in “Herr Tartüff” (1925) and Mephistopheles in “Faust” (1926). He eventually started a career in Hollywood. In 1929 he won the Oscar for two films, “The Way of All Flesh” (1927), and “The Last Command” (1928). He appeared in only one Euro-western “Colombine” in 1919.
 
His Hollywood career came to an end with the advent of talkies; his thick German accent was difficult to understand, and his dialogue was dubbed by another actor in the part-talkie “The Patriot” (1928), although after Jannings objected, his voice was restored. He returned to Europe, where he starred opposite Marlene Dietrich in the 1930 film “The Blue Angel”, filmed in English simultaneously with its German version “Der blaue Engel”.
 
During the Third Reich, he starred in several films which were intended to promote Nazism, particularly the “Führerprinzip: The Youth of Frederick the Great” (1935), “Der Herrscher” (1937), “Ohm Kruger” (1941) and “The Dismissal of Bismarck” (1942). Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels named him "Artist of the State" in 1941.
 
When troops of the Allied Powers entered Germany in 1945, Jannings reportedly carried his Oscar statuette with him as proof of his former association with Hollywood. His active role in Nazi propaganda meant that he was subject to denazification, and no comeback attempt was possible. He retired near Salzburg, Austria, and became an Austrian citizen in 1947.
 
Jannings died  in Strobl, Austria on January 2, 1950.
 
Today we remember Emil Jannings on what would have been his 130th birthday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

DVD Review

"Reverend Madison" Double Bill.  Wild East, USA.  Format: NTSC Region 0.
 
'Reverend Colt'  Directed by Leon Klimovsky.  Widescreen (1.85: 1 anamorphic).  1970.  86 minutes.
 
When a bounty hunter-turned-preacher, Reverend Colt (Guy Madison), is framed for a bank robbery that he didn’t commit his old pal Sheriff Donovan (Richard Harrison) agrees to let him track the real culprits down himself.  Colt finds the bandits he’s looking for when he catches them in the act of attacking a motley bunch of travelers who are heading for California.  Colt rescues the travelers and leads them to the safety of an abandoned army fort.  However, the fort’s wells are dry which means that the travelers won’t be able to stay there for long.  It soon becomes clear that the bandits aren’t finished with them and a tense siege situation comes into play.
 
‘Reverend Colt’ is one of those genre entries from the 1970s that feel as though they were rushed into production without enough time being spent on planning or preparation.  The film works well enough - and fans of Guy Madison will appreciate his presence here - but it’s no classic.  Leon Klimovsky was an inconsistent director but it’s been suggested that Marino Girolami (the film’s producer) actually directed this show.  Either way, ‘Reverend Colt’ is a rather bland looking effort.  Mild and infrequent but still ill-fitting attempts at comedy relief - usually involving two of the travelers (Cris Huerta’s kilt-wearing MacMurray and a Mexican called Joe) - don’t particularly help matters.  The show’s chief bad guy is cast in the mold of a psychotic hippy-type but he lacks the menace and complexity of similarly coded characters that can be found elsewhere within the genre.
 
All of that said, the film does have one or two interesting aspects that make it worth a watch.  For the most part, the siege situation scenario is handled quite well.  We do get to learn some interesting details about the travelers’ personal circumstances and histories and a couple of unlikely romances start to bloom.  This part of the show actually brings to mind elements of John Ford’s ‘Stagecoach’.  A flashback reveals why Colt became a man of the cloth and his religious outlook also serves as a plot device that generates a decent amount of suspense:  Colt's pacifist approach to dealing with captured bad guys opens up the possibility that the villains might escape and get the upper hand at any moment.  Elsewhere Sam Peckinpah’s ’The Wild Bunch’ is referenced in the form of local kids acting out the violence of the bank robbery.  The show’s music was composed by Piero Umiliani and Gianni Ferrio but it doesn’t amount to anything particularly special.   
 
Picture quality here is near enough excellent.  The sound quality is pretty good too bar the odd short outbreak of mild background hiss.  
 
Extras: six Guy Madison trailers, an image gallery and two alternate opening credits sequences.
 
 
'Vengeance is a Colt 45’  Directed by Osvaldo Civirani.  Widescreen (1.77: 1 anamorphic).  1967.  92 minutes.
 
Django's young son Tracy hears an unseen visitor tell his father “Thompson wants to see us”.  Moments later, the visitor mortally wounds Django and leaves Tracy for dead.  Tracy (Gabriele Tinti) grows into a vengeance-seeker who is determined to track down Django’s killer but his one clue, the name “Thompson", is leading him nowhere.  Then a chance encounter with Logan (Roberto Messina) and Four Aces (Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia) results in Tracy discovering that the duo work for a certain Mr Thompson (Pedro Sanchez) who is embroiled in a vicious range war with a rival named Clay Ferguson (Daniele Vargas).  Tracy starts searching for evidence that will prove that Thompson killed Django but the sudden appearance of a mysterious preacher, Gus Fleming (Guy Madison), prompts Tracy to widen the scope of his investigations.
 
This is a low budget show but director Osvaldo Civirani (who also doubles up as the film’s cinematographer) largely succeeds in making this a fairly smart looking genre entry albeit in a modest kind of way: there are some thoughtfully composed shots and some neat camera movements to be had here but Civirani isn’t consistent with his delivery overall.  Similarly, Tracy and Fleming both sport interesting and stylish costumes but the striking nature of their outfits does inadvertently serve to underscore how bland looking most of the other characters’ costumes are.  Piero Umiliani’s soundtrack score is pretty good: the best bits (including the classic title song) were later recycled for use in ‘Django Against Sartana’ (also available from Wild East). There are lots of familiar faces in this show and the supporting cast includes Luciano Rossi, Lucio De Santis and John Bartha.
 
As far as “range war” themed Spaghetti Westerns go, this is quite a lively variant.  The brief presence of a “Django” character, the film’s inclusion of a ‘Death Rides a Horse’ (also available from Wild East) inspired revenge scenario, Guy Madison’s mysterious preacher and a quite detailed character study of a guilt-ridden but cowardly sheriff are just some of the elements that add interest and depth to the proceedings.  However, trying to cram all of this kind of detail into ninety two minutes does result in a fairly frustrating first thirty minutes or so - Civirani has a lot of characters to introduce and getting to grips with who is who and which gang they belong to requires some real concentration.  The pace picks up when Madison makes his late entrance and the show’s latter half works really quite well and steadily builds to a suitably action-packed finale.
 
Picture quality fluctuates a little here.  It’s generally good but the colour in some scenes appears a little washed out.  Sound quality fluctuates too.  Some sections of the show feature fairly muffled sound, background hiss and the odd crackle.
 
Extras: an image gallery and an alternate opening credits sequence.        
 
© 2014 copyright Lee Broughton.

New DVD Release

His Name Was King / Gunfight at High Noon
(1971 / 1963)
 
Directors: Giancarlo Romitelli / Joaquín Romero Marchent
Starring: Richard Harrison, Klaus Kinski / Richard Harrison, Robert Hundar
 
Country: U.S.A.
Label Wild East - Spaghetti Western Collection Volume 50
Region: 0 – NTSC
Aspect ratio: 16x9, Anamorphic
Extras: 55 minute interview with Richard Harrison, gallery, trailers
Available: Now

Who Are Those Gals? - Solange Blondeau

Solange Blondeau was born in France in 1924. Solange was a model and came to the attention of director Marco Ferreri who offered her a part in his 1973 film “La Grande Bouffe” (1973) where she played the part of Danielle. In 1974, she again worked with Marco Ferreri in the making of the film “Do not Touch the White Woman”, where he played the part of Archibald's girlfriend. No other information could be found on Solange and what happened to her is a mystery.
BLONDEAU, Solange [19?? France –     ]
Don’t Touch the White Woman! – 1973 (Archibald’s girlfriend)