View from the Cheap Seats

Movie Begats and More

November 30, 2016 - 2:30 pm   |   by
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I’ve about decided that a full book could be written regarding just about every produced movie – Lord knows there’s always enough behind the scenes drama to fill a daytime soap. But I love it. Who was supposed to be in what? Who wrote the script? That stuff. The success of X movie produced Y.

OLIVE FILMS

And here’s a story about a Robert Redford motorcycle picture called Little Fauss and Big Halsey, recently released for the first time on home video by Olive Films.

Al Ruddy came to Hollywood in the early 60s and as a young pup sold what has become a classic sitcom called Hogan’s Heroes. Ruddy and Charles Eastman wrote the script for Little Fauss and sold it to Paramount with a then hot director named Sidney Furie (who was bankable because of The Ipcress File and The Naked Runner). Redford was brought on board in the process as was my friend and lifelong Ruddy partner Gray Frederickson. [Read on here...]

Little Fauss was a hit, released just after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It was kept on budget and caused no problems for the studio.

Now that Ruddy and Frederickson had a name in the business they partnered with screenwriter Peter Bart, then a Paramount executive, on a 20th Century Fox film called Making It. It was during the production of this film that Ruddy and Frederickson received word from Paramount that their next assignment would be a film which, like Little Fauss would need to be done on the cheap. The Godfather.

So, the successful production of Little Fauss and Big Halsey was perhaps the most influential factor for Paramount to trust Ruddy and Frederickson to shepherd what could be the greatest studio picture ever made.

Here’s another goodie, and the reason Little Fauss is a must own – its score was written and recorded by Johnny Cash, and Gray spent a week or so at the music giant’s house as the score was recorded and talks as if it were just another week in the park. I’d still be there.

Olive also recently started a new line of Blu-rays called Olive Signature. Highlighting cult favorites, time-honored classics, and under-appreciated gems, each Olive Signature edition boasts a pristine audio and video transfer, newly designed cover art, and an abundance of exciting bonus material. The first two releases were High Noon and Johnny Guitar, followed by Orson Welles’ Macbeth.

Visit Olive Films here.

WARNER ARCHIVE

Warner Archive is already ahead of the curve when it comes to holiday shopping. It’s been a joy to watch the movie buffs here release their gems to the world.

First, Warner Archive is the only place for Blu versions of the timeless Bogart Bacall movies such as Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo. Here are some more of their suggested gift items:

Charlie Chan 3-Film Collection – This trio of classic Charlie Chan mysteries made by Monogram pictures may give us two different Charlies (Sidney Toler and Roland Winters), but both styles of super sleuth must tackle truly draconian mysteries and murder. Includes The Red Dragon (1945), The Feathered Serpent (1948) and The Sky Dragon (1949). The first title stars Toler, who took over from the original Chan Warner Oland and the last two stars the final actor to plan Chan in the series Winters.

FitzPatrick Travel Talks: Volume 1 (1934-46) – For over 20 years on behalf of MGM, writer/producer/director/narrator James A. FitzPatrick traveled the world with his camera providing simple, straight forward looks at what was best and most interesting in a location and allowing a generation of movie-goers to experience the world from their local movie house. In this first collection, selected from over a decade of travels, he visits locales like pre-war Tokyo, post-revolution Ireland, street-car-connected Los Angeles, pre-occupation Paris and the sleepy lumber city of Seattle, gateway to wild Alaska!

FitzPatrick Travel Talks: Volume 2 (1934-45) – In this second volume, a collection of 60 of James FitzPatrick’s famed Technicolor travelogues, we once again crisscross the globe, in the years before World War II: Holland, Japan, and Zion Canyon, along with poignant portraits of life in Spain, Egypt and Australia. With the war limiting his travel options, FitzPatrick narrows his lens to bring the sights and sounds of the Americas vividly to life during the early ’40s, from Ontario to Massachusetts to Venezuela.

Forbidden Hollywood: Volume X (1931-33) – The tenth and final volume containing a quintet of controversial pre-Code classics. Lionel Barrymore stars in W.S. Van Dyke’s Guilty Hands, co-starring Kay Francis, from Oklahoma. Next Warren William is crowned the pre-Code King with his breakout performance in James Flood & Elliott Nugent’s The Mouthpiece. Then Edward Sutherland spills the Secrets of the French. Warren William follows with Howard Bretherton and William Keighley’s acclaimed biopic The Match King and Barbara Stanwyck sizzles as a spouse torn between love and country in Archie Mayo’s Ever in My Heart.

Monogram Cowboy Collection: Volume 9 – Johnny Mack Brown (1946-48) – Cowboy king Johnny Mack Brown became the first name in westerns while riding high for Monogram Pictures in the mid-’40s. After retiring his Nevada Jack persona, he went on to battle the bad guys as Johnny Mack Brown. The nine sagas contained here cover this transition as Johnny plays a succession of character variations on his own name (Johnny Macklin, Johnny Mack, Johnny Mackey) before finally saddling up as Johnny Mack Brown. Collection contains The Gentleman from Texas (1946), Trailing Danger, Land of the Lawless, The Law Comes to Gunsight, Code of the Saddle, Flashing Guns (1947), Frontier Agent, The Fighting Ranger and The Sheriff of Medicine Bow. (1948).

Personal privilege here – Warner Archive also recently released on of my favorite “sleeper” films Time After Time with Malcom McDowell and Mary Steenbergen. This movie also has a precious score by Miklos Rosza.

Visit The Warner Archive here.

INTRADA

Since we mentioned movie music, as we shall more and more as time goes by, the great folks at Intrata are always interested in all things Rosza. This record store/CD producer offers many of the composer’s rarest scores – like Desert Fury and Five Graves to Cairo and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

New titles from Intrada include a two cd package of Danny Elfman’s wonderful, overlooked score from Dick Tracy, Basil Poledouris’ The Blue Lagoon, John Barry’s The Last Valley and The Day of the Locust, Alex North’s Cheyenne Autumn, Henry Mancini’s Silver Streak, W.C. Fields and Me and Santa Clause: The Movie and an unprecedented six cd box of Elmer Bernstein’s majestic score of The Ten Commandments.

Visit Intrada here.

CINELICIOUS PICS

No less than The New York Times hailed the re release of a 1960 sex crime thriller called Private Property, a film that “teeters on the edge of morbidity before its galvanizing climax.” The film, once considered lost and now newly restored played theaters in New York last spring to other rave reviews.

News of this picture would have been enough. I can think of similar discoveries in years past like Murder By Contract and The Plot Against Harry, but Private Property has one element none others do – the casting of the essential character actor Warren Oates in a lead role.

You know Warren Oates, right? He played character parts in The Wild Bunch and In the Heat of the Night and Two Lane Blacktop while handling leading roles in Dillinger, filmed in Oklahoma City, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and Cockfighter. Oates was a cult actor from the word go who never failed to be anything less than entertaining.

Private Property is now available in a stunning Blu-ray Cinelicious Pics.

Visit Cinelicious Pics here.

COHEN FILM COLLECTION

In the same vein, we are also about to get our first Blu-ray of the restored Sudden Fear, a lost RKO noir gem with Joan Crawford turned loose from both MGM and Warner Brothers and on the verge of making some of her most entertaining movies like Johnny Guitar, Queen Bee, Autumn Leaves and, eventually, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

Visit The Cohen Film Collection here.

TIME LIFE VIDEO

Bob Hope, the greatest entertainer of the 20th century, was above all a patriotic American dedicated to our troops around the world. His star-studded USO Christmas shows brought a taste of home to servicemen and women scattered thousands of miles from their families. Bob rang in the Christmas season with the biggest stars in Hollywood along with major figures from the worlds of sports and music, and cracked jokes with his celebrity pals and presidents alike.

Thanks for the Memories, a six DVD set from Time Life Home video features 13 specials from Bob’s career, spanning five decades with dozens of celebrity guests. Highlights include:

Bob’s first studio comedy special “in living color” with guests Jack Benny, Bing Crosby and Janet Leigh.

The Bob Hope Chevy Show with the entire cast of I Love Lucy – Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley, plus James Cagney and Diana Dors.

A hilarious spoof of Star Wars and other sketches with Tony Bennett, Perry Como, James Garner, Mark Hamill, Dean Martin, Olivia Newton-John, Barbra Streisand, Tuesday Weld, The Muppets and more stars.

The murder-mystery parody Joys (A Comedy Whodunit) with nearly fifty guest stars including Charo, Milton Berle, Dean Martin, Don Rickles, George Gobel, Alan King, Don Knotts, Groucho Marx, Vincent Price and Freddie Prinze.

The best of the bloopers from 30 years of Bob’s shows with George Burns, Sammy Davis Jr., Angie Dickinson, Phyllis Diller, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Brooke Shields, Elizabeth Taylor, Mr. T, John Wayne and others.

Time Life is also bringing back to viewers the carefree genius of Johnny Carson with The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson: The Vault Series. This collection features Johnny and the inimitable Tonight Show crew in full episodes fresh from Carson’s vaults – including commercials!

These packages feature some of the best and most requested episodes from over 30 years and 4,000 shows – including material not seen by the public since the original broadcasts! Among the many highlights are the 10th and 11th anniversary shows and Johnny’s birthday episodes, a week of shows from March 1976, visits from Carnac the Magnificent and the Mighty Carson Art Players, and Johnny singing Rhinestone Cowboy astride a donkey.

Carson is also at his best bantering with famous friends including Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Richard Pryor, Muhammad Ali, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, Sean Connery, John Denver, Peter Fonda, Charlton Heston, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Paul McCartney, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Orson Welles, and many others. Hours of highly-entertaining bonus features are also included on the multi-disc sets, and feature bonus monologues, in-depth interviews, and additional clips with Lucille Ball, James Brown, Rodney Dangerfield, David Letterman, Joan Embery and her wild animals, the beloved Aunt Blabby and a Hollywood stuntwoman demonstration.

The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson: The Vault Series retail DVD configurations includes a single disc release (two shows), a three disc collector’s set (six shows + nearly an hour of bonus features) a six disc collector’s set (12 shows + two hours of exclusive extras) and a 12-disc deluxe edition collector’s set (24 shows + over four hours of exclusive extras; $99.95 SRP).

Visit Time Life Video here.

TWILIGHT TIME

It seems that our friends at Twilight Time never stop, planning and plotting in their cave of rare pictures that need their special touch. Here’s what’s coming soon.

For December look for Stardust Memories, a top five Woody Allen at my house, Bogart, Gardner and an Oscar Winning Edmond O’Brien in The Barefoot Contessa, The Keys to the Kingdom, with Gregory Peck, 1960’s The Three Worlds of Gulliver, and Nicholas Nickleby from 2002.

In January there’s a Jane Fonda double feature Stanley and Iris with DeNiro directed by Martin Ritt and Comes a Horseman with an Oscar nominated Richard Farnsworth directed by Alan Pakula. There’s also Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn in the cult classic Two for the Road, and a 3-D presentation of The Mad Magician with Vincent Price and some 3-D shorts.

And, as I can’t be sure of a publishing date, the group is having a huge sale through early December.

Visit Twilight Time here.

KINO LORBER

Absolution is one of those lost pictures that seems to turn up in the dollar bin in thrift stores. Finally Kino Lorber has given the film the restoration it deserves. Written by the legendary Anthony Shaffer, of Sleuth fame, the picture stars a late career (nee fantastic) Richard Burton as a priest in the middle of murder. By all means take the opportunity to see this picture. Also from Kino Lorber see Back Roads with Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones, directed by no less than Martin Ritt, two war pictures – Ambush Bay, with Hugh O’Brien and Mickey Rooney and Beachhead, with Tony Curtis and Frank Lovejoy and the great Charles Chrichton directing Peter Sellers and Robert Morley in The Battle of the Sexes.

Kino Lorber is also doing a Kickstarter project celebrating the restoration of early filmmakers’ creations. Go to: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kinolorber/pioneers-first-women-filmmakers

Visit Kino Lorber here.

AND FINALLY…

I have to close on one of the most bittersweet notes of my life. Leon Russell died very recently. It’s a tragic because he can no longer create and I’ll never again see him perform, however, as he has been my favorite musical singer and songwriter since I was in high school, I have every commercial and some non commercial recordings he made, saw him in concert no less than 35 times and got him to perform at Governor Mary Fallin’s inaugural here in Oklahoma that I produced. He was a proud Oklahoman. And we’re all heartbroken.

Leon Russell

Do me a favor – if you’re unfamiliar, find a song on YouTube or something and play it right now. And say “this song’s for you Leon.”

Until next time, see you at the flickers…

- Bud Elder

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