One more of these before I start saving ’em for next year. The D&R Theater in Aberdeen, Washington, went all Universal International. Brides Of Dracula (a Hammer import) and The Leech Woman (both 1960) had been paired by U-I when they were originally released.
Category Archives: 1960
Folks in the Kansas City area really had it going on around Halloween of 1961. Blood And Roses (1960), Circus Of Horrors (1960), Hammer’s The Mummy (1959) — and depending on which theater you chose, either Blood Of The Vampire (1958), Jack Arnold’s Monster On The Campus (1958) or The Thing That Couldn’t Die (1958).
Tough decision, but I think I would’ve chosen Blood Of The Vampire (for Barbara Shelley) at the Dickinson Theater. What would’ve been your pick?
There’s so much written about Samuel Fuller (above, with John Ford). My suggestion is just watch his films — they’ll tell you about all you need to know — and maybe read his autobiography A Third Face. Watching his movies is a little easier thanks to a cool little set coming later this month from Critics’ Choice and Mill Creek. He didn’t direct all these films, but his fingerprints are on ’em for sure.
Power Of The Press (1943)
Directed by Lew Landers
Story by Samuel Fuller
Starring Guy Kibbee, Gloria Dickson, Lee Tracy, Otto Kruger, Victor Jory
A corrupt New York newspaperman murders his partner over his pro-war stance. A small town journalist gets to the bottom of things.
Scandal Sheet (1951)
Directed by Phil Karlson
Based on the novel The Dark Page by Samuel Fuller
Starring Broderick Crawford, Donna Reed, John Derek, Rosemary DeCamp, Henry Morgan, James Millican
A newspaperman tries to bury a murder story since, uh, he’s the murderer!
The Crimson Kimono (1959)
Written & Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring James Shigeta, Glenn Corbett, Victoria Shaw, Anna Lee
Two cops — Korean War veterans and friends — wind up in a love triangle with a witness to the murder of a stripper. Into this sordid tale, Fuller deftly weaves a message of racial tolerance. One of his best.
Underworld, USA (1960)
Produced, Written & Directed by Samuel Fuller
Starring Cliff Robertson, Dolores Dorn, Beatrice Kay
A young man infiltrates the mob to get the mobsters who murdered his father.
I’m really looking forward to this. Highly recommended if you don’t have ’em elsewhere.
Directed by Antonio Margheriti (Anthony Dawson)
Screenplay by Antonio Margheriti & Ennio De Concini
Cinematography: Marcello Masciocchi
Music by Lelio Luttazzi
Cast: Rik Van Nutter (Ray Peterson, IZ41), Gabriella Farinon (Lucy, Y13), David Montresor (George the Commander), Archie Savage (Al, X15), Alain Dijon (Archie, Y16), Franco Fantasia (Sullivan)
Antonio Margheriti worked on documentaries, did special effects work and wrote screenplays before directing his first feature, Assignment: Outer Space (1960). This kicked off a career that went from whacked-out Italian science fiction and spaghetti westerns to peplum and horror movies to spy movies and action films.
When you crank out more than 50 fad-chasing genre pictures, it’s understood that quite a few of them will be less than great. But Margheriti had a real knack for no-budget special effects — and he loved science fiction. He certainly knew how to get a movie done quickly and efficiently — using multiple cameras to get everything from master shots to closeups at the same time. With the Gamma One series, for instance, he shot four films simultaneously, using the same actors, props and sets — shooting scenes from four color-coded screenplays each day. Margheriti’s ingenuity and love of cinema is baked into most of his films, especially the ones from the 60s, and it helps put a lot of them over.
Space-Men — or Assignment: Outer Space, as it’s known in the States — is a picture with more ideas and scope than its budget could bankroll, but Margheriti manages to make it work.
Antonio Margheriti (from a 1970 interview): “Back then, Titanus was a big production company and one day they asked me if I wanted to make this film. I said yes, obviously… I made the film in 14 days and I spent 41,000,000 lire, which is very little money.”
The story is pretty basic — a broken-down spaceship is on a collision course with Earth, and the team on a single space station are mankind’s only hope. The special effects are passable, nothing more. And its pacing is pretty leisurely for a story with so much natural suspense.
But these liabilities become assets in Margheriti’s hands. The story serves as a framework for some imaginative sequences that may, or may not, advance the story. Margheriti devotes lots of screen time to showing us the (speculative) ins and outs of space travel, in a way that plays a bit like a precursor to Kubrick’s 2001: a space odyssey (1968) — with a waking-up-from-suspended-animation scene that was clearly an influence on Alien (1979). The special effects are quaint, cool, surreal and charming — especially for those of use who consider CGI a nail in cinema’s coffin. (Larger models would’ve made a big difference, no pun intended.) It’s a very visual experience throughout, which makes it a real shame that it looks so consistently, and internationally, lousy on video.
They say that while Margheriti was shooting Assignment: Outer Space, Mario Bava was hard at work on Black Sunday (1960) on the soundstage next door at Scalera Film studios. One thing I found brilliant was the use of letters and numbers on the characters’ uniforms and space suits, so we know who’s who in longer shots — much like numbers on a baseball jersey. And one more thing: Rik Van Nutter would go on to play Felix Leiter in Thunderball (1965) — and was married to Anita Ekberg.
Antonio Margheriti would follow this with Battle Of The Worlds (1961), which is on its way to Blu-Ray from The Film Detective, and a few years later would come the Gamma One pictures (available from Warner Archive). In between, some spaghetti westerns and gothic horror — all of it worth your time. And though his work from the 70s and 80s doesn’t have the same ingenuity and creativity, it’s a real shame that Margheriti isn’t better known, and appreciated.
Directed by Carlo Campogalliani
Starring Mark Forest, Chelo Alonso, Vira Silenti, Angelo Zanolli
Kino Lorber has announced that they’re prepping another Italian peplum picture for Blu-Ray, Son Of Samson (1960). It will be available later in 2022.
Inspired by the success of Hercules (1959) starring Steve Reeves, Italian producers starting hiring American bodybuilders — Mark Forest, in this case — and putting them in sword-and-sandal “peplum” pictures as fast as they could. Son Of Samson is one of the better ones.
Those of us who saw these movies on TV have no idea what they looked like in theaters — many in Scope and Technicolor. And that’s why Blu-Ray releases like this are such a treat. Thanks to Kino Lorber for wrestling up so many of these!
Yvette Carmen Mimieux
(January 8, 1942 – January 17, 2022)
Yvette Mimieux has passed away, just a week after her 80th birthday.
She’s best known for her first feature, The Time Machine (1960, above). She played Weena, one of the Eloi, the folks Rod Taylor comes across when he travels to October 12,802,701.
But for me, I’ll always remember her for another picture with Rod Taylor, Dark Of The Sun (1968). It’s really something, and she’s very good in it.
Man, I can’t wait for this! Kino Lorber has announced a three-picture Blu-Ray set of Edgar G. Ulmer science fiction movies, coming in late March. Of course, Mr. Ulmer was a master at making a decent movie for an insultingly paltry amount of money and time. Just look at Detour (1945) or The Naked Dawn (1955) for evidence of that. These three science fiction things show that same level of ingenuity, along with Ulmer’s habit of giving bigger parts to actors normally seen in second lead or character parts.
The Man From Planet X (1951)
Directed by Edgar G, Ulmer
Starring Robert Clarke, Margaret Field, William Schallert
Shot in a week on leftover sets from Joan Of Arc (1948), you’d think that the biggest line item in the budget was the smoke machine, since the picture uses tons and tons of fake fog to approximate a Scottish moor and hide things they don’t want you to see. The alien’s suit is really cool and the overall effect — from the fog to the spacesuit to the alien’s musical language — is creepy as hell.
The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)
Directed by Edgar G, Ulmer
Starring Marguerite Chapman, Douglas Kennedy, James Griffith, Ivan Triesault
Beyond The Time Barrier (1960)
Directed by Edgar G, Ulmer
Starring Robert Clarke, Darlene Tompkins
Ulmer did these two pictures back to back over two weeks in Dallas, Texas, for Miller-Consolidated Pictures. Robert Clarke, the star of The Man From Plant X, had just directed and starred in The Hideous Sun Demon (1960). He was the producer of Beyond The Time Barrier and brought in Ulmer to direct. When Miller-Consolidated Pictures went broke, AIP bought these up (for pretty much just the lab costs) and released ’em as a twin bill.
Seeing these in high definition is gonna be a real treat. Highly, highly recommended.
I’ve been really impressed with Mill Creek’s Hammer releases. They don’t have the extras we get from someone like Scream Factory, but they look good, they’re often in double bills or sets (with us DVD/Blu-Ray collectors, shelf space is always a concern), and the price is certainly right.
Mill Creek’s newest Hammer project is the 20-picture Hammer Films – The Ultimate Collection. It’s got some great stuff — some are repeats from previous MC releases, some not. It focuses on Hammer films that were distributed by Columbia in the States. Here’s the lineup:
The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)
The Snorkel (1958)
The Camp On Blood Island (1958)
Yesterday’s Enemy (1959)
The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll (1960)
Never Take Candy From A Stranger (1960)
The Stranglers Of Bombay (1960)
Cash On Demand (1961)
Scream Of Fear (1961)
Stop Me Before I Kill! (1961)
The Gorgon (1964)
Die! Die! My Darling (1965)
Creatures The World Forgot (1971)
I can’t wait to get my hands on this thing. These films are essential stuff. A few of these I haven’t seen in quite a while — and never on Blu-Ray. It’s coming in November.
Directed by John Gilling
Starring Peter Cushing, June Laverick, Donald Pleasence, Dermot Walsh, Renee Houston, George Rose, Billie Whitelaw
The Flesh And The Fiends (1960) — aka Mania, aka The Fiendish Ghouls, aka Psycho Killers — has been sitting near the top of my Blu-Ray Want List since, well, Blu-Rays first started showing up. By whatever name you want to call it, The Flesh And The Fiends is a wonderfully nasty telling of the Burke and Hare story. This was Peter Cushing’s first non-Hammer horror film after becoming a star in the genre with pictures like Curse Of Frankenstein (1957) and Horror Of Dracula (1958). He’s terrific in this one. It was produced by the Robert Baker – Monty Berman team that gave us Jack The Ripper (1959).
Kino Lorber has given their upcoming Blu-Ray, with two cuts of the film and other extras, a release date of July 7.