Lewis Gilbert (left) directs Sean Connery and Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice
(March 6, 1920 – February 23, 2018)
Lewis Gilbert, who directed the underrated James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967), has passed away at 97. In a couple more weeks, we would’ve been 98. You Only Live Twice gets a lot of flack, but to me it’s a knockout — from the incredible sets by Ken Adam to one of John Barry’s best Bond scores to the fact that Sean Connery hits a guy with a sofa! It’s big, loud and a bit obnoxious, and I love it.
He also directed the hip and influential Michael Caine movie Alfie (1966). Then there’s the terrific Sink The Bismark! (1960), with Kenneth Moore, Dana Wynter, Michael Hordern and some outstanding model work — all in black and white CinemaScope. It’s just a great thing all-around.
(February 22, 1938 – November 6, 2017)
I love You Only Live Twice (1967). And I hated to see that Karin Dor, seen above with Sean Connery, had passed away.
With Lex Barker in The Torture Chamber Of Dr. Sadism (1967).
Like so many of the Bond girls from the 60s, Ms. Dor appeared in a lot of other cool things. You’ll also find her in The Face Of Fu Manchu (1965) with Christopher Lee, Hitchcock’s Topaz (1969), and a number of German films co-starring Lex Barker — such as The Invisible Dr. Mabuse and The Treasure Of The Silver Lake (both 1962). From time to time, she even turns up in American TV shows like Ironside and The FBI.
Directed by Giulio Petroni
Starring Lee Van Cleef, John Phillip Law
I’m rather picky when it comes to Spaghetti Westerns. While some of them are brilliant, you have to wade through a lot of crap to get to them. Death Rides A Horse (1967) is one of the brilliant ones. Van Cleef is excellent; John Phillip Law was about to make Danger: Diabolik (1968), so he’s at his supercool best; Giulio Petroni is one of the better directors for these things; and this has to be one of Ennio Morricone’s best Western scores.
It’s been available on DVD for ages, often pan-and-scan and looking like crap, so the upcoming Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber is good news indeed. They say to look for it this summer. Highly recommended.
Directed by Arthur Penn
Starring Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, Denver Pyle, Dub Taylor, Gene Wilder
Bonnie And Clyde (1967) is one of those movies my whole family loves. What does that say about us? Anyway, we’re all excited about the 50th anniversary screenings coming this August from Turner Classic Movies. My wife came across the link today, and you can already buy tickets.
So, does this mean we can count on Warner Bros. and TCM to bring Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969) back in a couple years?
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Christopher Lee, Richard Greene
The Blood Of Fu Manchu (1968, AKA Kiss And Kill) and The Castle Of Fu Manchu (1969) — the last two pictures in producer Harry Alan Towers’ series based on Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu, star Christopher Lee, Richard Greene and the Law Of Diminishing Returns.
Directed by the Spanish cult director Jess Franco, they have their fans — and they’ll be happy to know that Blue Underground is bringing them to Blu-Ray some time this year. The previous DVD release had a lot of extras, which will make their way to the Blu-Ray set.
The first and third Lee/Fu Manchu pictures, The Face Of Fu Manchu (1965, directed by Don Sharp) and The Vengeance Of Fu Manchu (1967) are available from Warner Archive. (I really like Face.) The second, The Brides Of Fu Manchu (1966), was released several years ago from Warners, paired with Chamber Of Horrors (also 1966). How deep you want to go in this series is a personal thing, but Lee makes a terrific Fu Manchu — and let’s not forget him as Chung King in Hammer’s Terror Of The Tongs (1961).
Directed by Freddie Francis
Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Lorna Heilbron, Michael Ripper
Mill Creek Entertainment has announced a three-picture Blu-Ray set for April called Psycho Circus. It consists of three features: Torture Garden (1967), The Creeping Flesh (1973) and Brotherhood Of Satan (1971).
For me, The Creeping Flesh is the cream of the crop. It’s a Tigon picture with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, directed by Freddie Francis. What’s not to like? A scientist comes back from Papua New Guinea with some bones. They get wet and flesh forms around them again — with slimy, murderous results.
Torture Garden (1967) is an Amicus anthology film from Freddie Francis again. It stars Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith and Peter Cushing, based on stories by Robert Bloch. Then there’s Brotherhood Of Satan which I’ve never seen, but am eager to see — it stars Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones, just a couple years after they played Coffer and T.C. in Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969). The recent Mill Creek Hammer Blu-Ray twin bills were terrific, so I’m really looking forward to this set.
Directed by Haruyasu Noguchi
Starring Tamio Kawaji, Yoko Yamamoto, Yuji Okada
Why am I writing about Gappa: The Triphibian Monster (1967), which under its American TV title, Monster From A Prehistoric Planet, is already available from just about every public doman video company there is? Mainly because I get a real kick out of typing the phrase “giant reptilian chicken monster.” Ah, life’s simple pleasures.
The deal with Gappa is this. It’s a Japanese Kaiju film, from Mikkatsu Studios instead of the usual Toho, that never saw theatrical release in the US. American International sent it straight to TV in 1968 as Monster From A Prehistoric Planet. It’s more or less a remake/ripoff of the British (fake Kaiju) monster movie, Gorgo (1961). In it, a sea monster is discovered and brought to London, only to have its angry mother trash the city to get her kid back. In Gappa, the monster is a “bird-lizard” — a giant reptilian chicken with green scales, and both cheesed-off parents come to Japan in search of their offspring.
As a kid, I had the 200′ Super 8mm version from Ken Films. Since it focused on the monster stuff, I was very happy with it. Mill Creek Entertainment has brought it to DVD before, and it’s bringing it around again as part of a five-picture set called “Freak Fest.” Not sure what the source is — hopefully, they used something that preserved the original Scope photography rather than AIP’s panned and scanned TV material. The other films are Killers From Space (1954) with Peter Graves, the Gamera movies Destroy All Planets (1968) and Attack Of The Monsters (1969), and Sound Of Horror (1964).